Thursday, January 12, 2017

50,000! (NB: Numbers no longer reliable).

Crossed the 50,000 page views mark.   Sadly, it's due mostly to a huge uptick in Russian spambot hits.  But hey, at least I'm on their radar now! 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

More on turnitin.



So this story got me thinking about turnitin again. Plus Russel Arben Fox asked me to blog about it again.  So I guess I will.


In the above linked story, a Latina student was accused of plagiarism because her instructor didn't believe she could use big, fancy words.   The instructor just knew that the student didn't write the paper.  The comments section on the facebook feed I got the story from was filled with faculty and graduate students of color, all of whom had similar stories.  It was pretty depressing.  As I've pointed out before, using turnitin for all my students helps them avoid plagiarism because I allow them to see their match scores and correct any problems.  But it helps me avoid prejudgement about my students as well.   When I use turnitin, I don't make assumptions about which students are more likely to plagiarize and which are not.  I've always tried to grade blind, which I can't do in turnitin (could you guys add that feature?), but I can at least treat all my students fairly.


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Signs of the times

I sometimes run a Civil War simulation in my US History classes.  This year APUSH got a speed version of two days.  The kids did a great job with it, but it was a close call for the Union as the Confederacy almost won.  The Confederates played offense early, invested in a navy and captured Washington DC on the second turn when the union forgot to defend it.  Lincoln escaped when the Confederacy missed a capture roll on 2d12.  However, by the fourth turn, the union was on the path to victory and the British (who entered the Pacific Northwest "to keep the peace" after the fall of DC) were evacuating Portland and heading back to Canada.   The kids chose sides and all the girls were the Union and the boys were the Confederacy.  It was a small group because many of my kids were on a trip. 

They were here* 

Follow that link.  I'll wait.

The kids who were on trips who did not participate in the simulation had to read Ari Kelman's Battle Lines on the plane, so their time was totally wasted. 


*I would have been there too had things at school broken slightly differently.  I was the next chaperone on the list. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

My students do things

Like this.  I have a small thing at the end:



Shown on Halloween at assembly. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Open House Hype: Pleased or horrified.

My school had an open house.  I worked the history room.  The following came out of my mouth:

Of course we will teach your kid how to write a good blue book essay and a decent research paper, any school that says it's doing college prep should do that.  But we also believe it's important to communicate in a wide variety of formats.  Fewer than 10 people have read my dissertation.  If I write a good tweet, 30,000 people will see it (that's my record).  

I didn't mention almost 40k page views for the blog.  I don't know whether to be pleased with myself or horrified. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Frustrations are high

From my sent email box after I got the fire plan for the University of Pennsylvania:

I DON'T WORK AT PENN.  GET ME OFF THIS FREAKING LIST!  9TH REQUEST!  I WORKED THERE THIS SUMMER  FOR THREE WEEKS.  YOU COULDN'T EVEN GET ME A WORKING CANVAS ACCOUNT FOR THE CLASS I TAUGHT OR WI-FI ACCESS.  BUT I GET THESE FREAKING EMAILS STARTING SEPTEMBER 1ST?  GIMME A BREAK!

What's your opening of school bureaucratic nightmare?

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Measurables

This showed up in my facebook message box today:

Hey Doc Sal! Your photo of your children popped up in my feed today. Can't believe how grown-up they are! Time really does fly. Happy to see that you and your family are all doing well! Made me think of you and how wonderful of a teacher you always were. Hard as hell, but so invested in each of us doing well not just in, but outside of the classroom as well. That's hard to find, so thank you for caring so much about us and our learning! Hope all is well! 
I taught this young woman a decade ago.  Other than a yearly  birthday greeting, I don't think we've had a lot of contact.  She's not a student that I've kept in close touch with. 

There's a lot of talk about measuring both teacher and student performance.  I'll take it all more seriously when the metrics (or, as the lingo has it now, "measurables") include evaluations like that.  That's the one that matters the most to me and that's why I do what I do.   I'm pretty sure there are tens of thousands of teachers that feel the same way.