Weekly Reflection #6 – Finding a Plan for Late Work

A lot happened this week: first round of conferences, introducing To Kill a Mockingbird, finishing up The Scarlet Letter, final activities for Tuesdays with Morrie, gathering and grading assignments–I was busy! One thing I’ve taken away from this week’s craziness, however, is that I need to establish a better system for late work.

This sounds fairly simple. Okay, a plan for late/missing work. A piece of cake, right? Wrong.

latework1Some of the struggles I ran into this placement were trying to find a middle ground between giving students credit for their work and grading them based on their academic success vs. enabling lazy behavior. I found myself between a rock and a hard place all too often.

At first, I tried to establish my rules. This was an assignment. It needed to be turned in. When I had 16 out of a class of 28 not turn in their homework worksheet, however, I felt I needed to change something. So I accepted late work. Reluctantly. Then, for the next assignment I transitioned–late credit would garner missing points.

For a small speech assignment, not bringing items to class was an automatic 5/10. I also started taking points off of journals and worksheets. This will teach ’em, I thought. I was wrong again. It seemed like taking off points only hurt their grade because of lack of effort, not lack of quality. Their grades weren’t a true reflection of what they could do! So then I started counting some smaller assignments as Productivity points (points that Mason City High School records in the grade book,  but does not affect the student’s final grade, basically a way to monitor completion of assignments show where students are lacking in following directions without digging their grade into a hole).

In my final days, I came up with this--a written, visual note about late work to make sure that before I left, all grades were taken care of.
In my final days, I came up with this–a written, visual note about late work to make sure that before I left, all grades were taken care of.

The productivity points seemed to help, but the major assignments kept coming in late! Finally I resorted to half credit. In my opinion, if a student is turning something in two weeks after the due date, it’s too late for full credit. However, I wanted to still award the efforts made.

latework2Time and time again, I found myself struggling with how to grade! My cooperating teacher advised me to just make a statement–No late work accepted. The assignment is turned in on the due date or it is a zero–this isn’t a bad idea, but then it takes away from the student’s ability or willingness to learn. If he/she won’t get any points no matter what, then why would they even bother to do the assignment at all?

This is something I’m still wondering about. I think the best thing is to slowly transition. Start accepting late work with points off from the beginning (this way students know their grades will be affected, but it still gives them a chance), then establish a half-credit rule, and finally get to the point where students know they have to do the work or they will not have an opportunity to redeem their grade.

I’m still learning and I’m still deciding, but as for this week, this is something I’ve really been thinking about and reflecting on. As I shift to my new placement at Forest City Middle School, which is Standards-Based Grading, I know my experience will be completely different! My goal as I shift is to be open to the new grading system, and to try my best to work with it, incorporate it, and keep an open mind! I’m both nervous and excited for this transition, but I’m hoping to find a happy medium with my previous placement before I go.

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