My students took their mid-terms last week.The in-class portion was a breeze. No, really; it was. There were 25 true/false questions (most of which could have been answered correctly by someone who hadn’t taken the class yet but who has some modicum of common sense), five definitions, and two short answers. Seriously.
The take-home portion was a bit tougher, but certainly not beyond the ability of my students. I sent them off with a copy of Martin Luther King Jr’s I have a dream speech (and directions for how they could listen to the speech through that link, too) and five essay questions. Before I let the classes leave with their questions, though, I went over each of them and explained exactly what I wanted them to do. I told them that I expected them to do some serious thinking, and that they not just give me last-minute, bullshit answers.
Now, I should disclaim here that there were a few students who really (really!) nailed the essay questions. They gave full, thoughtful, and eloquent answers on topics like whether or not time has affected the impact of King’s speech, and how King uses transitions and rhetoric to move to his purpose. One student got full credit on each of the five questions, even.
Five students didn’t bother to do the essay questions at all, and that’s just in my face-to-face class. My hybrid kids’ essays are due today by 6 p.m. Can you tell how optimistic I’m feeling over here?
The essay questions are 30% of the final grade, so kids who choose not to do them are starting out with a 70 right off the bat. Even though the in-class test wasn’t rocket science, and even if they do nail that part of the exam, a 70 isn’t a great grade. Sure, it’s passing, but it will bring down a good average, and certainly won’t help bring up a bad one.
I have a dream, that someday, all my students will do the work assigned to them, and that they will receive the grades that reflect their abilities, rather than the grades that reflect their apathy!
(my apologies to Dr. King. I just couldn’t help myself)