R&J: Day 16

I had grand plans today.  My original plan had been to cover 4.1 and 4.2, and then work through some interactive activities in order to examine subtext.

However, I changed my plans because of progress reports.  Throughout the year, we have been attempting to build into our students an understanding that all work is important, that we don’t assign  busywork.  Assignments fall into two categories: they (a) solidify our understanding of what we covered in class that day and/or (b) prepare us for tomorrow.

When creating our syllabus this year, Peter and I made the decision that we would require all assignments to be turned in for the semester in order for students to receive a final grade.  Students who did not complete all assignments would be given an “incomplete” in the class, parents and students would sign an incomplete contract, and students would have until the date designated in the contract to submit all work.

Now there are flaws in every plan.  Do I really enjoy grading work that should have long ago been turned in?  Not really.  It takes me 20 times longer to grade it after the fact than it does when I’m in the groove grading the assignment the first time.  However, what I do like is that the expectation is clear.  There is a line.  I have seen students grow in work ethic tremendously through the year.  I have seen grades improve tremendously.  So while I am oftentimes inconvenienced, I know that in the end students will be leaving my class far more prepared for their sophomore year than ever before.

That said, the first part of our day revolved around the fact that Peter and I issued progress reports for every student (regardless of grade) who was missing an assignment.  We had students check their grades on-line and create their own progress reports that listed their missing assignments (Missing Assignments Form).  This will go home this weekend to be signed by parents.  We also rewarded students who had no missing assignments with a small feast of cookies.

The second half of the day revolved around reading 4.1 an 4.2.  The most interesting conversation that came from this is how Friar Lawrence dealt with both a suicidal Romeo and suicidal Juliet.  With Romeo, he basically tells him to man up, snap out of it, stand up, and go to Juliet.  To Juliet, he says, “Ok.  I don’t doubt you.  Take this vial.”  Unlike Romeo, Juliet is ready to take action.  Her grief doesn’t cripple her.  It makes her stand up and do something.  Interesting stuff there.

I will be chaperoning a school trip for the next week, so unfortunately you will not get to read about the thrilling ending to our study of Romeo and Juliet.  However, I will write a post describing how I envision that end to happen.  I make no guarantees that my team teacher will stick entirely to the plan.  I think that’s good a thing, though.  No one teacher is the same.  In order to teach something, you have to make it yours.

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