Archive for April, 2015

Spring weeding, weeding and planting

Mid April and we are already planting in northern Minnesota, at least the farmers are. It is also very dry and we could use some rain. I need to get out to my 13-14 perennial flower gardens and restore them back to health.  I have tulips that are up six inches so they will be blooming soon.  About four days ago I repotted about 15 elephant ear bulbs.  Left them in their big containers outside and hopefully they didn’t get zapped in our 22 degrees one night, the other night it was 25 degrees.  I’m hoping that since they are close to the house on the south side that they didn’t feel the shock and will survive. I want to put these big eared plants out in front of the Carnegie building when it is warmer weather.

For now, it could still snow and be nasty up to the end of May, we have 1 1/2 months left of weather that could be winter like again. Today, it is a sunny beautiful day with promises of getting up to 70 degrees again.  So, I need to beat the wood ticks and get out to do all the necessary weeding that needs to be done to get ready for summer. My husband tilled up one of our vegetable gardens so that is looking good and ready for planting. I’ll leave that for my mom and hubby to do.

I’m glad I can finally look forward to my summer plans. This week I had TWO  lengthy talks with the same student about his grade. He is averaging a C for the first 13 weeks of the semester, he is really struggling at 72% and he expects to get a B.  Turns out he got a D in Comp I before and then he took Comp II from the same teacher and got a B!!!  I had to go talk to her and find out if this information he gave me was true.  It was.  So, I believe that his receiving a C grade is appropriate and that there is NO amount of negotiating to get that grade up.

The light bulb went off for him when he found out that it is necessary to revise. He was telling me that there are no perfect writers. I agreed with him but the ones who do write well also know how to revise well.  I think he must not get that and when he is doing is APA formatting which meant the last three required assignments, you have to alphabetize your sources in the References page. He cannot do that.  Maybe he doesn’t know his alphabet? I’m bewildered by that.  Anyway, I do not want to have this student come to my office again to talk for 45 minutes to an hour about why he should get a better grade.  Yesterday I handed out to each student the part in the syllabus that shows what an A paper looks like compared to a B paper all the way down to F.  It also said in my syllabus that if there is a grade dispute that the student needs to put it in writing within 24 hours of when they received the grade to try and improve it.  What this student did was complain about the third required paper 3-4 weeks after the fact.

I told him that I would throw those 150 points out and that he would only have 1,150 points to deal with instead of the 1,300 points.  He agreed with that but then he came back to my office to say that he was okay with keeping in that paper in the grade total.  I think this is a control issue.  He is majoring in communication but moving to another school after this semester is over. He is unhappy here.  I’m thinking this student is NOT ready for academia.

I believe weeding my overrun gardens will be easier than convincing this student that he is an AVERAGE student and does NOT deserve a B!  Yes, I’ll go out now to do that and think about other things.

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Good Friday, Good Day so Far

Thankfully I went through two classes of composition and none of my students pulled any tricks on me on April 1st, at least that I know of.  One student wanted his grade so far for the semester and we just finished week 12, but I don’t think that was an April Fools prank. He sincerely wanted to know his grades for each of his classes, mine included.  Seems strange because we still have four weeks left but I guess that is needed for this one class he is taking.  THAT’s what I should be doing right now in my quiet office today, while no one is around this day off, Good Friday is GOOD! Yes, I should be putting my students’ papers together in their respective folders and figuring out what the first 3/4s of the semester has been for each of my students, grade wise.

This particular student was very helpful and compliant at first and then he turned nasty and disrespectful about a month ago. Enough so that I talked to my supervisor about him…at length in my office.  Now he is all sweet and kind again, back to his old self from the beginning. It seems each student has been taking turns in their small fits of rebellion. Then next, over spring break, I had a very capable student argue with me by e-mail about using the research databases that our university provides. The main objective of this comp class is for students to discover the benefits of academic, peer reviewed journals and NOT to click the google button for everything.  They need to know there is a scholarly approach to some subjects…that is what the university prides itself in.  However, these young 19 year old students have grown up with the click of a mouse to find out info.  They don’t even know what it was like to look up things in stacks of libraries or to open up a 15 pound dictionary or encyclopedia. So, that spat was over but I had blind copied the head librarian to say that this student didn’t think there was anything up to date about precision agriculture.

Then, this past week, I had to write up an academic dishonesty report on one student who handed in his third required paper on human trafficking. It went to the Chancellor of Academic Affairs, to my supervisor, his advisor, etc. As Comp teachers, we have the “turnitin” feature with our Moodle assignments, the closer to 0% you have, the more likely it is the students’ own words.  However, we can allow for up to 10% on the Originality Assessment reports.  Sadly, my one student who I had in TWO classes last semester, who should have known better, came up with 81% of copying someone else’s paper.  He took from ONE paper and not patchwork from other papers all put together…flagrant copying on his part!  I told him he had to do this paper over or he would NOT get his potential 150 points.  THEN, I got an e-mail from his father who lives in southern U.S., copied to all his son’s other instructors, asking how his son was doing.  I didn’t tell him anything because legally, I am not supposed to unless a certain form has been filled out electronically and I’ve gotten the okay from the student.  Whew, I think I got cleared of that…again I notified my supervisor about that.

Well, that is three male students all taking their turns with not behaving right…who will be next in these last four weeks?  I have to be on my toes and make sure that I have all the assignments done right and turned back to them when they hand there next rough draft for Paper #4 to me next Monday.  For now, I am glad that we had Good Friday off today and I’m looking ahead to a good Easter service on Sunday. I’ll play my violin for the first time and hopefully that will go well.  I haven’t played publicly for about 35-40 years so this is a stretch for me…I bought a new violin to be in the university’s orchestra so I might as well use it.

Good Friday…good things are on the way!!!

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