(apologies to The Beatles)
We’re in the homestretch, as this coming week is the last week of classes. So far, only four stickers have been added to the board (a vast improvement over 19 last semester), and most students followed directions and gave me their rough drafts when they submitted the final versions of their research papers (my rationale: if I didn’t mark it on the rough draft, I can’t hold them accountable for not making the correction on the final version). Plus, if a student neglects to document all of the information in his/her research paper—especially direct quotes—in my mind, the student is daring me to fail him/her for not following directions. Obviously, if I have no qualms about charging students with academic dishonesty, I have no problem failing them for not following explicit directions. Of course, some of the rough drafts needed a complete reworking of the entire paper, so I’m sure I will still find some issues with grammar and spelling (after all, spell check isn’t your friend if you choose a word that is spelled correctly but isn’t the correct word).
Sometimes, too, I know what they intend to say, even if the wording is a bit awkward. For example, these gems from book reviews:
For the purpose of historical information the author did attempt to show excitement for her topic, with the antidotes of an actual variety of women during the time period of 1865-1940.
However, despite how concise and nearly historically accurate that the narrative is, it really is a good read.
This past week was more than just grading book reviews (and getting mentally prepared for the excitement and adventure of grading the research papers). We almost had our first snow day of the year (well, we did have some snow, and some students and faculty couldn’t make it to campus because of road conditions), so Monday was switched from “lecture day” to “documentary day” that reviewed material previously covered in class. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday were lecture days, and Thursday and Friday were “fun film days” (documentary on tourism in History of Pennsylvania and two episodes of Liberty’s Kids in the American Revolution class) on the days students submitted their research papers. In addition, I’ve reached the point in the semester in the U.S. history survey class in which it’s not really history to me because I’ve lived through it (of course, as an early American historian anything after 1800 can be considered current events), but at the same time to the vast majority of students the 1960s was when their parents were children—if their parents were even born yet (a couple of years ago I had a student whose parents were born after Watergate). Fortunately, this semester I have a couple of non-traditional students in the U.S. history survey who understand when I talk about Black Panthers, hippies, Hanoi Jane, and the Mercury 7 and who remember what it was like to watch Apollo launches (and who also remember when Challenger exploded shortly after takeoff).
And, of course, the last week of classes brings its own adventures: the final student teaching observations for three of the students; the last book discussion in History of Pennsylvania (one that I am definitely looking forward to, because students will be discussing the “mustard” book); and the last lecture of the semester. I have not yet achieved the dream of having the class give me a standing ovation, but I always try to end the semester on a high note before giving the students final words of wisdom: “Happy Studying!”
This week’s photo of the week comes from the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, Texas. It shows some of the lighter side of visiting museums…