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Laura Gibbs
Works at University of Oklahoma
Attended University of California, Berkeley (B.A., Ph.D.)
11,094 followers|7,532,875 views
Have them in circles
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University Faculty
  • University of Oklahoma
    University Faculty, present
Dedicatedly digital... teaching online for 10+ years. :-)
I'm an online instructor at the University of Oklahoma with a long-standing interest in Aesop's fables! You can see my online courses - Mythology-Folklore & Indian Epics - at, and I blog every other day at the Bestiaria Latina.

During the summertime, I try to get some writing done. These are my books:
About the fox avatar: I use different fox images for my online avatar (sometimes a cartoon fox like Fox in Socks, or real foxes, like this one) - it's because the fox is the most important character in Aesop's fables... and the trickiest! :-)
  • University of California, Berkeley (B.A., Ph.D.)
  • Oxford University (M.Phil.)


The #DailyProverbPoster  is about false Nutella economy. I am seriously craving some Nutella right now! :-)
It is too late to spare when the bottom is bare.
Details at the blog:
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And here is our real kit-cat, the kitten we found as a stray back in October. He's all grown up now, and husband decided to take some pictures of him today since we have pictures of our girl cat, but not of the boy. His name is Einstein. 
We ended up naming him Einstein because he is dangerously smart. :-)
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Cute cat
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A new twist on the Grammar Nazi - thanks to +Karen Conlin for this one! :-)
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IGNAVUS, ha ha ha. No, I had not seen it. What's frustrating is that there is so little of writing that can be tested in this way. I like the idea of sourcing stuff from Wikipedia; that's a very good idea for a truly wide variety of "stuff" to read. It's fun producing the error-filled texts - I do something like that for my students which is how I came to realize that very little of this kind of stuff can really be automated. It's amazing how much depends on context/meaning!
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The is the Time Scarcity Report for Week 13. As expected, there is a big bump in the number of people who are working ahead of schedule: 23 people total (compared to 13 last week), and most of those 23 people are actually done with the class completely, so that is slightly over one-fourth of the class who have finished with two weeks to go. 

Admittedly, I don't see why every student hasn't made it a goal to finish a couple of weeks early in order to make the end-of-semester craziness easier to manage, but that is the paradox of time scarcity: the scarcity itself prevents students from taking advantage of opportunities that come their way, including the extra credit they can get just for working ahead (what I call "Early Bird" extra credit).

One thing that has emerged from my big course redesign for next year is that the way I offer the "Early Bird" extra credit for working ahead will become easier to manage. I won't go into the details now, but I'm guessing that the changes I'm making in the way students get some extra credit for working ahead on the reading and/or for working ahead on their projects will get a boost next year from some of the organizational changes in the courses. I'm glad I have this week by week data from this semester so that I'll be able to compare! 

I didn't keep track of the Early Bird extra credit per se in these scarcity reports, but I can actually go back and grab that data from the Gradebook now, so here it is. You can definitely see the upsurge here at Spring Break time, while the precipitous dropoff at the end shows where these early-bird people were actually done with the class. The first number is early-bird points for reading, the second number is for projects:

Week 1: 11-11
Week 2: 11-10
Week 3: 10-6
Week 4: 6-4
Week 5: 9-4
Week 6: 9-4
Week 7: 12-2
Week 8: 10-5
Week 9: 18-7
Week 10: 9-5
Week 11: 9-5
Week 12: 2-3

To get a sense of how individual students benefited, here is how many points the students who participated in Early Bird earned during the semester (up through Week 12):

3 students got 1 point
5 students got 2 points
1 student got 3 points
2 students got 4 points
1 student got 5 points
1 student got 6 points
2 students got 7 points
1 student got 8 points
2 students got 13 points
2 students got 16 points
1 student got 18 points

That is a total of 21 students, so approximately one-fourth of the class got some for of early bird extra credit, but only 5 got a truly significant amount (more than 10 points total).

So, that will be useful! Next semester, I can see if some of the changes to the reading assignments and the new project option (Portfolio rather than Storybook) will increase the number of students taking advantage of the Early Bird option.

Week 4 report:

Week 5 report:

Week 6 report:

Week 7 report:

Week 8 report:

Week 9 report:  

Week 10 report:

Week 11 report:

Week 12 report:
STUDENTS, TIME, AND SCARCITY. It's not "big data," but here is a number I like to watch every semester at this time, nearing the end of the fourth week. Although there are unlimited opportunities to work ahead in my classes, and even extra credit for doing so, there are currently only 14 students who are one day ahead (or more) on the assignments, 14 students out of 81. That's not quite 20%, which is typical for when I check this number every semester. In other words, the large majority of students (over 80%) are doing their work on literally the day that it is due or, if they miss the looming deadline, not getting the work done at all. 

I like to check this in the fourth week because, as students occasionally report in their blogs, they now actually have work to do outside of class in their other classes as well. Apparently for the first few weeks of the semester a lot of classroom classes don't ask the students to do much, except maybe read, outside of class. I really (REALLY) urge students to work ahead in my class (opening it early, offering extra credit) exactly so that they can have gotten on a working-head track before the work really begins in their other classes:

Yet even with opportunities and the usually irresistible allure of "extra credit," few students can be induced to work ahead.

Bigger picture: I am more and more convinced that we do our students a terrible disservice by labeling classes as "3-hour classes" (i.e. 3 classroom hours, contact hours, all hail the Carnegie unit!). We really should label them "8-hour classes" and then maybe students would realize why it is that a 4-course or 5-course load is considered to be "full-time." I actually had a student send me an email yesterday, very frustrated, where he told me that "there is no way I can get all the work for your class done in 3 hours like my other classes!"

Now, that's pretty scary: surely he is not really enrolled in classes which do not take more time than that. My guess, though, is that because the instructors in his other classes are not explicit about how the students should be spending their time outside of class (other than maybe reading and taking notes on something... nothing "for a grade"), this student is just waiting to cram for the midterm, to stay up all night to write the paper, etc., confident that somehow the class really is going to only take "3 hours" per week overall.

Some students will share with me in painful detail the list of things they are trying to do while going to school. It's not uncommon for me to hear from someone who is working full-time (40 hours or even more, often with a hellish commute), raise a family (usually very young children who need lots of attention), and go to school full-time. Would they really try to do that if they were signing up for "32 hours" of classes, or "40 hours" of classes, instead of just "12 hours" or "15 hours"...? I wonder.

Of course, the university is glad to let these students enroll, provided that they pay their bursar bill. Often the hours they are working is because they have to pay that bursar bill ... along with all the credit card fees and interest that go along with not being able to pay the bill in full in cash at the beginning of the semester when it is due.

Students who drop my class now will lose approximately $500 in fees that they have paid. Sure, we have flat-rate tuition now, but I don't think all the students realize that fees are actually MORE than tuition for a typical class. The university is urging them to add more and more classes to their schedule (hey, it's flat-rate tuition! a bargain! take more class for the same tuition charge!), without making it clear that they are losing out a hefty chunk of money in fees for any class they drop after the first week. I guess it's better than when they lost both the tuition and fees, but not if they have recklessly bumped their hours up to 15 or 18 instead of the usual 12, thinking it is a bargain and that they can just drop the class (or classes) later without penalty. Sure, there's no grade penalty (you can drop until Week 10 with no grade recorded)... but there is still a serious financial penalty for enrolling in a class and then dropping after the first week, and it is a penalty being paid by students probably least able to afford it.

I read a thought-provoking book over the winter break called Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir.

It draws some powerful connections between poverty (scarcity of money) and the scarcity of time that afflicts so many students... and, truth be told, so many faculty members. I've put it on the list of recommended books to share with my students in the class announcements at some point during the semester. But, of course, it is the students with the least time who are the least likely to be reading those announcements... 
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YEP. Just grabbed the Kindle. Very excited about this - I have enjoyed her other books a lot.
Here's the actual book.

Casagrande uses four broad categories: book, news, science, and academic. Respectively, these correspond to Chicago, AP, APA, and MLA. The text uses B, N, S, and A to indicate stylistic preferences.

If an entry has no letter attached, it applies regardless of style. Most notably at a glance, period placement is the same across the board. (Notable because I have seen more discussion bordering on argument over where to put a period than any other mark. This book should settle it. Period. :P )
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Great, +Christine Gordon - do you follow +Karen Conlin here? She's the one who alerted me to this book and she shares all kinds of great items about language and writing! :-)
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So, one last cat - there is my favorite of the Macbeth cats that I made today: cats and their daggers!
Is this a dagger which I see before me?
I'll be publishing these one by one over at the Proverb blog where you will find the other #Shakespeareanlolcat  items too! :-)
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Strangely, my wife's family is closer to Nairn than mine. Her 2nd cousin raises azaleas nearby so my Dad was frosted when Joan's Dad got a private tour. ;-)
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And here is the un-Shakespearean #LatinLOLCat  
Fruere die praesenti.
Enjoy the present day.
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Thanks so much to +Annabelle Howard for prompting me to create another batch of #shakespeareanlolcat  pictures, this time for... MACBETH. And +Stacy Zemke you will see it also met your coffeepot challenge, ha ha. For people who didn't not see the other Shakespearean LOLCats from last year's Midsummer Night's Dream, here they are:
I'll be sharing these day by day for a month or so but I thought I would put the whole album up now for Annabelle to share around with her partners in Macbeth crime! :-)
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+Annabelle Howard The way I do it is to take a text of the play (I like this site:, and then I just read through it keeping anything that sounds cat-like and SHORT. A few times I had to change the wording a little, like with some of the "Sleep, ..." items - from this:
Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleeve of care, 
The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath, 
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course, 
Chief nourisher in life's feast,—
I got "Sleep, the death of each day's life" and "Sleep, balm of hurt minds" - it's not messing with the words too much, just breaking it up and keeping the head word. :-)
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In order to solicit good feedback from the students about upcoming changes to the class, I went ahead and did up the new approach to the Reading Guides for my Indian Epics class, redoing the first of the Guides (there are 24 of these total) in the new blog-driven format, along with a sample Reading Diary that the students will keep.
Sample Reading Diary:
I really like the way that the blogging format allows me to make each section of the reading (corresponding to a few pages in the book) an individual post which can be linked to and which i can develop further, while the label allows me to display all of them in one page as well. (I've linked to that one-page label view below.)
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Ohhhhhhhhh, so cute! Thanks to +Claudia W. Scholz for this one too!
Captions anyone? =) 
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If I were them, I'd stay away from the one called Crusher.
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Although I did not take home a cat from this shelter in the end, and was initially very unhappy about that, I also have to say that the director of the shelter, Shafonda Davis, turned out to be extremely responsive and compassionate. She listened to my concerns and helped me to understand the constraints that determine policies at the shelter. She is clearly committed to doing the best for those animals, and does so under the pressure of being the county shelter for an urban county with large numbers of stray animals. I appreciate the time she took to answer my questions.
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We bought a lovely rosewood urn for our cat's ashes. We really had now known what to do - and a friend recommended Perfect Memorials. I am really glad that she did. The engraving options were easy to understand and the final result is beautiful. It arrived very promptly, carefully packaged. I would recommend this service to anyone - having this lovely urn with our cat's name engraved so nicely really means a lot. Thank you!
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