Monday, May 31, 2010

It ain't Disneyland...

BN University wins... a trip to Omaha.

Actually, the College World Series is a lot of fun.

People come every year in their RVs. They crowd downtown restaurants and give the same basic interviews to the local news... "I love Omaha: we never expected it to be so nice here".

Have fun guys --- if I thought you'd be driving the 400 miles, I'd tell you where to stop to pee.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A good teaching day...

... in logic.

I'm shaking things up a bit in logic, mostly out of necessity.

This means that I have a little new prep to do -- and it's actually fun.

  • I changed the first exam from being in-person to on-line. They're taking it this weekend -- and, it's all auto-graded -- YEA for me!
  • We have a document camera in our classroom. I realized that if I did some class prep, essentially preparing flashcards, we could cover some material quickly. It worked.
  • I also realized that my previous students didn't understand why some of the rules worked the way they did -- so, they kept making the same stupid mistakes over and over again.
I really like this aspect of summer teaching - mostly because it lets me do experiments without having to deal with crappy results over multiple sections or over a full semester. Also, a pal of mine observed that summer students are generally better, and I agree. They're more motivated, more focused and generally better prepared than my day students during the year.

Also, in the summer the building is nice and quiet -- and the parking is excellent!

On the spot, in class, I figured out a good way to prove to them why the rules work.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I think there's a date....

... June 10 --

I'll have my shot at becoming Dr ItPF.



The END of the dissertation odyssey.

Who'd have thought it might actually happen.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Oh no you don't....

... add my logic class after the second class meeting, then e-mail me and tell me you won't be there on the third class meeting as well.

Sadly (and stupidly) our system lets them do this for summer courses.

That does not mean that I have to re-teach everything I've taught so far this week -- in my office -- so that someone who can't get registered (or contact me) in a timely manner can pass the exam the class will be taking over the weekend.

Also, I will not set this student up for failure from the start - nor will I waste the first two class meetings (almost the equivalent of two FULL semester weeks) because our system permits this. Summer semesters are compact enough without blowing off two class meetings.

I've identified the first KFAP

KFAP (kid from another planet), claims he ran into "a little car trouble and some traffic" making it back from Chicago -- so he missed class yesterday.

My class is at 7:45 -- Chicago is 6-8 hours away... really, if traffic was part of the equation, you cut it too close KFAP.

It was kind of satisfying to tell KFAP that he had a lot of reading (that those who showed up on Monday got a head start on understanding), a reading quiz, a syllabus quiz and a discussion post to do -- by tomorrow.

We'll see if KFAP does it.... I'm not going to hold my breath.

Friday, May 21, 2010

I don't want to jinx it...

... but, I could have a defense date by the end of June...


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Soem thoughts on partial on-line teaching...

I'm rather new to teaching on-line, at all... even partially on-line.

About a year ago I was figuring out how our on-line course management system works... yea, I'm slow.

In that year, I've picked up many good bits of advice from the internets ---so, thanks!

A few of them are:
  • In the discussion section, make a "class talk" section, so they can ask class questions and they often answer themselves.
  • Using the on-line grade book is helpful because it cuts down on the "what's my grade" questions... leaving only the KFAP (kids from another planet), who probably need to talk to you face to face anyway.
  • They will have good discussions without me.
  • Include your make-up period in the on-line testing period -- and try to give a class period for them to take exams. My CC students are often very tightly scheduled, so if they can use the time they'd otherwise drive to school, go to class etc.. to take the on-line exam, they will -- AND, probably most important, you can deflect the "I didn't have time to do the exam" excuse.
  • The "course copy" function is wonderful -- I love it.
  • Make friends with the instructional design / faculty tech support people. I'm really lucky to have two of them looking out for me -- and solving my vexing issues.
Some things I'm starting this summer --
  • Content quizzes. After every subject they'll take a quiz on class content. This is in addition to the short reading quizzes they have before every new discussion/ reading assignment. Some of these content quizzes are essays (gasp), so I'll have to keep up with them.. but, they are quick to grade so it shouldn't be all that bad.
  • Small, randomly selected, discussion groups. Each group posts on the same topic every week, then a discussant from that group synthesizes and posts the results for the whole class to see.
If they work, I'll keep doing them for the fall -- although, I'm going to think carefully about the stuff I have to grade... I'll have 150 students in three sections...

Misc update...

When I have a week off, apparently I use it to get my stuff in order..

Monday: Planted the two huge pots on my deck.
Tuesday: Filled up the recycling bin at work -- with old student stuff and handouts.
Wednesday: Cleaned out and rearranged the top cupboards in the kitchen.
Thursday (today): working on the bottom cupboards in the kitchen.

-- Currently, nearly all the plastic storage things we own are drying on the counter.

Friday -- will probably be laundry.

Allergy report -- they suck. I'm particularly sensitive to cottonwood, and the air is full of it. So, the weather is nice, my deck is beautiful and I'm inside with the A/C on.

Dissertation report -- still waiting on the readers... sigh.

Summer session starts on Monday, I'm mostly ready for it in terms of preparation, but not intellectually.

Felines: The Queen is the same -- currently sleeping in her basket. The Minion is settling down a little -- currently sitting on Hubby's desk and looking out the window.

Hubby: doing another set of law school homework... away from the chaos, smart man!

Friday, May 14, 2010

More apartment incompetence...

Once again the front door isn't working right.

A new student and a new challenge

I had an interesting phone call this week.

It was from a person who is doing occupational therapy for a client with a brain injury. The client had a heart attack and lost oxygen to his brain for a significant period of time. Prior to his heart attack, he was a mechanical engineer and the CEO of a company. Now, he's trying to recover his cognitive abilities.

The therapist was looking for a way for him to do more theoretical work -- and thought my logic class might do the trick. We had a discussion about the course, the challenges he may face because of his brain injury and I think he's going to register for the course this summer.

I think it's going to be fascinating to see this play out -- I suspect he'll do better than some of my supposedly fully functioning KFAP (kids from another planet) students. He'll at least try the homework, show up for class and he probably won't be stoned while doing so.

I also suspect that he'll know when class meets, be able to understand the concept of their grade as a percentage of the course and have is own book.... unlike this semester's KFAPs.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Stories of KFAP...

Kid from another planet...

is graduating. She can't understand the concept of the on-line gradebook not taking her final exam into account.

It's scary. I explained it to her at least three times.

If 60/205 points are not entered yet, your average isn't going to be good.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A thought from Panera...

... the little twit sitting behind me is whining because she can't pass chemistry. Apparently, she blames the fact that it's on-line for her inability to achieve.

As I type, she's on-line registering for a chemistry class at BNCC.

I know many of the chem people at BNCC. I hope she falls flat on her face -- she's going to BNCC because she thinks it's easier. I suspect the problem is her, not the class.

Obviously, I have a high degree of student dislike -- not unusual for this time in the semester... although, it is kind of odd for me to dislike students who a) aren't in my class, and b) aren't even currently enrolled at BNCC.

Oh yea, her boy-companion suggested the BNCC plan to her. I hate him too...

God, please let her pass ethics and logic at the big school -- I don't want her in my classroom, I'd have to slap her.

I've got a gunner...

... yes, in a CC ethics class.

Generally, the term "gunner" is restricted to law students.

But -- I have a summer ethics class that starts May 25.

I've opened the on-line course management system early so they can take a look around.

Someone has already completed the first two quizzes.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Teach for America ....

They just played a radio commercial advocating alternative teacher certification in my state.

The following facts caught my ear --
1) the low percentage of minority students in my state that go on to college (they say 10% -- seems to be more than that.. but, I teach at a suburban CC...). (edited due to comments, since I wasn't paying close enough attention to the commercial_...

2) the success of Teach for America candidates in bringing up test scores etc.

The implication was that the TFA teachers are more successful because they tend to be minoirites.

Umm -- the little I know about TFA says that they prefer students from elite colleges and univiersites and that many TFA folks are not education majors.

Maybe their success is due to the fact that they are well-educated, non-education majors.

I know a couple of peace-corps folks who are now in teaching positions and I know one TFA person. All of them are quite bright, good role models and I suspect they are great teachers. None of them are education majors -- hmmm.

End of semester drama --

... logic style:
  • Kid from another planet (KFAP) stopped by my office just now. Funny thing about that, since he could never find time to talk with me before, when I wanted to talk about his behavior and the fact that he wasn't prepared to work with Super-Tutor.
  • I had to tell KFAP that, no matter how well he did on his final, his grade couldn't be a C. He also claimed that Super Tutor told him he could get a B -- umm, no. In fact, he had a fit when ST told him that he couldn't get a B. That's one of the things I wanted to talk to KFAP about.
  • Some logic students are kicking themselves for not maxing out their bonus points -- a few points here or there would have saved them from having to take the final. Ummmm, guess what, I know they are busy, but in several cases investing one hour with the tutor would have saved them two hours of a final exam.

... Ethics style:

  • Some students think the last paper is a group paper. I gave them the option to write a paper with their presentation group or individually. A couple of slackers are going to find out the hard way that the students who did all the work on their presentations aren't writing a group paper.
  • Presentation drama -- every presentation day someone has an issue that makes them run late... So, their presentation group ends up nervously watching the door... So far, every tardy presenter has made it.

Bears? really?

There are bears in the neighborhood...

Granted, I've seen fox, deer, opossum, and many geese in the area. We hear coyote on occasion -- but, bears?

This is a suburb -- with tract housing, strip malls and highways. This isn't prime territory for bears.

Our apartment faces an abandoned golf course -- and the apartment people tend to leave the dumpsters out... now I wonder why we haven't seen bears.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Maybe there is a light at the end of the dissertation..

Dr. Advisor said that a couple of the committee members reported no significant objections... and, he's trying to get a consensus so we can schedule a defense.

Wow--- I'll know more in a couple of weeks... but, it could actually happen.

I'm not sure what I'll worry about when I don't have a dissertation to write.. hmmm.