Saturday, February 05, 2011

All I Ask is For a Little Effort


We finally - finally - had five whole days in a row this week and weren't interrupted by weather, holidays, or zombies running in the streets.  It felt wonderful to get back into the flow of things and to finally get our genetics unit covered.

I finished grading all the tests on Thursday evening and entered the grades in PowerSchool.  I was hoping that I'd see some good results because, firstly, we've been covering this unit for over a month although it has been interrupted a lot.  Secondly, the classes that are test-driving the notebooks were allowed to use their notebooks during the test and the other classes could use their notes.

The results were, in a word, ugly.

Many students completely bombed the vocabulary test because they absolutely refuse to learn the words we use in science.  Genetics has a lot of key words that if you don't know what they mean, you won't be able to answer the test questions.  Homozygous, heterozygous, genotype, phenotype, allele, and so on.  We went over, and over, and over these words and did project after project using these words, but when it came down to their test, they absolutely croaked.  What made it worse, is that in order to answer the Punnett Sqaure questions, they had to know the difference between these words or they'd just mess it up beyond belief.  What annoyed me even more is even with all the time we spend going over how to answer a test question (underline key words being one huge strategy), only ONE STUDENT even did that when it came to the Punnett Square word problems.  So, not only did they not know the vocabulary (after nearly six weeks) but they didn't even bother to underline the important features of the questions.

They just failed miserably.  And half the test we did in class, so all they had to do was pull out their notes and simply copy them.  Very few kids had their notes out for their test, and even some of the notebook kids never once opened their notebooks.

So they tanked.

On an aside, for those of you who were wondering, Wiggly Boy did a bit better.  He didn't pass, but he didn't fail nearly as bad as some of the others.  And he was the one who prompted a discussion we had about personal responsibility on Friday when he told the class, "Well, I didn't bother to study at all so it was my fault I failed."

As I told them, I can't follow them home and make sure they do their homework.  I can't follow them home to make sure they study.  That's their parents' job.  And if their parents aren't doing their job, then they're just going to have to sit back and realize that they have the tools at their disposal to be successful if they only had the personal responsibility to use them.  It is up to them.  If they think they're worth success, then that's what they need to work for.  I believe every one of them can be successful, but they're going to have to start working towards that goal.

We have a much shorter unit (and hopefully no more snow days) so we'll see if they do any better this time.  Some of them, perhaps, have learned that using your notes, when Mrs. Bluebird says you can, is not a waste of time.

But I truly am at my wits' end on what it takes to get these kids - and their parents - to care as much about their learning as I do.

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