Q's Personal Legend

"When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream," said the alchemist, echoing the words of the old king. The boy understood. Another person was there to help him toward his Personal Legend.

-- The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

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Location: Georgia

I teach Social Studies at a Georgia high school.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

If I had only known!!

After graduating college, I decided to wait before teaching and got a job in curriculum. I knew that I would burn out quickly and be too concerned with being the popular teacher. I am so glad I waited. When I got a teaching job six years later, I knew that I was a teacher and not a friend. I felt that if I were to be popular, that was fine--I would rather be consistent.

So my first job started after the school year started--six or eight weeks in. I was finally ready to be a teacher. I learned real quick that I needed to find a better way to grade homework. My then-boyfriend, now husband, helped me grade everything because I stupidly graded homework for accuracy. Soon I started grading in class using a rubber stamp. It is amazing how teenagers will vy for a smiley face stamp. If I forgot to stamp, they made sure that I knew it. So I started using stickers for A tests. Again, a great motivator. A few years ago I laminated some 'A' sheets and hung them on my bulletin board to advertise A test grades. It is so funny to watch the students come into class to see their name on these sheets.

In AP classes I havent found a way to motivate them to increase test scores. The first test in the AP classes at our school are typically horrible. In fact, each year I only had one student pass. So I tell each new year that the first test grade will most likely disappoint them. I advised them to read the chapter (a novel concept). This year's class thought I was lying to them. So on the fly I mentioned, if you pass the first test, I will make a banner and hang it outside the door. You get your name on the banner if you just PASS the test. They showed me! Out of 2 classes I had the following distribution:
*2 A's
*8 B's
*18 C's
*7 F's

I was stunned and happy. I know 7 still failed but they failed well. My lowest grade was 58%. So, I made the banner and hung it outside. The students loved it. Many said that this was the first time they every read the chapter for a test. And, they are seniors!!!

If I had only known that a banner would motivate them to pass a test! I would have done it sooner!

And, some say that this stuff is too childish for high school students. Pushaw!


Blogger Michelle said...

I really wish I had thought of this one a long time ago! What an awesome idea.

9:50 PM  

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