Sunday, March 3, 2013

Grades and snow, snow and grades

It's the weekend before midterm grades are due, and we've been grading away.

Grading is of course "marking" in British, although it's probably not what it used to be. After many years of allowing exams and papers to be submitted electronically, but doing most of the grading on paper, I now have experimental online exams and grading for one of my classes. The college expects us to switch to largely online grading throughout the curriculum.

This innovation certainly seems like it saves work. My midterm exam grading took only about two or thre hours per section, instead of the normal five to ten, and required no paper whatsoever.

It will be interesting to see if the students learn as much. One purpose of grading, indeed, probably the best purpose, is to teach. Students learn as much if not more from their own mistakes and from instructor comments on exams and papers than from the classroom discussions.

I use a green pen for grading, and I explain to the students that all that green scrawl on their papers is part of what they're paying for at college: the corrections that will help them learn how to produce workplace-ready professional product.

We'll have to wait and see if computer corrections are as personalized and as effective as green scrawl.

As a partial consequence of the online revolution, Aimee and I both got done with our grading by Saturday afternoon. This, even though I walked the dogs twice and cleaned up the snotty snow and ice in the dooryard in the morning. I have to say, I really didn't feel the loss of the weekend the way I normally would before grades are due, and I got my chores done too.

I even made a large crock pot meal of spicy pulled pork, from last year's pig. This, with our own mashed potatoes and some of the corn Aimee put up, will be today's Sunday supper, and last into the work week.


The weather has been snotty lately, snow and rain, rain and sleet, cloud and snow and fog and rain. Eventually the jet stream will meander north of us and we'll be off the snow track and break into spring. The maple sap is running, one of the first signs of spring around here, as witnessed by the level in the farmer's white plastic collecting tub at the bottom of Ward Hill road. The thermometer is hovering around 33-35 degrees F, barely enough to keep the snow from melting. Next week it will be 35-37, the week after that 38-40 and so on, and by the time March is done, so will be winter, more or less.

I'm looking forward to it.

There's always the chance of an April snowstorm, but that kind of snow doesn't last long.

Lambs will come soon. This year's lamb letter is "T".

Should be an easy year for names.

One, of course, will have to be "Tango," after the RAF Leeming Mountain Rescue Team VHF radio call sign.

Submit all suggestions to the wife of the house. She's in charge of naming lambs.

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