Monday, December 14, 2009

Have I Got a Deal For You!

I love the last week of a grading period. That's the time of year when forlorn little seventh graders come sidling up to their teachers begging, pleading, and in some cases demanding, extra credit in order to bring their grades up to a passing level.

I hate to tell them this, but no amount of extra credit is really going to save most of them. I mean when you have a 43% and 70% is passing....it just doesn't compute.

However.

Because I like to have fun, I put a note on the PowerPoint agenda that is broadcast on the Big Huge Screen in my room for the first nine minutes of class (four minutes in between class periods, and another five once the bell has run.) The note said "Today Only - turn in Twenty Reward Tickets and earn 10 points of extra credit!"

Now from the very first day of school one of the things I tell my students is that they Need To Read the PowerPoint When They Walk Into Class...this slideshow tells them what our standards are, what we're doing, what's due, any messages I need to get to them, plus a daily quote and a science trivia. And, of course, every day I have some knucklehead asking me "What are we doing today?" when it's sliding by them on a Big Huge Screen in full color.

Any guesses on how many kids actually read the message about the extra credit and took advantage of it?

Out of 97 kids?

One.

As my grandmother would have said, "if it had been a snake, it would have bit 'em!"

7 comments:

Miss Eyre said...

This just kills me. My 8th graders do the same thing, though.

e.g. "What's the homework?"

Posted on the same chart paper in the same place it's been since the first day of school, child.

I'm not surprised no one took advantage of your EC, but at least no one can say you didn't offer.

Lady said...

I always do the powerpoint thing too (I teach HS.) But what I've discovered is that, especially with freshmen (so I'm assuming it might be similar because your students are closer to freshmen in age) a lot of students who ask are the students who don't have a caring adult in their lives, and when they take the time to ask you, they're really wanting you to acknowledge them and ask them about their day, even if it's just for a moment. For kids who come in and ask me that question when it's on the wall in full-color behind me, what I've started to do is not even answer the question. Instead, I greet them with a smile and ask them how their day has been. After they've had a chance to talk for a sentence or five, depending on how much time I have to listen, I'll either ask a follow-up question so that they know I'm paying attention to them, or, if I'm really busy getting ready for class, I'll make a comment about what they've told me, such as, "Wow, that sounds pretty crazy! I'd love to keep listening, but I'm kind of in a hurry. I really need everyone to get into their seats so we can get going, but it doesn't look like they're doing that--can you help me round 'em up?" [or I'll have 'em hand out papers, or something similar to that.] That way the student knows I took the time to listen and that I care, but also redirects them to not only get themselves on task ("what should we be doing? Oh yeah, looking at the projector and reading the announcements!") but also a slight position of leadership, because they get to help other students get on task/get something done to help me.

I don't know if that made any sense, as I keep getting interrupted while trying to write this, but that's what I do, anyway.

Otherwise the constant "What are we doing today?" questions when it's RIGHT THERE will drive me [more] insane.

leesepea said...

Oh holy crap, I'm totally going to have to steal this idea! We have grades for progress reports due on Thursday and I have kids climbing the walls just begging for extra credit opportunities!

PLUS there's always some git who says, "What's for homework?" when it's clearly written on my board!

Chanman said...

I have a beautiful five-day agenda in a permanent location on my whiteboard that I made with blue painters tape. It has the date at the top, and then two sections - one for the 7th graders and one for the 8th graders. And what two questions am I pelted with on a daily basis?

"What's the date?"
"What are we doing today?"

I now just point at the agenda and I don't say a word.

Peach Pod said...

This is the kind of thing that I do! Once I gave a quiz with the answers printed upside down on the bottom of it. I still had about 6 kids in each class fail it!

HappyChyck said...

My students are terrible with follow-through this year, so every day, I remind them of deadlines we have coming, and in these last few weeks, because we have so many things to do and DUE, I have a big list on the board, yet every day I get black stares and some vocal fools with, "It's do today? I didn't know!"

I'm giving extra credit today--sending an invite to their e-mails to use this reading program we use where students read articles and answer questions about the articles. Because it's actual work, I am not anticipating that many will do it, but I am putting it out there. I teach honors kids, but right now only about 10% of them have an A. Interesting, unmotivated group.

Darren said...

While I'm sympathetic to the kid Lady discussed, the one who just wants attention, perhaps the teachable moment involves teaching them an appropriate way to get that attention. I have a sign on my wall: If you think I'm tough, wait till you get a boss. Feeding their annoying habits won't help them later on, and for the most part I'm with Chanman on this one.