Friday, February 11, 2011

What to do?

Blog Pictures 081So after maligning my students again yesterday, they were pretty good in section today.  It might have been my expectations were modified; it might have been the reading was complicated enough to work through without being so complicated they couldn't get through it all; it could have been that Dr. Comrade (the prof in charge of the course) emailed the class last night to ask if it was worth continuing to hold sections if only 6-8 people are making use of it.  I mean, I would love to have my Fridays clear, but I got a lot of panicked questions today about whether sections were going to be cancelled because I had something more important to be doing, and please don't cancel section, because it's really helpful.

What?  This was from students who text all during class, and in fact were texting as they asked me not to cancel section.  That's supposed to mean they're bored and not engaged.  I don't know how to gauge interest.

The students who have been to every section said it's made the readings much clearer; the students who come occasionally said it was good to have a resource when a particular reading made less sense than usual.  And then we had really good discussions about the intersection of religion, race, and politics in American history.  (Which is another one of those areas I have to fake my way through--I bet no one enrolling in a 20th century course thought they would learn so much about 17th century theology, but that's what I know).  So I don't know what to do.  If five people out of forty are getting good use out of section, does that make it worth it?  The prep time is the same for me.

It just feels odd to try to lead discussion when there's only two people, and the scattershot attendance means that if something comes up from a previous discussion, anyone who wasn't there doesn't know what's going on.  Regular attendance at least means that even if they haven't done the reading, they got the jist of the important parts of the readings and the ideas to keep in mind for next time.  I try to pick up key themes to carry through the semester and throw discussion back to previous weeks to help students make connections between the readings, but that doesn't work so well if not everyone in the room was there.

In the mean time, though, J and I have been productive.  The blueberries are out of their vodka, tasting ok.  There's not much blueberry taste.  3 cups of blueberry vodka took 1 cup of 2:1 sugar syrup and 2 tsp of lime juice to bring out what blueberry there is.  It's more of a grassy taste, like in a blueberry ale, with a lot of alcohol burn to finish.  I think it'll be more pronounced over ice with some seltzer water or something.  J's shirt project is coming along, although he's monopolizing my sewing machine, and his carpenter brain could not get around the idea of easing a sleeve to match an armscye.  That's a whole nother mess of teaching problems.

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