Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Word Cloud

Monday, January 30, 2006

Monday update

Last week just plain got away from me - but lots was done. I'm closing in on the contacts for the final drafts of the two TAH grants and spent two days viewing the excellent teaching of two current grant teachers. I will definitely miss the teachers that finish with us this year. But there will still be plenty to do. Also had a tense colleague review last week - have to realize I am only part of the bureaucracy. But I was hoping that one of the benfits of the ivory tower was getting to have some say over your who your colleagues were. Too many people worrying about being nice to someone who they think is nice but is more clinically complicated than that. nuf said.

This week I'm teaching the teaching class this afternoon. It was good to meet them last week. A few online students who haven't taken online classes before are struggling with the idea of putting all the material together and not just going to look for an answer (since I'm not up in front of them professing to give them just the "right" answers). A student emailed earlier this week asking to add the class that I am "teaching." I responded that I wasn't sure what he meant by "teaching" but the course was full. Yes, I did just drop by Wal-mart and pull a class off the shelf and have a little robot to do my grading and my emailing. ;-)

The birds are going crazy in front of my windows. The branches are a bit unkempt because they like it that way. Some gorgeous cardinals. (my monitor is in the corner near the window so I really am working and do need screen breaks). Back to grant writing and breakfast.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Carol Stark, a day at a time

Carol Stark, a day at a time

This is my best friend's sister who is not much older than we are. :-( I told Marcia last week that this is the perfect example of what a blog is for - to share experiences and find kindred spirits - or to just keep someone like me from bugging Marcia each day asking her how her sister is doing. Carol is really funny and I've heard has at least 20 new best friends from the chemo room.

College Aid Plan Widens U.S. Role in High Schools - New York Times

College Aid Plan Widens U.S. Role in High Schools - New York Times: "College Aid Plan Widens U.S. Role in High Schools

Published: January 22, 2006

When Republican senators quietly tucked a major new student aid program into the 774-page budget bill last month, they not only approved a five-year, $3.75 billion initiative. They also set up what could be an important shift in American education: for the first time the federal government will rate the academic rigor of the nation's 18,000 high schools.

The measure, backed by the Bush administration and expected to pass the House when it returns next month, would provide $750 to $1,300 grants to low-income college freshmen and sophomores who have completed 'a rigorous secondary school program of study' and larger amounts to juniors and seniors majoring in math, science and other critical fields.

It leaves it to the secretary of education to define rigorous, giving her a new foothold in matters of high school curriculums."

I teach at a regional state university that partnered with a local community college a few years ago when we went to qualified admissions. As a result of this partnership, students can take freshman/sophomore level courses on our campus but the course is through the community college and taught by their faculty. It's a great way to give them the "feel" of our campus so that they will decide to continue their education here and the faculty are just as qualified (if not more so) and are often the same adjuncts for both "our" courses and "their" courses.

This simply reflects the increasing demands on colleges and universities to provide remedial courses. I'm not sure in the long run we are helping any of the students out. As a former junior high and high school teacher, I know that many students were well aware of how to work the system and do just enough to get by and they seem to have projected that up a few notches to our level. And, since head count drives us, too, it seems to have worked.

A lot of reading is required in my field. But, beyond that, students must demonstrate that they not only understand the reading but that they can intelligently analyze and evaluate it but also that they can write about it. I know firsthand that their high school teachers try to teach them these skills but they are also bombarded by a million other things they have to do during the day plus they have a lot more papers to grade. (Any of my colleagues who whines that they have 100 tests to grade - which even here usually means that they have a graduate assistant to help with quite a bit of it - just gets a funny look since that was a reality of teaching high school - and not just one a month or a few times a term. Plus, the grading was more intense because the students were usually struggling more not only with the material but the various ways we expected them to communicate about it.

Then, with the advent of No Child Left Behind (Nickleby as a friend and colleague calls it), our field was left out and thus, even more marginalized in the curriculum even though to teach students to read and write means to require them to do demonstrate same not just in their communication arts classes.

So, it will be interesting to see if this is a positive outcome to step it up a notch so that students are more prepared for college. I hear too many hallway conversations among students who brag about not studying in high school (and I know for a few that is just the bravado showing and not the reality) and then what a shock it is that they actually have to do the work in college. Usually these comments are heard about mid-term time. I do go the extra mile and require more than a mid-term and final and lots of "feedback opportunities" - especially for lower-level students. It's patently unfair to expect students to make the jump from high school - where they are reminded each day they need to keep up - to take a college class where nothing really happens for two months and no one ever takes roll. There is something to be said for transition and not just throwing them in the water to sink or swim. However, if we could get reinforcement for high school teachers who want to expect more, maybe that will help all of us and end up with everyone being better educated.

This article also points to a point I talk about until I am blue in the face. We are all in this together and shouldn't point fingers at the teachers "who came before us" unless we are willing to walk a mile in their shoes. I don't miss having students who se only other choice to being in school was being in jail plus the fact that they were often a few years older than their peers. I especially don't miss parent phone calls except that helicopter parents are sneaking in our back door. I saw a book at the College of William and Mary campus this summer when we were at Williamsburg for a family wedding that discussed how admissions officers have to even separate parents from their children during school tours so that they at least know what the potential student's voice sounds like and so that their parent doesn't take care of every little need for them. There was even a book for students on how to handle conflict for the same reason. Issues like toothpaste caps being left out and toilet seats left up end up being major problems because students aren't used to having to deal with the day to day negotiations of life because Mommy and Daddy took care of all that for them.

Our students do have a great deal of potential - if we only give them the chance not only to demonstrate it but to learn how to demonstrate it.

On another note, I heard an NPR story this morning about how a rep of the Willard Hotel in DC tells a great story of the origins of the word lobbyist. President Grant used to hang around in their lobby and so people who wanted something would come there to lobby him. It's a great story but the editor of the Oxford English Dictionary was interviewed and he mentioned that the word has origins earlier than the 19th century and that it most likely came from the lobbies of the House of Commons across the pond.

Now it's time to work on my annual performance report (I'd much rather do it than write about), class prep for tomorrow - I'm always a bit nervous until I meet a class face to face for the first time, and to finish a good portion of at least one of the grants we're working on. Plus fit in a nap . . . .

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Saturday Not Stumbling

Luckily, I'm having a more productive day than Profgrrrl.

Saturday Stumbles

I simply cannot find my groove today. I slept in, feel well rested, but also a bit immobile. Stumbling blocks. Little stumbling blocks. I need to knock them over, one by one, and find a way to get the day moving.

I've made good progress on my annual performance report. Each year I promise to stay up to date with it . . .. Oh well. I have more incentive since it looks like my sabbatical will be approved and I will be in a different mindset by the time it's time to hand them in. It's always interesting to me that we are hired from August to May but we are evaluated each January. So that makes it difficult your first year since you are only evaluated on one semester's "productivity" and then, when you take a year sabbatical, it affects not one but two annual reports.

The union at our shop recently agreed to allow for a less complex report in exchange for fewer faculty being given "exceptional" ratings. Those of us who still want to aim high have to fill out the old narrative form but have less of a chance of being awarded the highest evaluation level and the highest (although still modest) pay increase. I'm not sure that is a move forward - we're doing more to reward mediocrity- and only points to another reason that this particular union doesn't always seem to move in the right direction.

Just as important - I've made great progress on TAH grants today. I've lined out more details and have more of a detailed list of what else needs to be done. I was able to get the ball rolling several weeks ahead but Mom's hospital stay and the broken water pipe threw me off track last month. Ah, real live intervenes. But, I have my mojo back and we still have a few weeks before the deadline. I work with a great woman who is the grant manager at the organization I work with on these. She's a budget wizard!! And, that's my weakness, not being good with numbers except how to spend it.

Speaking of money, I'm headed out for a break to go to a nearby big city (for these here parts) to eat out and do some shopping and pick up some things I can't get here.

Happy Weekend!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Students' Online Socializing and unintended consequences

Today's print edition of the Chronicle discusses an interesting phenomenon among our students. I remember when I taught junior high and high school that "kids" are really good at telling on themselves. Well, apparently online communication is further facilitating that at the college level. After the riot at Penn State in October, students were busy posting pictures of themselves and their friends who had participated in the riots - thus greatly aiding police in their search for the responsible parties.

But more interesting is the claim by some students that their privacy has been invaded since they did not mean for the police to 'find' those pictures on the internet. They utilized Facebook - which easily linked the involved students to one another - the whole purpose of social software. And, for some reason, I don't think this is the last time students will tell on themselves.

Inside Higher Ed :: Notes from the Underground

Here's an interesting analysis of the latest developments in "academic community" - the only point missed is the importance of the internet to those of us at smaller schools who don't always feel like we teach with "like minds" in as diverse a way as we would like.

Inside Higher Ed :: Notes from the Underground: "Of course, two casual gatherings for lunch does not a profound cultural shift make. But it was hard not to think something interesting had just transpired: A new sort of collegiality, stretching across both geographic and professional distances, fostered by online communication but not confined to it.

The discussions were fueled by the scholarly interests of the participants. But there was a built-in expectation that you would be willing to explain your references to someone who didn’t share them. And none of it seems at all likely to win the interest (let alone the approval) of academic bureaucrats.

Surely other people must be discovering and creating this sort of thing — this experience of communitas. Or is that merely a dream?

It is not a matter of turning back the clock — of undoing the division of labor that has created specialization. That really would be a dream.

But as Bender puts it, cultural life is shaped by “patterns of interaction” that develop over long periods of time. For younger scholars, anyway, the routine give-and-take of online communication (along with the relative ease of linking to documents that support a point or amplify a nuance) may become part of the deep grammar of how they think and argue. And if enough of them become accustomed to discussing their research with people working in other disciplines, who knows what could happen?

“What our contemporary culture wants,” as Bender put it in 1993, “is the combination of theoretical abstraction and historical concreteness, technical precision and civic give-and-take, data and rhetoric.” We aren’t there, of course, or anywhere near it. But sometimes it does seem as if there might yet be grounds for optimism."

Middle Eastern Studies - History News Network

This list caught my eye since I'm teaching diplomatic history this semester and emphasizing the Middle East. Since this is not one of my fields, I'm curious about how quickly the material becomes dated. Of course, this is also a problem with almost any topic in post-World War II America (and the world) and most especially for any work dealing with the last few decades or last few years. How far away do we have to be to develop historical analysis - or when does it cease being journalism?

History News Network: "Manan Ahmed
Top 21 Books in Middle East Studies [Modern]

The enterprising scholars at American University Cairo thought it worthwhile to poll M.E. professors [and sundries] on the 'most interesting, informative and readable' books in the field of Modern Middle East Studies. 52 scholars of the M.E. responded and below is the top 21. I thought it would be useful for our readers as well. I have hyperlinked the entries to Amazon.

1. Orientalism by Edward Said 1978
2. The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements of Iraq by Hanna Batatu, 1978
3. Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age by Albert Hourani, 1962
4. A History of the Arab Peoples by Albert Hourani, 1991
5. The Venture of Islam by Marshall Hodgson, 1975 [3 vols.]
6. Colonising Egypt by Timothy Mitchell, 1988
7. The Mantle of the Prophet by Roy Mottahedeh, 1986
8. Contending Visions of the Middle East by Zachary Lockman, 2004
9. Women and Gender in Islam by Leila Ahmed, 1992
10. The Emergence of Modern Turkey by Bernard Lewis, 1961
11. Over-stating the Arab State: Politics and Society in the Middle East by Nazih Ayubi, 1995
12. A Political Economy of the Middle East by Alan Richards & John Waterbury, 1990
13. A History of Islamic Societies by Ira Lapidus, 1988
14. Rule of Experts by Timothy Mitchell, 2002
15. Ambiguities of Domination by Lisa Wedeen, 1999
16. The Muqaddimah by Ibn Khaldun, 1377
17. A Peace to End All Peace by David Fromkin, 1989
18. Armed Struggle and the Search for State by Yezid Sayigh, 1997
19. State, Power and Politics in the Making of the Modern Middle East by Roger Owen, 1992
20. Society of the Muslim Brothers by Richard Mitchell, 1969
21. Arab Politics: The Search for Legitimacy by Michael Hudson, 1977"

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Enrollment Day

I met with one student day and one is on the books for tomorrow. With more classes filling up before the end of the previous semester, there is even less activity associated with the regular enrollment day that usually precedes every semester.

I also visited a grant teacher's classroom to discuss an oral history project funded by the state humanities council with his students. I think they are off to a good start. It's also good to hear this teacher talk about how excited he is about all of our grant activities.

Tonight I'm going to the opening meeting for another grant. The new year already seems to be working better as far as the world around me moving in the same direction. Hopefully that is a good sign for the rest of the year.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Web of lies? Historical knowledge on the Internet

Web of lies? Historical knowledge on the Internet: "Abstract
Scholars in history (as well as other fields in the humanities) have generally taken a dim view of the state of knowledge on the Web, pointing to the many inaccuracies on Web pages written by amateurs. A new software agent called H-Bot scans the Web for historical facts, and shows how the Web may indeed include many such inaccuracies—while at the same time being extremely accurate when assessed as a whole through statistical means that are alien to the discipline of history. These mathematical methods and other algorithms drawn from the computational sciences also suggest new techniques for historical research and new approaches to teaching history in an age in which an increasingly significant portion of the past has been digitized."

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Chronicle: Daily news: 01/11/2006 -- 01

The Chronicle: Daily news: 01/11/2006 -- 01: "Student Who Sued Operator of Term-Paper Sites Settles Her Case Out of Court


A graduate student has settled her lawsuit against the operator of three term-paper Web sites that made her essay available online without her permission.

The student, Blue Macellari, is in her first year of business school at Duke University. She argued that the three Web sites infringed on her copyright, invaded her privacy, and damaged her reputation when they made her paper on South Africa accessible to subscribers. The Web sites, operated by Rusty R. Carroll, of Carbondale, Ill., are Free For Essays, Doing My Homework, and Free For Term Papers."

This is good news! Not everyone is willing to give away their hard work - or even charge for it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

It's snowing!

I arrived back home just in time - it's snowing big, beautiful flakes. That and my hi-speed internet connection is all I need. Note: my desk faces a large picture window on purpose - the monitor is over to the side a bit so it doesn't block the view.

Monday, January 09, 2006

In Pueblo

It was spitting snow last night as we climbed into bed and this morning we awoke to a fabulous wet snow. Fabulous in that it's really pretty but wet enough that it will melt on the roadways quite nicely for the 600 mile drive home. :-)

Saturday, January 07, 2006

four things meme

am catching up on blogs and came across this . . .

Four Jobs You've Had In Your Life
* swim coach
* Dairy Queen drive-through queen
* retail department store
* testing grain in hopper trucks

Four Movies You Could Watch Over And Over
* Murphy's Romance
* Terms of Endearment
* Runaway Jury
* Cocktail (evidence that TC hasn't always been nuts)

Four Places You've Lived (not in chronological order)
* the other Pittsburg
* small town Missouri
* Pensacola FL
* Denton TX

Four TV Shows You Love To Watch
* Everybody Loves Raymond
* Young and the Restless
* Two and a Half Men

Four Places You've Been On Vacation
Here are four from last year
* Santa Fe, NM
* Lake of the Ozarks
* Italy

Four Blogs You Visit Daily
* New Kid on the Hallway
* Profgrrl
* Community College Dean
* mamamusings

Four Of Your Favourite Foods
* hot french fries
* ice cream
* shrimp
* a great steak

Four Places You'd Rather Be
* Santa Fe
* small town Italy
* watching the sunset on a beach
* on the farm

Four Albums You Can't Live Without (hard to say in general, but lately?)
* anything by Toby Keith
* isn't it CDs?
* won't it soon be MP3s?

Four Vehicles I've Owned
* Pontiac Grand Am
* Chevrolet Beretta
* Ford Explorer
* Oldsmobile Toronado with 140,000 miles

Thursday, January 05, 2006

In New Mexico

Colorado was great. We spent most of the day in and around Taos and tonight I'm in Los Alamos. We'll meet up one last time tomorrow in Santa Fe. It's finally cold - too bad it's been too dry to have snow-capped mountains.

Here's the readings list I put together for a student this spring who wanted to work on voting rights/civil rights:

Format of Reviews:

Use Turabian Bibliographic Citations at the top of each review.

1. Books: Follow the guidelines established here: http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/review.html . Include in your assessment the usefulness of the information and analysis found in this book to teachers. (Filenames: crbr01xxx.doc, crbr002xxx.doc, etc. – replace xxx with your initials)

2. Websites: Follow the guidelines established by the Organization of American Historians and add your assessment of the usefulness of this site for teachers. In addition, give an example of a one-day lesson plan in which you use something from the website. (Filenames: crweb01xxx.doc, crweb002xxx.doc, etc. – replace xxx with your initials)

1. Ball, Howard. Murder in Mississippi: United States v. Price and the Struggle for Civil Rights. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2004.

2. Cortner, Richard C. Civil Rights and Public Accommodations: The Heart of Atlanta Hotel and McClung Cases. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2001.

3. Cottrol, Robert J., et. al. Brown v. Board of Education: Caste, Culture, and the Constitution. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2003.

4. Goldman, Robert M. Reconstruction and Black Suffrage: Losing the Vote in Reese and Cruikshank. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas. 2001.

5. African-American Odyssey: A Quest for Full Citizenship (Library of Congress)

6. Voices of Civil Rights and Voices of Civil Rights Exhibition

7. Sources for Images of African American History

8. With an Even Hand: Brown v. Board at 50 (Library of Congress Exhibit)

9. Teaching with Documents: Beyond the Playing Field: Jackie Robinson, Civil Rights Advocate

10. Teaching with Documents: Documents Related to Brown v. Board of Education

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Garden City

I actually made it to Garden City just a bit ago. It was neat seeing the Christmas lights along what is left of the main streets of some of the small farms. The sunset was also gorgeous across the Kansas plains. I grabbed dinner at a Pizza Hut. The nice thing about Pizza Hut starting in Wichita is that you can find them even in some very small towns in Kansas. Pizza Hut and Dairy Queens (although the DQ in my home town is a disappointment because of the lack of consistency).

I got away a bit later than planned and didn't quite get the grant done but I can finish that in the morning. It's a short one - it's just a matter of sitting rear end in chair and NOT blogging. ;-) It's supposed to be in the 50s most days of my trip. Where is winter besides the one blast that froze my pipe?

I did get a small bit of work done on podcasting before I left.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

One of the many things I appreciate about an academic career is the "renewal" we have the opportunity of experiencing several times a year. Not only the new year we have now, but the new school year each fall.

I began working on podcasting before the year ended and, as I make some progress, I will post some links here. Audacity appears pretty easy to use with an easily downloadable plug-in to export as MP3.

It looks like the frozen pipe issue might be resolved this week. The paint needs some touch-up but I think that's easily doable - especially with no carpet down yet. I am quite amazed that my local branch of Servicemaster was able to get so much done at the end of the year when most businesses are taking off or working with skeleton crews.

The sad thing today will be taking down the Christmas tree. My favorite part is the red lighting I put on - the small lights. That comes from always having the big lights as a child. (I used to insist on Coke as a kid because Mom drank Pepsi. Now I much prefer Pepsi - go figure!). I need to get the tree out of the house not only because the trash comes today but to negate any potential fire risk while I'm gone this week. I always thought it took lights to catch the tree on fire but, according to a firefighter friend, all it takes is the dry tree and it will spontaneously combust. So better to be safe than sorry.

Later today I will head to western Kansas on my way to Colorado and New Mexico to begin work on another TAH grant project. So far, it doesn't look like there will be any weather to impede my progress.

I'm also taking the week off from student email. It's amazing how students interpret email as the campus being open and are emailing me about their frustration with such. I am also learning to set some boundaries a little better.

The rest of the morning will be spent finishing up a state grant application about which one of our teachers is really excited since he understands what the money will mean. That's a very good thing!

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