I gave an early holiday gift to my standard class today. They had an open book, open notes assessment. Before the test I listed the page numbers of the two fractions sections as well as the integer rules sections on the whiteboard. I even left a few example problems on the board. While most didn’t need these resources, three students in particular would have benefited. One took advantage of the opportunity, but the other two made no attempt to consult the textbook, notes, or even the homework we just reviewed which was practice problems similar to the assessment.

As the class worked on the assessment one student asked me, “How do you subtract a fraction with negatives?”

I said, “You can find that in the textbook.” The textbook stayed closed.

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A disappointing story for sure. How can we help students who are unwilling or unable to figure out how to help themselves? I teach high school students, so it is probably easier and more reasonable for me to expect them to take on a larger measure of personal responsibility. Clearly you are working hard to create an environment where kids can succeed, but you cannot succeed for them.

Thanks for the thoughtful words. Perhaps everyone–teachers and students–are ready for a break!