Thursday, December 11, 2008

Making the Rounds

In a virtual reality, web-based sort of way, of course. It's finals week. I am typically not entirely human during this time of the year. Remember that Holiday Meme and the answer to question #13? It's a little less true this year, but not much, and only thanks to my ordering a few gifts online. Christmas shopping is the reward at the end of the semester grading crunch. Not there yet.

In the meantime, while my students were taking an exam this morning, I sat here and surfed a little, catching up on some of my friends in the blogosphere (also something I fall woefully behind on during "the grading season"). Some of the highlights (most worth a post of their own with commentary, but those damned essays and finals . . .) need sharing.

"Bob is an honorable man"

Over at Jay's place, Piper does the bard proud with a riff on Mark Antony's "Friends, Romans, countrymen" monologue:

Friends, Romans, football fans, lend me your ears:
We come to bury Urban, not to praise him.
The evil that Gators do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Urban. The noble Bob
Hath told you Urban is ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Urban answered it.
(Here, under leave of Bob and the team –
For Bob is an honorable man;
So are all Sooners, all honorable men )–
It goes on, and it's worth the read. :-)

On Writer's Block

At Kate's, she's discovered a wicked tool for overcoming writer's block. I'll be adding this to my list of tricks I teach students when they're having a hard time getting started.

The idea is to instill in the would-be writer with a fear of not writing. We do this by employing principles taught in Introduction to Psychology. Anyone remember Operant Conditioning and Negative Reinforcement?

Negative Reinforcement "strengthens a behavior because a negative condition is stopped or avoided as a consequence of the behavior."

  • Gentle Mode: A certain amount of time after you stop writing, a box will pop up, gently reminding you to continue writing.
  • Normal Mode: If you persistently avoid writing, you will be played a most unpleasant sound. The sound will stop if and only if you continue to write.
  • Kamikaze Mode: Keep Writing or Your Work Will Unwrite Itself

These consequences will persist until your preset conditions have been met (that is, your time is up or you've written you wordcount goal or both)

I'm not sure I'll be using it myself, but anything I can suggest to my students increases the chances that something will be the ticket for them.

The Intertwining of Math and Language

Lastly, for the students have all turned in their efforts and left me alone in the room, there was this interesting post and discussion over at Chap's place days ago that I've been too long in getting to. I found it particularly interesting in light of frequent stories about the math challenges a friend is facing with an eight-year-old. I'm wondering now if the problem isn't rooted in language in that case too. If you have children struggling with math, Chap's post is worth a few minutes.

Grading: Do Not Disturb

Everyone has his or her own way of saying it. Chap says "Rig Blog for Heavy Workload." Barry, "Blogging Will Be Light to Intermittent" We are all in the same boat this time of year. I'll try to post something in the days to come, but don't be surprised if I seem to have dropped off the face of the earth. I try to plan my assignments during the semester so that two courses don't turn in graded work at the same time, but the end of the semester comes at the same time for everyone. All in all though, the last four months have been the most fun I've ever had teaching, despite the chaos in my own life. I have good reason to hope the next will be even better.