Thursday, May 27, 2004

I am finally completely done with the Spring 2004 semester. What this means is that I am finished sending each student an email, with some feedback and a breakdown of their grades. No more teaching until Summer Session II, aside from a few course revisions (which will follow updgrading Lotus Notes) and maybe a grade change or two. So far, I have made mistakes in the final grades for six student (out of a total of about 240 students). Not bad, unless you are one of the six, I guess, in which case it is a crisis.

Does this mean I will be posting here more? Probably. I do have a lot of things competing, though, the first being tomato, basil, and pepper plants.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

I'M DONE! Submitted grades for seven classes. Making the deadline really was not bad this semester, considering that's four more classes than I have ever taught, and the computer crash in March. Now I can focus on re-installing everything on that machine, testing DSL, upgrading Lotus Notes, being able to print from the network again. (It was really hard to finish up the grades without being able to print lists of students, the grading spreadsheets, etc. I hope I didn't make too many mistakes, the students are sure to email me if I have [or even if I have not]).

I plan to do some reflecting on the semester, too, some of it here. Some early thoughts, my day class definitely was impacted by my being spread thin this semester. Some of the students were out-of-control (socially) and I was too busy to make changes in my methods, on-the-fly, during the course.

Overall, students viewed the class very favorably, but I didn't think it was a very good experience. I think there were three students in the class who agreed, and who wound up with "B" when in a different environment they may have received B+ or higher, perhaps even A.

Five of the remaining six classes went really well, and a couple were excellent, in my opinion, sorry it's not humble. The sixth course wasn't a true course, it was an independent study that the undergraduate teaching assistants take to get three credits for being TA. I decided to change this to a one per week seminar next semester, since it went OK with minimal meetings, but I think there should be more TA discussions and accountability, and that would help to make the TAs more uniformly excellent. (Many of the TAs didn't like the idea, and some won't be returning next semester for that reason [others are graduating, or have other conflicts], but having new students is OK with me.)

I had my smallest online class this semester, and I really liked the size (16). It supported the idea that if there is to be group work, small groups (2 to 4 students) really work best. I may try out that size in my on campus classes too. This semester I had groups of 5-7, and that may have been another reason for the off-task socializing in class.

Anyway, speaking of accountability, the school budget votes were yesterday. My Castleton district's passed, no suprise or controversy there. In Samsonville, another no surprise, the budget went down to defeat by a huge margin. That is my taxation without representation district, but it looks like the community didn't need my vote to be heard! (Such fun to have time to comment on the paper's story.)

Friday, May 14, 2004

Last time I tried to use the new blogger interface, my post went to never never land. So, I am trying again, but either there is something wrong, or it is significantly less user friendly than that last version. I don't have time to figure out how to make a link, so I'll just put the URL here and fix it later. It seems like a step backwards.

Here are some more photos of Campus Clean Up Day. I am sort of in two of them. I'm the one raking in the background of both 35 and 36...(and I'm not the young blonde)

Update: I fixed it. There definitely was something wrong. It looks nothing like what I was getting when I logged on last week. The interface is pretty nice looking. We'll see.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Another story about a creep abusing a dog.

Decided not to wait until grades are done. I want to be ready to plant the garden on that happy day. So I called IBM, and they will be here with to install a new hard drive on Monday.
Now that classes (not grading) are over, I have been able to take a few minutes to take care of some other pending things. The technical stuff was all irritating, if predictable and as a result, routine.

I think the XP machine needs a new hard drive. I haven't been using it that much, since my schedule has been too hectic to waste time reinstalling only to wind up with data loss again, but I wanted a faster internet experience yesterday (to answer all those emails from students begging for special treatment, and extensions, and faster turn around on grades, and As). I discovered that it now won't boot, and it is worse than last time. So that is project one, after grades are done.

Then, I got an extension on my free month of DSL, since I have not had time to test it (plus the XP is in no condition, and the 98 machine needs to have space made on the hard drive). So that is project two, after grades are done. Then, during bill paying, I discover that Verizon has already been charging me - and $5 more than the deal was pitched to be if I do take the service! More time wasted on voice mail, and email, and hold.

The school budget votes are soon, so I researched whether I qualify for an absentee ballot in Samsonville. I am registered to vote in Castleton, but since I pay taxes in two districts, I can't see why I would not be permitted to vote on the school board and budget in both places. Well, after wading through the State Ed documents, I think the answer is, I can only vote where I have been a legal resident for 30 days, and I cannot be considered a resident of two places.

How annoying. I can understand the government elections being limited - I should not receive double representation in the Congress or two votes for president, but I don't see how that applies to the school. I believe preventing me from voting for the school district stuff amounts to taxation without representation.

Now, maybe just the pleasure of having two houses should be privilege enough...but the truth is my two fairly humble abodes do not add up in size or value to the majority of McMansions -- even the less grand ones -- that I see in subdivisions everywhere, and that are the minimum expectation for a lot of young couples.

After that frustration...I snuck outside and did some yardwork. The weather doesn't care about crashed hard drives, or exhorbitant phone bills, or unrepresentative school policy, or even grade obsessed (but effort challenged) students. When I came back in, I ordered my seeds and seedlings.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

On April 27, I participated in the university's campus clean up day. I worked for three hours in the morning raking and bagging leaves and pine needles. Here are some pictures of the event. I'm not a member of the IT staff -- so I'm not in any of them, but, unless I'm way off (and I don't think I am), the group I was in raked up quite a few of the pictured bags in the 12th and 14th photos. I guess the afternoon crew had time to pose for pictures while they loaded the bags on a backhoe!

Monday, May 03, 2004

My (much edited!) letter to the editor, about this story, is in the current issue of Preservation. (Unfortunately, the letter is not online).

I wrote about the issue before, here.

Last week of classes!