We had a great time today with a little joke I play every year in class. After their quiz in World History on the Renaissance and Reformation (Chapter 12) we pass out the "Purchase Points Policy" here it is:
We discuss the policy a bit after the students have had a chance to read it. A few students give me a look like, "This must be a joke." Others are very excited and are already reaching for their wallets. A few are very offended that they would not be able to afford to "purchase points." I explain, "Well, you might have just failed that test... you could just see your secretary and buy a coupon for academic points and "Boom!" you have an A." A few smiles come to the student's faces because they realize they have a reprieve. And maybe studying for the test Monday isn't really that necessary now.
I spend 10 minutes or so of trying to persuade the students that this might actually happen. I say things like, "Hey, don't blame me. They always make us pass out district announcements on initiatives in social studies." And students know that we are going to the counselor meetings on scheduling like 4 times this month. So it strikes home. We discuss the advantages and drawbacks to such a gimmick. I usually say, "Hey, everyone can go to college now and Mr. Duez might actually earn more money in salary! What's so bad about that?"
Then finally I have a student (usually someone who is looking the most confused) to read the quote on the board, "When the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs." A quote from Johann Tetzell about indulgences in the time of the protestant reformation. Finally it starts to sink in that this is in comparison to the reformation and light bulbs come on.
Of course the students are going to have to write on the test and explain the quote. So this is the perfect way to get it across to them. It becomes very relevant. They suddenly understand how Martin Luther must have felt all those many years ago. Getting to pay your way to a good grade is compared to paying your way to salvation and heaven.
The very first time that I did this was at Humble High in 2005. It just so happens that the very first period that I was doing the gag, my evaluating principal Mr. Monk came strolling into the room. He was just in time to learn about this new district policy! To his credit he remained quiet, calm and played along with it. But, in the end I asked him, "What did you think of this while we were doing it?" He said sternly, "I was thinking to myself that I would be spending the afternoon on the phone trying to explain this one to parents and YOU would be helping!"
Today I took it to Mr. Roser, just to be sure that no one has any misinterpretation. I can just hear it now over the loud speaker, "Mr. Duez, please report to the office!" :)