Absence -Classroom organization

I wanted to share with all of my readers a little tip that I have found so helpful for me when my students are absent from school.  I've helped a friend this past summer set up her classroom and she wanted something different to help with her students who would be absent. She is returning to the classroom after several years and I shared these absentee folders with her. She said "Great, can you make me some?"  Of course, I obliged and the best part I'm sharing a free cover with you. Stay tuned...below.  :)  

 You know the drill at the end of the day one of your students has been absent or has been absent for a week and you get a call from the office asking if you have any make up work for that student to complete at home.  Well as a matter of fact I do...but wait it's piled somewhere on my desk.  And you know how your desk can look at the end of the day.  So, I've come up with this idea.   It's so easy to prep ahead of time before the first day.  We love easy to prep right??? My hope is that you'll find it helpful too.  I know what you are thinking ...What if I don't have desks in my room....no problem find a wall and attach them with velcro under your whiteboard or on the back of the door.  And best part is if you don't want to make one for each student in your class....make 5 of them and just write their name on the folder and erase as you go.  I made a couple of spare folders you know for those folders who just don't make it through the year.  :) 

So here's how it's done.  First, you take a sticky note and place it on the center of the desk.  After applying the sticky note grab some packing tape and lay two pieces over the sticky note to protect it from falling off.  

Second, grab a round circle (or any shape) of velcro and attach it to the center of the sticky note that has been taped.  
absent folders classroom organization

Next, head to the Dollar Store and grab packages of 9x12 brown folders with clasps . Don't you love the Dollar Store?   Grab enough for your classroom and a few to spare.

Then, print out this freebie :)  and add them glued to the center of the folder.  After gluing them in place go on down to your laminating machine and laminate them for durability. You can click on the picture to grab your own cover.  Right here...
classroom organization-student absence

 After laminating take an Exacto knife and run along the opening of the file folder to open the folder.  

During the first day of school we talk about classroom expectations and organization.  All of that fun stuff just to get our school year started off right.  We talk about how we use these folders and then I show them how they work. I take out my sample folder and show them where they are placed on their desks and then explain what we do if a student is absent.  So for example if  I passed out papers then their paper will end up in their folder.  The responsibility is shared with my students.  Best feeling ever is when a parent shows up or the office calls looking for the student's work all I have to do is hand them the folder and say there you go.  I love the surprised look on their face when they see the quick response.  And I love having one less thing on my desk.  ;)  

 Today I am talking about Money.  We could all use a little more right?  Well in my classroom I have noticed that some of my students grab the concept of coin identification quickly and others do not.  Then after a few short weeks we are expected to teach our students how to add up money and count it.  AHHH it can be a struggle.  One thing I have added to my math centers for practice are these money identification strips that have helped my students at the beginning of our money unit.  You can grab them free here:

   Once we move on from those task cards I add a little fun activity into the center with these Ipad tablet shaped task cards.  These were laminated over the summer and cut out to fit right into my storage containers for math.  My students are to identify the amount of money and circle the coins they would need to make the amount listed.  They have a recording sheet to use so that I can check for understanding.  You can grab them here:

Once we moved on from using our Ipads we went onto these locks which were a hit with the kids if they like puzzles.  These keys and locks were laminated and I asked a parent volunteer to help me cut them out.  Win win on a time saver.  These locks were a lot of fun for the kids to place together especially for my tactile learners.  You can grab them here:  

 Next we move onto the newest activity that I plan on adding to the centers for next school year.   These reading passages can be used two different ways.  I can print them out and have my students complete them independently for morning work or add them to my math center.  I plan on adding velcro to the backs of the pieces and to the cards after they have been printed out on cardstock and laminated.  I can't wait to hear my students reading and adding a little math to their day.  We love cross curricular activities in my room.  You can grab them here:  


I hope you find these examples useful in your classroom.

Context Clues are one of my favorite strategies to teach in reading.  Why you might ask?  Because my students become detectives in their reading and look for clues to find out the meaning.  This strategy is especially important because when they take those standardized tests they need to be able to identify those unknown vocabulary.  I've attached a video from BrainPop above that I show in the classroom to help introduce the topic.  So, here's 5 ways I teach them to identify unknown words using context clues.  

1.   Make an Inference
     This is HUGE!!!  By now my students have learned how to make an inference. So, we play a telephone game where I have students act like they are about to order a pizza or make an appointment to a hair stylist without actually saying they are doing that.  This allows them to make an inference on what is being said on the phone.  This is great practice when we are reading words in context.  If the passage says "We were huddled up together under a warm blanket during the snow storm."  My hope is that the students could make an inference that the word huddled meant "together" based on the clues of snow storm, under a blanket, and warm.   

2.  Look for the Definition in the passage
     Teach those readers to look for the definition right in the sentences around the unknown word.  Sometimes they don't even realize the meaning is right there in the passage.  Tell the to look for key words such as like and the word or.  For example: The boy grasped, or held , the baseball.  We often spend time reading a passage and then highlighting the definition to practice this skill.  

3.  Find a synonym:
      This strategy is where we look for phrases that have the word "or" in them.  For example :  He was joyous , or happy, when he saw his grandmother.  We highlight the words joyous and happy to identify the synonym.  

4.  It provides an example: 
     This strategy makes us really think because we have to decide if the example is giving us clues or leading us to the definition.  An example of this would be "A group of vulnerable newborn puppies, like newborn kittens who need extra support, were found near the highway.  The part of the sentence that reads like the newborn kittens who need extra support should signal us that vulnerable means something or someone who needs help.  

5.  Find an antonym:  
    For this strategy we look for words that say unlike, opposed to, or different from when reading through passages with unknown words.  

In order for us to remember all of this we do add all of this information into our interactive notebooks (don't you just love those)  Grab it here:

Now, if you are looking for a fun culminating activity to use with your lesson on context clues this activity will not disappoint. 

This was SNOW much fun!!!  Sorry couldn't resist.  :)  Whether or not it is snowing outside it will be in our classroom when we play a little context clue game .  My students absolutely LOVED this game we played to finish up our unit on context clues.  Who doesn't love a snowball fight especially in the classroom?  


    This game was really easy to set up and can be used over and over again.  I divided the class into two teams and then had one student as my official task card reader. After reading the task cards students take their snowballs and throw them towards the board to see if they get the correct answer.  If they hit the same snowball and it is a tie then they go to take a turn towards snowball challenge board.  Whoever hits the highest number their gets the point.  Play continues until all the task cards are read.  
My students loved this game and I hope yours will too!  If you like what you see you can grab it here.

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