Teaching

Found the keys. Still haven’t had a chance to test if they’ll work.

Still haven’t found the check.

Went to ‘s house last night. We did some planning for her birthday party; I did some correcting; and we went to bed. Quiet evening.

I’m reconsidering what I said yesterday about teaching being WORK. It’s always been work. At some level, though, the nature of the work has changed. Now I’m being the grammarian and writing tutor, jobs that I’ve always pushed at others. I assumed that practice, plus some occasional assistance, would push kids in the direction of better writing — that the tricks they learned in other classes would gradually take root with an extended diet of one-, two-, and three-page assignments. Indeed they did, but a lot of adults helped do that work.

Now I’m doing that work, and I’m having to think about my own prose writing for the first time in years, at least from a grammatical standpoint. I’m using Strunk and White’s rules from Elements of Style to teach the basics, going over one grammatical rule and one stylistic rule each day. Today we did “Put dependent clauses inside commas”, and “Work from a coherent design.”

Because I’m doing it in English classes, I’m also doing it as part of my teaching methodology in my one History class (usually it stays on the board from class to class), and so all of my classes are getting a coherent daily lesson in grammar. Will it make a difference? We’ll see.

Turnitin.com has certainly changed my grading style. I used to give a check-plus for a 100, a check-check for a 90, a check for an 80, and a check-minus for a 70. Didn’t turn anything in? You got a 0. Otherwise, your work counted as one of those four grades. It made correcting easy — make a few minor changes in red pen, assess the content, and make a few lines. Voila, a graded paper!

With Turnitin.com, I have to give a point value for a specific assignment, say 10 points, and then give a 0-10 point grade for each kid. As a result, I’m much more inclined to give a 6/10, or a 38/50. I’m still reluctant to give too many 5/10’s or below, or 30/50’s, or below, which mean that most of my grades hover in the 70s and 80s, with some 60s. However, usually by this point in the week, I have some kids who are earning 90s or higher. That’s not happening this year. Most of my grades this year are in 80s, but I think the highest grade in all three classes is a solid 87. Usually I have one 90s level student. This year, Turnitin.com has created a lot of new possibilities, and one is that a kid could genuinely fail. They could always fail before… but it was harder. Now, it’s much more possible to have a grade in the 60s or 50s. It’s interesting to see how that’s working out.

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