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If you use a computer grading system, and it's updated regularly, it's easy enough to give the kids weekly updates on their grades. Just print out their grades or, I had a teacher who had all the grades for the class on one spreadsheet, and would just cut them into strips and give them to us.
I also had a teacher who had keep a grade log in our notebooks...it was a sheet of paper stapled to the inside of the notebook, I think and everytime we got an assignment back, we added it to the log. Didn't take more than a minute to do.

Miller Smith

How do you get students to care about doing well all the time? Don't allow them to make up for not caring.

Fail them. Don't allow make-up work. Keep them informed everytime you record new assignments that they just received a new zero that will never go away and there is nothing they can do about it.

When you take make-up work you directly teach the children that it is okay to not do wht you are supposedto do when you are supposed to do it. Stop teaching that lesson.

And if large numbers still fail? Students have a right to fail.

Dana Huff

I have to agree with Miller. On my syllabus, I tell students they cannot make up homework. If you want a little give, all students to turn in major assignments late with a penalty.

Does your school allow 0's? I ask, because my daughter's school, in a very unwise move, is making students make up each 0, thereby teaching them they don't have to do their work on time.

I just sat down with a student of mine and showed him the impact 0's had on his grade. He has indicated that he didn't realize this before, but now will do his homework. You can also give out gradesheets for students to keep track of grades, but even so, I find that many of my students don't use them.


I also am not in favor of making up work after it is due. I think it tells the students they don't have to do the work as they go along. But if the work is building for the next, then they are missing some fundamentals as they move forward.

I take papers one day late for 20 points off. I used to take them as well two days late for 50 points off. Now I don't. I got tired of grading things they were going to get an F on anyway. Although a 30 is better than a 0 in an average, they didn't see it. And I wasn't going to spend my time grading things they should have turned in before when they were going to complain about it.

I agree that the students should be keeping up with their own grades. But unless they've been taught how to do that, I am not sure they will. The idea of having a card to keep the info on is a good one. Have them update their grades as they get them back. But that might not work if the grades are weighted differently.

I enjoyed your post and thought you made some good points.

Ms. Cornelius

When I taught middle school kids, I took late work. Lots of it. Mountains and mountains of it. I was forced to do it. And I'm pretty sure the kids learned that deadlines were for sissies. Except for my deadlines for grades to be turned in. That always seemed to remain ironclad, no matter how much late work I had to plow through and evaluate.

I have a no late work policy (barring emergencies) now in high school. Surprisingly, failures have gone down.

It just seems to work better.

Josh Cohen

One thing I always hated about school was this: I was, and am, a smart individual. I was placed in with other smart individuals. But unlike them, I was not grade-obsessive. I kept in my head, or maybe on a sheet of paper, a general tally of how well or how poorly I was doing. But unless I was getting below 85% (a B- in my school's peculiar grading system), I never hounded the teacher for my grade.

Not so for my peers and contemporaries. Even the most well-adjusted of all of them, a lovely girl named Cindy who I'm looking forward to seeing at the reunion (if she shows up, which I hope she does), had a habit of going up to teachers and finding out her grade. Over and over again.

It got worse the older I got (in high school). Students went crazy if they didn't have 93.45% or higher (because that rounded up to an A, at 94%). They badgered teachers for extra credit. They lamented to anyone who would listen.

Our valedictorian and salutatorian both had a 4.0. The V had an adjusted GPA of 6.29. The S had an adjusted GPA of 6.22. The S broke down in tears, I've heard, when she found out she wasn't the V.

I never cared that much.

At graduation, I was one of the top 100 students in my year, in terms of grades. However, I was the only one who didn't care. I would've been happier with my friends, who were not in the top 100. My best friend was in the middle of the pack, somewhere in the Bs (it was sorted by last name), and my friend Jameson was back in the Fs. Instead, I had to sit with people I didn't know, didn't like, or didn't care for.

College was also an adventure in grading. Until my junior year (which began in my 4th semester), when we finally shook out into our majors and minors, all the eager beavers from high school still went to professors, TAs, and other instructors looking for their grades. I was so happy when that ceased, when all of us, as a whole, finally realized that it was a better use of our time to apply ourselves to the next assignment or test or paper, rather than average our grades over and over.


At my school, the administration has historically blamed the teacher for student failure. IMO, this is a total lack of responsibility in teaching the kids that there are consequences for their actions or lack of actions. As a result, I assign students with missing work to after school detention for the sole purpose of making up missing work. This also gives me a chance to help them with the work if they truely can't do it on their own for whatever reason.

As for motivating students to want to complete assignments and do well in school, well, unless their parents have been involved since their pre-school days, and the students cannot participate in after school sports without a 2.0 gpa and no F's in any class, it doesn't matter to many of them. I teach in a high ELL / Low Socio-economic area of California. Too many parents are themselves not well educated and unfortunatly, they seem to believe it is ok for their offspring to be ignorant peasants too.


I agree that the politically correct approach is to blame the teacher for all failing students. This definitely does give students the wrong message!

It is a daunting task to get students to be responsible for their own actions. It seems to be a national epidemic. After all, it is so much easier to blame other's for our own failures. Parents who don't make sure their children are doing their homework and bringing home tests need to blame someone else right? So, blame the teacher.

I found success with the students keeping a chart in their notebooks. They copied it on the first day and filled them in for each assignment and exam. It was broken down into sections- Notebooks, Exams, Reports, Homework, Behavior and Participation. If a student got a [+] for participation they immediately put it in the chart, likewise for a [-] and so on. They knew at a glance how they were doing and parents did also. When I checked notebooks, I also checked the charts to see that they were marking them (part of the notebook grade.) For the most part they did, except for a few who omitted the -'s.

I put up a chart that gave the value of each part and how it came to 100%. It put the ground rules right up front and made enforcement easier. When a parent questioned a grade, I showed them the chart, the students sheet and that was that. No one was able to say I did't make it clear. Progress charts went home everyday fully up to date. The few who didn't comply, were the ones who didn't perform well in any of their classes.

Every few weeks I'd send a note home for parents to sign that they have read their child's progress report in their notebooks. Students who were in danger of faioing got theirs signed every night.

I like it, because it took the burden of parental notification off me for the most part and squarely on the student.

I guess, after a while we all come up with the methods that work best for us!


Teaching a student to be self-reliant and motivated may not rest with the teacher...at least not entirely.I try to structure my students' experience with me so that they reap what they sow. Goals are set. Meeting them has its rewards and not meeting them has its consequences. Reasonable and consistent consequences have a way of motivating those who are not motivated by rewards yet still can be motivated.

SFCCNM student

Many students don't possess self-regulation skilss (like being able strive for success everyday). In order to help with this I would suggest incorportating lessons on self-regulation and goal setting into your curriculum. According to Authentic Classroom Management by Barabara Larrivee, improved self-regulation can lead to more self-control, innovation, and adaptability. Most students have poor self-regulation skills, and I feel that is tied to their inability to set proper goals for themselves. Perhaps the first thing to do, then, is work on what goals are good to set, what steps must be taken in order to reach them, what obstacles may come up along the way, and what rewards there will be for reaching that goal.

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