It has been a busy week for yours truly. So busy that my fitness program, which had been running pretty consistent since the start of the new year, got a bit derailed as I dealt with one issue or another.
Let’s get to it.
The Teaching Front
We’re advancing to our first exam, which is far later than normal due to the snow days we’ve had. I’m behind in all of my classes as well, which is yet another struggle. Further, due to the disruptions, it has been difficult to build up momentum and bond with the students. As a result, things are not working quite as smoothly as I’d like. Fortunately, I have no real disciplinary issues on the table.
On the other hand, I see a lot of my students using their textbook and their study guide during the lecture to hunt down terms. On the surface this might seem like a good thing, right? At least they are paying attention to something.
Well, actually, it is a bad thing. It is a sign of a time crunched student, or worse, a bored student, who is attempting to work through the study guide while I lecture. More often than not students believe that the lecture material is not important for the test. I often get students who ask how much of what I lecture on is in the textbook.
Less than you’d think. The lectures are often specifically designed to go deeper into the topics at hand or they are designed to operate hand in glove with the textbook.
So an example would be the lecture on the Pre-Revolutionary Era of American History. The traditional way of teaching this is to start with the Stamp Act, the Sugar Act, the This Act and the That Act and rest assured that is exactly how it sounds to the student. They are merely memorizing bits of info for regurgitation and that is the last thing you want them to do. Memorization is just an early step towards true understanding.
Rather than lecture on those acts, I make the student responsible for reading the textbook’s coverage of those acts. What I do instead is lay out the case for why the Colonials believed that their only recourse was to declare independence from Great Britain. I lay down the grievances and I fill in the background for the Colonial’s historical understanding and perception of events.
How does that work out? Well, I’m two semesters into using that method and if you are a student who does what I told you to do, take notes on the lecture, tie it to your reading and form a synthesis of the two, then they do fine.
Test results aren’t much different between one strategy of coverage or the other, I might add.
In any event, they are doing their homework while I lecture. I think I’m going to put that on the Why Did I Fail The Test? section of my syllabus for next semester.
The Student Front
I’ve not had a chance to update either the Pondering Tree or Playing with Genesis.
We’ve moved into the actual writing of the novel. The group I am in wrote a combined first chapter this last week.
We’re in a computer lab and to be honest, I am growing to believe that this was not the best choice for the class. It is hard to get into an effective group in order to get any work done. The computers serve as a frequent distraction. Given that I was using my laptop on Tuesday, even I am guilty of this, though I had a reason (which is not the same as an excuse) for having that computer out. If nothing else, the clickety-click-click-click of the keys on my laptop are relatively quiet.
In fact, in terms of technology in the classroom, I think it ought to be banned. No videos, no slides, no powerpoints, none of it. Just a board to write on and comfortable chairs for the students to sit in with a large desk to spread out their things. On C-Span this morning (and what a wonderful discovery that is, a place where people discuss without drama or shouting or Jerry Springer like behavior) an education pundit was talking about a high tech public school on the East Coast which cost a pretty penny to equip with the latest and greatest in technology.
The performance at that school? In the toilet. Students surf the net, IM each other or spend their time trying to get the tech to work in the first place.
Banish to the Computer Science Department and leave it there.
I’ll provide a proper update to Playing with Genesis that covers the actual course material and progress later this weekend.
Research Project Number – 05
The Client was on deadline this week, which was something of a surprise to me. I wasn’t aware of the deadline. No matter. I sat down with the backlog I could most effectively contribute to and worked over the material. By deadline time, I had most of the storyline components covered. There are a few lingering errors in the manuscript but I will catch them later.
It is going to be a pretty big novel, folks. I’m looking forward to seeing how the trilogy ends.
The Writing Front
In the Early Morning Rain by Berry Henderson and myself is currently out to market. We haven’t heard anything back yet so we’re hopeful. It is a new market open to e-subs so I’ll be looking over my inventory to see what can be polished up and put into the wind. Many of the valuable things I have learned in World Building will be helpful in that respect.
On the novel front I was able to drag out the manuscript for the first time in a couple of weeks to give it a going over. What I have right now are a bunch of cobbled together, pasted together scenes which are loosely linked together. In looking over the manuscript I think some major work is needed to better define the roles of the various characters.
There is also one glaring problem, the same one I noticed with my previous novel effort, Convergence Point.
When I have the space to spread out and more specifically, work on a military topic, I tend to let the action and strategy dominate the narrative. It is a natural strength of mine as a storyteller and an historian. Unfortunately, without significant character depth and development, no one is going to care about that action. It will be nothing more than a series of cardboard targets getting cut down on the battlefield.
So that part of it needs significant work. It is the sort of thing I can probably hammer out in a week of concentrated effort.
As for the World Building in the novel, I think some refinement of various structures and institutions are necessary. I definitely want to redefine the family structure of this society based upon what I have learned in Melissa Eaton’s Cultural Anthropology side of the course.
If things go according to plan, I’ll use my time during Spring Break in tandem with Trinity’s Spring Break (which is at the end of the month) to get the project ready for submission to market.
Over the next few days the Great Summer Job Hunt will commence. Now that I am lifeguard qualified I should be able to, hopefully, get a decent job at around 25 to 30 hours a week maximum. Even more ideally, it will be a posting to an outdoor pool.
Trinity is making plans to travel to California to see her eldest son and wife for a week during her Spring Break. I should be able to polish up the novel while she is out there. I’ve got to say that I am glad to see that fences have been mended with that particular component of her family.
Lastly, March 10th is my father’s birthday. He’ll be sixty-nine years old if my math is correct. No one thought he’d get this far given that he has prostate cancer, multiple myeloma, stage three lung cancer and a heart muscle that more closely resembles a chunk of hamburger than a heart.
I chalk it up to sheer cussed stubborness myself.
Trinity and I are going to see about getting some barbecue for tomorrow night so we can celebrate a bit early. Both of us will be tied up during the week with our respective college obligations.
So it goes.