Monday, April 28, 2008

Last class is May 6. Grade are due May 19. I doubt I will be posting very much!! Luckily the weather has turned from early summer-like to raining and chilly. That makes it easier to stay inside and work. I caught another cheater! Ho-hum. It was in the hybrid class.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I took this picture on Saturday. It is High Point Mountain Road in West Shokan, looking toward the Ashokan Reservoir.

The weather is so beautiful...I want to be home! (Not stuck on campus.) But I should stop wishing my life away and get back to grading essays.

Monday, April 21, 2008

I've been very busy personally...and overwhelmed in terms of campus work! I'll get it done but as always, the end of the semester is stressful.

Is it me, I wonder, or are students getting more rude by the semester? Rude may be too strong a term. These are not bad students. But an example would be emailing me (and usually using my first name as the form of address) and then: 1) asking me something in-my-face such as can I reduce the workload? Or 2) claiming a grade is unfair and demanding an explanation for a B+. Or 3) suggesting an assignment is inappropriate? Or 4) attaching high importance and resending the message every few hours (I always answer as quickly as possible, but on a weekend a day [no more] may pass before I respond).

Then there is the constant in-and-out of the classroom, especially during 1)presentations of other students 2) videos 3) groupwork but even during 4) my lectures to some degree. This happens in all classes, but it is especially irritating in the twice a week day class. You can't sit still for 1 hour 20 minutes and not have to 1) pee etc. 2) text 3) chat on phone 4) email 5) get bottled water? It is definitely a growing problem in the past couple of semesters. This semester it is downright ridiculous.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Must be something about this point in the Spring semester. The weather turns warmer, the birds are singing, bulbs are sprouting...and students start to wing out. The end of semester looms, the presentations have arrived, the workload is ratcheted up, and they freak. Without going into too many details, yesterday there was an incident in each of my classes. Groups in a panic because there are several free riders; in-my-face demands that I explain a (fair) grade; obnoxious posting on the online discussion board; and a student who hasn't regularly attended class really throwing in peers in group and complicating the upcoming presentations. So you might say this all has crossed my "line in the sand." Although I am probably too sympathetic to students in general, I do have a line that once crossed, turns me from nice and understanding to stone-faced and exacting. Sadly, I've found that it is necessary. Sometimes there are a couple of students who test the limits because I suspect they misperceive my good nature as weakness. That's a mistake they should not make. Afterwards, though, I am always left feeling uncomfortable because it really isn't in my character to draw that line in the sand. I just don't like being forced to do it and I wish mutual respect was a commonly understood concept. The final thing that makes me uneasy is that you never know what is in a student's mind. Teaching can be a tricky business.

Monday, April 07, 2008

I managed to get the midterms finished last week. I am still working on journals - and hope to have them finished by tomorrow. The grading just seems endless from the middle to the end of the semester.

This has been a rough winter, but now we're having nice, early Spring weather. A lot of birds are back. I don't see many flowers out there yet, but if it stays this way it won't be long. I did a little yard work yesterday, but there is a long way to go.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Make that 16 times. (See here for information on 1-15. This time, I saved the editorial at the link - not getting stuck paying another two bucks!) They are shameless. Just exactly what is the Times Union afraid will be discovered? Here's The Record today - they are asking the same question as I am. (Sadly, they conclude that we will probably never know the answer regarding the TU.)
Finished the midterms!! Now I have journals, and a new batch of essays.

I met again with the hybrid class. They are having a better experience I think, although there are clearly some "lost" students. They aren't putting in much effort. Whether they are weak students generally, or if it is the technology...who knows? Some of the comments the students shared this week:

-add a link ane/or chat, where I will answer their questions on content of the material
-the day class may have been more suitable for turning into the hybrid (meet once per week, online once per week)
-videos are practically not watchable - too slow, audio and picture don't match
-AIM is way better than blackboard chat
-blackboard is often unstable
-uneasy sense that they don't know how they are doing in class
-audios and powerpoint slideshows are helpful

The class becomes mostly an on campus, standard delivery, face-to-face arrangement now - there is only one more online session left. There are four on campus sessions.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Break is over for me - back to campus for the last five weeks of the semester. I accomplished a lot of evaluation/feedback, worked on the article, did the taxes, updated the website for the online class, and chose a new book for next semester. Naturally, I still have a couple of undone tasks (journals for one class and midterms for one class) that I didn't get to. So I will scramble tomorrow to get some journals done (I might be dreaming, it is sure to be hectic) and on Wednesday, I'll try to finish the midterms. So anyway - I probably will be dropping back to my usual one post or so here per week. Time for bed!! I have to curtail the owl tendencies too.