Posts tagged APA formatting

Semester is FINISHED!

Rejoicing in the fact that I survived another semester of grading papers of my students…they are also thrilled to be done. However, they would not dare show that kind of glee in front of me, that I’m sure of.  I had an interesting group in my one class, one student was from India, another from Japan, a girl from China and finally, one other from Mongolia.  The rest of the class were first year Americans and they were a great group.

The one from India was my top international student, he was wonderful…always a smile on his face, a very pleasant personality. The second one from Japan always wore a scarf around his neck with his parka. I wondered if he was hiding something around his throat.  The one thing I LOVED about him was his deep laugh.  I guess I’m not used to Japanese laughing and he is a fourth-year student so perhaps he picked up other deep throated laughs from his American peers. Anyway, it was always fun to hear his laugh, he too was a very good student

The second one from Japan always wore a scarf around his neck while wearing his winter parka. It kept me wondering if he was hiding something around his throat.  The one thing I LOVED about him was his deep laugh.  I guess I’m not used to Japanese laughing and he is a fourth-year student so perhaps he picked up other deep throated laughs from his American peers. Anyway, it was always fun to hear his laugh, he too was a very good student and giving me multiple copies of papers he kept improving.

My student from China I had failed last semester and she had me again this spring. Maybe that was her mistake but I don’t think there were many other options for her. Apparently, she has some family issues back home to deal with, maybe something that happened to her in her childhood.  She is a mystery, in any case, I was sad that she did not finish the course with pulling out of all her other classes too.

Finally, my one student from Mongolia was a special case all her own.  By all outward appearances, she is very demure, soft spoken and sweet looking.  However, there is something very ugly inside of her.  She may be very smart in math but her idea of writing was to copy from sources and claim as her own.  We have the Turnitin feature for our research papers.  The first paper, she had 51% that was copied.  Generally, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwe let go papers that are 10% or lower.  I asked her to re-write the paper in her own words. She did not.

By the time the final, research paper was due, she had only 200 words out of the required 2,000 words.  I had helped her find sources with using better keywords for her topic on outsourcing.  I helped her with an outline that she could work with to show claim and counterclaim for this persuasive paper.  She did not hand in by Moodle her paper and so I called her into my office.  I told her she was failing the class.

She acted surprised at this information of her failing my class. (At mid-semester I had given her a C- which should have been a clue) I said that it would not be fair to pass her if she was not understanding how to do APA formatting style or even not completing assignments.  She had not even alphabetized her bibliography which is a basic thing for any kind of formatting of resources.  She asked how my other international students did in my class.  I told her that some excelled over and above my American students, some were average and some, like her, had to take the class again.

Imagine my surprise, after I had given her the option of DROPPING my class that she sent me a very disrespectful e-mail.  She had told me that she would not be able to handle the extra course financially if she had to take Composition I over again.  I told her that after 12 credits, she doesn’t have to pay any extra money.  I don’t think she felt ashamed with failing, I really think she did NOT care about writing. It perhaps is not part of her culture to read and write and she happens to be very good in her math skills.

Her e-mail directed to me was that I should NOT fail students and that I was a bad teacher. She was going to take this case to the top level…the president of our university. Then she ended it with the “firetruck” word in describing me.  I thought at first that someone else had written this inflammatory and accusatory e-mail.  Come to find out that she took full responsibility for the wording of this message, she said she was angry.

I talked about this case with my department head and he, in turn, talked with her. He told her that she should apologize to me for her negative e-mail which he also found offensive.  I got a second e-mail from her soon afterward that I also have not responded to. She more or less wrote that she was sorry that she worded her first e-mail that way but I have to understand her culture that they get very emotional. Therefore, she was just emoting and that I should allow for that.  Again, I didn’t see her being remorseful for her action of disrespect but I’ll let it go.  I pity the writing teacher who will get her next fall.  They will have to hold her to the deadlines and not allow for her to stream in late to class.  Seems she is on her own time schedule.

Okay, I got that all written out about what has transpired over the last week.  That seems to negate the other GREAT students that I had in this particular class.  It ended well for others with As and Bs and one C.  Two other Americans either dropped or got an F grade.  So, I will have two more classes next semester and that is about right for me. I have much work to do right now with writing MNopedia articles for the Minnesota Historical Society.

Actually, that is what I should be doing right now but this has been a convenient distraction!

 

 

 

 

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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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Blogging is my way to Procrastinate!!!

I have only one more post to make after this one that would make it to 1,500 posts all together on this blog since I started it over seven years ago.  I have not been as frequent posting about Kazakhstan because I am living far, far away from a country I care deeply about.  So few people have heard about this ninth largest country in the world.  There are fewer people who actually live in this country and so the reason seems to prevail, not many people are out there to promote the good things about this former Soviet Republic.

I have lived in the two cities Almaty and Astana, I have visited other places like Karaganda and out west.  I went east to their version of the Grand Canyon, that is all documented on this blog.  I’d have to go back to see how to spell the names of these little known places.  A map would help but right now I am writing this blog because I DO NOT want to be grading the stack of 40 plus research papers that are 2,000 words long with APA formatted in-text citations and a Reference page of eight sources.  I brought this all on myself, it was my assignment for my freshmen composition students.  I want them to learn all that is possible before they go to the next level of Comp II.

Do my 85 students know that I care that they succeed?  I got feedback from one of my more genuine students when he said something to the effect that “not many students like you, but I do because you make us work hard. I have learned a lot from you.”  I guess I don’t go into this teaching gig with the idea of making friends with all my students by giving them the easy As or Bs.  If they are getting the grades they want, they will have worked hard for it or they already came into my class with prior knowledge.  Those of the latter set have had high school composition teachers that took the time to grade their papers in a diligent manner and told them the tough things that they needed to know to improve.

Right now, I should also be looking at the self evaluations and self assessments that I gave to my Comp lab classes, all three of them.  Oy, there is an overload here and I am looking forward to having a break.  I’m no different from the students.  I can fritter away time with the best of them.  I don’t remember working this hard with my Kazakh students even when I taught at KIMEP in Almaty and had 100 students, five classes of 20 in each. That was when I barely got their difficult to pronounce first names down…never mind trying to learn their last names.  I have all of my 85 students names figured out with these American students, some are from Florida, California, Texas…those are the football or basketball players.

We had a fun time decorating the Carnegie last week and it made the local newspaper the next day.  Some of the students seemed pleased that they are featured on the front page and also the group shot of them on the second page.  Well, I had to call it a service learning project, of course. You can’t have a field trip where all they do is decorate the halls of the Carnegie.  They had to learn about electricity in MN which was part of the traveling exhibit display.

I had better get to those papers, the clock is ticking and they do NOT grade themselves.

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On Being Student-Centered when giving out midterm grades

I have probably seen at least 90 of my 100 students in the last two days to discuss their midterm grades with them. As I was doing one-on-one consultations with each one explaining the grading for in-class writing, quizzes, midterm exam, self-study assignments, I had them fill out a questionnaire. My most interesting questions, to me as a student-centered teacher, was to find out the following answers to this question:

“What is your biggest struggle with writing a good, clear essay in English? In Russian? Do you have the same problems or how are they different?”

These are some answers from my masters students:

“I think I lack vocabulary in English, Russian is a difficult language and even writing in Russian is also difficult…”

“…introduction part to body, I usually do not write in Russian, but if I do, the problems are the same.”

“In English to find the right words to form an idea…In Russian to formulate sentences…the problems are almost the same.”

“There is no problem to me writing in Russian, you can see my articles on http://www.kuusiv.kz”

 “The biggest struggle in writing essay both in English and Russian is planning essay and orphgraphy.”

Vocabulary [in English] I don’t have any big struggle with writing essay in Russian.”

“Only problem is the topic of an essay…if I am not interested with it, it is very hard for me to make myself even start writing.”

“My English vocabulary is very, very poor.”

“Lack of vocabulary.”

“I don’t like writing.”

“Biggest obstacle is starting and when I start, the essay writing just flows smoothly.”

We as teachers in the Language Center use the process approach in teaching writing.  I did that same approach successfully back in the U.S. as well as Ukraine.  You need to see each students’ progress from A to Z (beginning of their choice of topic to final product of their paper).  However, one student showed me a glaring example of how to try to cheat the teacher.  I had a very stern talking to with her about how insulting it was to get an already finished paper from her ahead of the scheduled due date.  What was she thinking?  I wanted to see her summaries of two scholarly journal articles plus her working bibliography.  Instead I got a completed paper with the correct title page. I was NOT pleased!

The tipping point for me that this was either a paper she pulled off the Internet or she did this paper before or bought it from a “friend” was that she had not known how to answer a simple question, “What is an in-text citation according to APA formatting?”  She had in her paper, many examples of citations but she couldn’t answer that question in the midterm exam or when I talked to her last night.  I said that she had better get her assignments done the way *I* want them done before I turn in the midterm grades on Friday.

This morning I got an e-mailed midterm exam, late by the way, from one of my writing students who was supposed to have done a 50 minute timed writing back on October 8th.  I conferenced with him yesterday and told him that I had not received it and that I had e-mailed him back on the 8th that I had not gotten it.  No response, not until I saw what he submitted with a reworked thesis statement in the first paragraph and all the hyperlinks of what he had pulled off the Internet and was claiming as his own. 

I e-mailed this particular student that I needed to talk to him.  He will get a stern talking to also.  Obviously, he is a weak student as is the other student from my masters class.  Weak students and weak people go about cheating tactics.  I feel sorry for them but they will have to fail. 

It seems that all my other students appreciated my student-centered approach and would do better to improve their grade for the last half of the semester.  I should hope so, some are not doing their assignments while others are doing a GREAT job. 

Such is life on our campus while the autumn leaves continue to hang in there on the trees.  If this were Minnesota, they would have been long ago wind blown to the ground.  I love it here in Almaty, Kazakhstan!!!

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