Monthly Archives: April 2007

I Can’t Stand It

This afternoon, the Chili family was over at Bowyer’s, goofing around, watching the Red Sox at the Yankees, and just generally lazing about. I brought my computer because, well, I’m not really a huge baseball fan and I thought I might like to do a little surfing from Bowyer’s wireless.

I went up to the little arrow in the top right corner of my blog (see it up there?) and pushed it to see what would happen. It directed me to a blog – I’m assuming one that was randomly chosen by some algorithm – and I read for a bit, then I hit the arrow again.

I’m sad to say that there was really not very much that interested me, but that’s not what I’m writing here about; what prompted me to write the title of this post were entries like this one:images-23.jpeg

he whole bloody post just disappeared right infront of mi.
damn, i hate this.
yet another crazy night at s club.
jas’s sis’s bf’s bro’s bday party.
distance i know.  ANYWAY,

Excuse me, dear, but were you a student of mine?

It seems, from my (admittedly brief) foray into WordPress, that a lot of this sort of thing happens in the blogging world. It also seems that the bloggers who use this service are either techno-geeks (I found this blog, which is actually very well written. It caught my eye because of the teddy bear USB device; scroll down once you get there to see it – it’s pretty funny) or holy rollers (there are an AWFUL lot of blogs devoted to Bible study and church events). Now, I have to disclaim that I have no evidence to support these generalizations beyond my about half-hour cruise with the arrow button, so I could be full of shit here. You can push the arrow and decide for yourself.

I think that the NaBloPoMo Randomizer is still online, if you’re interested in doing some unmapped surfing. I can’t vouch for the literacy of the content, but I do know that all these bloggers agreed to Fussy’s NaBloPoMo back in November, and I found some GREAT blogs through that….


Filed under about writing, General Griping, little bits of nothingness


images3.jpegThat’s how many students, out of a hybrid class of twenty-three, did the homework for today.



Filed under concerns, General Griping

Nothing Yet…

The letter I sent to my holdout students has, thus far, produced not a single response.  Whether this is because the students in question haven’t checked their email or because they just don’t give a shit, I don’t know.  Either way, the end result is the same.


While I seem to be having better luck with this term’s hybrid students, I’m still not entirely convinced that TCC should use the half in-class / half online format.  I’ve yet to have a student really thrive in the hybrid classes I’ve taught.  Sure, some of them do well enough, but I’ve not encountered a student who was self-motivated and conscientious enough to really learn in a hybrid course.

I’ve also come to the conclusion that some English classes work better as hybrids than others.  I could probably do well teaching a hybrid grammar class, and the composition class wasn’t too bad (and would have been much better had the students actually done the work I assigned) but courses like public speaking and literature are probably best left as traditional “chalk-and-talk” classes.  I’m willing to take a lot of responsibility for the relative failure of my hybrid courses on myself; I don’t really understand how to teach an online course well, and I know for sure that *I* wouldn’t thrive as a student in such a format.  I’m going to be more forceful with Joe next term; I asked him not to give me hybrids this time around, but I’m not sure he heard me.

There are plenty of faculty at TCC who DO like teaching the online courses.  They can have them.


Filed under concerns, General Griping

Thursday Thirteen

I’m writing this for today in place of yesterday’s missing Grammar Wednesday. I was very busy all day yesterday and didn’t get a chance to post. To my (two) loyal Grammar Wedensday readers, I’m sorry.

To make it up to you, I’m posting thirteen grammar mistakes it seems all TCC students make. I spent at least half an hour in each of my classes this week going over these perennial favorites:

1. “A LOT” is TWO words.

2. “Too,” “to” and “two” are three different words.

3. “Affect” is a verb. “Effect” is a noun.

4. It’s “could/would/should HAVE,” not “could/would/should OF.”

5. “Except” generally means to leave out; “accept” generally means to take in.

6. The first-person personal pronoun needs to be capitalized. It’s “I,” not “i.”

7. The period ALWAYS goes INSIDE the quotation marks.

8. “Then” denotes a quality of time or sequence; “than” signals a comparison.

9. “Didn’t,” “can’t,” “won’t,” and “shouldn’t” all need apostrophes.

10. “We’re,” “were,” “where,” and “wear” are all different words.

11. “Their” is a plural possessive pronoun. “There” is most often an adverb that is a marker of location. “They’re” is a contraction meaning “they are.”

12. “Who” is for people; “that” is for things.

13. Conjunctions are used to connect two or more words, phrases, or clauses; they are NOT to be used to begin sentences.


Filed under General Griping, Grammar

Because I’m a Big Softie…

… I’m thinking about sending this to the students in my hybrid class who, thus far, have turned in no work of any kind.  What do you think?  Should I hit “send,” or not?

Dear Students:

What you are reading here is a freak of nature that will NEVER happen again this semester.

I’m writing to you all because, according to my records, I’ve not received any homework from any of you. As a result, you all have zero grades.

IF my records are incorrect and you can prove to me, by a date stamp on an email you sent, that you did the work when you were supposed to, I will correct your grades to reflect the work that you did.

If my records ARE NOT incorrect, consider this a warning shot.  A LOT of your grade will be determined by the homework and quiz grades – I just don’t see how we can make it through enough speeches in class for your grade to be heavily influenced by your presentations – and I really don’t want to see you all dig a hole so deep this early into the term that you can’t recover in time to actually pass the class.  Zeroes kill, and you are racking them up pretty quickly.

Please – the work I’m giving you is in no way unreasonable or overwhelming – try to keep up.  I’m invested in seeing you all do well, and I’d hate to see you shoot yourself in the face this early out.


-Mrs. Chili


Filed under concerns, General Griping, Questions, Teaching

I Really Need to Unsubscribe

Last year, when I was looking for a teaching gig in a high school, I signed up for the educational employment site I figured it would be a good way to distribute my resume and to tap into specific job searches that targeted only those positions that I would be interested in considering.

At LEAST once a week, though, these people torture me with offers of work in exotic places. Last week, it was the Mariana Islands (go ahead and click on the link – it’s like a mini-vacation in itself). This morning, they’re hitting me up to come and work in the US Virgin Islands.


If I were single, I’d be emailing my resume RIGHT NOW…

Seriously. It’s inhumane…



Dear Chili,

Located in the Caribbean Sea, the United States Virgin Islands could truly be considered the Caribbean’s Melting Pot; students and their parents represent a multitude of cultures (i.e. Caribbean, East Indian, Spanish, French, Dutch, Asian, American and many more). The United States Virgin Islands Department of Education currently employs over 2,000 teachers and other educational professionals in a variety of areas including Elementary Education, School Psychology, English, Social Studies and Special Education.

The VI Department of Education offers a generous benefits package to all education personnel, which includes:

-Pension Plans with the Government Employees’ Retirement System (GERS) including disability, death, and retirement benefits.
-Health Insurance
-Life Insurance

Please visit out website, using the below link, to learn more about the Virgin Island and our schools, obtaining certification, view current vacancies, and learn about our application process at:

or if you prefer, you can simply click on the link below to send your cover letter and resume.

I look forward to meeting you!

Alscess Lewis-Brown
Director, Human Resources
United States Virgin Islands Department of Education


Filed under little bits of nothingness

Not REALLY Grammar Wednesday…

… but I couldn’t not post this.

I discovered yesterday that, since TCC does all its student surveys online, I can access the results of the surveys given for my classes through the faculty portal. I am pretty excited about this because, as many of you have noticed, I’m all about the feedback.

My face-to-face class gave me really high marks. The biggest complaints were that I didn’t use the textbook enough to justify what they spent on it and that they didn’t always see the necessity in the assignments I gave them, but nearly all of them (who participated in the survey) checked “strongly agree” under the questions about my availability to them, my enthusiasm for the course and the material, the instructional methods I used, and the feedback I gave them. Not bad; not bad at all.

My hybrid kids, who were a generally surly bunch to begin with, didn’t mark me very favorably, though many of them admitted that it was more the format of the class than it was my abilities as an instructor that darkened their opinion of how the class went. The better proportion of those who took the survey said that they would NOT recommend hybrid classes to their classmates, nor would they take another hybrid class, based on their experience with this one. None of this surprises me, and I’m not taking any of it personally.

At the end of the surveys, students are given an opportunity to express whatever thoughts they may have about me as an instructor that aren’t necessarily addressed in the survey questions. One of the responses was this and, if I think about it even a little, it gives me pause.:

hobbes_yikes1.gifmrs. chilli is one of the many reasons i don’t want this semester to end. she knew so much about english and helped all of us so much. she’s a wonderful woman and i wish i could take more classes with her. I really liked this teacher’s Method of teaching. She cared about teaching every individual in the class. I noticed her effort in working on the material that troubled us most. She was firm in her expectations, but explained the exersizes in a clair, understanable way. I exspect this from a college level instructor. Thank you.

Honestly? I don’t know whether to be touched or embarrassed because, while I may have endeared myself to this student, it’s quite obvious that a lot of what I tried to teach last term didn’t find a foothold with him/her.


Filed under about writing, concerns, Teaching

One More Than Half


One more than half – that’s how many kids in my hybrid class did their homework.

I have 21 students in the class, and I received emails from 10 of them.  While this is worlds better than the track record for my last hybrid class, it’s still a little disappointing. My impressions of this class were much more favorable than those I got from the last group of kids, and I was really hoping for a bit more compliance from these students.  I know, I know – I shouldn’t get my hopes up, but I do.

What really surprises me is the fact that the young lady who’s taken a class with me before is among the ten who blew off the assignment.  While I can kind of understand the other students testing my boundaries (“is she really going to give us zeroes for stupid homework assignments?”  “Why, yes!  Yes, I am”), it doesn’t make sense to me that someone who’s lived with my policies wouldn’t bother to at least make a half-assed attempt at the work, especially in the beginning of the term, when I give full credit for completed assignments regardless of the quality of the work that gets turned in to me.   Later in the term, I start grading for content and effort (and, of course, grammar), but my system right now is entirely binary – you give me something, you get full credit; you hand me nothing, you get a zero.

As it stands now, I’ve got eleven kids with A grades and ten with Fs.  Here’s hoping they all bring in the assignment that’s due in class tomorrow; recovering from one zero isn’t really that hard, but starting off the term with a couple of them right off the bat puts quite a bit more pressure on them than they’d like to have to endure.


Filed under concerns, General Griping, Teaching

Loving It

images-21.jpegMrs. Chili is very happy right now. I’ve got a couple of really good groups of students this term.

While I’ve only seen my Monday/hybrid kids once so far, my distinct impression of them is that they are a good bunch of kids. No one gave me that “uh-oh” feeling (you teachers out there know what I’m talking about – you can just tell the kids who are going to present, shall we say, consistent challenges) and, in fact, a couple of students radiated some really good vibes. Now, their homework deadline isn’t until Saturday at six p.m.,* so I don’t yet have an idea of how compliant they might be compared to last term’s hybrid, but I’m holding out optimistic hope.

My Tuesday/Thursday group is GREAT! We had a fantastic class on Tuesday, and today’s meeting was even better. While I was missing a lot of kids (only 17 of 27 showed up), we still managed to have a couple of really fruitful and dynamic conversations. I’m really loving that there are only a few – two or three at the most – who are reluctant to just chime in with the answer to a question; instead of having to call on people and dragging answers out of them, I had to direct conversational traffic because too many people were talking at once. I love it when that happens because, while I’m not afraid of silence and will stand there for FAR longer than students are comfortable waiting for an answer, I much prefer having to referee conversations than listening for crickets.

I’m also loving how neatly the planets aligned for me this term in that Don Imus got himself fired over remarks he made about the Rutgers women’s basketball team. All of this is happening JUST as we’re having class discussions about cultural diversity, sensitivity and freedom of speech in the public forum. We had a lively discussion this morning about Mr. Imus’ behavior (and the behavior of those who are reacting to it) and I’m betting that the students got a lot of useful thinking out of that conversation. These kids were willing to think, willing to challenge each other, and willing to concede that there may not be a “right” answer. It was exhilarating.

I love my job.

*for those of you keeping track, this term’s deadline was moved up because I have to post attendance on Saturday. I was supposed to post attendance on Saturday LAST term, too, but I gave my kids the Sunday deadline before I was aware of this. I HATE going back on my word to students, so I took the little, red, “your attendance is late” notices so they could have the extra 24 hours….


Filed under success!, Teaching

Grammar Wednesday!

Double negatives and split infinitives!

Now, I am one who is of the opinion that, in most cases in life, living by the buffet approach is perfectly acceptable and correct. Some will call me hypocritical and others will praise my independent thinking, but I tend to pick and choose that which suits me and disregard that which doesn’t. Of course, not everything in life lends itself to that approach, and I try to be mindful of following the rules when doing so is required – I always wear my seat belt and I’m fastidiously monogamous, for example – but in most cases, there’s a lot of wiggle room built into the systems.

While there are some grammar rules that I follow quite religiously (see last Wednesday’s discussion of the subjunctive and indicative that started a little firestorm in the comments section for an example), there are others that just don’t suit me all the time, so I don’t always stick to them. Rules that apply to double negatives and split infinitives are my two favorite to break.

A double negative is a sentence in which two negative indicators contradict themselves so that the end meaning is positive. The form is most often used to emphasize or exaggerate a point:

I can’t not have a slice of chocolate coconut cheesecake if it’s on the specials menu.

What this sentence says is that I have to have it – that I cannot NOT order the dessert if it’s available. Also think of the Talking Heads’ Life During Wartime:

This ain’t no disco, this ain’t no party, this ain’t no foolin’ around…I ain’t got time for that now….

Even though the double negatives contradict themselves to make positive statements (if it ain’t no disco, then it really IS a disco) the point here is that we’re NOT having fun and, in fact, things are downright dangerous.

Most people don’t use double negatives correctly, and speak in them to mean the outcome to be negative. For example, it’s not uncommon (there’s another double negative!) to hear students in the halls of TCC say things like:

Dude, I can’t go out tonight; I don’t got no money!

If the dude don’t got no money, then he’s got SOME money, but the dude doesn’t know that.
Perhaps my favorite grammatical rule to break is the prohibition on splitting infinitives. First of all, an infinitive is just a fancy name for the “to” form of a verb. “To eat,” “to go,” “to scream” are all infinitives. Splitting an infinitive is the act of putting a word between “to” and whatever verb your using. We all know the most famous one:

images2.jpeg…to boldly go where no one has gone before…

I split infinitives all the time. Doing so puts a greater emphasis on whatever it is your saying, and I very often find that the split form sounds more natural than the non-split form. I mean, really; to go boldly? I don’t think so. Some of my favorites include things like:

I really need you to NOT spatter toothpaste all over the bathroom mirror every time you brush your teeth.

I have to seriously clean out my closet.

I’ve decided to really get serious about getting to the gym.

Happy Wednesday, Everyone!


Filed under Grammar