Again from my journal:
Day 41, Friday May 4th:
The variation in the responses of different children to the same "system" is remarkable to me. One student got a low grade on his assignment, largely through lack of effort, and spent today's class working as hard as he could. Not only did he make up last week's assignment, he also did well on today's and was able to receive his reward-- time on the laptops (doing more work- they just didn't know that's what it was). Another student likewise received a poor grade, but spent the entire class period walking around looking at other people's grades, moping when his was lower than theirs, and doing absolutely nothing productive. Was the difference simply the personality of the child, or maybe each's environment? If one comes from a home with consistant consequences, with appropriate praise and appropriate disapproval, but one does not, that might make the difference. I know that the first student understood that his grade was fair. The other one should have known that, but I wonder if he somehow missed that. I know I would find it quite demoralizing to have to work under circumstances I deemed to be unfair. ...
Most mystifying of all to me were the students who did really well on last week's assignment, yet put forth NO effort to similarly succeed this time. One boy, "Josh" got a perfect score on last week's assignment, but spent THIS class period lying face down on the floor. I answered his questions as patiently as I could (which was difficult!), and after class Robin told me she'd also worked with him twice. What had been the problem? Looking at what he had written, and after talking to him, I think he just didn't want to take the time to erase the first things he'd written (which he then realized were incorrect), and he didn't want to wait his turn to get his work checked by me. It shocked me a little that any student would be so lazy, to his own detriment! I would never have thought of such an attitude at his age! But... all in all the lessons went well today. I love it that we get them to work really hard for a reward of more work! And they love it! :)