Still Having Trouble

My American Literature class is still giving me grief. Only 19 of 32 students initially turned in the summary (that number is now 27 out of 32), and now only 18 of 32 turned in the thesis paragraph assigned two weeks ago. Grrr!

After I call all the parents, I’m not sure what I’ll do. These are such simple assignment and such a slow progression of skills–all review, by the way–that I fully expected the students to whip these out and start the semester with a solid base.

I’ve never experienced this lack of success before (getting kids to turn in work). Maybe it’s the large numbers of students that really bothers me. I’ve had a student or two not do the work but never one third of a class.

I’m especially apprehensive about this because we have started a novel, and now the students have two or three things occurring at once.

Today I split the class into two parts: the first half of the class I led the group through some short exercises and then I gave the students the second half to work. Maybe I’ll continue this pattern and try to work with specific individuals as much as I can. We’ll see.

Any suggestions?


6 thoughts on “Still Having Trouble

  1. Jim Van Pelt

    I feel your pain. I have an 11th grade comp class a little like that. To keep them from failing because a significant number of them won’t do homework, we do almost everything in class. What this has done, though, is to split the class between fast workers and slow workers. If I give them something rather basic, like writing the first paragraph of the essay, the ones that get going turn it into a ten minute assignment. In the meantime, I’m working with the undermotivated, the slow workers, and the kids who have genuine problems (and it’s VERY hard to tell the difference between them–the slow starter or the undermotivated may be hiding a learning problem).

    It’s a struggle. Thank goodness the class is a fairly small one (22). It would be much more horrible with ten more kids in the room.

  2. mrschili

    I don’t have any answers here, Doc; I’m sorry. I’ve got the same problems.

    I’ve got 24 students in my composition class – junior college level – and 9 of them are failing outright. Of those 9, EVERY SINGLE ONE is failing because of a preponderance of zeros in their grade average. They’re just not doing the work.

    I’m meeting with one student – one with a 45.3 average, I should point out – who’s desperate to pass because, if he fails, he loses his culinary internship. We have an 11 week term. We’re in week 10. This boy came to me on MONDAY.


  3. drpezz Post author

    Thanks for the advice, everyone.

    Clix, our coach (one .6 coach for a building of 2100 kids and 120 staff) is rarely in the building. To be honest, I have had more luck speaking to experienced teachers rather than our coach.

    This class is four weeks into an 18 week semester. We have time, but I worry that the students are procrastinating to a point where they will have too many pieces of work to complete at one time. I’m hoping my restructuring of the period helps.

    Essentially, doing all the work in class (which is more of what I’m moving towards) is in itself an intervention where I am reducing the rigor of the course. I hate that. My dilemma here is that I’m constantly told to “raise the bar” but “reduce the failures.” It just doesn’t work that way, at least at first.

  4. Loraine

    Are you still using the non-grading approach? If so, is this required?

    Just wondering, because at one point you said it was easy and it should’ve been something they could whip out. So maybe they don’t think it’s worth doing.

  5. drpezz Post author

    All writings get a grade. The practices do not get a grade, but these definitely do. I asked a couple kids today, and they said they just hadn’t “got around to it.” Ugh! I hope they do soon.


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