This past week I encountered something with a pair of students that I was not prepared for. I am not even sure if I handled it in the best way, but honestly I was very taken back.
Let me give you some background…
I teach a 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade elective each quarter. The elective that I am teaching this quarter is called The Stock Market and is labeled as an AIG elective on our registration materials. Students do not have to be AIG identified in order to take the elective There is a set curriculum provided by the Magnet office that can be followed, but honestly I am not that well educated on the Stock Market, so I am following along and adding what I can.
Since the Stock Market is such a broad topic, I wanted the students to have some background knowledge before we start trying to trade and sell stocks. The first activity that we started with was the finding and defining Stock Market vocabulary.
See the assignment below:
The assignment was to find Stock market terms, define the terms and then each pair of students would use a padlet (padlet.com) to define the words. I assigned the students to work in random pairs with ipads. I gave them a Wise Stock Buyer for Kids print out to start finding the terms. Then I assigned each group a padlet to upload the terms.
See examples below:
These were the questions I got before they started the assignment:
- How many terms do we need to find?
- How do we find which resource to use?
- Can we use google?
- How long should the definition be?
- Can I copy and paste from dictionary.com?
I wanted this activity to be open-ended and I wanted the students to be engaged with a variety of self-selected texts (with some guidance) to find the definitions (NO textbooks here). I then went over the how to cite a resource, why you need to make sure you state where the information came from and how we were learning about the words in context and not just from the dictionary. Some students who tried to use the dictionary noticed that the first definition that came up was not related to the Stock Market and then they were confused. This assignment was more about learning the word in the context of the paragraph.
We started working on the assignment and then on day 2 I assigned the blogs.
Now this is where my encounter began… On day 3 we opened up the padlets and a pair of students were holding up their ipad for all to see. Other students were rushing over and there were many ohhhhhssss and ahhhhhhhsss. I went over to see what all the fuss was about and they had completely finished with activity with over 30 terms. They were boasting about how they were finished first and had the most terms.
I called the pair to the side and asked what had happened…
- The one student had folded up the paper, stuffed it in a pocket and taken it home to complete the activity. The student did let me know “I returned the paper to the folder”
- When I asked how they completed it as a pair – the student said “I emailed him to let him know I was doing it at home.”
- They finally admitted that they wanted to have “the most words”
I was taken back. This was an activity to be completed in class and they had taken their papers, gone home, logged onto the padlet, and then finished the activity. At first I was upset that they would want to do it at home, then I was surprised that they thought that was an acceptable thing to do and then I was annoyed that they could go home and complete it when not all the students have the same resources. I was also really taken back that they did not think they had done anything wrong.
After I reflected on the incident and had a discussion with the class, I realized that these students have so much pressure to be the best, complete the most work just to show they are “smart”. That is so sad to me and made me think about ways to work with students to show them what they are doing is great, it is not a competition.
What would you have done?
How would you make sure this does not happen?
Would you have reacted the same way?