Sunday, January 23, 2011

Technology to the Rescue While I'm Out for Jury Duty


by David Andrade

I've been selected to serve on a jury here in Connecticut. The case is only supposed to run for about 5 days, so I won't be out of the classroom that long. However, I don't like missing school for any reason. So, I'm very thankful for the technology resources I have in my classroom and the fact that I have been using them with my students all along.

The case is tentatively slated to start this coming Wednesday, so I have two days in school to layout the plans for the sub and get organized. I've been working on the plans this weekend, and realized that things weren't changing much from what I would have been doing with them if I was in the class. The only real difference will be that I won't be physically in the classroom to give real-time feedback and guidance to the students and I won't be doing the short topic lectures that I usually do for each topic.

My AP Physics students are working on the unit on Sound and the Physics class is working on the unit on Universal Gravitation. The AP Physics class will be reading the chapter in the textbook and doing problem sets. Both classes will be using websites and Multimedia Science School (MSS) software to further explore and understand the topic. The websites and MSS software have self paced lessons on the topics, with problem solving practice, virtual interactive labs, videos, and demonstrations of the concepts.

I will be communicating with the students via the class blog, and will be communicating with the sub and my colleagues via email to monitor their progress and address any issues or questions. My department is very good at looking in on classes with subs and assisting with any issues. The class blog will also be used for students to submit their work, ask questions, and receive answers and help from me. Normally, I would use the blog for all of this, but I would also be in the classroom to answer questions and give guidance to the students as they work. Instead, I will have to answer questions and give guidance in a delayed time format via the blog each evening. My students all subscribe to the blog so that they get updates when I post new things or respond to comments. They also contact me via school email for questions and issues so we are able to expand their learning beyond the normal school day.

I also maintain a class web site that has resources, links, handouts, and more on it. I post solutions to work along with the lecture notes that I use.

Technology will keep my students learning and exploring as I am absent from the classroom and not cause the typical wasted days and busy work that many students experience when their teacher is absent from the class.

I am very excited and intellectually curious to experience our justice system 1st hand and am very happy that I can do this and still educate my students because of technology.

What are your experiences with activities for your students when you are absent from school?


  1. I would try to be sure to have projects in progress when I had to be gone. when I had jury duty last year, I tried to get into school to see my students each day before going downtown to the courthouse. My kids, last year, excluding 6th period, was the most wonderful group of students I had in 21 years of teaching. They got rave reviews from my sub.

  2. I teach my courses using Moodle. Each course has their own Moodle site where all resources, lessons and assignments are posted. So when I'm not there I just tell the sub to make sure they all sign in and read my announcement for what needs to be worked on that day. Students can send me private messages through the course or post questions in the Announcement forum. We are totally paperless and I can log in and grade assignments when I'm not there and check course logs. I'll be away today to take my daughter to have her wisdom teeth removed.

  3. Karen and dkzody - great ideas and use of tech to support teacher being absent. I was also planning on stopping in each morning to make sure things are all set up (especially since we may have another snow day and mess up my schedule). I don't have to report to court until 9am and school starts at 7:53 (and it's 10min from school to court).

    I think that those of us that use technology and projects in our classes are much better able to be absent and keep the learning going.

    Other ideas and ways people handle being absent?

  4. I often try to keep multiple projects going on in my classroom for a coupld of reasons, if I am ever out they have something to do with out alot of set up from me, and the students and sub know instatnly what they are supposed to be doing. Also I feel this is more like the "real world" where people are expected to juggle mulitple things at thier jobs at once. Of course we only work on one project per period, but they have mulitple projects open at once. All students email me constantly in order to keep these projects on track and this continues anytime that I am out. I also use Google Docs and several other things that I can set up from off campus and email the sub.


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