A Rumination on the Blog Itself

I‘ve noticed recently that my blog has been attracting more attention. Since close to the end of July, there’s been an upswelling of interest in what I write here, which I appreciate greatly. To illustrate, the week of 15 July 2018, which was a typical week for my blog in the time since I stopped trying to be a full-time academic, saw an average of six or so views a day from five or so visitors–and had days of no readership. The following week, however, saw an average of more than 45 daily views from more than 43 viewers, increases of 727% and 839% over the previous week, respectively. The most recent week, beginning 29 July 2018, saw an average of more than 66 views per day from 65 viewers, another 145% and 151% respective increase from the previous week.

Recent Blog Performance 20180805
You can guess when I wrote this, I suppose.
Image taken from the readouts WordPress gives me about my blog.

Again, and this needs to be emphasized, I greatly appreciate the interest in my work. I write here for others to read, and seeing that others do read what I write warms my cockles. It is because I want them to continue to do so that I find myself asking why it is so, what I have done that has prompted the renewed attention to my blog.

That most of the views I’m seeing reported are for assignment guidelines I’ve posted–which seems to be the case–suggests that my assignments are being used as models. Whether it is for instructors giving their own assignments or for the teaching of instructors about how to design them–and, in the latter case, whether as positive or negative examples–is less clear. I understandably hope it is one of the first two rather than the third, though if I have made enough of a name for myself that I have become an anti-role-model, I can comfort myself with the idea that no publicity is bad publicity. I have a long history of playing villains, after all, as those who have known me can attest.

The problem, of course, is that I am no longer in a position where I have leave to write my own assignments, not even so much as in the managed situation at the end of my time at Oklahoma State University. As such, I’ll not have much more of such material to contribute as has been receiving attention, though I am sure I could come up with some kind of assignment sequence that might be used, something not necessarily grounded in any one school’s programmatic requirements. Indeed, I recall a CCC article that proposes a writing studies curriculum; it might make sense to design assignments to suit it, and then to do something similar for the kinds of literature classes I would teach, had I but world enough and time–and opportunity, unlikely as I know it to be.

In any event, I can hope that attention to some of my materials will prompt attention to more of them, and I hope to be able to produce more that people enjoy reading or find useful to have at hand. I’m not intending on giving up anytime soon, and I am thankful for having had the readership and support I have had to this point. I look forward to yet more.

Your patronage is appreciated!

 

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Class Report: ENGL 062, 9 August 2018

After addressing questions from the previous class meeting and before, discussion turned to paraphrase and summary before responding to student questions about orthography. In-class practice was offered, and time was allotted for student work.

Students are reminded of upcoming assignments:

  • Discussions (three posts per graded thread), due online before 0059 on 13 August 2018
  • Homework: Summary and Response, due online as a Word document in APA format before 0059 on 13 August 2018
  • My Reading Lab: Paraphrasing and Summarizing Topic and Post-Test, due online before 0059 on 13 August 2018
  • One selection from My Reading Lab: Next Reading (in the Reading Level part of My Reading Lab; requires the Lexile Locator [which will be unscored]), due online before 0059 on 13 August 2018

Class met as scheduled, at 1800 in Room 107 of the San Antonio campus. The class roster listed two students enrolled, unchanged from last week; one attended, assessed informally. Student participation was good. No students attended the most recent office hour.

Class Report: ENGL 062, 2 August 2018

After a note about the abortive class meeting of the previous week, discussion turned towards the needs of introductions and conclusions before moving on to revision strategies. In-class practice with selected revision techniques was offered, and time was allotted for student work.

Students are reminded of upcoming assignments:

  • Discussions (three posts per graded thread), due online before 0059 on 6 August 2018
  • Homework: Essay 1, Final Draft, due online as a Word document in APA format before 0059 on 6 August 2018
  • My Reading Lab: Implied Main Ideas Topic and Post-Test, due online before 0059 on 6 August 2018
  • One selection from My Reading Lab: Next Reading (in the Reading Level part of My Reading Lab; requires the Lexile Locator [which will be unscored]), due online before 0059 on 6 August 2018

Class met as scheduled, at 1800 in Room 107 of the San Antonio campus. The class roster listed two students enrolled, unchanged from last week; one attended, assessed informally. Student participation was good. The most recent office hour was canceled due to another obligation on the instructor’s part.

Class Report: ENGL 062, 26 July 2018

Class was to open with treating questions from the previous class meeting before turning to concerns of writing as a process and of essay structures. Some time would have been allotted to work on student assignments. However, neither of the students enrolled attended.

Students are reminded of upcoming assignments:

  • Discussions (three posts per graded thread), due online before 0059 on 30 July 2018
  • Homework: Essay 1, Review Draft, due online as a Word document in APA format before 0059 on 30 July 2018
  • My Reading Lab: Outlining and Mapping Topic and Post-Test, due online before 0059 on 30 July 2018
  • My Reading Lab: My Reading Lab: Outlining and Mapping Topic and Post-Test Topic and Post-Test, due online before 0059 on 30 July 2018
  • One selection from My Reading Lab: Next Reading (in the Reading Level part of My Reading Lab; requires the Lexile Locator [which will be unscored]), due online before 0059 on 30 July 2018

Students, please keep in mind that the post-tests provide the grades for My Reading Lab assignments.

 

Class Report: ENGL 062, 19 July 2018

After treating questions from the previous class meeting, discussion turned to concerns of definition (prescriptive/descriptive, denotation/connotation), broad genres, paragraphing, and expected paper formatting. Some time was allotted to work on student assignments.

Students are reminded of upcoming assignments:

  • Discussions (three posts per graded thread), due online before 0059 on 23 July 2018
  • Homework: p162, #5 in the course textbook, a developed paragraph due online as a Word document in APA format before 0059 on 23 July 2018
  • My Reading Lab: Vocabulary Topic and Post-Test, due online before 0059 on 23 July 2018
  • My Reading Lab: Stated Main Ideas Topic and Post-Test, due online before 0059 on 23 July 2018

Students should note that My Reading Lab will be down overnight between 20 and 21 July. Submissions should be made accordingly.

Class met as scheduled, at 1800 in Room 107 of the San Antonio campus. The class roster listed two students enrolled, unchanged from last week; one attended, assessed informally. Student participation was good. No students attended the most recent office hour.

Class Report: ENGL 062, 12 July 2018

For the first meeting of the July 2018 session, discussion focused on introductions to the class and to its participants. Attention was given to course structure and requirements, including how to access course materials. Basic reading and writing concepts received attention, and some time was afforded to work on student assignments.

Students were reminded of upcoming assignments:

  • Discussions (three posts per graded thread, plus contributions to the Introductions thread), due online before 0059 on 16 July 2018
  • My Reading Lab: Learning Path Diagnostic, due online before 0059 on 16 July 2018
  • My Reading Lab: Active Reading Strategies Topic and Post-Test, due online before 0059 on 16 July 2018

Class met as scheduled, at 1800 in Room 107 of the San Antonio campus. The class roster listed two students enrolled; one attended, assessed informally. Student participation was good. No students attended the most recent office hour.

Initial Comments for the July 2018 Session at DeVry University in San Antonio

To spite my earlier comments, I’ve been offered a section of ENGL 062: Introduction to Reading and Writing for the July 2018 session at DeVry University in San Antonio, Texas. I’ve even signed my contract for doing so, so I’ll take a bit to get my materials ready again.

The session runs from 9 July through 1 September 2018; the class meets Thursdays from 1800 to 2150 in Room 107 of the San Antonio campus. I am not yet certain when or if I will have office hours–the “if” because the class is something of an unusual situation. It is, at present, showing only one student enrolled, which would normally make for a threat of class cancellation. Circumstances are such, however, that the class has been authorized despite the low enrollment–although the campus is trying to get other students enrolled in the class. If more do not enroll, however, the class will function as an eight-week tutorial, and that might well eliminate the need for office-hour availability. Perhaps; it will remain to be seen.

Reflective Comments for the May 2018 Session at DeVry University in San Antonio

Continuing a practice I most recently iterated at the end of the March 2018 session at DeVry University in San Antonio, and following closely the patterns established in previous practice, comments below offer impressions of class performance among students enrolled in ENGL 216: Technical Writing during the May 2018 session at that institution. After a brief outline of the course and statistics about it, impressions and implications for further teaching are discussed.

Students enrolled in ENGL 216: Technical Writing during the May 2018 session were asked to complete a number of assignments in quick succession. Many, and the weightiest, related to the overall course project; others were homework meant to practice skills used in the work0place and in later stages of the course project. Those assignments and their prescribed point-values are below, with relative weights shown in the figure below:

Grade Breakdown

  • Course Project
    • Topic Proposal- 20 points
    • Annotated Sources- 50 points
    • Outline and Back Matter- 50 points
    • First Draft- 70 points
    • Front Matter- 40 points
    • Final Draft- 100 points
    • Presentation- 60 points
  • Online Discussions
    • Weeks 1-5, 20 points each
    • Weeks 6 and 7, 80 points each
  • Homework Assignments
    • Weeks 1-4, 50 points each
  • Final Exam- 150 points
  • Total- 1000 points

As before, most assignments were assessed by means of rubrics provided by the institution. Some few were assessed holistically, with assessment being conducted more gently in light of less formality.

The section met on Mondays from 1800-2150 in Room 111 of the San Antonio campus of DeVry University. Its overall data includes

  • End-of-term enrollment: 8
  • Average class score: 679.625/1000 (D)
    • Standard deviation: 208.849
  • Students earning a grade of A (900/1000 points or more): 2
  • Students earning a grade of F (below 600/1000 points): 2

Numbers of students receiving each of the traditional letter grades are indicated below:

Final Grades

As in my previous session teaching the course, attendance was assessed as part of classroom activities; a component of the discussion grading each week was given to in-class attendance and participation. Consequently, attendance data is available; on average, four students attended each class meeting, with 33 total absences noted. The absences, and their concomitant rate of non-submission, exerted negative influence on overall student performance.

Student Absences

On the whole, I think the session was reasonably good. I was fortunate enough to have returning students, which is always helpful; those who have been in classes with me know what to expect, and it is gratifying to see them build on skills I know they have rehearsed. (This is true with adult learners no less than with more traditional students–at least for me.) And I was lucky to have diligent, dedicated students, as well; those who apply themselves with a will are always better to teach than those who do not, even if the latter have more innate talent and better preparation than the former.

Carry-over from the previous session of teaching the class proved helpful. Continuing to use examples from practice not necessarily part of academe was advantageous for the students, and being able to employ materials from the earlier session made the job of preparing for class easier to do. More refinement needs to be done to the selection process–I want to align the examples more, although I am not sure in which direction I want to align them–but the general idea remains a good one.

As ever, concerns remain. I wish I had some better way to motivate attendance and assignment-submission (which were the major factors diminishing student grade-performance–and their more important but less valorized development as writers). How many assignments were missed is shows below:

Assignments Missing

Too, I would have liked to have seen more of my students apply themselves to the topic I had emphasized for the course project; I think they would have gotten more use out of it and done better on their work, overall. The problem, though, is that my students are adults at a for-profit institution; they are under no illusions that they are in their programs to earn credentials in the pursuit of better job prospects. That situation makes it difficult for them to take the time to consider options and delve into materials deeply–and it vitiates against doing anything more than the minimum to pass off the course. The matter bears more consideration.

As ever, I appreciate having had the chance to teach again, and I look forward to having others in sessions yet to come.

Class Report: ENGL 216, 18 June 2018

Class time was given over to completing the University-assigned final exam. No other activities were conducted. For it, class met as scheduled, at 1800 in Room 111 of the San Antonio campus. The class roster listed eight students enrolled, unchanged from last session; one attended, assessed informally. No students attended the most recent office hour.

A series of summary comments for the session is forthcoming. It will post after grades are finalized and submitted and relevant data can be extracted.

Class Report: ENGL 216, 11 June 2018

After treating questions from last meeting and before, discussion turned to concerns of review and revision in advance of the final written assignments coming due. Discussed also was preparation of an online presentation, one of the components of the final written assignment, and motion was made towards next week’s final exam.

Students were reminded of upcoming assignments:

  • Discussions (four posts per graded thread), due online before 0059 on 18 June 2018
  • Course Project: Final Paper, due online as a Word document before 0059 on 18 June 2018
  • Course Project: Presentation, due online before 0059 on 18 June 2018
  • Final Exam: due online before 2359 on 23 June 2018 (earlier is better)

Class met as scheduled, at 1800 in Room 111 of the San Antonio campus. The class roster listed eight students enrolled, unchanged from last session; three attended, assessed informally. Student participation was good. No students attended the most recent office hour.