Obviously lying about reading... WWYD?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Bored of Ed, Jan 17, 2012.

  1. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

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    Jan 17, 2012

    I wrote the story in detail but it was much too long and blathery. So here's the basic synopsis:
    A 7th grade resource room student who avoids any form of work like the plague claims to have finished reading an entire book (required, though they were allowed to choose the book) in a definitely unrealistic time frame (think 100 pages in 5 minutes). I do require students to complete assignments weekly based on their readings; they have a choice of 9 tasks (no repeats) that are mostly geared somewhat towards critical thinking. He completed his very superficially, technically meeting requirements but definitely not up to standard - but there's no way that I can prove that a) it isn't his best work (we're talking a MAJOR escape artist) and b) he did not actually read the entire book.

    I'm in a real bind here. I want to preserve the student's pride and not keep him on the defensive making him need to prove that he isn't lying. On the other hand, I can't let him get away with this because he is weaseling out of his work both to avoid working as well as to be allowed to move onto preferred activities. This is clear to him, me, and the other students in our group, so it would be a major fail if he gets away with this.

    Help!
     
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  3. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

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    Jan 17, 2012

    A couple more notes:
    1. Solution is needed by Thursday, the next time our RW meets.
    2. I KNOW it would be better if I could find him some shorter stories to read instead of overextending his stick-to-it-iveness. But he is STUBBORN and does not take any of my suggestions. And it's too late for this episode, which already happened - the problem now is the lying and weaseling out of work, not the book reading.
     
  4. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Jan 17, 2012

    I'd up the requirements for your assignments required to demonstrate that the student has read - make the questions/prompts more specific, and require more detail. Basically, you're saying that your assessment (or attached criteria) is failing to meaningfully distinguish reading from not reading. So, I'd change the assessment.

    If he's met basic requirements, I'd let him "pass" or otherwise being considered to have met the requirements, then start over with more difficult assignments for the next book. It's not worth risking you making him feel like you are switching up expectations after he's done all the work, or otherwise being resentful and withdrawing even more.

    Appreciate his effort, acknowledge that he's met your basic requirements, then challenge him to meet your new requirements next go around.

    That would be my solution at least!
     
  5. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Jan 18, 2012

    I think EdEd's idea is good; I might add that you could introduce the new requirements by noting that you believe some people might be "skimming" the books, and you want to make sure this doesn't happen. The other students in the class will be quite aware of the who put them in the situation of having new requirements, and likely be disinclined to follow the same path.
     
  6. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Jan 18, 2012

    Did you chunk the book into page amounts in anyway that the students are supposed to read each day or week?

    I would give the students a text based question (one that can only be answered based on specific clues from the text). Then have the students work on using the text to find the answers. At least this way, he has to reread the book with everyone else.
     
  7. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Jan 18, 2012

    I'm confused. He didn't read the book (5 minutes for 100 pages), but he was able to superficially and technically fulfill the requirements of the assignment.

    Did he pick a book he had already read or have read to him so he knows the general story but forgot the details? Was this a book that was made into a movie? Or was the assignment so weak that it really doesn't show if ANYONE really understood their books more than superficially? So, even kids that are going through the motion may not be getting a proper assessment if they are just passing but trying.

    I'm sure some of the kids will produce better results if they understood, but if a kid that didn't read the book can pass the assessment (barely), then what about the kid that diligently turned all the pages but really didn't understand what he read?
     
  8. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

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    Jan 18, 2012

    It was reader's workshop, not an assigned text, so no, I don't have quizzes on the content, I haven't even read all the books myself. The task was not meant to be an assessment of how much book you read, it was meant to stimulate deeper thinking about reading.

    So the task he chose was a video book review. A different student did one last week. He wrote up an outline based on the requirements and came up with something like "This book is {title} by {author}. This book is about three brothers who got separated in a war, {blah blah}. I liked it because it was a mystery. I also like that it had a lot of action, like when {blah blah}. I didn't like that it was so long. {maybe one more point}. I think you would enjoy this book." The cop-out kid came up with "Title: {title}. Author: {author}. It is about a football player who {detail from chapter 1, when he was still paying attention}. I liked this book because it was about football (ed: I knew that just from the cover!) I like that the characters were football players. {You get the idea}"

    The kids' behavior is enough to distinguish reading from not reading. I do not have any other student who would have the gall to lie so obviously. We have class expectations that you spend reading time reading, and it is very obvious when students are doing so. The POINT is that this period is for reading for enjoyment/experience/thinking and NOT for tests or assignments.
     
  9. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Jan 18, 2012

    Then he needs to spend the period reading another book.
     
  10. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    Jan 18, 2012

    I would take this opportunity to talk with the group about quality of work. Those answers, even the first video response, show nothing more than the back of the book does.

    Maybe you want to ask that all summary assignments be re-done with a more specific outline of requirements. Those responses do not show deeper thinking-they show a surface memory of plot. Questions such as:

    What was the main character's big problem during this story?
    What was the cause of the problem?
    How did the supporting characters help or hinder the main character in solving their problem?
    How did the personalities of the characters enhance the story?
    What message was the author trying to get across by writing this story?
    How did you personally connect with an element of this story?

    THOSE are questions that would ask them to think deeper about what they are reading.
     
  11. juli233

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    Jan 18, 2012

    I think you really need to change the assignment, ask for more details right from the get go. Give them an example of what will and will NOT be accepted.
    it almost sounds like he read the dust jacket and just used that info to "create" the video??
    I think when we are trying to encourage reading for enjoyment we need to give them full reign over what they choose, and if they happen to choose a something you might not think is the right choice hopefully it would inspire some deeper thought??
     
  12. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

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    Jan 18, 2012

    Jem, the first example was sufficient for my expectations. These kids are in resource room for a reason. The student had been reading his book steadily for a while and participating meaninfully in RW discussions about it. The fact that he independently followed directions, composed an intelligible response, supported his opinion with details, and paid attention to several literary elements (character, plot - part of the assignment) is good enough for me. Again, this is readers' workshop, not a teacher-assigned exercise. Student #2's response was unacceptable mostly because he spent the majority of time complaining, delaying, etc; clearly lied about finishing the book, and the response was overall just... weak. If I modify the assignment to say "...and you can't use the word football more than twice" he would find a different way out next time. My objective with these tasks was to keep it light and easy so as not to spoil the atmosphere of reader's workshop for everyone. Mainly I just wanted to get them producing something, following directions, taking responsibility... which one student did and one student didn't, and I could explain the difference until I'm blue in the face and the kid would just yell "no fair!" the way he did when I told him he had to finish the book in the first place (it was extremely fair. Kid 1 got to do something fun because he had spent almost a month steadily reading the 200-page book of his choice and reflecting on it. In the same time, Kid 2 read one chapter of each of three books, got as far as chapter 4 or 5 of the one he reported on, wasted ridiculous amounts of time... and then had a fit when he wasn't up to the fun yet)

    I made recommendations but gave them free choice of anything in the school library for their final decision - and they were allowed to bring 2-3 books back to the classroom to allow for limited mind-changing. This was after a full lesson about how to choose appropriate books and gauge whether they were interesting enough.

    The assignments do include an example, though I used fairy tales instead of grade-level books so that they would be familiar with the example and understand what was done. (e.g. my review analyzed the characters, setting, and plot of Cinderella)

    I actually took time I didn't have to read the entire 100-page football book over the last couple of days so that I at least have some info to go on if I manage to get him into a conversation about it.

    I'm just so disgusted that the kid insists on abusing my trust and destroying the RW atmosphere for everyone. I feel like I've tried everything...
     
  13. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Jan 18, 2012

    I wish I had some magical advice or suggestons for you, Bored, but I don't. In fact, I have two kids in our afterschool program that act much the same as this kid; one will sometimes just flatly refuse to do ANY work at all while the other can create more ways to stall/delay/etc than anyone I've ever seen.

    It is VERY frustrating trying to get any work out of either of them at times. I am currently reading Teaching with Love and Logic to learn more strategies.
     
  14. HOPE-fulTeacher

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    Jan 18, 2012

    I would still have to agree with other posters that the reflection on their Reader's Workshop book should be harder. I am not special ed and of course don't know the specifics or severity of your students, but it seems to me like middle schoolers (even those in resource room) should be able to go a little deeper. The report you described from "Student #1" is something that my first graders could do.

    Is there another resource teacher or even another English teacher that you could talk this situation over with? I'm sure your student is not the first middle schooler to try to get out of an assignment. ;) Plus, a general ed teacher will probably have some assignments or graphic organizers that you could use as a template and just tweak for the needs of your students. Just an idea.... :2cents:
     
  15. JustMe

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    Jan 18, 2012

    Bored, for what it's worth, I "get" your assignment and intentions. This is for special education students and in addition to regular coursework. I have similar assignments for my regular reading students...assignments that don't completely suck whatever enjoyment the students get from their independent reading. :)

    Apparently I'm alone here, but it's unacceptable...so I wouldn't accept it. I would require that he read the book and try again.
     
  16. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Jan 19, 2012

    I "get" it too. For some of my grade 7 and 8 students with LDs, getting this much written down independently (not to mention actually persevering to read a book), is huge! I agree that the second is a cop-out, and understand your frustration.
     
  17. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Jan 19, 2012

    My assessments over independent reading are fairly easy. I just want the kids to enjoy reading. I save the quizzes, tests, etc... for our in class work.
     
  18. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Jan 19, 2012

    I like this suggestion the best. It goes hand-in-hand with EdEd's advice to increase the requirements of the reading.

    I understand this is primarily to promote the enjoyment of reading, but how much enjoyment (and enrichment) will the students get if they never take the time to do the actual reading? Think of all the wonderful world's and possibilities these kids will miss out on without even realizing it.

    Since they are allowed to choose their own books (within reason) and are not tested on the book, I think it is perfectly reasonable to expect them to be able to answer the questions Jem provided to show they actually did read the book and not just the dust jacket. After all, they are supposedly reading something they LIKE to begin with, so it isn't asking too much for them to be able to give more specific details about them.

    I hated doing book reports in middle and high school, but if a teacher had asked me to do an oral review of The Hobbit, I would still have been talking when the bell rang and would want to continue at the beginning of class tomorrow. ;)
     
  19. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

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    Jan 19, 2012

    So, after thinking over the responses here, which were actually quite helpful food for thought, we spent most of today's period having a discussion about quality expectations. The discussion actually went pretty well (OK, it wasn't SO deep, but I expected total resistance and instead actually got some respectful conversation). Afterward, we still had a little time left, and they got right to work. The results were still reluctant and slightly disappointing but much better and less painful. I wonder how long the effect will last. I got quite a bit of sulking when I said that my requirement for specific details meant much more specific than "about football," and three different details means really different, not all about football. The kid confessed to skipping from chapter 7 to the last page (chapter 14, which didn't even include any real plot) but was a little ridiculously stubborn about the effect this would have on his understanding of the story... Sigh. Some you can never win!
     
  20. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Jan 19, 2012

    Two possible strategies you might try would be:
    1) Ask him to describe how he thinks the main character felt during a major event that took place in a chapter you know he didn't read.
    or
    2) Mention the major event in a way that would make it enticing to him.

    Let's use Mark Twain's famous book, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer for an example.

    You could ask the student "Tell me what you would have done if you saw the fight in the graveyard like Tom and Huck did". (Method 1)
    or
    Say "Wow, what about that fight between Injun Joe and Dr. Robinson, huh? Whew....it still gives me chill bumps thinking about it. So what did you think about it?" (Method 2)

    If he says "Oh yeah, that was really exciting", you can say start asking for more specific details.

    The idea isn't to "prove he didn't read the book", but to show him what he MISSED when he didn't read the whole thing. Maybe after one or two examples like that, he might decide to read the entire book for himself next time. ;)
     
  21. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Jan 19, 2012

    I'm going to be blunt here. Most kids that struggle with reading and school would rather a toothache or earache than to read for enjoyment. Some kids in resource that struggle enjoy stories, but some HATE, HATE, HATE reading and writing. So, the idea they pick something to read for enjoyment is just fooling ourselves. So, if the goal of independent reading is to help them be proficient and they refuse to read independently because they hate it so much, then you are wasting your time and their time trying to force someone to enjoy reading. Structure their time because they hate the task anyway. You aren't going to make them love reading by forcing them to enjoy it. Might as well try to work on improving the weak reading skills the student has whether it is decoding, fluency, vocabulary, understanding organization of reading, etc. Get them competent in the types of reading they will be required to do when they are an adult.

    This time would be much better spent working with those that don't want to have independent reading time in more directed reading interventions where they have no choice but to read.
     
  22. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Jan 19, 2012

    That's an interesting perspective. I can see your point about kids who struggle with reading, but other than those kids, I've not seen one yet that would turn down a chance for a "Drop Everything And Read" rather than doing structured classwork - especially the ones that struggle with other content classes.

    While my experience is admittedly limited, I've never met a kid yet that did not like reading stories or having stories read to them.

    I understand completely that some kids HATE to write about the books or stories they read. One of my own sons is the same way. He absolutely loves to read, but also absolutely hates to write about what he has read. This has caused problems with his LA grades in the past.

    As for your other suggestions, that is good advice but I'm assuming the OP has already done those things and continues incorporating them into the reading lessons.

    I'm simply offering some suggestions that would hopefully help eliminate incidents like the one described in the OP. I agree completely that this specific kid may just hate reading and will never develop a love for reading, but I'm assuming the OP is still required to accomplish as many of the state standards with the kid as possible, whether the student likes them or not. I think the activity and format he has offered (giving a video book report) is one attempt to offering differentiation and accommodate different learning styles.

    While it is true no teacher can force a student to enjoy reading, there is always the possibility (s)he could entice the student into reading by discussing or describing (in partial detail) some of the exciting scenes the student obviously skipped.

    Most of us have an innate curiosity and want to know more details when we hear about something exciting or intriguing, but only get part of the story. That curiosity makes us want to find out what happened for ourselves. So, the OP could describe a scene in one of the chapters the student admits skipping that he knows the student would find exciting, but leave out some of the details. It's the same as the author writing an excerpt from a scene on the dust jacket or in the Forward section of the book that lures the reader in and makes them want to know what led up to that event and how did it end. The goal, of course, would be for the kid to become so curios about the scene that he would go back and read the book (or at least the last half of it) to find out for himself what happened.
     
  23. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

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    Jan 19, 2012

    The objective of this reading workshop is not to get kids who hate reading to love reading; it's to develop skills in a less pressured, less painful environment. The kids choosing their own books (within guidelines) is part of that, the creative/"lite" assignments are another aspect, and the main learning happens through discussions. We'll do a mini-lesson about character traits, for example, then read independently for a little while, then re-group and each student presents what he learned about his characters in that day's reading, or he can share anything from previous lessons if it's more relevant or if he so desires. So there's teaching, practice, and reinforcement, but no tests or hardcore assignments.

    For more intense "boring" skill practice, I give super-short little pieces (<1 page preferably, occasionally 2) with required questions.

    Anyway, for now I think the situation is saved, but who knows what will happen next week... this whole thing has been a learning experience, it's my first time trying RW and despite all that I touted above, it might be my last just because my time is so limited (if I were the all-day teacher it would still be in though!)
     

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