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Monday, December 1, 2014

Could be worse...

...could be raining.

No, quotations from Young Frankenstein aside, it really could be worse--or could have been, more accurately. I was afraid I was going to be frantic with trying to get things marked to return to the 101 students, but--fortunately for me (not so much for the students)--five students from the earlier section have not yet submitted an important component of their second papers, either the first versions (for those who submitted a first version) or the upload to And I won't grade the papers without the complete submission. So that saved me a lot of time.

The down-side of that, of course, is that tomorrow, I'll be collecting the first version of their final papers. Assuming they turn those in on time and also submit the stuff they're missing from their second papers, I'll be frantic trying to get everything marked and back to the little rotters by Thursday--though, honestly, I'm not likely to bust my gut trying to get papers back to them when they've been so lax about submitting all the components.

I'm also considering how to run classes between now and when the final versions of their papers are due. I'm wondering whether I should set up individual appointments with them next week, since we've made the second version optional: that way, I can work with each student on his or her paper for a slightly longer period of time and the other students don't have to wait around while I do. I have to figure out the math--X number of class minutes divided among X number of students--to see if I can get them all in using just the regularly scheduled class time. If not, I won't do it; I'll just have them all show up, every class, and try to figure out something substantive for them to work on while I circulate around the room, providing guidance where it's needed.

If I go with that second option (and honestly, that's probably how things will go), I'm debating whether they'd get anything out of pairing up and outlining a partner's paper, using the "post-outline" strategy that I frequently recommend (and which I've used to good effect in my own writing). I might have to concoct a form for that, just to help them get how it's supposed to work: by and large, they are very concrete thinkers, so providing that kind of scaffolding can be highly useful, perhaps even necessary.

But that's all looking forward. Looking back, the Fiction Writing class was fun today--and yes, partly because there were so few students whose stories were in line to be workshopped that we ended up reading through one of my stories. I did make the offer to do that process with their writing, have student volunteers as the writers whose work is read and evaluated paragraph by paragraph that way--but they were pretty unanimous in preferring to do it with my work. I imagine there are a number of reasons why (including that they don't have to think quite as hard--and, as they said, the process is enjoyable: they like reading my stories), but the main thing is for them to get something out of the experience. I think they are: one student noted that the story in question was third-person focused narration, and they asked if that was difficult to do. (Not for me, but I can see how it could be.) My sweet student from semesters past pointed out a few places where I could do more "show," less "tell": she's absolutely right, and I'm grateful to her for pointing those places out to me. So, unless I have some brilliant idea between now and a week from Wednesday, that's what we'll be doing until we workshop their final stories.

Interesting to note that the Brit is conspicuously AWOL. He was supposed to send his third story to me via e-mail for me to distribute to the other students. He didn't. He wasn't in class today. I have no idea where he is or what's going on, but clearly I'm going to need to have a serious talk with the young man when he returns to class. But the class went very well without him--and one of the things I liked best about the critiques today is that two of the young men had worked hard to write in a different stylistic voice than their previous stories, and both ended up producing their best work to date. Very nice.

Not much else to report from the trenches today. I'll be in working on spring adjunct schedules tomorrow morning--and a student from last semester (very quiet, shy, retiring young woman) has asked to talk to me about something, all very mysterious, so I'm looking forward to finding out what that's about. And I have an interview with a potential adjunct tomorrow evening. So that will be a day. And I'll call this one a day, now, too.

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