Monthly Archives: December 2011

2011 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 45,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 17 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Humbled and Honored

A couple of weeks ago, fermat sent me an email asking if I’d like to be added to his holiday card list.  The idea tickled me, and he offered to take my work address if I wasn’t comfortable giving out my home address, so that’s what I gave him.  I didn’t really think much about it after I sent my delighted reply.

This afternoon, one of my coworkers handed me a box that had arrived in the mail.  I opened it and was astounded to find Hermione’s time turner!

image credit

There was a packing slip in the box, but I didn’t immediately recognize the sender’s name.  It took me about ten minutes, but the email exchange popped into my head, so I went back to look to see if fermat had signed his real name and, in fact, he HAD!

This wonderful, perfect stranger took time (and no small amount of money!) to send me an incredibly thoughtful and wildly generous gift.

I have always maintained that the primary reason I keep blogs is because of the community they bring to me.  I was reminded again, in a very tangible and concrete way, just how giving and supportive and awesome that community is.  I am humbled by all of you, and I’m grateful for your presence in my life.


Filed under admiration, colleagues, out in the real world, the good ones, You're kidding...right?

The Nerve *Edited*

Sometimes, though not terribly often, I’m stunned by the audacity of some of my students.  I see a real disconnect between their perception of their performance and the reality, and here’s yet another shining example (I only edited to change his name and any identifying references):

Hello Professor

I was just wondering if the grade posted on blackboard is the final grade? It says I received a D, however when I add up all the grades that I received, even putting in worst possible case for the letter grades posted ie. 80 for a b-.  Also, it says I received an ” – ” for my personal narrative, but I have the paper right in front of me and you gave me an A on it writing “Louis, This is a good paper. you do a nice job of the “before and after” and though there are a few places I’d encourage you to trim and tighten, those aren’t enough to detract from your message A”  I then added up all the grades that you posted and I got 960/1162 which is about an 83% then I added a 95 which is about an A for the personal narrative and It comes out to be 1053/1162 which is about an 91%.  I don’t understand why I have a D? the whole reason I took this class again was because I received a D or D+ freshmen year. Retaking this class and getting a B is, quite frankly, embarrassing.  I understand that the English department has a 3 absent rule.  And to get a D from a A- I would have to skip a total of 11 classes and I don’t believe I did.  On the chance that I am wrong, I was very sick for a lot of this semester for some reason and I’m not saying it’s right, but I have already taken this class.  I have gone through most of this material before and it isn’t like I skipped the home work.  Yes I truly am sorry that I handed home work in late, but due to the power outage it put me a week behind and with intro to chemical engineering I was backed up with a copious amount of work and stress.  I know I have to prioritize my work and not make reasons for why things happen and take responsibility for these mishaps, but there are reasons for everything and that’s why things happen.  I’m a Junior in college already working my butt off with everything, just wishing I worked harder my freshmen year so that my GPA didn’t prevent me from getting into [LU’s school of business].  I need a 2.9 in the class and I was kicked out of business stats because one of my credits from [LU’s satellite school] did not transfer as the pre req that I needed.  I had to take the pre req this sem and if I get a B+ in english and a B+ in econ and hopefully a C in intro to chem engineering I will still be short with a 2.89.  I’m very stressed about everything because I already know I’m going to graduate late unless I do a full semester during the summer and Jterms, which I can’t because I need to get internships in for money and work experience because getting a job in this economy is super super hard from what I have heard.

My Apologies,
Louis Chandler

P.S. I know this sounds kiss ass, but i really thought your english class was a lot more fun than mine freshmen year.  I had a three hour lecture once a week and it was just so dry.  Your class was much more entertaining and I got a lot more out of it than my freshmen english class. so thank you

I swear to God, you guys; I can’t make this shit up.

Edited to include:  Here’s my response to Louis:

Louis, you were correct in that I missed updating your personal narrative grade.  I did that, and the result was that your grade increased to a C-.  Given the number of classes you missed and the number of assignments you turned in late, that is an entirely appropriate grade.
-Mrs. Chili

To which he replied:

Fair enough, I’m guessing there’s nothing I can do to change my grade now.

And then followed up with THIS gem:

I’m also just was wondering from someone who is around colleges all their life. What’s the point of putting all this stress upon myself? Why do I go into debt just to be able to get a job to get myself out of it?

A Curious Student,

I’m not planning on responding to this last bit….


Filed under dumbassery, failure, frustrations, I can't make this shit up..., Local U., really?!, student chutzpah, That's your EXCUSE?!, Yikes!, You're kidding...right?

Quick Hit: I Can’t Make This Stuff Up

So, the freshmen are watching Remember the Titans in conjunction with their just having read To Kill a Mockingbird and writing short character sketches.

I sent a permission slip home a couple of weeks ago but, despite my constant nagging, some of them showed up on the first day of screening without the signed form.  A couple of those kids asked if they could call their parents and ask them to send me an email giving them permission to see the film this morning, and I said yes.

One of their moms sent me an email giving her daughter permission to watch – get this – Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles.


Apparently, Baby Girl went from “Remember the Titans” to “Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles” and never thought to question herself (or me) about it.  Apparently, neither did her mother, who was perfectly willing to let her kid see the film (for the record, she was okay with Titans, too, but still…).  I can only imagine what on earth they were thinking of me when they were under the impression that this was a part of our English class.

image credit

It was the best laugh I had all week.


Filed under failure, film as literature, funniness, I can't make this shit up..., I've got this kid...., parental units, really?!, You're kidding...right?

Quick Hit – I Need to Do This in My Classroom

I think I need to do this – I could make a small one on top of one of my bookshelves, don’t you think?

via pinterest


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Grammar Wednesday

The “by” construction.

I have no idea when kids started picking this up, but I remember jumping up and down on my freshman LU kids about it four or so years ago.  That was about when I started noticing that the students LOVED to write sentences like these,

By writing the Emancipation Proclamation, it shows that Lincoln was concerned that slavery was bad for the country.

By quoting from numerous reputable sources, it shows that Jeffers was careful in his research.

My LU kids write shit like this all the timeALL the time!  Finally, last week, I’d had it, so I did a whole lesson on why the “by” construction is terrible.

I wrote a ‘by’ sentence on the board and asked the kids what they thought of it.  No one had any objections to it at all (why would they?  they write it all the time).  Then I asked them to find the subject of the sentence.  It took them a while (which freaked me out – really?  You can’t find the subject of a sentence?!), but someone finally came up with “it.”

“YES!  IT is the subject of that sentence.  What’s the verb?”

In this case, I think it was “shows” – that’s usually the verb in “by” constructions – and they were able to find the verb much more quickly than they could discern the subject, which was at least a little gratifying.

“Cool – so we’ve got a subject and a verb.”  Now, I move in for the kill.  “What, exactly, is ‘IT’?”


“….Yeah.  That’s why this is a terrible structure.  STOP WRITING SENTENCES LIKE THIS!!”

The payoff came at the end of the class.  I had them doing scrum workshops (where they throw their essays onto a table, grab one, read it, and write the author notes and suggestions.  When they’re done, they bring that paper back, put it on the table, and grab another one.  It’s not a very neat way to workshop, but it’s effective; in a half hour or 45 minutes, one student can go through 4 or 5 papers, so it’s a great way to get a paper in front of a lot of different pairs of eyes).  One student, exhausted from the effort, came to me and said “Mrs. Chili, I have NO IDEA how you do this job.  I was ready to kill myself after about the third paper.  Oh, and I noticed that EVERY PAPER I READ had at least three or four “by” sentences in it” (emphasis mine).

Yeah, kid; I know.

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Filed under bad grammar, Grammar

Ten Things Tuesday

Ten things I say in class…

1.  I love you.  Now shut up and write.

2.  Really?  No; REALLY?!

3.  How’s that workin’ out for you?

4.  La-la-la-la-la!  Don’t TELL ME these things!!

5.  Read that out loud… do you talk the way you write?

6.  You?  YOU!  Are my favorite kid right now.

7.  Did you read the instructions?  No?  I didn’t think so; go back and read the instructions.  REALLY READ them…

8.  … and what would you like ME to do about that…?

9.  Close your computers.

10.  I love you, too.


Filed under I can't make this shit up..., I love my job, I've got this kid...., little bits of nothingness, ten things Tuesday