Thursday, February 16, 2012


Our enrollment cap for our first year writing course is 28. Sometimes the powers that be add another for 29, but you get the idea. It's a big class, way bigger than any of our professional organizations sees as a "best practice."

The numbers are a problem in big, obvious ways. But they're also a problem in little ways. My problem today is with focus.

I collected some journals and quizzes from the class today. The journals are frequent short writing assignments (most don't write a full page) to which I respond mostly with short, positive comments in the margins and a quick 1-10 grade. (At least the short, positive comments are my goal.) All sorts of writing research suggests that short writing assignments that someone responds to are a good practice in all sorts of classes, and especially in writing classes. I'm convinced by the research, so I use them in my classes.

I can do 12 of these in short order, well-focused and not too frustrated. And if I saw that I had only a few more to grade, I'd power through the last four or five easily enough. But when I look and see that I have more to grade than I've graded, I find it difficult to keep my focus. And that means that I stop grading and write a whiny blog post or something instead of powering through.

Okay, now I have to get back to that last part of the stack. And then the quizzes.

Bonus: Almost all the students are now actually citing their source in the journal! YAY! (Yes, I care. Citing sources should be habit for assignments in college.)

1 comment:

  1. Our class cap is 22. While that's more manageable than 28, it still seems to be too much. Wouldn't it be amazing to have writing classes with a cap of 15? Geez. Dare to dream. I might be able to teach those kiddos how to punctuate if I didn't have so many of them. (Not that punctuating properly is the ultimate goal of my class, but there might, at least, be time to talk about it ...)