talkstowolves: Writer by heart, English teacher by trade.  (bad grammar makes me sic)
I've been meaning to share this with you: it's a list of the classes I'm potentially offering for the summer term at my high school. Which classes actually make will depend on student interest. I know the class descriptions aren't very detailed, but they were only meant to be quick blurbs to attract parent interest.

List of Potential Classes
Summer 2008


ENGLISH
Literature Through Comic Books – While studying the comic book medium, students will learn literary devices and writing skills. They will also discover how today's graphic novels aren't simply “funny books” but are, in fact, accomplishing serious feats of literature.
Young Adult Literature – Students will learn literary devices and writing skills while studying one of the most exciting genres in publishing today. Their studies will focus on classic and contemporary fiction and nonfiction directed at young adults.
Grammar – Students will learn the basic rules of the English language and be introduced to beginner writing skills.
Creative Writing – Students will learn about a variety of creative writing endeavors: genre writing (fiction, nonfiction, fantasy, mystery, etc.), poetry, plays, memoirs, etc. They will have a chance to practice these skills in a safe and supportive atmosphere. No previous writing skills necessary!
Fairy Tales & Folklore – Students will learn about a variety of fairy tale motifs as well as specific stories from around the world. They will discover how fairy tales were shaped by culture and also influenced culture, and how they are still relevant today.

SOCIAL STUDIES
Cultural Studies: Summer Traditions – Students will learn about a variety of cultural customs focused on summer from all around the globe, from the 4th of July in America to the Tanabata Matsuri (Star Festival) in Japan. Students will also help make these traditions come to life!
Psychology – Students will learn the basics of modern psychological study as well as the history of the discipline.

SCIENCE
Astronomy – The students will see stars! Literally. They will learn the basics of the study of our galaxy and beyond, including planets, stars, suns, black holes, etc.
Meteorology – Rain, rain, go away- come back another day! Students will learn why this little chant doesn't work in this class covering our planet's atmosphere and weather patterns.
Anatomy & Physiology – Students will learn the basics of the composition of the human body, including the structure of the skeleton, musculature, etc.

ELECTIVES
Film Studies – Students will learn about the history of film and watch some of the finest films in existence. They will also learn how to write about film.

TUTORING
The following classes DO NOT count for credits toward graduation. However, if there is enough of a demand in the student body, they may be held during regular school hours. If not, this may be an after-school class and, as such, eligible for a one-on-one arrangement.
ACT Preparation: English – Using an approved study guide, the student(s) and teacher will prepare for the English and Reading portions of the ACT. If there is enough demand, this course will also cover the optional Writing section of the ACT.
Writing & Composition – This course is specifically designed to improve a student's essay-writing skills. Therefore, basic skills in grammar will be a prerequisite. The teacher will assign a number of essays and work with the student to complete them, going through several drafts and correction sessions until an excellent final draft is reached.
ACT Preparation: Science – Using an approved study guide, the student(s) and teacher will prepare for the Science portion of the ACT.
talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (Default)
My students have all been poopy-mouths this morning, which has been most irritating in an amusing fashion. They insisted that cursing is too much a part of their language for them to ever turn it off. I told them that was poppycock. If I can turn it off for school-- let me just say here that my first word was "shit" and I have difficulty going any length of time in everyday conversation without some casual profanity-- then they surely can as well. They comforted themselves by saying they'd only have to watch their language this year (the seniors), because college professors don't care. I tried to explain something about polite society and having the courtesy not to use profanity recklessly around people who don't, but they didn't care about that. ::shakes her head::

Many of the kids around here have been sick for the past couple of weeks: crap-in-the-lungs sick, with lots of chunky wet coughs. I have been bravely sticking to the belief that it just wasn't going to get me. So I am bravely trying to ignore the fact that today my lungs feel heavier and I've started coughing (just a tiny bit, really, and it's dry so far!). However, I am also intelligent, so I will be climbing back into bed when I get home for a nap and some warmth. And picking up some of the old UltraVitamin C.

I can feel what little energy I had just draining away as I wait for Southern Literature to begin. By the time my class starts, I may not have the strength to wrestle them into discussing Their Eyes Were Watching God. Maybe I'll have us do a read-and-discuss: read passages from the book aloud and just see where they take us. I love this novel ever so much, so that could be quite soothing.
talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (Default)
There are Christian magazines here in the bathroom at school.

Every time I go in there, I glance at the first one and swear I read:

NEW COLUMN
Medea and the Christian Family
*

And then I get sidetracked wondering exactly what such a column would say...

*It actually says "Media and the Christian Family."
talkstowolves: Writer by heart, English teacher by trade.  (bad grammar makes me sic)
Today had the unpleasant quality of feeling like a brick wall that I had just run into. Repeatedly.

On Tuesday, I gave my World Lit kids some easy homework. I really do not subscribe to the practice of giving homework just to give homework, but I wanted to get them back into the mode of actually doing homework and hopefully expand their horizons a bit. So I asked them to research some non-American winter holiday traditions and write me a short essay reporting on their findings.

No one did it. One student said he couldn't find anything because when he typed his search into Google, it kept giving him American traditions. Another student claimed he didn't know they had to write anything. I know this is not the case considering I wrote the assignment on the board, talked about why we were doing it, and then explained how much their grade would decrease with each day the assignment was late.

This was not a very heartening way to start the semester.

They went on to be incredibly unimpressed by the Epic of Gilgamesh and unable to understand where Sumer was located.

My composition class was surprisingly better today (sadly due to the absence of a couple of individuals). They took notes and did as I asked them, although it's still going to be a major uphill battle. (An example of what I am dealing with: "What are the building blocks of sentences?" "Paragraphs?" "Of sentences? What are the pieces that make up a sentence?" "Uh... subjects?" "A little closer, but not quite. What are the things that are coming out of my mouth...?" "... ... words?" "Yes, words are the building blocks of sentences!") We managed to go over the basic structure of a paragraph and types of paragraphs and their positions in the basic 5-paragraph essay. Then we started practicing writing introductory paragraphs, though I think I might scale that back to just working on paragraphs in general next week.

In my free period, I managed to get all my grades submitted. I was even extra nice and prepared them in a document indicating the relevant semester average and credits each student received. That should make the office lady's job easier, later, when she actually has to prepare transcripts.

I did not, however, manage to put the finishing touches on any of my job applications during my free period. I was having a real problem with my blood sugar and my hydration today, so my mind was twitchy and scattered.

Only half my class showed up for Southern Literature. Again. Only a third of Andy's Government class showed up. The weather was worsening this afternoon and several counties had let their schools out early, but that didn't touch Montgomery county. It wasn't even raining when school let out (at it's normal time). I suspect that might have had some bearing on why our students didn't show up, though. Regardless, I still got my students through an introduction to Southern literature and started them on Twain's "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County." They had difficulty reading the Southern dialect and didn't twig as quickly as I expected they would to the fact that you can read it aloud and figure it out. "Ms. B, what does 'solitry' mean?" I waited, sure she was going to get it now that she read it aloud. "Ms. B, what does soli..." "Solitry. Solitary." "Oh... oh!" I figured she had it then. But she repeated it with "calk'lated" later.

I had originally intended to submit applications after school today. Instead, we had lunch with my brother. Then we beat the weather home. And I worked desultorily on one grad application while attempting to stave off a bad headache, etc.

I am tired of this post now and I am sure most others are as well! I will close with my sadly low wordcount and take myself off to more water (hydration!) and reading.

Today's Goal: 750 words, and still owing 961 due to previous shortages.
Goal met? No. 272 words were written, leaving me owing 478 for a total of 1439.
Reason for stopping: I feel unwell and just don't have much in me.

Project: Short story, title of "Green Dream."
Status of project: Carin on transport down to Dunwain, sleep-deprived and awash in despair and delirium.
talkstowolves: We love stories that subvert the expected. Icon inspired by In the Night Garden, Valente. (not that kind of story)
In Current Events today, one of the young black gentlemen we teach complained that the news is boring. During the course of trying to inspire him differently, I inquired about his age-- he's 17 and will be 18 in May.

"Then you should be interested in the campaigning-- you'll be able to vote in the upcoming presidential election!" crowed I, feeling that I had trumped some of his arguments on why he shouldn't pursue the news.

"Uh-uh. I am never going to vote. I don't care about that stuff."

"But you should care about the person who is chosen to be the next leader of your country-- that person will be making decisions that could affect your life."

"No, not really."

"... Aren't you in [Andy's] Government class?"

"Oh, he is," Andy chimed in.

The student shrugged at me. I stared at him. After a second, I ventured, "You will have no right to complain about how your country is run if you don't vote."*

"I don't. I really don't care about any of that. It doesn't bother me."

"Well thank God you didn't live 50 or 60 years ago."**

The saddest thing about the above exchange is that I am 99% positive that he didn't understand what I meant by my last statement. I'm not even sure the smartest girl in the class got it. And that really bothers me, in that the Civil Rights movement of the 50's and 60's is so recent as to be still on the back porch of today's society, yet none of my students seem to know anything about it or to care about it. (I know the 15th Amendment was ratified in 1870, but there were plenty of ways African Americans were prevented from voting in the near-century that followed.)

When I was in school, every year I would be irritated about February being Black History Month. I only verbalized my dissatisfaction once because I was afraid of somehow being labeled racist in daring to protest the institution. What I felt was this: every minority should have its own special educational month and, ideally, no one would have a special month because everyone would be learned about equally, always. So I stewed over the presence of Black History Month and the lack of Native American History Month and Chinese American History Month and so on until I realized that at least Black History Month was a step in the right direction: it may be unfair that the others didn't have one, but at least there was an attempt to open up education. (Although I still think that we shouldn't settle for having one month out of the year dedicated to educating students about one minority and should instead integrate full and open information about all peoples in all curricula. I will fight for that one the rest of my days.)

Last year, however, I fully embraced the convention of Black History Month. Why? Because nearly none of my students had any education regarding the Civil Rights movement... when the history literally surrounds us here in Montgomery, Alabama. The church that Martin Luther King Jr. preached at is literally less than ten minutes away. The bus stop where Rosa Parks boarded a bus and refused to relinquish her seat at, subsequently starting the Bus Boycott, is about the same distance. The Selma-to-Montgomery marches concluded in, surprise, Montgomery. And on.

I am passionate about literature and history: understanding where we come from is important to me. I celebrate the past triumphs of my family and ancestors, as well as feel sorrow for past transgressions. I feel that those who came before me are due respect for the sacrifices they made and the successes they achieved.

I have never lived in a mental world where all my fellow humans did not deserve the same rights and respect that I deserve. I don't care if you're male or female, homosexual or heterosexual (& etc.), black or white (or Asian or Native & etc.)... we all are the same, owed the same respect, owed the same civil rights, and beholden to show the same to our fellows.

And with these beliefs of mine, it absolutely boggles my mind that my students have no clear idea of what went down a mere four or five decades ago. It boggles my mind that my students aren't proud of that generation: that they couldn't care less about Martin Luther King Jr. or Rosa Parks or E.D. Nixon or A. Philip Randolph or John Lewis or etc. I am proud of that generation. I think what they did was awesome.

I'm going to try my best to make sure my students do too.

* "You have no right to complain if you don't vote" isn't wholly representative of my thoughts on the subject. For example, if you consciously choose not to vote because you can't, in good conscience, give your vote to either candidate: that is a decision. You can complain about the state of the country after that. If, however, you don't vote because you simply can't be bothered to care, you lose a lot of credit with me.

** That should have been "40 to 50 years or so" but I was speaking off the cuff.
talkstowolves: Books + tea, books + coffee, either way = bliss.  (reading is a simple pleasure)
It is my bedtime! Time to lay down and finish reading George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin and get some sleep to face the cretins lovely schoolchildren on the morrow.

We finished the day at school looking not quite so grim on the enrollment front. And Andy and I have reached an accord on what we need to do regarding this school-mess, so I'm currently back in the find-a-replacement-second-job mode now rather than the argh-quit-now-find-new-primary-immediately! mode. Not that understanding what we're doing and why makes me any more enthusiastic about my current responsibilities.

I have decided that, novel-wise, the children get to read the following this semester:

Southern Literature
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

World Literature
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

Luckily, I've taught three of those books before and so should be able to use most of the activities, quizzes, and exams that I created for them last year.

Hm, I also need a book for my Writing & Composition class, however. I need something that'll be relatively easy for them to understand but also chock-full of material good for teaching literary terms. [livejournal.com profile] lapsus_lingue, [livejournal.com profile] hrimcealde, any ideas? Right now, I'm considering an Edgar Allen Poe anthology.

I created my first experimental (for me) dish of the new year: a beef and broccoli stir-fry incorporating baby corn and shimeji mushrooms. All the ingredients turned out marvelously, of great flavor, especially when seasoned by soy sauce; however, the meat itself turned out dry. I'm going to have to figure out some way to prevent that next time. (Less cook time? The meat was pretty much done when I added all the vegetables.)

I know this is elementary cooking: but everyone must start somewhere!


And, finally, in writing news:

I managed to make word count tonight and even take almost 100 words off my owed wordcount. I'm calling this good enough for now-- especially since I was only allowing myself to work until bedtime. A few surprising things happened in the story and I named my pirate (space)ship!

Today's Goal: 750 words, owing 1124 words for previous shortages.
Goal met? Met at 846 words, leaving me owing 1028 words.
Reason for stopping: Bedtime!

Project: Short story, entitled "Green Dream."
Status of project: Carin is on the transport ship of glass and mirrors, ascending into the cold void of space to rejoin her crew aboard the Golden Bough.
talkstowolves: Writer by heart, English teacher by trade.  (bad grammar makes me sic)
Just because I know you're all dying to know how my research paper writing class turned out, in the end. Here's the tally:

Student 1: Brilliant student and the only one of two worth anything. Learned the process, practiced the process, wrote several rough drafts, worked with me to improve her drafts, turned in a complete final paper.
Topic: Racism and Social Injustice Portrayed Through Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.

Student 2: An average student, but usually committed to working really hard. Started out working thoroughly but tapered off half-way through the semester into wishy-washiness. Changed his topic three weeks before the paper was due. Still seemed to be on track to getting it done, then just turned up yesterday with nothing. Desperately typed up a page at the library and handed it in to me.
Topic: How Wilson Rawls Wove His Own Life and Experiences Into Where the Red Fern Grows.

Student 3: She was withdrawn from our school (maybe coming back?), but she didn't do much work anyway. She made it half-way through the outlining process, but kept turning in quotes-from-the-book-masquerading-as-plot-summary every time she tried to write a rough draft.
Topic: The Plight of the Black Woman as Interpreted from Alice Walker's The Color Purple.

Student 4: He could have had such an awesome paper. He was a bit lazy, but he worked with me really well up through the outline. He had such a clear and meaty outline too! He should have had no problem getting the required page count. Instead, his work ethic suddenly fizzled out and he turned up yesterday with a "No, I didn't do my paper. This is my last week at this school anyway." As if that makes this semester not count: no, sir, you're going to have to work harder in your senior year now to make up for this.
Topic: Symbolism in Edgar Allen Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death."

Student 5: This fellow fought me from day one. He chose to write his paper on The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, assuming it would be easy: and it would have been too, if he'd done even a little bit of work! Yet he didn't even finish reading the novel, much less seek out any sources. I kept meeting with him and reiterating what he needed to do, but it was like trying to drag a mule up an incline it was wholly dedicated to never setting foot on. After all this, though, he claimed he had his paper done and just "forgot it at home." This was an hour and 14 minutes before the deadline, so I told him he better start working on getting it up to the school. He left with some of the other boys in the class to "go get it," except he didn't call back up to the school until 12:36 (nearly an hour after the deadline) to say that he couldn't get a ride back up to the school. This was two hours after he'd left the school. There was no way I was softening on the deadline anyway, but he didn't really try, did he?
Topic: Christian Symbolism in C.S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Student 6: I was so excited when this student first chose his topic. He was going to do a paper using Dr. Seuss! How fresh and invigorating an intellectual exercise that would have been, both for him and me. Definitely not the usual well-trod ground of high school research papers. We worked out a smashing outline togeter-- and then he just stopped working. Going to the library was entirely too much to ask, in his opinion. I did everything I could, but he just refused to write his paper in the end. He gave me a title page and a hand-written sheet of something yesterday. Sigh.
Topic: Dr. Seuss' The Butter Battle Book and The Sneetches as Cautionary Tales.

Student 7: This student has disappeared. We haven't been able to contact him in weeks and none of the numbers we have for him are working. Awesome. Prior to disappearing, he was also dedicated to fighting me every step of the way. He chose the shortest book he could (Jack London's The Call of the Wild), didn't read it, and insisted that he'd never find time in two and a half months to go by a library for research. Apparently neither could he find the time to ever develop an actual topic. He had his mother start making excuses for him before he disappeared. And he obviously didn't turn a paper in yesterday.
Topic: ???? in Jack London's Call of the Wild.

Student 8: This is the plagiarist I posted about the other day: the one who turned up for all of five classes out of the entire semester. He was never present enough to learn the process of writing a research paper and certainly didn't grok it on his own. Meetings with his mother, with him, with him AND his mother never resulted in actual attendance or dedication to picking up the pieces of his education. He turned in a plagiarized rough draft: you all saw my comments on it. He neglected to return to school this week (big surprise, that) and turn in a final paper. Or take his tests in his other classes. Which he also never attended.
Topic: Something about love in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

Student 9: This student could only be bothered to come to classes half the time and, when he did show up, couldn't be bothered to actually keep up with his homework or attend to what was going on. The only formal work he did for me was work with me on choosing his topic and the early conceptual steps in putting together an outline. And that was where the work got too hard for him to bother with anymore. However, he did turn in a paper yesterday. Complete with screenshots from the film version of Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart." No, I don't know why he thought that was appropriate. I've only glanced at it so far, but it's all biographical information about Poe and loosely-related thoughts on "The Tell-Tale Heart." Clearly written by someone who has no idea how to write a research paper.
Topic: An Analysis of the Mad Narrator in Edgar Allen Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart."



This rate of failure makes me feel like a failure. I mean, obviously I'm doing something wrong, right? My teaching style is apparently off and I'm just not doing it right, yeah?

No. Because then I analyze myself and my teaching very carefully and very thoroughly. I often go overboard with the self-analysis, you know. And the truth is that I am NOT a bad teacher and I am NOT a failure. I bend over backwards for these kids and I spoon-feed them and I go really far in putting up with their bullshit before I snap and write snarky comments on their plagiarized rough drafts.

It doesn't matter. These kids are here because they don't care and their parents don't know what else to do with them, but at least have enough money to keep them in a school somewhere and off the streets. Which several of these kids seem to resent: they want to be on the streets. They honestly do not see why they need to have any kind of skills in researching or analytical thinking, and they laugh when I tell them they'll be doing this kind of stuff in college. ("Not at Trenholm Tech!" they crow.) And when I desperately try to appeal to them that these are skills they need in life, that the ability to find information and USE information to analyze, to deduce is vital to any kind of success in life... well, they think that's pretty funny too. Or they just stare at me with blank faces.

And it's all so very depressing.
talkstowolves: Writer by heart, English teacher by trade.  (bad grammar makes me sic)
Note: Although I haven't been chronicling my teaching very closely this semester, rest assured the issues in this post are being brought up toward the end of the semester, mere days before the research papers are due, and you may feel free to assume that all relevant skills of research, writing, and documentation have been covered in class.

After I spent several classes going over citation (both parenthetical and on the bibliography), I had a student come in this morning and start asking about footnotes.

"Can I do it like this, Ms. B?"
"Er, no. You have to do the parenthetical citation that I showed you last week. It's in your MLA handbook if you forget what we went over in class."
"Oh, well I don't know nothing about that."

Then he asks about his thesis statement. It's a character study thesis, which is more of a thesis than I expected. I tell him it's not bad and he should definitely work with it since the paper is due tomorrow.

Then I tell him that the little picture he's included of Edgar Allan Poe at the bottom of his first page, after the Introduction, isn't going to count towards his page requirement and he launches into whining about how he's supposed to get five pages out of his topic.

"If you had done the research and gotten the seven required sources, good sources, you shouldn't have much of a problem coming up with five pages."
"Seven sources? M doesn't even have seven sources! No one does! I was on the phone with him yesterday, everyone's having the same problem."
"I know everyone's having the same problem! Sadly, I know! Because no one has gotten their sources like I've told them to except one or two people."
"Well, I couldn't find seven sources on [Edgar Allan Poe] for real."
"I promise you there are seven sources on Poe. Did you go to Huntingdon or AUM, the libraries I told you to go to?"
"What? Huntingdon?!"
"Yes, AUM and Huntingdon. I told you guys to go there because they're college libraries and well-suited to this kind of research."
"What? I didn't hear that."
"I repeated it over and over. That's where you needed to go. I suppose you better get by one after school and see if you can find some more sources you can quickly incorporate into your paper. And remember to guard against plagiarism!"
"I ain't pastin' and copyin' nothing!"

This is what I am constantly dealing with. This kid didn't have half the information because he missed at least half the classes. Some of the others will pull the same shit, except they're going to have to plead deafness.

Argh.
talkstowolves: Writer by heart, English teacher by trade.  (bad grammar makes me sic)
I was just struck speechless. Now I've gotten over it and I've been yelling out variations of "For the love of Fucking Christ" for the past few minutes now.

One of the girls who landed in summer school due to plagiarism... plagiarized.

Yes, she plagiarized her definition essay.

Now, it's much better than her previous counts of plagiarism. She only copied three sentences in a two-page essay and she surrounded them with a lot of her own work. (Three sentences I can find online-- there are at least two other sentences that I suspect.)

However, she has no excuse now. NONE. She failed because of plagiarism, she's in summer school because of plagiarism, and she's been educated on plagiarism in summer school AND quizzed on it. There is no way she didn't know this was wrong and there's no way she accidentally wrote the exact same sentences that turned up on these websites.

I am beyond pissed. I am possessed of a cold fury.

She fails summer school. SHE FAILS SO HARD.

Edit: Of course, adding up her missed assignments and absences, ignoring the plagiarism, she fails summer school anyway.
talkstowolves: Writer by heart, English teacher by trade.  (bad grammar makes me sic)
This is a summer school essay turned in by one of the Little Miss Plagiarist Pants:

"I don't really no anything about the book because I don't like reading. All I no the book is all about this half wolf and half man. He met this little boy in woods. And the book was alright. It maybe very interesting because its about half wolf half man."

Yes, that's the entire thing.

I controlled myself (barely), and simply wrote:

"You could at least have read the back of the book-- or even looked up a summary on-line!"

This "essay" was about White Fang by Jack London. They had about six weeks to read it.
talkstowolves: Writer by heart, English teacher by trade.  (bad grammar makes me sic)
Today's summer school session marked the last of the grammar-oriented classes. In the last two and a half weeks, we've gone over the topics contained within Chapters 1-11 of English Grammar for Dummies. I know it sounds a bit ridiculous, a schoolteacher using that book: however, the information is organized and presented in a manner that's pretty consistently understandable by my students. Also, it was a book they could easily buy at the bookstore; I didn't really have time to order proper grammar books through my school.

However, despite my repeated warnings to my students to do their readings outside of class and review their notes, their grades have been declining. I'm getting tired of sounding like a broken record each session, telling them again and again that they must read the chapters, that I tell them which sections to focus on just in case they don't read the entire chapters, that the quizzes they're taking each session are all part of their final grade, and that they're kind of screwed if they don't pass Summer School.

One thing that continues to annoy me, no matter how many times I encounter it, is that the students won't just think. Many times, the answer to a question on their quizzes is evident if they'd just take the time to think. Today, none of them could remember what an antecedent is. So I told them that the antecedent is the word that a pronoun replaces, basically. (They were asked to identify the antecedent for the underlined pronoun.) Not one of them could identify the antecedents correctly. Yet later, when I read the question and pointed at the underlined pronoun and said, "Alright, so who is she?" a lightbulb went off over their heads.

Anyway, under the cut you can see the quizzes I've given them so far. All the material that the quizzes cover was either in their notes, in specific sections I told them to pay close attention to, or in the grey boxes that run rampant through English Grammar for Dummies.

Quizzes! Test your grammatical knowledge here! )
talkstowolves: Writer by heart, English teacher by trade.  (bad grammar makes me sic)
I was rather affronted today when someone informed me that I really shouldn't put too much work into summer school and that I was basically just babysitting the kids who were coming. I know that I'm expecting too much from them, shooting for the moon, being an optimistic young teacher, etc. etc. However, I don't think this is a bad thing. I don't think it's bad to actually care about my job and to put actual time and attention into the construction of a summer school course. I sure as hell don't think it's a bad thing to bring preparation and optimism into that classroom of kids who desperately need my help. I really don't think she should have said what she did to me: at least she could have phrased it more as advice and less as jaded "you're wasting your time and they're not worth it" shtick.

My summer school syllabus:

Summer School 2007
Syllabus


Introduction
Welcome to Ms. [Teacher]'s* Summer School course in English! Within this packet, you will find everything you need to know about the schedule we are going to follow over the next eight weeks. You will see what we are covering and when we are covering it. You will also see that it's very important for you to attend each session and to get your work done. There are no acceptable excuses here: this is your last stand.

Objectives
Upon completion of this course, you should:

Have a better grounding in English grammar.
Be aware of resources available to improve your grasp of English grammar.
Know how to write several types of essays.
Know where a library is and how to use one.
Know what plagiarism is and how to avoid it.
Understand the basics of literary analysis.
Be able to read beyond the surface of a text (i.e., critically).

Required Materials
Each student should purchase the following texts:

English Grammar for Dummies by Geraldine Woods. ($19.99)
White Fang by Jack London. ($4.95)

Each student is also required to provide some type of folder, to be brought to every class meeting. You can use a three-ring binder or a paper three-prong folder: it's up to you. However, every class hand-out (including this one) and assignment that you complete during summer school must be kept in that folder and brought to every class. You should also keep at least 30 sheets of blank paper in your folder at all times. I will be checking that you do this for every class and it will factor into your grade.

If you would like for me to purchase the books for you, please provide me with $27.44. This covers the cost of both books and the Alabama sales tax. If you also wish me to get a folder for you, please add $1.00 on top of that.

If you instead wish to purchase the books yourself, you can ask at the counter at Barnes & Noble: they are holding the books at the front under my name or the name of our school. If Barnes & Noble runs out of the books, I will reserve them at another bookstore and advise you on where to go.


Requirements
At each class, there will be a lecture. You are required to attend, pay attention, and take notes. There will be plenty of time for questions, discussions, and reviews.

Each week, you will have a quiz. Anything we have been over in class could show up on these quizzes. You must study. At the last meeting of our class, you will have a test covering everything we've learned during the course.

You are required to begin reading White Fang during the second week of classes, although we won't begin discussing it until Week 6. You will be given a certain number of pages to complete reading each week. Even though we're not discussing it at that time, there will be questions on your weekly quizzes to make sure that you're reading.

Schedule
Please note that there is a place under each session's entry in which to write your homework. I will be checking to make sure that you write down your homework assignment at the end of each class. You should make sure you keep this hand-out in the front of your folder so you can easily see what we're doing and what your homework might be.

Week 1
Topical Focus: Grammar


Session 1 Grammar Review: Introduction
Homework:

Session 2 Grammar Review: The Basics
Homework:

Week 2
Topical Focus: Grammar



Session 3 Grammar Review: The Basics (continued)
Homework:

Session 4 Grammar Review: The Basics (continued)
Homework:

Week 3
Topical Focus: Grammar
Topical Focus: Essay Writing


Session 5 Grammar Review: Study and Conclusion
Homework:

Session 6 Essay-Writing: Types of Essays, Research Methods
Homework:

Week 4
Topical Focus: Essay Writing



Session 7 Essay-Writing: Plagiarism, Outlining
Homework:

Session 8 Essay-Writing: Constructing Paragraphs, Transitions
Homework:

Week 5
Topical Focus: Essay Writing



Session 9 Essay-Writing: From Rough Draft to Final Draft
Homework:

Session 10 Essay-Writing: Review, In-Class Composition
Homework:

Week 6
Topical Focus: Literary Analysis


Session 11 Literary Analysis: Introduction
Homework:

Session 12 Literary Analysis: Terms and Examples
Homework:

Week 7
Topical Focus: Literary Analysis


Session 13 Literary Analysis: Discussion
Homework:

Session 14 Literary Analysis: Writing About Literature
Homework:

Week 8
Topical Focus: Literary Analysis
Final Examination


Session 15 Literary Analysis: Writing About Literature; Review
Homework:

Session 16 Final Examination

*I really did have a kid this year who referred to me as "Miss Teacher." Mostly, all the kids just called me "Ms. B."
talkstowolves: Writer by heart, English teacher by trade.  (bad grammar makes me sic)
I know we've been over this and over this, but I want to fully realize for you the ludicrousness of the paper Little Plagiarist Pants #2 turned in to me. And why I shake my head in disbelief that she's calling me and weeping now. Especially ironic phrases in the paper have been bolded. (All mistakes are hers unless I made a typo. But, really, all mistakes are probably hers.)

Little Miss Plagiarist Pants
English 12
May 22, 2007

Plagiarism

Plagiarism is strictly speaking or stealing someone words, ideas & creative works. After I learn that it's a crime I was told to do this paper on plagiarism. So I look on the internet if reference under Plagiarism Stopper A Teacher Guide it states that plagiarism is a rapidly growing problem in many venues today. Because it is so easy to locate information using the Internet, student have given in to the temptation to take material and use them fir their own. This needs to be addressed by all who are in the education field by teaching the observance of proper citation and copyright compliance and by making sure our students know that stealing someone else's work is wrong. This site may help you in your efforts toward these goals. Please feel free to suggest additional site or information and recommendations for redesign. I also look under OWL online writing Lab its said: Whether international or, as is more often the case, inadvertent, the results is that is that some or all of your own. It's like lip-synching to someone else's voice and accepting the applause and rewards for yourself. Incidentally, plagiarism also includes informal published material such as the re-use of the same paper for more than one course or "buying" a paper from another student. If it feels like cheating or an easy way-out, and the moral and intellectual consequences don't sound alarm bells, stop and think of the serious punitive repercussions you could incur. Because it is intellectual theft, plagiarism is considered by all post-secondary institutions as an academic crime with punishment anywhere from an F on that particular paper to dismissal from the course to expulsion from the college or university. If that scares you, it shouldn't because there is no reason it has to happen to you. Avoid plagiarism by following and understanding standard documentation formats, learning how to note-take effectively, and properly incorporating sources direct quotations or paraphrases within your own insights so that it is clear where and supplement your own discussion. Your research paper won't be some cheap throw-together of unoriginal thoughts. You suppose to rewrite in your own words a least if you get a reference from the internet. I under MLA-Style its said: The penalty for plagiarism is usually the teachers teaching or the course involving. Some of high schools and colleges failure the paper and you fail the course and you get expulsion from school. The rules about plagiarism is really no excuse, and its really bad violation.
Plagiarism is not violation but it also violate the ethics. Students who plagiarize have cheated themselves out high school will be response for their academic achievement in life. Instructors and teachers aware students about plagiarism. Its important to recognize this definition is very important. Plagiarism has been around for many years, the invention of the internet has made for plagiarism even more of a challenge @ Plagiarism.org. 90 percent of student made plagiarizing on all their written assignments and they use the internet has made plagiarism most on the course they have taken. I also discussed @ plagiarism.org, its said: Plagiarism known as a dishonesty in colleges. Students were getting expulsion, and once you get expel from college you will not be able attend to another college as was said at the school by the principal. Some schools expect the fact you copy and paste someone's information that they wrote. English teachers give us a website page to look up the summary or information about the work. A major concern was the key to avoid plagiarizing people's information. Plagiarism prevention issues of immense sensitivity and importance to people in all areas of education. They are also of great concernto middle and high school teachers and administrators, and faculty and administrators in colleges and universities. Librarians have also embraced the issue of plagiarism and realized the importance of linking it to the proper documentation of sources to teach users about the importance of knowing about fair use, plagiarism, and documentation. Plagiarism is also moral. The resource from internet is to educate students on different information on what they looking for. Plagiarizing by copying and paste information on paper could get you in a lot of trouble. College the professors detect plagiarism and if it was problem they had it under control. One way a student can plagiarize is to copy something directly from another persons work. A sutdent might also say something and assume that it is not plagiarizing. It is plagiarism if only small changes were made to the source copy and the students work. Another way that students plagiarize is to put together different pieces of work turn it in as their final piece of work. The pressure the students have to deal with by doing research papers and Essays they use the information from the internet. High school students when they were told do assignment in class dealing with internet using they plagiarized they information on poster board or book report way. There many problems in colleges & high school dealing with plagiarizing information, some teachers & professors plagiarized false documents. Personally I never a teacher talk about Plagiarism I in school until I came here, because English 12 we copy and paste information and present the information in front of the class. I think plagiarism should be blame on students who never no plagiarism. Some students don't know when they plagiarism, because you can change of up the information or you can use a paragraph and then you can use your own information. Students who do not understand the meaning up plagiarism they should get a clearing understanding of the copying someone's work or the use of your working.


There you have the two glorious typed pages of her punishment report explaining what plagiarism is, how to avoid it, why it's bad, and why she'll never do it again. Remember that the report was supposed to be four pages long: when I talked to her on the phone yesterday, she sobbed that she had turned in four pages and the evil Office Lady had lost them. Considering the second page ends more than a finger's length above the bottom of the page, however, I seriously doubt that allegation.

I suppose I could give her a few points for trying (kinda. sorta) to parenthetically cite her sources. Except, if she'd actually READ what she was copy-pasting and butcheringre-typing, she might have learned that what she did still counts as plagiarism. Also, what she did barely counts as being written in the English language at some points. (Notice there are no paragraphs in her paper. She says that she was never taught how to make paragraphs in public school.)

Below the cut, you will find my notes searching out her sources. I got a bit lazy toward the latter half of her paper, when the sentences became so incoherent that I had trouble pulling useful search phrases out of them.

My notes on her sources... )
talkstowolves: Writer by heart, English teacher by trade.  (bad grammar makes me sic)
Having only five hours of sleep and dealing with naughty kids all morning is definitely not the best frame of mind within which to find out I may not be paid this week.

Also, Little Plagiarist-Pants #2 came in today and dropped off her punishment plagiarism assignment. It was two days late, so it's obviously not acceptable. However, let me note two other reasons that it is obviously NOT ACCEPTABLE:

1. It was only two pages and lacked a bibliography. (Please recall the punishment paper was to be eight pages in length and include a bibliography.)

2. It's copy-pasted from various Internet sites so badly that she actually has the following sentence in the middle of the paper:

"If you have any suggestions on how we can improve our website or its content, please send us an e-mail."*

*Or something to that effect: I can't quite recall the specific line and I'm too tired to walk out to my car and get it out of my bag.
talkstowolves: Writer by heart, English teacher by trade.  (bad grammar makes me sic)
Instead of immediately failing my two seniors who plagiarized their prose essays, I allowed my boss to talk me into giving them a punishment assignment instead. They were to write an eight-page paper that fulfilled the following requirements:

-defined plagiarism,
-explained how it happened,
-explained why it's bad,
-explained how to avoid it,
-delivered a personal declaration involving how the student would never plagiarize again,
-included a bibliography.

One student called today, 46 minutes before it was due, and asked for an extension. She said she couldn't get a ride up to the school. I told her that she'd had four days to get it up to the school and had no excuse. Especially since we have a mail slot.

The other student delivered her paper in person before the deadline. I started looking over it after she left and a stone began to fill in my belly. After staying up an hour past my imposed bedtime, I find that stone has been justified.

She plagiarized her punishment paper.

95% of it is just copied, word for word, from the various websites she listed on her bibliography. Yes, she provided a bibliography. However, she didn't put any of these things into her own words. She also didn't cite any of her uses in the text of her paper.

I am absolutely livid. Honestly, do I look stupid? Did she honestly think I wouldn't check her plagiarism punishment paper for plagiarism? Did she think I really wouldn't fail her this late in the game? Does she think I care whether she has to go to summer school when she's supposed to have graduated?

(And to think I almost just tiredly decided not to check it in the interest of going to bed. At least there was my conscience and Andy to prevent me from just going to sleep.)

I briefly had this very entertaining fantasy because of something Douglas said: I would let her get as far as walking up the aisle at graduation, all resplendent in her cap and gown. Then, I'd step forward, meeting her half-way up the aisle. In my hand, I would grasp the Monopoly card that proclaims "DO NOT PASS GO. DO NOT COLLECT 200 DOLLARS." I would press this into her hand, with a shit-eating grin, then rip off her cap and send her bawling back to her seat.

I'm not that mean-spirited, honestly. I'm just tired and frustrated. EXCEEDINGLY FRUSTRATED WITH THIS PLAGIARISM BUSINESS.

At least she made her paper a study in irony. In and around the plagiarism, she has such golden phrases as:

"I personally think a way to avoid plagiarism is using your own information, sources, and ideas. Also by not using word for word from someone else's information."

and

"In the past, I have found myself hesitating when making a promise, but today without a shadow of a doubt, I can say that I will never consider plagiarizing again. I myself am a Christian and with me giving my life to Christ, I took on the responsibility of not only reading but living what the Bible says. Exodus 20 clearly states from one of the Ten Commandments 'Thou shalt not steal.'"

This chick's nickname has just become Takes Moron Pills. I wonder if I'll see her in summer school. It might be best for her if she went elsewhere considering how hard on her I'll be.
talkstowolves: Writer by heart, English teacher by trade.  (bad grammar makes me sic)
There are only two weeks left of school here at the Crossroads. As such, I'm struggling to find things to fill my students' time. It's not that I don't still have a lot to teach them: I do. Oh, I do. It's more a matter of what's worth getting into this late in the game.

My seniors, for some reason unfathomable by mere teachers, are being allowed out a week early. They don't deserve such a break, but whatever. With their remaining week, I think I'll be giving them some parting tips on essay-writing and a lecture on how to take notes. If any of them actually make it into college, they're desperately going to need such a tutorial.

My eleventh graders are taking their tests on The Things They Carried on Tuesday. I think, after that, I'm going to assign a couple of short stories for discussion. They can ride out the last couple of days with surprise extra credit activities. The same goes for my tenth graders, except their focus will be on world literature rather than American literature. (And, of course, their test is on The Alchemist.)

My ninth graders get to write one last essay, though I've yet to decide the type. They also have a vocabulary test (maybe two!) to finish up. I really should devise some method with which they can earn extra credit as well. Hm.

Speaking of essays, my seniors turned in their crop of prose essays on Thursday. I just finished grading them tonight. Here's the list of stories they had to read:

"The Masque of the Red Death" by Edgar Allen Poe
"The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allen Poe
"The Lesson" by Toni Cade Bambara
"The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
"Videotape" by Don DeLillo
"Balthazar's Marvelous Afternoon" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
"Indian Education" by Sherman Alexie
"The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" by Ursula K. LeGuin
"The Mark on the Wall" by Virginia Woolf
"A Modest Proposal" by Jonathan Swift

I wanted to see how much they'd learned over the year, in regards to critical analysis and essay-writing. So I didn't give them any structured guidance on this essay. I simply gave each of them a story and requested they write an essay analyzing the story. Of course, I made myself available for any questions they might have. They didn't really have many questions. They had a week to work on their essays, including some in-class writing time.

The essays were, of course, disappointing: so much dull, uninspired, and flat misunderstandings of the texts. But none were as disappointing as that of one of the newer girls, a thoughtful and quiet student whom I thought had the best chance of understanding the assignment and succeeding with her prose piece: "A Modest Proposal" by Jonathan Swift.

Please find the text of her essay enclosed beneath the cut:

An essay concerning 'A Modest Proposal' by Jonathan Swift... )

For the students in my class, the above essay sounds bloody brilliant. Too bad I immediately knew it wasn't her work and found it via Google but a quick search later (it's down there, trust me). Discovering this particular girl had plagiarized was quite a bitter pill to swallow.

Another girl did it as well on her essay about "The Yellow Wallpaper." She copied from two different sites, though. She also tried to cover it up, albeit unsuccessfully. You see, her method of covering it up was to splinter the sentences, leaving out some words and joining together odd phrases. This rendered the latter half of her essay completely nonsensical. Really. For example:

"She feels her activity, freedom, and interesting of working and would help condition and reveals. Her description is mostly positive but disturbing elements such as rings and things but her bedroom walls are the bars on the windows.

The first few weeks of the summer pass, the author describe good & bad things about her & john She continues to long fore more stimulating of the company and her activities"

All lack of punctuation and the like are the student's. This brings the total counts of plagiarism for the year up to 6. And not one of them has gotten away with it. Honestly, when will they learn? How do they honestly think they're going to get away with this nonsense?

In addition to all of this, I have one student who's completely spazzing out on me. He hasn't bothered to do any of his work this quarter, so he's trying to catch up on all of it within the last two weeks. Unfortunately, his work suffers from a serious lack of quality or understanding.

Behold his essay analyzing Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery"... actually, you know what, you might want to make yourself a drink first. I'll wait. You should possibly take a couple of painkillers. Just enough to dull the pain that will shortly begin throbbing behind your eyes. Got all that done? Good. Here you go:

The Lottery


A story about Shirley Jackson. This lottery was published in June 28, 1948 and issue in New York.

The lottery was mainly about Shirley Jackson and her family and Tessie her husband.

The lottery's democratic illusion is an ideological effect that prevent the villagers from crticizing the class structure of their society. The lottery also reinforces a village work ethio with distracts the villagers.

Shirley Jackson and her family went on to the lottery and didn't have to much fun there, so they were play and how the game go there is whoever get the black ball has to be stoned so therefore her husband had got the black stone and Shirley thought they tried to give him to black stone so she was made.

Shirley was very angry and she wanted them to do it over again so they did it over again and she had ended up with the Black then so she was stoned by the crowd and her family.

End "essay."

Yeah. He's not passing. Which is too bad, considering he apparently has some sport scholarship waiting on him that depends on him having good grades. My boss told me we really needed to make a push this quarter and try to get him the grades he needs to get his scholarship, but he's obviously not making an effort in my class. I've given him enough of a break by not penalizing him for turning in late work.

Also, yes, he blatantly plagiarized there in the middle from the essay I let them read in class. At least he had the sense to quit that rather quickly.

Wearisome! Wearisome.
talkstowolves: Writer by heart, English teacher by trade.  (bad grammar makes me sic)
I have this little punk-ass kid in my 9th grade class who is made up of about 95% attitude along with 5 % hot air. He persists in speaking ghetto-English, even when I've admonished them several times about speaking proper English (i.e. grammatically correct, as they would write, not colloquial) in my class.

To combat this, I simply ignore him when he asks me questions incorrectly. This means that every day we go through the same ritual:

Punk-Ass: "Ms. B: what time it is?"
Me: *pretends no one spoke*
Punk-Ass: "MS. B! What time it is?!"
Me: *looks at him pointedly, says nothing*
Punk-Ass: "What?! What time it is?"
Me: *continues on with the lesson*

The other students always get exasperated with him, asking him to say "What time is it?" but he never does. So they eventually find out the time from another classmate to shut him up.

Yesterday was a bad day for him. He'd been suspended and then gotten into arguments with teachers who were threatening to suspend him again. He was just exhausted and not in the mood to be his usual punk-ass self. In this atmosphere, the following exchange took place:

Punk-Ass: "Ms. B? What time is it?"
Me: *looked up, with dawning surprise and glee* "It's 11:16," I stated, slowly and clearly.
Punk-Ass: "Oh, okay."
Me: "Class. I want everyone to notice that [Punk-Ass] just asked me what time it is by saying, 'What time is it?'"

Everyone was shocked and Punk-Ass started trying to back-pedal. Another student raised his hands to clap.

Me: "That's right, everyone! Give [Punk-Ass] a big round of applause!"

And we all applauded him. He hated that, but he bore it with surprising good nature. It cheered me immensely.

* * *


Yesterday, a student that shall be known as Self-Important-Twerp-Gangsta-Wannabe-Thief-Rich-Boy (or SITGWTRB for short), tried to tell me that one of my better students was absent because she had an interview at Hooters.

I couldn't believe this was actually true. First off, the student in question wouldn't miss school for that. Secondly, does Hooters even hire under-aged girls? I mean, that just seems wrong to me. They advertise the attraction of their girls as part of the biz, and I just can't see the company encouraging the ogling of jailbait. And, thirdly, I had to consider the source: this was SITGWTRB talking.

Anyway, my thoughts were mixed. It's not that I go to Hooters that often or think the food is spectacular, but knowing one of my high school students worked there would definitely ensure that I never went. I shared this opinion with Andy.

This morning, the student in question broke out of her first period class to run and find me. She wanted me to know, immediately, that she absolutely had not interviewed at Hooters yesterday. I laughed and told her I really didn't think that was the case. Privately, I was relieved.

* * *


Silent Slim is tall, dark, and as you may have guessed: silent. I don't think he likes me very much. I know he doesn't like or respect my class. He hasn't put an iota of effort toward doing any decent amount of work this semester: in fact, he seems to be trying very hard to fail.

He's the student who, according to his mother, actually wrote his research paper... and then turned in someone else's with his name on top. When the student who did actually write the paper had me help him with his revisions the day before, and turned in his own paper.

He got a talking to last Thursday from our administrator. She told him that he really needed to put some work in this last quarter so that he wouldn't fail. He missed about three-four weeks at the beginning (not sure why), so I've been exceedingly nice and agreed to let him make up all his quizzes without penalty. He agreed with the principle and me that he would do his required readings over the weekend and be ready to make up his quizzes this week.

On Tuesday, I asked him what he'd read. He had read the last three stories in The Things They Carried. I reminded him that he needed to read the entire book. He acted surprised. I told him he could take the quizzes tomorrow, but he really needed to read tonight. He said he would.

Wednesday, he hadn't done any more reading. I was impatient and still trying to work with him, so I let it slide. I told him that Thursday was the absolute last day he could take the quizzes as their test is on Tuesday. I insisted that he do his readings.

Today, he walked into my classroom (late, as usual, because he always has to be chased into my class). I held out the quizzes to him in a sheaf. He turned around and walked out of my room. Without a word. A moment later, I heard him complaining to the office lady that I was asking him to do work for which he was unprepared. She ordered him back into my class, telling him that it was better to try than not to do anything at all.

He took my quizzes. He went to his seat at the back of the class, dropped the quizzes onto the floor, and proceeded to settle into a snooze.

I held my tongue. I waited as two other students took make-up quizzes. Ten minutes passed. I finally called out to him, "[Silent Slim]." No response. "[Silent Slim!]" He stirred. "You either need to work on those quizzes or turn them in."

He muttered something. "I can't hear you, [Silent Slim]. Either turn in your quizzes or actually try to take them."

He grabbed them off the floor and shoved them across the table at another student. They flew everywhere, so that the other student had to gather them up and bring them to me. He was too kind.

Silent Slim hadn't written anything on the quizzes. My red 0's were very angry looking as I scrawled them out.




Coming Soon:
Students enrage English teacher to the point that she casts down her textbook upon the table with a mighty crash!

Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" about Shirley and her husband, Tessie! Lottery decided by a game involving a black ball, wherein the ball morphs into a stone!

Student asks to leave because "nothing's going on" when there are two more classes to go! Student claims "everyone else is leaving"!
talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (Default)
These are next year's class proposals, in incredibly brief form. Yes, I'm now potentially branching into science. It's likely for the best. I would have turned these into college-like blurbs, but I had to keep the language relatively simple for the high school students and their parents. Trust me.

Incredibly short class descriptions behind the cut... )


Yes, I know that I've listed 16 classes. At the most, I'll be teaching 8. I listed double that in the hopes that I'll actually manage to get 8 of those made. Because, if I don't, I don't get full pay. Yeah.

I'm not qualified to teach some of those courses, either. Well... not on a college level. I can teach them on a high school level, as many of those are really just varations on the high school English theme, with different specific focuses.

I'm turning in this proposal tomorrow, along with a proposal for some Adult Continuing Education Classes and some thoughts on what I can do for summer school. Wish me luck.
talkstowolves: Writer by heart, English teacher by trade.  (bad grammar makes me sic)
I had two new reviews published in the latest edition of Green Man Review. If you're interested in reading fairy tales and folktales, check out my thoughts on these two collections:

Tales of the Golden Corpse: Tibetan Folk Tales, as retold by Sandra Benson. (This review won an Excellence in Writing Award. Nice.)
Hildur, Queen of the Elves and Other Icelandic Legends by J.M. Bedell.

* * *


When I was absent this past Wednesday, I left my seniors a story to read: "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings: A Tale for Children" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I wanted to give them something rich enough to chew on, and this bit of magical realism by Marquez definitely fits that bill. I also thought it should be simple enough for them to understand without me being there to explain it to them. After all, it is a story found in my 10th graders' literature book.

Let me belabor this "picking a simple story for them" point a bit more. Originally, I wanted to assign them "A Rose for Emily" by Faulkner. I changed my mind on that one, thinking about giving them "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" by Ursula K. Le Guin instead. Unfortunately, that story would have been too long for them to get through in a 45 minute class (since I wanted them to answer comp. questions on whatever they read as well). Then I considered "The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allen Poe. For that one, I even went so far as to copy it into a document and start proofreading it. I also kept a running tally on the words I thought I'd need to define for them in order to understand the story. When my count reached something around twenty, I glumly concluded there was no way they'd understand this story (likely even with input from me) and I needed to find something simpler tout suite. Thus, Marquez's "A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings."

Well. Andy watched my class for me, and reported back that some of them complained quite volubly about my assignment. And then, when they were doing it, he was bombarded with requests to explain the story. He was also asked what "miraculous" meant and what a "moral" was so they could answer my question "What do you think the moral of the story is?" Most of them couldn't understand the story, and one couldn't even finish reading the three and a half page document.

I really wish I was kidding.

But I'm not.

* * *


I had to confront a parent about her son's plagiarism today. Here's a little background on this particular student: he's an arrogant little shit. He was expelled from our daily program because he would have been killed otherwise. Yet our boss wanted to work with his mother and so we continue to provide him with work to do at home.

On the very first day of classes, I gave all of my students a hand-out on plagiarism. I also made a binder that contained a complete explanation of what plagiarism is, as well as a guide on how to avoid it. I gave a lecture on plagiarism, how it would absolutely not be tolerated in my class, and told them where to find the materials to read up on it (i.e. on their hand-out, in the classroom, on the Internet, etc.).

This particular student liked to smirk that he could get away with plagiarism if he wanted to because he's smart. I always told him he wouldn't be able to do so, that I was one of those teachers who actually bothered to check up on that sort of thing. He always expressed surprise at this. Apparently, he finally decided to test me.

Of course, I caught his ass. He changed a few words around, but he lifted complete ideas and phrases off of at least two essays from 123HelpMe, a "free" and paid essay site. I printed out those two essays, then highlighted the bits in his paper that were plagiarized.

When I showed this to his mother, she tried to talk back to me. She told me that she didn't think that her son was aware that he couldn't do that and swore that she'd watched him write his entire paper and he'd never gone to that 123HelpMe site. I was righteous in my anger. I calmly stated the facts at first, but became more strongly insistent as she kept protesting and telling me it wasn't fair to fail his paper or fail him for the quarter due to his plagiarism.

I told her that he'd received the same information about plagiarism that everyone had. I insisted that he knew it was wrong. I showed her, explicitly, where he'd lifted phrases and sentences and ideas straight from these online essays. I told her that he may not have gotten them from that site in particular, but he surely got them from the Internet. I told her that the point was that this was not his work and that those words and ideas did not originate from his brain.

It got even worse when she asserted that I told her that her son had passed with a C the last time I saw her. She even got a report card from the office stating as much. This is absolute bullshit. I never turned in a grade for that student as: (A) I knew he was failing and (B) I didn't know if we were actually supposed to turn grades in for him like that, given his situation. I felt myself growing infuriated as she insisted that I had stood right there and told her that her son had a C and agreed with some printed report card that I never saw. All I could do was reiterate, strongly, that I had never given him a grade.

My boss is insisting that the grade may have to stand, but that I'm still free to fail him for the semester for his plagiarism. Which I most certainly will be doing.

I have told my students (and some parents) that I don't mess around with plagiarism. I really don't. It's a serious offense. Why, oh why, won't they believe me?

Counts of Plagiarism for the Year: 4
talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (Default)
Well, best start hiding your books. The Firemen are on their way:

Publisher makes lite work of the classics. For those of you who don't click on the link, allow me to say that this publisher got the brilliant idea to publish "Compact Editions" of class works such as Moby Dick, Anna Karenina, David Copperfield, etc. This means, essentially, that they're eliminating 40% of the books in order to make them more accessible.

Frankly, this is bullshit. As a writer, I am emphatically against other people deciding what does and does not belong in the final editions of my works. Note, however! I do recognize the value of editing, but not such mass butchery. If you don't want to read all of a book, skim. Don't permit someone to fix these books arbitrarily, cutting out entire subplots, chapters, etc., in the name of making something more "accessible." Some of the books on the publisher's list aren't even that complicated or inaccessible in the first place!

Argh. And no, I don't agree with abridged versions either.

Link found via this post on [livejournal.com profile] pegkerr's livejournal.


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My best friend ([livejournal.com profile] crowley) provided this humorous link:
How To Use Analogies and Metaphors In Your Essay and Get National Fame.

I can't even choose which one is my favorite: there are too many horrible and equally amusing ones! I would really appreciate the creativity spent in coming up with these if they were intentional. The thought that they're unintentional would almost be too much to bear if I hadn't spent the last 8 months teaching high school English.

The list, reproduced for you here... )

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