Saturday, May 26, 2007

why do I do this to myself?

Sometimes I give myself work for no particular reason. Case in point: as the semester draws to a close, I've started taking pictures of my students, including some goofy ones that show the students in "Jedi" poses, using a cardboard paper towel tube as a lightsaber handle. As you might imagine, I'm going to be doing a ton of Photoshopping this weekend. Luckily, Star Wars freak Ryan Wieber has left a great tutorial on the web that beats out my own technique for making lightsaber effects; I'll be switching over to his method, which is easier and more efficient than mine.

I also have to finish writing up exams for my two Tuesday classes (the MWF exams are done), and then will have to grade everything next Friday. I'm not sure my colleagues are even bothering with exams in the final week. They know they'll have to come up with a number grade by Friday, and I assume they've got their methods for doing so. We don't have a strict, standardized departmental policy on grading (getting everyone to agree to such a policy is not easy), which is one reason for the differences among us. My own method for calculating grades doesn't vary much from what I used to do as a French teacher in the early 1990s. The grade distribution (easy to plot with the help of MS Excel) goes a bit like this, with variations depending on the class being taught:

Quizzes = 15%
Midterm = 15%
Final Exam = 20%
Homework = 15%
Project = 15%
Participation = 20%

More emphasis on the final exam and participation than on anything else, though there are times when I'm tempted to bump up the significance of homework. I didn't use to assign much homework, but I do it much more often now. It only makes sense: homework should serve primarily as reinforcement of what the students have learned. Occasionally, it should be exploratory in nature, but with the majority of my classes being low-level, I'm not planning on asking my students to do any groundbreaking research.

This semester, as with most semesters, my students have been largely negligent about homework-- another reason I was initially loath to assign it. Homework for a non-credit course is often a joke; you're lucky if 40% of the class does it. But strangely enough, one class this semester has been extremely scrupulous about doing their homework: my intro-level girls. Every girl in the class has at least an 85% homework average. Amazing. And I have no idea why.

Right-- well, a stomachache woke me up around 7:45 this morning, and I need to get crackin'. Much work to do. I'll probably do my Photoshopping in the office today; it'll go faster there, even though the Windows version of Photoshop has some annoying quirks. I have to be in the office to finish up the exam prep, anyway, so... off I go.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sound like good end-of-the-year projects to me. Lots of work and then a break, right? And your students will love the photos. Good teacher!!

Meilleurs voeux!!