Having students copy a paragraph or poem for making poor choices?

Discussion in 'Behavior Management' started by perplexed, Sep 6, 2012.

  1. perplexed

    perplexed Comrade

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    Sep 6, 2012

    I teach middle school. For my classroom consequences, students get one warning. After that, they get a consequence. If they continue, then they need to sit in another classroom for a period of time. (school policy)

    I am undecided on my "classroom consequence" after the warning. It was my third day today. Luckily I didn't need to get that far for a classroom consequence, but I need to have a plan soon because students have gotten warnings.


    Normally, in years past, I have had students write a reflective paragraph or two on their behavior. It sounds like a good practice, but what I got back was CRAP. They seemed to not take responsibility for their actions still, and they were mad or they'd write something they thought I would want to hear....like they'd never do it again. I wouldn't accept it if it was sincere and would then issue a lunch dt. This year, I don't have time to give lunch dt's because I teach all the time during their lunch times.


    Would it be a horrible practice to have students either

    a) copy once or twice a poem called "Attitude" or one called "The Bottom Line" which is about making good choices in life and being in charge or your future.

    or

    b) I also have some different paragraphs on respect and talking, but, for some reason this seems like more of a "punishment". It could still be an option.


    Do you think copying a poem or a paragraph would be bad? I don't think it's the best practice, but I still need a classroom consequence. They would have to take it home and bring it back by the third day. (school policy that they have three days to complete classroom consequence).
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I prefer logical consequences.
     
  4. MikeTeachesMath

    MikeTeachesMath Devotee

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    I think all this would do is reinforce the notion of writing as a punishment.
     
  5. perplexed

    perplexed Comrade

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    What would be a good logical consequence for someone who talks when I'm talking? I can't have them in during their lunch time and I have a duty after school. To me, a logical consequence would be having them spend time with me, since they wasted my time when they were in class. I need them to do something on their own though, on their own time.
     
  6. perplexed

    perplexed Comrade

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    Kidshealth.org has various articles about school. There's one about "getting along with your teacher", "bullying", "cheating", "taking charge of anger", etc....Do you think it'd be okay if I had them read the article related to what they did and write something about the article? I would think that would be more reflective over copying a poem, but still it's something that could be done at home.
     
  7. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Make the consequence related to the 'infraction'.
     
  8. MikeTeachesMath

    MikeTeachesMath Devotee

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    But this still carries the idea of writing as a punishment. Writing is not a punishment and should not be used as one. You're just conditioning students to think that writing is something they do when they've misbehaved, when really, writing is expression and an art form.

    It's like saying a kid has to practice piano for 30 minutes because they talked back to their parent.
     
  9. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Perplexed...what is your philosophy on consequences? Personally, I think they should be respectful, related and relevant. Unless the infraction by the student was related to writing, I'm not sure what relevance copying a passage has.
     
  10. perplexed

    perplexed Comrade

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    I like for students to do something that's reflective and makes them think. In the past, I've been able to use some of their lunch time to have them come to my room so I could talk with them and work it out one on one. Sometimes they'd fill out a reflection form or write about what school value they weren't following so they could learn from it and so I could have something documented that they wrote. When I was with them, the form would be filled out just fine. If I gave it to them to do on their own, it wasn't turned in very well. Now though, I don't have lunch time to meet. I wanted something I could have them work on at home and think about. I just want to have an easy to follow system so it's clear what a consequence will be.
     
  11. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    I've used methods like this before. I get what you're saying, Mike and cza, about writing as punishment. It just worked for a certain student I had. He CONSTANTLY was pulling off erasers and throwing them at people. I'd take them away, he'd find some on the floor. I'd separate him, he'd bring them in in his pocket. So one day, in a moment of weariness, I made him get a dictionary, look up "eraser", and copy the definition. Then I made him look up and copy various other words dealing with the topic. It didn't work the first time, but after he had copied the same words about 4 or 5 times, he stopped.

    Was it probably the best method? No. But it worked!
     
  12. teresateaches

    teresateaches Companion

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    But did it really work? I mean, kids don't actually reflect when they do those things. I agree, as a teacher who has to teach writing, you are reinforcing writing as a negative. Same with the teacher who makes the class take a quiz when they are "bad". You reinforce that learning is a punishment.

    The consequence should be to sit out of the activity, move their seat, move them closer to you, make them stand at the door or in the hall until you can break from the class and talk to them. Find a way and remember that consequences don't need to be negatives. For instance, with my own personal children, I use logical consequences. If you throw your food on the floor, you don't get more food ,especially if the dog eats it first. If you break your toys, you don't have toys. These are also known as natural consequences.

    Please don't use education as punishment. I also don't believe in using punishment as a consequence, but I digress.

    I also want to add that a consequence should be immediate. Sending home an additional "assignment" even if you intend it to be "reflection" doesn't mean the kid sees it that way. And all consequence is lost on them.
     
  13. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    My old school required them to copy a bible verse and write about it. It didn't change their opinions about writing.
     
  14. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    If by work, you mean the kid stopped throwing erasers, then yes-it did. Now, with this kid, it could very well have been that he just changed his mind about how great the activity of throwing erasers was. Could be he forgot about throwing erasers. Or it could be that he just didn't want to have to copy definitions any more. I don't know. But after every natural consequence I could think of-this one thing happened to work.
     
  15. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Every time this subject comes up, the standard response is "it will make kids hate writing". Frankly, I have a hard time buying that argument. I've looked for research on the subject. So far, I've not found anything other than anecdotal evidence.

    Having students reflect on the actions they took and why those actions were inappropriate is one of the more effective methods of preventing the same actions being repeated. But do kids really reflect on their actions when writing?

    It depends on what type of writing they have to do.

    When students were sent to the office at my former school (for behavior, fighting, etc), the AP would often make each of them write their version of the incident, why their action (or reaction) was the wrong choice and what form of action would be better in the future.

    This type of open-ended assignment forced kids to think about what they wanted to say and how they wanted to say it. That was certainly far more effective than having them both in the office at the same time yelling "HE started it", "It's not my fault", "SHE said such and such", etc. Not only did the writing assignment make the kids really evaluate their actions, it also gave them time to calm down from the incident so they could discuss it more rationally.

    Another type of assignment is very similar to that mentioned by the OP; copying a paragraph (or a number of paragraphs) related to the specific behavior, with the student inserting their name and the specific actions in spaces provided. My son brought this home one night as a consequence of talking in class while the teacher was still doing instruction. There were three short paragraphs that explained exactly why talking in class was unacceptable and what problems it caused. By inserting their name and specifics of their actions, it made my son accept the choice he had made was wrong. I felt the assignment was excellent because it addressed a very specific situation (either "Talking" or "Respect") and explained how the student had NOT shown respect or created a disruption with their talking. Even if the kids just copied the words, their mind still processed those statements as they read the sentence.

    Finally is the repetitive writing we all think of; writing the same sentence(s) over and over. I agree this assignment is not effective. Kids can and DO "zone out" during these assignments because they will just write the same word (or words) down several lines, then write the next word several times etc.

    I strongly feel writing CAN be a very effective - and natural - consequence, as long as it does require the student to reflect on their actions.

    I understand not everyone agrees with this, but what research I did find does show that students learn by doing things repeatedly. That is one reason teachers have students write vocabulary words and/or definitions 5 times each, but we rarely hear suggestions that this will also make kids hate writing.
     
  16. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    I don't make them copy, but I do have a sheet they have to fill out. The usual "What happened, who was involved, how did it get started, what effect did it have on the class, what would have been a better choice," so on and so forth. There's a paragraph at the end about self-control. They fill it out (in complete sentences... and "I don't know" is not an acceptable answer) and turn it back into me when they return from the dean's office.

    Does it work? In most cases, yes. Doesn't work for serious repeat offenders.
     
  17. teresateaches

    teresateaches Companion

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    And the reason it doesn't work is because kids rarely respond long term to extrinsic motivation. We have to build intrinsinic motivation in kids....in other words, they have to find value in wanting to well. Punishing and rewarding kids are extrinsic motivators and research shows very well that they are not successful methods of long term change in a child (or human's) behavior. Sure, it may change the behavior in the instance, but rarely for the long term.

    And to Cerek...your assignment sounds very different than having a kid copy a passage about bullying, or copy a poem about how they should be a better person. Having open ended questions they need to answer that are specific to their situation are a logical consequence, in that they are having to answer for their actions. Normally, I prefer it to be a verbal answering, but writing in this case is different, IMO, than making them write for the sake of punishment, in any shape or form.

    And research or no research, being an English teacher, I can tell you that kids hate writing and every time I ask the answer is the same...they are forced to write about things they don't care about by teachers who don't care to hear what they think. In fact, I asked my kids this very question this week. I asked them blatantly how many hated reading and writing. A large show of hands. I asked them why....they responded pretty articulately that it had to do with always being forced to write and read about things they didn't choose. I truly think it is naive to think that just because someone hasn't done an academic dissertation on this topic somehow means it isn't true. Walk in to any language art's class and really allow your kids to voice their opinions, and you will clearly see the effect of forced writing and the correlation with hating writing.
     
  18. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    With all due respect, what I'm hearing from your experience is kids hating reading and writing because they aren't given a choice in what to write about and the teachers don't show an interest in hearing what they have to say.

    That has nothing to do with doing writing assignments as a consequence. Sounds more like a problem with the regular assignments being given in class and the teacher's response (or lack thereof) to their efforts.

    Most kids from the current generations don't like to write because it is too tedious and time consuming. They've grown up knowing how to type or text since elementary school. Writing something by hand simply takes too much time, effort and thought process. So, again, their resistance to writing has very little to do with forced writing as a consequence for behavior.
     
  19. teresateaches

    teresateaches Companion

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    I'm sure the additional task of writing as a consequence has no bearing on their already strong resistance to writing.

    I'm sure they can set aside this dislike and "get it" when you give it out as a consequence and go back to hating it when they are done.

    Nope, sorry. We will have to agree to disagree. You are hearing right. Kids hate to read and write for all of the above reasons. And when we go further and use it as a punishment (because they are kids after all. they don't see it as a consequence. They see it as getting in trouble) it reinforces the dislike.
     
  20. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    One of my colleagues does something similar. She says it works, but she has had questions from previous administration about its effectiveness.
     
  21. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    You're right - we'll have to agree to disagree.

    My son, who brought home the writing assignment, also hates writing assignments of any kind. Always has. It was a major struggle in elementary school, but did improve (somewhat) in middle school. He certainly didn't like having to do the extra writing assignment, but it also did not make him hate writing even more.

    We can disagree on semantics as well; teachers call it a consequence and kids call it a punishment. They are both right. When a student doesn't follow the rules, disrupts class or does some other inappropriate action, they do receive some form of punishment as a consequence of those actions. If it wasn't a writing assignment - that at least attempts to make them reflect on their actions - it would just be some other punishment/consequence which would likely be no more or less effective. And there will always be teachers who disagree with different consequences for different reasons.

    If Teacher A takes away part of the kids recess time, members here will complain that kids get far too little physical activity already, so they shouldn't lose any more as a consequence for their actions, if they give Silent Lunch, some will complain that the kids are being separated and ostracized from their peer group, if they gett ISS or OSS, some will complain the consequence is too severe and doesn't fit the action, etc. etc.

    While it is true that intrinsic motivation is the only thing that will truly accomplish long-term change, the student is the only one that can develop that intrinsic motivation. If they don't have it to begin with, then the only recourse left is to use extrinsic consequences to accomplish behavior change, even if it is only for the short term.

    I've seen kids who literally don't care at ALL if they get zeroes on every assignment, get sent to the principals' office, or anything else. ISS can be somewhat effective, but only because it removes them from their friends for the day. If their buddy gets ISS with them (for the same incident), then they still get to be in the same room with each other and will "communicate" with one another, even if they can't talk. OSS? Many kids consider that a reward rather than a punishment.

    So, in light of those attitudes, giving the student a consequence/punishment they don't like WILL give at least some motivation (no matter how temporary) to avoid that consequence/punishment in the future. And using a directed writing assignment can at least attempt to make the kid reflect on their actions.

    In my classrooms, I've used Whole Brain Teaching, constant positive reinforcements, Love and Logic, bonus points and a variety of other approaches, but sometimes it comes down to an old-fashioned approach of giving the kid a consequence/punishment they do not like in order to prevent the behavior from recurring.
     
  22. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    In regards to the OP, I wouldn't have them copy poems and would try to find a consequence that makes sense.

    In regards to reading/writing, I work mostly with 3rd graders right now and it's like pulling teeth to get them to read and write. They hate it. And I can guarantee it's not because of any writing being used as a punishment (although, I get what you're saying Teresa, why add more fuel to the fire). But, kids hatred for reading and writing is because they aren't being taught properly in elementary school. But that is a whole other thread....
     
  23. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I haven't read all the responses, but I believe people are far too quick to respond with "Oh, it will make students hate writing if you require any time of written reflection". I think it "sounds" like the "educationally proper" thing to say in response to such a consequence, but I simply don't buy it.

    I taught writing for six years. I had many students write in response to poor choices. I don't think it likely influenced their opinion of writing in any direction. But if it did, I would actually be more inclined to believe it demonstrated to students how writing can be a outlet, a reflective tool.

    I didn't get garbage back when I asked students to write. In fact, I still have some of the writings. One was from an extreme "problem child" with a parole officer at age ten. He wrote a beautiful letter to me and I will treasure it and keep my ears open in the future years to hear his name. Hopefully for accomplishing something great. My greatest hope is that he breaks the cycle he was a part of...it's unfair for him to have been born into that, and he is better than that. But, I digress. Point is, I got anger, sadness, regret, apologies, explanations, stubborness, more anger...but the writing was good. It was usually some of the best pieces I read all year. I feel it allowed the students to open up and look at their choices and the path they were taking. Obviously I used this "consequence" for more serious situations. This would be in addition to school-required consequences, for the record.

    And again, not for a moment do I feel I scarred them or pushed them away from paper and pen.
     

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