Saturday, April 26, 2008

Prison Bulletin

  • I am deep, deep in grading jail. If I'm very good, my sentence will be up by Wednesday night. I don't think that I'm capable of being that good.
  • Yesterday I caught 2.5 cases of plagiarism. The 0.5 is semi-ambiguous: the student did have a works cited list and did cite some of his/her sources, but the paper contains a number of unacknowledged quotations (i.e. with no quotation marks) and the works cited list is all websites--when I said at least 8,500 times that websites are not acceptable sources for this paper. The two full cases of plagiarism were just straight-off-the-internet papers. One of them was laughably obvious: I read a sentence from the middle of the paper and new instantly that it wasn't the student's work. The sad thing is that I was so tired grading by that point that I was actually glad--one less paper that I have to read! But the short-lived pleasure is, of course, outweighed by my dismay. Of course.
  • I exceeded yesterday's grading goal by one paper.
  • But that was yesterday. The tally starts all over this morning.
  • I can't bring myself to get started.
  • I think that I'll go to the grocery store instead, even though I don't really need to.
  • It's kind of cool out this morning, but beautifully sunny and clear after yesterday's heavy rains, so a walk to the store sounds nice.
  • Then, perhaps, I'll take a nap.
  • There's lots of time to grade in the afternoon, right?
  • I have 27 more comp papers and then I get my survey papers on Monday.
  • I am disheartened.
  • I dislike assigning grades. No--I dislike assigning most grades. I love giving a student a well-deserved A; nothing makes me happier, teaching-wise. I recently had a student who had been sort of in the B- range all year write a terrific paper in which it was clear that she'd really worked at some of the stuff that had been tripping her up; I took tremendous pleasure in writing that A at the end of my comments. Even better was the look on her face when I handed it back. I'm going to keep that memory in mind when I meet with the two plagiarists next week.
  • This summer is going to be lovely. I will spend many days doing whatever I want.
  • It's much easier to fantasize about being done with the semester than it is to finish. Sigh.


Fretful Porpentine said...

I concur with all of these sentiments, although luckily I haven't caught any plagiarism yet. (Greetings to my fellow-prisoner in grading jail! Maybe we could communicate by tapping on the walls or something?)

heu mihi said...

The tapping you hear may be the beating of my forehead against the walls. Why oh why did I allow *anyone* to write about abortion for the open-topic research paper? Why??

(Nine to go. I can do this. That's only 3 hours of grading.... I can get that done before the 4:00 dept party, right? Just don't think about starting over with the new batch of papers tomorrow....)

Belle said...

Oh... I do feel for you. Perhaps you need a cake with a file (or a shredder) to help you break free.

I managed my 1/2 of remaining papers today and leapt gratefully into the sun. Of course, that means I have the rest to do tomorrow...

Fretful Porpentine said...

The tapping you hear may be the beating of my forehead against the walls. Why oh why did I allow *anyone* to write about abortion for the open-topic research paper? Why??

Oy. If it's any comfort, I'm now kicking myself for allowing students to write about The Da Vinci Code.

I'm also having flashbacks to the first semester I taught comp, back when I was young and innocent and actually willing to let myself in for writing detailed comments on drafts. I got a draft whose thesis was, slightly paraphrased, "Human cloning should be banned because when God created Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, he meant for them to reproduce naturally and not clone themselvs."

I write a long comment explaining, as diplomatically as possible, that academic audiences come from all creeds and backgrounds, and the student should avoid assuming that they are Christians, etc.

Final copy of the essay: "The human race today is not perfect. Why would we want to clone ourselves when millions of years of evolution are still to come? Think about the people living in medieval times. Imagine if that generation had cloned itself. We would be without the comforts of modern-day living that we experience today."

After that, there wasn't much else to say except "On second thought, I liked it better with Adam and Eve."

heu mihi said...

FP--Dear God. Well, I had two--two!--students argue that cloning is wrong because God does not say in the Bible that he is pro-cloning.

In the margins of one paper, I wrote, "Where does God say that he's for television?" and, in the other, I asked about pizza. It's funny to imagine a Bible in which God actually names the as-yet-uninvented things that he will or won't approve (including those things that are *still* uninvented; apparently these students' imaginations didn't take them that far). As if the Bible weren't open to enough interpretation as it is.

Belle--I congratulate you, and good luck with tomorrow's batch!