Thoughts on culture, education, and having been a Canadian in the US
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Posts from — December 2006

Coincidence? I think not…

Hmmmm… Interesting timing for this news to come out of Ottawa. A coincidence that this report just happened to come out on December 21? I think not…. Make sure to read the whole article.

OTTAWA (CP) – After months of heated denials, the federal Conservative party has quietly admitted it failed to publicly disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of donations.

And the muddle over the disclosure meant that at least three party members – including Prime Minister Stephen Harper – donated more than the legal limit last year.

Last Thursday, the party filed a revised financial report for 2005 with Elections Canada, acknowledging that it did not report delegate fees collected for its national convention that year as donations, contrary to political financing laws.

In the revised report, the Conservatives have “reclassified revenue related to the 2005 convention,” disclosing an additional $539,915 in previously unreported donations, an extra $913,710 in “other revenue,” and an additional $1.45 million in “other expenses.”

December 26, 2006   No Comments

Podcasting for $

This is a cool story. I took a quick look at Don McAllister’s podcasts and they’re really impressive. Looks like a great value. I’m definitely going to check out the free version on iTunes, but don’t think anyone could go wrong paying for the extra content. I just might become a member myself.

December 25, 2006   No Comments

A little Christmas day blogging

Kids and I are in the office right now for an hour or so to give their mother a break from the considerable noise of two kids on Christmas morning (and me putting together a rather large Playmobil castle). I hope everyone is enjoying a happy holiday. We attended a great Christmas eve service at church last night and are having some friends over for dinner in a few hours. If only there were a bit of snow here. That said, being from Alberta, I’m hard pressed ever to complain about a mild winter.

December 25, 2006   No Comments

Hear a new tune by Arcade Fire

Go here, and listen to Thursday’s show. I’m sure it’s now floating around all over the place, but you can find it there. Fantastic….

December 15, 2006   No Comments

Blog and participation grades

Just posted the following grading guidelines on my English 180 blog and thought it might interest those of you who visit this blog from time to time. The blogging assignment is new for 180 this semester and so I’m only now thinking about how to assign grades for the mostly great work the students have done. I’ve also never clearly laid out my expectations for the participation grade. So, these are first stabs at outlining my expectations for these components of the final grade. I welcome your feedback as I hope to include something like this in future course outlines.

Blog grade:

A: To earn an A on the blog component of the course all assignments must have been completed and comments posted by the assigned deadline. Comments are thoughtful, fully answer the question asked and, if specified, include responses to the comments of other students.

B: All assignments completed, mostly on time. Thoughtful comments, though perhaps briefer and less engaging than those that merit an A.

C: Most assignments completed, primarily at the end of the semester and/or comments are short, perfunctory answers to the blog prompt with little consideration of the comments of others.

D: Only partial completion of the assignments and comments show little commitment to making a contribution to the discussion.

F: Failure to complete more than 50% of the assigned blog questions.

Participation grade:

A: Nearly 100% attendance, unless due to illness or family emergency AND active participation in class. Clearly on top of the reading and regularly speaks in class. Always engaged in the discussion, whether vocally contributing or not.

B: Missed very few classes (2 or 3 max), unless due to illness or family emergency. Participated in class vocally on a fairly regular basis, but, more importantly, is always listening and attentive to the ongoing discussion. Unprepared for class occasionally, but usually caught up on the reading and willing to contribute.

C: Misses more than three classes for reasons other than illness or family emergency. Clearly behind in the reading on at least several occasions. Mostly attentive and speaks in class several times over the course of the semester. Makes a good effort to stay involved in class discussion and appears interested.

D: Regularly missing from class and/or frequently appears disinterested. Routinely behind on reading and fails to bring books to class. Leaves class from time to time to take phone calls thinking that the professor thinks they are using the bathroom, continually passes notes back and forth with someone else, works on other homework, reads the newspaper during class, checks e-mail or text messages while instructor or classmates are speaking, all of which, I should add, are apparent to the instructor and your classmates and immediately qualify you for a D. (Wow, that felt good to make a list of all my pet peeves. Fortunately, this only applies to very few people this semester.)

F: Unable to earn even a D in participation….

December 14, 2006   No Comments

Something for you to watch while you’re waiting for this blog to resume…

Watch this! Talk about a brave kid, er, red Power Ranger. If only I had a suit like that and could scare away the piles of essays currently holding me hostage….

Thanks to Heidi for the tip.

December 13, 2006   No Comments

A few stats on my blogging efforts here at UVM

I was happy to notice a few minutes ago that the comments on my English 180 blog have surpassed the 700 mark, with close to half of these coming this semester. I’ll be the first to point out that I require that my students respond to the prompts and comment on each other’s prompt, but I think that the level of “discussion” that has gone on there has helped my students get a better handle on the novels we’ve looked at this semester. I’ve been really impressed with many of the observations they’ve made there.

Looking at how much I’ve posted in the last couple of years, since I began blogging here at UVM, the total combined number of posts I’ve made currently sits at 463. That’s not bad, at all, though I’d like it to be higher. Then again, I’d also like to be publishing more, so maybe I should be regretting it wasn’t lower.

Regardless, I’m enthused to see such great work on the part of my students. I also highly recommend that you check out the great blogging work my English 005 (Canadian Culture) students did this semester with their group blogs. They really impressed me and are all now bloggers, at least for the time being.

I wonder if we’ll see a “Great White North” alumni blog appear? HINT HINT, you intrepid English 005 bloggers…

December 8, 2006   No Comments

Remembering December 6th, 1989

Every year on December 6, I mark the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre by taking a moment of silence in class after reading the names of the murdered women. Talking to my students, the vast majority of whom have never heard of the events of seventeen years ago even though it happened only about 90 minutes from here, I cannot help but compare their lives with those of the women murdered at the École Polytechnique.

People across Canada today, and especially on university and college campuses, will be marking this anniversary with speeches, candlelight vigils, and moments of silence. I hope we can all find some time in our classes, homes, or offices to remember the following young women who lost their lives seventeen years ago today.

Victims of the Montreal Massacre at l’École Polytechnique on December 6, 1989

Geneviève Bergeron

Hélène Colgan

Nathalie Croteau

Barbara Daigneault

Anne-Marie Edward

Maud Haviernick

Barbara Klucznik Widajewicz

Maryse Laganière

Maryse Leclair

Anne-Marie Lemay

Sonia Pelletier

Michèle Richard

Annie St-Arneault

Annie Turcotte

In Canada, December 6 is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada. Established in 1991 by the Parliament of Canada, this day coincides with the sad anniversary of the death of fourteen young women who were tragically killed on December 6, 1989 at l’École Polytechnique in Montréal because of their gender.

December 6, 2006   No Comments

Howard Dean on Canada’s relationship with the United States

Wow, nice to hear Howard Dean’s speech at the Liberal Convention the other night, which you can download to watch here. Some have complained, and perhaps rightly so, that a Canadian leadership convention is not the time or place for a speech from Howard. Of course, you also need to remember that Bono was the guest speaker at the last one. You can watch live coverage and archived video of the Liberal convention here at the CPAC channel.

I’m still pretty keen on Ignatieff, but I also really like Stéphane Dion. He might just be the guy who could win this thing.

P.S. It’s also worth looking at the “commercial” for Dean’s speech from the Mercer Report. Go to their archives and look for the “Howard Dean ad” in the week of November 21, 2006.

December 1, 2006   No Comments

The next great Prime Minister

Ha! I’ll bet you thought I was going to say something about the Liberal convention going on right now… No, though I do admit to a bit of nostalgia about the days where I shared the name of the Prime Minister. His farewell speech was a pretty good one.

I’m actually referring to something altogether different, and it’s a refreshing change of pace from the months and months of speculation which will soon come to an end.

The Guardian picks up the story about the next round of The Next Great Prime Minister

Some countries have elections. Some countries have sectarian violence. Others have civil war. But in Canada, they do things differently.

Next March four former Canadian prime ministers will take part in a reality TV show titled The Next Great Prime Minister. The four will grill contestants on their leadership qualities before picking a winner in the one-hour TV special.

While other former leaders will be strutting the world stage – Jimmy Carter worrying about democracy, Bill Clinton about poverty – former Canadian prime ministers Brian Mulroney, John Turner, Joe Clark and Kim Campbell will be donning their best clothes to question five contestants about the qualities needed to lead the nation.

I saw parts of the first season of this show and thought it was quite good. Nice to have a show that celebrates interesting, ambitious, and, especially, smart young people.

December 1, 2006   No Comments