lazy to their own detriment?

Discussion in 'Middle School / Junior High' started by jennyd, Dec 30, 2010.

  1. jennyd

    jennyd Companion

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    Dec 30, 2010

    Sigh...I'm feeling incredibly exasperated by one of my middle school classes and was wondering what thoughts you all had...

    I have a class that just doesn't seem to follow directions, do their work, or put in even the smallest amount of effort. I used the word "lazy" in the title of this post, but I don't know if that's necessarily the best term. I'm at my wit's end, though, because I don't know what to do to help them. :help: Some examples of things recently:

    • For the month of December I tried a bribe of free time on Fridays if every person in the class does their homework for the week. The class never got the reward. I don't even give homework every day!

    • I give a study guide for every test and quiz, and discuss every time how they should work on it a little bit each night and come to me if they find they are confused about something. I offer extra credit if they bring in a completed study guide the day of the quiz/test (points for trying!). I have several students who never take advantage of it and of course they are the ones who fail abysmally.

    • I gave an assignment - I thought it would be an easy way to boost their grade - to find an article in the news that relates to anything we've studied. Anything! Their job was to summarize it, explain how it connects to class, and bring in the article. I can't tell you how many I had just not do the connection part (and I gave them a paper with directions, outlining how much different elements were worth, and that the connection was worth 30 out of the 100 points). I even had one student not do the summary!! :dizzy:

    Short of going home and doing the the work for them, I am lost! I've just finished grading the article summaries and I've contemplated asking them to do the summaries over, but I don't know if it's fair to me to create double work for myself when they didn't bother to follow the directions in the first place. The kids don't seem to care what grade they get.

    Has anyone else had this problem?

    I feel so very discouraged about this class. I want them to find success and do well, but I'm losing sight of how. The other classes are fine, but this one...:unsure:

    Sorry...this turned in to a bit of a rambling vent, so thanks to anyone who made it through to the end :wub:
     
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  3. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Dec 30, 2010

    The only way I've truly found to help with this situation is to contact the parents of the student(s). The parents care about the grade and will hopefully look over their child's work a little more.

    You could try finding what the students are interested in and then add this to the content. Maybe find a way to pull in sports, music, etc. Something that really grabs their interest.
     
  4. MsMar

    MsMar Fanatic

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    Dec 30, 2010

    I don't have any great advice but am curious, assuming this is a period class and not your class for the whole day, do you have them at the end of the day? Without fail, my last class of the day has a class average 8% to 10% lower than the same class taught earlier in the day. This has been consistent every single term I have been at my school (I have one set of students Sept through Jan and then another set Jan through June). I've always had a last block class that I also teach earlier in the day, and the grades in the last block are always disheartening. So anyway, just curious if you're in the same situation.

    Oh, and as far as doing the articles over, since the directions were clearly given, no, I would not give that opportunity.

    Good luck to you, I am right there with you with a similar situation. With many of them, as long as their grade is passing, they don't care about improving it. The extra effort is only given once they see they're failing, so I do give out weekly progress reports to help them stay on track.
     
  5. jennyd

    jennyd Companion

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    Dec 30, 2010

    I'll have to keep trying to work in the interest thing. We're switching to a new area of Science after break, so hopefully that will help!

    I could spend my whole day contacting the parents - I almost need a twin just for that! The kids have midterms coming up shortly after we return from break, and I'm thinking of sending home a letter to each parent with a copy of the study guide, asking them to help their child study. Is that crazy?
     
  6. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Dec 30, 2010

    Or require a parental signature on the study guide.

    Instead of contacting home, you could send home progress reports, expecting signatures of those with low grades or missing work.
     
  7. jennyd

    jennyd Companion

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    Dec 30, 2010

    In some ways I think it'd be better if we were still on a paper progress report system, but we've gone green - it's all online now (not that all the parents log in).

    I like the idea of the parent signing the study guide. I may have to switch to that.

    Oh, and Ms. Mar, they are my first period class. I don't know what's worse - zoned out at the end of the day, or still sleeping first thing in the morning!
     
  8. Lindager

    Lindager Companion

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    Dec 30, 2010

    Does your school use assignment books?

    One of the methods our school has used is all students get assignment books at the start of the year. If a student is not doing homework or keeping up they have to have their assignment book signed(or initialed) by the teacher everyday even if there is no homework they have to write that and have it signed. Then after the home work is done the parent has to initial that they saw it. That way you are not letting a parent be surprised by a low grade and the parent is given some of the responsibility of checking on the students work.
     
  9. jennyd

    jennyd Companion

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    Dec 31, 2010

    Oh, that's the other thing! All the assignments are posted online, not just for my class, but for all the classes/grades. The kids are supposed to have assignment books, but there is no standard school one.

    I'm going to have to demand a bit more parent accountability in the new year, though, I think.
     
  10. Always Learning

    Always Learning Rookie

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    I understand how you feel! I have a class that sounds just like this. I tried a reward point system for the whole class in which the class started out with 5 points (tally marks) on the board. The class would lose points for disruptions, being off task, etc. Initally, the class really bought into it, moreso than my 7th graders! I was really hoping the class would reach the goal of 40 points (in 13 days -- completely doable, in my opinion) before the end of the semester so that they could receive 50 extra-credit points. The reward was for every student in the whole class and something a majority of the students needed. However, once they realized they couldn't reach the goal, they misbehaving only worsened.

    At the beginning of the year, I tried being nice (yet firm) and emphasized my high hopes for them. When I felt they were taking advantage of me, I tried being the "mean" teacher, which also didn't work. I even reach a point where I was only going to teach the kids that really had any desire to learn. That only created chaos, because over half the class didn't want to do anything. Unfortunately, it seems that most of my kids really don't care. They know they're failing, they know I care, but they don't. This is the class that is making me dread second semester as I don't have the 'luxury' of getting a new set of kids. I, too, jennyd, have reach my limit! Perhaps the new year will bring 'new' kids??
     
  11. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Dec 31, 2010

    Have you tried calling home with a list of projected test dates?
     
  12. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Jan 1, 2011

    As far as having a parent sign the review, just be sure you know what you are going to do WHEN kids have one that isn't signed. Cause it will happen.
     
  13. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Could you try breaking your assignments down in to smaller chunks and checking them more frequently. For example, you mentioned the review guide. Could you say, "Okay, you need to do numbers 1-3 of the review guide tonight and bring it in tomorrow." Check it as you go? Same with the current event summary. Have each section due on a different day. I also keep a big checklist in my room of assignments that are due. Every time someone turns something in, they get a star or sticker on the chart(and this is HIGH SCHOOL). They love it. Every now and then, I'll have the principal come in and look at the chart with the kids in the room. She'll say, "Oh, X, you've turned everything in! That's awesome!" Then she'll talk to the ones who are missing things. It's very powerful.
     
  14. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    How nice to have a principal to do that. I think I like the chart idea, I might have to steal that. My good ones need something more than what I already do I think!
     
  15. livetoread60

    livetoread60 New Member

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    Jan 23, 2011

    Let's face it - we have to teach what we have to teach! We can't make every assignment a game, or involve a reward. The reward for learning is an intrinsic one that many junior high students aren't mature enough to realize. I do the best I can every day and try not to blame myself for their lack of effort. I know it's hard, especially with everyone in the world placing all the blame on our shoulders, but I work on it by telling myself every day that if I'm doing the best I can. Good luck:)
     
  16. jennyd

    jennyd Companion

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    Jan 26, 2011

    Thanks to all of you who responded! Since we've been back from Christmas break things have felt a little less dire. I wound up sending home a letter to parents asking them to help with studying for the midterm, and I'm really quite pleased with how the kids did!

    Hopefully the good study and work habits will continue. Thanks again for all the ideas and encouragement :)
     
  17. substitutesftw

    substitutesftw Companion

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    Jan 30, 2011

    I like the ideas about having parents sign work and assignment books. You may want to photocopy those each week when they are turned in or keep them on file, just in case students are forging and you need a conference to show parents how they've "signed everything."
     

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