I did not meet my goal yesterday to blog every day this summer as I was dealing with a sick kid. My son was sick with a fever as well as other symptoms which meant I was pretty busy with him. Point of advice, if you suspect any chance your kid might be sick, do not go on an 11 mile bike ride at a place over 20 miles away unless you really like to bike back quickly to pick them up in time. Best split times while biking this year however.
Anyways, this time spent at home did help me remember one key thing that we can definitely change by using technology effectively in the classroom, no more wasted time when students are home sick. The old way involved that student coming back after they were gone to pick up the materials they missed and ask for help, which would cause the teacher to lose time making sure they have everything the student needed while at the same time reteaching various things while other students waited for them.
What I found to be very useful in my classroom was to have a way that any student could easily be caught up with their missing work by using an online site (Google Site or some LMS) and then making sure the classroom calendar was up to date. Our resources always were either digital or located in marked drawers in the classroom so the students knew where to go to get the resources if they were gone or misplaced them. This helped the students take more ownership of their learning by giving them ways to be responsible for getting caught up without having to constantly wait for a teacher to be free to explain everything they missed.
I think we can even go beyond this thanks to tools like Google Hangouts. We had an instance this year where a student was not able to make it back to school for almost a week due to unforseen weather conditions and did not want to miss the important parts of class that they needed to be there for. The solution was to simply have them do a Google Hangout with a classmate so they could still participate in class and in group discussions. This is an easy tool for a student to use and maybe one we need to be making more use of. If a student wants to be part of the class and we have the technology to make it happen, why wouldn’t we. I am sure there are other ways we can do this but this is the way that we did, the key is to think about how we can remove those wasted times when we have students wanting to learn and participate.