Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Marking, and not even the knit stuff

so I'm here, at work still marking, marking, marking marking. And I am not even marking knitting yet - that I hope to get to this afternoon, and finish tomorrow before I take 2 weeks leave - there is one more theory workbook to wade thru .. and then I hope the knitting which is what I think will be the fun stuff. For those of you not in academic life I apologize, for it seems that the bane of an academics life is marking, if there is to be a moan collectively from acaemics it is around marking, it takes time, it takes energy, it takes effort, and mental agility. I find marking very very draining. Oh there are those gems, the bodies of work that are a joy to work thru - where there is evidence the student is not only absorbing the ideas their learning presents them with .. but thinking about them in relation to the world around them - those are exciting. Unfortunately for every one of those there seems to be more of the ones where the message didn't quite get to the student in the way it was intended .. and for that it takes energy to format quality feedback so they can improve. To me the main point of marking is to help students improve, to describe and position their work in a way they can see what they need to work on more and what is fine as it is. I've spend the past few years working with ideas of feedback, the advice given to students about their work, and the end result is I really do try and aim to do my best to communicate clearly to students what they do well .. and what they could do more of next time, but that takes time, and energy and effort to do that clearly for each student. The more confused their work is the harder it is to work out what to tell them to do next time.

which means right now I'm feeling ... drained, worn out .. by it all, but in a totally good way. Most of the ones I'm marking now have made changes to their work based on the informal feedback i gave them at the end of the last term - so that is encouraging.

And in betwixt the marking there has been knitting. Knitting is my little retreat from the mental agility required of the days and days of marking. First up I have a plan for the sock that was too small, an informal arrangement to swap it for a skein of the same colour yarn as I've used as the background of Nightingale, a pale mauve pink ... slightly darker but a similar look. That is plan A, if her foot fits (we will do the cinderella thing tonight at knit night). If Plan A works, I can knit these all over again but in my size :D Once i had an idea of who might want to swap yarn for socks ... it seemed easy to cast on for sock number two and knit away, this is 2 days knitting, with work in the middle, Cast on after breakfast Tuesday, knit until I leave for work, knit at home after-work, ditto Wednesday and again this morning (its Thursday here) - and now I have only the final 7 or so decrease rounds to work .... wow - a 3 day lace sock! I'm not sure it was good for my hands to knit so small so much ... but interesting to know if I needed to i could knit a pair of socks in a week - I am not sure I should rush into that sort of challenge though.

and there is also this, a wee wash cloth, in organic soft cotton from Rowan, 4 ply from memory on 3.25mm signature needles (my absolute favorite needles of all time). This was mostly worked as i wandered around the knitting elective class, it was my sampler, if some one needed to know how to ssk, or k2tog, or k2tbl, or m1 or rib or moss or whatever .. I'd work what they needed on this, as they worked on theirs. Then I would frog my demonstration and go back to a slip stitch pattern. I need to weigh this and see if there is enough left for a second cloth .. or if I need to look for a similar weight yarn to put with it, Rowan is expensive so I don't want to waste it, but it is wonderfully soft and silky for cotton.

Next post will have more knitting - and less marking
it will - I promise
take care Stella


adriene said...

I can only imagine the weariness that follows marking so much written work. It's amazing that you take the time to give such constructive feedback!

Knitting Linguist said...

I sympathize with the woes of marking (aka "grading" stateside). I find that it's hard enough to do it when I know that students will get and read the feedback and then be able to show me that they've incorporated it (or not); the hardest, though, is the last assignment of the semester, which 99.9% of my students do not pick up. Alas.