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Old 10-09-2007, 10:38 AM   #46
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well, I just got the first batch of essays. I returned first drafts to them a week before with some suggestions to really help shape their papers. Not just grammatical issues, but clarifying theses, maintaining flow and focus, etc. I'd say less than half listened. I had one (accidental) case of plagiarism, a number of people change their paper so much they created new problems, and one person actually gave me the same paper, still 2 of 5 pages long, with an extra paragraph and no content errors addressed. With the original stapled to the top. The most substantial thing he did was move his header from the right to left. I'm still aching.

Giving over half of the class Ds or lower made me feel really bad. But apparently I'm one of the nicer writing instructors in that regard.
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Old 10-09-2007, 03:11 PM   #47
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^

What was it again? A college?

What an asshole that student.
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Old 10-25-2007, 01:36 PM   #48
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Okay, so the rough drafts for my first round of 102 papers are in. And their writing is so much better here than it has been on the preliminary assignments. I think they're just lazy - I really ripped into them on Wednesday because I only had 4 people in the class 10 minutes after 8 AM. By 8:20, I had nearly 20. I told them that if they were hanging around campus, as some had been, they had no excuse. If they were late because of traffic, they needed to get out of bed and leave 10 minutes earlier. Then I dismissed early and walked out.

I've received 4 or 5 apologetic e-mails already. I hate to play them like that, but it seems to be helping. And as I said, they're not bad writers - they're just irresponsible and lazy.

My 101 continues to impress me. While they're not as strong naturally as the 102 students I have, their second paper drafts have been breathtaking where improvement is concerned. I really can't articulate the difference between these drafts and the drafts for the first paper. I did have to give out a LOT of Ds the first time, but I think it actually got them going to the Learning Resource Center and caring about the writing.

There's also been a bit of a shift in material - I'm not having to play catch-up so much. We just finished reading V for Vendetta in my 102 class, and after this it's on them to find and discuss primary sources with the class, then begin the research process on a topic prompted by this source. I'm mostly just there to help with the writing from here out.

My 101 is just getting FUN. We finished the first portion of the class, first-hand accounts of the Holocaust. We read Diary of a Young Girl, Survival in Auschwitz, and Night, along with the short story "This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen" by Tadeusz Borowksi. While many complained of the subject matter, their papers are great. Essentially, I wanted them to look at how 2 or 3 different writers presented their experience. Night is more dramatized, Survival in Auschwitz is detached and academic, Diary of a Young Girl shifts half-way through. And the supplemental readings and class discussion seem to have gotten this through to them.

So now, we're entering part two - dealing with the persecution of the gay community in Nazi Germany. There is not as much literature to work with here, but there are a few stunners. We watched The Producers (2005) to lighten things up, and for the most part it was a smash success. They all got the irony of a gay Hitler, which was a segue to discussing Doug Wright's play "I Am My Own Wife," the story of Wright's interviews with Charlotte Van Mahlsdorf. For anyone who does not know, Mahlsdorf was a transvestite who survived both Nazi Germany and Communist East Berlin. Fascinating character study.

We're then doing Cabaret. A lot of the issues are peripheral, but that's where the great tension comes from - Michael Yorke playing a bisexual man who could otherwise be fine, Jewish characters pretending to be Christian. . . there's so much to talk about. and finally moving on to The Cunning of History, an essay about indifference. And the culmination of the class is Schindler's List, which will take about 4 class periods. But I love it, so it's okay.

Most of them are being really receptive. I was worried how they would handle the gay material, but they've been very good. I did love the "Why are we reading this?" question, though. It gave me an excuse to show them parts of Borat. Basically, I asked them why issues of anti-semitism and homophobia are relevant today, and someone actually said, "They're not in America."

Ha.

Ha.

Ha.

So I showed the scene where Borat tries to by a gun to kill Jews. And the scene where the rodeo guy wants to hang gay people. No one argued with me after that.

So it's getting better. which is good, because my papers are going to have to be written soon and I need less stress.
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