Today, I inflicted finals in English on my kids. Here's how it worked:
On Thursday, I gave them an open ended essay question pertaining to the last book they read in class. My freshmen are reading Flowers For Algernon . . My sophomores are reading Speak. .
Because they have disabilities related to reading and writing, I assigned mandatory notetaking in the form of flashcards, as well as mandatory outlines. It occurs to me that if I'd been assigned the tasks I gave them, I'd have blown it off in favor of banging out the essay on the day of the test. However, I didn't find reading and writing difficult in school. They do. If it was easy for them, I wouldn't make them do it. I also wouldn't make it worth 50% of the overall test grade. Yes, I'm that . asshole teacher.
I was gratified today, however, when only one kid freaked out and didn't show up. Additionally, only 2 others blew off the outline. All of them made the flashcards (all 25-30, complete with appropriate citation info). As far as the essay went, I only required 5 solid paragraphs (I have some really, really limited kids). Still, the majority of them used the 2 hour test period to compose typed, double spaced essays in 12 point font that were between 3-5 pages - in many cases this is the most any of them has written, ever. Having given them a quick once over, the essays are even coherent; some actually show a fair amount of insight on the assigned question. I think they impressed themselves. I already figured they would impress me.. They just needed to figure that out for themselves.