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Logic fails her

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I have a student who has been asking me for extra credit for about three weeks.  I reminded her that I rarely give extra credit, and I wasn’t planning any extra credit assignments for the rest of the school year.  She was not very happy.  She has a D in my class and wanted to get her grade up.

But then, there were several assignments I gave — some questions over reading, plus a short essay — and she didn’t turn them in.  And she came to me again the other day and said, “There are some assignments I didn’t get turned in.  You won’t accept them now, will you?”  She said it in a rather accusatory manner.

“No,” I replied.  “Middle school policy states that work will be accepted one day late for half credit, and will not be accepted after that.  The assignments you’re referring to are too late.”

She grumbled, and asked again for extra credit, which I again refused.

I’m just not sure why, if she won’t do the regular work, she thinks she should get opportunities for extra credit.  I’m baffled.


About Karen Koch

I like the old-fashioned lifestyle. All this new-fangled stuff baffles me sometimes. I cherish living out in the country, raising chickens and rabbits, planting fruit trees, and enjoying a slow life filled with beautiful words and ideas. I don't always achieve a slow life. I teach middle school English and manage a little burgeoning farm with my husband, and somewhere in the midst of that, I try to find time for writing, running, knitting, reading, and playing the ukulele. And sometimes, I actually succeed.

3 responses »

  1. This is an endemic problem. It starts from the top and trickles down. If our president (and/or legislative branch) cannot or refuses to turn in an assignment (budget) for three years, and then considers he has done a good job when he is late at least a month on the fourth, what can you expect from the people?

  2. Oi. How frustrating. This behavior makes me wonder what is really going on. I have found a few things that help me find patience in this situation.

    1) I believe that for middle school age students doing the work and turning it in are two separate and distinct skill sets. I only know this from personal experience, but since I have started treating doing the work and turning it in as two separate grades, I have seen a significant upswing in students’ ability to manage. So, a student gets a grade for turning it in on time, and they get a grade for the work done. This allows students (particularly the ones who are teetering on the brink) to not be turned off from school completely.

    2) I have also instituted separate organization for different types of work. Explicit instruction is not something many students get at home when it comes to organization. Seriously, I have had a drop in lost papers of about 90%. The work being done goes in the orange folder, when the work is done, it goes in the blue folder.

    3) Then I started pulling kids out of their lunch, PE, or whatever breaks and recesses they have in order to sit them down to do the work. I checked to see if they came early or stayed late. (Even pulling some kids out of detention, and trust me, they would have rather been in yard crew.) At first this is onerous and a real pain in the butt, but students soon learn that after the first infraction, they will do it under my eye. What I learned is that most students have a real reason for not doing the work. 1) They didn’t understand the instructions (even though I explained it 1 million times.) 2) They have no time after school or home is unsafe or too chaotic to do the work. 3) They don’t have the materials at home and are too embarrassed to ask for help. These are just the most common.

    4) I also give as little homework as possible because of the above. Students do not *need* homework. Homework happens because we didn’t finish it in class and/or they need it for the next day’s lesson.

    5) Then on the rare occasion when a student really does mess up, I still know what they are mastering from the curriculum. I currently have a student who went and asked the school secretary to edit a paper for him because he knew that I would not let him off the hook. He may be turning it in late, but he will turn it in or spend every lunch with me until the end of the year.

    6) And no. I don’t give extra-credit either. Only if a student has proven that they have mastered the content, and that takes up all their time.

    Wow. I’m sorry this got so long. But it’s bothered me since I started teaching middle school and so I’ve spent ever year of the past 13 or so experimenting with ways to make sure work gets done *and* turned in. I’m not at 100%, but it’s better.

    I think I’m just going to copy and paste this on my blog.

  3. Pingback: Week 35 – Extra Credit? My Eye!* | Merifully Teaching

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