Sunday, January 30, 2005


Oh, me! I have now gone through everything I got back from the college print shop, and there are a few things missing. I wonder if they'll show up next week. In addition, we were given the final draft of the student learning outcomes -- now that I've had the rough draft of these printed in the current syllabus! So I guess I'll be heading to Staples tomorrow to get these last minute printing jobs done. I thought about stapling them to the syllabus copies I have ready to hand out, but I think I'll have the students do that themselves during class. Save my own labor for more important things ... like planning!

I finally made a decision and bought a digital camera today, an Olympus C-60. Now we'll see how long it takes for me to learn how to use it effectively!

Friday, January 28, 2005

Flex Day

Actually, the college has three Flex days just before the start of each semester, but I attended only one of them this time: yesterday. I don't know what flex refers to unless it's the flexibility each of us has to choose what we want to attend -- or not! Basically, there are keynote speakers, training sessions, and division meetings. As long as I pick up at least one new good idea from each Flex day and see a few good friends, I'm happy. Frank Attoun announced that this will be his last semester as Dean of the Communications Division; he will then teach French and Spanish for the next few years before retirement. While he was speaking, I was thinking that this will probably be my last semester to teach at COD!

What did I learn yesterday? I learned how to convert my online class roster into an Excel spreadsheet. I learned that Houghton Mifflin has a website that will provide extra help and even live tutoring for my students because I use one of their texts. I listened to a man from Texas A&M speak about data and assessment, not just of the students in a particular class, but how an entire college or system could use data to drive their programs -- not just assumptions or surveys, but actual data. One interesting question he asked of everyone was if we knew which group of students (in our classes? in the whole college? or what?) included the lowest performers on a regular basis. No one answered, not even after 30-45 seconds of waiting! I think everyone had different groups in mind, depending on his or her teaching assignment. His question made me think of how few young men (black, white, Hispanic, Asian, or whatever) actually finish the courses I teach at the Indio center. Among my students on the main campus, I really can't say the same thing. It's not as clear cut.

I also picked up all the stuff I had sent off for printing -- it took two trips to get it all out to my car! Today I have been sorting it all out, checking each set off, filing everything away, and getting things separated to use next Monday. I can see about three things that didn't come in, so I'll have to double-check with the print shop on campus. Maybe I sent those in later or something. I don't remember! That's why I keep lists!! Anyway, my office is a complete mess again, but it'll clear up as soon as I get all these things put away. Office Depot has some square-bottom file folders; I need to get some of those for some of the thicker sets of stuff I have printed, such as the syllabus, the reading lists, and the sample MLA papers I distribute.

Onward ... to continue organizing this room so it isn't a mess anymore.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Getting ready

It's time to start tweaking the lesson plan file I have -- make it useful for this coming semester. That means going through last semester's plans and altering the dates and assignments to match the syllabus I sent to be printed for this semester. I'll get the first two or three weeks' plans done and then take them one week at a time. The best things about making myself write up lesson plans (in a file that only I see!) are that I can tell at a glance whether I'm on-track with the syllabus and that I know which handouts and/or transparencies to take to class each day.

There have been only a few drops and adds in my class rosters, very few actually. I know there will be those who didn't get registered who will show up and crash the class. That's fine. The more, the merrier!

I've been listening to the Shakespeare discussion (on CDs) between Hugh Hewitt and David Allen White (prof at USNA). What an insightful man! Of course he knows all about Shakespeare himself, as well as all the plays and poems he wrote. He gives suggestions about how to read these 400 year old works without too much frustration as well as what to read and in what order (and why!). It's really a wonderful CD set. I'll be listening to it again and again.

Now if HH will just produce CDs of his interviews with Dr. Larry Arnn (, I'll be very happy. Their discussions revolved around the great thinkers and writers from Aristotle up through time. It's like a mini-Western Civ seminar!

Flex starts tomorrow, but so does the Bob Hope Classic. So I'll forego any of the sessions tomorrow and Friday. I'll go early on Thursday and come home after the division/department meeting (after 8 pm). I hope to avoid the worst of the traffic by doing that! We'll see.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

More changes!

Wow! I got home tonight from Texas and discovered all kinds of changes in the class lists. Good thing I already know how fluid these are until a few weeks have passed. When I first started teaching for COD, I was really bothered by this unsettledness, but not any more.

It's also interesting who decides to enroll in which class. There are students from Coachella and Thermal who have enrolled in the early-morning, on-campus class, and there are students from Palm Desert and Cathedral City in the Indio class. It all depends on their individual schedules, obviously.

I've re-read The Awakening and am now re-reading the added chapters and commentaries in the Norton Critical Edition. Those sections really have interesting tidbits and should help students understand a bit more about the lives of women in the very late 1800s, as well as what Creole society was like. I've also been reading Michener's Texas, which has some sections in it I plan to read aloud to my classes -- to illustrate the attitudes of the Spanish toward the French and vice versa.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Pre-semester contacts

So far, I've received three responses to the emails that I've sent out to students registered. Two were rather general, expressing happy surprise that they had access to the syllabus and book lists ahead of time, and one (received today) was asking about specific editions of the two novels for the class. I'm very pleased that at least a few are taking advantage of advance information!

My class lists are the same as they were yesterday -- one at 29 and the other at 28. That will all change on the first day of classes, however. There'll be confusion for a while, but eventually everything will settle down. I sure hope the college's enrollment is better this semester, overall, than it was last semester. There's no reason for the enrollment not to hit the cap that the state sets.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Class lists

I just checked the class lists -- now that it's about two weeks before the new semester starts. It's always interesting to see how the names do or don't change -- all this shuffling about just before the semester starts! I always wonder which of these students will be the two or three who never show up! Lucky for them, I'll drop them if they are absent after the second or third class meeting. If anyone starts an absence streak after the second week of class meetings, they'd better be paying attention to the drop dates published in this semester's schedule, as well as online:

The class that amazes me right now is my PDC (main campus) class, the one that will start at 7:15 am on Mondays and Wednesdays! Yikes!! 7:15 am! But incredibly enough, it was the one that filled up first and seemed to be more stable than the one that is scheduled to start at 4:40 pm (also MW). Since Jan 5, however, three people dropped the early-morning class, and two others have enrolled. Now it's the EVC (Indio) class that is unchanged for the past two weeks or so.

I sent email to all who have email addresses listed in the college's database, giving them the links to my email addresses and to the class webpage which lists the texts needed, the syllabus, assignments, etc. So far three students have responded. I sure hope some of those who received email fro me will take advantage of the advance notice and save themselves some money by buying used textbooks from online or offline places (eBay or Walmart or wherever).

To get started

I think I'll keep track of things that happen, at least this semester. Often there are things that happen in a classroom that just have to be remembered! Sometimes they're funny; sometimes they are instructional -- all kinds of occurrences. So that's what this is for -- an online journal to keep track of my experiences this semester. And who knows? It might end up being a place for conversations, too.

It might not all be classroom-related, and it might be for more than just this semester. I'll see!