Sunday, October 21, 2007

"You mean I have to do an essay on my cruise??"

"Short-term Independent Study (STISP)" is the answer to the problem of getting ADA funding for students that take off for a week or more. Basically, students go to each teacher to get a weeks worth (or more) of assignments and a signature, and then take a vacation in most cases.

Take my classes. I've had 8 STISP's within the first two months of this young year. This week, I had four in one class alone. The trips, vacations, cruises, and hunting. Of course, nine out of ten students will do none of the assignments that I give them, and will fail the make-up quizzes they take when they come back. Add into that the fact that most students that take off are the students that can't afford to miss one day of class, much less a week or more. It's an ugly dilemma makes teaching Seniors that much more interesting when the end of the semester comes.

So what do I do about it? I put the responsibility on the student. It is after all "Independent Study", which the contract states is an agreement for the the student to study the subject matter while they are gone. Now I put information (including lecture notes) and all assignments online and direct the students to get the information from the Moodle. Since most of my assignments are quizzes, the student takes one quiz when they get back that represents all the quizzes they missed. That percentage then goes onto all the quizzes that were missed. Normally, nothing gets turned in for assignments and the quizzes are complete failures. Then, because it is obviously my fault, I get the heat for student failures.

About three hours after I got the comment in my header (yes, it was a real comment), I computed my grades for the quarter. It is the least prettiest it has ever been. Three classes of Government, about 90 students.........1 A, 19 F's. I had five A's earlier this week, until I had two vocabulary quizzes there weren't studied for and a political values packet that only one A student even bothered to turn in. After my second quiz, I asked my students the simple question:

"With the exception of studying today, how many of you bothered to study the vocabulary for the quiz today."

1 student in class A.
3 students in class B.
4 students in class C.

That would equal 8 students for those that are keeping score. 8 out of 90. Here's a hint, studying helps.

So does going to class.
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