What Would You Do?

So, I sent an email to my students about the assignment that’s due for Monday. It went like this:

In order to get an A on this assignment, the following criteria must be met:

-you must have some sort of preliminary outline. It doesn’t have to follow strict outline form, but it must give me a roadmap to how you put your speech together and what points you plan to research for the final product. Most of you have put the barest minimum of effort into your outlines thus far – do some work on this one, please. This part of the packet may be hand-written (but may NOT be on a napkin!)

-your speech must be at least (AT LEAST!) five to seven minutes long if read aloud. Do yourself a favor – read it to a friend and have them time you, because you KNOW I’ll check. It must have a good, solid central idea, at least three supporting points and a clear conclusion. The writing must be clear and convincing college-level work. Avoid generalizations, broad statements, unsupported statements and words like “a lot” and “really.” Oh, and it must be typed.

-you must hand in a comprehensive bibliography (also typed) with your speech. I don’t care if you use APA or MLA citation style (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, LOOK IT UP!!), but make sure whichever you use is complete and consistent. I’m looking for at least (AT LEAST!) three sources, and one of them MUST be from a print resource (ie, NOT a website – find a book or magazine or professional journal or government report or….).

-your entire packet – outline, speech and bibliography – must be grammatically clean. You must have proper punctuation and spelling, subject-verb agreement, and clear use of pronouns. Make sure your language is clear and correct, please. Remember, I’m an English teacher…


Yesterday, I got an electronic file from one of my favorite students. He has written a persuasive speech about spraying insecticide as a preventative for triple-e. His sister died of the disease last year, and it’s pretty obvious that he feels very strongly about his argument for action.

The speech itself isn’t particularly persuasive; he relied a great deal on emotional appeal and righteous anger at the cavalier attitude of those who think that triple-e is not a significant threat. Neither is it especially well-written – there were more than a few grammatical errors and he’s got a bit of a ‘flow’ problem. It’s not a bad speech, mind you, but it’s not A quality work. If this were the only requirement of the assignment, I’d probably give him a strong B.

Here’s my problem:

While the student did quote from various newspapers, he has submitted neither an outline nor a bibliography – two of the required elements for the assignment. The question that I posed in the title of this post is this: do I chase him down for these items, or do I simply dock the grade accordingly?

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “What Would You Do?

  1. This is really one for EGH, but off hand (and with no experience) I’d maybe give him ONE reminder.

    Perhaps just a “I’m impressesd with what you’ve turned in, but I noticed that there was no (whatever) which is required for a passing grade.”

    -Blue

  2. Hmm. My dad, who is an english teacher, would probably give a reminder. It’s my personal opinion that including a bibliography should be second nature and completely obvious for students once they reach college, so I might not accept it. Or if I did I would dock a few points. But whenever I give my dad teaching advise he says that I am a hard ass.

    I suppose one warning is fair. ‘Course you’d have to do it with everyone who didn’t turn everything in.

  3. I would dock him because it was in the requirements, and the student is a big kid now and needs to follow directions. Besides, if you make an exception for this one, what about the next one?

    Also, didn’t you blog before about how you weren’t going to chase students down again…

  4. “Also, didn’t you blog before about how you weren’t going to chase students down again…”

    SEE?! THAT’S what I need you people for – to hold me to my (threats) promises!

    I KNOW he got the email, because he sent it as a reply to the one I sent out. I’m totally dockin’ his ass. Thanks for the reinforcement.

  5. He turned it in early. I’m betting he didn’t read your whole e-mail. I’d not spend a huge amount of time on this (though, too late, you’ve already done a whole blog post about it and are now reading comments) but I might send him a one line e-mail “Did you get my e-mail about the requirements for this assignment?”

    Also, I haven’t gone back to look at your e-mail but did you make it clear that just including these elements will not get someone an A?

  6. No, I said that if you wanted an A, you had to include these things. He’ll still pass the assignment – the speech is pretty good – but I’m not going to give him AS high a grade because he’s missing two thirds of the work….

  7. I know you said “no chasing,” but since he submitted early it could have been a mistake as honest as not attaching the files. I would have replied with a simple statement: “I didn’t see your outline and bibliography attached – I’ll need them by the deadline on Monday to consider them for your grade.” And, I would most certainly dock him if I didn’t receive the materials

    (How good could the speech have been if it was mostly appeals to emotion? I mean, effective, yes, but good?)

    It’s Monday evening now – what did you do?

  8. Idetrorce

    very interesting, but I don’t agree with you
    Idetrorce

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