Student Flex Day

This is an essential component of the larger project of creating and maintaining a No Fail No Burnout Classroom, a term coined by Bob Patrick. This specific concept is adapted from the work of Miriam Patrick and Rachel Ash. They call this a “RRR Day” (review, reach, relax). On their page, you can also see a detailed example of how these teachers are using standards based grading.

The purpose of a Flex day is to provide students with an opportunity before the end of a grading period in which they can:

  • Know what activities or assignments are missing
  • Get materials and support in order to complete these assignments
  • Re-take missing or low-score assessments
  • Be able to check in with the teacher BEFORE grades come back.

This strategy is based on the notion that students who need to make up work are the least likely to complete that work on their own. Students who are not missing work, will have a chance to make progress in class on their own terms. This could include (but need not be limited to):

  • Playing a game in Latin (or the target language)
  • Researching a topic online or in books, and providing a written summary of their findings
  • Spend time reading in Latin (adding a reading log entry)
  • Watching a historical documentary on a device or their phone, and writing about what they learned.
  • Studying for the National Latin Exam, Certamen, or other Latin club test/event

I tell the students that it is called a FLEX day because it is flexible. They have the freedom to choose what they need to work on. Or, they can “flex” their Latin muscles and push their knowledge further in some way.

For the teacher, this can help reduce the many hours that one might spend evenings and weekends preparing review materials, entering student work, giving feedback, and trying to arrange meetings with struggling students.

Here is how the process works:

Step 1, preparation (15-20 min): .
A few days or even a week before the Flex day, print out student progress reports and/or give them time to look up their grade on their phones. (Here is a sample instructional slide presentation for you to use and modify as needed)

Hand out a Student Questionnaire/checklist containing the following types of questions:
1. Are any assignments missing?  Did you miss a test or quiz? Did you score below a B on anything? List them here.
2. What materials or help do you need in order to complete/make up this work?
3. If nothing is missing or low score, what is your PLAN for progress in your learning during our FLEX day? (see above for options).

This communicates to students (especially the ones who are doing well!) that they are going to be held accountable for their progress on the FLEX day, regardless of their standing in the class. This also gives you the teacher a chance to prepare materials, print out previous assignments, quizzes, etc. to have ready on the day. Another option for students who are not struggling is to collaborate with a student who is, and assist them in their work and preparation.

On the day itself:
(When choosing the day, I would recommend the week before the last week of the grading period. This allows you time to enter the late work, and if a student is absent for this class, you can still catch up with them if necessary.)
When they walk in, students should already have a plan, but all will need reminders and some will require frequent check-ins

Instructions should be on screen when they walk in. Here are some examples:
Slide 1:

Student FLEX day:
PURPOSE of this class:

  1. Make up missing work
  2. Add up your Independent Grade Points (with handout)
  3. Continue to make progress in your Latin knowledge and ability

During class, students should be:
Working independently or together
Making progress
Checking in if they have questions.

Slide 2 (during last 10 minutes of class):

Make sure to:

  1. Turn in all missing work
  2. Complete and hand in your Progress Form.

Concluding thoughts

On the first run, things may not go perfectly smoothly, especially if students are not accustomed to working independently. Often the solution can include: clearer instructions, additional preparation, and whole-class check-ins every 10 or 15 minutes.  Some classes may have a large percentage of students who need one-on-one help in order to complete assignments or make up assessments, more than one teacher can provide in one class period. Some classes may need additional preparation and support in order to benefit from a Flex day.  But most classes can have some aspects of a Flex day in order to help ALL students succeed. Even for Ash and Patrick, who pioneered this concept, it is a work in progress. You can read about their revisions here.

Documents and resources:
Slides presentation containing student instructions
Student Progress handout (for the end of Flex day)
Folder containing all my FLEX day materials