Bearcat Brief

August 16, 2019

Notes from Niki

We made it through boot camp. Thank you for all of your hard work; even when there were scheduling issues you went with it and helped problem-solve. Here is a shared document for you to comment on while it is fresh in your mind. We can probably do a quick review of some kind with the older kids and be more intense with 4th grade in future years. We did not do lessons on the expectations for "safe" in the "classroom" setting. Please include that in your procedures and routines next week.


  • Who wants to organize our tailgate tent/booth/truck?
  • Who would like to help as long as they don't have to organize it?
  • Is someone willing to do the Keep the Quote this year?
  • Please help promote "Bearcat Fridays" with our students.

Professional Reading/ Resources:

Dealing with Late and Missing Student Work- from "Cult of Pedagogy"

“For as long as teachers have assigned tasks in exchange for grades, late work has been a problem,” says Jennifer Gonzalez in this Cult of Pedagogy article. How can teachers hold students accountable while still keeping them motivated? When she was a teacher, most of her nine-week grading periods ended with the same unproductive dynamic: a few students working their way through piles of make-up assignments and gradually boosting their scores from 37 percent to 41, then 45, then 51, and finally to a passing grade. At that point, says Gonzalez, she and the students would “part ways, full of resolve that next marking period would be different. And the whole time I thought to myself, This is pointless. They aren’t learning anything at all. But I wasn’t sure what else to do.”

For starters, she believes it’s a good idea for teachers to answer some basic questions about grades.

- What do your grades represent? Are they more about academic growth or compliance? “Although it’s important for kids to learn how to manage deadlines,” says Gonzalez, “do you really want an A in your course to primarily reflect the ability to follow instructions?”

- Are you grading too many things? There’s an argument for grading only major projects, writing assignments, or exams, and treating all other work as formative or practice work, ungraded or counting for very few points.

- What assumptions do you make when students don’t turn in work? That they’re unmotivated? More likely, students are having executive function and anxiety problems and need help managing their time and responsibilities. And we now know that homework is a major equity issue.

- What kind of grading system is realistic for you? Your credibility is on the line, as is your level of fatigue, so it’s important to have a system you can stay on top of.

Gonzalez then lists some possible solutions she found when she went on Twitter and asked what other teachers do:

• Penalties – Teachers reported a range of consequences for late work, including escalating point deductions, getting a grade but no feedback, not being allowed to revise and improve work, and parent contact. Gonzalez says it’s important to have incentives, because late work is less useful for student learning and a burden on teachers.

• A separate grade for work habits – These include meeting deadlines, neatness, and following non-academic guidelines like font size and correct headings. One school gives a separate “Behavior” grade that doesn’t factor into GPA, but students can’t be on the honor roll with a low behavior grade. There’s usually a correlation between work habits and academic grades, and it’s a good idea to zero in on students where this is not the case (and, of course, with students who score low on both).

• Homework passes – Things happen in students’ lives, and forgiveness passes give students a break – perhaps an extra day to hand in assignments. Teachers who responded to Gonzalez’s outreach mentioned ways of handling these, including offering them only for low-point assignments, setting a cap on the number per marking period, and limiting the percent of a grade that can be recovered.

• Extension requests – Quite a few teachers have a policy of requiring students to turn in something on the due date – either the assignment or a written request for more time, with the reasons.

• Floating deadlines – Some teachers reported giving students a range of dates to submit work, allowing students to plan their work around other life activities. A variation is building in incentives to submit work earlier – perhaps faster feedback or extra credit. An advantage of this is spreading out the teacher’s correcting workload over time.

• Students submit work in progress – Some digital platforms like Google Classroom let students submit assignments while they are still working on them, allowing the teacher to see how far they’ve moved and what needs work.

• Full credit for late work – The rationale here is that if the work is important and students have completed it, it deserves to be graded. Of course there’s the worry that this policy will lead students to disregard deadlines, and some teachers put a temporary zero in the gradebook until work was submitted, to push students to bring closure. A variation is giving a deadline for late work, most commonly when the assignment has been graded and returned to other students. But teachers who take the full-credit-for-late-work approach have been surprised that it had little or no effect on the amount of work handed in on time. The big advantage was not having to spend time calculating deducted points.

• Other preventive measures – Teachers mentioned involving students in setting deadlines (so that major athletic and school events are taken into account), not assigning homework (all meaningful work is done in class), and making homework optional or self-selected (not all students need the same amount of practice).

“Experiment with different systems,” Gonzalez concludes, “talk to your colleagues, and be willing to try something new until you find something that works for you.”

“A Few Ideas for Dealing with Late Work” by Jennifer Gonzalez in The Cult of Pedagogy, August 4, 2019,

Edutopia Videos

Here is a link to a bank of videos from Edutopia. They are quick snippets that show high-yield strategies.

Upcoming Events


August 19- First Day of Fall Practice for Middle School sports

August 22- Fire Drill, 9:00 a.m.

August 22- BOE Meeting, 5:50 p.m. (for tax rate hearing)

August 26- NWEA fall window opens

August 28- Picture Day at HMS

August 30- Last Day to submit for parent newsletter

August 30- Tailgate- setup at 3:45

August 30-Memorial Induction, 5:30

August 30- Home football vs. Montgomery, 7:00


September 2- Labor Day- No School

September 5- 4-6 PLC's

September 5- Scout Talk for 4th and 5th grade, 7:45

September 6- 7/8 PLC Group A

September 9- PD Day

September 12- Flouride Treatments @HMS

September 12- 7th and 8th Grade Football Scrimmage @St. Clair, 5:30

September 12- BOE Meeting, 6:00

September 16- PLC Leadership Team Training

September 17- Faculty Meeting

September 18- Mid-Quarter

September 19- Tornado Drill- (everyone goes to 4/5 wing)

September 19- Grades Due @3:00

September 19- 7th and 8th Grade Football @St. James, 5:00

September 20- No Tardy Party