The assignments came early and often this week. The snow was gone; only the mounds of gray and black piled high near the edges of commercial parking lots stood as a reminder that there was once snow, and a couple of inches of ice, on the ground. It was time for students to come back to class. I started 110 on Monday with a handout detailing every major assignment until the research paper... important information they needed in order to survive the class for the next month. I gave them an assignment on plagiarism. We also had a quiz over the Research paper guidelines. I told the students that it was to make sure they were clear on what was expected of them, but I couldn't lie to myself that it was to reward them for showing up. Seven students showed up.
The textual analyses were due on Wednesday... as were the plagiarism assignments. I reviewed a littla about the important information introduced on Monday and the students brought their Hacker books which I had asked them to bring. I guess I should say that five students brought their Hacker books. I brought a box of magazines, DVDs and books to class. The students were to group up and cite the sources using the Hacker book as their anchor. Sixteen students showed up. Word was out.
On Friday, I had the students tell me about their research paper proposals. A few students chose the Holocaust or Holocaust-esque topics. On student chose Caesar's crossing of the Rubicon... an idea I touched on when we were brainstorming for ideas. They turned in their proposals and reminded them that we would meet in the Library on Monday. 17 students showed up.
Between the quiz, proposal, textual analysis and assignments, about 200 points were garnered this week. The snow is gone, and it is time for the students to stop missing classes. And, I know, it is a cruel tactic to use. It stresses the students and makes those who did not show up to class fall behind. It is cruel, but it is also very effective. Last week, I saw students who I had not seen in weeks. One students turned to another which was prone to absences and asked, "You're still in this class, Shane?" They turned in their textual analyses, and I made it a point of passing back the quizzes they had missed. I could see the fear in their eyes when they started mentally talleying up the points they had lost over the last few weeks. But, I'm fairly certain they will pull their act together. They have the fear, now. And, once they have the fear, they can't shake it.