Check Yo' self Before You Wreck Yo' self

You know that feeling you get when you're asleep and you wake yourself up because you're about to roll off the edge of the bed?

That's how I felt this morning when I was reviewing grades in PowerSchool.

There were sooo many students who were missing assignments. And not just any assignments...test grades! Sometimes, you don't realize you're about to fall off the bed until you're already rolling off the edge..

My Grading Philosophy

I design my assessments and projects in such a way that students can find success if they exert a little effort. I want them to achieve, and feel good about what they've done! But, I don't want to spoon-feed them. Ultimately, I expect my students to do the work themselves, and earn their respective grades. I also try to keep in mind that students have classwork  they juggle, too. Check out one of my assignments here.

I also try to keep in mind that I'm dealing with middle school students. Who, let's be honest, are quite possibly the most forgetful, scatter-brained human beings on the planet. Think Doug, from the movie Up.

To sum it all up: I try to give reasonable assignments, maintain high expectations and hold students accountable, but also remember that my students are human (and forgetful!). With that in mind, this is what I did in attempt to help rescue some of my students:

Step One: Acknowledge The Shortcomings

I left a little love note on the board where I usually have bell work displayed. It simply said "Login to PowerSchool and check your grade for chorus." After they took a peek at their grades, I pointed out that some of them still have missing assignments, and even though there may not be a zero there right now, there will be if projects aren't turned in by the end of the week.

Step Two: Hold Students Accountable

When each assignment was initially due, I took 10 points off for every day after the deadline until it was turned in. I'm by no means giving anyone full credit at this point, but I am allowing them to turn assignments in for half credit. A zero is much better than a fifty, right?

Any assignment still missing by the end of the week will permanently go into the grade book as a zero.

Step Three: Throw 'Em A Bone

I have no intention of taking time to do this again, but after we looked over their grades, I gave them the rest of the period to work on any missing assignments they had, and turn them in. This in itself was enlightening, because several things happened:

  1. A few students who were missing all of the assignments chose to play games on their devices

  2. Some students realized they did part of the assignment, but not all of it

  3. Some students learned the importance of reading the directions

  4. I was able to sit down with several kids and walk through how to upload and complete and assignment through Google Classroom. Even though I had gone over it four times previously, it still hasn't sunk in for some.

  5. Some students had actually completed the assignments, but didn't take the time to turn it in.

  6. Students helped each other complete assignments. Yay, team work!

  7. I was able to grade assignments from my computer as students turned them in. If there was a problem, I could call them over and show them immediately.

Allowing Failure Is OK

Many of my students are going to experience a dip in their grade, and I'm ok with that. What I don't want them to think is that there are no consequences for not turning in work.

But, I do want them to know that I'm always here to help them. Failing isn't a bad thing, as long as we learn from the experience! I also have plenty of upcoming grades that will hopefully help them boost their averages.

I'll let you know if I get better results next time.

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