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Thanks to whoever brought this up, and thanks to all the great responses so
far. I sometimes have trouble with assignments not being turned in, and
there seem to be a lot of repeat offenders. Classwork isn't much of a
problem. The problem is with sketchbooks. The sketchbook assignments I
assign are always prepared in a written format and discussed in class. Then
they are posted in each middle school room as well as on a special board I
maintain in the resource room. The middle school students get one
sketchbook assignment almost every week, but I only collect the sketchbooks
for grading at mid-term and at the end of each term. Each time I collect
the sketchbooks, there are about three assignments to grade. Together,
these three assignments equal one project grade. Depending on the size of
the projects we're doing in art class, this could make the sketchbook equal
as much as 1/3 the total term grade.
I feel I provide ample notice. The week ahead of due dates I post due date
warning flyers in each middle school classroom and the resource room, I
drill the message in at each class meeting, I make sure the due dates are
included in the morning announcements and I make sure the due dates are
listed in the Kellogg Middle School Messenger, which is supposed to go home
every week. The morning before due dates I make HUGE chalkboard drawings of
sketchbooks in each middle school homeroom, with the message that the
sketchbooks are due the next day. Each time sketchbooks are due I usually
end up coming to school on at least one of my days off, and I growl and
snarl at the procrastinators about that.
The due dates usually fall about two to three days before I have to turn in
grades or mid-term progesss reports. The first day late they lose 5 points.
They can either turn it in by the end of the next school day or I invite
them to CLUB 3:15, our afterschool study hall. If that doesn't work, I call
home and explain that I have to turn in grades the next morning, and if the
student doesn't turn in the sketchbook first thing the next morning, their
art grade will be very low or failing. This works most of the time, but not
always. I'm still surprised at a few parents who really don't care.
The part that amazes me is that none of the assignments are all that tough
to do, and just turning the assignment in on time guarantees a passing
grade for that assignment-even if it doesn't turn out well. Of course to
get an A the assignment has to show superior work, but I figure the
experience of simply doing the work is really what I'm after, so I grade
sketchbooks with a light hand. Unless they don't turn it in. Then they earn
I try to offer interesting and enjoyable experiences in art class as well
as in the sketchbook assignments, yet I take the assigned work very
seriously. While I do quite a bit of nose-wiping with my running after them
to get them to turn in their work on time, I do award F's and D's to
students who fail to do so in spite of my efforts. I have even failed
talented students who can draw as well as I can.
I have always been supported by my principal. He has even made some of the
calls home about missed deadlines when my previous calls have gone without
results. However, I feel there are major flaws in the school's grading
system. Students who have a failing overall average at the end of the year
are still passed on to the next grade and eventually graduated to the High
School. Also, as long as there are no failing grades, then Art, Music and
PE grades do not count when figuring honor roll standings. I'm working on
this. What do you do in your system? Help!?
Mark Alexander, 1-8 Art
Lee H. Kellogg School
47 Main Street
Falls Village, Connecticut 06031
"Denial may not be a river in Egypt, but it might be a river near