The semester at TCC is almost over. Class is meeting today (despite the snow – see below for a bit of funny about that); after today, we’ve got Wednesday, then next Monday and Wednesday, and we’re done.
Today’s class will be spent talking about what makes good persuasion and about how to write a decent persuasive essay. I’ve got a couple of examples to give to the students, and I’ll give them an overview of Aristotle’s appeals (ethos, logos, and pathos), plus the rubrics for both their final speeches and the papers they’ll need to research and write for the last class. I’ll give them Wednesday to work on their projects; the last two classes will be set aside for presentation.
Most of the students took me up on my offer to accept late work for a D grade (I’ve made this deal before, and I’ve decided that even though it undermines my “no late work” policy, I like it for a couple of reasons – one; it gets the kids to actually DO the work, which is really the point, and two; it saves a number of students from failing). As of right now, only 4 of my 17 are failing – that’s down from the 9 I had at mid-term. I suspect a good many of them won’t be happy with their grades, but I am entirely confident that their grades reflect the quality of work they’ve given me to this point.
I have been thinking about this class and the grading policies that I follow. Since this course (public speaking) is far less about knowledge per se than it is about demonstrable skills, I find that I’m far more careful about how I assess the students’ work. I’m very careful to put out rubrics; in fact, the students will receive the rubrics for both their oral presentation AND their written piece today, so they’ll know what I’ll be looking for before they even start putting their projects together. The truth of the matter is that once a student gives a speech, it’s gone – we can’t go back and review the grade because the performance is over and was not recorded. Because of that, I’m found in the back of the room frantically scribbling notes and quotes from the students’ speeches as a means of backing up the grades that they receive.
I’ve got a story about one of my kids and why I’m nervous that she’s failing, but I’ll save that for another day. For now, enjoy this email, sent to me by a student who is concerned about coming to class today in the snow (who still doesn’t understand how to open a polite letter (will they EVER stop addressing me as “Hey”?!) and who, it appears, speaks a dialect of Martian – anyone know what bexaiawnod means?):
Hey are we still having your class today bexaiawnod the snow? Because the roads are pretty bad where I’m at and it takes me 30 minutes to get there so I’m just wanting to make sure so I don’t have to drive there foe no reason