My last teaching post was wrapping up the three courses (at the 100 level) that touched on literature whether as a composition or literature course. Today I’m going to tie together some thoughts on the third of the three composition level two classes that are taught at the community college level NC, (I’ve already covered ENG 112-Argument Based Research and ENG 113-Literature Based Research) ENG 114-Professional Writing and Reporting, along with some reflections on day two of UNCC Writing Project day two of Teacher Research week. (For my day one post check this post out).
One of our sessions today in the research week was to think about common core and the issue of assessment. The website I played around with is called Paper Rater. I entered one of my academic and published articles as well as a student essay. I won’t go into crazy detail about this, but my essay scored a 91 which is an A at most college level classes (another participant had the same result), and the student essay scored an 87 which would be a B in most college levels. These programs use math and look for certain patterns and such, but what about style, humor etc? The student essay is one that I gave an A to. A low A because of some grammatical issues, but definitely an A because it was a really well researched, and fun to read essay on LeBron James.
How do you feel about the possibility that your work, or the work of your children (family members etc) would be graded by a computer? How would a robograder work with a lot of the work that was completed in ENG-114 where we focused on professional writing. This class was in a computer classroom, and we decided to set it up as a service learning project. We collected tabs for the Ronald McDonald House, and used the charity as a way to write proposals, resumes etc. The students applied for jobs with the “charity,” and prepared persuasive PowerPoint presentations. This was a class about designing and presenting professional documents. Is there a robot for that yet?
I participated in a lot of great informal conversations about teaching and writing, and the teaching of writing. I really needed this week as I prepare to return to the classroom. I even started finalizing my lesson plans with Day 1 and Day 2 of one class almost complete. I have 28 more classes to go, and the other whole class to finalize plans for, but I really felt I made progress today. How do you grade that?
I will continue the teaching posts (maybe tied in with research week although tomorrow I may not have time to blog) with the next about the 200 (sophomore) level literature classes I taught and prepped. See you there.
Most of this week I’ll be participating in Teacher Research Week as a Teaching Consultant in the UNCC Writing Project. I attended last year with some very specific projects I wanted to work on. I actually thought I had two major projects to work on this week, but I’ve decided that I want to leave myself more open this year to new ideas and possible projects.
This morning we had some great presentations and conversations about the idea of college readiness. What do our students need to become successful college students? I also expand this to career readiness. What do you want your future employees to have or to be able to do?
We spent a lot of time writing, and right now I am finishing this from a new location in the library. I am in love with this space! The picture I have doesn’t really do it justice, but there are areas to spread out for reading, studying, charging your various devices. LOL.
Much of my day has been spent trying to find a way to make something for an open enrollment (free!) online class. I tried a variety of apps on my phone in my endeavor, but so many of them fell short.
- Tumblr – I’ve had the app on my phone, and I know a lot of people love it for microblogging, but you can’t create a new page/blog without going to the website so I wasn’t impressed with its functionality.
- Google Drive – I love my Google Drive, but you an’t make a file public to share on the go (or at least not on the app, and going out to the desktop version of the website is clunky) so that wasn’t working for me.
- WordPress – I couldn’t create a new blog without going to the website. The app has a lot of functionality, but not being able to create a new actual website was a major issue that kept me from completely the project with WordPress.
- Google + – I was really excited about trying to use one of the new Google + communities because the look of the app is so nice, but gain, you can’t actually make a community via the app you have to go out to the website.
I finally had a lightbulb moment and reinstalled Evernote. I’m having a few sync issues with it, but it allowed me to create, completely on my phone, a notebook that I can share with anyone who has the link. You can see it here.
Ultimately do I HAVE to have the ability to do everything I want on my phone? Maybe not, but it definitely makes my life a lot easier when I want to do a lot on the go. It has me looking at my lesson plans, and thinking about what technology I want to use to provide links etc to my students. It will also factor in as I have to seriously consider what will replace my netbook. It can’t run for more than 2 hours without being plugged in. Oh netbook, you served me well.
Whenever I see, hear, or think of the word assume I picture Jack Crawford from Silence of the Lambs writing the word on a legal pad. He underlines it, saying to Clarice,“If you assume when I send you on a job, Starling, you can make an ass out of u and me both.”
And yet, I still make assumptions. When I pick up a chapbook of poems I assume they are probably going to be themed as that is the trend, and because of that assumption the title of said chapbook sets up a given expectation before I even open the book.
When I started reading Brenda Bowen’s chapbook Riverwalker I envisioned a book of lyrical, nature based poems. Instead I found a slim collection of poems that are observant and contemplative to nature, but not in the way I thought. Let me try to explain by using the poem that I feel is like the ars poetica of the book, “Fairy Tale.” I am going to use the poem in its entirety as I will skip quoting from others to give you a feel for the whole book via this one poem:
split in two
I let go of your hand
for the grassroots level
the stones in the road
fly up beneath our bicycle tires
I make a church out of words
(someone told me to do it)
I let go of your hand
A fairy tale can be a story with magical and imaginary beings and lands, or the phrase can be describing a situation that resembles the idealization of the fairy tale’ think fairy tale weddings and happily ever after.
The speaker of this poem made me think of the Jack and Jill story. We want Jack and Jill to find an easy solution, but this poem does not present that. The poem is sparse, and yet can be read on a variety of levels just like a fairy tale which can be for children, but whose morals can also be applied to adult life. This is a poem about choosing, perhaps, the more difficult path which is the somewhat solitary life of the poet.
This is just my attempt at interpreting this particular poem, and through it, the book as a whole. I also chose this poem to exemplify the book because of the stones. I see the poet as picking words like stones from the river, ever so carefully. The river is a place that Bowen returns to as a way to reflect back on the rest of the world.
-Riverwalker is available from Folded Word Press in print and ebook formats
I have a busy week ahead next week so not sure I’ll have time for many blogs, or for much TV (LOL) which is what a lot of these reviews will be.
- Starting with a documentary called The Woman Who Wasn’t There which was interesting, but ended in kind of an odd way. It is a very different take on some of the survivor events around 9-11
- On the book end I finished Packing for Mars via my kindle app. I really enjoy Mary Roach’s book, and this one didn’t disappoint. I love that she asks the questions that you might be thinking about, but are doubtful to ask like – how do astronauts poop in space?
- On the fiction side of things I watched the anime From Up On Poppy Hill which was a lovely period piece.
- I’m continuing to watch the occasional foreign film and most recently it was a Korean one called Castaway on the Moon. I would call it a quirky take on modern consumer life with a love story thrown in.
- On the more TV end of things I watched The Finder which was a show only on for a season before it was canceled, but it was a lot of fun to watch to be honest with you. Which, when I used to discuss movies with a friend several jobs ago who was really into movies, was just big dumb fun to watch.
- I do have a pretty big list of educational type documentaries, but I’m going to shorten the list quiet a bit and just mention the ones that stood out a bit more like Lost Angels about skid row in LA, First Circle about foster care in Idaho, Brooklyn Castle about chess at a NY junior high, The Revisionaries about textbook language used in the Texas school systems, and I could mention more, but I’m having one of those feelings where I want to clear my last.
- So I’m gonna finish with a small movie that I found just a fun watch: Fat Kid Rules the World (even if I did catch two small editing errors, LOL).
That cleans up my list. Maybe I can actually find the time to finish some more books, and other projects now? Who says summer is a “vacation.” What have you guys been up to?
2013 has been a fairly quiet year for writing and publishing (if I compare to previous years), but I do have two poems in the current issue of UCity Review. Take a stop by. I also submitted poems yesterday which I had not done in a month. I sent two packets out. I had actually thought I’d submit to a contest and to a particular journal, but both had fees so I had to pass right now as I try to stay on a strict budget for the rest of the summer. Ah waiting for a paycheck!
I don’t have a new poem for this week. I tried all week to write on a note I had made: dance. I brainstormed different scenarios with this, but nothing came to fruition. I’m OK with that. I have several ideas that came to me this week, however, that I’ll try to start drafting today. I also think my poem from two weeks ago (the one about the guitar) might want to be a short story. Hmmmm. Haven’t tried one of those this year.
So this week’s poem is an older one that I’ve submitted a few times, but I’m not as sure about it. I don’t know that I have shared it here before. If I did, sorry!
You wrote her single spaced,
single paged notes. She pictured
you begging your sister
to fold them for you
so that they were
at the height
of teenage origami art.
She dreamed you gave up
your dessert for the
panda bear stamp
that reminded her
of a CSI TV show -
how the handwriting expert
always pointed out
hesitation as a sign of forgery.
Your stamping was amateur,
On the phone you told her
you loved her so quickly
she didn’t have a chance
to try saying, “I love you, too.”
First friends for two months.
Then, the “going out”
of two weeks. The break up
was two days away
because she wanted to dance,
and you didn’t own a sport coat.
As always feel free to comment on my poem and/or post your own (or link) for discussion. All poems (or other genres) will be taken down one week from today.
In additional poetry news I have to give a shout out to Raymond Luczak’s How to Kill Poetry. This brilliant book does a terrific job of responding to a wide variety of poets that have come before us, and even puts a cheeky eye towards what a future poet may write. What a terrific mix. I can’t decide where to put this book in my house because I have shelves for poetry, but I also have a shelf of poetry textbooks. I could SO teach this book. Someday I hope I have the chance.
Speaking of teaching, kind of sideways, I also like to look to other creative people for discussions of their process. The documentary Brief Encounters is an excellent one about a photographer.
Look forward to seeing what you guys have been up to
And finally, after six previous posts, I get to the end of the three literature based courses I’ve been describing. You can go back to the 6th post and then wormhole your way back through all of the posts via this link.
As I’ve been discussing with these courses I learned a lot from teaching face to face that I took to the online version of the class I taught later. The biggest change is that the final new unit in my online class was Mixed Genres. Using the textbook, they took a week to talk about essays and a graphic novel excerpt then the next week I linked them to other mixed genre pieces which they had to write about using a multi-media approach. I loved this assignment. I had them looking at comics that had a satirical bent, memoir pieces that used fiction type elements (like dialogue), and prose poems to name a few. The projects ranged from presentations on Prezi, Google Sites, Videos etc. I’ll actually be working the multi-media approach into my classes at UNC-Charlotte for the fall as well.
When I did this unit with my face to face classes I didn’t have examples in the text books so I did a week on non-fiction and a week on cross genre pieces. I realized that my students still struggled with telling fiction from non-fiction and the terms to use (like story versus essay) so I wanted to focus more when I worked with them in the online class. I also liked how well they responded to the graphic novels (I brought in my own examples) and quite a few students in my night class wrote their best papers of the semester on graphic novels.
One thing that came out of the face to face class though was using “Freakonomics” as an example of taking non-fiction and turning it into a film. I have since used “Freakonomics” more, and it was a good way to work on the exam (to revisit literary terms) because we could watch additional segments. My online class didn’t have an exam, but what they had to do was go back to their original literary terms write-up and reflect on how their understanding of that term changed over the course of the semester. That’s another assignment I was really happy with.
I’m spending a little time on most days working on my lesson plans for the fall. I have to take what I’ve done before and translate that to fit into a new course description. I’m having a good time with it, but I also want to finish off my posts about teaching at the community college level so next week I’m going to talk about ENG-114 (Professional Writing and Reporting). Let’s see if I can do that all in one post