Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Homework Improvement Plan.

Or maybe it should be SIP (or SwIP) - Schoolwork Improvement Plan. Anyway I was in the mindset to shift the work-reward system I use for Matt from me taking away his game time when he doesn't behave/perform up to snuff to a system when he earns his time when he does what he's supposed to. More positive based, rewarding good behavior rather than punishing bad. Seemed to be more motivating to me.

However I had no good idea how to implement this. I mean how (besides end of quarter grades) do I measure "good behavior"? Kind of like the Army days when you had to fill out your yearly performance review. At the beginning of the year you have to set goals and you pick things which the boss will like and which sound good. "Improve platoon training". But how the heck do you measure things and determine if you have improved platoon training? So I learned to pick things to put on there that not only sounded good (which would get the boss to buy-in) but were actually quantifiable so I could measure them. One of the best examples is "improve physical fitness". It sounds good and you can usually tell when you've done it but you can't prove that you have on a document. So you pick the standard, the Army Physical Fitness Test. You look at your number for last year, say a 238. You write down that this year you'll get a 250. There, numbers. When the year is over you look at what you did and if you got a 255 or a 260 it looks like you even exceeded your goal, which sounds really good on paper. Given that the max score is 300, that's not really that great but if you put it in context it's actually not too bad.

But how do I do that on a weekly or monthly basis with Matt and his school grades? I'd have to track every assignment's progress from assignment by the teacher through completion and turn-in. That'd be great if I was retired and didn't have to work or if I had a partner to help with running the house or something. But it's not going to work in my situation.

My idea what to use the school district's Student Information System to track his progress. However I have no idea when teachers are supposed to input the data or how regularily they do. And I suspect it changes from teacher to teacher, influenced by their schedules and computer skills (among other things). But my first workable idea was to check it weekly and use my tracking spreadsheet (yea, I am not only a nerd but anal as well, since I like to play with numbers and spreadsheets) to determine the delta. If his grades stayed the same or improved (as shown by a zero or positive change percentage) then he'd get his game time that week, if not then no.

I talked to Ethan and he told me that when his boy (whose a year older than Matt) had trouble with his grades, they negotiated their schoolwork agreement with him rather than trying to impose it. That struck me as the way to go, to get his buy-in and to let him partially "own" the process. So we avoid the whole "your rules aren't fair", since I can counter with "well you helped draft them, you should have thought of this then!". Kind of takes the wind out of the sails there.

When we talked about it he got unhappy but that was mostly because he realized that it was one of those "must do" things that I harp on and he didn't have any ideas about how to make it better for him.

We'll see how it works out.


Blogger alaphrench said...

Go Team Jim! I'll be keeping tabs on how it works for you as I am expecting the same battles as my boy gets up in grades.


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