Little Schoolhouse on the Prairie

The Pedagogy of a Rural Educator

Track & Golf Season – How to Keep Teaching When Your Class is Missing

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In a small school, the 4th quarter can be very frustrating as an educator. I’ve heard some teachers say that they plan to get whatever the need to get done by the beginning of April, otherwise, it will never get taught! Many students are involved in track, golf, and other activities that force them to be out of school quite a bit. This makes it extremely hard as an educator to teach these kids! As we all know, having a kid in that seat is the first challenge in the task of teaching.

To combat this – I have worked for the past few years on some activities my classes can do even if they are not in the classroom. Many people have done this by creating a flipped classroom. With my school not being 1-to-1, I didn’t think this was the best option. Additionally, while at a track meet, some kids might not have wi-fi to connect to! However, they can all bring a single sheet of paper (I hope!). The idea of creating these single sheets of paper was not my original creation. I saw something very similar in my student teaching experience from my cooperating teacher. As educators, we are always trying to meet many different standards, while using best practices to do so. Some of those practices include: differentiating instruction, student-lead learning, and teaching life skills. I believe these lessons do all three.

For a few of my spring-time units, I created what I call task-boards. These boards are divided into 9 sections, and have 8 category headings (I think you might recognize some of these):

  • Interpersonal
  • Intrapersonal
  • Linguistic
  • Mathematical
  • Natural
  • Kinesthetic
  • Artistic
  • Musical

You might have noticed that these are also categories used when talking about learning styles or multiple intelligences. If you are interested in reading more about that, click here for some information. I was hoping to include these in order to try to hit that first practice – differentiating instruction. The students are able to select a pre-determined number of the categories to complete a task in. I created a task in each category that would help to learn the information from this unit. I also add the center square that is a student choice – just in case the kids have better ideas than I did (which happens more than I like to admit!). I have put pictures of and links to two examples of my task boards here.

Respiratory Task Board

Respiratory Unit Picture


 Sound & light board

sound and light board

I usually give the kids about a day per task I expect them to complete. They work independently, and as they complete tasks, they turn them in and I sign their task board. This way, they have a record of what they have done, and know how many tasks they have left. This allows them to use those time-management skills, and plan ahead for the rest of their allotted time!

I have used this for a few years now, and LOVE IT! The students also appreciate knowing what they have for make-up work long before they must miss class. I hope that you can use these ideas to help teach your class when they are not there!

Do you have any great ideas for dealing with multiple absences in the springtime? Please share!!


Author: sdsuemko

I'm a high school science teacher in a small Minnesota town who loves the world of rural education. I am constantly striving to learn more about my craft and share what I find with others!

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