Month: April 2009

The Final Paper

My students have handed in their final paper for the semester yesterday and you know what? They stink.

It’s quite upsetting since they should be improving. What is even more upsetting is that they had TWO WEEKS to complete it. It’s no different of a paper assignment in comparison to the other writing they’ve done this semester.  It’s very clear that they don’t care. The mistakes they are making are errors I’ve been commenting on all semester. These papers aren’t proofread and not well thought out.

At first, I thought I would inflate the grades. Maybe it’s me? I thought. But NO! I’m not going to compromise on my standards when I’ve seen my students write well. While it will lower the average grades for the class, I don’t want my students to get away with writing trash and be rewarded for it.

The mistakes they are making on these final papers are errors in formatting, lack of thesis, and organization, as well as an obvious neglect in proofreading. I’m sorry, but I’m frustrated.

While I still love teaching. I am convinced I have chromosome or something that makes me a teacher. I’m just wired that way. It’s just seeing college level students not give a F*&! is sad. Shouldn’t you be self motivated in college? I’m not saying, I want  my students to all strive for A’s. I know that is not going to happen because sometimes you just want to get by, but not caring when you’re going to get a D or F is ridiculous. I am tempted sometimes to tell them “you don’t deserve to be in college,” but that would be mean and the wrong thing for a teacher to say. 

I need some motivation to teach this summer. I don’t know where I’m going to get it. Do they sell motivation at Target?

Advice? Comments?



The Writing Experiment: The Results

Before I go into the results of this experiment, I would like to apologize for not writing as often as I intended. I found myself looking for excuses to not write everyday and this scared me. I don’t want to fall into a well of excuses and not be writing. It is my career choice after all. Please forgive me and thanks for continuing to stop by and read. Okay, enough of that, and on to the results.

  To review, the students were complaining about the prompt that had been assigned and so I suggested we write a prompt as a class. This excited the students and it forced them to have the reading complete in order to participate in the discussion.

I first provided them with the original prompt assigned for the reading. Then as a class we discussed what the goals were for this prompt. What major issues should the paper discuss if using this prompt, issues like ethics, social concerns, and government control (just as an example). We then took the original prompt, the goals for writing the papers, and created another prompt that encompassed the same goals. The prompt that students ended up writing was very close to the departmental prompt, but they claimed they understood it better.

Finally, they had to actually write the paper. I will admit I was quite concerned with what the outcome would be. I was so concerned I allowed the students to choose from either prompt. While the papers would undeniably be very similar as far as the big picture, letting the students decide allowed them to feel in control.

So what happened? Well, the papers were great! I was so pleasantly surprised. In the past, using the prompt style of teaching writing I found that students end up writing about the same general topics; inevitably topics discussed in class. This time, however, I read about so many different topics. I am so sure this is because in writing the prompt themselves the students were able to think of topics that they were excited about. Instead of reading 40 some odd papers about abortion and illegal immigration, I was reading about different cultures, fascinating ethical issues, technologies, and so many other unique topics. I was thrilled.

While I’ll be teaching again this summer and next fall, I will not be using the department’s reading choices and prompts, instead, I’m choosing to write my own prompts, and decide on whatever readings I please. I still think I will allow the students to attempt writing the prompt again. This will not only provide them with a better understanding of the reading but it will also provide me with more prompts to use in the future.

I would love to hear some feedback on what you think about this experiment and if you teachers out there have done anything similar.

Sorry Sorry Sorry

Sorry I haven’t posted in forever, it’s the end of the semester and the work is piled high. I promise to get back on track soon. The update for the writing experiment is coming soon.