Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Fight the System

Wednesday. Fourth period. It was just Brandon and me. 

As Brandon had finished the book on Nat Turner and no new book was forthcoming, I decided the only way to get him to do his work was to do it with him.

Halfway through the period, Ronan stormed in. 

I mentioned Ronan a lot last school year. He's still on campus, but he doesn't need English credits (he's current on them). 

Ronan was in PE. The campus is small, so PE was right outside the door. But Ronan had a project going, and Brandon needed to do his part. 

If you recall from week one, the students weren't allowed to get their phones back for the walking field trip. The principal had them write paragraphs with reasons as to why they should be allowed to have them for weeks two and three. 

As they explained it to me, Ronan and Brandon had plotted about getting their phones for lunchtime. They were going to write paragraphs about why they should be allowed to have them, and every student on campus had to contribute. But Brandon hadn't written his.

I gave Brandon paper. Ronan found a pencil. And we stopped working on Brandon's assignment so Brandon could complete his paragraph. 

I could have fought this, but I chose not to. Might as well let them have their fun. 

Are they going to get their phones at lunch? I highly doubt it. It would be too much trouble to distribute them just to get them back a half hour later. 

But that they were being proactive and trying to fight the system was something I could get behind. And writing is definitely good practice.

Brandon only took about five minutes to write his paragraph, and then we got back to the assignment at hand. 

Ronan went to talk to the principal, but she was busy in meetings all day, so he didn't really get a chance to plead his case. (The principal had mentioned her wall-to-wall meeting day to us adults first thing in the morning, so I wasn't surprised that Ronan only could drop off the paragraphs for her.)

As of Friday, they had no answer, only a "she'll look into it". That'll be a discussion for when the official school year begins, I imagine.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

The Genie

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.

I've been giving the kiddos a journal topic a day (to keep them writing), and the other day I used the prompt: What would you do if you could do anything? (I found it online somewhere.) But that got me thinking...

What if you had the power to give someone whatever they wanted? Would you? (The only limit here is that you have no control over what it is they wish for, so if you disagree with their desire...)

Monday, August 2, 2021

Not Quite There Yet

Last week was a bit challenging for me. My car trouble ended up being a major repair, and it's going to take the garage seven to ten days to get the part it needs.

So, I didn't get very far on the project I showed last week. 


Only got as far as this...

Which doesn't give you a very good idea of what the finished item will look like. And I don't think this will help...

(That's kind of how it'll be worn when complete.)

The next bits that get added will make it look like something. And since the school summer session is over, I won't be as tired at night when I generally do my crocheting (or knitting). Maybe I'll get more work done?

I do still have subbing stories on Wednesday through Friday. The blog is always a week behind. 

Friday, July 30, 2021

Caught His Attention

The last class of the day is "credit recovery". I only have one student, Brandon. He's making up English 9. 

Our schools do social promotion, so even if a student fails their classes in ninth grade, they go on to tenth. But they don't graduate unless they've passed all their required courses. Credit recovery classes are available for those students who failed a course and need to retake it.

Credit recovery generally means Odyssey. At least, that's the way they do it at the continuation high school. And that's what the kiddos do at the traditional high schools for the credit recovery classes that are offered before and after school. 

After a couple days in class, it was clear that Brandon wasn't doing any work in Odyssey. He slept a lot of the time. (And he's not easy to wake. I ended up having to smash my water bottle on his desk. This was after I had tried calling his name, knocking on his desk, and shaking him by the shoulder.) And even though I offered to do the assignments with him, he spent most of his awake time watching videos online. 

Last Thursday he walked in with a book. 

He flipped through this book. He was going to get to the class work "in a minute", but he just wanted to look at the book that Mr. T had loaned him.

Well, it is an English class. I told Brandon he could get credit for reading the book that period. He read. I gave him a reading log to fill out. And he filled it out. 

Alas, the book only took him two days to finish. (It was a graphic novel about Nat Turner. Considering his reading level, a graphic novel is the sort of thing to help Brandon get into a story. And this is the sort of history he's interested in.) 

Now if only I could find something he'd enjoy reading for the last week. (By the time you read this, the summer session will be over. But, if you know of any similar books Brandon might enjoy, I'll pass along the recommendations.) 

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Summer School 13, Week 2

Things have been going fairly well at the alternative education center, which means it's time for another Thursday 13.

1. As I write this on Sunday, my focus is on my car. It decided not to start yesterday. Somehow I have to get it to the mechanic and get to work tomorrow. Hopefully it's an easy fix, and by the time you read this, all is settled. 

2. I took my car in for some major repairs in June, so having to go back to the mechanic is irritating. (It proved to be fortuitous that I did the repairs in June so I can get to and from work now. At least, it had been nice.) 

3. The above picture of the classroom is now out of date. The "do not use this desk" papers were removed first. Then the partitions on the back desks. There's a new kidney table in the corner of the room. And on Friday they took out all the desks in the middle. (They're going to move in new desks on Monday.) I'll take a new picture for next week's posts, I think, since things will look a bit different.

4. I mentioned the classes in last week's post. First period now has a second student. Yorik was enrolled in the class at the beginning, but he couldn't come to school due to Covid quarantine. 

5. Last Friday I talked about how all the students refused to go out on their walking field trip because they couldn't have their phones. The principal came up with a compromise. If they would write her a paragraph stating why they should have their phones, she would allow it. All but Anson wrote the paragraph.

6. So, the past Friday we went to breakfast at Chik-fil-A. (Breakfast, because we wanted to leave early so we wouldn't be walking in the hottest part of the day.) And the whole thing went very well. I have a feeling we'll be walking out again next Friday (tomorrow). 

7. Now that the continuation high school has started their school year, we have a P.E. teacher. Coach M. works at both schools as neither school has need of a full-time P.E. teacher. But both schools do need someone to teach P.E. He knows me from the continuation high school, so it's nice to see a familiar face.

8. I have not mentioned the water fountains. With Covid protocols, they had to take them out. But, instead of removing them, they've replaced them with water bottle filling stations. 

9. Alas, the kiddos don't bring water bottles. (They're not allowed to bring non factory sealed drinks onto campus.) So, the office has been providing them with plastic cups so they can get water.

10. Ronan's been at war with the school over the non-sealed drink rule. He had opened his water bottle on the way to school one day. Another day, his father had gotten him a soft drink from some fast food place (which was "sealed" when it was bought, but it wasn't actually sealed). Finally, Ronan brought an empty water bottle so he could use the filling station. 

11. The drink rule, like them turning in their phones and them getting wanded on entry, is a site-specific rule. The other schools don't check for those things.

12. This is so much different than last school year when I covered this class. Having the kiddos in person makes a big difference. Some actually do work whereas last year on distance, they pretty much didn't.

13. My birthday is Saturday. I've been on this Earth for half a century now.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021


On Monday of last week, Vincent arrived sans hair. He used to have shoulder length, thick brown hair. The difference in his look was startling. 

When asked about the sudden change, Vincent replied, "I did it to prove a point." The point being that he could and would, I suppose. 

I had been warned that he's the sort that'll dig in his heels and refuse to cooperate when it doesn't suit him. So, when he wasn't following along with the book we're reading, I wasn't terribly surprised that he informed me that he didn't like it (after giving it a whole page to catch his attention), and he wouldn't be reading it with us. 

I asked him how he was going to complete the assignments associated with the book, and he said he'd Google the answers. Well, we'll see how that goes.

So, I was rather relieved that he wasn't in school on Wednesday. 

It was morning, and I was at the gate with the aide that checks them in. She was doing a head count and wondered who was missing. 

"Vincent's not here," I said. 

She gave me an odd look.

That's when I realized that I had actually said "Vincent" and not his actual name. I use aliases on the blog. And usually I have no trouble with this. But I'm not usually in a situation where I'm only dealing with five students and writing about them at the same time. 

I'm gong to have to be more careful. 

Now I'm worried I might just call one of them their blog name to their faces. 

Vincent was also absent on Thursday. Apparently, he had a bit of a reaction to the Covid vaccine. He was present for Friday's walking field trip.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

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.

What if you requested assistance, but the person you asked just flat out refused to help you at all? (I'm not going to specify a situation, but assume that what you asked was reasonable, and the person you asked should have been able to assist.) 

Okay, so last week I had a student *cough* Vincent *cough* inform me that he wasn't going to do any of the reading I assigned, and when I inquired about how he was going to do the assignments without doing the reading, he said he'd Google the answers. Grrr.