*Names have been changed/omitted to protect the
Some days, it feels like you spend all afternoon following the rabbit down the rabbit hole and it turns out the rabbit hole is a huge mess. This exact thing happened to me today.
It all started when one of my kids comes up to me and says, “Mrs. Westerfield, Isaac keeps asking Erin for her password to get on ST Math and Erin keeps saying no, but Isaac keeps asking.”
You see, every day I have math centers–I split my kids up into three groups and while one group is with me, one group is doing an independent activity, and another group is on a math computer program called ST Math–and every day my kids type in their 16-pictures-long password to get onto the math program. This math program happens to be pretty important to our school: it provides data to the teacher and the school in order to prove to the state that we are improving as a school. Also, each student is on a different activity, depending on their level and how quickly they get through the levels. So, for example, they all start out on subtraction. But some kids are really good at subtraction, so they forge ahead. Some kids are on subtraction for awhile, because they need more practice. The computer program is constantly reading how well the students are doing and responding to their answers.
So, when this sweet kiddo comes up to me to tattle about Isaac trying to get on Erin’s username, at first I’m not too alarmed. Sometimes, Isaac is a twerp that way (a very lovable twerp). I’m talking to him, trying to figure out the whole story, when another girl, Emily, chimes in, “Mrs. Westerfield, Lanie (another little girl in my class), also gets on my ST Math all the time.“
Chrystal: “She gets on mine too!”
Jessica: “Lanie gets on mine too!”
Lanie: “But Jessica gets on Gary’s and John’s all the time.”
John: “I only gave her my password once.”
Gary: “Jessica asks if she can get on mine and I always say yes. But I haven’t gotten on anyone’s!” (He said that last fact like it was something to be very proud of.)
And the next thing you know, it was like a train wreck. Every one was telling on everyone, and everyone was admitting to somehow being a part of this whole cheating ring happening in my classroom. I couldn’t believe it. Only three kids out of my entire classroom had nothing to do with it. It literally took me an hour to sort through all the stories and accusations and confessions.
Here’s what I learned: Apparently, there are many ways to accomplish getting on another student’s username. The first way, of course, is to simply ask for the password. The other way, is to watch what your neighbor is putting as their password and follow suit. And finally, the last way is to not completely log off of ST Math and when the groups switch, the next persons gets on the computer and just keeps going.
Keep in mind, these kids are 2nd graders. 7 years old. When I was in 2nd grade, I wasn’t nearly so crafty. When I asked them for the love of God, why?! were they doing this, they almost always replied that when they didn’t want to do the level they were on, they could find someone who did. Ain’t that the darndest thing.
So, we had a really long talk and I decided that they lost their computer privileges in January and informed them that they lost my trust (which some found incredibly devastating). As I think about it more and more, I am finding the humor in it. They honestly had no clue that they were messing up huge amounts of data, they were just doing what their cheeky little brains thought was a brilliant idea. Finally, the last 15 minutes of the day, I received 13 heartfelt apologies without any prompting from me! And I told them that I completely forgave them and that there are no hard feelings–but they had better believe that this naive first-year teacher isn’t going to let a cheating fiasco happen twice!