oxymoron67: (Default)
In Gilbert, Arizona, a gay couple with four children are are being attacked and harassed, so they called the police.

If you think the police would be helpful, you'd be sadly mistaken.

So we've got bigotry against gay folks, hispanic folks AND disabled kids! With bonus victim blaming!

After all, they chose to move there and "inflict" their gayness and Hispanic-ness and disable-ness on the town. They deserve what they get.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Usually, there is a great deal of research fail.

No, really. It can drive a man to drink.

I'm actually quite pleased this time. Most of them did really well on week one's research.

So far, the Grand Canyon has not moved. Volcanoes have not appeared where they never existed before.

I did find out two (real) facts. One from Missouri and one from Oklahoma.

Oklahoma has an Illinois River. This surprised me because when I think of the Illinois River (which, granted, is not often), I think of the one in, you know, Illinois.

One of Missouri's attractions is the Johnson's Shut-ins State Park.

With a name like that, I expected it to be a secluded forest where the Johnsons, a family of agoraphobes, took refuge. You know, sort of like M. Night Shaymalan's (sp?) The Village, only with no one terrorizing the blind girl* by wearing a monster costume.

Ogf course, I don;t know how they'd keep the family going if they were all shut ins. Unless they led a daring raid to get wives for the menfolk and husbands for the womenfolk. Sort of like Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, only with less dancing and more creepiness.

No, it's a state park.

*The blind girl who wanders safely through the almost certainly predator-laden forest alone.
oxymoron67: (Default)
These are NOT part of the States Project.

1) Pittsburgh is now its own state.
2) Philadelphia is now somewhere in the midwest... as are Buffalo, Syracuse and Rochester.
3) The part of the United states that contains Boston and Maine? It's now called Eastern England. Or Northern England.
4) "Standard American English is based on the Midlands dialect which is spoken in the Midwest, in places like South Carolina."
oxymoron67: (Default)
Here are the states for this term: Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Maryland, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wyoming, Montana, Michigan, Oklahoma, Arizona, Oregon, Colorado, West Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama and South Dakota.

When the student who has Maryland came to the screen to locate her state (I point out where New York is, so they can get some idea of where their state is in comparison to where we are.) , she first pointed to Colorado. That's fine: she needed to start from somewhere. I told her to go further east, and she went directly to New Jersey. Much closer.

Then the following happened:

Me: Just to the west.
Student points at Pennsylvania.
Me: Close! Just to the south.
Student points at West Virginia.
Me: Okay, just to the east.
Student points at Virginia.
Me: You have pointed to almost all of the states that surround your state. It's right in the center of all these states.
Student points at Indiana.
Me: *facepalm*

To her credit, the student got it right next time, then said something like, "I didn't even know something that small and ... weird shaped... could be a state."

This made me chuckle.
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: (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)
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)
Well, since I didn't specify (like I nomrally do) that my students put everything in their own words, the first week of the states project questions went well.

After all, they just cut and pasted the information. No processing required.

Next week? Their own words.

HOWEVER...

1) Pennsylvani's state dog is the Great Dame.

2) Mississippi's state motto is "Virtue and Armies."

3) Texas is the biggest state in the union.

4) The surprisingly mobile Grand Canyon is now in Kentucky.

---- AND ----

5) Connecticut’s volcanoes are Eyjallajokull, Kilauea, Krakatoa, and Mount Vesuivus.
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: (Default)
I get an e-mail on Saturday, letting me know that my proposal for The Clasp 2011 Colloquium was accepted ad that I (and the professor I am presenting with) had been shoe-horned onto a panel with two other people.

We're all going to be talking about technology and communication skills.

Understand that I'm not thrilled about being forced onto a panel at this conference because of the last time I presented at this conference... oh, here is the quote:

What I wasn't prepared for was the subject matter of the person who directly preceded me. She is an instructor in our cooperative education area-- she helps run the internship program. I expected the her students' projects would be about interviewing skills.

I was wrong.

All the ones she chose were on clinical depression. So I had to follow a presentation on clinical depression set to Mad World. (She brought in a TV and had a tape.)

Imagine...
(Music)
I think it's kind of funny
I think it's kind of sad
The dreams in which I'm dying
Are the best I've ever had

And now, let's all welcome Sean!

God.


On the other hand, I can't imagine THAT happening again.

I'm planning on talking about the news project and the states project very briefly and showing them one or two of the better states projects. This means that they don't get to see the one on South Dakota which talks about the Sucks Indians -or- the one about Vermont that discusses the Grand Canyon.

I keep those gems for myself.

Originally, I was going to throw a diva fit and just refuse to do it. But, you know, it's another line on the CV; I already have what I'm going to do outlined, so it's not taking that much work and it;s a day away from work.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Re: Virginia

"Jamestown was named after John Smith."

The thing is... outside of this, the student did a great job.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Before the lulz begin, a brief comment: many of my students, even some of the ones who are quoted here, did good to great jobs.

Seriously... the student who had Maryland actually visited the place. The photos are all hers, and she discussed what you can do when visiting Annapolis. *THAT* is dedication. (For added fun, whenever she appeared in a photo, she photoshopped the word "ME" into the photo with an arrow pointing to her. I loled.)

Still... there were some interesting things...

1) (Some random) college offers majors in concentrations and minors in programs.

2) Rhode Island was the last of the colonies to become independent.

3) In Idaho, you can see the ocean floor.

4) ... and this hall contains the flags for all the provinces of the United States.

5) This beautiful forest is full of beauty.

6) ... visit Fort Sumter, where the first Civil War was fought.

7) Welcome to South Carolina, one of the United States' many most beautiful states.

8) This is a famous lighthouse, and people visit it because it is famous.

9) Maine is divided up into 26 countries.

10) Russia explored Louisiana.

Meantime, I have a new favorite reason why a student should get a higher grade than he/she deserves. Here is the dialogue from last Thursday:

St: Professor
Me: Yes.
St: Do you think I could get a B in this class?
Me: Maybe.*
St: I'm just asking because I paid for this class.
Me: Uh-huh.
St: I'm not on financial aid. I paid for this class, so I need a B or better.
Me: Do well on the final and the states project and that will happen.

Paying for the class should, apparently, guarantee one a B. Who knew?

*This student's grade is in the B-/C+ range. A B is not out of the question, though I think it unlikely.
oxymoron67: (Default)
The States Project is due on Thursday. Using Windows MovieMaker (or iMovie, of they work at home with a Mac), my students have to put together a two to three minute presentation on their state with photographs they find online and their narration.

Since it *IS* a research project, they have to put their sources in their end credits.

The first time I did this I tried to require MLA style citations for this.

DISASTER.

So, I just require the list of websites where they got their info. It's something.

This is not a difficult project (from a technical standpoint. I am surprised at the results of their "research."). It can be time consuming, though.

As a result, they had last night to put it together.

Of my 25 students, three finished. Another ten or so are well on their way and will be fine. The rest? You know, there is only so much I can do.

My students DID seem to get offended when, after noticing that over half of them were not working on their projects, I said, "You realize that this is due at the start of class on Thursday. Why are you all just sitting here with your thumbs up your asses*?"

Don't care.

Tomorrow;s class, wherein we see the States Projects, should be interesting.

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