Category Archives: Questions

Notes for next time

When I have to give that pesky Spanish class again, I will have grades recorded all the time in a gradebook they can see electronically, with comments. Grade structure will be very easy to average at the end, because everything will be worth 10%.

Four quizzes or tests taken online outside class time, that include “objective” questions and an essay graded on one grammar point only, 10% each. The essays will be the ones from the workbook that we did not assign.

Two in-class essays, where they have to read something ahead of time and then come in ready to do reading comprehension exercises on it (vocabulary, short answer, essay), 10% each.

Recitation in class, i.e. quality of spoken Spanish as noted through class participation, 10%

Workbook, 10%. If it is done electronically, the essays will not be assigned, but the videos will.

Reading together in class, week of Thanksgiving.

Oral presentation, 10%, last week of class, on reading.

Final exam, on the format of the in-class essays, on reading just done or a related reading, 10%.



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I have 40 essays for Spanish 3 right here that were supposed to be hand written, skipping lines, and turned in with a marked-up draft and the notes that went into making the draft. Several did not follow those instructions at all, and only one of the 40 followed the spirit of those instructions. Of the other 39, quite a few are writing in voices I am quite sure are not their own. In addition to that, there is phrasing in some of them that strongly suggests cut and paste, and other phrasing that smacks of certain translation engines.

One answer to this problem is to make all writing in class writing, but since we are now required to give so many tests, I do not have class time to use for writing assignments as well. I should, technically, investigate quite a few of these people for cheating but I only have time to grade them down for quality (since what they have done actually drives quality down). Do you have a problem like this and if so, how do you handle it? Because I think I am being too lenient.

I mean: if we are to follow state and national standards on course goals with students who are not ready for the course, we will have them cheating on these papers since many do not have the skill level they would need to produce passable ones without cheating. But it is for that reason I provide so much scaffolding, so I think I do my part in that regard. Ideas?

Next semester in Spanish 4 I will have exams online, with a time limit, outside of class. Essays will be written in class. They will be graded with a rubric and we will discuss the rubric very clearly. But how shall I prepare them for the essays? Shall I let them know the topic ahead of time? It is sort of necessary since I want them to do a series of pre-writing activities. I want to let them bring in notes, but no dictionaries and no devices. What do you think?




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Rusia en 1931

I am looking for Hass’ poem on it.

“Poetry proposes no solutions: it says justice is the well water of the city of Novgorod, black and sweet.”


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Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is someone I should study. I must examine his categorical rejection of “imitation,” particularly of European models — an articulation of 1840s US literary nationalism. His program for self-reliance is apparently obedience to higher law.

“Plinlimmon’s snake oil,” someone said in reference to Emerson. Tell me about that. Plinlimmon is a character in Melville’s Pierre, and he is a faux writer. What his attitudes toward nationality are, we shall find out.




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Pour les cours

I am thinking of having a flamenco unit in one of my spring courses, and this is an interesting collection of lyrics. What do you recommend?


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Qu’est-ce que je peux faire pour MOI asteur?

…decide what this paper, which feels alien, has to do with my book, which does not.


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The mistreatment

It is like self-injury, or is self-injury. It has been happening since Reeducation said (or seemed to say, or communicated) I did not deserve to be enjoying life as I was, to be in as good health as I was or to have achieved the things I had.

I should stop following any Reeducated recommendations.

I should also give myself credit: I am working on something now that throws almost my whole life in my face. I could: give myself credit for this on the one hand, and on the other remember that objectively, it is just a little project.

I feel healed now.

But the mistreatment has a payoff, namely, that one gets to become ill, and to recover. (That is as though one only deserved a nice day as compensation for suffering. It also means one is convalescing instead of living well. The cycle is: self-injure, convalesce, repeat.)

That means it is a strategy for hobbling. And I would love to see what I would be like, and what my life would be like, unhobbled. But on the other hand: if I were only self-injuring moderately, I would not notice it and others would not, but I would still be undermining myself. It is almost as though I had magnified the phenomenon so as to be able to see what it is.

The destructive aspect of being ill and recovering: one does not get to do the things one could do if well.

The constructive aspect: one gets some time to think, time to see what underlies, and time off the straight and narrow (because otherwise one is doing what one should and what is correct and practical … since what one wants does not appear to available or attainable …).

The straight and narrow path I seem to be rejecting by engaging in self-harm: doing as one is told.

What I would like: not more obedience but rather, the vista of life unhobbled, life without self-harm.

My problem, still, is still about granting myself authority of any kind, and allowing myself to be at the center of my own life.

Why do I engage in self-harm? So that my mother will love me. Which I need her to do since I need her shelter.

But my mother is dead.

I must reoccupy good living. When I used to live well, treat myself well, enjoy life, be good to myself, do things during the day that advanced me, it was not because I was on the straight and narrow but because I was on the path of pleasure.

I would like to see what life is like without this. Not just a few days — I do manage that often enough — but months on end.

Yet it still feels as though Reeducation had killed the person who did so many beautiful things, the subject of those acts.

But one of my friends signs all correspondence, “Onward.”


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