Wednesday, December 13, 2006

TIWIT, part 10 of 174: A civics lesson

My IB class was supposed to have a novel test today. The way I teach novels, at least in my advanced classes, is like this: They read the book, take a test, and then get working on analyzing it. If they fail the test, they get zeroes on all class assignments until they pass a version of the test. (Trust me, this usually gets them to read.) Anyway, I assigned a novel two, three weeks ago, and figured they should finish by today. But yesterday I realized that most of the students wouldn't be ready. Being the slackers that most of my students are, they put everything off until the last minute.

So, after school yesterday, on a little blog that I have for the class, I decided to pose a question: How many of you would prefer to hold off on the test until Monday? You have to swear that you'll be ready. So, vote on this blog to keep the original date or to move the test to Monday. I need at least 11 votes by midnight and I'll go with the majority.

In the next couple of hours, there were more than 30 messages posted, students practically begging to change the test date to Monday. And so, being a believer in flexibility, I agreed. The test will be Monday.

After that, I got this interesting message from one of the kids:
Hahaha.. thanks Mr P. I do have to tell you im amazed how everyone worked together to collect the votes, everything from non stop phone calls, to IMs,to email...and even, myspace blogs!!!! just to get our class to come here and vote. Intriguing..
My initial thought was, A-ha! They just learned something about politics. That's exactly how a political Machine operates. On election day, city employees visit or call homes to make sure people cast their ballots for the mayor.

But then I realized that this is NOT how the Machine operates. The Machine relies on old technology, like phone calls and doorbells. These kids used modern technology to get out the vote: instant messaging, email, myspace. The lesson here might be for politicians: If you want to reach a large group of voters, especially the young ones, maybe you should consider new get-out-the-vote strategies.

(Hey Kos readers, since you're here, check out more recent posts.)


Jenska said...

I used to try to keep in touch with my favorite teacher from high school. Sometimes I'd send a Christmas card, and once or twice I visited her at the school. At some point I realized that she had all of these kids going in and out of her life each year, and that 10 years later I probably was just part of the blur. All it really takes to enjoy school is having ONE teacher you like, it makes the rest of the day bearable. So, from a student, being told you are liked or remembered well is a big deal.

A few years ago I tentatively sent an email to my old HS teacher (they have a web site now with teachers' email addresses, and she's still at my alma mater). I prefaced the message with lots of "I'm sure you don't remember me..." type phrases. The thing is, I had her for yearbook for two years and spent most of my time as a senior in her classroom, so I was very happy when she responded that "of course she remembered" me -- she still had a picture up in her classroom of me and my best friend from our senior year. Anyway, she made a big impression on me back then, so it feels nice to know it wasn't one-sided.

Swill to Power said...

This pedagogue wants to know: how did they do on the test?

appopt said...

Hmmm ... if I remember correctly, the same old kids failed anyway. But the ones that did pass (because they did read) probably did get higher scores because of the extra weekend.