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Sunday, June 4, 2017

Life conflicting with work...

There is a bit of a family crisis unrolling, been going on for a while now and will continue to go on for even longer, and I find I do not do well switching tracks from handling family communications to working. I did get one of the two late essays marked today and returned to the student, and I have to do the other by Tuesday--but I sure am not going to get it done today. It took forever to do the one I did, as I kept putting it aside to answer a text or make a phone call...

Oh, yes: and the update to Windows 10 gave me a problem with my printer, which I had to sort out. I managed to do so without calling on any of my various computer gurus, but it was still a snorting pain in the ass to navigate that.

What I needed to print was the plagiarism report on that essay I was marking. I originally didn't intend to run these two outliers through the Turnitin software, but there were too many paragraphs in the essay I marked that raised red flags. I wasn't sure I could even access the course, as officially it's over, but I was able to upload the essays just fine--and sure enough, the report came back: 17% plagiarized. Some of the "matches" Turnitin located really weren't significant, but some were--so I had to rewrite some of the comments, noting where the plagiarized bits were located. I probably gave the student a higher grade than she should have gotten, especially given the plagiarism problem: she'd obviously turned to a few websites for help with her ideas, instead of relying on articles in the databases, and too much of the language and ideas from those websites crept into her essay. I'm also baffled by her choice of critical essay to include, and the quotation she decided to use: neither have much if anything to do with the topic of the essay or her particular angle on it--which also was difficult to determine. But she seems to get the main idea behind this kind of essay writing: that the point is to delve into the literature to see what is going on inside it, and I wanted to give her credit for that.

And of course what I really want to do is to sit down with her and talk about it; conferencing is such a great tool, much more effective than written commentary alone. I've made the offer to her to do that; we'll see if she takes me up on it.

I don't quite know what to expect in terms of the other essay. If that student has written up to her usual standard, it should be much stronger than the one I marked today--but students do tend to fall apart a bit on the final essay, and that seems to be the case even when I give them extra time, as I did for these two students.

Well, whatever. I'll send them the comments; they'll revise; I'll get the whole magillah, crunch their final grades, and be done with it.

Speaking of final grades, I've just about decided that I will pretend the D+ grade does not exist. That's the one students have been bitching about. D is better than F, but D+ is too close to C for students to take it with any kind of good grace. (Of course, a couple have bitched about the D, and a few about the F, but ... Oh, god, I don't want to relive all that.) I don't think I'll be in that position with either of these students. One is likely to get a C. The other may get an A. I won't know for sure until I figure out the marks for the final submissions of their final essays.

Shifting gears: as a student, I have to share for a moment my happiness over my new music instructor. She's specifically teaching me fiddle, not violin (lots of overlap, but also lots of differences), and she's teaching me very specific, important basics that I should have learned a year ago but that my former instructor either never explained or never took time to drill me on. I cannot express adequately how relieved and happy I am to be frustrated and challenged by those drills and corrections--because I know that, difficult and maddening as they are, they're important for me to really do things right. And that's what I care about. I had the same experience when I changed riding instructors: I suddenly knew what a good instructor was like, as my then new instructor kept saying, "Didn't your old teacher tell you X?" and I kept saying, "No, never heard a word about it."

I think some of my students have that experience with me, but I'm not entirely sure they're grateful for it. I know some are--or they say they are--but, well, they may become grateful over time, when they start to realize I actually do know what I'm talking about.

Ah well. Enough for today. Here's hoping things are more quiet on the family crisis front tomorrow and that I can work productively. It's going to be a cool, drippy day, perfect for staying indoors and working--or succumbing to the siren call of a good read lying on the sofa...

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