Let me clarify first: I don’t have many of these. One for sure, a couple of maybes. Out of 110 kids doing the project, that ain’t bad. Now that that clarification is out of the way…
What about that kid who is blatantly doing nothing during #20time? What do you do? Cancel the project? Get into them to try to get them going?
These are second semester sophomores were talking about. Kids who I have taught for four straight semesters. We know each other. We’ve got a relationship.
I talked to the most prominent of the do nothing kids yesterday.
“I’ve watched you this semester in #20time. I don’t think you’re doing anything.”
“No, I’m not, really.”
“Here’s the deal: not gonna lie, that bugs me a little bit. But I appreciate your honesty.”
“I’m not going to yell at you. Or even make you do anything. If you want to fill out the weekly reflections and not do anything, to get the grade, I guess I’m going to let you do that. If you feel okay about doing that, if you want the grade that way, I’m not going to stop you.”
(Note: my students reflect on their progress weekly and create monthly rubrics to self-assess their progress. I grade these weekly reflections and their monthly reflection for completeness. More on this here.)
“Hmm. Okayyyyy. (pause) Is the final product graded?”
I don’t know how I should have handled this student and their choice. A part of me is really bothered that they are choosing to waste 20% of their time in my class this year. I look around at what other kids are doing and think about the kids who are so excited for history every Friday. Kids who code like mad for 45 straight minutes. Or are pulling together a sports camp for middle schoolers. Doing neat stuff, and stuff they are genuinely interested in.
But I can’t force that interest either. I had a lot of discussions with this student about their project. Clearly nothing came of these talks. Still, though, I’m left wondering about the best way to have handled this.