Saturday, January 03, 2009
Final Grades are Filed
I just filed my grades yesterday, Friday, January 2, 2009. I am in New Orleans, it's pouring rain and mosquitoes are eating me alive. I waited to submit my grades to give some students the opportunity to get their work in. Nonetheless, I still found many students who didn't pass the class or turned in sloppy or incomplete portfolios or skipped the process altogether.
It's a shame.
Most of the students who failed were the ones who stopped doing the work, long before they stopped coming, then came back. Other students fared poorly because though the writing was good, this class is about "the essay" and managing information, so if the students didn't demonstrate he or she understood the form of the essay: introduction, body and conclusion, written in recognizable paragraphs, plus the ability to document sources, introduce citations with signal phrases, and on the grammar side, not make mistakes that blurred the meaning, then they failed or were marked down for the inappropriate creativity. Suggestion: Take a creative writing course next time. Do not try this in Freshman Comp.
Other students whose grades were lower than I'm sure expected reflected the less than scholarly tone of the final essay on Afeni Shakur. Also, many students did not show their sources in-text or in a works cited page. But don't worry, all who passed certainly demonstrated their seriousness, and considering the trauma and loss many of you suffered this semester, I was pleased to read the portfolios and pleasantly surprised by more than a few of you.
I am looking to change my class assignment and exercises strategy for Spring 2009. I'm thinking of making the first 6-8 weeks really intense. Give the heavy assignments toward the end of the first month, and then by the time Spring Break rolls around and students start to drop, perhaps more will stay around because the intense portion of the course will be over.
I'd like to have a “Book of the Semester” for the College, a “Summer Reading Selection” and a “College Retreat” at the beginning of the Fall Semester, mandatory for all entering students. This is where we can pair freshmen up with sophomores. Any volunteers?
I am looking at having an on-line class television show broadcasting minimally three times next semester, this will include the portfolio presentations and perhaps a few other assignments. I am also thinking about a radio show, bi-monthly where we discuss writing or literature topics. I'd like it to be a call-in with featured guests.
For those of you who received less than satisfactory grades. Don't worry. Writing is a process and for some scholars it takes longer to grasp the concepts and apply them than others.
KEEP WRITING AND READING AND WRITING AND READING.
Many of you didn't take your first college course seriously. Academic resources are for your use, so use them to your advantage. I'd also recommend that all freshmen take a College Preparation course. It is a three unit, transferable class, which helps you matriculate through the institution a lot easier. It is not an intuitive process. You have to be instructed on how the system works, or it is a trial by fire and most likely you will get burned.
More than one of you failed all your courses, and you took the financial aide. This is really serious and quite alarming.
We also lost more than a few of our scholars who were not challenged intellectually so they are going to another college where they feel the college atmosphere there will be more collegial.
I received more than one comment about assignments and the changing deadlines. The problem was students were not doing the assignments and if we'd kept going, more would have failed. It's always difficult for me in a class where the students resist reading and preparing in advance for class discussions.
I am going to offer all my courses as hybrid Fall 2009, which might address this a bit, but I agree the morale suffers when everyone isn't engaged.
I am around for the duration, so look me up. I'll be facilitating College Prep Luncheon Rap Sessions Spring 2009. Some of the topics I'm considering are: Academic Services on Campus, Time Management and Study Habits, Financial Aide, Mentoring, College Life: Academic Clubs and Offices, Studying for Tests, Emergency Preparedness or How to stay in college, and keep your grades up when you have a personal emergency, and when to drop, the Grievance Process, Student Rights, Academic Integrity or why cheating is not an option for serious students.
The panels will consist of faculty, staff and students.
Of course we won't be able to offer sessions on all of these topics, but if students like the idea then maybe we can continue these conversations outside of this arena in a Study Hall type setting, like the LRC.
This would be good to broadcast on the Peralta Television Station.
Send me topics you are thinking about also.
Happy New Year!