Thursday, April 24, 2008

Grading and bragging

One of my favorite things to do is spend a day grading papers. Call me strange, but to me there are many rewards:
  • I get to know my students better.
  • I know they will be pleased to see feedback on their work
  • I get a feeling of accomplishment.
  • I learn from them.
  • I get to see how they approach assignments creatively.
One thing I do NOT do is assign work that is comprised of reading summaries or bulleted lists. I know all too well that such tasks cry out for plagiarism and call upon just rudimentary thinking processes. I like to make assignments as open-ended as possible so as to allow my grad students to explore areas where they know they are weak or where they have particular interest. In one class I ask students to document completion of Internet tutorials for traditional searching and also for Web 2.0. But students may not just turn in notes or lists of "things I learned." Instead they must present information in a creative manner. One thing a number of people did this term was to write radio scripts or imaginary conversations. We had conversations between a librarian and Ben Franklin, between a librarian and a patron who wondered if librarians are becoming obsolete, and between a librarian campaigning for access to Web 2.0 resources and an administrator. There were also an informercial for Web 2.0 resources and several radio shows scripts, a couple being call-in programs. Now for the bragging. I am proud to say that my assignments brought out these interesting, informative responses instead of deadly chapter summaries. And even more, I am proud of my students for coming up with such clever and well presented products for their assignments.

To top it off, I stayed home today and worked on my back porch. My fountain is gurgling, I can hear faint piano notes from the music school next door, Ringo is napping at my feet, and the yard is a riot of green. Life is good!

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