Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Sweet but Lazy

I know, I know, I know that the first progress report every year is just downright awful. It takes new seventh graders a bit of time to adjust to seventh grade, to remember how to "do school" and to get with the program.

I know that.

I realize that.

I doesn't mean that I like it.

And true to form, dear readers, these kids walked home last Friday with some DREADFUL progress reports. And our first unit test wasn't even on it. If anything, their grades are worse this week than they were on Friday.

I don't think a single kid in my sixth period is passing.


These kids, while they are heads and shoulders above last year's group of future felons in terms of behavior, just don't do work. Or if they do it, they won't turn it in. And if it gets turned in it's just absolute crap.

Mrs. Bunny, who teaches reading, along with a few other seventh grade teachers came up with an observation, based on the quality of the work that we were getting, that these kids apparently got "effort" grades in the past for turning in anything. She noticed this when she started getting worksheets with the names of classmates listed as answers. These kids were simply filling in blanks with anything and turning it in.

And expecting a grade.

I took about ten minutes yesterday and had a discussion with each of my classes about this. They admitted that they were used to getting "effort" grades from most (not all) of their teachers last year. They admitted to just filling in blanks with nonsense.

I informed them that we didn't operate like that in seventh grade.

They were crestfallen.

I walked them through their workbook pages (which are written at a 5th grade level, mind you) and had them highlight key words and actually take time to READ the questions before they answered. They weren't reading the questions, taking the time to interpret what was being asked. Oh no...they were simply grabbing phrases out of the reading and plugging it in to get the Damn Workbook Packet Done So We Can Play Videogames, or whatever the hell they do all day when they aren't in school.

And of course I had quite a few kids come up, all aflutter, asking just How On Earth Can I Have an F in Science?

"Hum, let's see...maybe it's because you have seven missing assignments?"

This just blows them away. It's like it never DAWNS on them that this
has any BEARING on their grade.


Oh, and out of the 99 progress reports I sent out, mostly with failing grades, I've had two - count 'em two - parents bother to contact me about the grades.

Amazing again.


Mister Teacher said...

I REALLY REALLY REALLY hope this works for you and turns their behavior around! Because I am having the same problem with my 3rd graders! My afternoon class comes in (with only a couple of exceptions) and talks and plays and doesn't do their work! So I am just going to start giving them all bad grades for everything, and we'll see how they and their parents like the progress reports in a couple of weeks!

Peach Pod said...

I know exactly what you mean. I have the same problem with 8th graders! We try to be stricter as far as the quality of the work accept and they act SHOCKED. And I get the same response when they are failing, "How can I be failing?!!!" We have a new online gradebook portal that allows us to add comments for each and every grade that I love. Parents can see them and if they don't, I print them out for parent conference.

Lauren said...

"They weren't reading the questions, taking the time to interpret what was being asked. Oh no...they were simply grabbing phrases out of the reading and plugging it in to get the Damn Workbook Packet Done..."
You know, I am having the same trouble with my 9th grade physics students. They are so eager to just get their work done, they are bombing it because they don't even really read the question to make sure they are actually answering it!

Dan Edwards said...

And I thought my students were "not so good," as students.

Maybe your classes need to hear President Obama's talk on Tuesday.

Sad to hear about the parent apathy, but pathetically, not unexpected. How is it that each year, the number of "parents" who ignore much of what their offspring do or don't do, is seeming to increase ? Is there some biological explaination for this?

Hope you get these students turned around. But then again, if there are no consequences for THEM, why should they? The only consequences seem to be administration berating teachers for "giving too many "F's" !!!!