Monday, May 6, 2013

No More Late Work 2.0

From the beginning of my teaching career, I've wanted to be flexible with deadlines. Allowing students to choose to do the work makes it more meaningful to them. Attempts to punish students for turning work in late haven't worked. Understanding what we're working toward as a big goal broken into small bits that students get to at their own pace seems like a classroom culture that mirrors what happens outside of school.

But I'm not sure I was being as intentional about this ethic as I should have been. My students in higher-level classes started abusing the privilege especially, and many ended last quarter with low grades as a result of not turning in a major paper I had broken into smaller assignments for them.

So, I'm trying something new. I'll still take late work. I don't promise to grade it within a week as with work turned in on time. And I will only take it late with an accompanying paragraph explaining why the work is late. I told students that forgetting is an acceptable answer, but they have to explain why they forgot. The same with simply choosing not to do it in order to focus on other priorities. So far, I've had good results in that more work is coming in at the original deadline, and I've seen some focused reflections that I think will help me organize my own practice to meet student needs a little better. For example, a couple of students asked for some modifications to the writing workshop checklist.

For those of you in the classroom right now, what's working to get this end of the year work in? What isn't? What worked for you when you were in school?

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