icepixie: "All the Queen's Horses." Lyrics misquoted from The Innocence Mission. ([DS] Fraser/Thatcher train joy)
Teaching Freshman Composition in GIF form.

All of them are accurate, but I have to say the two for "Introducing myself to the class during my first semester of teaching" and "Introducing myself to the class during my second semester of teaching" (and particularly the difference between them) are spot on. There was notably less oversharing in my second semester of comp, and I was glad of it.


In other news, yay for skating! I got up to a pretty good clip, dodged many kid!obstacles,* and did not fall once during today's public skate session! I...have not quite taught myself front crossovers, since I never actually crossed my right foot over my left (more like put it directly in front of the left), but I at least got the feeling of what I need to be doing. I'll get there one day.

I hope I'll learn at my lessons how to stroke without jamming my toepick into the ice every time I push off. I mean, I'm pushing off mostly with an inside edge, it's just that I don't manage to lift the skate up in time to avoid the first spike of the pick digging into the ice. I'm going to bet this is called "toe pushing," which I know is a bad thing you're not supposed to do. I just need to figure out how not to do it.

I also need to figure out how to keep the laces from loosening around my ankles. I had to stop and tighten them three times over an hour and a half just to keep the boot properly supporting my ankle. [personal profile] kyriacarlisle, is there some trick to it? Well, besides "get something better than rental skates," but that's not an option as of yet... ;)

The feeling of skating is even more addictive than I remember it being. There's something about the speed and the smoothness that makes you want to keep going forever. By the end of the session, my right ankle was in agony, but I kept telling myself, "One more time around, then I'll quit. Well, maybe one more..."

* Apparently the tiny kids now get to use walkers instead of flailing and/or hugging the boards like we did in my youth. Talk about your traffic hazards.
icepixie: ([Movies] Fred Ginger Danced Till)
Tried watching Undercovers tonight. Really liked the married couple characters, but spies and I just don't get along. Con men are even more boring, but spies are definitely up there. Still, the Blooms were cute. Maybe there will be good short fanfic.


Awesome gadget: Livescribe. I consider myself an excellent notetaker, but that would've been fantastic in some of my history classes.

However, this bright idea from the inventor: "[students could] receive a graded paper e-mailed back with handwritten and spoken feedback from the teacher"? Hahahaha. That would've been a terrible idea for me, anyway. My written feedback was courteous, helpful, and, well, teacherly. Any part of my running internal commentary on a paper that emerged from my mouth in the silence of my apartment or, worse, in the company of other TAs in our "office" was most definitely none of these things.
icepixie: (Default)
The editor took my revised book review with only minor stylistic changes! Woot! And I turned in the dance paper while I was up on campus this morning, so my semester is ooooooover!

...Except for grading. I'm pretty sure Coleridge's albatross was named "grading." But by tomorrow evening, once I blitz through the twelve or so papers I'll be picking up in the morning, I'll never have to grade another one!

Of course, now the agony of the job search starts. If anyone knows of editorial jobs (in any genre--nonfiction, fiction, poetry, whatever), or of university-related administrative-type positions, will you send them my way? I think I may also try to track down a couple freelancing jobs in the next couple months as I hunt for a full-time job, if only to have some writing samples that aren't academic in nature.

My other goal for the month is to turn the dance paper and part of my thesis into journal articles and send them off to my first-choice journals for each of them. Sadly, scholarly journals generally don't pay for articles, but I figure, since I'm looking for jobs in publishing, it can't hurt and might help to have some experience on the other side of the process.
icepixie: (Default)
For their quiz today, I had my students write a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy entry on any subject they wanted. It was pretty great, although they seemed strangely resistant to reading them out loud. I eventually got a few to volunteer, though.

I'm making much progress on my dance paper, now that I'm finally writing it instead of just researching and making notes. The prof and I are both pleased. And I get to indulge my inner history minor, because about a third of the paper is essentially a history of the Castles' rise to fame and of ragtime dance. Fwah.
icepixie: (Default)
Chapters/articles left to read and annotate: 7
Critical sources I should probably find on Walter Benjamin's "Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction"*: 2? 3?
Pages of a draft I need to write: 3-5, I guess
Sources I need to pull quotations, etc. from before I can start drafting: At least 5, and preferably all 18-23 (depending on how many Benjamin sources I find/use)
Days I have to do all this in: 8


And tonight I need to type up a lecture on the essay I had my students read for Thursday, because it's littered with terms like "alterity," "hegemony," and "metonym," so yeah, we're going to need to work through that.

* Suggestions welcome, if you know of any.
icepixie: (Default)
Apparently the trick to getting kids to talk is...make them read something they hate? I assigned an essay by James Gunn on the definition of science fiction, some aspect of which most of them disagreed with, and paired it with Italo Calvino's "A Sign in Space," which all of them were confused by (I expected this). Since the story an allegory of the evolution of thought and language, I had to invoke Derrida as I explained it,* and...I think most of them got it, and some of them got it enough to actually ask questions that took it further, like, "So does Qwfwq want to return to a pre-symbolic state?" which is in fact one of the big points of all the stories in Cosmicomics as a whole--postmodernity is partially the state of nostalgia for a pre-symbolic past, and partially the recognition that without language there is no thought.

Then they were able to use the Gunn essay to argue for why the story isn't science fiction (and I used other parts of it to argue right back to them that it is, 'cause I think I spend most of my time in the classroom playing devil's advocate). We decided that definitions of SF tend to be personal and based on what a particular person enjoys, even if they do usually have some component of "change."

So that was nice. Definitely made up for the whole "making a kid cry" thing on Tuesday.

And now I dive back into my studying and defense-prepping. I decided to take a break from that this afternoon by looking at the job boards I've been avoiding, and while, yes, on the whole it was overwhelming and anxiety-inducing, at least it looks like there are jobs out there that I could probably do, and that are in places I'd like to live, so yay to that.

icepixie: (Default)
I've decided to give my class a one-page chunk of an essay which spends part of its time looking at The Forever War through a Jamesonian lens, theorizing that it allegorizes the dislocation and alienation of postmodernity through its structural conceit of having Mandella go back and forth between space/combat and ever more changed and disorienting versions of Earth (thanks to the effective time travel he undergoes via time dilation). I actually had gotten the essay for my own thesis, so I'm pretty pleased that the two overlap like this.

As one might expect in a sci-fi class, this crowd isn't stridently anti-intellectual, like some of my students in 101 were, so I think they'll at least read it and give it a fair shot. (Last semester I eventually got so fed up with the kids whining about not wanting to "read too much into" their texts that I told them [in nicer terms], "Dammit, this is an English class. What do you think we do in here? Plot summary?") If nothing else, it will at least be a good exercise for paraphrasing, because in addition to sitting up front with a link to the OED online, once we discuss it and define all the field-specific terms, I'm going to have them write a paragraph summary in their own words. 'Cause some of these kids need the practice, if their endless irrelevant quotes in the last paper are any indication.

And if it completely backfires on me...well, this will be at the end of class, and no one will object to being let go a few minutes early, I'm sure. But I do hope they'll get something out of it.
icepixie: (Default)
This. This is hilarious. I rarely read the Chronicle of Higher Ed, but I'm glad I tuned in today. It slayed me with "Adam...put up mankind's first justification: 'The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat' (Genesis 3:12)" and only got better. (I, uh, may have gone to join that Facebook group as soon as I finished reading.)

When some poor student of mine only turns in four bibliography entries instead of five and complains about the grade, I'll be ready. "You remember Lot's wife and how she got turned into a pillar of salt? Know why? Because she DIDN'T FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS! At least I'm only taking ten points off."
icepixie: (Default)
Apparently the way to get my students to talk is to take them outside on a nice day. They talked me into going outside (which I was all for, although I quickly realized that being in the sun for an hour and fifteen minutes was going to give me a sunburn, and yep, I can feel it on my neck), and I figured they'd all be distracted by goings-on around them. Instead, they were totally into the discussion. (Perhaps it helped that we're not quite halfway through The Forever War, which most of them seem to really like.)

I also gave them a quiz which consisted of holding up their book to show they brought it to class. A little over two thirds passed. Perhaps the others will learn from their mistake.

In other news, although I really don't have time for it, I think I need to make some time to go see one of the panels at this year's interdisciplinary conference on campus. Suzette Henke is speaking, and she's pretty big news in Joyce scholarship in particular and Modernism scholarship in general.

As for why I don't have time--that would be because I'm plowing through my orals review, and I made the disturbing discovery that I know NOTHING about American fiction, or prose in general, after 1830. (Or drama. But there's more fiction on the list.) Of the list stuff, I have dim high school memories of Scarlet Letter, Huck Finn and Gatsby, a decent knowledge of Life of Frederick Douglass, and I read Song of Solomon and My Antonia last summer. That's six out of nineteen novels (or long essays) on the list, and while realistically, for a 45-minute "conversation" on a list that covers Beowulf to Morrison that's probably enough, I still feel horribly ungrounded in the whole genre, as far as American lit goes. I mean, I know other important stuff (Winesburg, Ohio, East of Eden, Grapes of Wrath, Slaughterhouse-Five, Catcher in the Rye, etc.), and substitutions are generally okay, but I'm still sort of like O_O. So I'm going to try and get through The Awakening this weekend, because really, my defense is going to be All Gender, All The Time, and this seems helpful.

(Drama I'm a bit more sanguine about. Okay, yeah, my drama review currently stops at 1721, but nothing good was produced in the nineteenth century, and of the six plays on the list I've got four--now that I read M. Butterfly this afternoon, which, hey, anyone who knows anything critical about that play, please feel free to comment!--plus Arcadia, which isn't on the list but is nevertheless my favorite play, oh, and Our Town.)

If only I can manage to keep the topic on British Modernism for as long as possible. That would be handy.

And I have grading to do this weekend. Of course I do. AAAAHHHHH. But since it promises to remain nice through Saturday, perhaps I'll do some of it outside. With sunscreen this time, and also my new big floppy hat.


Jan. 25th, 2010 10:08 pm
icepixie: (Default)
In less pleasant news:

2/5: Draft of final thesis chapter due to my director(!!!!!!!!)
2/12: Complete draft of thesis due to the rest of my committee, with some revisions to chapters two and three, at least if I want to keep my pride (damn you, departmental deadlines!)
2/16: Some kind of project my Modernism prof hasn't gone into in detail about yet (???)
2/18: 30-minute presentation on women's suffrage for Modernism ( least I'm not starting from nothing on that topic like I might have been on many of the other options? Not that this helps much.)

Crap. Crap, crap, crap. At least on the 11th, my students are doing peer review, and on the 18th I'm "teaching them to do historical research," for which I had already planned on giving about half the class over to them doing their own research on the computers in the lab. This doesn't make me feel a whole lot better.
icepixie: (Default)
I showed my 102 class Serenity tonight so that we can discuss it tomorrow, in addition to the mini-lecture on the tradition of the western as translated to science fiction I'm planning. We're also going to watch some fanvids and talk about them in class.

I will leave you all to seethe jealously now. :D

I only had five kids out of twenty-three show up tonight. I'm going to choose to believe that the rest watched it on their own, or possibly that they own it--I do, after all, have some nerds in this class--at least until the quiz scores tomorrow prove me wrong.
icepixie: (Default)
Three things:

1. Class didn't go quite as well today as it did on Tuesday, but it was still better than pretty much any day in 101. Things only died down in the last ten minutes, really.

2. Formatting the extant parts of my thesis for review by the formatting guru, or whatever he is, only took about half an hour. And the crazy margins they want magically gave me six more pages. I can't complain.

3. I have to re-read Picture of Dorian Gray again by Tuesday. DO NOT WANT. (You ever read a novel where you just hate every single person in it? That would be this novel for me. Blech.)
icepixie: ([Poetry] My candle burns at both ends)
I was expecting 102 today to go pretty well, but it exceeded my expectations by a wide margin. Woot! I had everyone read a chapter from Henry Jenkins's Convergence Culture (one about Star Wars parody fan films that touches also on fanfic and musical fanvids, as well as his usual focus on folk vs. mass vs. pop culture), and they really got into it. We had a great discussion about why people write fic and make vids, whether it's fair use (I have several business majors who went into spiels about the added market value fan creativity can bring to a franchise, which was interesting to everyone, I think) and how it ought to be treated. I have about seven who are very interested in all things sci-fi and very willing to talk, which is fantastic, especially after my very not-talkative classes last semester. I even had more that I wanted to get to today, but we ran out of time, which never happened last semester.

For Thursday, we're reading an essay about why sci-fi is so attractive to pre-teens and teenagers, and also how it permeates fans' lives (include a section on conventions) and watching Galaxy Quest. Should be great fun.

Then I went to Modernism class wasn't too bad. We all had to summarize our reading responses, which was nerve-wracking--particularly as other people were all "secondary exegesis" and "artistic autonomy" and I was like, "Modernists thought Einstein was cool"--but could've been worse. We shall see what happens on Thursday.

To top things off, it was gorgeous yesterday and even more gorgeous today (I think we hit 60+F). Lovely day. But now I must read Yet More Theory. Oh, well.


Jan. 13th, 2010 04:32 pm
icepixie: ([B5] New Beginnings Susan)
Okay, so I thought I knew what I was going to use as my examples of fanvids for class the week after next, but I was wrong. We're doing a day on sci-fi fan culture (well, we're doing a bit more than that, but one day of thorough discussion of it) and since my classroom this semester has TECHNOLOGY,* I would like to show some vids. I've got Lim's "Us" lined up, because it's so awesome and very much about fan culture, but I could use two more. I'd like to have one that offers a really different interpretation of the source material--a slash vid would probably work well, but also a constructed reality vid or something like that would work--and then perhaps one that's just hilarious, like, I dunno, a Scorpius vid to "I'm Too Sexy" or something.

We're watching Serenity for the same class period, so Firefly vid suggestions would be especially appreciated. Others would be great too; I imagine canons that have mass rather than cult popularity--Star Trek, X-Files, etc.--would be better choices as more of my students would know of them, but I'll entertain just about anything. (I'll probably throw up links on our Blackboard site for any I don't assign to the whole class or show in class.)

* Seriously, last semester I had chalkboards, and that was it. Now I not only have dry erase boards, but I have a "sympodium" that will let me project a laptop screen, and some kind of digital overhead projector that feeds into the same unit. Oooooh.
icepixie: (Default)
I've decided to use Blackboard's discussion feature this semester, and I hope it won't be a mistake. I'm asking students to post one question/topic for discussion and one response to a classmate's post each week, whether for Tuesday's or Thursday's reading. This means I'll have to read the things, but as I only have one section this semester (HOORAY for the class release that comes with my editorial assistantship), this seems a reasonable price to pay for better discussion. And discussion last semester was better when I made them each write out three questions and hand them in at the beginninng of class; I just didn't like having to put them in groups to "talk about their questions"--which, especially in my more chatty section, turned into "talk about the weekend's parties"--while I spent five or ten minutes sorting through what they'd written.

I guess if it gets to be too tedious for everyone involved, I can always get rid of the requirement later on in the semester. I'll probably end up having to institute some kind of "Last names A-M post for Tuesday, N-Z for Thursday" rule, at least, or we'll have nothing for Tuesday.

I just realized that I scheduled the first set of conferences for my birthday. This will never do. I think I've probably not given them enough time to write the first paper, either. Argh. Making syllabi is like a really wordy game of Tetris, I swear.
icepixie: (Default)

(Rate Your Students is usually too cynical even for me, but occasionally, when I've nothing better to do, I enjoy the schadenfreude. My students last semester were uniformly better than anything on that site.)
icepixie: (Default)

My GOD, writing this chapter was like herding a pack of ADHD squirrels. Who were all on speed. GAAAAH. I think I ended up trying to argue about four different things, and I really only needed to do one of them. And it's been like this since October.

But I now have a complete draft, finally. There are still some sections where I've got placeholder words or phrases enclosed in angled brackets that I need to make clearer tomorrow, but at least it's all at the sentence-level now, and not "Insert paragraph on x" or similar. It's still only fourteen pages, which isn't a bad thing, necessarily--my intro is ten, and my second chapter is sixteen--but after all the work I put into it, I expected more. Then again, perhaps all the work I put into it just made it a really dense fourteen pages. I'll keep telling myself that, anyway.

Graded five papers today when I was stuck on a paragraph. Still have forty-odd more to go, but at least they aren't getting these back, and so I don't have to write up my usual paragraph of comments at the end. That should make it go much more quickly. (Good thing, since I need to submit grades on Saturday before I go back to Nashville for the break.)

In better news, I had a student e-mail me today wanting to know what books to get for next semester, and saying how excited he was about the class topic (science fiction, for anyone who's new here). Awww. 102 is going to be so much more fun to teach than 101 was.

And in really super-exciting news, I was not expecting such a amazing response to my Ginger and Fred vid! I don't think I've ever gotten two pages of comments on anything before! And the stats on the streaming version say there's been almost 900 views so far. I am so pleased that so many people enjoyed it. :)


Dec. 1st, 2009 05:03 pm
icepixie: (Default)
Dear Body,

Now is so not the time to be getting sick. Not at all. You can't wait a week?

Also, if this is swine flu, or any other kind of flu and not just a cold, someone's head is going to roll.

Uckily yours,


Dear Millay paper,

I revised you. Can't you just conclude yourself?

Frustratedly yours,


Dear Thesis,

Thank you for being you, even if we are having some trouble with that section on "Quarantine." I have faith we will manage, though. We must manage, for this chapter has to be done before I leave town next week.

Soppily yours,


In less annoying news, my teaching evaluation went pretty well. It was weird seeing myself on video, but I got over it eventually, and the director of the composition program liked what I was doing and even wanted copies of my paper assignments to put in the sample assignment bank for other 101 teachers. Perhaps I should go into curriculum planning or the like.


Nov. 9th, 2009 07:15 pm
icepixie: (Default)
Another set of papers to grade. WHEN WILL IT END?

(Oh, wait, that would be in about a month. A month. Crap! WHY IS OVER SO QUICKLY?)

Hmmm. I promised my students I'd have the papers back on the 18th, because my two-week revision policy has rather boxed me into a corner. I should get on that. *mopes*


Oct. 29th, 2009 05:30 pm
icepixie: (Default)
Hooray! I got my 102 course proposal approved without any revision necessary.

Speaking of that course, in spare moments over the last few weeks, I've been composing the syllabus. I've had my schedule for a while (since I needed to figure out what books I'd be ordering), and now I'm copying, pasting, and revising my policies from 101. Currently, my policy on participation is, "If you don't come to class prepared, I will turn into President Roslin and throw you out an airlock."

...I have a feeling I'll have to change that or the department will give me grief, but for now, it amuses me.

Other teaching things: yesterday we did "The American Scholar" and a tiny excerpt from Emile. It went surprisingly well, especially considering how lackluster they've been at discussion lately. Part of it was that these are actually interesting, as opposed to the drivel the textbook contains (and, because it costs an incredible amount of money, I feel obligated to use). I'm starting to think the other part was that they weren't always understanding everything in the earlier readings, but didn't feel comfortable saying so (or just figured I might let them out early if they faked it). These, I went into it figuring half of it would fly over their heads, and so I spent the first half of class asking questions that directed them towards the main points of each piece, then writing them on the board as they were mentioned. Discussion went pretty well after that.

However. In the copy of Emile I put up on Blackboard, I included a sentence saying, "If you're reading this, e-mail your professor the secret code phrase: Garlic is essential to avoiding vampire attacks." I had four people e-mail it to me. It turned out that some of the had read it--because they were able to discuss it--but were confused about whether they should do it or not. Gotta admit, I don't quite see how there's any ambiguity in that statement, but whatever. I was going to use it for a quiz grade, but since the people who talked the most were ones who hadn't e-mailed me, I thought that was unnecessarily cruel. They'll just get quizzes all next week. Sucks to be them!

(Actually, what I'm doing in the next unit is having everyone come in with three written questions about the reading and/or something related to writing, which I will take up and address [they'll be talking about them in groups while I look through the questions]. This will replace the roll book I've been using for that unit, so if they don't have questions, they don't get counted as being present. Other people are doing that now and they say it works really well. We shall see.)

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