Friday, March 06, 2009

The Running Theme of the Week

A coworker e-mailed all of us a copy of this article on "Grading by entitlement", and it seemed to coincide with several occurrences this week on the same theme.

As I was proctoring the TAKS exam, the students finished in time to sit and chat, and I was casually eavesdropping. One conversation went, "oh did you have so-and-so for a math teacher? Well, on a test if you just call her over and say you don't understand a question, she'll basically work it all for you. That's how I passed the class."

As I was helping tutor my precalculus kids on Thursday for their conics exam on Friday, a student was there for help for the first time in this unit. ... A student who hasn't done any of the conics homework ... A student who was absent for one of the days and missed the treatment of ellipses. ... A student who has pulled this for all 4 of the 6 weeks and always thinks he can go for the "hail Mary pass" at the last week to "pass". ... A student who did this last 6 weeks and ended up with a 68% (not passing in Texas). So. During the tutoring (in which he basically wanted me to do all the work), he grumbled that I wouldn't even give him 2 extra points last 6 weeks even though he tried REALLY hard and came in every day for the last 2 weeks and passed the exams and he should be rewarded for effort. AAAAARRRRRGGGHHH. Don't even get me started on how I was berating him on Thursday and how he still didn't get it and how he still doesn't think he needs to do the hard work to understand the concepts.

As my algebra 1 students were taking a test on solving systems of inequalities, one student early in the test put his head down. I walked over to him and gently but firmly told him not to do that if he wasn't finished. He proceeded to work a little but then his head was down again. I let him be. Another weak student ... same behavior. Towards the end when I wanted to pick up all the tests and teach a new topic, a 3rd student was still working hard, and so I put him outside the class to finish. The other 2 head-downers I went to pick up their tests asking, "are you done?" Their response was, "I don't know what to do (on the test)." I believe they were wanting me to come and guide them through the process. I said, "okay, then you're done. Turn it in." I picked up the tests. Then they saw I was putting the 3rd student in the hall to finish. The 1st head-downer then piped up with, "I want to continue." I said, "but you said you didn't know what you're doing." He said, "I want to try." Okay, so I put them in the hall. At the end, the I-don't-know-what-I'm-doing kid turns in a completely finished test (whereas before 2 out of the 6 questions were finished). Hmph.

Oh my. Okay, but I want to end with a more uplifting article another teacher passed around on learning called, "Try and Fail".


  1. i wasn't able to read the second article are you able to give me a different link.

  2. Anonymous9:32 PM

    hmmmm, I can't link to the 2nd one either. Try this link:

    (I found it by typing "try and fail" in the quotes into

    Ms. Cookie