Tuesday, June 21, 2005


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.


Lightning Bug's Butt said...

Wow! I plan to read Flowers for Algernon this summer. I never have.

I saw the movie, Charlie, years ago and it's one of my favorites.

Dave Morris said...

Great to see such progress, imagine where those kids would be without you!

Lance Manion said...

It just goes to show that carefully administered electric shocks can really pay off.