It’s Monday & Syllabus has eaten my brain

I’ve finished a couple of books these past two weeks (more on that below), but the one that’s had the most impact so far is Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor by Lynda Barry. In fact, the book has inspired two activities I did in my class the past two weeks.

Syllabus by Lynda Barry

Activity 1: We’re working on poetry and some of my students submitted their pieces for feedback. I found myself making the same comment over and over (needs more imagery!), so inspired by Syllabus and “Variations on a Summer Day” by Wallace Stevens (snippet here), I came up with the following activity.

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#SummerSoLit Recommendations: Graphic Novel with a POC

Are you participating in the #SummerSoLit Book Bingo challenge and looking for some books to mark off the Graphic Novel with a POC in it square? Here are some books you may want to read to fill that square (all descriptions from Goodreads):

Ms. Marvel Vol 1 by G. Willow Wilson

Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson (also fulfills Muslim Female Author square): Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City — until she’s suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! When Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them, as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to bear? Kamala has no idea, either. But she’s comin’ for you, Jersey!

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Spring 2018 Semester Reflection

For their final exam, I usually have my students complete a reflection. It’s time for me to do the same now that the spring semester has officially wrapped, and my brain has calmed down enough for me to focus on these things.


So, first, what went well:

1. Generally speaking, I felt way less overwhelmed this semester because I knew what to expect. Even the 7 a.m. start time was less brutal. That’s something to keep in mind with my first-year students as well. Going to college for the first time is a lot!

2. Stamp/participation sheet: I adopted a coworker’s stamp sheet for participation, and it was magical. One of my students said it helped him (her?) stay organized. I know I want my students to just do the work because I say so, but they are still learning and if working for points helps them understand that the readings and skills build on each other, then so be it. I am done fighting with what I want students to be vs. meeting them exactly where they are.

(Also, real talk, I was on the fence about using the stamp sheet until a colleague who was taking a course said she stopped doing the readings once her teacher stopped checking their reading questions or whatever. So why should I expect my students who are baby learners to behave any differently than a seasoned professional?)

3. Movie poster assignment: The assignments were pretty successful overall, especially having my developmental students create a movie poster for one of the books they read. I learned last semester that a lot of them didn’t get the point of the outside reading (to build fluency) even though I told them AND it already had an assignment attached (book reviews). They found the reviews (and the reading) to be busy work. So, the movie poster assignment helped the students who were less engaged with reading the novels by giving them something more meaningful, and they were then less likely to think reading the books was pointless. (Reading is never pointless, but they think so.) Anyway, I’ll be doing this in both of my comp classes next semester.

4. Group projects: I posted about the group projects before, but that was just how I set up the groups. The follow up is that most of the students really liked doing it (even if they weren’t satisfied with their grade) because it gave them a chance to get to know their classmates and make friends. So I’m going to try to have one in all of my classes next semester.

Now, onto what didn’t work/what needs more work:

1. Twitter: Twitter was a disaster. This was mostly my fault. I told the students to post about their readings and most of them just complained about their homework. I also scrapped the assignment I was connecting it to, which meant the students didn’t get the point (even though I explained it to them AND told them that we were going to do a final assignment that I decided against). Next time, I’ll make sure to give them specific prompts so they are a little more guided and a little less themselves (by which I mean complainers). I did let them do an extra credit assignment with Twitter, but they were still like, “But why Twitter though?” Sigh.

Two points of clarification here: (1) Though it was a disaster, it wasn’t a waste. One of my students did say it helped her writing so she was glad we did it. (2) I think the assignment I planned would have worked better with upper-level students.

2. Blogging: Overall, blogging is always a winner. However, I figured out about halfway through how to clarify two of the requirements that kept stumping students (using links and putting captions/credit on their pictures). I also need to do a better job of introducing the assignments since they felt a little rushed at times.

3. Grammar: I tend to not do direct grammar instruction but several students (in both level classes) said they wish I had. So. I’ll incorporate this next semester.

4. Grading: I still spend too much time on this, but! I did have students do more self-grading, which worked out well, so they will definitely do more of that. Also, my rubrics are very thorough (which is good!) but I need to simplify them just a little more. So, the grading struggle continues.

All in all, though, a really good semester. So of course I’m changing almost everything next semester. Of course.

June 2018 Wrap-Up

I started this post yesterday and was all excited I would get my Monday post done on a Monday, but I got sleepy before I finished it and went to bed. Oh well.

Anyway, this month has been a month. End of the semester, beginning of the summer session, my birthday, a work conference. I mean, it’s been a lot. But I am here and it’s all good.

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Days 29 & 30 #BlackMusicMonth #30DayMusicChallenge

I didn’t post yesterday because I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to pick for the prompt. A song you HAVE to play loud? I mean, I get it, but I feel like I don’t really blast music anymore, so I would have to go way back. And when I did blast music, what would I blast? Also, honestly, it’s less that I play an entire song last and more that there are specific verses–especially with rap–that I have to play loud.

Day 29: A song you have to play loud

So the first song that popped into my head for this was “It’s All About the Benjamins” by Puff Daddy and the Family, especially Li’l Kim’s and Biggie’s verses (so you know, the end).

I am also a fan of the rock remix. Same volume rules apply.

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Days 26, 27, 28 #BlackMusicMonth #30DayMusicChallenge

I missed the past three days for many reasons, but now it’s time to jump back in and get caught up. So! Let’s hit it.

Day 26: A song with your favorite lyrics

Literally, all I could think about was Hamilton and my favorite lyrics from that are from “Say No to This”: Uh OH / you found the wrong sucker to CUCKOLD / so time to pay the piper for the pants you UNBUCKLED”

hamilton silly sexy

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Mission Akilah: 20 things to do before I turn 40

mission akilah

Okay, so today is my 39th birthday, which means it’s time for me to finally post my list of things I want to do by the time I turn 40 next year. I didn’t plan it, but I wound up with 20 things, which is half of 40. Cute.

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It’s Monday and my birthday is tomorrow

My birthday is tomorrow, so now seemed like as good a time as any to post my wish list 😂😬.

1. My grown up birthday wish is for our long national nightmare to be over with this current administration. If only we could do a hard reset to November 2016 and abolish the electoral college at the same time. That would be great.

In the meantime, perhaps consider donating to organizations responding to these ongoing crises: Puerto Rico | Flint | #FamiliesBelongTogether.

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Day 25: A song that reminds you of yourself #BlackMusicMonth #30DayMusicChallenge

‘Cause even when I’m a mess / I still put on a vest / with an S / on my chest

I kind of hate that “Superwoman” by Alicia Keys is the first song that popped into my head for this prompt because I’m trying to move away from that “I do everything all by myself” as a symbol of pride thing, but also…I do a lot of stuff every day for my family by myself, so. Here we are.

Did I mention this used to be my ring tone? Anyway, I had no idea there was an official video for this song, and I have no idea how I missed that.

Black Music Month 30 Day Challenge 2018

Day 24: A song everybody loves that you decidedly don’t love #BlackMusicMonth #30DayMusicChallenge

This song has always irritated me. I even tried to give it another chance a few years ago, and it still gets on my ever loving nerves. The song? “Don’t Worry Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin.

I know it’s supposed to be a feel good song, but wow, it just does not work for me.

Black Music Month 30 Day Challenge 2018