I spent some time today working on the Betrayal and Fidelity chapter: I realized I needed to do what I recommend to students, which is to simply get ideas on the "page"--well, actually, page without the scare quotes, as I did print the bugger out: I very quickly get to the point where I can't see what I have unless I see it on paper, and even just a random bunch of jottings won't go anywhere until I wrestle with it in physical form.
But I'm still struggling with focus, concentration, so I turned my attention for a while to getting some stuff pulled together for my fall classes--mostly the 101s, which I am, as I have mentioned, revamping yet again. I find I'm having a hard time letting go of the idea of three papers, despite the fact that I want to spend a lot more time working with their papers in class--and do not want to ask them to read about one topic while writing about another: I think it's important that they can put all their time and attention into taking the information they already have and continually refining how they write about it.
To that end, I've already changed the focus of their first writing assignment. I've always been frustrated that I see their initial self-evaluation as a little, simple homework exercise, but they see it as an ESSAY--but it occurred to me that the students have actually presented me with a great opportunity: I can use that initial "essay" as the springboard into their first real essay (in my terms). So the first thing they write is going to be a personal response to an article I'll have them read, how it relates to their own experiences. It's an article about education, and expectations--and we can use those responses to gradually shift into actual academic writing.
But reconfiguring all that is going to be more complex than I realized before I started working on it. Similarly, my brilliant idea about having them track their grades numerically--subtracting from a total as the semester goes along--is going to take not only some careful thinking through of assignments and how I've weighted those assignments in the past but also the simple math of the thing. I still think it's a good idea ("brilliant" may be an overstatement), but making the shift is going to be more challenging than I anticipated.
I hope I can get some work done tomorrow, too, and Monday (Sunday is "life maintenance" day), and that I can make myself stay at the office and work after my meeting and tutorial sessions, learning the online platform. It's important to me to have some of the class stuff worked out before I head out of town at the end of June, so I'm not utterly frantic in August.
Now, however, I have to go be a student of equitation. It's a gorgeous day to be on horseback, beats hell out of sitting at a computer, so off I go.