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Nov. 28th, 2015

history, reading

Great (?) Moments in Pedagogy

Every class has its own personality.

The class I'm teaching this term, for example has two interesting traits:

1) The students do good work, as long as I'm standing over them. Left to their own devices, well over a third of them will simply choose to do nothing.

2) They have a dark, dark set of interests.

We have, in the course of class this term, discussed all sorts of things: kidnapping cases (The Lindbergh Baby), the Etan Patz case, bombings, tsunamis, etc.

By and large, they brought them up.

Now, I teach linguistics and speaking skills, but I feel that if students are interested in something, I should address it if possible, and I know something about it.

I introduce my students to the sound system of standard American English and the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). I have many IPA worksheets, wherein my students have to transcribe words and phrases from IPA into English.

So, I decided to try something. I put together a themed worksheet: disasters, both types of disasters (hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, etc.) and specific disasters (Krakatoa, Katrina, etc.)

They loved it. One of them suggested I do one on serial killers and famous murder cases.

Well over half the class enthusiastically agreed.

So, that's what I'm doing. On Monday, I'll finish it, and we'll do it as an in-class exercise this week. After all, it reinforces what I'm teaching them, using something that they're interested in.

I'm thankful when this sort of thing happens. It keeps the students engaged and encourages class discussion.
This is for LJ Idol, the topic is "The Giving of Thanks".

Nov. 20th, 2015

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Intro -- for LJ Idol

I think this should tell you everything you need to know about me.

A print of this painting was produced at the Morgan Museum as a card:

I loved it, and used it as my Christmas Card that year.

This is what I wrote in it:


Merry Christmas,
Love, Sean

So, yeah, that's how my brain works.
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Nov. 9th, 2015

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LJ Idol: Friends and Rivals

Let's do this!

I'm totally in!

Nov. 4th, 2014

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For LJ Idol: The Fine Art of Giving Directions

I have my students do weekly recordings for my Voice and Diction class. These are not live readings in front of class. Students have an hour in lab to record them and they do not have to memorize the readings.

My basic directions are consistent across recordings. I grade based on three things:

1. Pronunciation of words
2. Rhythm: Does the student pause in the correct place? Does the student hesitate or go back and repeat words? Are they speaking too quickly? Too slowly?
3. Vocal variety: Does the student sound like he or she cares?

Though the above is not really how I phrase things.

I actually write the following:

Re: Overall instructions
You have an hour for this recording. These recordings are never more than a few minutes long, so you should do multiple takes and choose the best one.

Re: Pronunciation
You lose a point for each word you mispronounce. So, if a "t" or "s" appears at the end of a word, you need to pronounce it. For instance, the poet's name is Robert Frost, not Robber Fros. So be careful.

Re: Rhythm
No one gets bonus points for finishing fastest. SLOW DOWN. If I can't hear the words clearly, then you've mispronounced them and you will lose points. Also, do not try to do this all in one breath. It just won't work.

Re: Vocal variety
Do not speak in a flat monotone. You need to sound like you care, even if you don't. PRETEND! USE YOUR IMAGINATION! It boils down to this... if you sound like a robot, that's bad. If you sound like a serial killer, that's worse. Seriously, if I start thinking to myself, "This student probably has bodies hidden in a crawl space somewhere", you will not do well.

Most of the time, they are given a selection of themed readings to choose from.

For instance, I have Walt Whitman week. Students have twelve of his poems to choose from. Now, the first time I used Walt Whitman poems, a student pointed out that many of his poems have an erotic or homoerotic subtext. A few students did not want to be exposed to that.

Okay, that's fine. Nothing is for everybody. So, to get around that, I now include the following disclaimer:

Many of these poems have erotic and homoerotic imagery. If you want to avoid those, recite O Captain! My Captain!. It's about Abraham Lincoln's assassination. No sex there.

This has worked out well.

I normally give my students a selection of readings for two reasons:

1) Giving them a choice keeps the complaints down. They can look to find something that they either like or find the one "that sucks the least."

2) It gives ME variety. Trust me, listening to thirty versions of the same thing gets old fast.

Having said that, during week eight, everyone has to recite The St Crispin's Day monologue from Shakespeare's Henry V.

So, to deal with this, I've included the following in my directions:

Here, Henry V is trying to raise the spirits of his men, who are grossly outnumbered and about to go into battle against the French. He believes that his forces can win this fight. And, historically, they did.

So, when you do this reading, I will be thinking to myself, "Would I follow this student into battle?"

If my answer is, "I wouldn't follow this student out of this room, much less into battle, you will not do well.

You MUST sound like you care. You MUST sound like a leader. You can youtube examples of this.

And later...

I have to listen to thirty of these recordings. DO NOT BORE ME! It goes like this: if I get bored while listening to this, I will italicize the line where I stop paying attention, and you lose .5 points for every line after that.

Interestingly, I have never had to penalize a student for boring me. Just threatening to makes them work a little harder. I mean sometimes, I'm listening to a student's recording and think to myself, "What the Hell is this?", but at least I'm not bored.

Oct. 28th, 2014

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For LJ Idol: Group work sucks

I loathe group work.Collapse )

Oct. 18th, 2014

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For LJ I dol: Rapture of the Deep

A not very happy story from my undergrad daysCollapse )

Oct. 9th, 2014

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For LJ Idol: Linguistic Incontinence

A tale from my undergraduate daysCollapse )

Oct. 2nd, 2014

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For LJ Idol: Fix? What fix?

I teach Voice and Diction at my college. However, I am not the only person who does: another full-time faculty member teaches one or two sections of V&D every term.

We meet with our classes for three hours a week, and then they come to the Speech Lab for a lab hour once a week.

My students do their weekly recordings in my lab hour.

FrustratingCollapse )

Sep. 25th, 2014

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For LJ Idol: Leave them no leg to stand on

A trip down memory laneCollapse )

Sep. 16th, 2014

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Rules for Karaoke: For LJ Idol

Some thoughts on karaoke nightsCollapse )
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