In my honors class, I'm struggling with the balance between asynchronous "work at your own pace" and "here's the deadlines, you need to meet them".
Here's what I'm doing now:
Students have their WSQ chart with "deadlines" for when certain WSQs need to be submitted and when we are going to have our discussions for certain concepts. They are expected to be keeping up with the pace of the class in terms of being introduced to the content...
However, I try to be flexible with the students and understanding if they are a day behind or if they just couldn't get the WSQ done for some reason. My mantra is, "You can work ahead, but you can't fall behind", but I definitely have students who are a day behind here or there.
The problem is that they don't catch back up.
I want to give them that little bit of freedom. I want to relieve a little bit of stress in their lives if they have a lot going on one day/week. But I also expect them to take responsibility and make sure they get caught up instead of always being a day behind.
Because of the freedom I give my students, I'm already sensing some students are starting off the 2nd semester taking advantage of that freedom. They aren't working 100% in class, they are very unfocused, and there is no drive or desire to make sure to get their work done... they'll "get it done later". (That doesn't mean they aren't doing ANYTHING in class... it just means they are behind and aren't making any effort to catch back up, they are just going with the flow at a slow pace).
Tomorrow is the first test of the 2nd semester. Students have known for 2.5 weeks that they must:
- Finish 6 PQ assignments
- All PQ assignments were supposed to be completed by the end of class on Friday. On Tuesday when I saw my students again after a 3-day weekend, I had some students who hadn't even begun PQ6
- Submit "Collaborative Answer Key" (a picture of ONE of their PQ problems to share with classmates)
- Collaborative Answer Key submissions could have been submitted for over a week and a half as students worked out problems. I had received less than half by class time on Tuesday.
- Take 6 Concept quizzes
- Concept quizzes are supposed to be taken the day after they practice the assignment to assess their true knowledge, comprehension, and application. I had at least 40% of the students on Tuesday who hadn't even started them. I used to "demand" that certain quizzes be taken certain days, but again I like giving them the freedom (and thus responsibility) to take the quizzes when they are ready for them. However, when they wait until the last day to take the quizzes, they (and I) don't get the formative feedback needed to make corrections and provide support before the test. Most of them don't see it that way, so I need to do a better job of explaining purpose (like most things). However, it also causes me stress because I'm sitting here the night before the test seeing horrible errors that should have been caught way beforehand. However, students do great when they are working in groups, able to ask questions, and able to refer to their notes. They think they don't need the help. That is why the quizzes are so vital - can they really do it on their own? If not, where are they struggling? If they never take the quizzes with time for feedback, how can we discuss that?