Monday, April 20, 2009

What possessed me...

... to think that ending the comp classes with a collaborative writing project was a good idea in any way, shape, or form?

... to assume that if I paired two C students together, they would somehow magically become able to remedy the deficiencies in each other's work?

... to think that if I paired an A student with a C student, they would make it to the end of the semester without killing each other?

... to decide that I was going to collect the group projects on Monday and have them all graded by Friday; and, moreover, to create a lesson plan that requires me to follow through on this rash promise?

... to teach a contemporary play about a mathematical concept that I can't begin to wrap my head around? Seriously, what in hell do I know about math? I'm not sure I even know anything about contemporary drama.

10 comments:

Sisyphus said...

Oh no! Good luck with all that collaborative stuff!

(next time, show movies. Avoid the temptation for collaborative projects!)

Bardiac said...

Arcadia? I taught it once, and it was such fun. But I'm a sick pup who likes fractals.

But at least there should be fewer papers to grade if they're collaborative, right?

Good luck :)

Fretful Porpentine said...

Bardiac -- Yup, got it in one! At least I can talk sort-of-intelligently about the parts about historiography and neoclassical vs. Romantic aesthetics, and two out of three's not bad.

And yes, one would think there would be fewer papers to grade if they're collaborative, but I told them to include a statement telling me who did what, so there's no guarantee that all group members will be getting the same grade or comments. Aargh!

And Sisyphus, if you can recommend a movie about Writing in the Disciplines, I'll gladly show it next time...

Horace said...

Two words: Chaos historiography. Build a lesson plan around grasping that concept and you've got a mind-blower of a class. (think about the silent child as repetition with a difference... I heart Arcadia, though.

Fretful Porpentine said...

I think it is probably inadvisable to build a lesson around a concept that I don't grasp myself, alas :)

Harriet said...

Arcadia! My favorite play of all time. It blew my mind when I saw it senior year of high school. Good luck!

Renaissance Girl said...

i LOVE arcadia. this post reminds me that i want to get it from the library to reread.

Fretful Porpentine said...

Alas, my students did not love it, although it may have been end-of-the-semester ennui. I do want to give it one more try, just because it's such a perfect way to end the second half of the Britlit survey, the one that starts with the Romantics. Also because I went to the trouble of bookmarking a documentary on fractals on YouTube.

waterkant said...

I once taught a class where they had to hand in collaborative assignments. It was tradition for that particular class, and I had no reason for changing it. Some students worked really well together, but the members of one group stopped speaking with each other (after the semester was over but before they had handed in their assignment). It was the first time that I wrote a harsh email to my students, telling them to stop writing me almost daily complaints about the other ones ("She did this and I am so innocent yadda yadda yadda and that's why we have not yet handed it in") and resolve their problems together, as they are grown up Grad students soon entering the employment market. I ended the email with "Please spare me another elegy" and I felt so bad after I had sent it because - as I said - it was my first harsh, not-being-always-sympathetic email - and it worked out! They quickly handed in the assignment. :)

So while corporative assignments might not always be the academic most outstanding ones, they might help them acquire/train social skills. It just depends what you want to focus on.

I learned my lesson and try to avoid corporative assignments with more than three students.

waterkant said...

Oh, and regarding the grading

>but I told them to include a statement >telling me who did what, so there's no >guarantee that all group members will be >getting the same grade or comments.

In one class my husband tried this tactic: he told them the points (which are used as grades, 0 points the worst, 15 points the best) they acquired (multiplied by the number of group members) and asked them to split them up among themselves according to their engagement. With some groups that worked out fine, with others it did not.
It does not make sense with the groups who gained 15 points as of course there is not much to discuss about, but when a group with three students received for example 8 points, multiplied with three, they could split it up the way that one receives 12, another one 8, and the third 4 points.