Showing posts from April, 2017

Umping close calls at semester's end

Every semester there's always a few close calls.   The final grades are turned in and suddenly there appears in your office or email inbox a few students begging for just one more shot at a higher grade.  They are just a point or two shy of the promised land and they want to know if there is anything--anything at all--they can do to change the call.

You explain to them that in fairness you can't really amend the rules for one without opening that opportunity to all, which is impractical.  The semester simply has end at some point.  Besides, you say, the deadline for revisions was announced in class and on the syllabus.  (I even emailed each student with some strategic suggestions on what they might want to revise weeks ago).

For most, this response is enough.  They took their shot or made their case.  They aren't happy, but they accept it.  A few, however, want to re-litigate the grading standards or at least they want you to explain again why you gave this paper a C whe…

Outrageous as a sea, dark, wasteful, wild.

Try as I might, I've never been any good at course planning.  That's not to say I don't have a plan, because I do in an inexcusably intuitive sort of way.  What I don't have is a clean, clear course map with each activity exquisitely linked to a well-articulated objective. And for years I've felt secretly guilty about this (but apparently not guilty enough to actually change my sloppy approach to teaching).

This year, however, I decided to take myself in hand and actually do something about this scandal.  Instead of pre-planning and course mapping, I decided to just map what I did each day.  Every morning I sat down and laid out the logic of what I was going to do in class.  I wrote the objective across the top of the page and sketched out the day's activities for getting there.

The goal was to externalize my courses and unearth the subterranean logic that made them a coherent whole.  Once it was all on paper, I theorized, I would be able could look at them o…