best “while you were out” strategy ever!

If you are like me, you despise with immeasurable loathing the question “What did I miss yesterday?” If you are like me, you do everything you can to avoid answering that question, even if it means shutting off the lights, hiding in a closet, and eventually crawling out the window.

So when a teacher shared this strategy with me, I literally jumped for joy. And I have not stopped jumping! Here is what she said.

STEP 1: Setup

Use some kind of forum/tool where students can post (my personal favorite for this strategy is Flipgrid, although someone recently suggested that Padlet may be a more dynamic option). Set up a thread (for flipgrid, a topic) called “While You Were Out”. Create a link to that thread/topic and post it in class LMS/website, print QR codes (use this free tool to easily create them) to display in the room, etc.

That’s it! That is all the setup needed.

STEP 2: Select Students

Randomly pick two students at the start of the hour (elementary teachers may want to break the day into chunks or by activity). It may help to use a random name picker, although that can backfire if the student picked is absent (and therefore the CAUSE for all my angst…). Inform those two students that they will be the ones responsible for creating the “While You Were Out” video for the day (this has the added bonus of forcing those students to pay more attention to the various activities!).

STEP 3: Do Nothing!

At the end of the hour (or activity), the students selected will sit down together and make a very brief (this is why I like flipgrid – it limits videos to 90 seconds) video explaining three things: (1) what was due (if anything) that day, (2) what the class did that day, and (3) what the homework will be (and when it is due). Choosing two students to do this together has the added advantage of ensuring (at least, moreso) that they will remember the important things.

Thus, without doing anything more than randomly selecting two students every day, I have created an effective method for answering the loathsome question as well as adding a new layer of authenticity and engagement for students.

Many thanks to the Grand Blanc High School teachers who helped imagine this great strategy! Is there anything else you would add to it? Comment below to share your expertise.

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