Thursday, May 16, 2013

Finals Week Revelation(s)

Our first year writing course has several required components these days.  One of them is a self-evaluation that each student writes about his or her progress towards the course goals.  These are pretty fun to read (and quick, since they turned them in during the final, and won't get them back unless they ask to at some point).

Naturally, everyone felt that they'd accomplished all the course goals. 

I found it really interesting that about a third of them mentioned freewriting, most to say that they hated it and found it valuable at the same time.  I totally understand that.  I know when I ask them to do it (and I have them do it a lot in classes) they tend not to like it.  But it's nice to see a number of them look back and write that it was actually useful.  They also tended to acknowledge that they'd never do it on their own.  I wonder if even one of them will use it to get started on a writing project at some point in the future?  Some also mentioned bubble mapping and other brainstorming practices, and some readings, even.

(I've probably blogged about this before, but when I was in grad school, teaching comp with the army of grad students, one of us down in our cubby filled basement was talking about hir difficulty with writing block.  And I asked, because I'm rude enough to ask, if zie had tried freewriting.  No, zie said, zie hadn't.  So I asked if zie didn't teach freewriting in hir comp class, and yes, of course zie did.  But zie had never figured out or become convinced that it might actually be useful to hirself.  I became a convert to freewriting within a couple weeks of learning about it, and it helps me write whatever I write, not enough, but it helps!)

Of course, there's always the chance that my students are just kissing up.  But if so, they shouldn't mention how much they hate it!

I now have left to grade: 
1 set of finals
1 set of finals (partially graded)
3 (I think) late papers

I figure at least five hours of work (including submitting grades). 

My dog, I hate late papers to grade.  You think you've made it through, and some student hands you yet another thing to grade.  I wonder how they'd feel if I said at the last minute, oh, here's another assignment you need to do before you can be done? 

They'd hate it. 

Of course, the late papers come from a handful of students, and often because someone got ill or something.


I have this fleece jacket that I love.  It's warmish, and fleecy, and loose enough to go over three or four layers, and it has outside AND inside pockets.  It's probably closer to 20 years than to 15 years old.  I wear it pretty much all the time, or did, until this fall and winter, the zipper stopped working.  So I wore another jacket, which was a bit less warm and didn't have inside pockets (I need inside pockets for my reading glasses, among other things).  But I somehow always felt just a little too busy to figure out where to get the zipper replaced.

Until, finals week.  It's the time to get stuff taken care of, especially if doing that means avoiding grading.

So I called and checked, and found an alterations place that replaces zippers, and they said I should bring in a zipper, since they might not have the right size/color in stock.  So I went to the sewing store and looked pathetic, and the nice saleswoman helped me find the right size/color of zipper.  Then I asked her about the best alterations place she could suggest (because she would know, right?) and she and another saleswoman suggested this other place.  So I went there.

And when I got there, the alteration woman took a look at my demonstration of what was wrong and said that I just needed a new pull thingy, and withing about five minutes, I had a perfectly working new pull thingy on a perfectly working new zipper! 

Now I'm feeling stupid that I waited so long.


And last week, my OLD laptop died.  Fortunately I'd been having problems with it for a while, so I'd pulled pretty much everything important off onto a flash drive and put it elsewhere.  So at least I'm not losing anything vital that way.  I took it into the shop today, in hopes they can fix it.  (I don't use it much for computing, but mostly for watching DVDs and playing an OLD computer game.  


My bike took me out for a ride yesterday, and it was glorious!  I only went on a local bike path (so pretty flat), but it felt just great.  But the shifting had felt sloppy (the rear shifting), so now it's in the shop getting a rusty cable replaced.  The bike ride totally changed my day for the better.  I mean, I was feeling pretty good, and finished giving my final.  I debated trying to grade through, take a nap, or go for a ride, and I chose a ride.  Then I went home and had the best nap.  So I went from feeling pretty good to feeling really, amazingly, wonderfully good.  I think that bike's about the best investment I ever made.


About seven or eight weeks ago, I decided to try the 100 pushups thing again.  I tried it a long time ago, and didn't really do it after a week.  So I tried again. 

I want to admit right up front that I'm an overweight, middle-aged woman who could barely do 2 knee pushups in the initial test thing.  I did "day 1" for a week, and day 2 for just as long.  But I progressed.  I'm now on "week 4" and have been on the first day of that for a couple days, just barely able to do the day's pushups.  But still, that means I've gone from barely being able to do 2 in a row (knees pushups) to being able to do 20 at a time (in the self-test) and now the day's set is 12, 14, 11, 10, 16 (you're supposed to do at least 16, and more if you can, but I can't).  And I can do it, if barely, and using the knee push up method.   I'll be doing this day at least another day or two.

I still can't do a proper toe push up, though I think I'm getting close.  I'm thinking of using a prop about six inches off the ground to see if I can do them that way, and restart the program once I can do a full bunch from the knees.  (Or maybe mix?  I just know that I want to try to keep going until I can do some actual push ups.)

The program adds push ups faster than my body seems able to, but since I seem to be slowly improving, I'm trying to keep my hopes up.


And now it's time to grade.  I have until early next week to turn in grades, but I'm hoping to finish by Saturday.  There's an exciting thing starting on Monday, so I'll be talking about that, too!


  1. Amen on the one more paper thing. Even worse: emailing student about corrupted file, and getting crickets back (this, of course, feeds the suspicion that the file may have been deliberately corrupted, because there wasn't actually any there there. I never saw a draft from this student).

    Unlike your graduate colleague, I took the whole freewriting/just writing thing that we taught in English 101 a bit too much to heart. My dissertation draft grew and grew, but refused to take any sort of comprehensible form. I try to go back and forth a bit more often between "just writing" and trying to find the patterns emerging from the chaos (and sticking to them, at least provisionally, once I find them) these days.

  2. I did the push-up program too! I used a book 7 Weeks to 100 Push-Ups. I couldn't even do one push up, so I had to turn to the remedial section and start with one week of wall push-ups, then a second week of counter top push-ups, followed by a third week of chair push-ups, concluding with a fourth week of knee push-ups. Only in week 5 did I get to actual, real push-ups. And even then, I had to repeat the first week of real push ups before I felt ready for week 2. It took all summer, but by the end, I could actually do 100 push-ups on my toes.

    You can do it!


  3. Bethany, Thanks for the encouragement! I need it.

    I'm feeling stuck on week four right now. I can barely BARELY do the Monday set. I've done it three times now, and I may try just adding one to the second part and see how that goes? Or to the third of fourth parts?

    So, can you still do lots of pushups? Does it make you feel like your core is stronger? your upper body strength?

  4. Go back to week 3 and really nail it before week 4. I think it's a matter of getting your arms ready to hold your whole body weight.

    And no, I can't still do all those pushups. Last year, my husband and I did the routine again and were able to start out at the second beginner lever (I think), but we still had to start pretty light before we could get back to doing 100.

    I saw the most change in my biceps and shoulders. Even at my heaviest, my arms looked smokin'. My stomach definitely felt the workout after the first few weeks, but I didn't see it shrinking, by any means.