The Crafting English Prof…

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Welcome to the wonderful exciting world of online classes…. 2 June 2010

Filed under: Ponderings,Uncategorized — Rana Wilson @ 7:41 pm
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For the first time ever, I’m teaching an online class… I’ve been teaching for years, and I love it, and I use technology wherever I can in my classroom (cuz I love that too…) but this summer is the FIRST time I’ve ever taught online.  Wait, I take that back.  There was that one time, a few years ago, teaching for a spin-off of Phoenix.  The “environment,” if it could really be called that, was all email.  It was hideous.  So hideous I don’t even have that mess on my resume…. So, really, this summer is my FIRST time teaching an online course in a real, honest-to-goodness academic online environment (SPC uses Angel…)

So, this online class.  I knew it was going to be a lot of work.  What I did NOT know was exactly HOW MUCH work we were talkin’… I consider myself a rather good teacher, and I really enjoy my work–this is my passion.  And in a F2F class, I have no problem making a TOTAL fool of myself if necessary (I think it stems from starting out in a preschool…) And I honestly think that my F2F students really get a lot of info that they need, but that I don’t always realize I’m giving them–you know, like what not to do, where to focus their efforts, etc–usually simply by the WAY I say things, my tone of voice, my expression and gestures. Lo and behold, the first set of essays from my online class, not exactly what I was expecting.  And all because they didn’t get all those unconscious verbal cues.  So I’ve spent much of the last week trying to revise guidelines to be that much more specific, and addressing questions from my students (they’re wonderfully forbearing with me). I’ve never had to think so much in a class as I have this session (admittedly, teaching my first online class in an accelerated session, probably not my best idea), but I’m actually finding that I’m becoming a better teacher.

Will I continue teaching online classes? Well, yes, mainly because that’s where academia is moving, and I don’t want to be left behind.  But will I ever leave the classroom? That big echo-y room where I am the QUEEN?  Hells no…. I love it too much!  And I’m getting used to teaching online, getting more used to using all the tools Angel has that I’ve been able to ignore up to this point. And I’m actually having fun! (yes, I have an odd sense of fun).

I’ll keep you posted on my progress!

RLW

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Whew! Am I glad that’s over! 8 May 2010

Filed under: Ponderings,Uncategorized — Rana Wilson @ 2:17 pm
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Okay, so it’s not really over.  Well, Spring session at SPC is over… but I’m still in the midst of exams at HCC–have one more to give on Monday, and THEN it’s over.  Then I have a lovely 4 days off before the fun starts all over again for Summer session!  Joy!!! Okay, really, I’m okay with it… but I do wish we had a bit more time between Spring and Summer.  Cuz, see, we get this lovely month off after Summer session (which is always when the creative finances come out to play… but that’s another post altogether…)

So, let’s see here…. Okay, I want to give some kudos to my SPC students, they (mostly) did really well.  and so far, so have the HCC students.  We’ll see how the Monday students do.  But I wanted to mention one student in particular (who’s partially to blame for me starting a blog…) and the idea he prompted me to start looking into earlier this week.  Although, I have to say, at the moment, it’s still just an idea, and I haven’t had a chance to look into it… So, I always offer my students extra credit in the form of a writing / reading journal.  Very few of them take me up on it, and fewer still do well on it, usually not realizing the difference between a writing journal and a diary.  But every once in a while I get a most awesome gem.  A few sessions ago, it was the journal of an artist, who incorporated her artwork with her thoughts on the various things she read or saw, and it was just one of the coolest looking journals I’ve ever seen. It was also well written, because she was (and is) a particularly conscientious student.

This past session, the journals I received were good, but in general by no means spectacular.  Except for one particular student. This particular student, Chris, asked if a blog would be okay. I thought the idea sounded brilliant, not least because then I could read it throughout the session, and not be inundated by it at the end, but also because I remembered this guy from the Comp 1 class he took with me, and I remembered the wonderful insights he had on the quotation assignments I did that summer, and how I was always a bit sad to see his work end. He has such an interesting voice, that I literally couldn’t wait to see his work.

So, what was the idea he prompted, you ask?  I’m getting to it, I’m getting to it! (yes, I love a good tangent…) Okay, so in Chris’s last post on the journal blog (which you can find here…) he mentioned that he would like to take a class in “blogging (or perhaps online writing)” which triggered in the dim recesses of my memory the graduate work that a friend of mine was doing a few years ago.  In fact, her dissertation is on blogging.  I’ve not had a chance to read it, but I’d certainly like to, particularly since she’s brilliant, and I’ve found myself, over the last week, itching to write something here (curses on having too much work…)  (Oh, Chris also said I was unafraid to try new things. Seriously, she could teach the instructors of my more technical classes a few things about being innovative. Office hours on Skype was particularly great.”  That just plum tickled me… Seriously, that’s like the best compliment I could EVER possibly receive as a professor.) Okay, so back to the idea Chris prompted… I often try (and rarely succeed) to incorporate info on resume writing in my classes, because it’s important, and well, I used to be a resume writer.  So that, I know.  But the minute Chris expressed a wish to see a class on online writing, I got to thinking, what exactly would that entail?  I know that there could be (and probably is, at some other institution) a full class already developed for this.  And I think there’s a definite need for it.  Think of all the different types of online writing there is–emailing, blogging, commenting, Skype, twitter, Facebook, MySpace, online courses… the list literally goes on for days… These are just things that I’ve used, and I freely admit, I’m jumpin’ in the boat a bit late here (for instance, I’m teaching my FIRST EVER online class this summer…) And the caliber of writing I’ve seen online runs the gamut from brilliant, both technically and contextually, to downright dismal.  I’ve seen blogs from people trying to be legitimate, and who probably have very good ideas, that I quite frankly COULD NOT make heads or tails of! And let’s not get started on the tech aspects of the whole deal… So, what would one include in class on online writing, or, more specifically for me, a module on online writing?  This should, ideally, be a thing that occurs AFTER the basics of Academic writing have been covered. And obviously, those same guidelines I request that my students follow in their academic papers would be relaxed in a class on online writing, but what else would be included?  Definitely a tidbit on tone, and persuasive arguments (some of the comments I’ve read on various articles and whatnot are appalling! So rude!)

I know that this is something that I’m going to have to ponder for a while, and I’ll keep you posted on my progress.  This definitely seems like something that needs to be included in the curriculum…

~RLW

 

wowzers… I feel… lacking… 23 April 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rana Wilson @ 5:05 pm
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Okay, not really, but wow… See, I consider myself very creative, very crafty, and something of an artist.  But, I can’t draw. To save my life… I cannot draw. Wait, I take that back.  I’m really REALLY good at stick figures.  You want a stick figure? I’m your girl… I’m an artist when it comes to working with paper, or beads.  and occasionally embroidery (well, cross stitch, but really, there I’m just following the pattern…) I always wished I could draw, though.  I wanted to be a great painter when I was a kid.

So, you may be wondering, why do I feel lacking now? What happened?  Well, I just watched this video, over at The Beader’s Muse That’s Cynthia Thornton, designer at Green Girl Studios, talking about inspiration and her book Enchanted Adornments. I love that she shows us her sketchbooks, because so often, those are a very private thing for a lot of creative people.  Here’s the problem for me: I WANNA DRAW LIKE THAT!!!!!!!!! whine!!!!!!!!!  Okay, sorry, done whining… But wowzers!  Okay, I a craft ideas, in which I “sketch.” But my sketching is to Thornton’s sketching what hot dogs are to Kobe beef (don’t get me wrong, I like hot dogs…) Thornton, besides being an accomplished jewelry designer, is a totally kick-ass artist.  I’m not exaggerating when I say I would probably buy her sketchbooks if she published them.  They’re beautiful. In fact, I just spent a bit of time playing on her website–beautiful work!

So yeah, I feel lacking… But hey! At least I feel lacking with someone who’s a very talented artist! So I got that going for me! LOL!

RLW

 

Facebook and Midsummer Night’s Dream…. 21 April 2010

So, I’m sitting here in class, and my students are watching A Midsummer Night’s Dream… I love the play-viewing week, because I get so much done. usually…. Today, not so much….

See, I think the problem is general grading fatigue, and the access to a laptop, where, I admit, I usually have Facebook open on a tab.  And my friends are wonderful, and intriguing, and awesome, and…. really, I don’t have enough positive adjectives to describe… But that’s almost the problem–I have wonderful friends who post really nifty stuff that I want to investigate, and for some reason, I cannot focus on the grading I need to do (okay, so also, I’m sitting here in semi-darkness.  You ever tried to read mediocre handwriting in the dark? Not fun…)

But that brings me to another thought.  I love Facebook.  I have a lot of friends and colleagues who have a love-hate relationship with Facebook, and I’ve often wondered why.  For my colleagues, I know that it has a lot to do with how much time our students “waste” on the site, especially when they’re in the classroom (I teach in several computer labs) supposedly listening to us, participating in the course discussion, or otherwise engaged in learning. For my friends who aren’t also colleagues, though, I’m not really sure.  But again, I think it falls back to time “wasting”.  Cuz, yeah, Facebook can be a huge timesuck.  Think about it–we have all those great games (yes, I like and play the Zynga games… my Farm is cute!), we can send silly gifts (my favorites of all of them remain the “send-a-sperm” that were making the rounds when I first got onto Facebook), and we can check in with ALL of our FB friends.  But that last, that’s the real reason I love love LOVE Facebook! See, I had a HUGE group of friends in highschool, and then, as tends to happen, we all lost touch.  Well, most of us.  I’ve discovered small pockets kept in touch (like my 2 best friends and me).  Since we’ve all gotten on Facebook, though, we’ve reconnected, and we’re reforging those relationships we had momentarily lost over the last 16 (gasp!) years.  We’re having picnics, Ikea trips, we’re meeting new friends through our old friends, and we’re supporting each other in our endeavours.  I think we’re becoming better friends for the long separation, even though most of us aren’t in even the same state anymore. So, I love Facebook.  I love to get up in the morning and see what new things my wonderful friends have thought of (it helps that my “morning” is about noon-ish in the real world.

Okay, back to reading poetry based on “Hazel tells Laverne.” Yes, I’m mean.  I make them write the occasional poem.  I’m happy to say, they actually do really well with it!

RLW

 

Why a blog? 20 April 2010

Filed under: Ponderings,Uncategorized — Rana Wilson @ 9:08 pm
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So, I’ve told a couple of people I’ve started a blog. Most are enthusiastic (although my mom’s comment of “for people to read?” cracked me up. her emphasis was on the “people” part…) but the question I keep getting asked is “what’s it for?”

Honestly, I hadn’t really thought that far ahead, and if I had, I think it was just for me. Like I said, I’m an English teacher, and so I tend to both read and write profusely.But, I don’t just want my blog to be about teaching.  Yes, I’m a teacher, but I’m not just a teacher.  Likewise, I make jewelry… but I don’t want my blog to be just about jewelry… So I guess, if I must categorize myself (although, really, I defy categorization…) I would say that my blog is about me.  About my interests.  About the ins and outs of my life (but not necessarily the daily minutiae of that life).  Some things I hope to discuss is the difficulty I have in pricing myself, the oddities of discussing plagiarism in college classes, what I want… but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  There’s so much out there that’s interesting to me, and there’s so many things I ponder.  So I guess this blog is about my ponderings…

Should be fun, huh? 😀

 

The random thoughts of a random professor… 19 April 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rana Wilson @ 6:42 pm
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Hello all!  So, I’ve finally done it.  I started a blog.  We’ll see how I do, I guess.  So, if you know me, you’ll know all this stuff I’m about to tell you; if not, then hey, I think you should know all this stuff I’m about to tell you.  Just sayin… 😀   I teach, I read, I craft, I love my friends and family, I torture college students with Shakespeare, I drive a way old Ford Explorer, I have 2 monster kitties that keep me on my toes, I have one beautiful niece and 5 gorgeous nephews, and I love my life.  Mostly.

So why a blog?  Well, I teach English, I write constantly, and thought it was about time to try getting some of those thoughts that keep jumbling about in my head on “paper” in a coherent form.  I’m trying to start an online jewelry business, and as I learn more, I’m finding I want to discuss those techniques, and what I’m finding to work well, and where I’m finding I need more assistance.

That’s enough to be going on with, I think.  I’ll post more later, on the many varied interests I have… Enjoy!

 

 
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