Oh spring is in the air, which of course everyone associates with finals and papers, right? And as seniors graduate a full 2 months ahead of the rest of the school (as it was explained to me by a colleague, they are going to just skip so they should be allowed to graduate early, right?) this means I have to get grades in shortly.
The project in question for most of my senior classes is an essay I had them write. I noticed pretty much across the board that no one knew how to organize a paper or structure an argument. It was more like a word vomit on a page without rhyme or reason for some of these kids. BOOM! This looks like a job for your trusty Peace Corps Volunteer. If my degrees are good for anything at all, it is knowing how to totally BS a paper in no time. The very first research paper, with bibliography and cites was in Mrs. Homer's 6th grade English class. Senior year of college, no sweat. This is their senior year and they didn't know what a bibliography was, let alone how to use it. Hmm.... Ok. No problem. I can do this. So for the past 8 weeks I walked them through each and every step. Gathering research. Taking notes (seriously.... notes?!?!). Constructing a thesis. Making an outline. Writing a rough draft. Writing a bibliography. Editing a paper. Ok, after 8 weeks of trying to translate these concepts and ideas and explanations to my class of 19 year olds I think that perhaps, just maybe, they learned something about how to write. I am cautiously optimistic. The due date is a Thursday, and I gave the students to option to submit on-line until 10 pm that night if they didn't have a printer or want to waste paper. Only 6 out of 18 handed the papers in in class.
At 8:45, like the distant rumble of an apporching storm, I get a Facebook message:
"Mr. Tyler, What is my topic I will write about." WTF! REALLY?!?! 8 weeks of this? No, calm down. This is one of my better students. Perhaps he is just trying to punk me. Ok, ok. Sent the topic.
At 9:15 I get another message asking the same thing. Oh, god.
At 9:45 I get my first e-submission. It reads. Here is my paper- and a URL address starting with www.essayempire.com. So clicking on it brings up one the free essay sample which happens to be on their topic. Sigh. Ok.
Over the next few days I get 3 more bringing the total up to 10. 10 out of 18.
Upon receiving them at the door the next class period to inquire as to when, if ever, I could expect the missing essays I was greeted with blank stares. Essay? What Essay? We had homework?
Some of the better highlights of the paper copy ones:
1. Printed out and has the time and web page stamp at the top along with the blue hyperlink
2. Handwritten, but included the subscript numbers to correspond with the cites on Wikipedia
3. An essay that cuts off mid sentence b/c they were tired of copying.
The remainder were either exactly what you get when you plug in the BG wikipedia in to google translate, or other free samples from essay empire. When asked why they did this when we worked so long in class. Did they not understand the rubric I gave out. What about the worksheets and samples? The response was a resounding "It was too hard. We didn't feel like. You should just pass us anyways."
So as I write this I can't help but feel sad that this is the future. These kids will be sent off in to the world after high school with very few skills, no motivation, and no accountability for their actions. So... now what?