Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Dr. C.'s Academic Online Cruise, Part 2: Week 15 – Time For Finals!

Captain's Log: August 17 2015

This is the week when the final exam research papers are due. Whew! Although grades are not due until August 22, I like to receive the finals about two weeks prior to the final date when grades must be recorded. My timeline gives me some leeway. Experience has taught me never to wait until the last week to expect final papers to be submitted. Inevitably, “Murphy’s Law” will kick in if one does not set his/her schedule to give the captain/professor some flexibility.

Now, this week proves to be a provocative one.

I expect to get quality work from a crewmember who gets to an advanced cruise position.  However, I see that, perhaps, some of them forgot, ignored, or did not realize just how important what they learned in the basic cruises. They learn that the advanced cruise captain has not forgotten, will not ignore what is needed, or not take into account the importance of the basics. These particular crewmembers have consistently posed challenges. Based on some of their posts on Blackboard, they show they understand the importance of a command of Standard English Dialect, but they do not always demonstrate that command. They show they understand the importance of a strong content presentation, but they do not always put out that 100%. Still, they recognize that this captain will not accept less.

It is very obvious that some crewmembers really did their best. They really tried. And the results made me a proud captain. Still, there were some papers that were less than stellar. And just as I take credit for the very good papers, I must take responsibility for those papers that are not.

Here I must digress. There is something about me as a captain. I want to win them all. I want to be able to inspire every crewmember that comes on my ship. I went into a very experienced captain’s office lamenting that I just could not seem to get these two students to follow what I am teaching. Their work just was not coming up to par. Yes, many years ago, I remember what this experienced, retired captain, who has now passed, told me, “Little Captain, you cannot win them all.” I admired her so much, so hearing this from her let me know that I was not a “failure” as a captain/professor. Still, I am still trying to “win them all.” And I am convinced that the day I stop trying I must give up my captainship.

Now, since I have given the crewmembers their grades, for the paper, and for the course, this gives them the opportunity to express any concerns or a disagreement with the course grade. I have a clear policy that grades are not changed after a certain time. Yes, this captain needs to have a week’s break before the new cruise ships are ready to take off; I do not plan to deal with any crewmember about his/her grade. This has proven to be a very successful ploy.

So, I must say to you, my readers, this will be my last post for this semester regarding this cruise. It has been an honor sharing with you my various captain’s logs. And I shall be writing you again as I sail off on another cruise with new and, hopefully, an eager crew.

What I would like to do is use the next two weeks as a time for you to ask me questions about teaching. Do you have some concerns as a new teacher, experienced one, or a writer wanting to develop a particular writing piece? Feel free to submit your questions in the comment box below or write me at info@marketingnewauthors.com and ask, ask, ask!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Dr. C.'s Academic Online Cruise, Part 2: Week 14 – The Captain's Reflections

Captain's Log: August 10, 2015

This week there are no assignments, regular or extra credit. I definitely want to make certain every crewmember has no other work due for this cruise so each can focus only on the final—the research paper.

I have sent an e-mail to each member expressing my desire to provide any help I can. I encourage each member not to hesitate to ask questions. Also, I reiterate the timeline each should be following to have this assignment near completion. I note each should be finishing the third draft:

  1. 1st draft—write and review the strength of the content presentation;
  2. 2nd draft—look for and correct all major grammatical errors;
  3. 3rd draft—revise and rewrite and look for mechanics errors.

Also, this week I make two posts on Thursday. One is in the morn encouraging every crewmember to ask any questions that may cross his/her mind. The second is in the early eve. This one is an expression of gratitude to those crewmembers that posted on the MANA Continuous Blog Short Story. The crewmembers’ posts were added to MANA’s contribution to its 2015 designated charity, The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. Always, I have been taught as a child never to take for granted an act of kindness. These crewmembers most definitely deserve such an expression of gratitude.

Now, you will see the format for this blog, beginning with the Week Thirteen post, has changed. Since this week, Week Fourteen, there are no assignments; I feel this is the best week to make a full transition to this new format. Why make the change?

When one has been a captain for so many years, it is healthy to change/revise her quarters. And that is what I have done. There is no better time to do this than during this lull between this cruise and the upcoming cruise in the fall.

And with the rearrangement of my quarters, I can reflect on what I have done and what I want to do as a captain/professor, a trainer of future captains/professionals.

I want never to become discouraged if, during my efforts of giving my best and expecting the best of every crewmember/student, I seem to receive more criticism that “she expects her crewmembers to be too good” than acknowledgement that “she expects only the best of us and for that we are grateful.” It is very important that a captain is, indeed, the “master of his/her soul,” or that captain will lose that soul and the very reason why s/he chose to become a captain/teacher. Popularity will not always be the prize; it is respect for which a competent and confident captain should strive. With every day that I have to make a decision that will not make every crewmember pleased, quite honestly, very irritated, that is when I must recognize that being the head of a crew has not been and will never be always easy or pleasant. If that were my aim, if that is the aim of any captain/instructor, s/he should relinquish his/her position and find a less demanding position.

My sharing my feelings and experiences navigating through the academic waters of these two cruises has made it very clear to me that I have much to give. 

And so, this is why I invite writers, teachers of writers, and parents who want to guide their children’s writing talent to come aboard as passengers as this Fall cruise line begins its new schedule. The MarketingNewAuthors.com Cruise Line is preparing for very exciting new journeys. Register/subscribe (at no fee). The MANA Cruise Line will make special offers throughout the year. Anytime while on board, feel free to share some of your experiences/journeys as writers, teachers of writers, and parents of future writers. 

It has been a pleasure and honor having you follow me as captain.

Next week, will come “Captain’s Log Week Fifteen”!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Dr. C.'s Academic Online Cruise, Part 2: Week 13 – Advice For "New" Captains

Captain's Log: August 3, 2015

I have decided not to give my crewmembers any additional required writing assignments. Why? I have been encouraging them to work to have the first draft of their research papers done. Thus, I want them to concentrate mainly on that major assignment. 

By the end of this week, I want them to work on a second and third draft to focus on tightening the content presentation and eliminating grammatical and punctuation errors. So, when the final exam (the research paper) is submitted—due August 10, they have done their best.

Still, I do want them to write in a less formal way, to experience the joy of writing (not to say that one cannot experience joy with formal writing; however, I am sure some of my crew would beg to differ). And so, I have given them the option to do a different extra credit assignment—contributing to a blog.

On the MarketingNewAuthors.com website, there is the MANA Blog. And on this webpage there are various posts. One of them is the “Continuous Blog Short Story.” This story began during the Winter 2015 semester. There is an image that serves as a prompt. The first person to post is to write at least five (5) sentences to get the story started. Then, subsequent posts build on the previous person’s post. As of this writing, there have been 111 posts (comments). (Click HERE to go to the "Continuous Blog Short Story.")

For every 20 posts, the company, MarketingNewAuthors.com, donates $10 to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, the company’s designated charity for 2015. In the past, it has designated as its charity: Survivors of Superstorm Sandy, ALS, and A women’s veterans group. So, when any individual posts, s/he is contributing his/her creativity and MANA is donating money to a worthwhile cause. Now, anyone can post; no one has to be a crewmember/student of mine. So, I encourage any of you who are reading to participate!

Back to the subject matter, this is the assignment for Week Thirteen. Not as many have contributed as I had wished. However, that is all right. The important thing is that this gives every crewmember an opportunity to write in a different genre and earn extra credit points. The deadline for all submissions for this crew is August 1 in order for any online crewmember to earn the extra credit points (a total of 13 can be earned).