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Monday, October 12, 2015

And a new week begins

Pretty easy day, all things considered. I only had a few little things to mark for the 101--and mostly they had to do the heavy lifting: their task for today was to work on the mechanical bits of their essays: sentence structures, punctuation, documentation. It was a bit odd to have a class full of young men: the three women in the class weren't there today (one of the men was missing as well). So, six young men sat there, calling me over with questions, working on whatever. The young man I've been calling the Guinea Pig but whom I will now call Mr. Irrepressible actually was somewhat repressed today: the essay he submitted had significant problems--mostly insofar as he went for sweeping, and unsupported, pronouncements instead of a sound and reasoned argument about a debatable thesis. He told me he was embarrassed, which I reassured him wasn't necessary, and clearly he was overwhelmed. And as is usually the case, being faced with the task of significant revision, he chose instead to work on rewording some sentences. No, I explained: you need to work on the big stuff. Put together a revision plan. "This is hard," he said. Yes. Clearly I'm going to have to repeat myself numerous times: Writing is hard; revision is much harder.

One of the other students said that he hadn't wanted to revise until he'd also done the mechanics stuff--and I explained that there is actually a real benefit to revising first, then doing mechanics stuff on the newly revised piece. I realize that I should have shown them my process--the multiple versions of a book review that I've been using as a sample for some time--way back when we started. I'm not sure how much good it does, but they truly need to see revision as one process, mechanics review as something separate. With that particular young man, I simply said that maybe he should try it the other way--two separate passes (possibly more)--on the next essay.

When I told them I was giving them a handout explaining the submission requirements for the final submission, due Wednesday, the young preppy type expressed astonishment and dismay. I reminded him, all of them, that they'd had the papers since last week to work on--but this is part of the learning curve for them. Revision takes time. Don't put it off.

Apart from class, I've finished rereading Oryx and Crake and have marked most of the assignments that I need to return to the SF students tomorrow. I get the feeling we won't start Blade Runner: I suspect they'll have way too much they want to talk about regarding the novel. Which is OK: if we have to finish up Blade Runner next week, fine. Or we may just not finish it. I'm actually thinking about that in terms of M&D tomorrow. The period will essentially be used showing Gossford Park, but since we didn't get very far into it last week, we probably won't finish tomorrow--so I'll let them vote: we can finish watching it the next class, then talk about The Big Sleep (quite a shift of gears), or we can just leave the rest unwatched and anyone who is interested can watch it on his/her own.

In any event, I expect tomorrow to be another relatively easy day: in SF, the students will do the heavy lifting; in M&D, we'll watch a movie. I don't have anything in the morning before SF, so I can easily get the rest of the assignments marked to return.

I'm trying to have a plan for marking papers, however. It does help that I'm not collecting them all at once, but that is rather complicated by the fact that I'll also be collecting the 101 papers this week. (Poor planning on my part, that, though it is easier to mark the final submissions of comp papers, since I don't have to say much.) But we'll see how things play out.

One thing I feel more than a little guilty about: I completely forgot that we'd decided to have a seminar hours committee meeting on Thursday evening, and I bought tickets to the simulcast of the National Theater's production of Hamlet. To hell with the committee meeting; I'm going to the play--but I do feel ginchy about it: I don't like being the bad girl who misses something important "just" to do something fun. But hey.

On a rather different note, I've gotten involved in the planning for the next ASLE conference--or at least a proposal to have it held at Stony Brook. I have a strong feeling the proposal will be approved, and I'm not entirely sure just how far my involvement will extend. Since I'm not on their campus, there is a lot I really can't help with--but I may well be drafted into helping organize field trips or some such. And as I looked over the proposal (as part of the potential organizing team), I realized that this would have been a wonderful thing to include in my application for promotion--and now I don't need it. But it still will be cool to be involved (she says, with some trepidation, imagining a year from now being absolutely crazed trying to find time to handle who-knows-what). And it will definitely be cool not to have to travel to be part of an ASLE conference--or not to travel more than the hour drive from my place to Stony Brook.

I'm sure there's other stuff I could talk about, but I want to make the most of an easy day and try for a relatively easy night, too. More tomorrow...

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