Sunday, May 24, 2015

CTL + ALT + DELETE

There are a lot of photos of tattoos gone bad on the internet these days.  Things like "No Regerts," "Superbowel," and "Sweet Pee," are particularly amusing to me, let alone those with homophone reversals like "A Love Thicker Then Blood."  If only these tattooed victims had access to something like CTL+ALT+DELETE to reboot and reverse their decisions -- to start fresh, without the added pain and cost of laser removal.

There are a lot of things in life that would benefit from the three-fingered keyboard salute.  Certainly personal interactions where you could suddenly erase words said in anger or frustration,  or a re-do as you back out of your driveway into your neighbor's parked car.

In 1981, David Bradley was working for IBM.  He was so frustrated by the constant starting and stopping, with a giant need to reboot to keep the project he was working on actually moving forward, that he opted to create the shortcut.  In a recent Mentalfloss article, the story of Bradley's invention is revealed.  His plan was intentional -- because the likelihood of someone actually accidentally hitting all three of those keys simultaneously was pretty remote.  What wasn't intentional, however, was the release of CTL+ALT+DELETE in the finished product.

It turns out that CTL+ALT+DELETE has become one of the most beneficial mistakes to those of us in the 21st century.  

Re-do, Retry, Remorse.

At the end of the semester, the cries come.  "Can I do EXTRA credit?"  "What can I do to get my C to a B?"  (Or F to a D, or B to an A....).  Suddenly, the uninspired and unmotivated are, well, inspired and motivated -- but only for the sake of the grade that will appear on their reportcards, ultimately determining how long they'll be grounded during the summer or how many fewer videogames they'll be playing, based upon the wrath of Mom and Dad.

The idea that grades are earned instead of given seems to be lost on students.   It is common to hear teachers blamed for grades - "He gave me a C!" (said in an incredulous voice).  The idea that grades are gifts or punishments frustrates teachers beyond belief.  Especially at the end of the semester.

Our district has a success policy that allows students to revisit assignments that are less than satisfactory.  The concept of motivating students to go back and try to understand content more clearly, and prove that they've done so after the unit test or project speaks to the call for differentiation and no child left behind.  The reality is that the kids have figured out how to work the system, often taking tests without studying, and then asking for a retest after having a peek at the tested material.  Sometime the retests aren't requested until weeks or months later, when it's obvious that an increase in points will push the student a letter grade higher.

One of my colleagues identified a wonderful way to curb the enthusiasm of late-semester-testers.  (Say that three times fast!)  If a student fails to perform adequately, he or she may request a retake within 24 hours of the return of the offending test.  Sure, the re-exam can happen a week or more later, but the request for the re-do must be proposed, signed by parents and students, and in the hands of the teacher, along with the student's plan for remediation prior to the re-challenge.

It's the CTL+ALT+DELETE of teaching.  Allowing students to succeed, while maintaining the sanity of the teachers at the end of the year who have enough on their plates without having to administer tests from Unit 1 the week before finals.  Parents are aware of the student's efforts, minimizing the loss of valuable summer gaming time, and teachers are viewed as compassionate supporters attempting to instill learning, instead of giving grades.

Learning = Earning, right?  After all, they have a lifetime beyond the classroom for REGERTS.