(it turned out that this was fewer than 108 duotangs. Read on)
The task was to choose three questions from a list of "get to know you" questions. All work was to be placed in their Writing Portfolio and submitted no later than Friday. I talked at length about being courteous to teachers (read: me) and allowing them to get their work done (read: my marking) in a timely manner.
They had class time to make sure they answered these three questions. They were free to complete the work at home if the time given was not sufficient. I figure they probably had 25-30 minutes once I was done yapping. We're talking about questions like "What is your favourite movie and why?". Not "Solve this differential equation using a theory you developed and explain your thinking process".
I had one student come to me yesterday and explain that he'd forgotten his portfolio at home. To me, that's taking some ownership and showing respect to one's teacher. I appreciated him for doing this. I reminded my classes that I was marking their assignments on the weekend and that they were responsible for getting their portfolios in to me. No one else came forward.
Thus, when I marked my first class set of assignments this morning, I was a bit dismayed at the fact that six of the thirty duotangs were not in the pile. By the end of the marking experience, I had also recorded four zeros: students who had put their assignment sheet in their portfolio but had not answered any of the questions. Two students also did such poor work that I couldn't justify giving their work a passing grade.
I am pretty discouraged right now. To me, this assignment was a gimme. It contained some different choices for students to pick from. There was adequate class time given to complete the work. They were reminded ad nauseum that this first assignment was due and that it counted for marks. So why did I only get 18 acceptable assignments?
If you're in Alberta, you have probably heard about Lynden Dorval. I'm not condoning his insubordination and defiance. However, I would personally enjoy my marking responsibilities a lot more if I could just sit down and get the job done instead of knowing that I now have to speak with twelve students from just one of my four Grade 9 classes about missing and unacceptable assignments. Instead, next week assignments will trickle in and I'll spend time filling in the highlighted blanks in my gradebook. It might not sound like that big a deal, but it takes time. Don't forget that the next batch of assignments will come in and I'd like to mark those in a timely manner. It's irritating to know that additional work is being created needlessly.
And what do I do with what they hand in? Do I mark for outcomes only and give them the same opportunity to get a mark that reflects the work they did? Is that fair to the students who got their work in on time? Do I take off an arbitrary percentage for each day it's late? What's enough? What I'm leaning towards is adding a code in my electronic gradebook that says, "This assignment was handed in late". When I e-mail reports home, parents will see the code and be aware of their child's habits. If I track it and see a trend, I could include information about this in my anecdotal comments on the full report card (not til January this year).