Mid-day update. I tried

May 30, 2003

Mid-day update.

I tried writing this in the web interface, hit a stray key, and ended up going back and wiping the form. So, writing in WP, will cut and paste, not save the word processor document.

Yesterday after blogging I had a quick nap, walked the dog, and headed out. After my shower I had put on a dark shirt in case my nose let go again. As I was heading out I decided that the nose was stable and changed to my preferred white shirt to go teach.

Headed to the CC to pick up a library book, a package, and some printouts from the print shop. Got my package (review textbook, 2 review readers, and a nice set of transparencies for teaching the US survey) but my documents were nowhere to be found. Went down to the print shop and chased it down. The secretary I had sent them to has been out sick and never forwarded them to the print shop. I retrieved them from my email, printed things off, and headed out. Forgot to grab a stack of blue books for Tuesday, need to do that on my way over. Also need to drop off a specially scheduled exam for a student who has to be out of town next week.

Made it to class a few minutes before we started, after going into the base from a different gate than the one I normally use and getting nervous about directions and locations. When I got there the students were already discussing the question from today's homework. I had asked "Was the conflict of 1775-1783 a Revolution or was it a Civil War?" It is a trick question, of course, it was a civil war among Englishmen, that became revolutionary as they broke away, led to a civil war among American colonists, and finally led to a revolutionary rethinking of politics, society, and human rights. When I read their homework later it seems that most of them just recapped my Tuesday lecture on the sequence of the imperial crisis. Still, if they got that they are in good shape.

On Tuesday I had made really good time through the crisis and the revolution. Today we moved slower early on. We reviewed the revolution form 1777 to the end, talked about goals, and then moved on to the One and the Many. Covered state constitutions, Articles of Confederation, Shays's Rebellion, Philadelphia Convention, Ratification, and said a few words about the bill of rights. I fell into lecture mode again - a sign that I was not well-enough prepared. By the end, they were glazing over. I am entertaining, but I still exhausted them. On Tuesday I will have to pick up at the first congress and repeat some of what I said.

We spent the last half hour reviewing the exam. I wrote the exam Wednesday while feeling loopy and out of it. Looking at it yesterday, it was not a good exam. The Ids are fine, but the essay questions are all vague, provocative comprehension questions. I did not include any of the Coffey Specials (Tell me A, B, C about 1, 2,3) where you can just check off A1, A2, A3 and give them a grade based on their ability to describe moments. A couple of the students just took, last semester, a class on training for the business environment. A big focus of that class had been examination design, building test banks, building examinations, structuring examinations, and so on. They had been taught that no more than 20% of an examination should be comprehensive, the bulk should be knowledge, the remaining third application. They were very cranky that I was basing, between the midterm and the final, almost half their grade on comprehensive questions. I explained that 1, that is how American historians normally teach on the college level, that that was how I evaluate all my classes, including my survey classes, and that that was how I had been trained to evaluate history classes. They were not all that happy, but I told them that based on the midterm I would consider adding knowledge and applications questions to the final. They are used to 90 or 100 short questions - fill in the blank, true false, chronological order, etc.

I am thinking about giving them quotes and identifications for the final. I might also list the events of the sectional crisis and ask them to put them into chronological order. Think on this.

Talked with mr plagarism after class. I asked him about how he had written the paper, and he told me about looking things up on his son's textbook and resource kit. I then pointed out that he had word-for-word plagarized at least 3 and probably 4 different web sites. He is a 4th year student, he should know better. He gets an F for the assignment, and if this were UVA he would be expelled.

I normally offer people one chance at a re-write. He will get a chance to write a new paper, and I will decide at the end of the semester whether or not to insert it in place of the F. If nothing else, he gets the pedagogy of writing a new paper.

That took time, and I was late getting out of the building. Then I took a wrong turn heading out of the base, realized it was wrong, turned around, and took ANOTHER wrong turn. I ended up heading home on a road I had never driven before. I eventually pulled over, looked at my map, and realized what I had done.

Home late, and not sleepy. Ate 2 bowls of raisin bran (cereal seems to be a good late-night after-teaching food) and then read for a little while. Finished a Bernard Cornwell (they ARE addictive) then was still not sleepy so went and graded homework. Finished that and was playing a little E&B deciding if I was sleepy when my character died and J woke up. That was a sign, and I went to bed.

Poor sleep last night. J has a cough, and was up a couple of times. Baby has a cough, and was up a couple of times. All I remember from last night is J rocking the baby as he cried. It felt like it went on forever and ever. This morning J sez it only happened 3 times and I must have drowsed through the rest. Did NOT want to wake up this morning, slept in till after 7:00.

Today's plans:
Grocery shopping
Farm stand
Bank run
More whiteboard eraser solvent
Finish the textbook review.
Have dinner ready at 5:00 for J.
Start reviewing Chapter 3 for the changes I will need to make.
Oh, and hit the library and check out Mel Gibson's The Patriot to watch while babysittng. Maybe.

So far I woke up, stared at the walls, walked dog and baby, sent J and baby off, read email, and wrote a couple of pages of review. Hit a stopping point and went to write this.

Posted by Red Ted at May 30, 2003 11:27 AM | TrackBack