Getting kids to turn in essays/writing assignments

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by ifightaliens, Mar 13, 2010.

  1. ifightaliens

    ifightaliens Rookie

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    Mar 13, 2010

    Hey all. I have experienced this problem in my student teaching, my first year, and now in my second year at a new school.

    How can I motivate kids to turn in writing assignments or long term projects? The majority of kids refuse to do any homework or take home assignments. Even when I let them work on them in class, only about half the class finishes them.

    It's upsetting since writing is a huge part of their grade.

    I've discussed this with other teachers in both schools I've worked at, and they have similar problems.
     
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  3. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    Mar 13, 2010

    You can't make them do anything, but you can teach them about consequences.
     
  4. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    Mar 13, 2010

    I have this problem too, but it's a simple solution for me. If a student refuses to complete an assignment, they get a zero. If they get enough zeros, they fail the course.

    Is it frustrating? Sure. But at that point, it's entirely on the student... if they refuse to take advantage of class time, and refuse to do the assignments at home, then they deserve to fail.

    I rarely ever fail students who give me an honest effort and have turned in every assignment. I will not hesitate to fail a student who has a plethora of zeros.
     
  5. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Mar 13, 2010

    I'm working in a long-term sub position right now - 9th grade English. Many of my students got "F"s last semester (before I started). My theory is to have them taste success, then hopefully build their desire for more. I'm chunking all their assignments so they literally turn in one part at a time (each part is graded so they get immediate feedback). Most of my students will not turn in an essay. But, I've found that most will turn in a paragraph. In my opinion, long term projects should be chunked, too. Many of my college professors provide opportunities for checkpoints, so I don't see why I shouldn't do this for my students.

    Selfishly, it's easier for me to help students with chunks than to wait till they've written an entire rough draft full of mistakes. And, many of my students don't have homes that promote studying and homework. They switch nights between parents and relatives, TVs are on all night long, and parents don't help them with homework. Large assignments can seem overwhelming to these kids. They have to learn how to break them up into smaller parts.

    I figure, part of my job is to teach them how to learn and how to be students. Some students "refuse" to do work because they lack the skills or don't understand how to do the work successfully.

    The more advanced students might feel that the pace is slow, but that's why I only give As for excellent work (over and above the minimum requirements). Those advanced students can use the extra time to create an excellent product.
     
  6. mrsf70

    mrsf70 Companion

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    Mar 14, 2010

    Have you tried allowing them to blog their assignments? My middle schoolers loved submitting online. Class Blogmeister is a great site to use.
     
  7. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Mar 14, 2010

    What a fantastic idea!
     
  8. SunnyGal

    SunnyGal Companion

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    Mar 14, 2010

    This is the first year that I've allowed my kids to turn in papers online, and I LOVE IT! It's not wasting paper, and my kids are better at turning things in. I usually will give them until 11:59pm on the due date, so they think it's neat that they can submit a paper once they get home and it still be counted on time. I still give them the option to turn in a hard copy during class of course, but over half of my kids prefer to do it electronically.
     
  9. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Mar 14, 2010

    I haven't yet had my kids submit finished copies online, but had them submit drafts to me electronically for me to offer revision and editing suggestions. They responded very well to this and I'm going to move to electronic submission before the end of the term. My daughter is in grade 10 and the majority of her assignments are to be submitted online.
     
  10. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Mar 14, 2010

    Many kids see writing assignments and long-term projects as daunting tasks. They come in with the idea that they are going to fail long before they even start. So, why bother?

    Some don't know how to break a large task into parts. They are, remember, still children (even the high school kids) who are learning. If they have never been taught how to tackle a project or never learned how to do it, they're not very likely to just learn how to do it on their own.

    Break the assignment down. Have students responsible for checkpoints along the way. Work with students who are struggling. Help them reach the goal.
     
  11. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    I give bonus points to students who submit their essays online.
     
  12. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Mar 14, 2010

    I explain it to students this way. This term we have 8 major grades. Major grades are worth 40% of your grades, so if you don't turn one in you get 8 points taken of your grade. Even if you only get a 50, you wouldn't get the full 8 points off.
     
  13. Sshintaku

    Sshintaku Comrade

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    Mar 15, 2010

    As far as homework goes, one policy that is extreme, but really works is to assign lunch detention to students who didn't do it so they can work on it at home. You have to legally let them get their lunch first though, and it does take up "your" lunch time.

    As far as take home assignments, I've had some success in calling home when an assignment is sent home notifying parents of what we are working on and when it's due. This only works if the kids HAVE parents, and parents who will nag at them.
     
  14. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Mar 16, 2010

    How funny; the kids were complaining about this yesterday!!!

    It seems that the Juniors had some sort of a big paper due yesterday. It was, of course, to be typed.

    But Saturday's storm wiped out power to a LOT of kids. So the teachers gave an extension until today.

    Of course, the kids who had it done were outraged, especially since some of the kids who got the extension had power.

    My explanation to them was that those kids still had math and Chemistry and Latin and history homework. And now they had a big paper to do as well. And, for those without power, writing that long a paper by hand is a LOT of work, especially if it had to be done either by flashlight or before it got too dark.

    So glad it's not my problem :)
     
  15. ifightaliens

    ifightaliens Rookie

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    Mar 16, 2010

    Well, I give zeroes, but then the admins say that I have to give makeup work to pass them.

    And I work in a neighborhood where most kids don't have regular access to a computer, OR are too computer illiterate to do so.

    :/
     
  16. think 2100

    think 2100 Rookie

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    Mar 20, 2010

    I had more success getting major essays in after doing much more scaffolding and providing much more specific guidance. The assignment was a conflict paper in Contemporary World Affairs. After having a great deal of trouble the first year, I created a specific outline - Intro. the Conflict, Explain historical causes, Explain other causes, Give 3 policy options for dealing with it, Argue for the best option. After using the outline to elicit lots of examples from students, they were ready to begin writing. Had much more success getting papers in after this.
     

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