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Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 03/23/2010

One teacher’s cure for senioritis

By Valerie Strauss

Ronald Maggiano, an award-winning teacher in the Social Studies Department at West Springfield High School in Fairfax, says he has a cure for senioritis.

What he calls “the crippling disease” is often triggered by college acceptance letters, and the symptoms are easy to spot: laziness, excessive apathy and chronic tardiness.

What can teachers do? Yes, they can warn students that college acceptances will be rescinded if their grades plummet--and that does happen, but not often enough to serve as a broad deterrent.

In a piece on his blog, The Classroom Post, he explains how he asked his seniors to answer the following question: "What can we do about senioritis?"

Most, he said, responded that there is no cure.

"It is inevitable,” one student wrote. “Once seniors get into college, the mojo is gone!"
He decided “to try a radical new approach” to try to lessen the impact of senioritis.

Here’s what he did:

He put all of his student students into cooperative learning groups and told them that all assignments for the rest of the year would be completed by the group working together and sharing information.

This puts peer pressure on the kids to actually get something done.

The result: It’s working--so far. Homework is being completed, and kids did better than he expected on a quiz.

This sounds like a terrific idea. Does anyone have other ideas about how to keep seniors engaged? Please share them, in the comments, or at theanswersheet@washpost.com.

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By Valerie Strauss  | March 23, 2010; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  College Admissions, High School  | Tags:  high school, senioritis  
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Comments

I would encourage this teacher to confidentially survey the students at the end of the year to see how balanced this actually is. At least when I was in HS, more often than not in a group of 3-5, one or two did the lion's share of the work.

For a good, cooperative group, I could see this working. For the model above, you'll get half with senioritis and the one or two will be seriously overworked as they try to buoy up the others' grades to keep up their own. But since everyone will get a good grade on the backs of the ones that are doing the work, it will appear to be a success. Ask them at the end of the year to confidentially say how many people were actually felt to be contributing before you proclaim this a miracle cure.

Posted by: forget@menot.com | March 23, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

If you want to cut down on senioritis I think we need to change the super competitive nature of college admissions in the U.S. My son is not so much lazy and apathetic as he is mentally exhausted! I can't blame students who have been forced to try and achieve perfection for the last 3.5 years to want to slack off a bit now.

Posted by: prnt23 | March 23, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

The cure for senioritis? End school after the first semester and have seniors work at internships during the second half of the school year.

Posted by: -TBG- | March 23, 2010 9:55 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe teachers are still using that group approach. Didn't ANY of them ever end up doing all the work in a group project?

Posted by: sideswiththekids | March 24, 2010 8:21 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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