December 21, 2009

Me, Pandora, and Eight Hundred Emails

Gifts! [Sarcasm!]

This is the time of year I am desperate to reread comfort books. Yes, comfort books. No Kindle will do. I need to hold these books and flip the pages and read non-backlit words. Books that take me somewhere else. Let me fight dragon or time travel or something.

But before I let myself sink into something delicious and finally get to shift gears and be in break mode... there is email. And a lot of it. And grades to be turned in by the 24th.

When we were deciding the Fall 2009 term schedule, I think we focused too much on earlier breaks to the detriment of the end of our term. Our exam days ended up: Thurs Dec 17th, Friday Dec 18th, SATURDAY Dec 19th, (breath, Sunday)... and Monday Dec 21st. Which brings me to one of the those weird teacher moments: Uphold the schedule and the VPAA's request that we use exam time (especially since we had snow days already and missed class time) or respond to students' issues.

[I say issues because very few were requests. A request is: "May I take the exam early"... and an issue is "My plane ticket to go home and be with my family (including the various sick members) is for 3 days before our exam." This sort of issue and other related ones generally come with a anguished, torn facial expression... the nonverbals say it all. Save me.]

If I respond to all these issues -- how many freaking exams do you have to give? And what of an honest exception when there is so much pressure to give everyone exceptions? And what does it mean when you get used to working your teachers and then you find out that employers and others don't give a rat's rump?

I'm worn down and unsure. Liable to snap. Ih-hir-hir-hir-i-tated. [Yes, Dr. Cox]

Each class worked it out together. We settled for takehomes for any tests needed and crammed presentations in early
(So long Reading Day!)

Have a Great Break! Happy Holidays! See you in 2010! But before I can get in that spirit, I have to face the 60+ assignments in my email box. Let's be realistic, 60+ emails do not scare teachers... it's something else that makes this more frightening. It is the 25%-30% of the assignments that arrive with no name in the document's file name or -better yet- not even a name on the actual assignment once I open the document.

No amount reminding students in class or having them imagine what it may be like from the teachers' or prospective employers' perspective to get multiple files titled "PSY211test" or "resume"... no amount of me writing (as part of the assignment directions) that students need to include their last name in the document's file name before they email it... none of that stopped that significant minority that continued to send back files that way. I'm probably whining... yep, AND still label your files next time!

Thank you to all the folks who got their assignments in with their names in the documents' file name, as well as in the actual document and even turned the assignments in on time! You rock!

And if you weren't one of these rock stars this term, I'm with you... and maybe we can agree to work on it again next term.

Me, Pandora (the radio one), and since I'm writing this -- I'm done for today.

Off to find a book. (Katherine Neville's The Fire)

P.S. I'm still puzzling over why given the amount of "please don't make me do this/I'm shy/I'm a horrible public speaker/I don't know what to say, etc." the vast majority of students in my classes did really wonderful presentations. And we had some of the best conversations of the entire term. Hmmm... what should I take from this? I think this might be a subject for a different post.

December 8, 2009

Oh Happy Day! Guess Who Found My Blog!!

Guess who commented on my blog?

It was "College Paper Writing." He/She/It posted a comment to my "Speak Writing" entry. Check it out... follow that link. I'm one of those full disclosure type teachers.

Follow the link... Go ahead.

It is Research Paper Spot (.org) at your convenience!
"Custom Research Paper Writing"

[Sarcasm alert] They care so very much about your learning and education that they will take your money and write your paper for you!

Frankly, I think "Cheat House" has a more descriptive name. Don't you? "Custom Research Papers Writing" is so dull, cold, clinical. "Cheat House" really gets to the point.

By the way, have your read the legal fine print on most of these sites? It is hilarious (on certain days) and infuriating (on most others.)

Some teachers and students might recoil at me posting on this topic or suggesting people go fully read one of those sites... (or allowing a comment linking this site to the papermill sites) but read one of those sites -- really read it. "... This will be an asset to all," says College Paper Writing.

By the way, check out the section on "Custom Research Paper Writing" titled:

"How do you guarantee a plagiarism free document?"

Here is how they're banking on your desperation and ignorance, as well as your lack of concern or skepticism - when you purchase that paper it [may be] plagiarism free. Someone else wrote it, and you know that. In fact, you paid them to do it. Service rendered.

However, the minute you pass that paper in to your teacher with your name on it it's plagiarism. Period.

What the sites are doing is technically legal (and happens to be screwing you out of your money, your time, and the learning opportunity that you are otherwise paying for via tuition)... but what you do with that paper if you turn it in is not ethical (you can get kicked out of class or school for it.) And kiss any letter of reference for jobs or grad school good-bye! [If you are in my classes.]

Sarcasm aside, what upsets me about this is that students who use these services don't understand that they are missing out... You've cheated (Oh, the outrage! Actually, I am ashamed of students who do this.), but you are also cheated. And you signed yourself up for it.

If you are a crap writer (i.e., and/or poor at persevering, unskilled at utilizing campus tutors and supports, unconcerned about actually learning, maybe lazy...) --- cheat your way through -- but are you going to keep purchasing the writing your boss expects? Or the graduate school application? Because your weakness in writing will catch up with you. Like it or not, your communications skills will shine through. (Wait until you are on a hiring committee or a school admissions committee- truly, the range of material that gets turned in it is very frightening.)

That diploma thing doesn't just mean "Yea! You Sat Through School for 4-8 years!" To employers and grad schools (and hopefully to you) it represents the attainment of certain skills & knowledge - and skills that have improved with practice over the years. Practice you don't have when others are doing your work for you.