Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Taking Bets

It's peer editing day for my writing class today. I reminded them yesterday that they need to bring copies of their draft for every member of their group. Then we counted off groups so they'd know how many people are in their group so they can make the right number of copies. Then I reminded them again that they need to bring copies, just as class was about to end.

So I'm taking bets on how many students will appear at the beginning of class without copies.

Additional bets on how many of those didn't bring paper to print out and how many didn't bring change to make copies. (Printing from campus computers is free, but you have to supply the paper; copy machines aren't free, but you don't have to supply the paper.)

I'm jaded, aren't I?

The thing is, it happens every year with first year students, again and again, an endless cycle which is totally new for the students every time and totally repetitive for me.

I know it's because they're overwhelmed with new stuff and learning to be responsible adults. But it's still frustrating because one person can pretty much disrupt the class by not bringing copies: first they'll stop me at the beginning to ask what they should do, and I'll suggest they run and make copies (there's a copier in the building). Then they'll discover they didn't bring the original, or didn't bring money. So maybe they'll try to borrow money. Or they'll wave their flash drive at me as though I can stick it in my ear and produce copies out my... well, you know. Then they'll need to borrow paper.

And having borrowed money or paper, they'll exit the room in a fluster, only to return ten minutes later, disrupting with their entrance. And in that time, their group has tried to work without them, and now has to try to incorporate them back into things.

But what's the alternative? Sorry, you don't have your essay, you should leave? Or maybe more workable, sorry, you don't have your essay, but you can help your peers.

Actually, I should try that. Thanks for the advice!

!!!!! SPECIAL REPORT !!!!!

I lost the bet! I'm so excited! Every single one of the students brought a draft, and every draft I saw was several pages long!

I think I'm so excited I'll bake them cookies this evening or something!


  1. I usually have them exchange drafts sequentially, with three different group members, so that Student A's draft is being read by Student B for the first fifteen minutes of the peer review period, then by Student C, then by Student D. That way, they only need one copy of the paper. Would that be workable in your class, or is your workshop structured so that everybody needs to be reading the same paper at the same time? Or: if they are working on the same paper at the same time, can the student read it aloud to the group?

    It's still awkward if someone doesn't bring ANYTHING, of course, but it's one less thing they need to remember.

  2. that's so great they all remembered!

  3. That's awesome that they all remembered and came prepared! I'm actually a meanie who treats not bringing a draft the same way I treat not bringing the reading for that day: you're dismissed and charged with an absence. They know that ahead of time. That combined with the fact that they've met with their peer review groups ahead of time for other activities - and so feel a responsibility to one another - does a pretty good job of eliminating the problem that you describe.

  4. So, I take it you didn't bake the cookies BEFORE the peer-editing session...I was hoping for clues on how exactly to get everyone to do it. Even promising absenses, ala Dr. Crazy, hasn't really worked for me.

  5. Fretful Porpentine, They have a written response due the next day, so they need a copy of the essay to think about and reread to do a good job.

    Kathy A, I know! They rock!

    Dr. Crazy, Oh, that's a good idea.

    Other Crazy, They have a written assignment due the next day that I grade, and that seems to inspire them to take the whole process a lot more seriously.