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Getting there


Thursday, November 17, 2005

THURSDAY day 6 Computer Room Day

Picture a room like a banquet hall with two table rows of flatpanel desktops for students to sit on either side, and walls lined with more, for about 60 students. I have 34 today, and they all centred on the two banquet tables, lined up on both sides. The whole left back of the classroom is empty. I dump my bags at the raised teacher dais in front of the whiteboard, and happily ignore the mass of screens and consoles which leave me little room for my bags, and off I go circling around my groups.

I took a moment at 9:20 to call attention and explain that the rubrics were revised since I had 10 voices out of 34 saying that attire was less important than content (five votes), delivery (three votes) and two each for visuals, enthusiasm and structure, so I added two points to each of content, delivery and visuals on the new rubrics. I repeated the info in Japanese, and then set to circling.

I began by handing back vocab sheets with some comments, and then realized this would eat up too much of the time I needed to advise groups on surveys and presentation content, so dumped them at the front in the non-space at the spaceport console teacher desk for people to pick up. I had an interesting conversation with one student about some of the presentation vocabulary being a little strange, and if it was ok to do their own in-depth vocabulary from the research on their topic instead. Of course, I said, and showed how to use google, and wikipedia to look.

We talked about plagiarism...they were clear about the need to quote the source, as I have insisted on all along and do my best to model in my own worksheets with links and credits. It's amazing how many teachers/professors themselves do not do this, I remember finding an article on the web and writing to the site about the plagiarism, which they passed on to the authors,.,,,,instead of thanking me and cleaning it up the authors contested most of what I pointed out hotly (well, not surprising since there was nothing left after the plagiarised bits were credited!)... In my own work citing I just worked with the sources in their references, which is where it all came from.

I also found a ppt/slide show link at one teacher's site, and when i then clicked the link below to another Cornell Uni source, what would you know, I was re-reading a lot of the slide show mixed in the text....hmmm, an uncredited copy and paste adaptation slide show methinks. If we don't do it, how can we ask students to?

This myth of creation, as though it grew from nowhere out of our wise and erudite teacher minds, when really we copy and paste and adapt just the way we should be teaching our students to do. So there I am in the classroom, showing how to find things on google and English wikipedia as oppose to Japanese, and helping translate surveys and actually make (two groups, I think)survey monkeys.

I spent a lot of time talking in Japanese, trying to get students to think beyond, as it were...think of it like a venture business, I explained, you have to find the extra take on things, your take. This reminds me of last year, when I am building on nothing, and where thinking per se, rather than English, is what I am teaching, or rather modelling, in fancy flights of examples thought up on the spot, to illustrate the patterns of movement, the way to link in the survey, the way to get beyond simply parroting/regurgitating knowledge. It seems to me my course is just giving them the first whiff of everything, which they will take and have to expand either in post-graduate or seminar work, or perhaps on the job. What is amazing is that the techniques of applying, making surveys, focusing, evaluating, recommending is all new to students in Japanese, if not English. I know my husband has an excellent mind, and an approach which often surprises me (although it can also infuriate me sometimes!!!), which has evolved on the job, but then he's eight years my senior, so he has had time to mature his thinking processes.

I've been talking to the head of department ( a Stanford graduate), he's interested in the same facet, the thinking edge, and gives the students a lot of articles to read in English. I'm thinking I need to be looking into the reading of Economics articles more, rather than just the Economist magazine, and how to help students cope with that, if that's what is being expected of them in some of their seminars.

Anyway, after class one of my students and I popped in to see the head of department with a course registration glitch, and we agreed to handle it the same as last year, with me making triplicate copies of results, one for him, one for the student, and one for me, so that they can get the credits next year when they register, without having to redo the course in the heat of their job searching season. I like being able to be flexible like that, to feel that with a tiny bit of extra effort on my part the student's mistake can be recouped without too much pain on their part...and thinking about the balance between the need for deadlines as deterrents for lax people, and the need for lenience in face of error. Who is to judge? Fortunately in this case the head of department agreed it would be us! Me! Feels good. I have no qualms failing for non-attendance, already three registered students have failed, because they don't show up since the first class or two. I had one student who failed last year by just not coming, and wasted a good grade. I notice this term they are coming regularly, and doing well in a quiet way. Good! Hoping they will stick through to the grade.

I get home so tired, flake out, sort of grab a slice of bread and topple into bed thing, so blogging is late again. Better than not blogging. Three students in this class handed in a translation of half the rubrics, which I had asked for because their rubric marking was waaaayyy too lax compared with all the other markers for a particular presentation. I explained that I needed them to show me they understood what they were doing when they marked rubrics, so please translate into japanese. Some of them want to be nice, and praise, others just seem to have had a can't be bothered attitude, and I'm noticing the ones who hand in this special translation task today as requested and those who haven't, because that will make a difference in how I grade them, to my mind. It also shows me who is really just nice, and who is really just lazy. Or is that not a valid distinction?

This is a big change over last year, where I noticed that the way out whacky marking kind of evens out, averages out over six people, as some people tend to mark severely and others less so, and just let it be. But I remember some students commented on the issue being unfair last year, and this year I am used to the system enough to begin to think about twiddling things a bit. Also to let students know I really am aware of their involvement in grading, it is not just a game.