Wednesday, October 08, 2008

When Reality Smacks You Upside the Head

Friday will be the last day of our first nine-week grading period.

(It will also be the last day before our week-long fall break and those of us teaching seventh grade this year are nearly besides ourselves with glee, but I digress.)

This is the time of the grading period where we'll see some of the little cherubs who have done absolutely freaking nothing but suck in oxygen all quarter become a bit concerned.

One girl in my notorious Fifth Period Class From the Very Depths of Hell Itself, Softball Girl, who has a a whopping 50% in my class, came up to me on Tuesday with a printout from our PowerSchool grade program. Someone (Mom perhaps?) had gone over all the missing assignments with a highlighter. (On an aside, one reason I like this program is that when you give a kid a zero for an assignment, you can also code it as missing if it wasn't turned in.) There were about 15 missing assignments. "Can I make these up?" she asked. Normally I don't accept late work, but hey if she wants to spend all night making up fifteen assignments, I'll give her partial credit.

"Sure," I said. "Do you have them all written down in your agenda?"

She nods her head in the affirmative.

"Then go for it," I say. Any bets on if I'll see any of it.

Anyone? Someone?

They have been crawling out of the woodwork, asking for extra credit, wanting to turn in late work, wondering if there was a way to turn that 43% into a passing 70% (ah, no, there really isn't).

This absolutely slays me. Every three weeks we send out progress reports. Kids have their own PowerSchool passwords and can get on line and monitor their own progress daily if they so desire. If they don't have internet at home, I'll print out a progress report (and my new favorite report, the missing assignment report - that scares them a bit when they see it all listed there in black and white). In short, there's no way on this earth they don't realize that they're digging, digging, digging a hole. They're just busy finding ways to stay off task.

Until, of course, it finally dawns on them (after hearing us go on and on and on and on about it) that Report Cards Are Coming Out Soon and I'm Going to Get Grounded!

The good news is that, usually, a lot of these kids wake up from their seventh grade beginning of the year coma and actually kick it up a notch.

Usually. With this group, however, I'm not placing any bets.

I'm just hoping they mature a bit over fall break.

Yeah, right...


JJ and EJ said...

We use PowerSchool and PowerTeacher also. I love it! I enjoy the grade printout with the categories broken down into separate percentages. Our groupie of 7th graders is pretty low too. I hope it's not a trend!

ChiTown Girl said...

My son's school uses Edline. I'm addicted to checking it at least 4 times a day. He HATES it. By the time I pick him up at school, I already know what assignments he didn't turn in or what classwork he didn't do that day. It's awesome!

Good luck with getting those "make up" assignments! At least you won't have to grade them, since they won't be turned in! tee hee!

Donalbain said...

May I suggest a read of repairman's blog on why a zero is not a good grade to give for missing homework?

Speaking for my own experience, I dont "grade" homework at all.. but that's a different issue.

HappyChyck said...

Enjoy your break!

I hope a week's worth of maturation will help you and your students through the next quarter. If nothing else, we have the HOLIDAYS to provide some relief!

Jane said...


My fifth grader daughter is in a version of your Fifth Period Class From the Very Depths of Hell Itself. She is a good kid, a smart kid (no really, she has never been in trouble, people tell us how polite she is, she is above grade level on both math and reading), but she is in a low skill level, very badly behaved class.

Her teacher told me there are only five kids out of 32 who can do the grade level math.

What can I do, what do I need to do to make sure she is learning what she needs to?

The teacher can't teach what she needs to, given the spread of skill levels in the class. For example, there is a spread of over 1000 points in lexile levels. The lowest kid reads at about the first grade level, the highest, somewhere in high school. Some kids haven't mastered subtraction.

But, no matter what class my daughter ended up in, she still needs to take algebra in seventh grade and calculus by the time she is a senior. Do you have any suggestions on how to get her there?



Mrs. Bluebird said...

Welcome to our world. Honestly, I'm surprised there's that much of a range of levels in a math class. In our school we have different leveled math, english, and reading classes. Now science, and social studies, get EVERYBODY, so we tend to see a much wider range of kids in one room than the other teachers do. I don't particularly think that's a great idea for some of these kids, but that's where the law says they need to be.

That being said, I'd recommend going to the guidance department, or even the principal, with your concerns. If that doesn't work, going to the school board is another step.

I've often wondered why more parents of good kids don't raise a ruckus when their children end up in classrooms with children with such severe issues (behavior, emotional, and academic) that the other students can't learn. Perhaps it's because they don't have a PAC.

Jane said...


My daughter is still in elementary all day she is with those kids, not just math. It is just that right now I am most concerned that she learn the math she needs to know. She has been reading at a high school level for a few years now, so as long as I buy her books, she is ok there. But I need to find her math materials and the time to teach her.

There is no guidance counselor. The principal is conerned with making Adequate Yearly Progress, not with ensuring a bright kid can learn in a classroom.

I know, I have been talking with her about this problem since second grade. The superintedent has told me that it is not reasonable to expect a child like mine to learn in class every day. Instead, she should learn to be happy when the other children master a concept.

"I've often wondered why more parents of good kids don't raise a ruckus when their children end up in classrooms with children with such severe issues (behavior, emotional, and academic) that the other students can't learn. Perhaps it's because they don't have a PAC."

I have raised a ruckus since my daughter was in second grade. It has done no good. She is smart, she has no rights in school.

I have conceded defeat...I can't change the school. I must, however, make sure my daughter learns what she needs to.