Friday, April 29, 2011

Missing the Mark

We had a little dust-up in second period today. The kids used to call this "shootin'," but I'm sure the term has changed since the 7th grader explained that it meant hurling insults back and forth. Travis started, and Kevin responded in kind. They talked about each other's hair, clothing, and other stuff I didn't catch. I focused on getting them to stop.

It ended. I insisted. Travis told Kevin that he would "get him" at snack. This was 10 minutes away. I didn't want to encourage fighting outside, but I was happy that the whole thing was over.

When I passed the two boys outside (on my way to the restroom), I found that they had drawn a crowd. Their "fight" remained verbal. Whew.

Third period started. The students had all witnessed the dust-up in second period and the resulting show outside during snack. They discussed.

Derek explained to the class that Travis was an idiot. Travis thought that when people laughed at him, they were laughing at his jokes. Derek said that what people were really laughing at was Travis, but Travis hadn't figured that out.

Derek then told me that when the video got posted to YouTube I would see what he meant. (I didn't see any cameras, but Derek said it was recorded.)

I'm not sure if I'm comforted by this or not (the the-other-students-think-Travis-is-an-idiot part, not the incident-got-recorded part). At least I'm not the only one who thinks that Travis is way over the top. I hope that Travis will soon figure out that he's not as cool or as funny as he thinks.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Self Awareness

I was yet again at the continuation high school today. Orientation classes. These are the students who are brand new to the CHS. They have only just left a traditional high school due to not being on track to graduate on time. 

After they finish the orientation coursework, they can get started earning credits for any classes that they failed. Many in the class were to this point, so they were working on health or geography. 

Boy: "Geography is a sophomore class?" 

Girl: "Freshman." 

Boy: "Of course. I f***ed around freshman year." 

Girl: "Me too." 

Hence, why they are now at the CHS. 

I should have gotten on their cases for the dropping of the f-bomb, but I let it slide due to the context of the conversation. The next thing they said, however, was that they shouldn't have used that language. 

This bodes well for them. I hope they plan to take advantage of the opportunity the CHS affords. Others in the class did not make such good use of their time.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

During the Test

"This is an open book test."

Most of the students got up to get a book. Since notes were allowed as well, they got those out. I passed out the test, and they got to work.

I was back at the continuation high school today. English class. The test was on an excerpt from The Red Badge of Courage. Multiple choice.

It was about halfway through the period. Several students had finished. There was this one boy in the front far corner. He looked around.

"We can use our books?"

Way to pay attention, dude!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Internet Is Not Working

I used to have a MySpace account. I started my blog there. But after I had a few too many technical difficulties, I moved the blog here. I have since closed the MySpace account. I hate to lose all of my blogs from that time, so from time to time I repost them here.  

This was originally posted May 7, 2007.  

Computer class. Continuation high school.

They were supposed to be working on their typing. For the most part they were. I'm not really talking about them anyway. I had two students from other classes come into 4th period to use the computers. They needed to look something up on the Internet. Sure, I said.

I probably should have mentioned that the Internet went down at the end of 3rd period. That would have been the right thing to do, don't you think?

Near the end of 3rd period the teacher from next door came in to ask if our Internet was down as well. It was. It wasn't something that bothered me too much. The students were supposed to be working on the typing program or Word. Having the Internet offline helped out immensely with this.

So, first the girl comes in to "get a picture". She turns on a computer. Waits for it to boot up. Logs on. (Understand, the log on takes a bit of time too.) Then tries the Internet. She tries a different computer. Then comes up to me to ask.

Yeah, I should have told her up front that the Internet was down. That would have been the nice thing to do. Though, honestly, I didn't even think of it. I must be tired.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Excuses, Excuses

I had planned on participating in the last Crusader Challenge. Really. But this week has gotten away from me.

I have been thinking about it, but I haven't had time to sit down and work on it. The last one took me something like three drafts. I expect this one will take a couple more. I'd like to think that I'll still get around to it, but it doesn't look like it's going to happen*.

(*I'm writing this Thursday night and scheduling the post to appear Friday. I'm anticipating a rather busy Friday.)

Now that that's out of the way, you should go and enter JEFritz's contest on her blog Still Writing... Tell her I sent you. (Actually, if you're not following her blog, you should be.)

I hope everybody's going to have a lovely holiday weekend!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Nook Issues

I have a nook. When researching the various eReaders, I decided that an important factor was being able to borrow eBooks from the library, and the Kindle doesn't do that. (I looked at the other eReaders on the market, but ultimately decided to go with something that had a major retailer behind it.)

It takes me a while to do anything new. I found a great sewing pattern for outdoor chair covers. I have the pattern. I bought the material. I even have thread. I just have to set aside some time to do the sewing. Who knows when I'll get to it? It's one of my quirks.

It took me a while to get a library card. (The county libraries check out eBooks, and I had never gotten around to getting a county library card.) Then I sat on that for a while. I only got around to checking out my first eBooks on Tuesday. On Wednesday, while waiting for my car's routine service, I pulled out my nook to dive into that library book.

"User not authorized."

Oh great! Of course, there was nothing I could do about it then. (I had other books loaded on the nook, so I wasn't stuck watching CNN.) I had to wait until I could get back home to my computer.

I love the Internet. All I had to do was search "authorize nook adobe" and I found my answer. It was pretty simple, too, but I wouldn't have figured it out on my own.

Am I the only one with a nook? Anyone else out there checking out eBooks from the library? Any recommendations?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Light Problem

I used to have a MySpace account.  I started my blog there.  But after I had a few too many technical difficulties, I moved the blog here.  I have since closed the MySpace account.  I hate to lose all of my blogs from that time, so from time to time I repost them here.  

This was originally posted March 26, 2007.  

I covered a physics class today. Kids who take physics tend to be fairly self-reliant, so I was more in babysit mode than anything else. Though, I did get one interesting question.

Two students were working on the assignment (book work). They started arguing about one of the problems. The girl called me over to mediate.

They were working on a light unit. The question had to do with a three-way light bulb, the power output, and the luminosity. The boy explained that their teacher had told them to do it this one way. He worked out the luminosity of each setting of the three-way bulb and matched it to what that problem was asking for.

The girl explained that she figured the problem out on her own. She calculated the power output that the problem asked for and matched it back to what they had been given.

So, who was right? They both were. They both got the same answer. Each of them just did it a different way.

I explained this. It took some time before I could convince the boy (and explain to him what the girl had done--he didn't understand). Finally the (excuse the expression) light bulb went off over his head. He got it.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Changed Plans

I had such a lovely plan for this week. The district is on spring break, so while I have no new subbing stories, I thought I'd spend a couple posts explaining my writing process. I learn so much from hearing how others do this writing thing, and I thought it was time to contribute something of my own to the discussion.

But I don't feel so hot. Cough. Stuffy nose. The usual cold stuff.

And, once I got to thinking about it, I thought that perhaps no one really cares how I write.

Yeah, it's not happening today. I think I'm just going to take it easy.

Although, I am going to pose the question. Should I? Should I take some time detailing what I do when I work on my novel in progress? (I can always get to it during testing week or sometime in the summer.)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Wrong Bell

Friday was a bit on the crazy side. I went into the school expecting that. It was International Day and the day before spring break.

Normally International Day would have been last week, but the weather forecast said rain, so they postponed it. This meant that we weren't on a minimum day schedule, so the normal day schedule had to be tweaked. Everything was normal for my group until 4th period (well, except for the fire drill, but that's another story).

The school was divided into two groups. The first group was outside for 3rd and 4th periods. Then they had to be in class for 5th and 6th. The second group reversed this. My group was in class 3rd and 4th, and then they got to be outside 5th and 6th.

Our fourth period was scheduled to be 20 minutes longer. The teacher had left them an assignment, but most of them weren't bothering with it. (It isn't due until they get back from spring break anyway.) Half the class was out working the booths, so those in class got into groups with their friends and talked.

If I had a full class and it hadn't been International Day, I would have been upset. As it was, I was happy that they were seated and mellow. They weren't even talking all that loudly. I considered this a win and let them be.

Then the bell rang. This wasn't their bell. I informed the class that they still had 20 minutes left of class, and they didn't question me on it. (There are two lunch periods, so they're used to having bells that they're supposed to ignore.) Then the door opened, and I heard that others had not gotten the same memo. Some of the teachers of the second group had dismissed their students.

The girl who opened the door wanted to come in. This was her 5th period class. I told her to go back to her 4th period.

After she left, some joker in the back commented: "Way to be strict!"

I think he was joking. He had to be joking. I was so not being strict.

There were two more bells they had to ignore before they got dismissed. I was so glad I didn't have to do this with middle schoolers. Middle schoolers would never have cooperated with me like that.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Middle School Musical

It's the subbing busy season. I've worked every day this week so far, and it looks likely that I'll work tomorrow as well. I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed.

Today was a pretty nice day until 6th period. 6th period was difficult. Periodically, they broke into song.

It was an 8th grade U.S. history class. They had a worksheet. The lesson plan stated that they had been difficult yesterday for a sub and a guest speaker, therefore today they were to work individually on the assignment.

"Work individually" is code for work quietly. No talking.

I got them seated. I got the assignment out to them. I was working on the quiet part. They got nearly quiet. Then one girl started singing, and several of her classmates joined in. I told them to stop. They did. Then a minute later, a new song would pop up.

The problem was they did not understand why I didn't want them singing in class.

One girl said to her friend, "I don't care if she's writing my name down. I got my work done. I'm doing nothing wrong."

Tomorrow is Friday. Next week is spring break. Whew.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

In Trouble

The lesson plan said: You can read the packet as a class or have them read it on their own. "On their own" was the correct answer. 

7th grade English. After taking a quiz which took place after they finished their warm-up (lots of short tasks keep 7th graders focused), they had a story to read and questions to answer. I decided that they should "popcorn read". 

Things were going okay until John read. Then he called on Octavio. But he didn't call Octavio. No, he called Octavia. 

Octavio was seated in an isolation chair. Every middle school classroom seems to have one (or two) of these. These are normal desks, but they're pulled away from the main body of student seats. Sometimes these are up front next to the teacher's desk. This one was in the back far corner. 

I didn't hear Octavio's reaction. Teddy reported that it wasn't appropriate for a classroom. 

Then the pile-on began. John and Teddy insisted that Octavio had to read, was misbehaving, was being rude, and was chewing gum. Octavio needed to be in trouble. Funny, the only two I heard were John and Teddy. 

Teddy was incensed. Octavio was pestering him. Teddy decided that he had to move. 

Eventually, we found another reader, but Teddy and John kept calling attention to Octavio. Teddy asked to move again. I don't know why he thought the fifth time he asked would be different than the fourth or third. 

Somehow we managed to get through the (fairly short) story. The class didn't have enough time to answer the questions that came after. 

It was my fault. I should have known better. But then again, I can see what that group might have done if left to read the story on their own. In the end the idea that they'd spend that time playing rather than working led me to make the same decision with the rest of the classes--we'd read together. 

I don't know if Octavio was doing things he shouldn't have or if he was just a convenient excuse for Teddy and John to play around. Doesn't matter. Teddy and John were the ones to get "special consideration" in my note to their teacher. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Talking to Myself, I Guess

It was a math class. 6th period (naturally). 8th graders.

The assignment was a worksheet. They were to plot points. When the points were connected, a robot appeared on the graph paper. The worksheet was due at the end of the period.

The teacher had written the assignment on the board: "Agenda: worksheet. Due at the end."

I told the class the assignment was due at the end of the period. I passed out the worksheet. I gave directions. Then I repeated that I would be collecting the worksheet at the end of the period.

Most of the class got to work. This surprised me as previous classes had done more playing around than working. I walked around the room, and most of them seemed to be doing what they were supposed to be doing. (A working 6th period? Amazing!)

Then I came up on two girls. They were talking. One girl had nothing written on her worksheet except for her name. I told her she should get to work. She explained that her father helped her with her homework, so she was waiting to take the worksheet home to have him help her with it.

I again explained that the worksheet was due at the end of the period.

She was surprised.

What's the expression? Facepalm. Headdesk. Yeah, all of those.

I really don't know what else to do. Some of them just don't listen.

Friday, April 8, 2011

An Essay Assignment

Is it just me, or have my posts been rather cranky lately? I think I've been venting too much and all over this blog.

Last night, after turning off the computer, I realized that I had a much better blog post in me. Well, maybe not much better, but at least less doing-battle-with-the-kiddos, which seems to be the theme coming up most frequently. So, I'm doing it over (without actually taking down yesterday's post, although maybe I should).

The English teacher had three periods of freshmen and two periods of juniors. The juniors had an essay to do.

Neither group was all that pleased to have to write an essay. It was a compare-and-contrast-the-theme thing using two selections they had read. One was a story; the other was a poem. Both had to do with war, specifically World War II. It was due at the end of the period.

They moaned and groaned about having to write a five-paragraph essay. One girl in particular hated the assignment. She informed me that essay writing was useless, and she didn't think she should have to do it.

This is a regular refrain from students. I asked the girl her plans for the future. This is my usual tactic. I explain how the thing they hate is going to be necessary in later life. The girl told me she was planning on joining the military.

I bluffed. I told the girl that she would have to write up reports for future employers. (True? I have no idea.) Written communication would be important, so it was a good idea to learn how to do it in school. She wasn't convinced. She asked me if I ever write.

And I had her.

I told her, yes, I do write. All the time. I mentioned this blog. I mentioned that I was working on a novel. I even mentioned my word count goal (about 1800 words each time I write). She got that look in her eye: back away from the crazy sub lady. And that was the end of the conversation.

She didn't finish the essay. Many of the students didn't. I helped those that asked, but I couldn't write the thing for them.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Change of Tactics

Freshman English. The lesson plan consisted of them working in their workbooks. It should have been pretty simple. But, it was a class of 9th graders.

For the first class, I tried for silence. Um, right. Sure. That was about as plausible as having the Easter Bunny living next door. I kept things down to a dull roar, but many of them didn't even bother to do the assignment.

For the second group, I gave up on silence. I just focused on keeping them on task. This entailed me walking the room and asking them what they were doing. Several students didn't even bother to pretend to do any work. (The first group at least had the decency to keep the assignment in front of them on their desks.)

It was near the end of that period that I figured out I needed a new tactic. If I wasn't going to keep them silent and working, perhaps I could use that to my advantage.

The problem was that the assignment was going to be due tomorrow. They could finish it for homework. So, to them that means play in class, get busy at home.

So, with the last group, I allowed the talking, but only if the assignment was due at the end of the period. I erased the part on the board that said "finish for HW" and they all seemed fine with it. I walked the room. I reminded several groups of students (groups who had completed next to nothing on their pages) that they had a half hour/twenty minutes/fifteen minutes/etc. to finish and that I would be collecting it.

It still surprises me when they act all surprised when I then call for their work at the end of the period.

Did any of them finish? No. Of course not. (Although, I didn't have to fight them as hard as I did the earlier classes, so I call it a draw.)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Repeat Offenders

It is intersession at the continuation high school. They are officially on spring break, but for one week of their three weeks off they give the students a chance to make up more credits in a more intense four-hour class. This is a voluntary thing.

I would have thought that only students who wanted to use this time would take intersession. I was wrong.

I knew what I was in for when I saw the roll sheet. Kayla was on it. So was Marcus. Oh, right, I have only alluded to Marcus in the past. I guess it's time to spend a little time talking about him.

I first met Marcus at one of the other high schools. It was in a government class. The teacher warned me about him in the lesson plan. I ended up having him for a second period for economics.

In the government class, Marcus spent the whole period goofing off. Talking. Doing no work. Flirting with the girls (and the girls enjoyed it). I remember thinking that he belonged at the continuation high school, and I wondered how he would manage to graduate. I figured that he was on track for graduation as he was still at a regular high school in the second semester of his senior year.

Then a funny thing happened in the economics class. The rest of the class disliked Marcus, and they shunned him. They were more interested in doing their work. Marcus put his head down on his desk and slept.

I was only surprised to see Marcus at the continuation high school because it is so late in his senior year. (Apparently, he won't be graduating on time.) Otherwise...

If everyone in class ignored Marcus, then he'd settle and not disturb anybody. But Kayla was in class. Yep, the inevitable happened.

I explained to them that they were there to work, not talk. Kayla told me she was "multitasking". Um, sure. Perhaps that's why she got next to nothing done. Marcus told me that it was intersession. So, because he voluntarily signed up meant that he didn't actually have to do anything while in class?

(The students only get credit for work turned in. If they do nothing, they wasted their time.)

Kayla told me that I was rude. Yeah, I guess I was. I wouldn't answer her random questions because I wanted her to do her work and stop talking.

Eventually, they'll both age out. I hope they'll graduate. I hope they'll wake up. But I rather doubt it. (I would love to be wrong, though.)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Find a Book

Once a month I post to another blog. It's connected to my online shop and has nothing to do with subbing or writing, but it's fun all the same. Please stop by and check it out. For today...

I used to have a MySpace account. I started my blog there. But after I had a few too many technical difficulties, I moved the blog here. I have since closed the MySpace account. I hate to lose all of my blogs from that time, so from time to time I repost them here. This one is from April 4, 2007.  

I had the business/computers class today. I like these classes because I usually learn something new. And since I'm not an idiot when it comes to computers, I can usually fake it with the novices and look smarter than I am.

6th period was the desktop publishing class. They had a book cover project. They were to take a book that they found on and design a new cover for it. They had a paper with all of the instructions and requirements.

I was watching to make sure that they weren't doing stuff they shouldn't be doing--email, general Internet surfing, going on myspace... It was kind of boring for me. Then I'd make a circuit around the room, watching each student more closely. So, it was the third time around the room that I realized that one girl was still looking through the books. It was time to ask what was up.

She explained. She found a book that she wanted to work with yesterday, but she couldn't remember the title. She was going through all the possible choices hoping to recognize the orange book cover.

The teacher had given them three possible genres from which to pick their books. From what I observed I believe that they were mysteries/thrillers, literature, and science fiction/fantasy. This girl had been going through all three categories, all pages, hoping to recognize her cover.

I asked her if she had done anything with it. Well, no. She couldn't find any of the work that she'd done on it the previous day. So, why not find a new book and start over? That was out of the question.

We attempted to do another search using key words from what she remembered about the book. But by then there were only three minutes left in the period.

If it's not one thing, it's another. At least she was on task. Sort of.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Dance Off Aftermath

I celebrated too soon. Sure, I missed the assembly at one school yesterday, but the school I was at today had their assembly today. Sigh.

The assembly was loud and kind of boring, the way they usually are. Towards the end, they had a dance off between the 7th and 8th graders.

There was this one 7th grade boy who was bringing it. He fell on the ground to do some break dancing. He did flips with a running start. I thought I was watching a gymnast for a bit. There were others who were pretty good, but this kid outshone them all.

I have no idea which grade won. It was too loud to hear.

After the assembly was 4th period. I was surprised to find the gymnast boy in my class, along with another notable dancer. I don't think I'll shock anyone by mentioning that they walked into class a bit wound up.

It became my job to mellow them out.

The class had a video. They were to take notes. I insist on silence during videos, and most of the class complied.

Those two boys, however, weren't going to do it. They started by trading insults. Then one boy (not the gymnast) found he had to comment on every thought that went through his head. And there was a third boy who thought this was all very funny (he found subtle ways to keep the other two going).

I managed to get them almost settled...and then it was time for them to go. I haven't been so grateful for lunch in a long time.