To Be Fair, A Middle-Schooler On YouTube Is Usually Up To No Good

, , , , | Learning | February 28, 2021

In middle school, I am in an honors English program. I love it, but since it is a small school and very few students are eligible, we don’t have a normal class for it and instead do all of our work online, using the computers in the school library. It might look odd to an outsider — two kids sitting quietly on computers in an otherwise empty library — but this is the only time I realize how weird it could look.

An adult visitor is going around the school for reasons I never bothered to find out. He sees my singular classmate and me on the computers and comes over, despite the fact that we are both wearing headphones.

Visitor: “So, what are you up to?”

Me: “English class.”

The visitor takes a look at my screen, clearly able to see a word processor in one window and YouTube in another. The video, which is paused, is clearly marked with a movie title, and since it’s animated, there’s no mistaking it for anything traditionally academic.

Visitor: “You’re just watching movies?”

Me: “It’s for our media literacy project. We’re each analyzing a movie and I chose [Movie].”

Visitor: “But you’re still watching movies.”

Me: “Just this one.”

Visitor: “They let you watch movies all day?”

Me: “It’s a project for just this class.”

Visitor: “I can’t believe they just let you watch movies.”

He shook his head and left, and I went back to watching the movie and typing out an outline of events. I still don’t know what part of “This is for a school project” he didn’t understand.

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Art Is… Complicated

, , , , , , | Learning | February 17, 2021

I was a physics major, but there were still some general education courses that were required. Although a few had some useful information, most of them were worthless. I went to the first few classes, and if I found that they contained no useful information, I would not read the books or go to the lectures except when needed. One of these courses was called “Survey of the Arts.”

For my midterm essay, I argued that art movements typically have patterns opposing societal change, such as the “Romanticism” art movement standing against increasing industrialization and a decreasing sense of individual dignity.

For my final essay, I argued that art movements typically have patterns reflecting societal change, such as the “Realism” art movement being caused by increasing industrialization and a decreasing sense of individual dignity.

I got good grades on both.

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Work Smart, Not Hard, And Fly Under The Radar

, , , , , | Learning | January 2, 2021

I studied computing at a local college as my secondary school didn’t have a sixth form at the time. One of my friends and I went to the same school and then went and studied the same topic at college and were put in the same class. We ended up working together on a lot of projects even when we were not really meant to.

This was especially true in programming; one of us would build the program (usually [Friend], as he was the better programmer) and one of us would do the program documentation (usually me). Then, we would switch and change it to match our personal style and method.

We always made sure they were as different as possible even though they essentially solved the same problem the same way.

We never once got caught for “plagiarism”. However, one day, everyone else in the class of twenty to thirty was called into the office of the head of computing.

They were given a first and last warning over copying, as the rest of them had found an example program online that solved the same problem and had just copied it with some minor tweaks to the source code.

They all had to redo their assignments on their own time as well as having their grades capped at a pass, while my friend and I both got 80%.

For those saying we cheated ourselves, etc., I knew I wasn’t going to go into programming — I just didn’t have the knack — and [Friend] could do the documentation, but we preferred to save a few hours a week and go partying, instead. 

He works at a university doing robotics and AI while I work as a digital marketing consultant, so I think we both did all right.

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Looking Back Helps You Realize What Matters

, , , , , | Learning | September 27, 2020

CONTENT WARNING: Current Events

 

I’m an elementary school teacher. Today’s virtual assignment is to write about what you would do if you had a time machine. There’s the usual “I would go see the dinosaurs” and “I would go meet Rosa Parks” and “I would watch the moon landing.”

Then, I get stabbed in the heart.

Student: “I would go back in time and give George Floyd a real $20 bill.”

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Distance Learning Isn’t The Problem Here

, , , , , | Learning | September 25, 2020

Recently, I started student-teaching an early-level math class for online instruction due to the health crisis. I’ve seen difficult students in the past, but coming into this school really shocked me. Here are a few of the most memorable stories.

I assigned some math problems for the students to do for homework in their textbook. It was something like numbers 19-26 and 30-35. The next day, I came into school and checked all of the online submissions. About half of the class only completed 19, 26, 30, and 35 because apparently the dash in the middle means nothing! Then, after we went over the answers in class, which I specifically mentioned that the dash means that you have to do all of the numbers in between, several students submitted late work with the exact same problem.

During one of my classes, only one student showed up in the online classroom early or on time. Every other student was at least seven minutes late, if they even decided to show up at all. So, to reward the one student, we told him to only do the odd problems — half — of the homework assignment while everyone else had to complete all the problems. The next day, I checked this student’s work and he completed the evens.

This one takes the cake in my mind. I assigned ten questions for homework. The ten questions all fit on the first page of a PDF file. On the second page of the PDF were the exact same ten questions with the solution, written in red, directly underneath the problem. The goal was to get the students to show their work and then check their answers. An hour after the homework was given, I got an email:

“Hello, [My Name]: I see that we actually have twenty problems to do for homework and I’m wondering if we have to do them all. I’m really unsure if my answers are correct.”

This baffled me! This student actually had to go through the second page to count all of the problems in order to find out that there were twenty total questions in the PDF! During this time, she didn’t once realize that they were the exact same questions?! Or even that there were answers written in bright red?!

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