Friday, April 20, 2012

Students Slacking Off

We are hitting the point in the year where students are starting to slack off a little bit.  More and more students are showing up to class unprepared and with the attitude "I'll just watch the video in class".  Not because they don't have technology access, but just because they don't feel like doing homework.  (Well, I do have one student without internet at home, but he has been told repeatedly to bring a flash drive in, or to ask to borrow mine and bring home, but he has refused to do so.  He just likes to be able to use the excuse of "I don't have internet" so he doesn't have to do his homework)

My daily, friendly reminders to the students about the importance of watching the video before class are usually taken to heart.  The majority of the students know that they will get the most out of class if they have already watched it, and they want to be able to participate in the discussion and in getting their questions answered.  They want to work with each other and solve problems together.

However, there are still many students who will find any excuse to not have to give any effort at home.

So, today I decided to get the parents involved  (I have called many parents in the past, but today it was time for a total "takeover").  Every single one of my students who did not watch the video last night called their parents DURING CLASS to tell them that they came to class unprepared.  Then, I spoke with the parents for a minute or two.  Between 20 and 30 parent phone calls were made today.  I plan to continue this daily throughout the next week or so, and longer if possible.

The students were in shock when I told them to go get on the phone.  Most of them were embarrassed because they knew they didn't do what they were supposed to and were now going to get in trouble with their parents on a Friday night.  But, I'm pretty sure they will come to class prepared on Monday.

If not, we will call again.  If anything, I hope the parents finally get so annoyed with daily phone calls that they start monitoring their student's homework completion like they should be in the first place!  I've mentioned before that I realize I'm not a parent, but I'm pretty sure that when I do have that privilege, I am going to make it a priority to make sure my students are getting their work done and check up on them.  I hate it when I hear parents say "they said they did it", or "they said they didn't have any".  You REALLY believe everything your teenage son/daughter tells you?  You don't actually ask to see it?

I started the phone calls during 3rd period today basically out of frustration because 3 of the students have already come to class unprepared this week once or twice before.  Then, I decided to just do it all day to make a point.

We'll see how it goes the next few weeks, but this might be something I implement at the beginning of the year next year.  Students need to know that even though their WSQ charts are turned in at the end of the week and they do have "weekly deadlines", their "daily goals" are still expected to be met ON TIME!  There are very rare circumstances that would allow otherwise (hence the need for a few computers in class, but honestly I would love those computers to be used for students working ahead or re-watching, not for the initial watching).

Students must learn to take responsibility for themselves. They must realize that they are the ones responsible for their learning and their success.  I love how the flipped classroom helps to mold that.  However, on days like today, there are still times for the "adult" to step in and guide the students along to understanding how and why to take responsibility for their learning.

These are the excuses I got today: (ugh I hate excuses!)

1. "My internet didn't work last night" (but this student was in 3rd period and we had an hour long homeroom period as well as an hour before school that he could have watched it)
2. "I had a track meet until 8pm last night" (and you are telling me you didn't know you were going to have a track meet and didn't want to plan ahead...or that you couldn't come in before school or during the hour long homeroom period to watch it?)
3.  "I forgot" (Don't believe that excuse when they have a video 3-4 nights a week)
4. "I watched the video, I just didn't know the WSQ had to be submitted online" (ummm... we've done this for the last 3 weeks straight now and talk about it/show it on the screen every day.)

Overall, it has been a really great week in the flipped class and today is just a reminder that all students of all levels need a little push in the right direction every so often to make sure they stay on track.  My Week 11 reflection will be coming sometime tomorrow :)


  1. I have also been having trouble with my students slacking off. I think that this is a little easier for studenrts to do with the flipped style classroom if the teacher isn't careful. In preparation for it, I ramped up the assignments due (I am a Spanish teacher, so a little different) and something is due pretty much every day rather than once a week. Although my students watching the video in class isn't such the crisis in class (lesson year will be different) it does make it harder to get everything done in a timely fashion.

    I have found that I am having to remind myself to be as engaged with the students as well. I think that is a big key that teachers have to stay even more focused, which is difficult with all of the end of the year craziness (we had an assembly this week, a 3 day week and Prom next week, senior finals the next week, and yet another assembly!).

    Enjoy reading your blog and I have recommended it to the Algebra I teachers that are thinking of flipping next year!

    1. Thanks for your comment! The description of your school year is very similar to mine - assembly week, senior stuff going on, state testing coming next week. I think that definitely has an affect on students completing their homework and staying focused.

      I have liked giving the students a little more freedom with the "weekly deadlines", but at the same time they have to be held accountable. I feel like they need to know that yes, they have until the end of the week to complete the ASSIGNMENTS, but the videos still need to be watched on time so they can fully participate in the activities and discussions that are planned. I know some flipped classrooms are completely asynchronous, but I'm definitely not ready for that yet. I still have planned "activities" and discussions that relate to the video lesson before students jump on in to practicing.

      I feel like I have gone through cycles this year in my feelings towards the video watching. At first, I was a very strict "you must watch it at home" and would get upset at students who showed up unprepared. Then, I transitioned to "you should watch it at home" and just blew it off when students didn't watch it and told them to get on a computer and get it done. Now, I feel like I am somewhat in the middle. While there are reasons or valid "excuses" sometimes for students to come unprepared, many students who show up unprepared do so for no reason and just because they felt like not watching it or knew they could just watch it in class... I don't think that will cut it with me.

      The challenge is to find that balance between holding students accountable but still giving them a little freedom and ownership of their learning in terms of having the videos/podcasts/etc completed on time.

      I have also enjoyed reading your blog and love having access to teachers in other content areas flipping - great ideas to share :)


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