November 14, 2011
It never fails…. the deja vu I sense while marking the same errors on the same students‘ essays. Bleary-eyed and brain-dead, I endure late-night and wee-hour grade-a-thons , marking assignments that I put off grading for weeks. Yet, as I slam out one essay after another, I can’t help wondering: Did I only dream I covered this in class?
These blunders are standard Freshman fodder: grammar gaffs, shifts from “I” to “you”, fragments and other pesky critters that, like flies at a picnic, can spoil a worthy paper. And text- spelling? Please.
Next, I see formatting errors. Even though their textbooks offer perfectly good models, these students persist in the “creative” approach: plunking headings down and scattering page numbers wherever they please.
Then there is the Big Bad Wolf — plagiarism. At the first of every semester, I do a soft-shoe about MLA documentation. Although I’d rather have water drip into my eyeballs, I even give quizzes and assign exercises in paraphrasing and summarizing. My shuffle-step on the evils of cut-and-paste plagiarism rivals any Vaudeville act.
Now, with only two-and-a-half weeks of school, I have finally had an epiphany. These students only seem zoned out. Truth is, they just like to watch me dance!