oxymoron67: (Default)
We had the "online winter meeting" of the seminar on Friday.

Let me rewind to the days before. The folks in charge were still pressuring me to work on the assignment that I felt was not well done and useless to what I do.

One of them volunteered to SIT WITH ME while I do the assignment. To keep me on point, I guess.

When I pointed out to her that I would still feel that the assignment was useless and Godawful with her sitting next to me, and that I'd end up fighting with her about it, she was stunned. (Also, sitting with me? Hello?)

Then I pointed out that if the seminar leadership wanted to do a giant showpiece for the winter, midyear seminar, they should make sure that it worked for everyone in the seminar.

That objection, like all my others, was hand-waved away.

So, Friday rolled around. The first thing we were supposed to do was comment on our assignments. I typed up a list of issues I had with my assignment on posted them.

Interestingly, three of my colleagues agreed with me.

Then we had to comment of the whole let's use wikis" part of the assignment.

Well, these three projects all used wikis to post reaction papers to the projects. That's it. Nothing multimedia. No audio. Nt even pictures. Just block paragraphs of doom.

I pointed out that using wikis was unnecessary here, that message board on Blackboard could do this. Further, if you're going to do something with wikis, do something INTERESTING with them. A reflection paper isn't a good endpoint for this.

No one said anything about that point. I don't care, I stand by it.

The rest of the seminar was uninteresting: we were in a chatroom. Then we filled out a survey.

The interesting thing about the survey? They never asked questions like "What can we do to improve this seminar?" or "What did and didn't work for you?" All the questions were of the "Isn't how we handled X wonderful?" type.

I'm probably going to bring that up in an e-mail or the next meeting.
oxymoron67: (Default)
(You can thank me for that earworm anytime.)

I can divide today into work and play sections.

Work!

Class is going well so far. Of course, let's see if I still say that this time next week, after the first speech (Monday) and first quiz (Wednesday). I'm up to seventeen students. One dropped, but five new students showed up.

Twenty-four students are registered for the courses.

Meantime, the seminar for online teaching lurches forward. Apparently about half of my colleagues haven't done anything with that dumb ass, useless research project they wanted us to do. We're meeting next Thursday? The Thursday after? to discuss the project.

That won't end in disaster.

Meantime, work today was slow. During our mini-terms (both the in the winter and summer), we don't offer Friday classes (though we do offer Saturday and Sunday classes, which always run*). Most departments don't (and in the summer NONE of them do), so Fridays are empty.

I left early.

Play!

So, I decided to visit The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Why? Because it's the freaking Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Since I last visited those galleries, the museum had re-arranged things in the Cypriot galleries as well as in some of the 19th and 20th century European paintings. The American wing is slated to reopen in a week or two so I;ll be visiting that soon.

One highlight? The newly-reopened and (from the few galleries I was in) magnificent Islamic Art galleries lead into the European section. The gallery between them now houses European paintings of the Middle East from (primarily) the 19th Century.

Then I sauntered through several other sections, including the German Romantics Gallery. One of my favorite paintings is up there: a Norwegian artist was in Naples circa 1820 when Vesuvius erupted. He painted a night eruption scene. Dark and beautiful.

Another standout was the winter landscape painted by an English artist: it was all in browns and oranges. It was stunning: all stark and haunting yet still beautiful. From there, I spent time in the early 20th Century galleries. Then I realized that I hadn't eaten since breakfast and it was approaching 4pm, so I decided to try one of the museum;s restaurants.

After that, I stopped by their restaurant. I wanted to do high tea, but I was a little too late. So I had an early dinner instead: a bratwurst with sauerkraut and grainy mustard on a pretzel roll then a molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream.

The bratwurst was really good and the mustard was good and spicy and vinegar-y. The pretzel roll was heated up just right. The sauerkraut was kind of bland.

The dessert? Had the cake been warm, it would have been much better. As it was, the molten center was solid, so the cake was kind of like a cake tootsie pop.

After that, I spent time revisiting the new Fabrege exhibit and came home.

Tomorrow? The New York Historical Society has reopened. I am so there.
oxymoron67: (Default)
I was going to post the worst of the sentences my students wrote for the Final -- a few of them are planning on visiting Utopia over Winter Break and the less we say about the sentences with "Aggregate" the better -- but then I ran into a colleague in the departmental office.

Colleague: Do you know how to calculate percentages?
Me: (stunned) ... Yes.
Colleague: IF a student got 43 out of 50?
Me: It's an 86. You just multiply it by two.
Colleague: So that's how percentages work?
Me: Well, technically, you take the number of correct answers, divide by the total number of answers then multiply by 100.
Colleague: But that's not what you did. You just multiplied by two.
Me: (flabbergasted) Well, fifty is a special case.... is your final a fifty point test?
Colleague: Yes.
Me: Okay, if you take the total number of correct answers and multiply it by two, you'll get your percentages.
Colleague: THANKS! (He returns to his office.)

Okay... how does one become a tenured full professor without knowledge of basic math skills? His specialty is the performing arts, but still.

I mean... percentages! It's not like he was doing Calculus.

Work news

Dec. 14th, 2011 06:46 pm
oxymoron67: (Default)
I have all my grading done except for the final, which is tomorrow night.

I'm hoping to have my grades done by Friday before 2:00 pm. If I'm very good, before noon.

Meantime, my department chair is going to submit my name for a promotion again. We'll see. Since the vice-president who allegedly blocked it last year is leaving, maybe it will happen. I'm not getting my hopes up.

We had our final departmental meeting of the year. It was a party atmosphere, highlighting the things the department accomplished over the past year. We had lots of food and alcohol. Oh, and music, since the music folks are part of the Humanities Department. The party went on for about an hour before the fifteen or so minutes worth of official business.

I left when the official business was over because... well... the spread was good and all, but these are colleagues, not friends (with a few exceptions). I have no desire to party with them.

But before I left, one of the participants and I discussed last week's online teaching seminar, which I skipped.

Colleague: Missed you at the seminar.
Me: Yeah, well... something came up. How was it.
Colleague: I.. look, I don;t want to say that this thing is a waste of time...
Me: But it;s a waste of time.
Colleague: That research project. I teach media. It doesn't fit it with what I do at all.
Me: It doesn't work for me either.
Colleague: They should have thought of that.
Me: Yeah, I e-mailed them about it. Didn't do any good.
Colleague: They really needed to deal with this better.

Then he walked away. It's nice that it's not just me.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Before the absolutely horrifying seminar.

Colleague1: Getting old is awful.
Me: Eh. Given the other option, I;ll take getting old.
C1: What?
Me: Well, you're either walking on the grass or pushing it up.
Colleague2: that's not true. You might also be spread over the grass.
C1: That's true...different traditions...
Me:... or you could be serial killed and dumped in the woods, where you're scavenged by coyotes.
C2: This conversation took a sudden turn.
(I go get coffee and cookies.)
oxymoron67: (snoopy)
This is a true story.

My sister gave me a paperweight made dinosaur coprolite for Christmas in 2004. Naturally, I took it to work. At the time, I was helping my boss, Charlie, run a career development seminar for faculty. I wanted to see his reaction to the paperweight.

I should probably note that Charlie is a massive germaphobe.

Me: Charlie! You got here just in time: breakfast is here.

Charlie: Good. I need coffee.

Me: (pointing to a pile of papers sitting under the paperweight) Here are the photocopies you wanted.

Charlie: Thanks. Hey, this is new.

Me: It’s a paperweight. A gift from my sister.

Charlie: What kind of stone is it? (Tosses it from hand to hand)

Me: It’s coprolite.

Charlie: (holds it up to his face and sniffs it) It smells like peanut butter.

Me: (chuckling) Peanut butter? Really?

Charlie: Is coprolite a kind of sandstone?

Me: No, it’s fossilized dinosaur poo.

Charlie (stares at me in horror): WHAT?

Me: You heard me.

Charlie (drops the paperweight like it was radioactive): I’ve been holding SHIT?!?!

Me: Well, fossilized shit. It’s just a rock now. A peanut butter-scented rock, if you're to be believed.

Charlie: I... I... oh my God.

Me: (smiling) Here is the disinfecting soap. The restroom is across the hall.

Charlie grabs the soap and flees the room. I laugh like a fool. Upon returning to the computer lab, he starts to yell at me.

Charlie: YOU LET ME SMELL SHIT! WHY DIDN’T YOU STOP ME?

Me: I was stunned. Who looks at a stone and says to himself, "I think I’ll sniff this"?

Charlie: It’s shit! It’s full of bacteria. What kind of weird ass disease will I get from it?

Me: It’s 65 million year old shit. It’s a rock now. I think you’re safe.

Charlie: Great. Jurassic bacteria. The kind they have no treatment for.

Me: Those bacteria? They’re fossils, too. You won’t catch anything from it. I certainly haven’t. Of course, I’ve never sniffed it.

Charlie: Who buys their brother a shit paperweight? She must really love you.

Me: I... um... asked for it. My sister said she got a few for our nephews and asked if I wanted one.

Charlie: YOU ASKED FOR A SHIT PAPERWEIGHT? (shakes head sadly) Get that piece of shit out of here. I... just... can’t be in the same room with it.

I put the paperweight back on my office desk, where it resides to this day. For what it's worth, it DOES smell like peanut butter.

Charlie still sometimes mentions the "shit paperweight". It always makes me smile.

Work stuff

Oct. 24th, 2011 03:28 pm
oxymoron67: (Default)
I saw an essay about falling behind in class and it struck a chord with me.

Unlike, say, an Algebra or Trig class, or a part I or a two part sequence, Voice and Diction doesn't have a "next class", so I don't have to worry about covering all these topics so that the students can go into further detail when they take Voice and Diction 2: The Voicenning.

I mean, we have a Phonetics class, but that class is about phonetics in general, and it's much more theoretical than what I do.

On my syllabus, I include the topics we will be discussing: consonant and vowel sounds, the International Phoetic Alphabet, stress, rhythm, etc. I almost always include intonation.

I don't know why. I've never actually gotten there.

I prefer to take my time, and make sure (most of) my students understand what we've already done. So, I tend to take longer on the vowel sounds and rhythm in particular. This doesn't bother me. I know people who this upsets because they're all "The syllabus is a contract", and... it is and it isn't.

In my mind, the syllabus is a contract in terms of grading, attendance, class participation and plagiarism policies. Things like that. Scheduling? Not so much. That's something that can be affected by other factors. I tell my students outright that the schedule is subject to change.

Heck, I even give them an option sometimes. Take the midterm. It's tomorrow. A few weeks ago, I gave them the choice of this Tuesday or next Tuesday -- I don't care and I've had semesters when I've had five midterms in a week. If I can help them avoid that, all to the good.

And.. since I was thinking of syllabi anyway, I wrote a (very) rough draft for the hybrid course I'll be teaching in the Spring. Here, I;m having trouble.

First off, no one tells you how to write a syllabus. This is sometrhing that everyone flails around with themselves.

Secondly, the research that I have read on syllabus design says that syllabi need to be less than 5 pages and preferably around 3.

This is warring with the idea that the professor needs to be as explicit as possible when writing the syllabus for an online or hybrid (half online, half face-to-face) class.

I decided to try breaking it all into pieces. I've written the general overview, though I left out grading and attendance policies, which is astonishingly stupid. The information for the weekly recordings, the states project and the technology they need to use will be all in different files and folders. I think that makes sense.
oxymoron67: (Default)
My college has students who speak 127 languages from 160 countries.

Cool.
oxymoron67: (Gay Army)
I have a meeting for the online teaching seminar on Thursday.

The work we have to do for it?

Read chapter 5 of this book about teaching online that includes such helpful hints as "Know how to attach documents in an e-mail."

So, yeah. I can't imagine THAT will be useful.

Here's the thing: this book is clearly aimed for people with ABSOLUTELY NO comfort level with instructional technology and give them tips on establishing fully online or hybrid courses.

I already have the technical end of things. I already incorporate technology fully into my classes. Further, i would say that anyone who can't/don't use e-mail and BlackBoard (or whatever their institution's course management software is) already have no business trying to teach online.

We also are supposed to compare the syllabus that we found for the last seminar with our own.

Before I discuss my issues, I admit that this is a good idea. We should compare what we do with what other people have done. Learn from others.

However.

I have yet to find someone who is doing what I do as a hybrid on totally online class. This doesn't necessarily mean that people aren't doing it: just that my google-fu hasn't found them. I have found voice and diction syllabi online, but they aren't for online/hybrid classes. They're posted online for face-to-face classes or on professors' personal websites.

So, the syllabus I found isn't an exact, or even a close, match, really. It's a syllabus from an Intro to Communication Studies class. While both courses are in the same discipline, they do very different things. (I've taught both.)

One plus to building this from scratch*? Lots of publishing/conference opportunities. But it will be a ton of work.

Especially since I'm piloting a new book while teaching my hybrid course.

*"scratch" isn't from zero here. I come in with lots of knowledge about what is out there on the internet and what I want to do with it.
oxymoron67: (Default)
And it's the same thing!

Good news: I have been asked to teach this a course in our six week winter term! It's out communication for the non-native speaker course. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAND ... it's already full.

Moderately inconvenient news: This class starts on Jan 3rd, which will cut my vacation time short. I can probably get my co-worker to cover day one for me. I'll figure out the logistics later.

I'm wondering what happened with the person who usuaklly teaches this section. Seriously, I've been here seven years now, and this section in the Winter has ALWAYS been taught by the same person.

Did she and my boss get into a fight?

I don't know.

Work today

Sep. 15th, 2011 09:01 pm
oxymoron67: (Default)
I'll write about tonight's class later... maybe even tomorrow.

Today, I had a meeting for the Online Teaching Seminar.

It was held in a building three blocks from my office. When I went to the meeting, it was 60ish degrees and humid.

The seminar started off with a discussion of an article that I absolutely LOATHED. It was all about how teachers aren't really teachers, they're co-learners and should act accordingly. Oh... and technology.

Many of my fellow seminar attendess loved this thing and thought it was oh, so informative.

When I was asked for my opnion, I said that I didn't agree with the basic premise of the article, and therefore, I found its argument invalid. I was not asked to contribute again,.

At least in that section.

From there, one of the seminar leaders gave us a tutorial on some advanced functions on Blackboard. I'd already done this stuff before, but most of the room hadn't. It was good.

Next, we split into groups to discuss meeting plans. My group is three professors from our Business and Technology Department, one from the Math Department (in fact, the one who I would have failed if she were in my Speech Class) and me.

So, it was me and a group of sassy women. It was sort of like The View, if that show was staffed by intelligent, interesting people with manners.

Finally, we had to spend fifteen minutes updating our e-portfolios, reflecting on what we learned.

One of the reflection questions was "What are your highest expectations for your mentor/mentee relationship?"

This is how I answered:

I expect to be able to cook like a classically trained French chef. I expect to become fluent in Greenlandic Eskimo. I expect to learn the location of Amelia Earhart.

...

Ok, actually, I expect to have an exchange of ideas (blahblahblah boring)


Then there was this exchange:

Math prof: what did you write about the article.
Me: Nothing. I hated that thing.
MP: Me too. I thought it didn't say anything.
Me: And there's no polite way to say that.
MP: I know.
Me: So... nothing.
MP: Yup.

Then I left (around 5:30). In the two and a half hours that I was in this seminar, a cold front passed through, causing storms and dropping the temperature by about twenty degrees.

So running back to my office and classroom in the rain was fun.

Tonmorrow, some folks from a sister college are coming to visit us and discuss their online classes. Should be interesting.
oxymoron67: (Default)
One of our deans forwarded this article about focusing on college students who drop out with only one semester or so to go before graduation.

This is a new (within the past few years) idea. Usually, when colleges discuss raising graduation rates, we talk about helping incoming students with remediation, tutoring programs and counselling. The idea here is that students stand a better chance of succeeding if they're acutally prepared.

At my college, where over 80% of students need some sort of remediation, we also do things like pairs and clusters: two or three courses organized around a theme. The student takes all three at the same time. This establishes a sense of community among the students and studies show that this helps at-risk students.

Well, now, we are turning our focus towards those who have almost completed their degrees, but have dropped out. My college is trying to figure out how to help those who have dropped out with 45 or more credits. We're a community college, graduation is 60 credits for us.

I am not on the committee studying this here, though I do know that this is a new initiative here, so I don't know the statistics or what initiatives are being propsed, but these students are now on the radar. This is a good thing.

As to the article itself, I wish it was meatier.
oxymoron67: (Default)
I'm doing it this time. (I meant to do it last year, but got hung up on the personal statement, and then the job interfered.)

I've already asked my boss for a letter of recommendation. I can't imagine he'd say no.

Still, I'm scared. For one thing, my grades were not the greatest. I mean they were good, especially when I went to the ESL area.

On the other hand, I already have a full-on career in Academia and the multi-page CV that comes with it. My CV is light on publications, but I have presented at over 20 conferences around the country, done committee work, participated in college wide initiatives and seminars and am in the process of putting a class online.

Not for nothing, I EARNED my tenure.

I just get nervous. I already screwed up the PhD thing the first time I tried. (Of course, THAT Ph. D. would have been in French, where there are no jobs right now AND the faculty there were not particularly supportive.

I mean, I want the PhD, for personal reasons as well as professional ones. Even if I don;t get a faculty position, a PhD would give me a $2500/year raise.

I'm doing it through CUNY so I won't have to pay, though I would only be a part time student. (Of course, working full time AND teaching a class... I'm not sure I'd want to take more than two classes.)

So, that;s where this stands.
oxymoron67: (Default)
1. The colleague who wants to do a presentation with me at the IT conference in December stopped by my office today.

We discussed it, and came to the conclusion that a "Best Practices" was the best bet.

I have said before (and I mean it) that I'm not a fan of the phrase "Best Practices", mostly because what works for me at my institution with the constraints I have may not work well elsewhere.

So, while I'll call it "Best Practices," I'm thinking that it's more of a "Here's what works for me, maybe you can adapt it. Hey, you might even have suggestions for me. That would be cool" presentation.

Anyway, we'll likely be talking about how we incorporate sound technology into classes.

2. The professor who is teaching Voice and Diction this summer also dropped by today. We work well together because we're sounding boards for one another's ideas. For instance, my News Project assignment is based on something she does; and she includes many more recordings in her class.

She discovered something that I've been saying: students who record their recitations do better than those who recite in front of class.

Which isn't to say that our students SHOULDN'T do presentations in front of class. It;s just that there should be a mix of activities.

She wants to work with Storycorps so we discussed that. In the Fall, she will likely be teaching a half-online, half-class Intro to Communication Studies course, and she's looking for activities.

These conversations got me thinking. I may change a few things in the Fall. From what I have seen, many of my students have trouble interpreting charts and graphs.

Actually that;s not true. They seem to always understand the basics of them, but they can't EXPLAIN them.

I may add that (and videotape it) as one of my weekly recordings.

Advertising. I want to work with advertising, but I can;t really figure out how. Given all the other work I have them do, I don't think it makes sense to make them do a video based ad... those coming with a "radio" ad might work.

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