I gave out several extensions today for a paper.
Only I didn’t just make the verbal agreement. I gave an actual artifact, with a deadline on it. It’s just a Post-It® Note, nothing spectacular at all. Yet it communicates to the student — this is the real deadline, no ifs, ands or buts. When their paper comes back to me, it had better have this Extension attached to it, because the official deadline for this assignment has passed.
I did this on a whim this morning, but I see it has many advantages. The artifact, in my handwriting, proves the conversation (“Can I have an extension?” “Yes you may.”) took place. The onus is now on the student to keep track of the artifact — proof of organization skills, for later commentary to parents — and the artifact is the key that allows me to put the paper into the right pile.
The photo is deliberately blurry because I want to conceal the text that the student wrote — good or bad — from prying eyes, and draw attention to the Post-It® Note in the upper-right-hand corner… Extension, 11/17/11, 3:10pm, and my Chinese chop… Here’s definitive evidence the conversation took place, and the student has the right to an extension. My chinese ‘name’? These are the two characters my friend Julie gave me to represent who she thought I was — Water Mountain (it turns out they’re pronounced sort of like the English name “Susan” which is unfortunate, but I’ve always liked the title “watermountain” in English…)
And it’s written on this Post-it Note.
I always have trouble with extensions. Kids ask for them, and I give them — and then I don’t remember that I gave them. And I mark the kid’s paper late. And then I get grief from kids who didn’t ask for an extension, and didn’t get one, but now claim they did.
Here’s a simple solution: give the extension as a physical artifact – in this case a post it note, with the new due date and time on it. Now the kid is responsible for tracking the extension, and attaching it to their work. And there’s evidence the conversation took place.