Friday, June 2, 2023

Shadow Boxing

Friday. It was an eighth grade English class, but most of the class was missing as they were on an end of the year field trip. (They went to a local movie theater to see The Little Mermaid.) 

Not every student gets to go on these excursions, so I had a few students in every class. Their teacher left a video for them to watch. (Surprisingly, it did not go badly. I had one minor glitch. Maybe my luck has turned.) 

I turned off the video before the end of the period. The kiddos had enough time to engage in the newest fad.

The first time I saw this was maybe two weeks ago. (Not longer than a month ago.) And within days, it became a thing I saw daily. 

Two boys (it's always boys, at least so far) stand three-ish feet apart. One moves his hand. The other moves his head. It's rather innocuous, and it rarely lasts very long, so I'm not concerned. Just curious. But I never got a chance to ask the question.

Until that day.

"What are you doing?" 

Apparently, it's called shadow boxing. (Not the shadow boxing I knew of.) Or the finger pointing game. 

Now that I had a name, I could do a search online. And yep, it's a thing. I found a site with the rules. And there are videos.

I guess it's probably huge on TikTok right now. If you're into that sort of thing.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you all know about the newest fad floating around the middle and high schools. (I would not be surprised to find it happening at elementary schools as well.) We'll see how long this game lasts.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

A Recurring Theme

A new week, a new showing video disaster story. 

(It's the time of year. More teachers leave videos as we finish up the year, and inserting tape and pushing play is not how it works anymore.) 

It was still the last Monday of the school year; same teacher's class I talked about yesterday. Ms. A had two periods as the co-teacher of a biology class and three periods teaching her own self-contained special ed science class. 

For Ms. A's two biology classes, we were finishing up a movie. The lesson plan stated that Ms. A's aide would set things up.

Cool. No problem.

Only, while in Mr. B's class, he got a text from Ms. A. The aide was also out sick...

Sure, I could set up the video. What could go wrong?

Well, Ms. A wasn't logged in. The video she had rented from Amazon Prime had expired. And I didn't have her password.

Luckily, Mr. B's prep period was the first period I had to show the video, so he came by to set things up. And everything worked great.

The following period, I just had to do it again. I left everything set up. But, unfortunately, between those two classes was lunch, and during lunch, Ms. A's computer went into sleep mode. 

(I really should have known better. I always go into the power settings and change the time out from the standard ten minutes to five hours, so it won't sleep on me in the middle of teaching. But Mr. B logged into her computer and started the video, so I never did that one little fix.) 

Well, it was lunch. I called Mr. B again... (I'm sure he was sick of hearing from me.) 

Once he logged in again, I immediately went into the power settings and fixed the time out. 

I guess I'm learning all things that can go wrong with showing videos to classes. Next year I'll be an expert.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Tweet, Tweet

It was the last Monday of the school year. (This is our last week, but Monday was a holiday.) And I was co-teaching a biology class. (Well, only for two periods. For the other three, I was the only teacher of a special ed science class.) 

When I saw the lesson, I knew I had to write about it, if only for Bookworm at Ramblin' with AM

They were doing a pre-lab. The lab was the next day, and they needed to be ready.

They were going to do an ornithological survey of the campus. That means birds. They were going to be looking for birds.

Mr. B gave a lot of preliminary instructions. The first of which was that the students needed to wear good walking shoes the next day as they'd be covering the whole campus for an hour.

Mr. B had given them a list of birds that he knew to be on campus. (He told me before class that one of them had a nest on campus the previous year, but they had not returned. He planned to show them where that was when they were out.) 

For each bird, they were to look up it's habitat, what it eats, where it generally lives, what it looks like, and what it's call sounds like. He directed them to the Audubon Society's guide to birds

For "what it's call sounds like", the students were to listen to the calls on the website, and then describe it in their own words.

The room filled with bird call sounds. Mr. B rather enjoyed that. (Of course, it also meant the students were on task.) Students questioned how to describe the sounds. 

"It kind of sounds like those dogs you find at the swap meet," one girl said. 

"You get dogs at the swap meet?" Mr. B asked.

"You know, those toys that you pull..."

Then we both knew what she was talking about, and I thought it an apt description. 

The students had various descriptions. And because they were freshmen, they had to run them by us to make sure they were okay. There was the one that sounded like a bird rapping. There were a lot of "squeaky toy" descriptions. One boy said the call sounded like a jackhammer. We approved all of these, as that's what the calls sounded like to them. 

It was late in the period. A student played a bird call...

Mr. B: "Who's still on Cooper's Hawk?"

That was the first bird on the list. They should have been way past it by then.

Yeah, Mr. B knew all the bird calls. He's done this a few times before. I was kind of sad that Ms. A returned the next day as I would have enjoyed tagging along on this lab. Oh well.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Out of Communication

What if? It's the basis of many stories. We ask. We ponder. We wonder.

On Tuesdays I throw one out there. What if? It may be speculative. It may stem from something I see. It may be something I pull from the news.

Make of it what you will. If a for instance is not specified, interpret that instance as you wish. And if the idea turns into a story, I'd appreciate a thank you in the acknowledgements 😉 

What if some nefarious individual managed to crash all the cell phones in the world at once? (I won't specify for how long, but assume this will take more than a day to fix if it can be fixed at all.)

Note: I have stopped responding to comments on these "What if?" posts, but I do read them all. I realized that I kept trying to either explain or defend the question, which is not the point. I toss the question out there, and you get to interpret it as you see fit. I am frequently surprised by everyone's interpretations, and I enjoy seeing what tangents you all take.

Monday, May 29, 2023

A Project for Saturday

On Saturday morning, I had a request via my Etsy shop. Could I make the customer a water bottle carrier? 

As you know, my knitting/crochet mojo has been missing of late. I haven't wanted to do much of anything. But Saturday was a day I needed a project to take with me, and this was an easy one. I went on a hunt for the requested light purple, grabbed the hook and notions I would need, and I headed out for the day.

It has been a while since I made this, though. I vaguely recalled the pattern. But I had posted it on this blog ten years ago, so I just called it up on my phone. I reacquainted myself with how to start off, and I began.

I got most of the body crocheted when I realized I had left out the "straps" along the body. So, I ripped it out and began again.

I got to the strap portion. This is the tricky part as the last time I had made this for the customer, she had requested I make a shorter strap. I consulted the dimensions of that last one (as I had helpfully written those down last time). I measured my strap. The previous one had a strap 25 inches long. My current strap was 33 inches. So, more frogging.

Of course, I ripped back too far, so I had to recrochet about an inch. And then it was done.

Yes, I did this all on Saturday.

So, now that it's finished, I get to figure out what to make next. Deep sigh.

Friday, May 26, 2023


Thursday. I was back at the alternative education center (the place where Austin was throwing chairs). 

At the start of the day, every student is checked in. They turn in their cell phones. Security waves a wand over them to check for weapons. They remove their shoes and show they're not smuggling something in. And they turn out their pockets. 

Jaron was sporting a backpack. 

The students don't really bring stuff to school. Mr. T immediately mentioned the backpack. Jaron pulled out a gallon jug of water. As there was nothing else in the backpack, Jaron shoved the empty backpack into his drawer. (The students each have a drawer where their cell phones and other items live until they leave for the day.) 

Jaron explained that he had to drink that full gallon of water that day.

Mr. T understood. "Drug test?"

Jaron confirmed. 

I had Jaron in third period. He had the water with him, The jug was about half empty. 

(They can bring in outside drinks/water so long as they're still factory sealed. Same with food.)

Unsurprisingly, Jaron needed to use the restroom during class. 

Later, security poked his head in the door. He motioned to Jaron. It was time for his drug test. 

I guess the test is quick, as when Jaron returned, he was relieved. He had passed the drug test. 

I wonder. Was it the water that did it? Or, knowing that he had a drug test coming up, did Jaron lay off with enough time to pee clean? I didn't ask. 

Thursday, May 25, 2023

This Again

Wednesday. Special ed health class. 

It's the end of the semester, so it's time for the STI unit. And on Wednesday, that meant HIV/AIDS

The lesson was pretty simple. We did a short reading/worksheet on the basics. Then they were to watch The Announcement on ESPN Plus. (It's a doc about Magic Johnson when he revealed to the world that he was HIV positive.) 

If you've been following my blog lately, you won't be surprised by what happened next. (Back in April. Last week.)

I gave the kiddos a bit of background as life with HIV is vastly different today than it was in 1991. Then I hit play.

Ms. T had helpfully set up computer with the video already cued up. I didn't have to turn anything on, log into anything, or set anything up. Foolproof, right? 

The video began. The buffer wheel popped on for a moment. Then the video played for a bit. Then the buffer wheel. It went back and forth a couple times until the buffer wheel came on, and the movie wouldn't continue.

Later I learned (via Mr. P) that that classroom is a bit of a black hole when it comes to the school WiFi. Ms. T constantly has issues. 

We got maybe 25 minutes into the doc when things went awry. For the next half hour, I tried every trick I know to get the thing working again. Well, almost every trick. I even called Mr. P for help. He couldn't get it working either.

In the midst of this, I had one last idea. I could plug the teacher's computer into the school's ethernet. I hesitated, though. The only cord I knew of was the one that connected the classroom phone. Did I want to not have a phone? 

(If the office needs to contact me, they call. I had already received a couple calls that day.)

By the time I had the idea, class was over. But what about for the next class? 

As I was debating, I glanced towards the floor, and I spied another ethernet cable. This one wasn't connected to anything. 

Once upon a time, classrooms had a couple desktop computers connected via wire to the internet. They've been removing these computers from the classrooms slowly over the last couple years. The computers were "ancient" (at least ten if not fifteen years old), so it's no big loss. But the outlets and some of the cables have remained.

I wondered if the cable was still connected to the internet. I plugged it in...

And I had no more problems with the movie for the rest of the day. 

Before, I couldn't even get ESPN Plus to load a search for the movie. After, the movie popped right up, started, and I got no buffer wheel.

I left the cable plugged in to Ms. T's computer. And Mr. P saw my solution. Maybe that'll help with her WiFi black hole issues. Too bad we figured this out at the end of the school year. Sigh.