Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What is an honors student?

The students in my school district have the option of taking Honors Algebra 1 in 7th grade.  And then again in 8th.  So when I talk about having an Honors Algebra 1 class of freshmen, please remember that these aren't truly our "honors" kids. These are (normally) good, hardworking kids who are put in this class to avoid the "stigma" of being in College Prep.

With that being said, I think I was a bit spoiled last year with my Honors Algebra 1 class.  I had quite a few who were very bright and no issues with getting homework done.  This year hasn't gone so well.  The average number of missing assignments/student is 3.2, and while seven of the kids don't have a missing assignment, one of them has yet to do any work at all. (Except for a plotting points picture that they got on Monday... he's been working on that for 3 days now.)

It's a jovial bunch, but most of them could really care less about how they're doing in class.  So for today's warmup, I wanted them to consider what it meant to be in an honors class.  I asked them to list the qualities that an honors math student has.  Here's what they came up with:

After we generated the list, I asked them to think about how many of those qualities they had. The overall feeling was that no, they didn't fit the bill.  (From their perspective.)

Then I gave them a list of the qualities I would expect an honors student to have.

(I printed this on yellow cardstock and told them to attach it to their INB somewhere they'd see it often.)  I wanted the kids to know that their mathematical ability isn't what makes them an honors student. Sure, it's important, but not as important as their work ethic and their behavior.

Friday is the end of our first quarter, so we basically have one more quarter until we start thinking about scheduling for next year. I hope they'll keep this in mind throughout the next 9 weeks and start working a little harder.  I've told the kids that just because they're in Honors now doesn't mean that they'll stay.  If it's important to them, then the behavior and work habits need to change.

We'll see how that goes.

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