No effort by any students in any classes

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by wcormode, Oct 18, 2012.

  1. wcormode

    wcormode Rookie

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    Oct 18, 2012

    I am in a small rural school with a high poverty rate.

    Almost every single student in every single class in the building is giving the minimum effort needed to scrape by, or less.

    In my Geometry class I have been moving at a pretty quick pace because none of the students have even been pretending to try. I finish my lessons and I have maybe one or two out of 18 get their participation points for the day. Even the students working on problems are very rarely asking questions.

    I think that my class is already easier than any class I ever took. I allow all notes and past assignments to be used on every assessment. The only thing I don't allow is the book for mid-chapter quizzes and tests.

    My daily homework quizzes are 5 of the exact problems from the previous night homework. I post the answers on the board for them when they come in the room. When they run out of questions to ask (usually less than 4) I start the quiz and they can use the assignment or anything else. But I still don't get ANY 5/5's. The quiz I just gave had a high score of 60% on 20 questions that came off of a worksheet that they had for a day and I let them use it during the quiz.

    No one ever comes in outside of class for help.

    Now that the quarter is ending tomorrow I have had a ton of requests for extra credit and for me to slow down and spend more time on each topic. But I feel that I shouldn't have to slow down if they are wasting my time every day and not trying at all.

    I have thought about letting them use their book on all assignments as well because I highly doubt it will help much.

    I hear rumors that other math teachers would only make it through 3 or 4 chapters in an entire year. I feel that if I slow down and conform to their level I will hurt them because they will not experience everything that they need. How can it be any worse if I keep pace to cover the book? At least they would have experienced a little bit of everything.

    Am I being unreasonable?
     
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  3. Math

    Math Cohort

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    Oct 18, 2012

    Can you talk to your Department Chairperson?
     
  4. Miticageta21

    Miticageta21 Rookie

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    Oct 18, 2012

    you are doing everything you can. they don't care. I have a class like this too.they make good grades and I am hard, I think. But they don't talk in class..they freak me out...they rarely ask a question and they make faces at each other. all my other classes are fine and they are cooperative. I think that class just decided to act like this and it;s their problem. I am trying to envolve them, but they seem aggravated when I ask questions. So, their problem...
     
  5. Miticageta21

    Miticageta21 Rookie

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    Oct 18, 2012

    the more you give them, the more they will ask..
     
  6. Math

    Math Cohort

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    Oct 18, 2012

    Are your classes like Honors or College Prep classes? I know my Honors Algebra 2 class we hardly ever ask questions. However, this is only because we just normally do not need the teacher's help. I guarantee we will later on in the year. :)
    Do you tell your class, "Do not come to me at the end of the quarter for extra credit. Also, ask questions during class or come after school for extra help." If they do not listen to that then it is all on them. I know when I teach I will not be giving extra credit.
     
  7. wcormode

    wcormode Rookie

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    Oct 18, 2012

    I told them from the beginning that I never give extra credit.

    We don't have any Honors or College Prep courses in the building. I also teach a College Algebra class that is exactly the same, they leave their books in the room and dont do any of the assigned work, and they ask questions about the most basic algebra topics (I have to remind them about FOIL every time a binomial is squared and what a linear equation is).

    I give them "the speech" about effort almost daily.
     
  8. Math

    Math Cohort

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    Oct 18, 2012

    Well, I guess they will just see a "F" on their report cards then. Sounds like you are doing your job to me.
     
  9. Math

    Math Cohort

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    It really surprises me that you teach a College Algebra class that is lazy. I think those students should not even be in the class. Is there a way you can talk to their counselors to suggest them not being in a College level course? They obviously do not want to be there. They will go onto college and fail if they even get accepted to a college.
     
  10. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Oct 18, 2012

    You may want to consider changing things up a bit to help these students become a little more vested. Maybe try flipping the classroom a bit (provide more time for them to work problems in class). You may find that they ask more questions if they have work time.
     
  11. wcormode

    wcormode Rookie

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    The college we are required to do our classes through is the only college in the state that doesnt have placement tests. Anyone that wants to take it, just has to pay the fee and they are in. Then it is up to the teacher to design the class. They dont provide us with anything.

    There are two Juniors in the building that barely passed my Pre-Algebra and Algebra 1 classes the last two years and they are in Chemistry (for college credit).

    It is just kind of expected by the parents that any kids who are going to college, load up on every college credit course that they can.
     
  12. Math

    Math Cohort

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    Wow, they should be tested in to such a course or at least have prerequisite grade requirements. Maybe you should tell them how College will be. Like how they can not slack off just because they feel like it or else they will see their grades do the same.
     
  13. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Oct 18, 2012

    I was also going to suggest something more student centered. Any P I know (although it's not that many) would not let me just say that my students are not motivated to do work. they would say that as a teacher I need to make sure they learn, in whatever way that will motivate them.
     
  14. wcormode

    wcormode Rookie

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    I have already partially flipped the class. I have been recording my lessons and then playing them when I check homework. I cannot require viewing outside yet because less than 60% have internet access and of the ones that do few have good enough to do videos. But what it has done is allowed me to get through the lesson quicker and spend more time with examples.
     
  15. Math

    Math Cohort

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    They should be coming after school and making an effort. You should not have to hold their hand and baby high school students period.
     
  16. wcormode

    wcormode Rookie

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    I have told them about college but it just falls on deaf ears.

    In three years I have redesigned my class at least 6 times. No matter what I do things are not getting better. Every year the students just become more complacent. This isnt just my class, every teacher is having the exact same problems.
     
  17. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Oct 19, 2012

    What are you covering now, and how much freedom do you have to mix it up?

    We put off proofs until the end of the year. So right now we're working on triangle rules; we did Pythagorean Theorem and the Special Triangle rules last week. (This week was almost a write off because we spent 2 days on PSAT prep, then they took the PSAT on Wednesday.)

    Even if they're not thinking of college, the rules I covered last week can help them if they're thinking of going into construction or some of the other trades. And in your shoes, I would be emphasizing that-- covering Trig with examples that include construction and any other trades you can imagine.

    Have you tried mixing it up-- showing someone else's videos instead of straight lecture? There are some great videos on www.khanacademy.com and on teacher tube. (I always show the Wizard of Oz clip when I do Pythagorean Theorem, and they always get such a kick out of it.)

    This is another great site: http://www.regentsprep.org/Regents/math/geometry/math-GEOMETRY.htm

    As to FOIL, consider teaching it as Double Distributive property; it makes so much more sense that way!!!

    In short, I think that you probably need to find ways to make the material relevant to the lives they expect to live. And to somehow create an atmosphere in your class where it's not you against them, but all of you working together. There's got to be a middle ground between covering only 2 or 3 chapters and having a class clamoring for you to slow down. They've got to feel that their questions are answered, or they'll feel that there's no point in trying. I know it's frustrating, but that's the reality.

    I PM'd you our syllabus, in case it helps.
     
  18. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Oct 19, 2012

    <<I told them from the beginning that I never give extra credit.>>

    You say: "Make sure to do your best on everything because there is no extra credit offered in this class."
    They hear: "Might as well not bother because you've done poorly in math before and there's no way to improve you lot with me."

    I'm sorry (ok, I'm really not...) but the idea of "I taught it, they can choose to learn it or not" just doesn't fly with me. Our job is to create functional adults, or at least non-criminals ones, so accepting doing nothing is wrong. TC obviously doesn't want to do that which is why the post is here to begin with.

    It certainly appears to me that the problem isn't math since you say it is a schoolwide issue. It is obviously motivation. If their other teachers "motivate" by giving them less and less responsibility that's a problem. That isn't teaching, that's lessening the stress on the teacher.

    I don't have direct advice because I don't know your population but clearly you have the gut feeling that just throwing work at them isn't doing the job. Keep that feeling and keep working at it!
     
  19. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    Oct 19, 2012

    I have one class like this (out of 6) this year. It is frustrating to be sure. methods that work for my other classes don't with this group. I have tried to reach/connect/etc. this group without success. and have "given up" (I hesitate to use that word on this site because of fear of misintrepration because I still prepare/plan/etc. for this group same as I do for my other classes). But somehow or another, there is a different vibe with this group of kids without any apparent reasons (gender, ability, etc.)

    I feel like you can work yourself to death trying to "motivate" others (a lesson i learned the hard way in other endeavors). If you have done all that you can think of (and explored avenues that you haven't thought of which is what you are doing here) you have to let go. Doesn't mean giving up/throttling back/watching movies etc.from limited observations, i sort of feel that a certain % of students have become "passive/aggresive" - they enjoy watching the teacher working to cater to thesir needs. I can assure you, that is not the environment that waits them after their HS career is over.
     
  20. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    Oct 19, 2012

    I had mandatory afterschool tutorial for every kid who had below an 80 in my class. Which was almost all of the class, but I didn't care. I gave out extra credit for coming (even though it was mandatory) and we went over extra problems. I had them make a little study book where all the work we did in afterschool went inside the book. I also always had snack (apples, crackers, something healthy) The school provided a late bus to take the kids home after tutorial. Perhaps you can ask if your school can do something like this?

    I sent home letters and made tons of phone calls when kids didn't show up. Some parents didn't care, and some made sure they showed up. Out of perhaps the 30 kids that should have come I would only get about 5 or 6 regularly. But I was doing everything I could. And that's really all you can do.
     
  21. mrsenglish

    mrsenglish Rookie

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    Oct 19, 2012

    Honestly, it sounds like the students are not motivated or making connections with your class to their lives. As easy as it sounds (the way you have your class laid out), it doesn't sound challenging for them. I would look at considering new assessments, instructional strategies, etc. Do you mostly lecture?
     
  22. wcormode

    wcormode Rookie

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    Oct 19, 2012

    I have been trying to get any kind of after school thing going for a while but it is not happening. It would have to be me staying for math help and they are not going to pay me or anyone extra for it. I am already the Drama sponsor so my nights are gone anyway.

    I try to make the connection to their lives but they have been told by every adult in their life for so long that math is stupid and no one ever uses it, that even relating everything to farming does not make a difference.

    I think it remains plenty challenging because even with all of the resources that they can use, if they do not make them in the first place then they are still without them.

    When I mentioned extra credit I said, "If you do your assignments right the first time then extra credit is unnecessary." Yes I do accept work not being done. I allow them to choose to lose their participation points. I allow students to turn in unfinished quizzes after only 5 minutes working on it. I don't offer extra credit because it effectively raises the possible grade above a 100%.
     
  23. wcormode

    wcormode Rookie

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    Oct 19, 2012

    I will check out the syllabus, thanks! I had not thought of putting the proofs off until the end of the year. It would help them a little but the proofs are not the only thing throwing them off.

    The problem that I have always run into when making thing relevant is that unless they are going into farming most of the students have no idea what they want to do. I think a lot of them just think that they have to work at McDonalds. The ones who are farmers cant see that math could enhance what their parents have done. They want to do exactly what their father and grandfather did. It is an insult to suggest that it could be done better.
     
  24. wcormode

    wcormode Rookie

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    UPDATE: I talked to them today. I told them that I would consider their request but participation grades needed to come up.

    The class average for final grade is 65%. The class average for participation only is 56%. When I compared individual participation to the class grade they were all within about 10 points.

    So my reasoning is that if their participation is correlating to their grades then I do not have to change the assignment structure.

    I told them that if participation grades go up and overall grades are still down then I would look back upon myself and do what is needed. But as long as their participation matches their grade I am going to stick with what I have been doing.

    They worked pretty hard today save for one student.
     
  25. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    None of us got paid extra for tutorials. But, sometimes you just gotta do it. I guess it's a moot point since you can't do it anyways.
     
  26. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    Oct 19, 2012

    you mentioned in your first post that you are in a high poverty area. you are fighting the good fight and that is to be applauded. However, you have these kids for one hour a day. Do you expect to overcome their entire life culture/environment in 1 hour each day? Is that realistic? It is certainly what we used to call a "stretch goal" but if you have unrealistic goals you might be setting yourself up for failure.

    BTW, I am not advocating 'throwing in the towel" as some do.Just be realistic in your expectations of yourself. or you will be discouraged and ultimately burnout.
     
  27. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Oct 19, 2012

    It looks to me as though you have some homework to do.

    You've got to find a way to make what they're learning relevant to their lives.

    This may get you started (I'll be honest and admit I haven't read any of it yet):
    http://creativeteensclub.org/ctc/node/21

    http://brainmass.com/math/geometry/63424

    http://www.ehow.com/how_4421171_use-geometry-everyday-life.html

    http://www.teach-nology.com/teachers/subject_matter/math/geometry/

    http://www.edurite.com/kbase/application-of-geometry-in-daily-life
     
  28. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Oct 20, 2012

    Wow! I have been on this site a lot, and I think your post is one of the ones that is one of the most important I've ever read. It brings up so many dilemmas and important points.

    I can see that you know math well, desire to best help these students, and live in an area that doing well in math isn't the highest priority for many students. Knowing that here are my thoughts.

    1. I agree with you on your desire to challenge students. Greatly lowering your standards is not the answer, and I can tell you know this.

    2. I agree that allowing them a lot of extra credit probably isn't a good idea. A little might be okay, if that is your choice.

    3. I am concerned that it appears that no one is doing well in your class. When you say the highest quiz is 60% in math, and the average quarter grade is 65%, then they aren't learning much. Is there anyone who is doing well? I try to focus some attention on my hardest working students. If they aren't learning, I know that I must adapt my teaching style, but try not to reduce my expectations.

    4. Teachers who have succeeded with populations such as the one that you teach, often challenge students. They are also highly innovative and creative in how they teach. They relate math to things that students are passionate about. They come up with songs that help them to learn difficult math material. These are readily available on YouTube. Ron Clark's Order of Operations song sang to the tune of Rhiana's song Umbrella is a great example. Other ways are that they come up with teaching methods that relate math to sports or shopping. Fun is the magic bullet in teaching that works with students. Students define fun by the things in their life that they are passionate about.

    5. I also suggest renting/buying the following 2 videos. Stand and Deliver and The Ron Clark Story. These will show you how teachers succeed with populations that you have.

    6. Also, Fred Jones has the best way to teach math that I have ever used in his book Tools for Teaching. It is hard to describe in writing.

    The #1 problem I often see in education is that we don't challenge students. You have that one done. I think you can go to the next level and really make an impact on these students. Good luck to you. Let us know how it goes.
     
  29. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Oct 20, 2012

    Like others suggested, I would also second the following with this population of students:
    - don't lower your expectations. If you do, they will know you're dumbing things down because they're dumb. A lot of people have done that to them already. I've seen this at my school, and I always had high expectation for my students. Not all of them liked it, because they had to do more work than in other classes, but they all stepped up and met me at the level I set.
    - you can't too high expectations either, it has to be realistic. You have to set it above where they are, otherwise they won't learn, but if it's too high, they won't learn either, because they won't be able to do it, and they'll shut down in frustration
    - you have to somehow make it relevant to them, make it interesting or fun. You can't do that with everything, but if you find a relevance with some of the things, the rest of it will be easier to teach.
    - group work / pair work: Let them work together, make them do things on their own, while you're guiding them.
     
  30. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    Oct 20, 2012

    I don't have any advice, just sympathizing with you. I work in a high poverty district, and it's really disheartening to see the students that have zero motivation whatsoever. I try to research new ideas and use them in class, but usually all I get is "this is stupid" or "I'm not doing this!" It's hard when I spend three hours making them a study guide, and by the end of the period, the majority of the packets are littered on the floor. Some of my colleagues have family members that work in districts with more resources and much lower poverty, and they just don't understand what we go through.

    I am reading everything that others have posted and going back on Monday with positivity (despite yelling at my math class on Friday). I hope it get's better for you, wcormode :hugs:
     

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