How often do we hear someone say, " He or she is smart, they are just lazy."? How often does a learner say, "I am just lazy, when he or she does not do their schoolwork."?
I worked with such a student this summer. He was not lazy. He thought he had to do his work perfectly and get all the answers right. This made it a struggle to do his work. In fact, not knowing the answer made him unable to do his work. Add several papers in a day and the student appears to become lazy.
He wanted an A+ on his paper. When we did only one activity at a time, he did well and loved to learn.
When we added a written paper, he wanted me to sit by him and say he got each problem or question right.
This way he could get all the answers right. I decided that I would only give a grade for doing the work, not the actual work itself. If he finished the paper by himself he got an A+ for completeing the paper. I assigned the work on one side of the page. This child was finishing first grade and the paper had 8 problems. He did the work in a timely fashion and I gave him an A+.
I had told him I was only grading if he finished the work. It was fun to watch him waiting for me to mark his work. I joyfully went onto another project as I praised him for finishing the page. He looked at me and ask if he could have an A++ then. I smiled and said he sure could. I added another + as I praised him for finishing the paper again. He waited a little while and asked, "Can I get an A+++?" I laughed and put another + on the paper and told him that was enough +'s. He agreed.
We did the A+++ routine without checking the actual work for several days. After 4 days, I praised him for doing the work and then checked the work. He missed one problem so I put a A+++ on his paper for finishing his work and a B on his paper for his work. I praised him for finishing his work and for making a B on his work. I did not want the work and finishing to be connected. Then, I added doing the front and back of the page. Each time I downplayed the grade for the work and praised the finishing the work grade.
Then he decided maybe I would accept sloppy work. He got a B for finishing his work. The next day he did better work.