Sunday, January 24, 2010

The late work discussion

My department has been arguing about late work.  I have to say, this year I have had more trouble with late work than I ever have before, and two thirds of my classes are honors.

One of the teachers who is new to the building is truly appalled by the problems she has had getting her students to turn in their work at all, let alone on time.

It seems that our building, or at least my department, has a serious issue with getting kids to turn in their work on time (we need to see if this is a more widely spread environmental/population thing, or something to do with what we are doing as a department.

I know the argument against docking points.  That's grading behavior, it's not grading skills, which are, in theory the purpose of assessments/ assignments.

I also know that my own experiments along the continuum have not supported not docking points:

Full disclosure: I HATE the sliding scale percentage for late work.  I like one thing that gets applied across the board, so I don't have to worry about tracking when things came in, etc, etc.

I think my first year I had a sliding scale (I was a long term sub, so I had to use what the regular teacher had in place).

My first few years at Park, I gave 50% for late work across the board.  I occasionally had kids carry on about getting docked for turning things in late the day they were due after working furiously for the hour to do the work that was to have been finished before class.

Last year I allowed late work (no penalty) with a late slip signed by a parent explaining why it's late, but then it turned into something that was more work for me, and, quite frankly, I didn't want to do the follow up and nagging to make sure the kids did it.

This quarter was 80% off for late work, and I was buried. BURIED. Especially at term-end.

Today, Mrs. Bluebird was on a similar thought pattern:
The Team decided after we returned from our Christmas break to really lay down the law on late work. We have kids (and parents) who beg and plead for us to accept late work and we did to a certain extent, often with penalties involved. However, none of the 8th grade teachers accept it, except in the cases of kids on IEP's who get extended time, so it's about time our critters start getting their work in on time so they'll be able to hit the ground running when they make it to eighth grade.

The results have been amazing.

It's been three weeks and I probably have the highest number of assignments turned in I've ever seen. Word got around really quick when we implemented this policy. A few kids whined and whimpered, but once their friends saw that we Really Truly Weren't Accepting Late Work, they got the message. Work is getting turned in. Granted, it's not always complete, but it's better than the big fat nothing we were used to seeing.
 Maybe it's the turn-around we need.  We shall see.

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