Monday, January 26, 2015

#flipclass Flash Blog: Late Work

When it comes to accepting late work, I have changed TREMENDOUSLY since returning to teaching almost 11 years ago.

When I began my teaching career at the high school level (mostly 9th and 10th graders), I had a no tolerance policy. I didn't take anything late.

After 6 years at the high school and 5 years at home (plus teaching part-time at a local community college), I returned to teaching, this time at the junior high level (8th grade).

I still had a no tolerance policy. Get your work here on time, or it doesn't count. Sorry.

And then we did a faculty book study. I believe the book was Whatever it Takes by Rebecca DeFour et al.

The book discussed 0's and how they let both the student and the teacher off the hook. The student didn't have to do or learn the material, the teacher didn't have to ensure the student did or learned the material.


I realized not accepting late work and handing out 0's was taking the easy way out.

So I began to take late work but with points deducted for every day the assignment was late (I don't generally give any grade lower than a 50, though, as long as I receive the assignment).

And I kept this policy for the next several years. It worked pretty well. Students finished work, I encouraged them to finish because they could still get credit, and students were held accountable for not having work finished when it was due. I was happy, students were happy, parents were happy.

And then this past summer, I discovered Rick Wormeli. I shifted once again. This school year I implemented a broad retake and redo policy (detailed in this blog post). And I began accepting late work with no penalty. The idea being that if students demonstrate they know material - even late - the grade they receive should reflect what they know, not their behavior.

It's working well. Students are willing to finish work and give it their best effort because they know they're receiving full credit. There's no falling of their demeanor by learning they can do the work but only receive a few points.

It's really not any more work for me than my previous turn-it-in-late-but-receive-points-off policy.

And my students' grades are a more accurate reflection of what they actually know.

Monday, January 12, 2015

In-Class #flipclass Assignment

So, it's #flipclass chat night on Twitter, and we have an assignment!

Topic: Where are you stuck in your practice right now? What have you tried in order to get unstuck? What works? What doesn't?

I am not good at blogging on the fly, so this post could be interesting.

Right now I feel a little stuck in planning classroom activities for practicing what students have watched in a video.

We're in a place of learning new skills. Skills that take practice.

But I don't want to assign book page after book page or self-checking worksheet after self-checking worksheet. Yuck. The flipped classroom has significantly lessened the need for traditional book work day after day, and I don't ever want to go back to that.

So...I'm perusing my favorite site, Teachers Pay Teachers, for varying activities to keep students happy and engaged but still mastering skills.

Another thing that helps when I'm stuck with planning meaningful activities is asking the kids. What kind of activities do you like? What don't you like? I learned after a mid-year survey that I also need to ask, "Why?" They surprised me by saying they didn't like classroom scavenger hunts, and when I did some investigation, it's because they don't want to get up and move! What?!?!?

I also like to talk to other math teachers. How have they or how would they approach a topic? I almost always come away from such conversations with good, usable ideas.

What doesn't work when I'm stuck with planning? Getting lazy comfortable. Assigning the same type of activity day after day just because it's easy and I know it gets the job done.

OK...this was the quickest post I've ever written, but it was fun. I realized several days ago I haven't blogged in a few weeks, and I've wanted/needed to get back to it.

Maybe this post will be the jump start I've needed!

EDIT: A few weeks? I haven't blogged since Thanksgiving weekend. Yikes!