"Is this homework?"
I had just passed out the worksheet, explained to the 8th grade math class that it was their assignment for class, and told them to get started.
"It's classwork," I said.
I know this game. If I tell Maria that what she doesn't finish in class is homework, she hears that the assignment is homework, and then she does nothing in class. Because the assignment is "homework" so she should do it at home.
Maria persisted. "Do we have homework?"
Yep, not falling into that trap.
I met Maria the prior week in her science class. I noticed that she hadn't started working on her assignment, so to give her a little push I asked her to make sure her name was on her paper. It wasn't. She then refused to write her name on the page.
This is one of my tricks. If I want a student's name and I don't want them to know I'm looking, I check the name on their paper. Student never realizes how I figured out who they are.
But this time I wasn't looking for her name. I just wanted her to write something--anything--on her paper. Because she refused so vehemently was the only reason I made sure to learn who she was. And her name did go in my note that day.
I answered Maria by telling her that I'd discuss what their homework was at the end of the period.
Maria goofed off all period. She tried to get her friend to sit next to her because she "needed help". I was not allowing any students to move from their assigned seats. I offered to help her myself. I asked her what she needed help with. She got sucked into a conversation happening on the other side of the room.
Fine. I walked away, but I came back several times to "help". She wasn't taking me up on my offer. She wrote maybe 3 answers all period. (The assignment had something like 50 questions.)
(Others did take me up on my offer to help. So, I wasn't entirely useless all period.)
The end of the period rolled around, so I got the class's attention and made the announcement. Anything they hadn't finished in class was homework.
Maria was incensed. "But you said it wasn't homework."
"No, I said it was classwork. Now, what you didn't do in class is homework."
Maria: "But you didn't say it was homework. If I had known it would be homework, I would have done it in class."
No. No she wouldn't. I know she wouldn't. It's all just an excuse to do nothing.
But it's frustrating just the same.