EppsNet Archive: Grades

Teaching Computer Science: Extra Credit

I wish I got a dollar for every time a student asks, “Can I get extra credit for [insert action for which it makes no sense to give extra credit]?” Today in class we did a difficult programming exercise. It wasn’t graded but I asked everyone to turn it in so I could evaluate the difficulty of the assignment. “Can we get extra credit for turning it in?” a student asked me. “How does it make sense to give extra credit for turning it in? Everyone is turning it in.” “It raises everyone’s grades,” he said. “Like a rising tide lifts all boats.” Read more →

Killed by Prayer

A woman on Facebook a couple of days ago asked everyone to pray for her seriously ill father. Today, he died. Go figure. Had he made a miraculous recovery, we would have said that prayer “worked” . . . but what does it mean when you pray for someone to live and he dies? I had a college professor . . . his exams were graded by a graduate assistant, but students had the option of appealing grades to the professor. That’s not unusual, but most professors will either raise the grade or leave it as is. This guy, however, would either raise the grade, leave it as is or lower it. Risky! Maybe God operates on the same principle. When you put someone’s fate in his hands, he retains the option of saying “toodle-oo.” Read more →

Hamlet Backwards

This semester’s AP English final is on Beloved, a depressing novel enjoyed by no one. “I need an 87 on the final to get an A in the class,” my boy says. “That sounds manageable,” I say. “Not really. I knew Hamlet backward and forward and on that test I got an 86.” “What is Hamlet backward? It’s Telmah, right?” Read more →

How to Get an A in Hell

At Northwood High School, Honors Euro Lit is known by its acronym — HEL (pronounced hell) — and widely regarded as the hardest class at the school. In order to get an A in the class for the first semester, my son needed a very high score — around a 98 — on the final exam, didn’t get it, and finished with a semester grade of 89.27 — a high B. If he’d had at least an 89.5, the teacher would have rounded it up to an A. So out of 1,000+ possible points over the course of the semester, an 89.27 means you missed an A by only three or four points. I’ve always encouraged the boy to be proactive with his teachers. Some people call this “sucking up” but I’ve been a teacher myself and I can tell you that teachers like students who are engaged and make… Read more →

The Triumph of My Pedagogical Method

Northwood High School grades came out today. My son got A’s in all of his classes. He won’t know that himself until Saturday night because he’s currently incommunicado at Children of the Corn camp, but the honors classes at Northwood are anything but a slam-dunk A, even for the best students, so we’re very proud of him. He’s become a lot better at managing his time and plotting out academic strategies, down to the level of selecting the right background music for study sessions. He’s still not as proactive with his teachers as I’d like him to be, but behavioral modification takes time. You can offer ideas, but until an idea and the kid’s readiness for the idea converge, nothing happens. Years may go by. For example, he just recently started setting up more study groups with his friends, a mere four years after I first mentioned to him that… Read more →

How to Get an A in Honors History

First semester grades are out. My son missed getting straight A’s by a point and a half. He had an 88.5 in honors history. He got an A in honors English with a 90.14. The honors classes at Northwood are very demanding. Even the best students get low A’s and high B’s. Three kids got A’s in the history class. The high score was a 91.1. “The 91.1 is Ted,” my son says. We know Ted. “Ted is history. He’s bad at math, average in English, but he knows everything there is to know about history.” “Make sure you touch base with the history teacher,” I say. “Let him know you’re really doing your best for him and ask him what you need to do to get that extra point and a half this semester. He’ll tell you.” “He’ll say, ‘Study hard, get a good score on all the assignments,… Read more →