FAST Fridays and Second Chances

Before I tell you about Fast Friday, you need to know a couple of things about my practice! About 10 years ago I gave up homework.  I have no right to judge anyone else’s practice so please don’t think that I am… I did it because it was right for me and the students in my room.  Those who excelled did the work, those who didn’t, copied… and that was getting us nowhere.  Instead, I began to kick out the parts of my curriculum that wasted my precious class time and began to use those moments to get more input into my students.  Now they go home and listen to our song of the week or watch our class snapchat for stories (with Spanish captions) but they have no requirement to take my class home with them.  Its just what works for me… So it may not surprise you that I also accept late work.  If I am really going to make my grade a reflection of what my students can do in the language, it isn’t about what day they turned the work in it was about how well they were able to do it.

Anyway… about those FAST Fridays (Fostering Academic Success Today)… I am sure that at your school you have a group of bubble students.  These kids who aren’t the hard cases, determined not to do any work… the ones who just didn’t feel like charging their iPad last night so they didn’t hand in todays assignment because hey, a D is passing…  Our superintendent (you should all have a sup’t like ours… he is a forward thinker with an amazing school culture) wanted to try something to reach those kids.  The bubbles.  So he proposed that we try an hour early release for every student with all grades of C or higher and then use that hour at the end of the day to work in small groups with students to complete missing work, retake tests, get extra help… For me, it was a GREAT idea.  I know that for teachers who are firm believers in homework as a responsibility builder this has to be a difficult  adjustment but as I mentioned, I am about what they can really do in the language not about what they do behavior wise!  I LOVE IT!

We have now had 2 FAST Fridays… My homeroom group (we do grade check in all homerooms once per week) had two bubble students last year.  Boys who were PLENTY smart enough but just didn’t put that extra effort into keeping their work turned in.  Guess what… they started the year with some Ds and as we came up to our first FAST Friday, both kicked in gear and got their grades up to Cs!  They didn’t fall below the line between the Fridays either!  I have given a thousand hoorays and high fives because I KNEW they could do this and they’re proving it to me and themselves too!

On the other side of the coin I had some students who needed to stay yesterday for FAST Friday number 2.  These were kids who did not turn in work (although we do it together in class) but I allowed them a second chance, a chance to interact with that material that I considered important enough to assign in the first place!  We spent the entire hour speaking Spanish, catching up on those assignments, and re-visiting those cultural topics.  You know what happened?  All 4 students left the room with work turned in and grades back up above the bubble line… and each one learned something from the work they were handing in.  If I had said no to retakes, no to second chances, it would have been a lost teachable moment.

I don’t know if your school has ever considered something like this but I give it a hearty two thumbs up! What a positive way to show our students that we care enough about what is going on with their grades to help them dig out of the hole they have gotten into!

Author: senoracmt

I began teaching Spanish in Illinois in 1994. I have taught levels 1-4 in a small rural high school, 8th grade introductory Spanish, Biology 1, and 101 and 102 at the community college level. My Spanish classes are partnered with the community college to offer students 8 semester hours of dual credit on completion of Spanish 4. In 2011 I met Carol Gaab and Kristy Placido and have since co-authored the book "La hija del sastre" with Carol Gaab and authored the novels "La Calaca Alegre", "Bianca Nieves y los 7 toritos." "Vector," "48 horas" and "Bananas" through Fluency Matters. In 2006 I became National Board certified and I have been serving as a mentor both for candidates seeking certification in world languages other than English and a virtual mentor for candidates in all certificate areas. I completed my Masters degree in Spanish education in 2011 and did my research on the use of Understanding by Design to create meaningful cultural units for the language classroom. I am a frequent presenter on this topic, please consider me if you are interested in a workshop on backward design. In 2013 I was named the ICTFL Foreign Language teacher of the year and in 2014 I was selected as CSCTFL's teacher of the year. In November of 2014 I was lucky enough to be one of the five finalists for the ACTFL National Teacher of the Year in San Antonio, TX. What a "Cinderella" experience! You can reach me via email at senoracmt at gmail.com.

7 thoughts

  1. I definitely agree with the concept of giving those outside the bubble a time to recuperate and get back in. I don’t do the FAST but I have made an agreement with parents to keep the child one hour once a week to do late work or just to catch up. It has work wonders. The students feel cared for and I feel appreciated because they do take the time to do the work and open up. All of them are in the bubble but they like to come and stay and just get reassured that they really know the concept.

  2. How do you get those under Cs to stay at school for the tutoring? Do some of them just leave? We started Learning Lab this year… Pretty much the same concept,but after school for 45 minutes. We send a note home to parents, but kids are not showing up.

    1. If they leave it is considered truancy although some have parents who call them in 🙁 most stay And at the end of quarter 3 we had half as many failures as the year before

  3. Carrie,
    What a great idea! I shared it with my administrators and they are interested 🙂 A question – Are FAST Fridays scheduled every week or more intermittently?
    Cathy

  4. Can you comment on how the class snapchat works? I’m very interested in doing this with my class with the right guidelines.

    1. I do not follow them! They snap me via direct message! If ever there WERE and inappropriate pic it would come only to me! I put them in my story and the class can watch from there!

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