Class today

Jun. 1st, 2010 02:32 pm
oxymoron67: (Default)
Six students gave their speeches.

Four more were called ... I pull names out of an envelope... if a student is not there, he/she loses a letter grade: three weren't there and one wasn't ready.

About half the class wasn't there. (One e-mailed Sunday night, saying she had a family emergency. She gets a pass.)

You know how I was upset about so many students potentially failing? It's not bothering me so much anymore.

No, I didn't get volunteers. Yes, I asked for them.

It's odd. It's the first time I didn't get volunteers. Normally, I pull out the envelope and someone thinks "Well, I can go now or deal with the suspense and pressure of not knowing when I go" and volunteers. From there, more people volunteer because they don't want to go first, yet want to be done with it.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Talked with my boss, and I explained my situation.

He said that a lot of his students had just stopped attending, and he seemed to understand what I was saying. So, half my class getting D's and F's? Okay. (And this may not happen. Several of these students could still get C's if they rock out their speeches and final exams.)

Meantime, the second lab is getting the new computers. We have issues with the computers they installed in the first lab.

One: no sound.
We can't record our students. Our students can't record themselves. Where is the point of having a speech lab when the students can't actually practice/listen to themselves.

Two: No windows moviemaker
We need this for digital storytelling and media work.

Three: Webcams
We have webcams hooked up to each machine. None of these webcams can work because we can;t download the necessary software.

Which leads us to....
Four: No administrative oversight
I have none. This isn't just another computer lab. It's a speech lab that does computer-y stuff. I need to have the ability to tailor our labs to what we need without calling other people in.
oxymoron67: (snoopy)
I've been thinking. I tinker with Voice and Diction every term because *I* get tired of the same assignments. Calm down, the states project isn't going anywhere, though I may revamp it for the Fall.

I may include more technical vocabulary, like ten words a week, and require sentences. Though that would add to the metric ton of grading I already do.

Mostly, though, I'm thinking about shaking up the weekly recordings. Last term, my weekly recordings were:
1) Robert Frost (pick one of 12)
2) The Brownings (pick one of 12)
3) Walt Whitman (pick one of 12)
4) The News Project
5) The Dream Job Speech
6) Reaction to the dream job speech
7) Reading of the vocabulary list (the sheer number of ways the words xenophobia and gerrymandering were mangled was scary)
8) St. Crispin's Day Speech from Henry V
9) The Gettysburg Address
10) Excerpts from famour 20th Century speeches

I used to include an assignment based on Storycorps, but it always turned into a nightmare.

Basically, I turned it into a problem solving assignment. The first time I did it, I told my students that no more than two people could listen to the same story-- because I don;t want to be bored, They looked at me puzzled, because I was supposed to assign the stories. I told them that it was up to them to figure it out. To talk to their classmates.

Total disaster. Something like six people did one story. Four people did another. Several more were done by three people each.

And the summaries universally sucked. No one included the names of the people. When I asked why they didn't include the names of the people involved in the story, my students said "Well, you listened to them, so you knew the stories already."

The second time was no better. This time, I assigned a group of students to each category (the stories are broken down by category) and told each group that each student had to listen to a different story WITHIN their same group.

Nope. Still the shitty summaries.... still the lack of problem solving skills in the class.

And the whining! "Why did you make us talk to each other? The person next to me and I did different stories... isn;t that enough? How can you take points off for this?"

Not worth the headache.

Still, I like Storycorps. Lots of different American accents... lots of interesting stories. I may try again.

When I visited the National Museum of the American Indian over the summer, I picked up a book of famous Native american speeches (for $2.50!!!!). I'm thinking about including these in the class.

But I need to be careful: I'd need to provide the context for them. I'm not sure that a Native American week would be a bad idea, necessarily, but this isn't a history or anthropology class: its Voice and Diction. I don;t know if it's beyond the purview of the course.

Something to think about anyway.

I may substitute Edna St. Vincent Millay or Emily Dickinson for the Brownings for a term. Maybe, Another speech might not be a bad idea either.

I don't know. Fortunately, class doesn't start until March, so I have time.
oxymoron67: (Default)
I'm trying something new this term in Voice and Diction. (Well, I'm doing several new things, but this is one of them.)

I'm going to break down a long poem into a chuncks and assign each student a chunk. They'll record their chunks, and then I'll edit the whole thing and the students will listen/react to the whole thing.

(I've seen others do this with Dr. Seuss. I wanted to try it with something more challenging.)

So...

[Poll #1452308]

Done!

Jun. 11th, 2008 11:42 am
oxymoron67: (Default)
Grades are finished! They have been handed in! Once I drop off my final timesheet to the department, this term has ended.

Yay!
oxymoron67: (Default)
I have to give my students credit -- most pulled it together and produced decent videos.

I'm impressed, and more than a little happy. Having said that....

The person doing Arkansas ... despite my telling her numerous times that it was pronounced "ar-can-saw", called it "our-kansas" the whole time.

The person doing Wisconsin peppered hers with little phrases like "Come to Wisconsin for the cheese! Stay for the sites!", which amused me.

The biggest problems they had were timing and transitions. More than once, I was staring at, like, a state flag or map for 30 seconds while they rambled about the state. Several didn't put transitions between pictures, which, while not awful, was kind of jarring.

A few didn't include a works cited slide, which meant that they lost a letter grade because they weren't following directions.
oxymoron67: (hypnobasset)
Wednesday, I gave my final. Some of my students did really, really well. Quite a few of them.... not so much.

Part of this might be because they were working so hard on the State Project... but then I've read the notes they've taken on THAT... and ... I guess it's possible. I suppose it takes a special kind of hard work to come up with "There are three mountains in Ohio."

I guess.

Anyhow, I am kind of upset, because we had a review session... I put powerpoints online ... I had extra office hours.

And still, several scored under 50.

At work today, we had our last Oral Communication across the Curriculum (OCxC) seminar today. I found out that the college may not be funding it next year. Fine by me. It's a lot of work for me without much reward. Some of the professors who get involved in this don't realize the amount of planning and time it takes to do the media work for them and get upset when they call on a Friday at 2:30 pm and want something done by Monday at noon.

I'm ambivalent on OCxC... mostly because, unlike Writing across the Disciplines, which requires a writing course so that students allegedly have some exposure to academic writing, my college doesn't require a speech course, so the students aren't guaranteed to have a grounding (in theory) of how to speak publicly.
oxymoron67: (no bear)
To review our previous state facts:

1) There are no desserts in Iowa.
2) Arkansas is located about a half hour away from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota*
3) Ohio has three mountains.
4) Connecticut became a state in 1646.
5) New Hampshire has no rivers.
6) Montana is the only state in the Union that has a river which flows into the Gulf of Mexico.
7) If you don't visit Idaho, the terrorists win.

*I tried to correct this student, but she actually said "It says that Arkansas is 30 minutes from that airport. It didn't it said the Mall of America is 30 minutes from Minn.-St. Paul's airport, but she got confused with pronouns, I think.

As part of the final exam, I asked five questions about their states:
1) State's name
2) Capital city
3) A river
4) A famous person
5) A random fact

So, the person doing Arkansas answered the Famous Person question with this:

Anna

That's it. Anna. Anna of Arkansas. I'm not sure what royal family she belongs to, or even her title -- Duchess of Little Rock? Anyway, she probably is married to the similarly mono-named Hernandez of South Carolina.

At least these are names. Couta is New Mexico's famous person, and I don't even think that's a word.

Also, the person working on Connecticut's random fact was that Bridgeport is Connecticut's capital city. First, nice try, but I already asked that question. But if you're going to give the same answer twice, make sure it's correct. Hartford is the capital of Connecticut.

Random fact about both Kentucky and Arkansas:
All the battles were fought here.

All the battles? Really?

The Montana River flows through Missouri.

On Monday, I'm going to watch the videos my students created. Part of me can't wait, part of me is terrified.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Okay, the lab has been swamped for the past two days with students practicing their speeches and putting together digital stories (four instructors --including me-- are requiring them for a total of about 12 classes).

I am not realy going to criticize students for waiting until the last second... I've done it often enough.

What I will discuss is their expectations.... they expect the lab people to just do things for them. "Add this background music for me," for example.

I told my lab techs that they were not allowed ot do this. They could *SHOW* students how to do it, but not do it for them. After all, this isn't part of my lab techs' grades.

Also, none of us require the background music, and, frankly, if you're just putting the damn thing together now, it'll probably be crap, and adding music to the thing won't help. The professor won't say "Hey, this is a piece of crap, but the music... well, that makes it all better."
oxymoron67: (Default)
As most of you know, my students' final project is that they were hired by a state's tourism board, and they have to put together a two minute commercial (using Windows Movie Maker) about their state.

The man who is doing Idaho just turned in his project, and I have to say that he took a unique take on why one should visit Idaho.

It's our patriotic duty. If we go overseas, our money goes with us, but if we visit Idaho, the money stays here, helping the economy.

That's right... if you don't visit Idaho, you're not a patriot. Who knew?
oxymoron67: (Default)
My department head called a meeting for all the tenure-track department members -- all fifteen of us.

The department's make up is amazing. There are us fifteen relatively new hires, then everyone else, who has been there 29 plus years. Frankly, it's my biggest problem with the place. They have all this history with one another (a phenomenal amount of it bad) and frankly, the walls are just too high. I'm professional with them, but I don't see myself being friends with them.

Also, many of the 20+ year people are ossified. They haven't changed what or how they teach in years. In all fairness, this isn't true of all of them. Many have also changed what they do: embracing new technology at various levels or new pedagogical methods.

Anyway, I was sitting near the douchebag the difficult co-worker, and I got tired of hearing him complain how, at 2:30 pm, he should be leaving work. It was like he was going to turn into a pumpkin. Which would be an improvement.

The meeting itself? Uneventful. I didn't learn anything new. I'm up for tenure next year, so I have to have all my ducks in a row, but, again, I know that. One of the things that our department head stressed was collegiality, being able to work with others. Seriously, she mentioned it a lot. I wonder why. It was obviously aimed at someone or some people. It can't have been me, because I haven't really blown up at work since 2005 -- and that scared so many people that many learned not to push so hard. I also got written up over it.

Of the fifteen of us, only eight showed up. At the end we had this conversation:

Douchebag: So, can we leave now?
Random Colleague: What do we tell the people who didn't show?
Department head: I don't know.
RC2: I say we don't tell them anything.
Me: No, no, no... we lie to them.

Laughter ensues

RC3: But how is that "working with others in the spirit of collegiality?'"
Me: Well, *WE'RE* all working together, aren't we? It doesn't say that we have to work well with everyone.

Class last night went rather well. The students had to get their May readings done, then they could work on their state projects if they wanted to. Three students have already turned their projects in. The woman who got Louisiana did an incredible job. I haven't watched the others yet.

So, the final is next Wednesday, and the state projects are also due that day. Monday, we review for the final.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Ahhh, the mixture of panic and caffeine.

My students have been asking for extra credit. Sorry, but no. It takes too much time to correct your stuff as is. Keep in mind, that, by the end of the term, I will have collected NINE different speech samples from my students. Those plus the quizzes... that's plenty of chances to improve your scores, thank you.

Professors are also panicking in that I have had a rush of people wanting to use the lab for classes this week. Alas, other professors thought to do reserve the lab first. I've pretty much stopped taking reservations.

I spent part of this morning trying to plan vacations... I will be taking two weeks off in August. I should be spending at least part of that time in Pittsburgh. I have to get everything confirmed first.

Meantime, my sisters and my mom are threatening to visit. Mom wants to see where I live, which is all well and good, and there are some motels nearby, but I think they'd be better off staying in Manhattan. I'm not going to be available for much of the time, and it'll just be easier for them to get around.

Who knows?
oxymoron67: (Default)
In my continuing effort to make English clearer for my students, I do some odd things.

We were discussing vowels followed by /r/. (/r/, like /l, m, n/ can affect the pronunciation of the vowels. In particular, someone was pronouncing "hurry" like "hairy." In fact, this student didn't even know what the word "hurry" meant. So, to make the distinction clear....

Me: Folks, what does the word "hurry" mean?
Several students: To go really fast.
Me: Right! And this word is different from "hairy", because "hairy" means "covered in hair", like this...

And I unbutton the first three buttons of my shirt to show off my furry chest.

There is about 20 seconds of absolute silence in the class. (And in this talkative class, that's saying something.) And then one of them said something like "Wow. Professors gone wild." I laughed. The class didn't quite know what to do.

I don't know what was so bad... I didn't show any nipple or anything. I didn't even take off my shirt.
oxymoron67: (reading)
For my students' final projects about the states, I have them answer questions. One of the questions was "How does someone get to your state? Airports? Interstates?"

Well...

1) To get to Wisconsin, one goes to O'Hare International Airport.

Okay, this is most of the way true. After that, the person needs to drive or take the train or a connecting flight, which my student didn't mention.

2) The easiest way to get to Arkansas is to fly to Minneapolis/St. Paul's Airport.

I can't explain this one.

At all.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Sometimes, this class vexes me. Case in point: attendance requirements. They are only allowed to miss 8 hours of class. This translates into four hours or two weeks. Yes, I mentioned it on the syllabus. In fact here is the quote:

Attendance Policy: By college policy, if you miss more than eight hours (four classes) of class time, you fail automatically.

I don't know that it can be made clearer. Yet, out of a class of 23, seven of them have missed four or more classes* and another eight or so have missed three. I'm going to remind them tonight.

*One of those seven gave me a doctor's excuse, which means he's okay provided he doesn't miss more class time, as it was for one class.

Another case in point: extra credit.
By the end of the term I will have given three quizzes, a midterm, a final, five graded homework assignments and NINE different assignments in which they recorded themselves and I graded them.

Sorry, I don't have time for more. And honestly, with that volume of stuff being graded, you can afford to screw one or two things up.

One last case in pint: Missed assignments
My students are all adults. I do not hound them for late work. As a result, four people haven't done their April poetry reading yet. That's 10% of their final grade.

Tonight, more work with -ed and -s endings, and they work on their state ads.
oxymoron67: (reading)
It was a short night for me, as I had to do the student response surveys. So, I briefly discussed the current states assignment (Are there famous people from your state? Where did they live? Any monuments there? Any Indian Tribes? And major battlegrounds?), and covered the rules for pronunciation of -ed and -s endings.

I corrected their April poetry readings. They did a much better job than the March readings. I think it's because they weren't taking the readings seriously in March. The native speakers' pronunciation was crisp and clear -- unlike in the March readings when most of them spoke like their mouths were full of marbles, and the non-native speakers actually did a surprisingly good job with the rhythm. Two of the students who did Whitman's O Captain! My Captain! did really interesting things with rhythm.

I was reminded of another Voice and Diction instructor who had his students, for part of their final, recite a Gilbert and Sullivan song. While I admit that hearing a Polish woman recite Modern Major General was an experience I'll not soon forget, I think that was reaching too far.

The highlight of the evening for me was the student who asked me to proof her script for her ad. It was all done in rhyme! It was only about 30 seconds, so it was way too short, but it all rhymed! And the woman who wrote it? A middle aged Bengali woman! And the ad? Wisconsin! A rhyming ad about Wisconsin!

I loved it.

Work, meanwhile, is getting more and more hectic as the term winds up. We have more and more reservations for the lab or for taping of speeches.

Tomorrow, we have the Oral Communication across the Curriculum seminar in the lab. While I'll get a muffin, granola and tea from it, OCxC is a crashing bore. It will be snoretastic.
oxymoron67: (Default)
It's long. You have been warned. )
oxymoron67: (Default)
... and the caffeine just isn't kicking in.

I have visitors from two different colleges coming through to visit the Speech Lab this afternoon, extra classes in the lab (the students are going to be watching their speeches and doing self-evaluations), four classes are having speeches taped and we're still editing the four that were taped earlier this week.

On the plus side, I don't have to justify my existence here.

Class didn't go as well as I'd hoped. After giving my students the list of academic words to pronounce correctly (find number of syllables, locate stressed syllable) and define, I split them into groups -- groups that I assigned.

It took longer to set up than I expected. Much longer.

So we didn't have the time to go over thew words like I'd hoped. We'll cover them gradually over the next week or so, I guess.

Meantime the digital story project seems to be going well. Many of the students are enthusiastic about it, though they complained that I didn't allow New York, Florida California or Hawai'i.

This assignment has led to some interesting exchanges between myself and some students.

Student 1: I got Michigan!
Me: Yes.
St1: What can I say?
Me: Well, your motto could be "Come to Detroit and get mugged!"
St1: I... no, I think I should come up with one of my own.

Student 2: Wyoming's motto is "Equal Rights"
Me: Okay.
St2: Why? That's a stupid motto.
Me: No, it's because Wyoming was the first state to give women the vote.
St2: It says here that Wyoming was the first state to give women the vote.

Student 3: Mississippi?
Me: How about "Come for the illiteracy, stay for the poverty"?


The class pretty much decided that North Dakota would be the hardest state to do. So, I went online and found North Dakota's official tourism site. I think I should put the link on my blackboard for my students.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Or... Lord I'm talkative today.

On Monday, we started covering stress. So today, I collected a vocabulary list of about forty academic words. They're going to have to tell me the number of syllables in them, where the stress is and then put it in a sentence.

The words include:

Entrepreneur, Xenophobia, Antithesis, Incongruous, Renaissance, Oligarchy , Commodity and Utopia, among others.

I'll let them work in groups, and they can certainly look up the words.

After that, they'll continue working on their state projects and, during the lab hour, they will record their second poem.

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