oxymoron67: (Default)
I gave the final on Wednesday.

To start, i collected the late states projects: of the eight who didn't turn them in on time, four turned them in late.

The other four? Nada.

Their loss.

Before I handed out the final, one of my students said, "Professor, this was my hardest class this term." Several of my students nodded in agreement. In fact, another said, "Me too, and I took MATH this term."

My reaction? I said, "Good!" and did a little dance.

Given the stricken looks on my students' faces, this was the wrong reaction. Whether their horror was due to my lack of remorse at running a challenging class or the dancing or some sort of combo platter is anyone's guess.

The one student who was absent for all but one of the quizzes and the midterm? Unsurprisingly, she wasn't in attendance.

The next day, I get an e-mail from her, wherein she claims a family crisis, and asks to take the final via e-mail or something. I deleted her e-mail. Why? Because this was almost my response:

You know that you did not come to class for four out of the five quizzes AND the midterm, right? The whole "family emergency" thing doesn't fly because your family's emergencies are very well-timed.

So either you're lying or your family is such a mess that you need to take time off from school to deal with it. I'm betting that you're lying.

You also never turned in your states project or over half your homework. What kind of grade do you expect?

Let's be honest, that response would have caused more problems than it would have fixed.

So grades are turned in and the semester is over.
oxymoron67: (Default)
1. Sovereignty of another state or two states may merge into an entirely new body.
2. Subsequent investigation casts doubt on the ability of the hunt to regulate themselves.
3. Invariable practice is not to reveal his sources.
4. Dichotomy is possible to be truly moral only in a world which has overcome these dichotomies.
5. The young people of today are indigenous towards today’s veterans.
6. Unknowingly, we try to invariably want to change our spouse after marriage.
7. The angry crowd venerated in frustration.
8. The teacher differentiated the children’s test.
9. It is impossible to invariable the Bible.
10. Many guys aren’t afraid to show gamut.
11. At the candy store they had a coherent mass of sticky candies.
oxymoron67: (Default)
We had a meeting for the adjunct faculty today. That will be in a later post.

Last night, we went over the last quiz (-ed and -s endings), a brief finals review, and we viewed their states projects.

Finals review? I listed the topics we've covered since the midterms. All of them will be on the final. While I didn;t go into much detail, I did point them towards what areas the final emphasizes.

The students who missed? They're shit out of luck. The list of topics is on Blackboard.

Of my 23 students, fifteen turned them in on time. Most of the fifteen were mediocre to awful. Two stood out:

South Carolina was the best of the bunch. It was funny, informative and everything worked.
Kentucky was good, too. It had a lot of historical information, and the second half was devoted to the Kentucky Derby.

The person who did Iowa had a great idea: she focused on a haunted house were a family was ax murdered in the 1890's, but she wasn't loud enough. She still did a decent job, and will likely get an A- or B+, but it could have been outstanding.

Of the others, South Dakota stood out as the worst. The student got facts wrong, mispronounced words like "Mt. Rushmore" and "Pierre." (She pronounced "Pierre" as "Paris". I don't know why) It was awful.

Massachusetts was a close second. This student focused on JFK. Again, legitimate. But, the photos never matched the narration and he spoke so quickly it was like he was an auctioneer.

I always tell my students not to include music in the background: it's never helped grade-wise, and frequently, its hurt the final grade, because the music was too loud or too jarring.

For the record? Salsa music or the end of the 1812 Overture? Not good choices for background music.

*sigh* Yes, it has happened. (Sals for a project about Illinois, 1812 Overture for ... Vermont, I think.)

Well, the student doing Mississippi included music. His project was all about the music of Mississippi, which, given the legacy of Country, Jazz, Blues and Rock there, is a great idea. Had he used either country or jazz or blues or rock as his background music, I admit that I would have given him points for it.

The music was at the perfect volume, it didn't overwhelm his voice. Unfortunately, it didn't match the topic. It was New Age-y.

This student (who is a dancer) has done things with music before. For his last weekly reading, he did Mary K. Fisher's A Whisper of AIDS. He added a soft, mournful music behind his recitation that really gave an extra oomph to his performance.

Tomorrow is the final, and Thursday will be Grade-apolozza. I want everything turned in by Friday at the latest.
oxymoron67: (Default)
The full two hours was devoted to letting my students finish putting together their states projects.

So naturally, many of them spent absurd amounts of time on Facebook or in chat.

I told them to come in prepared... to have their photos and their script (or preferably) outline READY TO GO, so they could record themselves and arrange the photos and stuff.

Most of them didn't do this. Some spent the whole class writing their scripts, and got nothing else done. Though, I guess these people are still several steps ahead of those who were on chat and FB the whole time.

Maybe I should have pointed out the time constraint to them FOR THE FORTIETH or so time, but, honestly, if they can;t be bothered to care (especially the FB and chat students), I can't.

This isn't a difficult assignment, in terms of technology, but it is a time-consuming one.

Of the 25 students? Six are done, another six or seven have their photos and narration done, they just have to put it together. They can do this at home.

The rest? Goodness knows.

The thing is due on Monday, and I'm not letting them in until class starts on Monday.

So, we'll see.

Maybe next term, I'll require them to turn in their script (or outline) early. Of course, the last time I tried that, only three students actually turned it in.
oxymoron67: (Default)
A few notes:

1) Many of my students didn't actually provide sentences. I received many phrases like "Moratorium on animal testing".

2) The word "specious" seems to be difficult.

3) Some of these are grammatical errors; others, I can see where the student was coming from, so it's an easy correction to make. However, several of these are just puzzling.


1. My mother is a plausible person.
2. I am going to continuum my studies
3. State sovereignty is inseparable.
4. The renaissance in women’s sports
5. Here, he would invariably be smothered.
6. My professor’s advice was invariably.
7. The filibuster in math class kept the exam from being passed.
8. The students asked their professor for clemency before the exam.
9. A continuum number of police officers have been attacked.
10. They are foreshadow in many ways.
11. In the woods I caught xenophobia because I seen a strange creature.
12. I have an ethnicity of students in my class and throughout the college.
13. Most people think students/children are plausible.
14. You need to follow the steps for your lab homework in a continuum in order for the experiment to succeed.
15. He is egregious.
16. Hypothesize that do not necessarily in the united.
17. I commodity my gold.
18. They did a moratorium to the twin towers.
19. My sister and I are antonyms.
20. You are so beautiful you specious me.
21. Last night I watched an amazing tributary performance for Stevie Wonder.
22. Being specious was hardly their concern, after a bank robbery.
23. Pandemic erupted after the concert.
oxymoron67: (reading)
First, we went over how to use Windows Movie Maker. My students need to use it to put their states projects together.

Then, I gave them time to play with it and to ask me questions about their state: what to focus on, that sort of thing. The questions I had them answer give them too much information for 2-3 minutes, so they need to pick something to focus on.

They asked if they had to use the information from the questions, and I said that they didn't. For instance, one term, a student who had Massachusetts focused entirely on Boston's professional sports teams, which was legitimate.

Of course, that student never actually turned in the project, but it WAS a good idea.

I'm trying my best to avoid a Sux Indians situation again.

Finally, we had the -ed and -s endings quiz. In this quiz they had to wriite down the rules for the pronunciation of -ed and -s endings, then they had to apply the rules to lists of words: telling me which rule applied to each word.

They... um... took the quiz. I can't say that they did well. The word "breathe" was especially vexing, apparently, as was "mix".

Oh... the student who always misses on quiz day? She was THERE.

Tomorrow they do their final recordings and then work on their state projects.
oxymoron67: (Default)
It went well.

first, we went over the difficult parts from last week's reading, the St. Crispin's Day Monologue.

Then I asked if they had any questions about yesterday's reading, The Gettysburg Address.

From there, we talked about rhythm, pausing and linking.

Linking is when we join words together to keep rhythm stable.

For instance, say "Aunt Anne".

We do not normally pause between those two words. That's linking.

We do it ALL THE TIME.

Fortunately, it's common enough in other languages, that it's easy to pick up on.

From there, I announced the last set of weekly recordings and Monday's quiz on -ed and -s.
oxymoron67: (roll eye)
I am currently sitting at home because after a weirdly busy and frustrating day at work, I managed to slip on the bus. I didn't fall; but I did grab a pole to balance myself, and definitely pulled something.

As you can imagine, I am a big ball of sunshine and joy right now.

I'll talk about work -- which wasn't all bad -- in a later post.

The class actually went well. I started by returning the quizzes on vowel sounds. I did something with this quiz that I've never done before: I told them the EXACT format the quiz was going to be and the questions.

And, to their credit, most of my students paid attention, and got either As or Bs. Good for them. However, about a third of them apparently didn't bother listening. When one of them came up to me at the end of class, I pointed out that I had told him EVERYTHING that was going to be on the test, and that there was absolutely no excuse for his performance on the quiz.

He was taken aback. Oh, well.

From there, I announced a quiz on -ed and -s endings for next Monday.

Then, we discusses some of the vocabulary words. I've had this list for about two years now (though I've changed several of the words), and I know which words are going to cause problems.

Annotate, for example. Most of my students, even after looking it up, seem to believe that this is just a fancy way of saying "Taking notes", which it isn't. So, we talked about that. We also talked about "foreshadow", another word that gives them problems.

We discussed "gamut", "dichotomy" and "criteria" because, well, gamut needs a range after it; dichotomy needs two things that in some sort of opposition; and criteria is plural.

From here, we started talking about rhythm in English. When I introduced rhythm, I said, "And today, we're going to start... rhythm" and I shook my butt for them.

They laughed (the appropriate response). We talked about the basics of rhythm, which words in English tend to take the "beat" and the basics of when and where to pause. We'll get back to pausing tomorrow.

Then, I put the first sentence of The Gettysburg Address on the board. This is their reading for Wednesday, and, honestly, it's all about rhythm, stress and breath control. We marked the words that are important from a rhythmic standpoint, then we talked about pausing.

I told them that where you pause changes what you emphasize and therefore can change the meaning of what you say. While pausing has some basic rules (you pause at punctuation marks and before conjunctions; you don't split up a prepositional phrase, etc.), there's a lot of freedom there.

Then we played with the first sentence of Gettysburg, to show what I meant.

At this point, it was late, and I could see that they had reached their limit, so I let them go about ten minutes early.

Some students stuck around to ask questions (always a good thing), and one student said something that I took as a compliment. He said that my class was the hardest of the classes he was taking this term. He'd never thought about language the way I describe it in class, and it's totally blowing him away.

BUT... he can see the logic behind it.

Now, keep in mind, this is one of my best students.

Still, I think students NEED to be pushed. If my class is a blow off, then I'm not doing it right, you know?

Wednesday: we'll review this stuff, continue with pausing, probably talk about -ed and -s endings, and maybe move into linking!
oxymoron67: (history)
We went over the rules for the pronunciation of -s endings.

These are remarkably similar to -ed endings.

1) If a word ends in a voiceless sound, the ending sounds like an /s/. Exs: Mike -- Mike's and bath -- baths

2) If a word ends in a voiced sound, the ending sounds like a /z/. Exs: Ann -- Ann's and play -- plays.

3) If a word ends in a sibilant (/s/, /z/, -sh-, -zh-) OR an affricate (-ch- or -dg-), the ending sounds like /Iz/. Examples: place -- places, judge-- judges, watch -- watches.

The native speakers had serious trouble with this. They were all saying "But this makes no sense. It all sounds the same to me.: This makes sense: we don't really pay attention to what we do*.

We also went over the St. Crispin's Day Monologue. Words that gave my students issue: covetous, Exeter, Westmoreland, Salisbury, Talbot, and many others.

I actually like doing this. At first, I get to see who went over it ahead of time, then, as the class looks at the piece, more students ask questions.

Then they asked me to do read it myself. That's cool. I did, and for a cold reading, it wasn't bad. I would have given myself a B or B-. Of course, if I were doing it for a grade, I would have re-recorded it.

However, it was better than what my students could do with it (at least as a cold reading: with practice, several of them are quite good).

We also discussed how to read this. I told them these things:
1) Not a sad piece. Do not read it as such.
2) Make it interesting: this is supposed to be a speech to encourage an army to go into battle.
3) Also, I am going to have to listen to 25 of these things. DO NOT BORE ME.

Finally, I announced next week's reading The Gettysburg Address. (The student who has Pennsylvania gasped because she finally realized that Lincoln never actually MOVED to Gettysburg, he just gave perhaps the most famous American speech there.)

Next week? Rhythm!

*This, by the way, is why no one should rely totally on native speaker intuition. Most of the time, native speakers don't hear/recognize the subtleties of their own language.

Oh, and the student who is always absent on test day? She claims that this isn't true. Despite all evidence to the contrary. Because I'm stupid and unobservant, apparently. On the other hand, the extra two days? They didn't do her any good. She bombed this quiz so badly that I'm amazed wasn't a crater left behind.

Which I don't get. I don't get why ANYONE failed this quiz. I actually told them EXACTLY what was going to be on it. Seriously. No tricks, no ambiguity. I told them what to study and the format.

And yet... several failed SPECTACULARLY.
oxymoron67: (Default)
We covered the pronunciation of the -ed ending. the rules are straightforward and EXTREMELY regular.

I. When a word ends in a voiceless sound, -ed sounds like a /t/. Ex: Wash --- Washed

II. When word ends in a voiced sound, -ed sounds like a /d/ Ex. Play --- Played

III. When a word ends in /t/ or /d/, -ed sounds like /Id/. Ex. Wait --- Waited

And that's it.

When I cover this, I give my students a list of words, they have to pronounce the word properly, tell me which rule it follows and then put it in a sentence.

Since we were having a quiz later, lots of students included that in their sentences, which is cool.

My favorite, though, was the guy that had the word "remark".

This was his sentence:

She remarked .... on.... the dress that I brought to the Royal Ball.

I already knew that this student was as gay as a Spring Frock at an Easter Parade, but, man, that sentence just proves it. (During the news project, he told me that he had a crush on Anderson Cooper.) Other students expanded on it. I corrected their grammar when necessary.

The student in question... he took it in stride. He wasn't upset at all. I think he was more bothered by the idea that that sentence was the first thing he could think of more than anything else.

It turned out like this:

He called whIle I waited with a friend who was interested to see the dress that (student's name) brought to the ball that his friend remarked on.

It wasn't as much fun the series of sentences with "evasive", but it was close.

From here, I gave them a quiz on the vowel sounds. Of the students who were absent (and there were three of them), one has now missed two quizzes and the midterm. She comes in the next class and takes them, but she always seems to be sick on test day. I think we need to have a discussion about this.

Tomorrow? The -s endings (slightly more complicated than the -ed endings, but awfully similar) and they get to do the St. Crispin's Day monologue from Shakespeare.

Actually, reminding them that they need to go over St Crispin's Day ahead of time led to an exchange:

Student1: It looks hard.
Me: That's because it is.
Student2: You're our professor. You're supposed to be encouraging us.
Me: I *AM* encouraging you. I'm encouraging you to go over it ahead of time because it's difficult. See?
Student3: You;re supposed to have confidence in us.
Me: Trust me, I am confident that, if you don't go over this piece ahead of time, you will not do well. If you prepare, you'll be fine.

I'm also going to spend a few minutes at the start of class going over it.
oxymoron67: (Default)
1. Pennsylvania has two very famous people, Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln.

2. The Prayer Tower is a late Google design-influenced tower located on the campus of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

3. According to FEMA recent all most every year Oklahoma had some disasters.

4. There are absolutely no tourist attractions in Montana.

5. No one, not even Native Americans, settled Kentucky before Daniel Boone.

6. The American Revolution was actually just a riot that occurred in Rhode Island.

7. Also, despite being a colony of England, Rhode Island was never part of any country besides the U.S.

8. The Germans fought the British in Vermont in the Battle of Benington.

9. North Carolina is SURROUNDED by water.

10. Massachusetts, despite being a colony of Great Britain, was never owned by a country other than the U.S.A.

11. The Battle of Trenton, NJ took place in Delaware. (It was outsourced, maybe?)

12. South Carolina was hit by Hurricane Ophelia in 2005, Tropical Strom Hanna in 2010, and is now feeling the effect of Tropical Strom Nicole. (That's right. Now. In May.)
oxymoron67: (Default)
So... we reviewed the vowel sounds and discussed things like diphthongs and tense vs. lax vowels.
More language stuff! Plus a smackdown! )
oxymoron67: (Default)
A number of students were absent. Like ten.

Which... well, their loss.

We started the vowel sounds yesterday. Vowels are more difficult to deal with that consonants. Most consonants have very specific location and actions associated with them.

For instance, take the /f/ sound. When you make an /f/, your lower lip curls back and touches your upper teeth. Also, the vocal chords do not vibrate. If the vocal chords are vibrating, you're making a /v/.

Vowels aren't as specific. Take the /u/ sound, in "you". Your tongue is pulled back, but it's not touching anything specific. Your lips are rounded, though how much rounding depends on things like tone and emphasis, so there's variation there.

Now, /u/ is perhaps the most common vowel worldwide: no one really has issues with it, but when I'm teaching the schwa or /I/ as in "bit", difficulties can crop up.

So we did an overview of the vowels and did some focused work on the front vowels. The front vowels are the vowels in the following words: beat, bit, bait, bet and bat.

Also, we went over the midterm, the last practice sheet and the words they had difficulties with in the Native American Speeches.

All in all, a decent class.
oxymoron67: (Default)
It went.

While I corrected all the midterms, I didn't hand them back: one student had made arrangements with me ahead of time and took it right before class, so I didn't have them all done. I did post the grades for all the corrected ones on Blackboard, though.

The midterm was, with a few exceptions, ugly.

As I said last night, I announced the States Project and then I answered a bunch of questions about it.

The questions they had were pretty typical: I had to tell them several times that it wasn't going to be a speech; that I would show them how to use Windows Movie Maker; that they weren't expected to actually visit their state. HEre is my favorite exchange.

Student: So we're FILMING a commercial?
Me: No, no, no... you'll be taking photos and putting them together and narrating the movie.
St: Oh.
Me: I'm not expecting you to film in Central Park and pretend it's Idaho. I'm not THAT crazy.

From there, I showed them the first hour of the three hour documentary "Do You Speak American?" Their weekly recording was a reaction to the documentary. I gave them a list of questions, but I also told them that they could talk about whatever they wanted.

I almost always show a movie the day after midterms. I think we all need a break by then.

Next week is Spring Break.
oxymoron67: (Default)
In class tonight, I announced the States Project, and the students picked their states.

For those new to my lj, The States Project came out of several things:
1) My students are mostly immigrants and the children of immigrants. They think that the U.S. ends at the Hudson River and picks up again at the Florida and California borders.

I'm not exaggerating as much as you think I am.

2) Also, at my college, Voice and diction needs to have a American Culture component to it.

3) I teach speaking skills, so a paper was straight out.

4) I'm also not teaching public speaking, so I did this.

The States Project itself is fairly simple. Students randomly pick a state that isn't New York, California, Florida, Louisiana, Texas or Hawaii out of an envelope. Using Windows Movie Maker, they have to produce a two to three minute video on said state.

Every week, I ask a series of questions, so they have information for their project. They also have to look up photos to use in their videos.

As most of my students have never actually done research like this before, hijinx frequently ensue.

For instance, over the past three years, two students have had Arizona. Neither one mentioned the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon has been spotted in Georgia, Vermont, New Hampshire and Arkansas though. The Grand Canyon is surprisingly mobile.

This term, the states in play are: Iowa, South Carolina, Utah, Mississippi, Vermont, Alaska, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Idaho, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Kentucky, Washington, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Michigan, Montana and West By God Virginia.

Hey, this is the first time that Oklahoma has been picked! Welcome to the show, Oklahoma!

Three students weren't in class today, so there will be more.
oxymoron67: (reading)
I gave the midterm last night, so class was easy for me.

I hand the thing out, and then occasionally get up and walk around the class to check to see if anyone is cheating.

Easy, easy, easy.

I give them the entire two hours for the midterm, but, honestly, it shouldn't take more than an hour. I noticed that some just got about 25 to 30 minutes in and just gave up. A few also just finished that quickly. (While I haven't corrected them yet -- tomorrow is my correctathon-- I have looked at them. Some, especially among the early ones, left portions of the test blank.) Everyone was done after about an hour and fifteen minutes.

When I was still taking tests, I was almost always one of the first ones to finish: I either knew the answer or could figure it out quickly or had no idea. But once...

Back in my undergraduate days, I was taking French IV. All the sections of French IV had the final at the same time in the same room. I later found out that the TAs teaching the class where all responsible for one section of the final.

They handed out the thing: it was twelve pages long. It literally dropped onto my desk with a thud. I panicked. My mind blanked. I could no longer string a sentence together in ENGLISH much less French. As I turned each page, I gasped a little, and the brain freeze worsened.

It took me about fifteen minutes to calm down and start working. Still, I wasn't at my best, and it cost me half a letter grade )from A to B+). Most of my mistakes were of the "I can't think of the French words for this, so I'll put the Spanish one in and hope it flies" variety.

Which is odd. I started learning French much earlier than Spanish. For me, that sort of leakage most frequently goes the other way: I stick French words and sounds into Spanish. I think of it as language incontinence.

Irish Gaelic was so very different that I never did that.

Portuguese... you would think... Portuguese is a Romance language, like Spanish and French, but it's very different in its way. For instance, like French, Portuguese has nasal vowels. However, those sounds are so radically different that I never really confused them. So no real confusion there.

Wednesday, I announce the States Project and we watch a movie.
oxymoron67: (snoopy)
Mom and I talk every Sunday at 7 pm. This week we talked about all sorts of things, but here are two highlights.

I told mom about this exchange with a student on Weds night in my class.

(Handing back a homework assignment)
Me: The grades here were... a little disappointing.
Student (sarcastically): Does anyone ever get an A in your class?
Me: The students who earn them do.

My mom's reaction? "Good one!"

Mom then told me a story about her early days teaching. She was teaching the middle school science class, since she had the least seniority, she got the lowest level classes. One of her students would get sick every day mom had a quiz, and would have to see the school nurse.

Mom and the school nurse had lunch together a lot. See, the school nurse was my grandmother. They saw this pattern with this student, who would come into the nurse's office sick as a dog, but would miraculously recover forty minutes later, and decided to put an end to it.

The next week, mom was giving another quiz, and this student again was "ill." So, when he arrived at the my grandma's office, my grandma handed him the quiz, and said "Well, at least you won't waste your time while you're here."

This kid never pulled that trick again.


oxymoron67: (Default)

October 2013

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