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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Shifting gears--and hitting the wall

The good news is that I finally have the correct version of the handbook, so I can work on the 101 syllabus using the correct page numbers and adding review of the Sentence Guides. What I like about the Sentence Guides is that they're not nuts and bolts of GSP (grammar, spelling, punctuation) but rather examples and tips for constructing sentences to present an argument and use sources appropriately. It's astonishing how basic it has to be for students--somehow I learned this stuff by osmosis, and I have no idea how--but examples include "Presenting what is known or assumed," "Presenting others' views," "Presenting your own views: agreement and extension," and so on. There are "fill in the blank" type examples, so students can see what academic language looks and sounds like. Conceptually, I like it a lot. It remains to be seen whether students can glean from the material what I hope they can.

I got the handbook, by the way, by going to the bookstore on campus and buying a copy. (The rank incompetence of my post office strikes again.) I actually bought two copies: one I donated to the library, so I know for certain that it will be on reserve for students when the semester starts. But as I was walking around campus, I suddenly realized a few small changes I wanted to make to the SF syllabus, as well as to incorporate into the 101 syllabus. One had to do with letting students know that I am not instantly available when they email me. (They're so used to the instant reply of texts--or emails, received on their phones--that it takes a lot of repeating before they understand that, if they contact me immediately before class, I probably won't get the message until after class, and sometimes long after class.) The other had to do with point value for the handbook review assignments. They're very low stakes, but I also want them to have enough points attached that students do them. I changed the points from 10 to 15 for each review--but that meant changing the syllabus, changing the assignment handout, and changing the grade calculation sheet, as well as uploading all the changes to Blackboard. (Seems like I made other changes as well: it feels like I re-uploaded the syllabus three times....)

Thinking about the schedule also made me think about what to do with the SF students the second day of class. There may be new students (through add/drop, or simply students who weren't there the first day), and I don't want anything substantive to be due--I'm going to ease them into the work of the semester a tiny bit more gradually than usual--but I need to do something on that day that will make sense for the students who were in the first class. I thought about showing a YouTube video about the value of SF (and found one that isn't bad), or showing a short SF movie (I didn't get far in the search, being very disappointed with what I first found). Neither option is floating my boat at the moment, so I'll have to keep thinking.

The idea of showing something in class also triggered an "Oh, right, and I need to..." thought: I need to put in the request to have the computer and projector up and running for every session of 101. I won't use that tech every session, but it helps to have it there for spur-of-the-moment demonstrations.

So, the chain of things to tend to keeps getting longer, and what I've actually accomplished feels correspondingly less significant. But I do know I'm making something akin to progress. And since I got about five hours of sleep last night (and not very good sleep at that), I can feel my mind shutting down all higher functions. I have about enough left in me to write an email or two; then I will decidedly be stick-a-fork-in-me done. My work day tomorrow will be interrupted by an afternoon doctor's appointment, and then I'll have the usual limited time on Friday, no time Saturday--and here we go 'round the prickly pear. All of that, however, is the future, which does not exist. Now, I'm closing up the intellectual shop for the day (and hoping for better sleep and a more productive day tomorrow).

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