Tuesday, December 20, 2005

End of Semester Reflections

I think I'll use my last blog entry before winter break to consider what's gone well this semester and what needs to be changed. Let's start with the good, and then we'll explore the bad and the ugly.
The Good:
1. Philosophy books
2. Essay tests instead of scantron (They better assess whether or not my students are improving in their "essential learnings")
3. The blog--both academic entries and random ones (Gives us time to discuss extra issues, to get to know each other, to pose questions, to give voice to quiet students, and to put students in the driver's seat)
4. Including my students' voices in discussions of what's "best" for them (Why speculate on what they want and need when they are capable of telling you themselves?)
5. The remote mouse with laser (makes me feel like I'm on Star Trek: The Next Generation)

The Bad and the Ugly
1. Grades, grades, grades
2. Vocabulary (I'm up to my chin in fun vocab. activities, but it still doesn't feel like an integrated part of the course)
3. Grammar/Spelling (Why don't they learn this in elementary and middle school?)
4. Writing in my regular classes (I need more of it, which means I need to find a more efficient way to grade)
5. Finding thematic connections in English 10 (Fahrenheit 451, Of Mice and Men, and A Midsummer Night's Dream don't naturally click together, somehow)
6. ALIS (it somehow devoured at least a third of the semester, chewing up and spitting out some excellent short stories and poems as it marched its way to the finish line)

I took so much away from yesterday's discussion...As a final thought here, it is an honor to be part of a group that gets me excited about changing and improving the strucutre of my classes (and, I might add, it's not too easy to get me excited when I'm as stressed and sleep-deprived as I am this week). So, thanks!


Blogger DOUGW said...

I have something to add to the bad pile- lack of heated discussion. Agreeing with my peers is no fun, and entirely unproductive, since that provides to outlet for creativity or diversity. Possibly infuse more contoversy into next semester.

I also have something to remove from the bad pile- vocab. It's not so bad, we can use the vocab if we want to (See Kenneth), and we'll use it later. What makes it bad is the classtime it consumes. Instead of doing in-class reviews, make it entirely our responsibility to study, make your own tests to quiz us only on what we need to know, and leave vocab out of the normal classroom. And, if at all possible, make the tests take-home.

Grammar and spelling can be alltogether eliminated.

ALIS is a beast, but it's not necessarily the monster you make it. ALIS isn't the towering green ogre, but rather an overgrown kitten; it's fun to spend time with, and endlessly perplexing, but at any moment's whim, it can playfully take a swipe at the critical juncture of Literature and tedium. I know you have to keep it, but maybe downplay the grammar, endless revision (though make a few such occasions) and useless purple-packet lessons. Leave the good grades to those that work. My opinion is too biased.

Your last statement must concede profound excitability in reference to a certain Jason.

I agree and endorse, thereby validating, all other statements. Enjoy the break, and especially my brilliant final-exam essay. (Brilliance begets points- and I won't lie, I do care. This is where take home vocab tests and such could pad grades, eliminating the need for concern over petty points. In order to better disenfranchise 'grades, grades, grades,' it is pertinant that you give free points. Ah, glorious logic.

6:37 PM  
Blogger DOUGW said...

There's a spelling mistake:
3rd line, "...since that provides NO outlet for..."

6:41 PM  
Blogger Ashley M said...

I agree with Doug on this one. Vocab was okay, but it did eat up a lot of classtime that could have been used better.

I truly enjoyed your class this semester. I feel that this was one of my best semesters in an English class. ALIS was interesting--time consuming, but interesting. Everything we did and discussed was amazing. Thanks for such a great class!

8:09 PM  
Blogger MollyG said...

Wow, doug had a lot to say. I'm going to agree with him in that it's no fun to agree with classmates all the time. But really, I love this class. It is the only class I'm currently in which allows the students to teach ourselvces and see everyone else's viewpoints as opposed to just the teacher's. The discussions could easily be the most useful part of the class. Debates and disagreements in class force us to support our points with valid data, and it's exceedingly more exciting than taking notes on powerpoints all day.

And I entirely agree that spelling and grammar should have been taught a long time ago. By this age, we have all been exposed to english and the grammar of it for around 15 years of our lives, if we don't get it by now, I think we're doomed. Spending upwards of two weeks of last year learning to properly use commas was such a waste of time. In an honors class no less, we actually spent time on commas, pathetic.

But I would say that the best part of class would just having a teacher that talks to us like actual, genuine people. That's all a class really needs. Really, I'm not even sucking up here. That's what education really needs, teachers who see their students as real people with valid opinions worth listening to. We appreciate it a lot to actually have a teacher who is willing to talk to us rather than talk at us.

8:12 PM  
Blogger Barbara S. said...

"We appreciate it a lot to actually have a teacher who is willing to talk to us rather than talk at us." This is such a powerful statement and one I will not soon forget. As a teacher, I want my students to know that I care about them, I treasure their thoughts and opinions, and hope to let them direct their own learning (at least to what extent that can be done in mathematics!).

8:50 AM  
Blogger DOUGW said...

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9:24 AM  
Blogger DOUGW said...

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9:24 AM  
Blogger DOUGW said...

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9:25 AM  
Blogger DOUGW said...

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9:28 AM  
Blogger jasonm said...

About vocab I'm just going to have to say, we don't need reviews or even studying about 99.9% of the time. These are words we've all heard only about a billion times. We're not all car accident victims with serious brain damage.

On Dougs little statment to " infuse more contoversy", what is she going to do? Verbally abuse someone until they bother to get into the discussion, offer points for the more discussion you do? If that was the case, we'd have people saying stupid things that is nothing more than babble just to satiate expectations before not caring anymore.

Oh yeah, and like Doug said, what was the deal with a giant purple packet? I mean honestly, it was about 100 pages of "Instead of 'See Jane run' what could you substitute for run?" (Answers:sprint/Sweet monkeys! I'm back in 5th grade!/dash (Circle one))

"Your last statement must concede profound excitability in reference to a certain Jason."
I've said it once if I've said it a million times;

I'm a performance artist, and my medium is irate women. (I am available for parties/weddings/Bar Mitzvahs, call for pricing information)

6:09 PM  
Blogger jasonm said...

Molly, is , right,,, we do not need to , learn about, c,o,m,m,a,s th,at i,s, li,ke fift,h gr,ad,e stuf,f

9:44 PM  

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