Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas Brag Post

I managed an almost exclusive handmade Christmas. That is, all but one of my gift recipients this year got handmade gifts. I'm rather proud of this.

Of course, not every gift was handmade by me. Two gifts I bought via Etsy. But the rest...

For the niece and nephews. The third was finished in time.

An electric blue scarf for my sister-in-law.

I really should remember to take pics after I finish the piece!
This ended up being a long shawl/scarf thing.
The only non-handmade gift? For my father. Because he prefers lottery tickets.

Friday, December 28, 2012


I love the Internet.

Back at the continuation high school (my last gig before the break), the science class had a crossword puzzle on earthquakes. The lesson plan stated: "Feel free to help them. Give them a few of the tougher answers... I don't have a key." After glancing at the crossword, I saw I was out of my depth.

The puzzle had an author on it. I typed that into Google. The puzzle didn't come up, but all the terms and definitions did. About half the terms were words I had never seen before. Realizing that they'd have more difficulty than me, I decided to make them a word bank.

There were 33 terms, things like "Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale" and "Mohorovicic discontinuity". My hand cramped up just thinking about writing those up on the board. But I had a computer hooked up to a projector.

I love technology.

A quick copy/paste into a word processing program, add bullet points, and voila! I had a word bank for the class.

I wonder if their teacher wanted them to find those terms. Terms that weren't in their textbook (I checked). I mean, these are the students that will not do an assignment just because it's too hard. They got to the continuation high school for a reason. So, helping them out this way was the right thing to do.


(Not all the terms were impossible. The crossword also contained Richter scale, aftershock, foreshock, and other terms that Californians, who have been through many earthquakes, should be familiar with.)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Random Question

How're everybody's holidays going? Anyone left in the blogosphere? Anyone?

*crickets chirping*

Well, if you're here, then you're looking for a random question, so that's what I'm going to post--a question on randomness.

What if nothing is actually random? What if the stuff we perceive as random actually contains an underlying order that we cannot comprehend? 

And that's my last "what if?" for the year. I'll have a new one next week, er, year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Crocheting for Peace, With Instructions

A while ago, I came up with a crocheted peace sign patch:

...and since then I've been meaning to do a post with the instructions. This was going to be the week. I was going to sit down and make the parts to construct a photo instruction post.

And yesterday was Christmas.

Not going to happen this week, either.

But, I can just post the instructions. With the promise that the photo essay is coming (eventually...). Okay?

I used worsted weight yarn and a size I hook, although any weight yarn can be used, just use the hook that's recommended for the yarn.

Start with the magic loop, and double crochet 12 dc into that loop. Slip stitch into the first chain 3, then chain 3, and work 2 dc into every dc of the previous round (24 dc around, counting the ch 3 as one dc). Slip stitch into the first chain 3, cut yarn, and draw through that stitch. This is the background.

Then the peace sign will be made with a yarn in the same weight but a contrasting color. Fold the round in half. Start at one end and single crochet down the middle.

Then for the "legs" of the sign, start at the middle and single crochet down to the bottom, starting at the dc that's two over from where the sc down the middle is. Do the same on the other side.

Wind the tails of yarn from the "legs" of the sign through the center sc to connect.

Then reverse single crochet (or crab stitch) around the outside (single crochet would work too, but I'm partial to rev sc). Wind in ends, and you're done.

Yeah, this'll make a lot more sense when you see it with pictures. Feel free to post any questions in the comments, and I'll make clearer anything that I can.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Ever the Optimist

I do this every year. I swear that I'm going to be done with my Christmas knitting early so that I'm not in panic mode days before the holiday. One year, I even managed it. Of course, I started my Christmas knitting in January.

I did start this year's Christmas knitting in January. Okay, maybe it was February. And I had two gifts done by the spring. But then I got sidetracked on other projects...

Ah well. There's nothing quite like the rush of realizing that Christmas is in one week, and I still have two gifts I have yet to start. But start them I did. I even finished one on Saturday. And as of Sunday, my gift knitting for the niece and two nephews looks like:

Two down, one to go
The third one that's still on the needles? Totally will be done by tonight (I'm writing this Sunday afternoon, so by the time you read this, it should be done).

2013. Totally my year. I'll be done early, I swear!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Fifty Shades of Rebellion

Biology class at the continuation high school. After the student took her seat, she pulled out a book from her purse. She explained to her friends that she was going to spend the period reading.

The book: Fifty Shades of Grey.

On the one hand, she's reading. A book. Voluntarily. These students don't do that sort of thing usually, so reading is one thing I try to encourage. But Fifty Shades of Grey? Seriously?

(Do I have to censor this? It's not school appropriate. She's under age. But what if she has parent permission?)

The other students recognized it. "Is it that sex book?"

"Read it out loud to us."

There's the limit. I don't know if I should take the book away from her, but I do know that letting her read it to her fellow classmates is definitely not appropriate for school. Especially when they do have an assignment. So, I gave them my definite no.

"You've heard of this book? Have you read it?"

No, I haven't read the book. However, I don't live under a rock. Knowledge of the title and its subject matter has made its way to my attention.

The student opened the book. (She couldn't have been more than a page or two into it.) She looked at it for about a minute. Then she decided that perhaps she should do the class assignment instead. And she put the book away.

I wonder. Do you think if I had made more of a fuss, might she have continued to read?

Ah well. Problem solved.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Recording a Dream

The other day as I finished sewing a zipper into a sweater (nephew's birthday present)...

...I watched a Through the Wormhole I recorded in June. 

(I used to have stuff on the DVR from November 2011. But, unfortunately, the DVR broke last Friday and had to be replaced. Sigh. So many shows went down with the ship.)  

Anyway, that episode contained a segment where a Japanese scientist discussed the possibility of being able to record people's dreams.  

So, as I stitched and watched, I thought about this. And I didn't like it. Which leads to this week's question:  

What if they could record your dreams? What if they could hook you up to some machine as you slept and make a recording of all the strange things that passed through your brain while you were unconscious? Would you let them? Would you want to see them? Would you let others watch your dreams?  

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Everything Old Is New Again

It turns out that my nook cozies... Remember my ereader cozies? I haven't mentioned them in a while.

Small Tablet Cozy in Beige

Anyway, it turns out that they fit those new mini tablets (iPad Mini, Nook HD and HD+, Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD, Samsung Galaxy Tab, and Google Nexus 7).  

7 Inch Tablet Cozy in Sage Green

I love making them, but I stopped because the ereaders shrank since I designed this for my first generation nook.  

Out of curiosity, I checked the dimensions of the mini tablet, and I was thrilled that they are nearly the same size as the first generation nook. (The knitting stretches, so the dimensions don't have to be exactly the same.)  

I just wanted to crow about it.   

I have a bunch for sale. (I can even make a custom one if you're interested.) If you're a knitter, the pattern is also for sale. (It's done mostly in the round. Cables are involved. But I included a chart. And it's only $2.)  

Do you have a tablet? A mini tablet? Do you want a tablet or mini tablet? 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Missing the Point

Last Tuesday I covered an English class at the continuation high school. They had a worksheet on commas.

I stood at the front of the room. Two students had various questions, so I helped them a bit. Then I tried to convince the other students to do the assignment.

There was a group of them that all had copies of their transcripts. Because of the way the school works, students have easy access to their current transcripts and a thing called a status report. These report how many credits they currently have and how many credits they need to graduate.

The discussion was all about how close they were to graduating. One student explained that he was ready to go back to his "home school" at the semester break.

(Students get sent to the continuation high school when they aren't going to graduate on time. Whereas at the traditional high school a student earns 5 credits for passing each class each semester, at the CHS a student earns credits based on how much work he/she completes. Students can earn way more than 5 credits per class per semester, but only if the student does the work.

If the student manages to make up the credits he/she is lacking, that student can return and graduate from his/her previous traditional high school. But, to return to the "home school", the only credits the student can have remaining are the credits for the classes that student is going to take for that final semester.)

The student explained that he only needed a few English credits, a couple math credits, and then he could transfer. Since the semester ends at the end of January, he figured he was perfectly situated.

I pointed out that he wasn't doing that day's assignment. An English assignment. An assignment that would be worth points that would lead to another credit so that he could complete the credits needed to get back to his "home school".

He didn't turn anything in that day. Sigh. Just when I think they "get it", they again prove that they don't.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Flying Balls

Is it unreasonable for me to require students not throw a ball around while inside a classroom?

Don't worry, that question is rhetorical (mostly).

It was after snack at the continuation high school on a Friday. Small group. Kick back assignment (video).

Someone found a small ball. It was about 3/4ths the size of a standard volleyball. And the students thought, "Wouldn't it be fun to throw this around at each other?"

They didn't understand why I would put a stop to their fun.

Rather than give the usual explanation, I went more personal. I explained that when things go flying in the classroom, I'm the one that gets hit. True story.

In various classrooms over the years, I've been hit by paper, pencils, erasers, rubber bands, and a book. (It was a math book. Long, ugly story.)

They knew of one pencil incident, so they knew I spoke the truth.

You'd think that the throwing thing would go without saying. Deep sigh.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Helping the Future

A couple weeks back now (I wrote this about a week ahead, and I'm referencing a show from about a week ago), something struck me in a Once Upon a Time episode. It had to do with Rumpelstiltskin and his prison cell...

(Honestly, it doesn't matter. If you've seen the episode, you know to what I'm referring. If you haven't, you won't lose anything by not having the details.)

What if you could see the future? What if you knew your predictions would come true? Would you allow a bad thing to happen to you (or would you remain in a bad situation) if you knew that by doing so you'd help someone else out later?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Writing with My Left Hand

Last Wednesday I ended up in a second grade classroom.


(It's a rather long and complicated story involving my assignment on Tuesday, the new sub caller, and my not paying enough attention to early morning wake up calls.)

The teacher was at school when I arrived. She was a bit frantic, as the thing that was taking her away from school that day had happened so last minute that she did not have lesson plans prepared. (She did not explain nor did I ask what her emergency was. Some things are private, and I respect that.)

I tried to get a handle on what needed doing. And figure out the class' schedule. All the while clamping down on my panic at being thrust into a second grade class. The teacher was having a rough enough day. She didn't need to know that her sub had no business being in a room with children under 12.

It was very odd. Since the district is the same, the buildings looked just like the buildings at the high school. For a moment, I felt like a high school class would walk in any minute. Then the little 7-year-olds arrived, and I had to shift into little kid mode. It's not a mode I work in, so it was odd to say the least.

But, it wasn't as bad as I had feared. (The last time I did elementary things were decidedly different. Bad. Very bad.) Somehow I managed to make it through.

The day kind of felt like if I had tried to write with my left hand. While I know what needs to be done, the muscles aren't as accustomed to what my brain wants them to do. So, it's all harder to do. Takes more time. I'm slower. But, I can get it done.

Although, I'm much happier when I can just do the easier thing and work with older kids.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Volunteers? Anyone?

English class. They were reading George Orwell's "Shooting an Elephant". Out loud. Together.

This works better for some classes than for others. At the continuation high school, it's generally a bad idea. I don't get volunteers. And if I volunteer them, they balk.

(Some outright refuse to read. Some will read a sentence or two and then refuse to go on. Some pretend not to hear me. Sure, I can browbeat them into reading, but it takes me so long to get them to agree, and then after they finish their one paragraph, I have to do it again. Something that should take 20 minutes can take more than an hour this way.)

It's a good thing I like to read out loud. Some periods I end up doing most of it.

(I opt for getting through the reading to get to the written portion of the assignment rather than telling the teacher that we couldn't get through all the reading in the time allotted )

Most English textbooks nowadays have an audio component. That is, there are files with the stories being read. Pop in CD, push play, and the students only have to follow along. Easy.

But nowadays, those files are more often on the publisher's website, accessible to registered users. Like the teacher. Not the sub.

(The teacher explained that if she hadn't been slammed, she would have gotten the tech guy to download the audio files to CD for me, but she ran out of time.)

Technology. It just gives us a whole new set of problems.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Copying the Word Search

It was another Friday at the continuation high school. The assignment was a word search.

(It was an ordinary word search, much like the one the math class did. It had a bunch of letters from which the students were to find the words that were listed at the bottom. I'm sure you've seen them before, but in case you're unsure, they look like this.)

The continuation high school students aren't the type to voluntarily work on anything, so the word search was worth a lot so long as they finished it and turned it in by the end of the period. Easy enough, right?

For the first two classes it was easy. They finished fairly quickly. But the next group...

I passed out the word search. I called the roll. Then I went about straightening up from the last period (gathering all the collected work and paperclipping it together). As I settled in to observe the group, a couple of the students nearby noticed that something was missing.

"Where did the papers go?"

Turns out they were going to copy the previous period's finished word searches. Because, you know, it would be too hard for them to do on their own. (The papers were stashed in a pile under other piles because I know this trick, so I hide previous periods' work as a matter of course.)

Shortly thereafter, another student approached. He wanted to know where his word search from the previous day was (the teacher gave some students the assignment a day ahead). I didn't know. I wasn't going to look. When I questioned him, he admitted that he just wanted his assignment so he could let others copy it.

Several students congregated in a group in a corner. One finished. The others pounced. Oooh, a finished one; one they could copy.

(Until I took that paper from them.)

If they only put in as much effort into doing the work as they do in trying to find a way around the work...

Oh, by the way, does anyone know of any good YouTube videos that would be school appropriate? I had access, and putting a video on in the background might have helped things. I think it's about time I complied a list for days like this one.  

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Gross National Happiness

Perusing Flipboard the other day, I stumbled across this article about Bhutan and their concept of a gross national happiness measure. In brief, Bhutan is more concerned with its citizens' happiness and personal development rather than economic progress.

It's different. An interesting idea.

Off the top of my head, I can think of three different ways I can go with this week's question. I think I'll go this way:

What if we lived by the principle that happiness was more important than economic prosperity? What if that was the basic belief that guided nations (instead of success = lots of money)? What would that look like? What would that do to a society? Would that be a utopian story or a dystopian one?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Good Cell Phone Story

It was one of those meh days. All classes got rated "there was more talking that working going on". I explained the assignment. It was on the board. I passed out paper, offered my assistance, and then left them to it.

In 4th period, a student came over to me. He held his cell phone out to me. He wanted to know what something meant.

Cell phone usage in class is a huge issue, especially at the continuation high school. They know they're not supposed to use them, and they know I can confiscate them (although they don't believe that I will). So, having a student hold out his cell phone was curious.

The assignment was a worksheet on sentence fragments. The boy had looked up the meaning of "fragment" on his phone, and he wanted me to show him which definition applied.

If he had looked up "sentence fragment"...

I explained the error. Then I got a chance to do my job.

He caught on pretty quickly. A couple times he checked to make sure that he was correctly identifying whether the group of words was a sentence or a fragment.

He was one of the two students in class who were actually doing their assignment.

So, I probably should have confiscated that cell phone, but I just didn't have the heart. I like to encourage them to do the assignment.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Gray Area


Math class at the continuation high school. They do all their work on the computer, so my job is to make sure they're on the proper program (not checking their Twitter feeds), their scores are recorded as they finish each section, and they have any extra help if they get stuck. Easy day.

Second period needed a bit of a push. Two students hung back acting like they were just going to chill until I reminded them that it was class time. They went to their computers and logged in.

The two boys were on their assigned computers. The correct program was up. They did not slip onto Twitter, Facebook, or any of the other myriad websites that the kids these days like. (I watched.)

However, they were not doing any work.

Should I mention them in my note to their teacher?

Generally, I mention the names of students who behave badly. From time to time, I'll note students who don't work all that well. But it depends on the situation. Students who end up at the continuation high school weren't the most industrious of workers. If they had been, they would never have gotten to the point where they needed to go to the continuation high school.

While the boys weren't doing much at all, they weren't behaving badly. Staring at walls is not behaving badly as far as I'm concerned. They weren't disturbing anybody. They didn't talk back to me. The only thing they were doing wrong was not doing the assignment.

But this teacher is pretty strict. Writing that in my note would get them in trouble.

Which leads to my dilemma: mention them in the note or not.

It's not like the teacher won't know they didn't work. He can see they made no progress. The computers record all sorts of things, like how long a student was on a particular problem or section.

It's a good day when this is what I worry about.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Save the Sweaters?

My great-grandmother taught me to knit. When she passed, I inherited all her tools (as well as her yarn stash). She also left behind some sweaters that she made.

The workmanship is something to behold. But, they don't get worn.

She didn't like making sleeves, but she could.

Very pastel. Very '80s.

The color doesn't come out very well, but it's stunning in person.

There are three in this color. I only posted this one.

I think this was made for my brother, as he was about this size at that time.

As you can see, they're all vests. She didn't like making sleeves. And none of them fit.  

It's time to get rid of them. I hate to see them go, but they're really just taking up space. What should I do with them? 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Question Reality

What if this was the dream and that bizarre dream you had last night was the reality?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

In Case You Missed These...

Contests, contests, and contests. And blogfests. It's been busy in the blogosphere.

I'm a couple weeks late, but Michael Offutt has released his second book. Make sure to check it out.

Link to his blog. Links for the book.
Charity Bradford is having a contest to give away a necklace to go along with her book release.

Go here to enter.
And Briane P is holding a Traveling Blogathon of Doom for Christmas. You could win some books.

Link to his blog. Comments give you entries.

With all these contests and releases, I kind of want to do a contest. What should I give away?  

And if I've missed your contest, blogfest, or what-have-you, feel free to add it in the comments. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Knowledge Gap

Last week was a holiday week, so no new stories. Time to dip into the archives. This I first posted on November 27, 2007

6th period I was covering an English class. They were finishing up a short story. One of the main characters' names was Marilyn, and the students couldn't pronounce it.

"Marilyn, as in Marilyn Monroe," I explained.


"Isn't there a teacher named...?"

"You've never heard of Marilyn Monroe?" I asked the class.

They claimed that they hadn't. This surprised me. I thought she was an icon.

Earlier in the day, I happened across two students having an argument. I got pulled into it.

"She doesn't think that Bruce Lee is the best martial artist of our generation," the boy explained.

"Your generation?" I asked. "Isn't Bruce Lee dead?"

(Note: this boy was born no earlier than 1993.)

"Fine, in this century, then," the boy said.

"Didn't he die in the '70s?" I asked.

This exasperated the boy. I let him have his initial point, though. If he thought Bruce Lee was the best, then so be it.

So, same day. They know Bruce Lee, they don't know Marilyn Monroe. Scary.

By my post counter, I see that this is post number 210. Because I'm that sort of geek. I just though it was cool.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Unexpected Reaction

It's hard to know what will rile them up.

Last Friday I covered an 8th grade US history class. The assignment was to start watching a movie.

Gideon's Trumpet. "Old" but in color. They had questions to answer. Good classes, so I only had occasional bursts of chatter.

(Looking for links for this post, I stumbled across the whole movie posted to YouTube. So, in case you're curious and have an hour and 45 minutes to spare...)

But what's interesting about showing a video is what the kids react to. Every period had the strongest reaction to one scene. (It starts at about 28:48 in the video.)

It's night. Some prisoner wants to arm wrestle for "smokes". He's shirtless. And the students all reacted to the man's hairy chest. Strongly.

I'm not sure if they were shocked or disgusted. They reacted like it was the strangest thing that they had ever seen. It took some minutes before they'd settle back down again.

Then in subsequent scenes with shirtless and sweaty men, they reacted again. I pointed out that the movie takes place in Florida. It was probably hot.

We only got 49 minutes into it. I wonder what other shocks they'll encounter in the second hour. (Not that I'll ever know...)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

How to Make a Bad Impression

We had been in class for maybe 10 minutes and I was done with Kenneth. Already, he had been out of his seat and roaming the room three times. He interrupted other students who were answering my questions. And he was twisted around in his seat so he could bother the student behind him.

When Kenneth let it be known (loudly) that I was boring him ("Can I just start now?") I knew it was time for him to go.

(To be fair here, we were reviewing literary terms such as plot, climax, resolution, character, and point of view. They'd gone over these terms before. They made flash cards. But the lesson plan said to review the terms again so they'd be ready for a test on Friday, and they were 8th graders which means that they won't really study on their own.)

"Take your work. Go next door." I even pointed in the direction I wanted him to go.


"Next door."

45 minutes later, I got a phone call from another sub. Kenneth had just arrived. Also, he slammed into a desk, laughed, and disrupted that class.

Two thoughts occurred:
  1. Why was I directed to send students out to a class with a sub?
  2. Where had Kenneth been for 45 minutes?  
Not five minutes later Kenneth returned to retrieve his stuff. I asked him where he had been all period.  

"Outside. There is no next door."  

The room we were in was at the end of a building. There was no next door on one side. But on the other, the way I pointed...  

(By the way, I later figured out that the room I sent Kenneth to and the one he went to were not the same. He disrupted the class at the other end of the hall.)  

At this point I tried to collect his assignment (the thing he was supposed to be doing in the other classroom), but he wouldn't give it to me. Because, of course, he had not done it.  

Kenneth was pleased with himself. I could tell. He had put one over on the sub.  

Of course, Kenneth doesn't know me very well. Because as he was playing this game, I was mentally composing my note. (I debated whether or not a referral would have been better, but I figured he would just toss it and go to lunch as lunch was five minutes away.)  

I spent half of the next class period writing all of this down. I got the impression that this teacher is of the strict variety. Yeah, I wouldn't want to be in Kenneth's shoes that next day.  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


I mean me.

"Did we have math homework?"

6th period. 7th grade English. They had a packet on verbs and adverbs to work on. We spent a lot of time going over it with me giving examples.

It had been a strange day. Roving assignment. The schools have been doing these teacher trainings for about a month or so now. It's on campus and part day. They pull a bunch of teachers for a couple periods at a time--some for three, some for less than that.

For us subs, it means that we cover a couple different teachers in a day. This day I covered 7th grade history for three periods, pre-algebra for one period, and 7th grade English for one period.

The 7th grade history classes were fine. A bit loud. But on task.

Then the pre-algebra class was right next door. And about a third of the class had been in one of the history classes.

The English class was a bit farther than that. Not next door, but the rooms were within sight of each other. And, of course, I had a handful of students that I had encountered earlier in the day. It's like I was following them.


Stalking students. Another service I offer.

(By the way, the answer to the math homework question was no. She was asking me. Because I had been there.)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Visual Learner

I saw this purse in Interweave Knits Fall 2012 issue (not sure of the legalities of posting pics that are not my own, so I'll keep to posting links).

I'm not a big fan of doing color work, but then I saw that the myriad of color changes were achieved using only two different variegated yarns.

Curious, I figured I'd give it a try.

The pattern called for a new cast on. I read through the instructions. They might as well have been in Greek for all the sense they made. I read them, attempted to do as instructed...

(Those instructions are actually a bit better than the ones in the magazine. If I could post what was in the magazine, you'd see how impossible those instructions really are. If I had had access to these, I might have been able to do it. Lots of pictures helps.)

After 20 minutes of attempts, I realized there was no way I was going to figure it out. That's when I realized that there is another tool at my disposal: YouTube.

Why couldn't they just say this in the first place?

(Ain't technology grand? And that cast on is way cool--once I could see how it was done.)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Just a Word Search

The last day of the quarter was a minimum day. It was also day two of a two-day assignment. The previous day, the algebra 2 class had a decent sized assignment. Friday's assignment was to finish Thursday's assignment, and then they could work on work from another class or do a word search.

A kick-back day.

1st period. They were so excited to get to do a word search. They dove right in. (A few did do work for other classes. These were the academically inclined, so getting them to do something wasn't hard.)

I wasn't too concerned with the word search. I collected it, but I expect that the teacher won't be giving them points for it. I'm pretty sure they knew this as well, as I got maybe five of them turned in.

But there was one boy who suddenly had to finish the word search. If I was collecting it, he had to do it. And he had to finish it before anybody else.

He didn't. The end of the period hit, and he hadn't finished that word search. I explained that it wasn't a big deal. He got the actual bookwork done from Thursday, so not finishing the word search wasn't going to impact anything. It was just a word search.

But this bothered him. Why couldn't he complete a word search that his classmates hadn't had any trouble with? Why was it so hard for him?

I tried to calm him. This wasn't important.

The boy returned before 5th period. He wanted to turn in the word search. He managed to complete it by then. Still, he was frustrated that it took him so long to do. Again, I tried to calm him. I accepted the paper, and he left.

A word search is not a stress-inducing assignment. At least, it shouldn't be.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Wrong Time to Be Thirteen Again

Last Thursday I covered an Algebra 2 class. They had bookwork. Apparently, the teacher plays the radio in the background for them, as every class asked if they could have the radio on. They were working, so I didn't have a problem with it.

We left the radio on the station that it had been on (Jack FM). Presumably, this is the approved station (and I really wasn't in the mood for Power 106). 

They play a mix of current stuff and more "classic" tunes (I'm sorry, but I have a hard time considering the '80s classic. I guess I'm old.) I spent the day cringing at some songs I hate and enjoying some songs I love. An example of the latter:  

But this is Thursday, so there's a random question involved.

Anyway, that song came on, and I was 13 again. I realized this and thought that considering the venue, that was rather inconvenient. I'm supposed to be the adult in the room. And if I was 13, every student in that room was older than me. No one puts a 13-year-old in charge of a high school classroom.

But what if I was suddenly 13 again? What if someone found a "fountain of youth" that could be invoked using music from a different era? What if we could revert to the ages we were for those songs? What sorts of problems would that cause?

(It might be cool, though. Just not in that particular setting.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Algebra 2. It had been an easy day so far. They had work. They did it. I spent much of the period seated with occasional strolls around the room.

It was during one stroll that I caught a girl returning a flipped backpack to her neighbor's desk. (The neighbor was sitting in another seat on the other side of the room.) She saw me, and she begged me to keep quiet.

"I haven't seen this in like five years," I said.

At about this time, the boy returned to his seat and found the flipped backpack. He had heard what I said, and he had a response.

"I did this all the time last year."

Then he showed us a new (to me) trick. The girl only flipped the backpack inside out. But, the boy used to take everything out of the backpack and flip it inside out using the front pocket, leaving a "football".

(On a hunch, I Googled this. Turns out there's a YouTube video. Several, in fact.)

Apparently, the prank is still around. I guess I need to pay closer attention. But, then again, I suddenly felt less troubled about the boy getting pranked. I rather think he was due.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Once a quarter, every core academic class has to give a district benchmark test to make sure the students are learning what they're supposed to be learning.

8th grade. Physical science. The teacher was ill, and the benchmark was due. Deep sigh.

As per normal, my biggest issue was in keeping the class quiet when most of them (but not all) had finished and turned in the test. The students who need the extra time deserve a silent classroom, and I do everything in my power to ensure that they have it.

3rd period. I picked up the penultimate finisher's test. I shushed the class. Then I went to take a look to see how long the final tester was going to need.

He was on question four. Of 30. After 45 minutes.

Before I continue, I should explain a bit about test taking at the school. Some students have issues. They may need longer for a test. They may need extra modifications. These are things that are in the students' files, and accommodations are made for them.

These students don't take tests in their teachers' classrooms. There is a resource room for them. Most teachers forget to mention this, but that's okay, because the students know. They come up to me and inform me that they need to take the test elsewhere. This is so common that I just hand them the test, make note of their names, and let them go.

So, this student shouldn't have been having testing issues. If he had them, he should have gone elsewhere. In fact, three other students in his class did leave, so it wasn't like he would have gone alone.

Then I noticed the student talking to his neighbor. Um, no. I pounced.

I asked him what the problem was. He explained that he was bored. So, instead of finishing the test, he spaced out. By the end of the period, he finished maybe six questions. And then he was worried about not having finished the test.

On second thought, perhaps he does need modifications. I hope they figure that out.

Friday, November 9, 2012


5th period geography. 9th graders.

First, I collected their warm ups from the week. (Many teachers assign a quick question or two for the students to answer while they take roll and get things started. They collect this once a week just to make sure the students actually do it.)

For some reason, collecting work is always a huge production. I announce it. I wait. Many pull out the paper immediately and pass it forward, but there are a few that take their time, can't find it, and hold up the whole process. I will announce, "Make sure your name is on your paper," but I still get nameless pages.

Somehow, we managed to get this done. I paper-clipped these papers together, put them aside, and then I called for their map packets. Same procedure.

I had about 3/4ths of the papers in my hands. A few papers were still making their way to the front. Discussions ensued, because their instruction was to remove the first page, make sure their name was on the second, and then pass these up. Most did this without incident, but a few hadn't been paying attention.

So, we're in the midst of all this when a voice from the back of the room announces:

"Do we have to turn anything in today?"

[Insert sarcastic comment here.]

Although, I didn't. Make a sarcastic comment, that is. I didn't have to. The rest of the class took care of it for me.

I stood there and listened. They pretty much nailed it. And said it better than I would have.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Renaming the Guardians

Rise of the Guardians is coming out on November 21st. It seems like a cool premise. Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and others (I assume) team up to protect the innocence of children. They are the guardians of children.

A while ago, I read somewhere that an agent had noticed a lot of guardians in submissions. That many of her submissions contained either a race of guardians or a self-described group of guardians. Somehow, the concept has become a trend.

Since then, I've noticed the trend as well.

It's an interesting idea. Whether the guardians are benevolent or just think they are, a race or population that sets itself above others is an interesting concept to explore, especially in speculative fiction.

But I think the word is overused.

So, my question for today: What would be a good way to describe such a group without using the word "guardian"? Or should the concept be retired?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Things I Think About

I made a new pair of earrings.

I tried to get a picture of them worn, but I can't seem to find a model. So, I had to get a picture of them on me.  

I also made a pair in purple.  

And black.  

There's no good reason for this. I sat in class one day, thinking. And these earrings formed. I tried them out, and while they weren't quite what I pictured, they were still pretty good. So, I made the Phoenix pair and started wearing them.  

I have other colors I can make these out of.  

I bet there's more too. I just have to go to the yarn store and see what colors they have.  

What do you think?  

(I'm also over at the California Crafters Club of Etsy's blog today showing off some clocks. I'd love it if you'd pop on by.)  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


I've had this weird congestion thing for about a week now. I can breathe. I don't feel sick. But I've got this awful sounding cough, and my voice...well, my voice either cracks or drops an octave. I don't sound like myself. And I don't have a "loud".

Algebra class at the continuation high school. The teacher left me notes to give the class. Simple stuff: adding integers. I could have gone over it in about five minutes if they would have let me.

Giving notes is always a challenge for a sub. They've tuned out. (And it didn't help that it was Halloween.) This is why most teachers leave bookwork when they have a sub.

I can usually berate and guilt them into attention long enough to get done what's required. I've done it before. I remind them that it's stuff their teacher wanted them to learn. I explain that they'll have work to go along with it (if there is). Most of the time, if I remind them that it is school time and they are there to learn, I get enough attention to get through whatever notes they need to take.

But this class was off-the-charts loud.

And I could not raise my voice so that I could be heard. (Although, I don't think even my normal loud would have been loud enough for them to hear me.)

It was beyond frustrating.

I saw the teacher the next day. He confirmed that that period was loud. How he deals with them every day... That is one tough class.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Way Too Paranoid

Algebra readiness. A class so challenging it had two teachers.

I went over the class' assignment. The other teacher checked/collected homework. We both walked the room and helped students who needed assistance. Mostly, we tried to keep the students (who would have rather spent the period playing) on task.

I noticed two students posing. They stood in the back far corner of the room, heads together, smiles plastered on their faces. Automatically, I looked for the photographer. The boy saw me looking. I've never seen a cell phone disappear into a pocket that fast.

But not fast enough.

I extended my hand. He didn't attempt a dodge. He pulled out his cell phone, took out the battery, and handed the phone to me.

The boy explained that he didn't want administration going through his phone. Now, administration doesn't normally go rifling through confiscated cell phones. From what I've seen, they put them in a drawer until a parent comes to pick the thing up. The office staff is way too busy. But the boy gave up his phone, so I considered it done with.

I passed the phone to the other teacher. (He knows the kids. Rather than me figuring out who the student is and finding paper to write down his name, the other teacher could just look at the kid and know.)

The other teacher noted the missing battery. Once he knew who the student was, I went back to walking the room.

Then the back door opened. Security. Not only did he take the phone, he took the student.

The other teacher didn't like that the student had taken out the battery. What was he hiding? What would he post online after he got his phone back? Also, that student was a class clown, and this was a good excuse to get rid of him. (That section of the room mellowed a bit once the student left class.)

The other students didn't understand. I explained that it wouldn't be an issue if they kept their cell phones put away. They did.

Cell phones. So convenient  And such a hassle.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Honor System

A girl dropped off her stuff--her backpack and her fundraiser bag. This is so normal as to be unremarkable, although most students keep the fundraiser bags with them. (Students are always selling something for one school-sponsored activity or other. They carry their bag of goodies with them and get sales from hungry classmates.)

The girl's belongings sat undisturbed all period. The bell rang. The class cleared out. And another girl noticed the fundraising bag. She was hungry and she wanted an item from the bag. (She was on her way out to lunch.)

I was not the keeper of the bag. But, I do keep an eye on things to make sure that students don't make off with property that isn't theirs.

I figured the girl would like to make a sale. Hungry girl took two items from the bag. Turns out the bag was labeled, so hungry girl knew who she would have to pay. She promised me that she would pay the girl when she saw her, and she was on her way.

Normally I wouldn't allow this, but I knew I'd have both girls in class after lunch. I made sure to ask the girl if hungry girl had paid her. She had.

It's nice to know that 8th graders can sometimes be trusted.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Colonists' Dilemma

One of my dormant novels-in-progress (I'll get back to it; right now it's resting) takes place in a future distant enough that humans have left the confines of Earth to colonize other worlds. The world on which my story takes place contains evil parasites that find a way to conquer the humans, and...

I'm not going to bore you with the details. This is Thursday. That means I have a question.

Assume that we've advanced technologically enough to travel the vast distances to colonize other planets. What sorts of technology would those other worlds have? Cell phones? Computers? Music players? TV? The ability to talk to Earth?

Or, would those colonists attempt to simplify and get back to nature (even if that "nature" is alien to them)? Would constantly being in contact with everyone all the time be something that they'd want to get away from?

(I've been debating this. World building. It's a challenge.)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Christmas in October

Earth science. It's a tricky day. The class is populated by 9th graders who failed 8th grade science. My primary job is to clamp down on any crazy behavior.

For the most part last Monday, the classes were okay. They were loud, but I didn't observe much crazy. Until 5th period.

One student took something like five tissues and headed for the door. This is such an everyday occurrence that it normally deserves no remark. What elevates it to blog-worthy came next.

The student stood in the doorway and playacted blowing his nose. He put the tissue on the tip of his nose, blew so the tissue fluttered out in front of him, and then crumpled the clean tissue, finally disposing of it in the trash. He did this five times.

(He stood so that he was facing outside. I tried to get close enough to see who he was playacting for, but I never did get to see which girl he was trying to impress.)

When I questioned him, he went to the corner of the room, sat on the floor, and declared that he was in a "time out". Like he was a kindergartner or something. (His fellow students thought this hilarious. Somehow I managed to get him to sit in a real chair like a high schooler.)

After that, the class settled to restaurant on Saturday night noise levels, but the key word here is "settled". They sat and sort of worked.

Then from another corner of the room, I heard singing. "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer".

Um, it's October. We haven't even had Halloween yet.

Then a student in the opposite corner of the room broke into "Frosty the Snowman".

Apparently, I wandered into cartoon land without even realizing it.

(I ran into their teacher the next day. He was not amused by any of this.)

When is the strangest time you've encountered someone breaking into Christmas songs?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Impeding Traffic

As a newbie sub, I learned not to ask other students for their classmates' names. Even the most "reliable" of the good students "doesn't know" the names of the misbehaving students (even though they've all been in school together since kindergarten).

It's a snitch thing. No student wants to "snitch" on his/her peers.

Last Thursday I covered middle school pre-algebra. They had worksheets. They did them. The bell rang, and the students filed out to go to lunch.

I made sure I was set up for the next group. But the room wasn't clearing out as quickly as it normally does. The students were stuck. Um, what...?

One seated girl had her leg propped on a nearby desk, blocking the only path through the room to the door.

Um, no.

Because of the traffic jam, I could not get to the girl. I called out, but she couldn't hear me. Then whatever was going on settled, for the girl stood, and everyone could pass. I tried to get to the girl (I wanted to have a little discussion about blocking pathways in small classrooms), but she left, apparently not hearing me calling out to her.

Quietly, I asked the girl nearest to me who that had been. And the girl told me!

I did not expect an answer. I expected a hemming and hawing. No snitching to the sub. But I guess preventing everyone from leaving class loses a girl certain privileges.

I understand, though. She was keeping them all from lunch!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Not So Crocodile

It's finally finished. What do you think?

According to Ravelry, I started this back on May 7th. I haven't been working on it nonstop. Once the heat of summer really hit, I set it aside. I just picked it up again about three weeks ago, when sitting under the fabric stopped being crazy uncomfortable.

Now it's finished, just in time for the weather to warm up again. Sigh.

Once I bound the thing off, I tried it on and got a good look at myself in the mirror. And found that this thing looks like a British barrister's wig. Double sigh.

Ah well. I learned a lot from making it. I was going to post how I did it, but I don't think anyone is going to much care. (Although, if you would like me to post the pattern, I will. Just let me know in the comments.)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Catching the Answers

7th grade science. They were to watch a video on light and answer 10 questions that were provided to them on a handout.

By 4th period, I was pretty familiar with the video. Familiar enough to explain to that class that each answer would appear three separate times. And I let them know that I would point out when each answer was stated.

This is not enough for 7th graders. They worry.

"But what if we still don't get the answers?"

Stated three times in the video? With me calling out: "Here's number 2"? Not likely.

The girl persisted. But what if she missed an answer?

"What if an asteroid hits the Earth in the next five minutes?" I asked her.

I could only assure her so much. I had to get the video started. I had to make sure that we could go over the answers after as well.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dystopian Past?

Have you ever noticed how much "end of days" hype surrounds us? There's the Mayan calendar thing. It seems like every couple years there's some crackpot who claims the end is about to befall us. There's the stuff surrounding the beliefs about the Rapture (and those that are making money off of it). And of course there's all the dystopian fiction that seems to be popular.

It's Thursday, so I am going somewhere with this.

The other part of my pondering has to do with what is known as genetic memory. Basically, it's the idea that we retain a sense of what our ancestors went through, but not consciously. It's like we remember it in our bones.

What if all these feelings of an impending apocalypse are us accessing genetic memories of the past rather than predicting future events? 

Just a thought.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Better Late Than Never

I've been a bad blogger lately. I've been scheduling my blogs way in advance, and then I get so slammed during the week that I haven't had much of a chance to do much except scroll through all your blogs and make the occasional comment. Because of this, I've missed out on some announcements.

Better late than never, right?

First up, Sharon Bayless has started up The Blog Tour Exchange. It's a place where you can sign up your blog to host future blog tours and where you can set up your future blog tours. Check it out. She has a contest going, and you can enter as long as you sign up by November 1st.

And of course I missed Charity Bradford's cover reveal on October 1st. (I'm 21 days late. Eeek!)

By the time you see this, I'm sure I'll have missed some other major events in the blogosphere. School gets into full swing and I get swamped. This is normal for me.

Oh, and I won a copy of PT Dilloway's new book Tales of the Scarlet Knight: A Hero's Journey. So, when I have a spare moment, I'll be reading.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Not Listening

"What's your name?"

I get the question all the time. It's why I carry a name magnet and put it up every day.

At the beginning of every period I introduce myself. I wait until the class has settled (read: is silent). I pronounce my name (sometimes I do this a couple times) and tell the class that they may call me Ms. A. Then I move on to their assignment for the day.

Last Thursday I had a 7th grade science class. It was 3rd period. I did my usual introduction, and we were just about to go over the answers to their study guide when a boy raised his hand and asked me that question. Yep, he asked me my name after I had just spent two minutes introducing myself.

I shook my head at that. There's only so much I can do. After that, I let them remain ignorant.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Last Minute Plans, Old School

Last Monday I was awakened by the usual--my cell phone's gonging bells. (I like that ring tone.) The name of the teacher was familiar. I've subbed for him before.  

I got to school at the usual time. Got into the classroom. Looked for the lesson plans. Couldn't find them.  

I didn't panic. I couldn't recall a time when I had subbed for this teacher that he hadn't left me something. Now, I haven't subbed for him all that much, but I vividly recall every time I was left without plans, and he wasn't one of those. 

At times like these, I know what to do. I call the school secretary and ask if the teacher had emailed her the plans. 

Unfortunately, he hadn't.  

I wasn't worried yet. I knew he had friends in neighboring rooms. Perhaps he emailed one of them his lesson plans. I opened the classroom door so that the teachers could get to me easily, and I made contingency plans. (I looked at the board, got an idea where the class was in the book, and figured I'd assign them busywork from the next chapter.)  

It got closer to the beginning of the school day. Then the room's phone rang.  

Phone! Of course. 

It's been so long since a teacher called me to tell me the lesson plans that I had forgotten this was a possibility. Nowadays they email. But I don't really care the method, just as long as the classes have something to do for the day.

For my 1001st post, I figured it was time to change up the blog a bit. If you're anything like me, you may not see the changes (as you're reading this through a reader of some sort and not actually coming to visit the blog), so I thought I'd mention it. The background was knit (and photographed) by me. (Thanks, Chris, for your technical help in getting the photo blog ready.) 

What do you think?

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Competition

The lesson plan said that the best behaved class of the day would get a reward. I normally rank the classes in my note for the day, so I didn't have to change anything I did. But I did need to mention this to the classes.

8th graders. Science. They had a lab write up to finish, a review worksheet, and some random questions to do. And they did it. They talked, but it wasn't a silent type of assignment, so I wasn't too concerned.

3rd and 4th periods were neck and neck. They were both talkative, but they were both on task.

(2nd period took themselves out of competition after one boy used a racial epithet while talking about a girl's hair. It was way over the top and completely unnecessary. And it was kind of how that whole class period went.)

Then 5th period arrived. I explained about the ranking. They asked if working silently would get them the win. Well, of course.

They tried. They failed, but they tried to work quietly. What they succeeded in doing was in keeping the noise level lower (considerably lower) than both periods 3 and 4. And I told them when they left that if 6th period worked silently, they'd lose. But at that moment, they were in 1st place.

I explained the situation to 6th period. They attempted to quiet themselves. And it worked for about five minutes.

5th period for the win.

I wonder what their prize is going to be.

By my post counter, it looks like this is my 1000th post. Wow. I should have a contest or something. Ideas?  

Thursday, October 18, 2012

This Never Works

Either the 8th graders have changed or I have. I'm not sure which.

(If you're looking for my usual "what if?" question for the week, it got posted on Monday. Special occasion for Blog Action Day. A new "what if?" will be here next Thursday.)

It was an 8th grade English class. The assignment was to read a short story out of their workbooks.

I like the way that the textbooks do this. It isn't just a story with questions at the end. There are questions that go along the margin of each page, and the students are required to circle things, underline things, and generally interpret the story as they read it. It seems more interactive.

The assignment was of the do-it-on-your-own variety. I explained the assignment to them. I went over how they were to look at the questions as they did the reading. And then I gave this instruction:

"I know I've never been able to talk and read at the same time, so I expect that you will all be working quietly on this assignment."

And they did!

This never works. Yet, this time it did.

Like I said, either they've changed or somehow I've managed to figure out how to get them to work silently. Or they're really scared of their teacher. I think I'll go with option 3.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Demi Cozy

I think it might just be the way my brain works.

CAHSEE testing was two weeks ago. I was at the continuation high school. The entire school tested in the morning while the students that had already passed came in the afternoon. The administration paired up all the teachers, so I was sent to another teacher's classroom to administer the test.

I brought the one thing I figured I'd need. My water bottle.

The testing went well (which is why I didn't mention it before). I had a lot of time to sit and think. And drink my water.

The bottle left a ring of water on the desk on which it sat.

You'd think with all my bottle carriers I'd have had my water bottle in one. Nope. Why bring a carrier with a handle when the bottle goes in my school bag?

Stupid. Yep, I know.

But, as I was pondering my idiocy (as I do from time to time) it occurred to me that perhaps I didn't need a full water bottle carrier anyway. I could make a half cozy (a demi cozy--I like the sound of that). That would be big enough to keep the condensation from getting everywhere...

Genius! Or blindingly obvious. I'm not sure which.  

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


"Tonight is Back to School Night..."

I'm not sure how the topic came up. It was an average Tuesday morning. I checked in at the school. As the secretary gathered the usual materials (classroom key, temporary log in for attendance, emailed lesson plans), we chatted.

All checked in, I was ready to head out, but if it was Back to School Night...

"Does that mean today is a minimum day?"


There are six minimum days on the school calendar. The end of quarter ones I know are coming. But Back to School Night is different for each school, and in previous years has been rescheduled, so I never know when it is.

It was a very nice surprise.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Power of We: A Special What If

It's Blog Action Day again. This year's topic is The Power of We.

I've been having the hardest time coming up with a post. It's not that I don't believe in the power of people coming together to make change. I do. But my blog is generally more mundane than that, and I couldn't find a way in to the topic.

The last time I had this issue, I posted a bunch of links. But I wasn't willing to do that this year. So, I sat and thought (and watched 8th graders kind of do their assignments), and then it hit me.

This is the perfect topic for a "what if?" So what if it isn't Thursday. It's a special occasion. I can switch up the schedule (my schedule) for a week.

Why did the organizers think that The Power of We was a necessary topic? Because we don't realize our power.

What if we knew how powerful we really were? What if we found a way to band together to make a positive change in the world? Would we be able to do it, or would we sabotage ourselves along the way?  

Friday, October 12, 2012

Small Class

I believe I've mentioned the buyout thing at the continuation high school, but just in case you missed it...

On Fridays, students can get permission to skip school if
  1. It was a full week (no Monday holiday)
  2. They were in school and on time all week
  3. Their teachers all give permission
This is what's so great about subbing on Thursday there. I get to sign the slips giving permission, and my condition is always for them to do their work. I state this up front, and I find that this is incentive enough to get them to do what they're supposed to do.  

On Thursday, every single student in first period (all six of them) gave me a buyout to sign. They all did their work. (The room was silent.) I signed every buyout. And I knew I was returning Friday (the teacher was out Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday).  

Would I have anyone in first period?  

Turns out, I had one student. I asked the burning question. 

Another of his teachers wouldn't sign his buyout. Bummer.  

But I was glad he was there. I would have felt funny getting the period off. It feels wrong somehow to have no students in a class that I'm supposed to teach.  

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Computer Intelligence

When I started my Thursday what ifs, I explained that I use these as jumping off points for my stories.

This particular "what if?" is a part of a story that I've been kicking around for a couple years. One of these days, I may even write some of it down.

What if there was a way to upload a human consciousness into a computer? Would this be preferable to creating artificial intelligences? Would the person who was uploaded survive the process? 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Math in Art Class

I expected a protest. I got one. But it didn't happen until 5th period. That it took that long was the surprise.

The lesson plan was curious. On Wednesday they had a drawing assignment. On Thursday the assignment was a packet on fractions--simplifying, improper fractions, and mixed numbers. Strange.

The TA explained. The class was construction skills. It goes along with the wood shop class. They have to be able to sketch what they want to build. And they have to be able to measure accurately.

Okay, then.

All the morning classes accepted Thursday's assignment without complaint. They worked on it. I got the usual sorts of questions. Many finished it.

Then 5th period arrived. They complained. "This is an art class!"

Yes and no. I explained the importance of math in this context.

They weren't having any of it. They didn't do math. So, they spent the period in conversation, starting with a run down of every teacher they ever had that they hated.

(This stuff is fascinating. I learn who's been fired and why. I also see how they feel about teachers that I've met. Sometimes I agree with their assessments. Sometimes I don't. But I would still rather see them get some work done.)

Then 6th period came in and complained about having to do a math packet, too. But unlike 5th, they accepted my explanation, and most of them actually did it.

There's always that one class. One period that just has to be difficult. I'm not sure why.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The History of Amber

I met Amber when she was in the 8th grade. It was the spring semester. Over the course of one week, I had her in three different classes. I wrote her up and removed her from class all three times.

(I don't write that many referrals. That I was driven to write three tells you quite a lot about her behavior on those days.)

I ran into her the next school year. I didn't notice nor remember her until I overheard her telling a friend: "That sub hates me." Still, it took a couple minutes before I placed her.

The assignment in the English class that day was to read silently. (It was Monday. Many of the English teachers do this on Mondays.) Amber put her head down on her desk. She bothered no one, so I let her be. (I was also a bit paranoid about getting her started again, so rather than confront her about not reading, I let sleeping dogs lie.)

Over the years, I've run into Amber here and there. She ignores me. I watch her. We've come to a sort of truce.

I wasn't terribly surprised when I ran into her at the continuation high school.

Just as a reminder: the continuation high school is where students who are in danger of not graduating get sent. It's where they can make up their missing credits and eventually earn a high school diploma.  

Amber has mellowed over the years. I'm no longer worried about her going so wild that I have to remove her from class. But I know she hasn't forgotten 8th grade either.

The only reason I'm mentioning Amber now, though, is because I ran into her last week. She just started the reentry class.

If a student doesn't make up the credits at the continuation high school and fails to graduate "on time", reentry is the next step. These students have the opportunity to continue working on their credits and can eventually earn that high school diploma. They are over 18. But to get accepted into the class, they have several hoops to jump through, and they must make progress towards graduation.  

On the one hand I'm not terribly surprised. One does not behave as Amber behaved and remain on track to graduate. But, she's matured, and the fact that she's been allowed into the reentry class means that she might just finish high school.

I hope she does.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Finished Vest

Last week was a little bit insane. Not only did I post here all week, I also did the week at Unicorn Bell, and I posted over at the California Crafters Club of Etsy. Plus, I was getting over a cold. And subbing all week.

(Everything was written well in advance and scheduled. Except for Wednesday. Good thing, as I ended up not having very much time to get online, which is why I was largely absent all week. Sorry.)

So, before I dive into another week, I just had to share. Remember the vest? The one I was crocheting? The one I had to start over several times?

I finished it.

I finished it on September 26th, I believe. Just in time to enjoy these warm October days.  

That is not sarcasm. 'Round these parts, we can have warm weather through November. (Ever eaten Thanksgiving dinner al fresco? I have.) Last week we had a couple days in the 90s.  

Anyway, this post is just to show off the vest. What do you think?  

Friday, October 5, 2012

Note Fake Out

I was warned to watch out for this 5th period algebra class. So, I did as I was told and kept a closer eye on them. They were talkative, but they stayed in their seats. They appeared to be working on their assignment.

The conversations went off topic. There was a huge debate over Spongebob Squarepants. Somehow this turned in to a discussion about cartoons.

I also got several math related questions.

All in all, it was not a bad class. Not ideal, but not terrible.

The only issue I had was with a student who left to use the restroom without permission. Long story.

At the end of the period, the class asked if I had written any names down. As I had (the restroom kid), I said yes. Then they all wanted to know if it was their name I had written down.

I know this is evil of me, but I didn't answer. And they all got really, really paranoid.

The class informed me of the consequence for having name-in-note (Saturday detention). I admit, I had fun watching them squirm. Suddenly, everyone was sure they had done something note-worthy.

I wonder what they think they did. As I wasn't lecturing, I wasn't concerned with the talking they did. They weren't even very loud. It's not like they didn't do as they were asked.

Am I terrible? Should I have let them off the hook and told them their names weren't in the note?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Great Intelligence

The other day I went looking through some old files looking for a story idea. (I wrote down a bunch of story ideas ages ago, and I needed to see what I had come up with for one particular one.) Eventually, I found it.

But, while I was looking, I ran across an old "what if?" of mine. I knew I had to share it. I don't remember when or how this came to me, so I'm just going to post what I found.

What if the big bang and all subsequent ordering of the universe was done by some great intelligence (or several great intelligences)? What if they got bored by their new toy? What if they saw the Earth and thought, “hey, wouldn’t that be fun to play on”? And then what if that was the genesis of life on earth?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Lining Lessons Learned

I finished it!

It took longer than I anticipated. I made a few mistakes. But that just means the next one will be that much easier. I hope.

Here's what I learned along the way:

  1. Felting shrinks the knitted fabric. Quite a lot. More than I expected.
  2. But if something (like the closure) feels too long, it probably is
  3. Corollary to #2: Straps can never be long enough.
  4. While cutting out lining fabric before felting may seem like a good idea, see lesson #1.
  5. For sewn in pockets, smaller is better.
  6. Measure. Cut. Compare to knit bag. Then, sew. And compare to knit bag again.
  7. Sew right sides together, even for linings.
  8. Don't fret about the lining before going to bed. (You don't want to know what my dreams were like that night.)
Also, I'm over at the California Crafters Club of Etsy blog today. More green. Come on by and say hi.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Last Thing I Expected

The budget cuts have hit schools hard. One of the ways they're conserving is by reducing the number of copies they run off.

Students are used to "class sets"--worksheets they can work from but not write on. These get returned and reused throughout the day.

Any time I pass anything out, the first question is, "Can we write on these?"

The economics teacher made copies of his Power Point lecture, and the assignment was to have them copy those notes. But he didn't make a full class set. He made 22 copies. The classes each held 38 students.

They were going to have to share.

I made my battle plan. I divided the number of copies by the number of rows, and...

I didn't take into account that they were seniors.

As they finished the first part of the assignment, I started to pass out the notes (the second assignment). When I ran out of notes, the others waited patiently (either by pulling out other work or taking their time on the first assignment). Then without me having to do anything, those that finished copying the notes passed off their copy to another student who needed them.

I watched this all happen. It was fascinating.

The most amazing thing? The room remained quiet throughout.

See, this is not how this sort of thing normally works. I should have had to divide the pages evenly, assign groups, and stand over them as they took their time not copying the notes. And the whole time the noise level would approach that of a busy Chili's. (Have you ever been in one? Man, it gets loud in there.)

Then, I got back every single copy. I know. I counted. (Normally, I lose a copy or two every period, ending up with fewer than I started with.)

These sorts of days I sort of hold my breath. It's great when things go right, but I wait and watch for the one thing that'll start the class going. This time, it didn't happen. It was a very nice day.

How has your week been going?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Teacher Roulette

Last Monday I got called for "school business" and the school was going to need ten subs. Sounds like my kind of day!

I love roving-type assignments. You're not stuck in one classroom all day. It's more likely that you'll get a chance to see the teacher and give verbal notes (rather than the written down kind). And it just feels less like work somehow.

Turned out that two groups of teachers were having meetings, one group for periods 1-3 and the other for periods 4-6. The secretary assigned us subs to a teacher for periods 1-3 in kind of the order that we arrived for the day.

After 3rd period, we turned in our key for the first three periods. The secretary had a pile of keys for the remaining classes. She dug in and pulled out a key at random.

And the winner 710.

To a certain extent, my assignments can be a bit luck-of-the-draw. This day more so than others, though.

(For the record, all were English classes, and only one class was difficult. The difficult class settled nicely once I warned them that names would be taken.)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Intellectual Curiosity?

Last Friday I was in a science classroom. Science classrooms many times have working faucets at the workstations. The students are supposed to leave them alone unless they are doing a lab, and most of the time they do.

I noticed one group of four running the water. Of course, I went over to investigate.

They explained that they were doing physics. They wanted to see how many drops of water they could get to balance on the end of a pen.

This kind of pen, although theirs was blue.

Because of the surface tension of water, they could balance a couple drops. If you look at the end of the pen closely, you'll see that there's enough of an indentation to keep a little water there, which is what held a drop on top.  

They were able to get three drops or the third drop obliterated their efforts--I wasn't clear on which.  

I stood there and watched them for a bit. It was kind of interesting. 

There are all sorts of things students will do when given the chance. (The assignment was a finish-up-the-packet-that's-due thing, and several students pulled out work from other classes.) Many of my nightmare posts result from this.  

But of all the things they can get up to, this is the sort of thing that bothers me the least.