This week, I gave a quiz to my Course 3 Math students (normal 8th grade math). I was feeling a bit uncertain about it the day before. I made the quiz myself, but used the textbook’s assessment generator.

The quiz covered sections 2.1-2.4. It was about using a table to graph a line, calculating slope, slope-intercept form, and graphing by finding the x and y intercepts. From my informal assessment, I knew that there was quite a range of understanding in my classes. I knew many students were understanding the process, but others really didn’t grasp the entire concept.

With having to do the MEAP the past few weeks, the lessons haven’t been completely normal. Four days out of the past two weeks had short class periods of only 30 minutes. Yet, I didn’t feel as if we were rushing through the sections. I strategically picked the less complex lessons to teach during those short class periods. We only covered one concept per day. I did give short homework assignments though. I gave them worksheets that covered the concepts well but were only about 10 problems long. I didn’t want to overwhelm them with work during the MEAP weeks. The students have been really lazy about homework though. They “complete” it but they don’t actually read all of the directions. For example, they transform an equation into slope-intercept form but then they are asked to graph it and they don’t! This is a key concept…they must make the connections between the equation and graphs as well as between the table and the graph. I gave the students a stern talking to about the issues I have been seeing with homework. I said if it didn’t improve for the next day’s homework assignment, they would earn themselves extra problems. Well…they certainly earned the extra problems.

The problem is, the same issues I saw on their homework appeared on the quiz! I just don’t understand how to “teach” someone to care about the quality of the work they are doing. I want them to see that there is a direct relationship between how much effort they put in and what they get out (including both learning and grades). I am at a loss of how to change this…I can control what happens in my classroom but I can’t control what they do at home.

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