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students who never finish



I have a very large, very low second grade class. There are 5-7 kids who consistently, everyday fail to do most of their work. A couple do not do anything at all if I don't stand right over them. During center time they sit quietly at their desks and appear to me from the reading table to be on task, but when centers are over, nothing is finished and somethings never even got started. I have tried giving them extra time, making them do it at recess, sending them to first grade while we do a more appealing activity - no results. I have tried sticker charts, nice notes home, special privileges - no results. Those parents who care at all don't know what to do either but feel it is my responsibility. The whole class is falling behind while I try to get these few to do their work. As you might guess, they are some of the lowest students so not keeping up is really a problem. My principals only advice is to be sure they are not "left behind". The type of assignment doesn't matter. These kids just don't seem to care. How can I manage them while keeping the rest of the group on track and moving ahead?


Is the work at their level? It sounds like a lot of the work is supposed to be done independently - maybe they're overwhelmed? Do they have choices of what to work on and when, or is it all "must do at this time" stuff? Have you tried peer support of any sort? Buddy activities or a peer-check system where there's some social motivation? Maybe also pick your battles. If they're not completing something that's really important, make a big thing of it, but in my classroom anyway, center activities aren't the most important thing. It is hard - I've had two or three like this at a time, but never as many as you. For some of the ones I've had, they just weren't emotionally capable of self-motivating (depression, for example), and for some the work was too hard, and some others, they just needed some guidance in organizing themselves and setting a plan. Good luck!


reluctant workers

This is not an easy thing to deal with. It sounds like you have tried many options. Between reading groups, make sure you are "working the crowd"...walking around the room, checking in with students, answering questions, so they know you will be aware of their progress or lack of it. With some of my students I have modified the amount of work they have to do so they start to feel a level of success and completion. If a worksheet has 6 items I may cross out the odd # and assign just the even. You can determine how much would be acceptable to practice the skill. Or ask the student to check in with you when the first section is finished so they are not overwhelmed by the whole page. ( I sometimes fold the page) This depends on the student and their willingness to make some sort of effort. As much as you want these kids to take responsibility, they often needs guidance to reach that point. If they do not perform at centers, maybe they need to be assigned a different type of work (worksheets, workbooks--something not so open ended). I will sometimes also make these kids a "group" and they come up to the reading table and I see that it gets done with help for a day or two until they see that they can do it. Helping this group succeed will improve everyone's progress so you are right to want to get a handle on it.

Sharon D.W-L

Home work?


I too would try all the things that you have mentioned and do the best I could to move on with the rest of the class.

I teach 1st and I work on a 6 day cycle. On Day 4 if there is too much "not yet finished work" in each student's folders I have a pre-printed sheet that I have printed off on green paper. I fit 3 per page and cut these slips ahead of time. The note basically says that the student has corrections or incomplete work that needs to be completed at home and returned in 2 days in order to be corrected and graded by myself. There is also a space for the parent to sign. I usually send home 1 to 6 things stapled with this green slip of paper. As well if there is more then they miss centres time on Day 5 and Day 6 to complete their work. I also try and get written permission to remove these students from Specialist classes. I actually ask all parents to choose 2 of the following:
AM Recesss
PM Recess
Cree (2nd Language)
After school (5-20 minutes)
We are a non-busing school so this is doable... :)
Some parents check them all some only pick one or two. I usually invest my afternoon recess to keep students and only pull from the specialist classes if there are problems that recess won't fix. I try not to keep them after school if possible. I teach until 3:30 PM and I need a break by then. :)

At times I will allow them a class helepr to get their work finished. While we do calendar I'll send a helper to sit with them to "explain" and show a few samples. After a short time the helper should leave the student and return to our calendar time. If the helepr doesn't I ask them to re-join the calendar group.

What about resource or EA support? Is there anything that your resource specialist could do for you?




You have lots of helpful advice here! In a similar situation one year, the Grade 6 teacher lent me two students for one LA period a day to help these guys in small groups or one-on-one....not to do the work for them but to help and encourage, answer questions and read directions, and keep them on task. It was a wonderful experience for my kids, but the Grade 6 teacher told me how positive it was for his kids too. They were very proud of helping and enjoyed it. Over the year, he continued to send me tutors, he started with his high achievers, because he felt they could afford the time out of the room. Later in the year his lower achieving students asked when their turn was - it worked even better for those guys in the area of self esteem, and it helped them review in areas like short vowels etc. Hope this helps.


Special Ed Teeacher

Break your class up into 2 groups for certain activities. Give the more motivated students tasks they can complete in pairs or small groups. Give each student a job so that one student is not doing all the work. Make it hands on and review. While they are working take the less motivated group and preview or review a lesson that was difficult for them. If they are not able to complete the activity they have given up. You need to restore their confidence. After you work wth them in a small group give them an activity that is multi sensory based (hands on) to review the concept. You can also give them a task that is modified so that they are getting more immediate gratification. Make 1 child the teacher--with the responsibilty to let you know when everyone is finished. The other students will be motiated so that they can be the teacher. You are going to have to move at 2 different paces.

Can you get a parent volunteer to help with "centers" where children are working on hands on review at their own pace?

Hope this helps



What about giving them rewards or incentives. For every assignment they complete they get a sticker on a reward pad. When the pad gets filled up or when the first row gets filled up, they get a reward. Pick from the prize box or get to participate in recess or whatever extra things you have.

I have a few 3rd graders this year who have gone home with their classwork to complete in addition to their homework.