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Sun, Nov. 27th, 2005, 06:50 pm
Winter blues

How bad is it that I just can’t wait to get out of the funk that is November? It’s cold and dull and there’s no snow to cover the brown grass and bare dirt of the flower beds.

Not that the foreseeable December is any better. Classes will still be in session, and said classes will all be antsy as heck for break. Learning always drops in December.

Kotetsu and I frequently have discussions on whether it’s better to assign massive tests on the last days of class before winter break or not. He claims that by doing so, the students are forced to pay attention and if they don’t, it’s their own fault.

Plus he can avoid actually teaching the kids.

I have a hard time with that idea though. I mean, is it fair to expect them to have a normal attention span during a period which is tried and true and proven to be one where everyone’s grades drop? And then add further stress by having a pile of tests anyway?

I’ve usually held several labs in a row instead, things which keep the kids busy.

This of course creates more work for me.

However, I’ve been toying with the idea of having a week of individual research in a sort of laissez-faire setting: announce on the Friday before that they have one week to write about a science topic of choice – must be something we’ve discussed in class. They work in the classroom or the library. I’ve even thought about allowing the senior students the option of not showing up at all, university-style. The assignment would be handed in by the final bell on the last day of classes, so they’d get five days of class time, plus a weekend. It’d have to be a fairly hefty paper, maybe ten pages minimum, double-spaced, pictures allowable only if they are actually discussed in the body of the text and references cited.

I know it’s a fairly liberal style for high school, but it might work. Do any other teachers have thoughts on what they do the last week of classes?

Mon, Nov. 28th, 2005 02:52 am (UTC)

You’re too soft on them, Izumo. The kids still need to be scared into learning. Especially the ones who need the better grades the most.

Mon, Nov. 28th, 2005 02:54 am (UTC)

Maybe, but I don't think it's our jobs to try to force learning under stressful conditions. Just as it isn't our jobs to really try to trick kids on tests.

Mon, Nov. 28th, 2005 02:56 am (UTC)

Sure it is. As much as we deny it, part of our job is to get them into a position of responsibility, and part of that is forcing yourself to do a job, even if it isn't appealing. The real world won't care whether it's snowing out, if you catch my, uh, drift.

Mon, Nov. 28th, 2005 08:47 pm (UTC)

It's a good thing I have you for a teacher.