Home / 2007 / April

Aw man

I am finally starting to feel like I can come up for a breath of air every now and then. You know, I feel like I say this every semester, but this is the busiest semester I’ve had yet. I have had the most important, longest assignments. And I’m teaching Writing II, which means my students are writing longer papers, which means I have more to grade.

Right now, at this very moment, the things I need to accomplish will require me to wear my teacher hat. This is definitely a semester where I am letting myself and my responsibilities come before those of my students, as I did during my first semester as a teacher-student.

I’m so ready for it to be over. :'( I need a break!

Quotes to Speak for Me

The enemy is anybody who’s going to get you killed, no matter which side he’s on.
Joseph Heller, Catch 22
US novelist (1923 – 1999)

Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.
J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, 2003
British fantasy author

(Yes, the Rowling quote is a repeat. But it goes with the other one.)

The Grading will Never Stop

I normally like grading (weird, I know), but right now, I just want to use the 3-inch high stack of essays, quizzes, and grammar mid-terms to start a nice cozy fire that I can curl up in front of.

I have graded the last big essay and almost all the rough drafts from this essay (the only rough drafts I’m grading at all this semester), so now I only have left a grammar quiz and the grammar mid-term. Oh, but joy of all joys, they’re turning in another major essay today. That’s right folks, today.

The grammar stuff takes forever to grade because there are several possible answers and I don’t want to take points off if an answer is correct but not what the book gives. So I have to be extra careful. Some answers could make sense in a certain context, so I want to make sure I’m considering different contexts the student could have meant. All in all, it just takes a long time to grade.

I have actually been doing a pretty good job this week with keeping up with the grading and getting caught back up with my school work. Unfortunately, it has involved staying up until 3 or 4 almost every night, and I’m wearing thin. I will be taking a nap, at least one nap… today for sure. Then, when I get home tonight, I’ll try to spend some nice quality time with The Husband, and then sleep until I wake up. I should go to my Tone to the Max class tomorrow, but I really really need the sleep. :(

Blogging. Finally! (part 2)

Recap Part Two

Spring break was the week of March 19. We made a quick visit to Lawrence, just Sunday afternoon and early Monday afternoon, and had a great time. ;) I had just found out that I had passed comps and I wanted to celebrate! Almost the first thing we did when we got there, though, was go for a 3 mile run. The guys finished in a little over 9 minute miles, and Beth and I finished in 35’09”, which was a pretty good time for me! Then we showered (not together!) and walked downtown to a cool Indian place. I had a not-very-good martini, but since it was $6.50, I just had to finish it. Beth, James, and Rob really wanted to check out the KU basketball game, so we went to the local brewery, Free State Brewery, and on the way passed their little Moxie-like theater where we noticed a German movie, Der Leben des Anderen, would be playing in a half an hour, and we decided to go.

But first, Free State. It was moderately packed, but most of the people were standing around the bar so they could see the TV. We chose a table, and each chose a different Free State specialty beer. I also ordered a caramel butterscotch deliciousness. I don’t really remember what exactly was in it, but it was very yummy. The beers made their rounds, as each of us tried the others’ beers. After the Jayhawks won, we finished up our own beers, we paid and went to the theater. It’s a very cool little place, and since it’s directly next to Free State and an independent theater, they had Free State on tap. And I’m celebrating, right? So I ordered the one I liked the best and tried to enjoy it during the movie… but I was feeling a little tipsy. And I had to *ahem* “break the seal” (pulling out a phrase from college, there!) within the first half hour of the movie.

Despite having to leave the movie twice to use their facilities, I really enjoyed the movie. It takes place in 1985 in East Berlin (where my Robbie is from!), and follows the life of a playwrite who successfully published information about the East in the West that the East didn’t want to get out. Very good; I recommend it.

Tuesday, Sarah and I met at Churchill’s on Republic Road and did research.

Wednesday night, as soon as Rob got off work, we drove to St. Louis so he could attend a key holders’ meeting. I spent about two hours at Panera reading David Crystal’s Language and the Internet and writing little notecards, took a little break at The Container Store (my new favorite store!), then planted myself at Border’s for the afternoon doing more research. I got soooo much done! It was great. Friday, Sarah and I met at Panera and did more research. :) Crazy. I got a significant amount of research done, though, and it really helped!

Then, the Saturday of Spring Break, I ran my first race! The starting line for the half-marathon, 5k, and 1k was at a hotel by the airport. It was a great run. Sarah and I did the 5k (3.1 miles) in 33’15”, and we tied for 2nd in our age category! The weather was perfect. I really like the refreshment tent at the end of the race. You just walk up and take your pick of any delicious, carb-filled treats to rebuild your glycogen stores. It’s great. :) There are some pretty funny pics from the morning that you might enjoy.

Sunday I–you guessed it–did more research, along with a little bit of necessary class prep. With that, my spring break was over. And that is where I shall leave you this time. One week until the second degree paper is due, still glowing from running my first race…

Twin Links of the Day

Google Docs & Spreadsheets: Wow. Where do I start? Created, edit, and collaborate on documents and spreadsheets wherever you are. Whaddya need that flash drive for? So what that I forgot it. My homework, important business proposal, or to do list is on Google Docs. Your documents are wherever you are. Sweet. Totally sweet. I have some really great success stories about this program, if you ever want to hear them. Google Docs has made my life easier in so many ways.

Google Notebook: I’m not quite sure what the benefits of this are over Google Docs, but I’m keeping an open mind. I downloaded a Firefox extension that allows you to highlight any text on a Web page and store it immediately to your notebook.

Blogging. Finally! (part 1)

I’ll serialize this so you don’t have to read one really long post. :)

Recap Part One: Four weeks ago, I wrote that degree paper on subject-verb agreement. Two weeks ago, I graded the papers I’d put off from the weeks before AND studied for the comp exams. I took my test on Saturday, March 10. The questions I got were to describe and support my teaching philosophy as it relates to an ESOL classroom and linguistics as an autonomous science. Here’s how I did: the teaching philosophy question is the TESOL question I was most prepared for, while the linguistics as an autonomous science question was the linguistics question was the one I had prepared for the least!

I felt terrible about that second question. I really felt like I had not be specific enough since I was working from basically no memory of what I had in my notes. I barely remembered the name of the theorists and linguists that I needed too; I only mentioned two of them, and I think I should have noted at least three. I did not include any specific linguistic examples. I was certain that I would fail it. My answer was short also–only 3 1/2 pages.

Then, the following Wednesday, I ran into Dr. Biava in the hallway. She assured me that she had not failed any of the comps she graded. BUT, they would be read by a second reader. I was–seriously–still a little nervous, until she reminded me that we didn’t have to make an A on the essay, just at least a C. Now I finally felt better! I knew I had pulled off probably a high C to a low B!

We were supposed to have received our results by Thursday morning, but on Friday morning, I ran into the comp director in the English Department office right before my class. I didn’t say a thing to her–I knew that every student who had taken comps was probably bugging her about the results–but without being prompted, she told me that we were just waiting on one reader. One professor hadn’t evaluated the comp exams she was agreed to have finished by Thursday. Just a few minutes later, I was down in my classroom, telling my class about the upcoming assignment. The grad director walked by my class, stopped, motioned for me to come out in the hall, and whispered, “Now, you can’t tell anyone else, but… you passed your comps!” She smiled then walked away. I went back into my class and said, “That was the graduate director and she just told me that I passed my comp exams!!!” My class clapped for me, and I started crying! I felt this huge rush of relief and satisfaction, plus my entire class was cheering for me. I thanked them and tried to go on with the lesson, but I was choked up. I turned aside and tried taking a few deep breaths to stabilize my heart rate and clear my mind, but it still took me a few seconds to gather myself completely.

It felt so good to know that I had that behind me. One thing I could mark off the list of graduation requirements–shew!

Twin Links of the Day: During the last few weeks, I have come across several very interesting Web sites. Here’s the first installment of Link of the Day.

BookCrossing.com: Register your books, fix book plates in the front cover with their BookCrossing ID number (BCID), and “release” them. Leave them “in the wild” for another book lover to find, read, and journal about on BookCrossing. There’s even an option for books in your “Permanent Collection,” so that you can create a record of books that you will keep in your personal library. I’ve released five books so far without them being “caught,” but I guess it takes time.

LibraryThing.com: Catalog your library, tag your books, then see which other members have similar taste. You are allowed 200 books for free, and then you can buy a year or lifetime membership to catalog an unlimited number of books. View a tag cloud (they’re all the fad right now), author cloud, or write reviews. I’ve only listed a few books so far.

I think I might stick with BookCrossing, since there is no limit and it encourages thinning out your library to share your books with others. I like that idea. :)