Saturday, January 30, 2010

Random bullets of this week

Things are bound to slow down now that the semester's begin, right? Right? Until then, some random bullets.
  • What I'm finding about the flying dinosaurs studies class is that all the reading I've done over the past several years (and much of my recreational reading has been in flying dinosaur studies) is now emerging, unbidden, in various relevant ways as I lecture, lead discussions, and answer questions in that class. All that reading wasn't a waste of time and a creative means of work avoidance after all!
  • This semester, I built in a lot of in-class short writing, out-of-class response papers, etc., and while it's good for the students, it's killing my own writing time even though most of the assignments are "comments only" and not graded.
  • And about that kind of writing. I've heard for years about the tips for managing these things: assign a journal to students but don't read it, assign response papers but only look at a random 5 of those handed in per class, etc. The logic is that it's good for them to write even if they aren't getting immediate feedback, that more writing is always better, and that the students will adjust to it as long as you explain the system ahead of time. Well, maybe that's true in comp classes, although even in those, the students wanted me to read what they'd written. They would ask me questions in their journal entries so that I would respond. My belief is that if it's important enough for me to require that they write about it, it's important enough for me to read it--otherwise, why would they bother taking it seriously as an assignment and why would I have assigned it? It'd be a lot like writing those pointless committee reports that we all complain about, the ones where no one is going to pay attention to the recommendations anyway. I don't want to inflict pointless writing on students, even though I can't avoid it for myself.
  • Although I have a lot of students this semester, far more than usual, just about all the students in the classes seem to be pretty engaged. I say "most" because in one class, a couple of them (who talk loudly about what "A" students they are) like to chat incessantly with each other throughout the class. Funny thing about that: if you asked me to draw a Venn diagram of all the A students I've had and all the students who have chattered incessantly and disruptively in class, the two circles would never intersect at any point. Go figure.
I'll be back to posting for real soon.


Ink said...

That first bullet -- I *love* that, too. Well-said.

Although I'm not doing flying dinos and kind of wish I were.

Anonymous said...

Ah, those informal in class writings. I'm totally with you on that (the value, the horror).

undine said...

I love it too, Ink! Still enjoying the flying dinosaurs.

Annieem, there has to be a magic bullet for those, or at least I hope there is.