May 1, 2009

When We All Are Rewarded for Diligence

My classes were halfway through the PSA assignment when I found out that their laptops were scheduled to be collected May 4, which was the original deadline for the PSA. I apologized to them, and bumped the deadline up to today, May 1. They had a week's notice.

My 5th hour English class was very much affected by this deadline because May 1st was also the date of our school's 3rd annual poetry slam--during the last two periods of the day. (I have prep the last period, so it was just the one class affected.) I had planned for us to go, which is pretty much a given since I am on the committee and it's a English event. But academics come first, and I again apologized when I told them we would not be able to go.*

However...I told them that if they finished and turned in their PSAs on Thursday, I would send them with another class to attend the slam. I would stay behind with everyone else so they could have the full period to finish up just like my other classes had. Turning in PSAs early was actually an option for all students--with a 20 point extra credit reward.

This morning I checked off the students who had turned in their PSAs early and found that 25 out of the 33 students had turned them in on Thursday! I was so happy! But that left my colleagues to babysit the majority of my students while I stayed behind for the minority. Not that they would be problems at all, but it's just the idea. I intended to hold firm, though. I promised my students that they would have the time they needed.

Throughout the morning students popped in here and there to load their PSAs onto the drive, until I was down to a few students from that class who hadn't turned theirs in. I was adamant when I told them they could not simply turn in their videos at the beginning of class on Friday and expect to go. It takes too long to download--that's why I allocated the entire class period for collection. I was also not interested in managing the chaos of checking off those who turned it in before class on Friday. So, those who came in were just turning it in because they had a few minutes and didn't even expect to go. (They might have been hoping, though. ;-) They knew better than to say anything.)

Just before lunch, I realized I was down to 4 students who hadn't turned it in. I tracked them down and asked them what they still needed to do to finish. Most simply needed to transfer it to my drive. One student had 10 minutes worth of work, and his teacher let him finish up. She was the one taking my class to the slam, so she had some interest in getting all my students to finish...

In the end, I had ONE student who was not finished and could not go to the poetry slam. In fact, he was the student from yesterday who still had not found a problem for his PSA...I rerouted him to the math classroom next door as he was walking into my class. The math teacher was giving a test. Perfect working conditions for a student who will not likely ever finish the project.

It was so exciting when the bell rang and I walked into class, "Okay, class. Get everything gathered. We're going to the slam!"

The students looked a little confused. One asked, "Everyone turned it in early?"


I explained the events of the day (excluding info about their ONE lame classmate) and how proud I was that they all finished early. They were surprised that so many had finished early, too! In my other classes, there were only 6-9 students who submitted early. That's pretty much standard for most early rewards; I think the students kind of know that, too.

I added that was I super excited because their diligence meant that I was able to go to the slam, too. Trying not to get all verklempt...

And the poetry slam rocked!

In fact, their 5th hour classmate won 1st place!

*Even at our new school, we still don't have room to have the entire student body attend an event at the same time. Teachers who were interested were invited to bring their classes.

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