oxymoron67: (Default)
I wrote , "Today, we have a quiz! Hahahahahahahaha!"* on the board.
This was the high point! )
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: (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 did a midterm review. As usual, the students want all the questions and answers.

They seemed especially vexed when I told them that I didn't know the format for the midterm because I hadn't written it yet.

*shrug*

Then we started in on consonant sounds in detail. The book we're using uses a lot of vocabulary that students tend to be unfamiliar with, so I make them look the words up.

The best one? "Yoke"

Me: So what does "yoke" mean?
St1: It's part of an egg.
Me: No... that's y-o-l-k.
St1: Oh.
St2: It's a piece of wood.
Me: A piece of wood? Like a baseball bat?
St3: No. You use it with cattle.
Me: What do you mean "use it with cattle"? Is it part of a barn? A fence?
St4: You tie cattle to it.
St3: That's right.
(Class nods in agreement, as if they've successfully explained the word.)
Me: ... So it's some sort of strange cattle bondage device.
St4: NO! And you're being picky.
Me: No... it's just that YOU FOLKS haven't actually given me an accurate definition yet.
St5: You tie cattle to it to work.
Me: To work?
St3: Yes, to work. (Class nods)
Me: Work where? In an office? A factory?
St5: No... to plough fields.
Me: There you go.
_______________________

I edited all of their news reports together, though I haven't graded them yet. These things were (mostly) disaster areas. Most of my students read their news reports directly from a sheet of paper. (Despite being told repeatedly not to.) Several stood absolutely still and whispered, as if someone was holding a gun to their heads or something. Two of them rocked back and forth the whole time. It was like they were trying to make me seasick.

And let's not talk about the gigglers.

The thing is, they had three tries. Frequently, my choice wasn't so much "Oh, this one is clearly the BEST" as much as it was "Well, all three of these sucked, but this one sucked the least."

Seriously, I've done this particular project for three years now, and no class has ever done this half-assed of a job. About five of them did A or B work. The rest will be lucky to get C's.

I was going to show the newscast to my students last night, but the technology failed me. So we continued with consonants. It's okay, I can show them the newscast tomorrow.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Three new students.

But a few dropped.

So it's about the same.

We went over the vowel sounds of English, then did some transcription exercises.

Which led to the following conversation:

St1: Why do we have to do this? (about transcription and learning the IPA)
Me: Well, assuming that "because I said so" isn't good enough, if you look word up, especially online, the IPA is used as a pronunciation guide.
St1: Still...
Me: Also, I get to torture you with it. (Punctuated with a short, evil cackle)
St2: Hey....
Me: Look, the torture part isn't the MAIN goal. Think of it as a bonus extra.
St2: Man... not cool....
Me: So, let;s get back to the work: finish transcribing the words on the board, then we'll go over them and then ....
St3: The quiz.
Me; That's right. (happy voice) THE QUIZ (jazz hands)
Students: Hey...
Me: Well, someone needs to be excited about it.
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.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Background: for one of my weekly recordings, I had my students watch the first hour of the documentary Do You Speak American, then record a reaction to it.

I had this conversation with a student who did not do this assignment.

Me: The link is right there. You can watch it anywhere on campus.
Student: But I have a short attention span!
Me: ... and?
Student: I can't pay attention to anything for (*shudders*) AN HOUR.
Me (to myself): Well, that explains your grade...
Me (out loud): Okay, say you're at work...
St: Okay.
Me: And your boss gives something boring and tedious to do.
St: Mmm-hmm
Me: And you say "I can't do this. I have a short attention span."
St: Yes.
Me: Do you think that your boss will say, "I'm so sorry. Go ahead and text for an hour, I'll find someone else to do it."
St: (laughing) No.
Me: Well, there you go, then.
St: But... maybe my boss SHOULD say something like that.
Me: If that is really your attitude, get ready to say "Do you want fries with that?" because that might be the only job you'll be able to hold down.
oxymoron67: (Default)
We did a little more work with the states... I made them look up their state's motto and governor.

Which led to this:
St1: This motto is in another language.
Me: Yes, it is. Probably Latin.
St1: I can't read Latin.
Me: Translate it.
St1: How?
Me: You're sitting in front of a COMPUTER.

Then, we worked more on consonant sounds. We're probably going to start vowels tomorrow.

All during this, one of my students (well, more than one, but one was exceptionally brazen) spent the whole class e-mailing people.

Not surprisingly, she failed the quiz. (And didn't do well on the two homework sheets due today either.)

I love the whole "You don't understand, I can multitask" thing that my students say, because... they can't.

Meantime, it was quiz day. My students were panic studying during their break, and then wouldn't put their books away. "Can we have five more minutes to study?"

I was tired and cranky, so I said, "Look, if you just NOW studying for this, you're going to fail. Those extra five minutes aren't going to help. Put your books away."

A little asshole-y? Yeah. True? Yes.

After the quiz, two students who have mostly been MIA in class came up to talk to me. One had been arrested for drunk driving and didn't come to class because she had to attend her drunk driving classes. The other just asked for the homework he had missed.

I've put it all on blackboard, so it's not my issue anymore.

Today has been a correcting frenzy. I graded the quizzes, the homework and the sentences.

Several of my students didn't get the (clearly explained) idea that each sentence should focus on one sound, and that sound should appear several times in that sentences. I had people write sentences to highlight a sound that appeared only once in the sentence.

Seriously.

And one student, in either a grand "fuck you" gesture or out of laziness or thinking that I;m stupid (or a grand combo platter of all), wrote three sentences instead of five. And here they are:

1) How much wood would a wood chuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood.

2) She sells seashells by the seashore.

3) Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

No, really. So, she's getting a great big zero, and we will be having a [plagiarism discussion in class.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Scene: Engineering class, Tuesday afternoon

St: I don't see why I have to get up and present about anything. I'm going to engineering, I won't ever have to talk to people.

Me: How do you plan to get a job?

St: Well, I'll be an engineer...

Me: Yes, but if you can't sell yourself at an interview, you won't get the job.

St: That;s different that giving a presentation.

Me: Not by as much as you'd think.

St: Well, once I got the job...

Me: What about investors? Or other engineers? Or tech writers?

St: I will be hired for my knowledge not my people skills.

Me: (to myself) That's abundantly clear.

Me: (out loud) But if you can't relay that knowledge...

St: That will be someone else's job.

Me: Knowledge that you can't communicate effectively is useless.
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)
Because we are down three full time professors this term AND a few long term adjuncts weren't available this term, the department hired nine new adjunct faculty to teach various speech classes. Two of them used to work as student tutors here at the Speech Center. One of them, Ed, came to me for advice.

Click here for the conversation. )
oxymoron67: (no bear)
Click here for the gory details. )
oxymoron67: (Default)
This weekend was all about traveling for me. I had a new SAT class on Sunday is not-so-easy-to-get-to Little Neck. (It might actually be in Fresh Meadows... I don't know.) I had to take a train then a bus. The bus left me off along the side of a six lane highway. (Fortunately, I didn't have to scurry across the highway, I was on the correct side.)

As I walked to the Jewish Community Center where this class was being held, I noticed that there was a bus that stopped right in front of it. So, I can take that home, rather than trying to cross said six lane highway.

Well, the room I taught in was also they room they used for services. It was odd. Like holding class in the pews of a church. The room also had no chalkboard. The students said that there was one, but they didn't know where it was hidden. I found it in the cloakroom. It was tiny. Do any of you remember Tennessee Tuxedo? And the 3D Blackboard (3D BB)? This blackboard was about as big as the 3D BB before it was all unfolded.


Oh, and the blackboard? It didn't have a stand. So I had to lean it against the wall and use two chairs as a stand.

And the students! Of the thirteen, about three were really good. (As in "what are you doing here?" good), most of the rest were okay, and two were big bags of duh. One of them, while we were discussing the essay, told me that she HAD to use personal examples because she sucks at history and doesn't read.

I know many, if not most, of my students think like this, but at least keep it to yourself. Not liking history or reading normally means that your mid is already closed. That's a shame at any age, but especially as a teenager.

The problem with using personal examples on the SAT essay is that the examples tend to be things like:

1. I broke up with my boy/girlfriend! The trauma!
2. My grandmother died! The trauma!
3. I got into a fight with my best friend! The trauma!
4. I lost my cell phone! The trauma!
5. It's Sunday! The trauma!

I normally say something like:

"Look, everyone's been through losing their first love. Even your parents. Everyone's lost someone they love. There is nothing new or interesting that you can say about it, because your only sixteen and lack the life experience necessary. If you've overcome or are living with a debilitating disease or disability or if you were a refugee, you have an exemption, but by and large, a 16 year old's reaction to a break up? No one cares."

So, I can't wait to see this girl's essay.

What bothered me about the "I hate History and Reading" girl was the attitude she had, as if, that excused her from having to work. I get the feeling that she and I will clash very, very soon.

Meantime, I had to teach them about sets: nothing complex, just the union and intersection of sets. Which boggled my mind.

Once this class I over, I doubt that I'll teach here again. It's too far. I spend as much time on the road as I do in the classroom. And the place? Not exactly conducive to teaching.

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