Lazy, yet somehow productive, Sunday

January 2, 2011 § 8 Comments

I love it when the New Year falls on a weekend. After having a fairly sleepy day yesterday, I used today to slowly get back into the daily grind. Robert and I have lazed around watching television, especially enjoying the first Ghostbusters movie. But while the movie was on, I was actually preparing for the beginning of classes. School starts back on January 10th, and I haven’t completed my policy statement yet. Hell, I haven’t even finished reading the texts I’ve assigned this semester. And most of the texts are completely new to me.

But! I did work on one of their first assignments that will come due at the beginning of the semester.

One of the reasons I was led to WordPress.com and away from Blogger was because of the assignment I came up with for my students. Two semesters ago, it occurred to me that I needed to teach my students better ways in which to write critically about the literature we read. (I was inspired by the numerous lectures that included the phrase “Please do not summarize the plots in your papers.”) I have previously toyed with in-class writing assignments, as well as out-of-class writing assignments. But those just never quite get to the level of critical thinking that I’m looking for. Finally, I realized that I should figure out a way to have my students communicate with each other’s critical reading responses online. Thus: blogs.

This semester will be the third semester that I’ve had my students blog for a grade. The blogs are kept private so that only a few people are allowed to read them, as long as those readers are logged in. (The readers include myself and the bloggers’ classmates.) By keeping them private, I’m able to work around FERPA requirements as well. (The other way I get around FERPA is that the blogs are essentially anonymous–only I know who is writing in which blog, and the grades are managed off-line on my computer.) FERPA has a purpose, sure, but it can be a bit of a pain in the ass to work around, especially when you have a great idea.

(Ah, for those not in education, FERPA is the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act. It essentially tells us teachers that students have a right to privacy and we cannot publicly release any information about a student. This includes grades, attendance, disabilities accommodations, etc.)

Aaanyway, so my students write critical response blogs as part of their daily grade. I decided to come to WordPress.com because I found it a great deal easier to create a network of private blogs that I could fully control. I also like WordPress.com’s interface a great deal more than Blogger’s. So far, my students seem to enjoy blogging (well, in general…of course, they complain about having to do any work whatsoever, but those are college students for you). Today I finished setting up their thirty blogs as well as the network, and I finished working on the assignment sheets.

While I was establishing my students’ future homework assignments though, Annie was having a near shit fit. We have trained her to ring a jingle bell by the back door when she needs to go potty (it keeps her from barking at us). Well, after about the sixth time Robert took her outside for absolutely no apparent reason, I decided that it was because she was bored and wanted to be outside. Unfortunately for our sweet animals, we don’t have a fenced-in backyard, so when they get restless, we have to take them out ourselves.

I leashed up Annie, Robert got Milton, and out for a walk we went! Half an hour later, our dogs were feeling just as lazy as we were. It’s amazing what a little exercise can accomplish, lol.

Tomorrow, Robert starts back to work, and I have big plans with a big stack of books. There shall be reading, researching and (w)riting. (Trying to make a “Three R’s” joke…not sure if it landed….)

Caution: future blog posts are likely to be about World Lit. II books. You’re welcome, Internet. You’re welcome.

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§ 8 Responses to Lazy, yet somehow productive, Sunday

  • AMo says:

    Good for you for getting started and yeah, a walk with the poochies on a regular basis will keep them lazy later! ha! 🙂 Glad you’re getting some work done!

  • Tori Nelson says:

    Ohhh….I’m so happy you explained what FERPA is. I kept repeating it aloud, and Tom thought I was having a seizure!
    P.S. How does one train an animal to ring a jingle-bell? I can’t even get my dog to answer to her name 😦

    • Mrs. H. says:

      Lmao! The image of you repeating, “FERPA…FERPA…” made me laugh so loud!

      Also, to train a dog to ring a jingle bell, complete the following steps:
      1. Nail jingle bell beside door.
      2. Ring jingle bell yourself while saying, “potty.”
      3. When the dog stares at you like you’re insane, encourage the dog to walk over so she can nudge it with her nose while you say “potty.” Then praise the crap out of her. But not literally…because she actually does have to potty.
      4. When that fails (because she’ll probably think you’re still insane), dangle a treat over the jingle bell until she accidentally hits it with her jaw as she goes after the treat. Repeat this until she thinks that ringing the bell will get her a cookie.

      Lol, at least, that’s how we did it. It actually took Annie five days to learn the jingle bell–I’m seriously shocked at how quickly she’s learning commands. But we had to do something because she was sitting at the back door silently, and then she’d have an accident because we didn’t realize she was back there. Of course, now she knows that ringing the bell will get her outside. And today was super gorgeous out, so all she wanted was to stand out there and sniff the cool wind. The jingle bell can be annoying at times, but I’d rather hear that than barking, honestly. Maybe one day I’ll do a post specifically about Annie’s bell! 🙂

  • I look forward to your post writerly insecurities! And I love that you teach writing. I taught composition at the University of Kentucky in my previous life–until we moved in 2009 to Vietnam and then in 2010 to Haiti. I miss it! I will subscribe here!!!!!!!!!!!! Let’s keep the conversation about writing going!

    • Mrs. H. says:

      That’s actually amazing! I’m at a fellow SEC school (although, for the sake of anonymity, I’ll leave it at that, lol). I haven’t officially taught a composition course since 2008, when I was given the reins for teaching World Literature. (Our graduate teaching program allows graduate students at a certain year to choose to teach comp or lit., and I’m a lit. girl by heart.) But, of course, we all know that you can’t be a good reader without being a practiced writer, just like you can’t be a good writer without being a practiced reader. So my literature classes are basically composition classes except we read fiction more than we read nonfiction. And thanks for the subscription–I’m honored! 🙂 Your blog is so fascinating. I agree to keep the writing conversation going–it’s extremely important, and I’m in a place where I need to be focused on writing all the time anyway, hehe.

  • […] January 19, 2011 by Mrs. H.| Leave a comment Before I begin this post, I want to remind you that you were previously warned this would […]

  • […] sleepy conversation blossomed over the next few weeks while I researched blog hosting sites, FERPA requirements, and worked on developing an actual assignment sheet. Choosing WordPress.com because of its […]

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