So, I survived the lasagna poisoning of 2010, and made it back to school in time to administer my final exams (round 1).   Personally, I do all that I can to ensure that my students have a chance at success in my class…up to and including the dreaded assigning of extra credit, and giving (my version) of an easy exam.  Apparently, I failed on both counts.

We spent the end of the semester studying the literature of the Holocaust, and themes such as tolerance, bullying, racism, justice, and so forth.  Perhaps not the most cheerful wrap-up, but a unit that I consider extremely important.  We read Elie Wiesel’s memoir Night, viewed a moving documentary about Holocaust survivor Gerda Weissman-Klein, and tied it all in a neat bow by viewing the film Freedom Writers, about a group of post-Rodney King beating students in Long Beach who use their own study of the Holocaust to recognize the racial prejudice in their own lives.  (Sorry-there’s a lot more to all of these works, and my justification for studying them, but…you probably don’t want the pedagogy behind it all.)
ANYWAY.  My exam consisted of four multi-part short answer questions, designed to evaluate the writing and critical thinking skills of my students.  Even those who paid the most vague attention to the unit should have been able to draw upon their own experiences to comment on issues such as bullying, right?  I mean, who didn’t experience or witness at least one instance of bullying in their school days?

This kid:  “I have never been bullied but if I had been I’da had to beat some ass.  Sorry”  This child is a SENIOR.  Who expects to GRADUATE in two days.  WTH?

Or, do you agree with Miep Gies’ (one of the people who helped conceal Anne Frank) definition of a hero?  Explain.  (By the way, the definition was ON THE TEST.  Answer?  “Yes.”  My. Head. Explodes.  We have been through the “explain” rodeo more than once this year, people!

I did receive great, thoughtful answers, and some amazing insights…Which keep me going when I face “IDK” on an essay test.  But, still… ??!!!

The extra credit projects were hit or miss as well.  I have urged my kids to approach any Holocaust related project with sensitivity toward the material, and yet an unreasonable amount of glitter glue adorned various posters.  Fail.

Anyone faced this before?  Thoughts, rants, or otherwise?


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