Saturday, January 17, 2009

Disappointment and Hope

This week was final exam week for the first semester where I teach. So last weekend I graded the projects that my students turned in. They had four-and-a-half weeks to complete this assignment. The students were given a rubric and there were examples in my classroom for them to look at. This assignment could be done alone or with a partner. I was after school 8 of the 10 school days before break started so if they needed guidance or access to a computer they had an opportunity to get support or resources. The students also have my work email address if they had questions over they break they could ask in an email. I received one email from a student.

We returned to school Tuesday and the project was due Wednesday so they had a reminder to turn it in. I have 52 students and with the arrival of the due date I had less than 10 projects turned in. Thursday I had 5 projects and Friday I had 5. Granted some of these students worked with a partner so when it was all said and done 40 students turned in projects. I was disappointed because last year all of my students turned in this major project.

My disappointment grew as I graded the first 5 projects; the students had not followed directions and their grades were very low. Here is where the hope comes in as I moved through the projects they did get better and in fact a few of my students that had really struggled with earlier assignments had very good projects.

The students that did not turn in the project will feel the consequence of their decision because each of them failed the six weeks and some of them failed the semester. So then I think to myself is there a bigger hope and the answer is yes. My students are learning a valuable lesson that they need to learn sooner rather than later.

Another ray of hope came as I graded the semester finals. I gave them a modified mock AP exam and I had several students pass the test straight up without a curve. I did curve the exam in the end because there will still too many failures. This exam gave me a good read of where my students are, what they do and do not understand, what we still need to work on with regards to essays and who has a realistic shot at passing the exam and who has the potential if they really work at it.

As the new semester faces us I will use the exams and the projects as a way to motivate and move forward. My hope is that none of my students fail the second semester. I hope they have learned that deadlines are important and they have to be met even if you do not like what you have been asked to do.