How to ensure that students are accountable for their own work

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Peregrin5, Feb 18, 2013.

  1. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Phenom

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    Feb 18, 2013

    Something I really want to work on (besides the myriad other things), is getting students to really put forth the effort on their own without getting me to do it for them.

    For instance if a student asks for help on a problem, I've gotten pretty good at directing them to take a look at their notes and just leave. However, they call me back a second later and say "they don't get it." And I know for a FACT that they didn't even read their notes.

    If I sit there and have them read their notes to me out loud, all of a sudden, midway through its "Oh, I get it now, you can go." Oh well, now that I am dismissed... :confused:

    I am CERTAIN the student could have done that without me even being there, but they just don't want to read. I literally have to point to the beginning of the page and say "read from here".

    A worse variant is that they'll read it out loud, but not put in any effort to process it, i.e. reading monotone till the end and be like "I STILL don't get it!" when they put forth no mental effort into understanding it.

    What can I do to keep the onus on the students? I even allow them to work in groups if they need help understanding, but this is just backfiring because all they are doing is copying the answers from each other. Their goal is to get the points and not learn at all because learning is "hard".

    How do I get them to see that yes, learning IS hard, but it's worth it?
     
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  3. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Fanatic

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    Feb 18, 2013

    Fred Jones' method of "Praise, Prompt, Leave" is excellent for this. Look at the book "Tools for Teaching". I have used that a lot over the last 10 years and it really helps in the problems you described.
     
  4. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Phenom

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    Feb 18, 2013

    It certainly does help in instance when we're having quiet work. However a problem I have is that if I do the praise, prompt, leave, instead of getting to work on it, the student usually just stops working and begins chatting up the student next to them.

    This is a major problem for me because I want students to be able to work together and it is a huge battle to keep students from talking to each other at all and just do silent work, but it seems like most of them are just chatting and they aren't working together.

    If they are, they're just copying the answers from others. I just don't know how to handle this.
     
  5. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Feb 18, 2013

    I think you have two different problems. It seems to me you're handling the "I don't get it" part just fine. My response to that is either:

    A) "I don't get astrophysics" followed by walking away
    or
    B) "I respond to questions not complaints, would you like to try again?"

    depending on what point in the year it is.

    The second problem is teaching kids to work in pairs/groups effectively. That, honestly, is not a problem you can solve on your own. It has to be a team-wide effort among your staff, and I'd argue further, your entire district.

    I have had minimal success in reminding students that games and social activities are only entertaining if everyone is involved. It only takes ones pouter (I use the example of killing your own teammates in Call of Duty) to ruin the experience for everyone. That framework helps a bit when I inevitably have to stop in because of off-topic conversations.

    Seriously though, I don't think you're the problem here, I think it is systemic and I'm not often one to put blame on any system.
     
  6. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    Feb 18, 2013

    I ask questions back about the subject. Like if they say "what's cellular respiration?" I'll say "What is respiration? What do cells need to live? How would a cell get energy" or whatever.

    Or I'll say "well what do you understand?" If they say "nothing" I say "then I can't help you." And whatever they do tell you you can go off that and ask more questions until they piece it together.
     
  7. Jeky

    Jeky Comrade

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    Feb 18, 2013

    In math, my usual response is "Show me what you've done so far" (similar to "what do you understand, but I find it gets better responses). Once they are done explaining, I ask "Ok, so what is your question?", which usually helps them to pinpoint their misunderstanding (for example, "I don't know what to do next").
     
  8. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Feb 18, 2013

    I've noticed that many students just aren't willing to do the legwork necessary to facilitate actual learning. It's like if they don't already know it, it's too hard, too confusing, too much to actually try to do on their own. It's frustrating. I agree that it's a systematic problem.

    In my classroom, a foreign language classroom, students always want me to be their walking dictionary. They want me to be their own personal translators. I am neither. When they ask me a question, I respond with questions of my own. I employ the Socratic method wherever possible.

    If they tell me that they don't know how to do something, I ask, "Okay, where should we start?" or "Tell me what you know about this sentence (problem, whatever)." I have them talk me through everything, every single step. I ask them to justify their choices. "Why did you say 'to the friend' here? Where's the word for 'to'?" If they start to head off in the wrong direction, I say something like, "Oh, be careful here. Remind me about the future tense endings." I give nothing away unless and until it becomes apparent that the student actually lacks the knowledge necessary to solve the problem (which actually happens very rarely), and even then I require the student to still do the legwork. "Bring me your notes. Let's find the place in your notes where you wrote down the endings for the vocative case....Oh, they're not in your notes? Let's go ahead and put them in there now. Where do you think we could find those vocative endings?"

    As a teacher, I live by the following motto: Never do for a child what he can do for himself. It has served me well over the years. It's not my job to give away all the answers; it's my job to teach students how to find their own paths to the answers. Although it often leads to initial frustration on the part of the students, it ultimately empowers students to think for themselves and put forth their very best efforts.
     
  9. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Phenom

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    Feb 18, 2013

    :clap: I really like the idea of applying the Socratic method. I also like the very practical advice of telling them to "be careful, and remind me about..." or "let's put them in your notes now."

    Sometimes I get impatient and want to solve it for them and it's tough to not do that. I also get so frustrated when they didn't do any of the notes or homework that I have them refer to.
     
  10. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Phenom

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    Feb 18, 2013

    Any ideas for how to keep the kiddos working while they're working in partners instead of just chatting or worse copying?

    Should I threaten them with removal of all partner and group work and make everything silent and individual? I could try it, but I think I tried it last year and it just fostered enmity. I've been trying to frame partner work as a privilege and stress that if it doesn't help us reach our learning goals, (because too much time is spent talking or just copying) we're just going to stop doing it.

    I think I stressed too much earlier in the year about getting work done. (You can show work is done by simply copying). And of course they're stressed about grades (you can get the points if it looks like you did the work by copying, or they'll just get overwhelmed and give up because they won't be able to raise their grades at certain points). I want to get more focused on reaching learning goals.
     
  11. Myrisophilist

    Myrisophilist Habitué

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    Feb 19, 2013

    For the kids who turn in the same work ("But you said we could work together!") tell them that they can split whatever grade they earned. That should get to the ones who care about their grades.
     

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