Welcome to Teaching Carnival #15! If this were a wedding anniversary, we'd be celebrating with crystal. As it is, we'll just have to make do with the bounty of wonderful posts about teaching that have appeared in the last two weeks. My apologies for posting this a little late, and thank you to those of you who submitted nominations, tagged posts in delicious or technorati, and/or wrote such interesting material!
I've tried to cast my net wide, but even with tagging and submissions, most of the links below represent blogs I read on a fairly regular basis. If you feel you've been passed over, please make sure to nominate yourself to Ancarett, who will be hosting the next Teaching Carnival - self-nominations are absolutely welcome! (Your post doesn't have to have been posted in the two weeks prior to the Carnival if it hasn't previously been included, although more current posts are preferable to older ones.)
Before we begin, I should probably note that in the spirit of my blog, which is not a purely academic blog but an academic life blog (to the extent a junior academic has a life! but that's a whole other discussion), I include here not just learned discourses about different issues in teaching (although there are plenty of those); I also include posts about the more personal side of teaching - how it makes us feel, how it intersects with the rest of our lives. Sometimes this entails venting about our frustrations with students (or, of course, our teachers). I don't include every such vent that I've come across in the last two weeks, but I do include them when I feel that they serve a purpose - either by explaining how and why faculty respond to students the way that they sometimes do, or helping teachers (or students) realize that they're not alone in facing certain problems (or problem students/teachers). Any students reading should know that such posts are not AT ALL intended as blanket criticisms of students and should NOT be read as anything more than the response of a specific professor to a specific student at a specific moment.
Finally, if I've linked to you here and you'd really rather not have your post given wider exposure, please just let me know and I'll happily edit.
Now, get settled with your corn dog or cotton candy or popcorn, and on with the show!
What should I take next semester??
One of the wonders of the interwebs is how it makes accessible to many some of the wonderful, fascinating courses out there. And since faculty are in the midst of planning for spring semester, this is a good time of year to see what they have to say. At the Long Eighteenth [Century, that is!], you can find first, a course proposal for "1771: A Year in the Life of the British Empire," and second, questions about teaching about classicism and the Enlightenment. At accidentals and substantives, a description of an undergraduate honors course titled "Rip, Mix, and Burn: Social Creativity Online." Timna points us to John Corbally's online course on children's literature that she wishes hers looked like. The Cranky Professor talks about creating a Bible workbook for his course on Art in the First Millenium. While you're over there, see what he has to say about teaching spoken Latin in the modern world. John Walter at Machina Memorialis discusses how to teach a class in science fiction, and how he uses audio tours of campus in his first-year composition class. And J.J. Cohen at In the Middle describes his medieval literature graduate seminar titled "Writing, Race, and Nation."
In more general course planning, Terminal Degree wonders which is better when choosing an introductory music textbook: a big, comprehensive book that the students never read, or a shorter one that they will read? Later, she tells us what she's decided. Bardiac wonders whether to teach Shakespeare using an anthology or individual editions, and also about schedules for seminars. And some conversations on how much to ask of our students and the consequences for faculty, beginning with Horace at To Delight and Instruct, and continuing at The Salt Box.
Grading and feedback
Of course, another subject of conversation come mid-semester is grading, and the blogworld is no exception. Another Damned Medievalist bemoans grading. The Wink Wink Type of Ironic talks about her first experiences with grading this semester. Kristiface at The Life & Times of a History Ph.D. Student asks, "How much feedback is enough when grading?" Clancy at CultureCat talks about the feedback she got as an undergraduate. GeekyMom explains how she becomes a "ghost teacher" and gives her students audio feedback on their papers. Anastasia explains why she likes grading (which makes me think of the old adage about why you like banging your head into a wall...!). Dr. Four-Eyes asks the eternal question about grading. Flavia realizes her comment on a student paper wasn't very clear. Finally, jo(e) tells us how, contrary to everything I've ever imagined, she makes grading an aerobic exercise.
Bardiac talks about the pleasure of revisions and conferencing (and her distaste for returning papers). Profgrrrl of Playing School, Irreverently describes how her own instructors (and others) taught her write better. She also talks about how much feedback she gives on writing. Sarah at Mommy, Ph.D. discusses the benefits of telling students exactly why they're doing an assignment. And BikeProf at The Hobgoblin of Little Minds thinks about how his own feedback style differs from that of his collegue, Dr. Fire-Eater.
Flavia of Ferule & Fescue asks for advice on responding to plagiarism, and updates us on the situation. Alice in Wonderland wonders about whether an online student is doing her own work or not.
Hiram Ulysses Blogger at JogAmericaBlog (who has a really neat conceit for a blog, by the way!) discusses the corollary between his students' performance on homework and on the exam.
The bigger picture
Bardiac discusses students repeating courses, and the educational (and budget) issues that the practice raises. BikeProf at The Hobgoblin of Little Minds talks about a similar problem for one of his students: how to justify teaching an independent study when other courses in the department go under-enrolled. Dr. Free-Ride (a.k.a. Janet Stemwedel) of Adventures in Ethics and Science asks what "no-win" choices are getting you down at this time of year? (And apparently "death" is not an option!) Sean Carroll of Cosmic Variance comments on Harvard's recent revisions to their core curriculum, and what he thinks a core curriculum should look like. Finally, Dean Dad at Confessions of a Community College Dean discusses what role remediation should play in higher education.
It's also that time of year when people think about applying to grad school. Dr. Crazy considers the question of whether, and how, to advise students to go to grad school in English literature. Collin Brooke at Collin Vs. Blog gives a great set of tips on how to apply. Dr. Virago of Quod She wonders what kinds of boundaries she should maintain with students once they make it to grad school. Ancarett talks about her grad students' fear of comps.
We all know that writing a dissertation is stressful, but advising one can be stressful, too. Profgrrrrl chimes in a story of how, in two parts. (I include these not to slam graduate students - I'd much rather oversee a dissertation than write one! - but to show how behavior that seems perfectly reasonable from the student point of view may not look that way to the professor!) On a happier note, StyleyGeek of Fumbling Toward Geekdom gives an example from the student's point of view of great encouragement by a doctoral supervisor.
Someone is watching you...
It's also the time of year for course observations. A White Bear of Is There No Sin in It? talks about her experiences having her teaching observed. At Padeia's Closet, it's time to look back at previous evaluations. phd me survives her midterm evaluations. And at Learning Curves, Rudbeckia Hirta describes observations from the other side of the room.
And they say faculty don't know how to dress...
Teaching with technology
Rudbeckia Hirta talks about when the technology lets you down, and other teaching challenges. Profgrrrrl wonders about the best ways to oversee online teaching. Marcelle Proust discusses how the Interwebthingie changed her teaching life. Alex Reid at Digital Digs talks about the role of the public blog in the classroom. At Re: Thinking, Teaching, Writing, a discussion of the pros and cons of when computing meets composing. And timna talks about stepping back from her online course and letting the students sort themselves out.
Flossie at Stepping on Acorns gives an example of how much difference a good class session can make. JM at No Fancy Name talks about her great class. Elizabeth at neither necessary nor sufficient describes her own greatest teaching day ever (which does, in fact, sound like loads of fun). Bardiac has a lovely visit with a former student, and Professing Mama talks about the pleasure of developing relationships with the students at her new job.
Kate at a k8, a cat, a mission describes how she responds when her students are sleepwalking through a discussion of the female orgasm (don't worry, it's nothing raunchy - but the female orgasm! You'd think at least embarrassment might keep some of them awake?) (which is not to say that there's anything embarrassing ABOUT the female orgasm, but my undergrads get embarrassed discussing such things, at least... okay, I'll get out of this hole now...!). In a similar vein (though not, I imagine, to do with the female orgasm), Anastasia talks about how she got her silent class to open up.
Those whacky students
Sarah at Mommy, Ph.D. talks about her frustration with students who want full credit for little effort. The Philosophy Factory discusses her "dork class" (haven't we all encountered the odd class like this, where nothing seems to gel?). Then there are those students, like this one of Anastasia's, or this one of BikeProf's at The Hobgoblin of Little Minds, who always seem to want just a little bit more help... Or those, like these of hilaire's at clashing hats, who don't seem to realize that professors hear what they say... Or those, like this one of profgrrrrl's, who seem happy to share just a little too much. For Bardiac, the whackiness comes when your family members want to be your students, if just for a day. Finally, Meg at xoom has students who really take Halloween seriously.
That's it for the Carnival, folks - this way to the egress! Teaching Carnival #16 will be held at Ancarett's Abode on November 15 - see you then!