Happy Birthday!

Today marks the 1st birthday of Is This Science?! What a great year it’s been. First and foremost I want to thank all of my faithful readers. Your responses and opinions truly mean a lot; providing inspiration to continue to write the next post.

It’s been a busy year with just under 5,500 views, due in part to being freshly pressed in April. I am pleased and amazed!  Knowing that my thoughts have been read by so many* far exceeds any expectations I had going into this endeavor a year ago.

*Don’t worry, I am a scientist, I realize those are not 5,500 individual people. I’m thankful for the repeat offenders.

To honor the 1 year anniversary of ITS? I’ve put together a collection of my personal favorite posts from 2011. Enjoy!

Bang!: The post that kicked off ITS? an introduction of me and my goals.

Man vs. Chicken: A Battle in the Name of Science: My reflection on a great activity I use in my Human Biology class, featured by WordPress, being freshly pressed.

We’re All People: A reminder to teachers to keep in mind our students are people too. And like all people, have lots of distractions, turmoil, chaos in their lives. So, let’s treat them accordingly.

What’s Wrong with NECAP Testing: The trouble with standardized testing, my take.

“Is that a clip on?” and Teaching: A Community Approach two examples of how I put a strong emphasis on building community in my classroom. Nothing says community like tie tying and grilled cheese.

Cheers to another great year! Stay tuned for what’s to come!

My White Whale

Honestly, I’ve never read Moby Dick, nor do I know if this reference is accurate, but hey, I’m a science teacher I’m going with it.

As I get more and more marking periods under my belt, collecting data points along the way, I’ve been able to find some interesting trends. Earlier this week a new trend came to light as I looked back on the marking periods of my past years. Every semester I come across an assignment, an assignment that I need to grade, an assignment that always finds its way to the bottom of the pile, an assignment I put off grading just one more day.

These assignments are what I’m calling my white whale, also known as the sperm whale, Physeter macrocephalus (couldn’t resist throwing some Marine Biology in there.) The elusive assignments that just can’t get graded.

Last year there was a set of constructed responses, yesterday I finally got through a stack of lab reports. I’ll tell you it’s a good feeling finally getting through them all, but its been about a month since I first collected the assignment, and I have taken FAR too long  to grade them.

I can’t quite put my finger what it is about the assignments. Sometimes they are longer assignments; while during other marking periods it’s a short assignments. I bring them back and forth between home and school, planning to grade them, but grade other assignments instead. I look at them, I shift them around from one folder to another, shuffle and reorganize them, but darned if I can get myself to sit down and just grade them.

During this whole time, as I dance with these assignments, I find I grade other assignments faster, a way to put off grading the white whale. But once I get through the new assignments, my brain is burned out and I push them off to the next day. Honestly, it’s quite an elaborate game I play with theses assignments.

Luckily, I average returning assignments the next day or two, and within the week for larger assignments. So, my students are forgiving. But, it does prevent me from catching up with students who have not done the assignment yet, certainly a downside as I try to make sure students are caught up on their work.

Looking at it maybe I’m the white whale, trying to escape, as the assignment is Ahab looming over me not letting me forget he’s there, unable to escape no matter how elaborately I try to dance around it. Either way, I wonder what the assignment will be next marking period, maybe this time I won’t let any of the assignments get the best of me and break the trend.

Maybe I should read Moby Dick. (If I’m going to reference it after all)