Unfinished work: what route do I take?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Backroads, Sep 11, 2015.

  1. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

    Apr 23, 2010
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    Sep 11, 2015

    The little group of kiddos with the perpetual inability to finish work (generally consisting of our warm-up handwriting packets and the DLR we do together) won't stop. I implemented a couple weeks back my everything-do-on-Friday, whether it's finished or not, but now I'm wondering if that's the best route. I had a little boy in tears today about the packets he hadn't completed, begging for a chance to finish them at a vague future point.

    I had been doing some digging the past couple of days and found out that the 1st grade teacher a larger percentage of my class came from (who, incidentally, had been let go at the end of the last year and who now happens to be plaguing my mother in an ELL program at another school) did not require work to be turned in. So I have a number of students who don't know how to finish and turn work in.

    So, I'm teaching this explicitly, more so than I have. I haven't seen this kind of behavior in seven years of teaching, so I'm up against a mindset from the past year. I'm going with the belief training them on finishing and turning in work will solve most problems.

    But...I still don't know what to do with the unfinished work I think will still happen and what to do in the meantime.

    My thoughts:

    1. Continue my due-on-Friday policy. This does come with a half-hour I schedule for make-up work. The kids will receive a grade according to what they have done, zeros for what isn't turned in.

    2. Send it home with the homework and in essence make it a consequence for the parents to see how so-n-so isn't getting his work done. I'm not sure how many parents, however, will feel this should be done at school--I've friends who feel that way as parents and I can see where they are coming from.

    3. Just have 'em miss recess. This is already my policy for one extreme offender and he hasn't had to miss recess in awhile. However, I plan to pump during recess after maternity leave and really don't like the hassle of finding another classroom to go to or another teacher to come in and watch them. Though I'm also hoping at that point missed recess due to unfinished work will be a rare thing.

    Again, I'm hoping the proper training towards the mindset of "work needs to be done and turned in!" will prevent most of these. I also don't feel I have excessive paperwork: My morning work is a handwriting packet that consists of 4 lines each day, and the DLR packet is 5 small tasks that honestly take about 2 minutes to do. None of my big-time offenders have documented issues, so I don't feel I should be scaling back for them, though I suppose I could scale back temporarily and help them build up their stamina.

    Sorry for the vent here, but I just have never seen so many kids who are so... helpless... about getting a few tasks finished and turned in and the news about the last teacher's policies are rather disheartening. I would suck it up and say I'm not giving them enough time, except I am. The majority of the class finishes these with time to spare in the timeframe I give.

    Any advice?
  3. mrsammieb

    mrsammieb Devotee

    May 2, 2006
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    Sep 11, 2015

    I have a special folder for unfinished work. It is blue so I call it the blue unfinished work folder (original I know). All unfinished work goes into the folder. It could be math, center, word work, phonics, social studies... you name it. Each day students do stations when they walk in. Table 1 reads, table 2 writes, table 3 computers, table 4 morning work. Then they rotate each day. On Friday, instead of stations, they must work on items in their unfinished folder. If they do not have anything in their folder, they can pick a station. It seems to be working for me. There are a few things in the folder I weed through when they are gone because it can seem overwhelming if there is too much in there. But they can do it and they like it. So that is what I do.
  4. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

    Jun 14, 2013
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    Sep 11, 2015

    I have homework packets... maybe I'll start stapling unfinished work to those. My fear about sending work home is that it will get lost or "lost" (thrown away or not seen because they don't want to do it). I do email parents though, and let them make the choice. I will often attach the file for the work to the email. That way at least I'm covered if I get complaints about poor grades due to missing work.

    I like your #1 (continue due-on-Friday) coupled with parent notification, and I'd give 50% if they turn it in late but not pester them about getting it in after Friday. If they do, they do, but most of them won't.
  5. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

    Jul 20, 2012
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    Sep 12, 2015

    I have a few thoughts here...

    I like your idea #1 with a few modifications. Could you implement some sort of fun activity during that make-up work time so that students who are finished get rewarded for being on task and finishing their work? This might motivate some of the slower workers to get their work finished on time, and it still allows those who need the extra time to finish it, just without participating in the fun activity. In addition, I feel strongly against giving zeroes for incomplete work in second grade. I think students that age are too young to grasp the concept of grades, and, therefore, I don't think it does anyone any good. It doesn't motivate them to stay on task any better, and it doesn't give you or their parents a good idea of their understanding on the skills and concepts being taught. That's my personal belief, and I know that not everyone will agree, but I do feel very strongly about it.

    I don't like idea #2. I never like sending home work that I'm taking a grade on. Parents may help their children or do the work for them, and then it doesn't tell me anything about whether or not the child understands the skill or concept. Again, I believe the point of any work that is being graded should be to see what they know and are capable of doing, not to prove that they can complete an assignment. Sending it home and allowing the support of parents doesn't help me to get that information. The only work I send home is for practice, and I never take a grade on it. I might change this policy with older students but not for primary age kids.

    I think #3 is fine on occasion, but I'm also a firm believer in not taking away recess on a regular basis. It's a fine consequence every once in awhile, but some of my past students would never ever get to see the light of day if they had to miss recess every time their work was unfinished. I think you'd have to keep the individual student in mind when taking away recess as a consequence. Some students really do need that time for movement and taking a mental break. Some are just slow workers, and they shouldn't be punished for that every single day. Also, as you mentioned, recess is also one of the few times during the day we, as teachers, can actually have a minute to ourselves or get things done. I wouldn't want students in with me every day, and I certainly wouldn't ask another teacher or staff member to watch the student for me. If another teacher asked me to do that on a regular basis, I'd be quite miffed.

    I know you mentioned that none of these students have any documented issues, but I would keep in mind, again, that these are very young students. It's very likely that some of them do, in fact, have an issue, and it just hasn't been identified yet because they are still young. You might be the one who is identifying the issue. If you have students who are serious offenders (or frequently not getting their work finished on time), I would start documenting or collecting data on it. If the problem continues, you might want to use that data to refer them to whatever sort of intervention support team your school has or at least use it to have a conversation with the students' parents.
  6. ktdclark

    ktdclark Comrade

    Dec 4, 2012
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    Sep 12, 2015

    I agree that holding them in for recess all the time is a lot of work of you as the teacher AND not sure it benefits the kids all that much...I do a modified version on your #1 in my 2nd grade class: on FRidays, I have them take out ALL work in their language arts and science/social studies folder. If your folder is EMPTY, I have an extension activity or art activity for them to do. The un-finishers have to work on their incomplete work. If it is STILL not turned in by the end of the day, they then go into their "Fun Friday" time at the end of the day.

    I too have a lot of unfinishers who all had the SAME first grade teacher....hmmmmmmm.

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