Friday, January 27, 2012

Green Sheets

At my school, the 6th and 7th graders participate in the ACE program. ACE stands for Assignments Completed Everyday. It works like this: if a student doesn't have their homework, they get a "green sheet." They have to bring the green sheet back the next day signed by a parent with the completed assignment. If they don't have it, they get another green sheet and a call home. Three green sheets in a week and they are "blue-listed" which means that they have to get their assignment notebook signed by every teacher at the end of each class. If they have a green sheet free week, they get an ACE ticket and ACE tickets can be used for different things, like a special lunch brought in.

In the 11 years that I have worked for this school, I haven't had much to do with these except when my own sons were involved. That is because the 8th grade team (and I primarily teach 8th grade) doesn't follow this program. We say they are getting ready for high school and don't need it. Anyway, I quit grading homework this year and at the end of October, I was feeling pretty good about the fact that most of my students were still doing it. Well, now it is almost February and only about half of my 8th graders are doing homework and I am suffering for it because they are taking a long time to learn everything due to lack of practice. However, I have one 7th grade class and because they get "green sheets" they always do their homework. Class always goes better with them because they all come with the skills practiced.

Anyway, today I told my 8th graders that they will now get green sheets when homework isn't done. Since they only will get these in Math, I told them 2 in a week will mean lunch detention. Boy, they were mad, but I had a couple of them thanking me because they are so entrenched in this points game that they won't do the homework if they don't get something for it. Clearly, they thanked me because they knew that they will do it to avoid punishment. This seems a bit weird. I've been asking them "Do I give worthwhile practice for homework?" They say "Yes." Then I ask "Do I give a lot of homework?" and they say "No." They do trust me, they just can't be motivated without some sort of reward (points) or punishment (talking to their parents).

Middle schoolers are goofy... I'll write again to report how this experiment with "green sheets" works.

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