Thursday, November 20, 2014

Faking in Spanish

Remember Juan? I do.

It was 3rd period, and I called the roll. Juan responded with, "Aqui".

I don't much care how students respond to roll call as long as they respond to their names. I just need an indication of who is present in the room. On occasion I'll call a student name, and the student will reply with, "What?" I respond, "Taking roll," and continue on.

So, a response in Spanish doesn't even merit a raised eyebrow with me.

It was only after when Juan and I spoke about something else (I don't even know if I asked him something or he just voluntarily started talking) that I noticed that he was exclusively speaking in Spanish.

Upon further inquiry, Juan claimed (in Spanish) that he didn't speak any English. (Don't ask how I figured out the gist of this as I didn't take Spanish in school. I think another student chimed in to "help". And I do understand snippets from time to time.)

I do encounter students who speak no English in various classes. Usually they have a buddy helping them. And we make do. But there were two reasons I did not believe Juan.

Number 1: Students who don't speak English don't get sent to the continuation high school. Yes, there are several who are not fluent and the school offers ELD classes, but the true newcomers are so new they haven't had a chance to fail enough classes to get sent out.

Number 2: I met Juan before. In other classes. Where he spoke to me in fluent, unaccented English.

Once class was started, I approached Juan to talk to him about the whole not-able-to-speak-English lie. He started with a bunch of words I did not recognize, but ended with something about Espanol fluency. And that's when I had him.

Juan turned to the girl next to him. "How do you say 'fluency'?"

Later Juan blamed me for breaking his record. He had been doing well up until I questioned him.

Ah well. Once he stopped the whole Spanish-only thing, he could have done what he was supposed to be doing--writing an article for the school newspaper. (Oh, did I forget to mention that this class was the journalism class?)

Although, he didn't really get much of anything done. That girl sitting next to him? He spent the period flirting with her.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Rule Change

I was back at the continuation high school for the first time since September, and I noticed a major change. Every student (practically) had a backpack. Huh?

I mentioned previously that backpacks were not allowed on campus. And one student took exception to that rule. (Please do glance at this post from August. I don't often get to follow up on the results of something.)

Ms. M stopped by her class during the prep period, and I had a chance to ask her about everyone now having backpacks. She told me that it was Juan that got the rule changed.

At a previous staff meeting, Juan presented his argument. Ms. M said it was well reasoned. He brought in a backpack and pulled out the stuff that he said students would want to carry--deodorant (for PE days), food (because they always seem to be eating), pens (which previously no student seemed to carry), and other stuff that students usually carry.

As for students bringing in stuff they shouldn't (like drugs or weapons), Juan agreed that searches could be permitted. (And this meant that the girls' purses would be open to the same searches.) They discussed either random searches or daily searches (like at concerts when they glance through the bags when people enter).

The teachers voted, and they approved allowing backpacks.

And now they're all carrying them. Which is actually good, because now they all seem to have pens with them so they can do their work. (Yep, before basically no one carried anything to write with. It was as big a nightmare as you can imagine.)

Which goes to prove--if you present a well-reasoned well-argued request to the proper authorities, you can effect change.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Strong or Fast?

At the heart of much speculative fiction (and fiction in general) is a question. What if? On Tuesdays I like to throw one out there and see what you make of it. Do with it as you please. If a for-instance is not specified, feel free to interpret that instance as you wish. And if you find this becomes a novel-length answer, I'd appreciate a thank you in the acknowledgements.

Not so much a what if as one of those random arguments that someone always seems to come up with...

What if you could have super strength or super speed? You can only pick one, and if you have super strength, you're very, very slow or if you have super speed, you're very, very weak.

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Roving Day, Part 2

I tend to pick and choose amongst my days, highlighting the "best" incidents from my week. Subbing is a very variable gig, and today I thought I'd show a not-so-typical-but-kind-of-indicative day--my one day roving to different classes all day. Because this has gotten rather long, I've broken it up into two parts.

Yesterday I left off with my not looking forward to 4th period. Because it was PE.

I don't voluntarily take PE gigs.

They're not really bad days, or so I'm told. But I avoid them because
  • They take place outside
  • In the sun
  • Where I have a tendency to burn (I have very fair skin)
  • And I'm never sure where to go, what to do, etc...
I do get sent to cover the occasional extra period outside, though.

The teacher was there to give me the rundown before he left. He even gave me a student to act as my "assistant coach". But the class was on sub behavior, and another student attempted to take over (when I indicated my "assistant coach" was to do the warm up, he still tried to lead it).

Somehow we got to their activity. They were to run around the baseball field, do 5 sit ups and 5 push ups, and then give me their numbers so I could record it. Then they'd repeat. In all, their goal was 5 laps, 25 sit ups, and 25 push ups.

My assistant was great, making sure no one neglected their push ups or sit ups while I got bogged down recording numbers as students passed. (I learned later that this student had certain issues which was why the teacher singled her out to help me. It kept her involved in the class.)

The student who tried to take over? He noticed I had circled his number on the tally sheet, and he kept asking why (while I took down a dozen numbers as the students passed. I was not about to stop and explain and make the others wait, but he kept pestering until he finally got me at a lull between rushes).

I was sweaty and pink by 5th period. And looking forward to sitting in a cool classroom. For 5th period was a math class. Special ed, but RSP special ed, so more like a regular algebra 1 class, only with fewer students.

Only I get to class to have the teacher explain that they were doing an outside activity.

Internal groan. (I plastered a pleasant expression on my face, though.)

It was a good day for it, though. Yes, it's November, but our high was in the 80s (Fahrenheit), and it was sunny and nice out. (The nights have been cool.)

I remained in the shade while the class took five two-footed jumps apiece and wrote down how far they'd flown. Later they'd take this data and construct graphs from it. Mr. L explained that this good group could do this assignment with a sub. His other classes wouldn't have been able to handle it. And he was right, they did very well, and they took down their data easily.

Then I had one more period to go. I arrived to 6th period a little early only to surprise the teacher. I explained that I'd been roving, and he told me he hadn't been notified, his email was down, and he couldn't be out of class as they had a test the next day.

Okay, then.

I went to the office to explain the situation. Phone calls were exchanged. Ten minutes later I was sent back...

Roving days. Always an adventure.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Roving Day, Part 1

I generally like roving assignments. They have variety, and if one period is awful, I'm likely to have something completely different the next.

Last Wednesday I was called in for my second roving assignment in as many weeks. It was an interesting juxtaposition of classes. It made for a strange, crazy, almost typical day.

Period 1 I had a CAHSEE math class that was more interesting for who taught it. I needed Ms. V's help with a project, and until this day I had been unable to to get to her class. But this wasn't going to be the day as she would be out of her class while I was there.

Then something funny happened. I got to the room, and Ms. V said I needed to call the front office. My 2nd period assignment had been cancelled, and I was getting a prep period that day. Which meant I could stick around, wait for Ms. V to get back to her class, and get the help I needed. Hooray.

1st period was a typical CAHSEE class. These were the students who had not passed the CAHSEE yet, so they were getting some extra help in hopes that the next time they take the test, they'll pass it.

The students weren't all that into the assignment, but other than being rather talkative (which I had been warned about), they were fine. Most of them I had met in some place or other, so it was just me listening in on their conversations and joining in where appropriate.

I left for 3rd period in a good mood. (This project had been hanging over my head for 3 weeks!)

Period 3 was interesting because I had been in that class all day the previous day. So, I knew exactly what I was in for.

It was a severely handicapped special ed class. There were roughly a dozen students. Two of them had one-on-one aides who worked with them all day. A couple of them could not be enticed to do much of anything. The rest I spent the day interacting with.

When I worked with Happy, she'd parrot back what I said to her, but when directed, she could, for example, circle most of the UPs on the page on her own. Getting her going was the challenge. Then she'd finish, get some free time, and put together 45-piece jigsaw puzzles like a champ.

The next day I was remembered. All the students who spoke said, "Hi, Ms. A." They were surprised to see me again. I explained that their teacher would return for the next period, and Isaac repeated this several times.

For 3rd period, I worked with Isaac, Frank, and Pedro. They were going through a grocery ad and answering questions like, "Find something priced per pound. How much is 4 pounds?"

Each boy grabbed my arm because they each needed my help right now even though I was helping someone. I had to find the items needed in the ad so that I could direct them to them (and prompt them as to what they needed to write down). They were able to do the writing down of it all, but the finding was hard for them.

Watching Isaac write was fascinating. He wrote every letter backwards. That is, he starts his letters where I end mine. So, to him, I write backwards.

I don't cover SH classes too much. Mostly extra periods here and there. Those that are with these kids daily are amazing people, and they do wonderful things with a very different population.

While period 3 wasn't awful, I was glad to move on to period 4. Even though I wasn't looking forward to the assignment. Which I'll continue tomorrow...

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Different Soldier

At the heart of much speculative fiction (and fiction in general) is a question. What if? On Tuesdays I like to throw one out there and see what you make of it. Do with it as you please. If a for-instance is not specified, feel free to interpret that instance as you wish. And if you find this becomes a novel-length answer, I'd appreciate a thank you in the acknowledgements.

In honor of Veteran's Day, I thought I'd throw out a question on war. Sort of. (I've been playing with this idea for a while, and maybe one day it'll actually grow up and become a story of its own.)

What if we sent older people to fight our wars rather than using the youth as soldiers? (For example, taking more experienced individuals and having them virtually fight via robots or such. But the question doesn't need to be limited specifically in this way.)

Monday, November 10, 2014


It doesn't matter how well I plan, once I jump in and do it, sometimes it just comes out wrong.

Last week I showed off my knitted archery target Christmas ornaments...

This was my second try.

I swatched and planned. Calculated. Figured out how many rows I wanted for each stripe. And forgot to account for the cast on row.

Can't tell how big the bullseye is? How about this view?

Yep, that needed a do-over.

Needed any do-overs lately?