oxymoron67: (Default)
I turned in my grades on Thursday and I've already heard from two students.

One is complaining that she didn't deserve the low grade on States Project- which she turned in a week late.

I'm trying to find a polite way of saying, "It was a week late. You're lucky I looked at it at all."

The other wrote something like "There is no way I deserved this grade will you check to make sure you corrected all my work?"

I'll double check this, but she got that C only because of the late work.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Before I gave my final, I handed back the grades for the States Project (well, the ones that were handed in on time).

Several students were laughing at one line on my grading sheet. They claimed it wasn't clear (jokingly).

The line?

"Do your color scheme, graphics or pictures make my eyes bleed?"

I think that's straightforward.
oxymoron67: (Default)
I just don't think my class has a sense of humor. Which kills me because the only reason that I have what sanity is left is BECUASE I laugh.

For instance, this is the banner image I put on my Blackbaord site this week:





They saw it on Tuesday. No reaction. Nothing. You know those Warner Brothers cartoons where Daffy Duck is performing on stage and when he stops you hear crickets in the background? That's what this feels like. (It's surprising how many moments of my life can be compared to Warner Brother cartoons, though I'm not obsessed with roadrunners...)

Maybe they just don't get me: they may not be used to instructors with a sense of humor. It's just... with the other classes I've taught here, I managed to have some sort fo connection with my students... with this class, by and large, I don't.

In better news, they did a really nice job on the St. Crispian's Day monologue from Henry V. We went over rhythm and breath control this week, which will help (hopefully) with The Gettysburg Address, which is Tuesday's reading. We'll see. I've done both myself (If I'm going to require my students to recite something, I'm going to recite it first, to test out its difficulty and also, I don't think it's entirely fair to require my students to do something I haven't done.) and Gettysburg is all about rhythm and breath control.

Gettysburg is much harder than St, Crispian's. Yes, St. Crispian's is Shakespeare, but Gettysburg is also antiquated language, and, unlike St. Crispian, where the words are the problem, Gettysburg requires a great deal of breath control and knowledge of rhythm and stress.

I had to explain what "fourscore and seven years ago" means, which was fine: I wasn't surprised or upset about that. We also went over some of the more difficult words and phrases. I also posted their final readings: excerpts from 12 famous 20th century speeches -- including selections from RFK, JFK, Margaret Sanger, Clarence Darrow, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. We talked about the historical background of these speeches. Some of my students were immediately enthralled with one or another. Some weren't. That;s fine, they have until Tuesday to decide.

Meantime, one of my former students thanked me this week. She won an award for her e-portfolio, and her state project (on Alaska) was pointed out for special praise. It;s nice to know that the things you do are considered worthwhile by someone.

I really should do more with e-portfolio. Maybe have my students pick their best recordings and place them there. I don;t know. Clearly, its not something I can do this term. But I'll think about it.

One of the things I love about my job in the lab is that I get to see other professors' lesson plans. I've learned an awful lot about teaching from seeing what they have their students do. Sometimes, though, their plans leave me scratching my head. For instance, this term, we're running two sections of Voice and Diction. Mine is one, and the other is at 8:00 am. The 8 am class's professor professor gave us his syllabus, which had all the lab instructions on it. Its full of things like "embrace your inner child" and "seize your performance" and "control your destiny", which... ick.

This would bother me less, but sometime in October, he changed his course ... which is his right -- I've done it, most instructors have... but he never updated our copy of his syllabus, so we can't help his students when they're in the lab.

Finally, remember last week when the administration said that they wanted us to drop all visual components from the Oral Communication Assesment? Well, I found another reason. I was confirming a video taping and audio recording session with one of the professors in our Co-operative Education Department (they handle our internships) when she told me that she complained to the administration about assessment.

These assessments are supposed to be anonymous, but if they submit video, as required, well, that removes anonymity. I guess there is a point there, But I would have thought that the college would have dealt with this already.

I don't know.
oxymoron67: (Default)
1) To make up for the Ozark mountains moving to Ohio, Arkansas now has the Grand Canyon.

2) Minnesota "features many mountain peaks" but "There aren't any mountains in Minnesota, only hills." Yes. these two sentences were right next to one other.

3) There were no battlefields in South Dakota, which, you know, Wounded Knee. Given the massacre that happened there, you'd think it would be easy to find.

4) The one place of interest in Minnesota? The World's Biggest Ball of Twine!

5) No battles in Alabama. Which, again, stuns Civil War buffs, as the Battle of Mobile Bay, a major naval engagement, occurred there.

6) No battles ever took place in MASSACHUSETTS! So, Bunker Hill... Lexington and Concord... the various encounters in King Philip's War... took place elsewhere. Perhaps Arizona, since it no longer has the Grand Canyon.

7) Also, no mention of the Boston Tea Party.

When I get home, I think I'll drown my sorrows in egg nog.
Mmmm... egg nog...

Also, despite my repeated (at least three times) statements that Wikipedia is not a valid source (oh, and including that very statement along with "nor are any other encyclopedias or almanacs"), at least half of my students used Wikipedia.

They lost five points on a 20 point assignments for it. I will announce that, if they do it again, they'll lose ten points.I wish I could blame this on the whole "recent immigrants" thing, but only seven of my 23 students are non-native speakers. And, frankly, most of them did well.
oxymoron67: (Default)
1) Rhode Island has a desert? It actually may: I've seen it mentioned on the web, though I can't find more information about it.

2) Ohio only has one major city: Columbus. This is okay, though, because the Ozark Mountains have been moved there to compensate for the loss of Cleveland and Cincinnati.

3) Even though Tennessee has no mountains, it is home to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

4) No battles were ever fought in Tennessee. Which comes as a surprise to Civil War buffs everywhere.

5) There are no mountains in North Carolina. No beaches either.
oxymoron67: (Default)
I decided to try something new with the States Project, because I don't think that most of my students get the size of the U.S.

So, I found a map of the United States and had my students find their states. Then, I had them look up their states' capitals AND the distance between their state capital and NYC.

When I do this next time, I'll locate a map that includes regions like Rocky Mountains and Midwest.

After that, we had ten minutes before they recorded the St. Crispan's Day monologue. They asked me a bunch of questions about pronunciation and I stayed late to help them.

Overall, a really good night.
oxymoron67: (no bear)
My, oh my. I handed back the quizzes, which led to the following exchanges:

stu1: Is there an extra credit assignment?
Me: No.
stu2: We drop the lowest grade, right?
Me: No.
stu3: But this was hard!
Me: Then God help you on the midterm.

Then, I announced the States Project, which led to the Wikipedia Conversation:

Me: You all know that Wikipedia isn't a valid source, right?
Students: Yes.
Me: Why?
Students: Because anyone can change the information.
Stu4: But has Wikipedia ever been wrong?
Me: Yes.

I am already boggled by the States Project this term, and it's barely begun. Why?

Stu5: Can I do New York?
Me: No. Not a choice.
Stu6: California?
Me: Nope.
Stu7: So basically, we are all stuck with the states that suck.
Me: No. It has been my experience that people that live in NYC think that America ends at the Hudson, and then picks up Again at the Florida border and the California border. This will force you to learn about a part of the country you've never thought of.

After they picked their states (randomly, the states were all on slips of paper, and they picked them out of envelope), I asked what states they have, which led to this.

Stu8: I have Arkansas.
Me: And you pronounced it correctly. (I wrote "Arkansas" on the board.)
Stu4: Wait a minute. Then it's two states?
Me: What's two states?
Stu4: The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy wanted to go back to Arkansas (Pronounced "Our Kansas"), right.
Me: No, that was Kansas.
Stu9: Hey, that's my state!
Stu4: So, Arkansas and Kansas are different places?
Me: Yes.

I was boggled. This bodes well for the lulz, though it doesn't really bode well for my sanity.

This term's states: Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, Ohio, Virginia, Nebraska, Arizona, Wyoming, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Idaho, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Alabama, South Carolina, Alaska, Colorado, Massachusetts, South Dakota, and Mississippi. Two students weren't in class, and will pick on Thursday.
oxymoron67: (Default)
It went fine.

We introduced the vowel sounds, going over each one individually, giving the technical terms. The students also gave me example words.

Then they did their 30 second news recordings.
oxymoron67: (Default)
It went well. I took [personal profile] jawnbc's advice, and ignored them when they were acting up. I just continued with my train of thought.

Refusing to engage kept them quiet.

Also, we spent most of the class doing a practice run for the news project. The students just have 25-30 seconds and need to act like a newscaster*, and none of them have any experience with this. So, I posted an article on BlackBoard and they read it, produced scripts and did a dry run.

Most of them had no idea exactly how short 30 seconds is. They do now. Also, it got the giggles out of most of their systems.

*After three weeks of poetry readings, this is a nice change.

Then I announced a quiz for next Thursday; handed out a worksheet also due on Thursday and let them out five minutes early, mostly because five minutes isn't long enough to introduce anything.

On Tuesday, the first hour of the class will be devoted to the linguistic description of American English vowels. the second hour, they do the news project for real.

I need to come up with funny commercials. (I take all the 30 second videos and edit them into one broadcast.) Last year, my two commercials were for Montana and Jack Daniel's whiskey. They went like this:

(A map of Montana on the screen) "Come to Montana! We have more than cattle and sheep! We have crazy people, too!"

(A picture of a bottle of J.D. on the screen) "Jack Daniel's... when you want to wake up next to someone you don't remember meeting, choose Jack Daniel's. Jack Daniel's, the choice of discerning blackout drinkers everywhere."

So... I'm thinking. I'll take ideas.
oxymoron67: (Default)
I am losing patience with this class. This is easily the least motivated, whiniest class I've had since I taught Freshman Composition at Illinois.

First off, they treat ignorance as a virtue. I used the phrase "magazine or newspaper article" and had to explain what the word article meant.

To native speakers of English.

And they were all "Why didn't you just say story or something like that?"

When i responded that the correct word is "article" and any other word doesn;t quite work, they rolled their eyes.

They also have never heard of books like Moby-Dick or War and Peace. And they're proud of this!

Also, this week, they're recording poems by The Brownings. When I assign these poems, I give them a choice of twelve, and I've recorded me reciting them, so they have examples.

Apparently, I made a few mistakes, so the students were all "If you screwed up, it shouldn't count if we do." They were serious.

At first, I treated it as a joke, like so, "Yes, well, when you skip a word, you're wrong. When I do it, as an expert in linguistics, it's reinterpreting the poem."

Then they wouldn't let it go. So I said "My recordings are examples. If you don't like them, you need to look up others. Don't use your personal laziness as an excuse."

That's fine. I just simply won't include any more examples for them.
oxymoron67: (reading)
I decided to tackle the whining thing head on. It went like this.

Student: You didn't call out my name when you were taking attendance.
Me: Well, (name redacted), I heard you whining so I knew you were here.
Student: I wasn't whining... I just wanted to know why YOU gave ME an A- on the reading.
Me: Because you earned the A-.
Student: And what does "flat tone" mean?
Me: It means you read the poem with absolutely no change in tone.
Student: Well, it's a sad poem.
Me: But you didn't come across as sad: there was no affect there at all. You came across as a serial killer. Or a zombie. Or a zombie serial killer.
(Class laughs)
Me: In fact, this was a problem that most of the class had. I went easy on people this time. I know none of you like doing this. But pretend you do. Because your readings were boring me. And a bored professor is a much harsher grader than a happy one.

Then we discussed yesterday's recording.

Student2: Wait, that was for today?
Me: Yes. I told you about this last Tuesday, and I've told you from the start of class that every lab hour, you'll be recording something.
Stu3: We forgot. Can we have an extension?
Me: How is that my problem? I told you...
Stu2: Well, we're allowed to forget.
Me: And I'm allowed to not care.

If this is the attitude of most of the class, I doubt that this week's recordings will be very good. Also, who asks for an extension because they forgot? Have the respect to lie to me! Talk about familial emergencies or something.

We finished describing consonants in detail, and starting on Thursday, we'll be doing exercises with the more tricky consonant sounds: /b/ and /v/ for Spanish speakers, the th-sounds, /l/ and /r/ for East Asian language speakers, the zh-sound. And we'll have a quiz!
oxymoron67: (Default)
... this is the whiniest class I've ever had here. Tonight for example:

Me: Here is your homework for next Tuesday.
Students: Noooooo! Homework. (Commence low-energy whining)
Me: Next Thursday, we'll have our first quiz.
Students: Nooo! Quizzes! (More low energy whining)
____

And on it went.

We have started going over consonant sounds in detail. Since this is a class about precision of sound, I go into detail about the language. We've discussed voicing -- the vibration of the vocal chords-- since the first day of class, and I added manner and place of articulation to the mix. (Basically how and where we make consonants)

For voicing: lay two fingers gently against your throat. Make the "z" sound. The vibration you feel is voicing. Now, do the same but with an "s" sound. There shouldn't be a vibration. This lack of vibration is called voicelessness.

"p" is voiceless. So when describing /p/, you say that it is a voiceless, bilabial stop. "Bilabial" because you use your lips to make it; "stop" because the flow of air completely stops.

/z/ is a voiced alveolar fricative. "Alveolar" is the ridge right behind your teeth.

We're also going to be doing exercises to help them learn to pronounce the th-sounds, for instance.

They did their Frost recordings last night. We'll see how they do.
oxymoron67: (Default)
We did three things last night:

1) Finished the overview of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). We went over the vowel sounds. The difficult ones were the ones they always are: the schwa, and the following underlined sounds: bit, bet, bat, book.

This was just the overview -- we'll get into details later. We went over the symbols, and made them give me several examples for each sound.

2) Did a brief transcription exercise. I put ten words in IPA on the board, and my students had to transcribe them into English. We'll do this more on Tuesday.

3) Went over the technology: we went over the Audacity recording software and our webcams. Here, the students started whining: "Do we have to use the webcams? Why do you need to see our faces? Oh my God, we have to listen to/watch ourselves?"

On Tuesday, we'll do a larger transcription exercise; they'll do their first graded recording, and they'll pick their second reading: Walt Whitman poems.

The students also reacted badly when we talked about the format for recordings. For the poems, I want the students to state the title of the poem and the author's name before reciting the poem. If they fail to do this, they lose a letter grade. I want them to save the audio recordings as mp3 files. Again, if they do not, they lose a letter grade.

I pointed out that if they don't follow directions, they don't deserve the A.

Part of me is worried about the class. Since I try to keep the things light, I'm not sure my students are taking the class as seriously as they should. We'll see when I grade their recordings.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Since they will be reciting a Robert Frost poem next week, I made sure they all chose one last night in class. I told them that if they change their mind, that's totally okay, but I wanted them to have one picked out so they could practice it.

Also, on BlackBoard, I made a bulletin board where my students can put words/phrases they have a hard time with. I'll record myself saying these words/phrases and post those recordings in the course documents section of my BlackBoard site. Also, this is the picture that greets my students when they onto BlackBoard:




(Which I got from Icanhascheezburger.com)

I'll get bored with it and change it in a week or two.

Then I started the introduction to the International Phonetic Alphabet (well, the IPA symbols that deal with English, anyway). I'd put a symbol on the board, we'd all pronounce it, and then I'd have my students come up with example words. We had fun. We only did the consonants. We'll do the vowels (which are tougher) on Thursday, and start some simple transcription exercises.

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