I know tomorrow will be somewhat harder than it might otherwise be as a consequence, but I have no intention of doing any further work today. I'm not even going to empty out the bag that I carry to classes or pull student assignments out of the respective class folders. I have all the 101 papers to mark prior to tomorrow's class--but one way or another (probably another), I'll get them marked tomorrow. I know I'd be unable to do it today.
I didn't rant at either class about plagiarism. I did, however, go over the purely mechanical details of how to format a paper, what introductory paragraphs should look like, what a thesis is and where it goes, how to incorporate quotations and paraphrases. It's mind-numbing, of course--and of course the students who were nodding off are the ones who are most in need of the information--but I felt it needed to be done.
Once I finished all that, the SF students really got rolling on the discussion of the book. I was sorry we didn't have time to discuss with the class--and sorry I had to stop them when they were in full spate--but I'm hoping this bodes well for Thursday. The M&D students were more flat and dull today. I tried joking with one student about whether he'd been cheating, and it fell absolutely flat. But he asked me about a mark on his response, and when I said he'd done good work, then turned my back on his group, they started laughing. I'm sure I'm paranoid, but I got the sense they were laughing because I'd praised him for thinking and he hadn't been. So I whispered in his ear, "And if you cheated, we'll pretend you didn't." He said aloud, "I didn't cheat!" I said, "I know; that's why I'm not taking you aside to talk to you about it." I turned my back again: more laughter.
However, the student I talked to last week about his responses--the one I suspect of plagiarism--showed me his latest response, which does include quotations from the novel, but he was concerned because he hadn't reviewed the first 8 sections and had only written about the 9th, so he was afraid I might not accept it. I said I would. And today in class he spoke up with some good ideas, so maybe I was unreasonably suspicious. But it's like the old joke about being paranoid not meaning that they're not out to get you: just because I may be overly suspicious doesn't mean students aren't plagiarizing.
Speaking of which, I looked at the Turnitin.com reports, and Mr. Bewildered plagiarized 17% of his paper. It's the kind of thing where a student as lost as he is probably didn't know he was doing it: the plagiarism is all short phrases--but there are enough of them, separated only by a few words of his or a fact that he's formatted slightly differently from his source, that he's potentially in huge trouble. I feel bad for the kid, but he's really not at all ready for college material--at least not what I consider college material. He's smart enough to know he's struggling but not smart enough to get himself sorted out.
And nothing from the Guinea Pig. I'm going to have to figure out what to do when he shows up to class tomorrow with his paper and thinks he'll be able to turn it in. Part of me wants to get rid of him, because he's making such a hash of things--but part of me thinks he's salvageable, and he's said my class is his favorite (not brown-nosing either: it's clearly genuine appreciation), so I'm inclined to try to figure out how to work with him in a way that is still fair to the other students.
Well, that's a problem to resolve tomorrow.
I'm sure there is more I could go on about today, but I am hungry, and I am tired, and I do want to put a button on today. There are many things to be grateful for; I know that. I just don't feel like hauling them to the surface as a reframe for the day. Suffice it to say that I'm pretty sure I can turn the week in general into something like OK by Thursday.