Extra Credit. When I first began teaching twenty-three years ago, I liked extra credit. I was the type of high school student who always did my work, but not always to the best of my ability. A chance to earn a few extra points to get me from a B+ to an A- would be welcomed. However, after twenty-three years of teaching, I am not fond of extra credit. Too many students want something easy to replace an assignment not turned in.
My first year of teaching I thought I had a great idea. Today, I call it an idea. I had 100 tests for 100 books and plays. I gave the students the list and let them read independently to earn extra credit. My mistake was to not put a limit on the number of works that could be read.
Enter Brent. He was failing. He disliked writing. He was smart. He took tests on all of the plays on my extra credit reading list and aced them. And, he did not read them. How? He rented a videotaped version of a production of each play! He followed my rules. He found a way to beat the system! Sure, I wish he would have written more. However, Brent used his brain to solve his problem. I praised him on intelligence to improvise to pass the class. And, I changed my rules: students would only be allowed to read one novel or play. (On a side note, no other student ever chose to take a test on a play. Brent was the only one to figure out PBS records dramas all of the time.)
The past couple of years I have only allowed students to rewrite essays for a new grade or complete short vocabulary / writing assignments during any free time in class for extra credit.
I know I have readers from education and the business worlds, and I am curious to your opinions. If you can take a minute or two, I would like to hear what you think about extra credit for students. Thanks.