Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Somewhere in the midst of period 2 yesterday, the school secretary called me. Could I cover a 4th period (the prep) for a special ed. class? Sure, why not?

I got to class, and there was no instructional aide. (There were two one-on-one aides for one student, though.) But there was a TA, and she passed out spelling work. I looked for a lesson plan, but there wasn't one. The students sat at their seats and worked, so I let well enough alone.

Occasionally, a student had a question. How do you spell eucalyptus? (I had to look that one up. I've gotten way too used to spell-check.) How do you pronounce soprano? Which dictionary definition should I use?

Then one of the girls got up to do something (retrieve a dictionary or blow her nose), and one of the boys got up and took her seat. He had been working peacefully earlier, so I went over to find out what he needed. He told me he needed to sharpen his pencil. I gave my permission while asking why he took the girl's seat in the process. I got no answer for this.

As the boy walked back to his seat, he walked around me and somehow got his foot stuck in the girl's chair. I thought nothing of it. But instead of removing his foot from the chair, he got stuck, tripped, and fell. Oh, did I mention the boy was taller than me (not quite 6 feet tall, but in the ballpark)? So, the fall was quite the event. He made a very large thud.

On the one hand, I was concerned. I hoped he hadn't hurt himself. But on the other hand, that fall was very suspicious.

The boy said he was in pain. I didn't doubt that. I offered to let him go to the nurse. He declined. He got back to work, sort of. He complained that his arm now hurt.

The teacher returned near the end of the period. I told her of the fall. She told me that the student does that sometimes. I told her that didn't surprise me. The fall seemed kind of staged to me.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Work Free Friday

Yesterday (for most of the day) I covered a 10th grade world history class. They had a video: Animal Farm. (I asked and they confirmed--they're studying the Russian Revolution.)

I passed out their questions and explained how the video related to what they were studying. I warned them not to talk. And then I started the video.

Mostly, they were good classes. A couple of the students needed extra attention from me. In 6th period (naturally) I had one student who commented a bit too loudly about things that were happening in the story. I sauntered over to him to see if I could get him to settle.

Danny was seated in the back corner of the room. The chairs were arranged with a space between the chairs and the wall, so I leaned against the wall directly behind Danny. Most of the class noticed me there even though I was behind all of them. But not Danny. He made another comment (to be fair, it was funny and related to what was on screen), so I made my presence known.

Danny freaked out a bit. He didn't like me hovering. So, I continued to hover. That's when I noticed that his desk was empty. I mentioned that he was supposed to be answering questions, and I asked him where the questions were. Danny told me that he wasn't going to do them, and with pride he explained that he had done no work all day.

I hovered a little longer, and then I pulled back. Danny already had a starring role in my note, and as he stopped making random comments, I figured my work was done.

Later in the period, I took another circuit of the room. I stood behind Danny. He didn't see me, and as he wasn't talking, I didn't feel the need to let him know I was there. Then I took a look at what he had on his desk: the questions and a page on which he had answered two of them.

It wasn't much, but it was effort. Apparently he would do work as long as I didn't know about it.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Immortals

I had a fairly quiet day at school. Forensic science class. They had a video. And I was so depending on the day for a good post topic. Ah well. 

On the drive in, I started thinking about immortality in fiction. I think one of the reasons that vampires are so popular has to do with a fascination with the idea of remaining young forever. Well, that and the not dying part. Immortality fascinated me when I was in my twenties. I have since outgrown that. 

Anyway, the thought I had had to do with what it would do to one's psyche to outlive everyone you ever knew. And if you never aged, you would at some point have to leave behind your friends and your family. 

So, I wonder about the fictional immortal. How could he/she remain sane? Wouldn't immortality drive a person insane? 

It's not exactly a "what if?" (unless I phrase it differently: If immortality was possible, would the immortal person remain sane? Nope, still not a "what if?"). Ah well. What do you think? Have you read (or seen) a story where the author explored this idea? How did they handle it? 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


5th period was crazy. The students were fine. I just couldn't keep up.

I was back at the continuation high school. Math. I've covered for this teacher before. I knew what to expect. But it was the unexpected that caught me off guard.

First, the instructional aide was out. Usually I can lean on her for certain things. She can help one student while I'm busy helping another. She also knows where the teacher's materials are located. I found the students' folders. But I couldn't find the binder which contained the keys for the work.

The class is structured so each student can work at his/her own pace. When a student finishes an assignment, the teacher (or aide) signs the student's contract to indicate that the assignment was complete. Some students plow through and get several sections done in a day.

So, 5th period arrived. I noted who was absent on the seating chart before releasing the students to their computers. And then the craziness began.

First, a student needed me to check off his assignment. But the keys were missing, so that meant that I had to go through and figure out each problem to make sure each was correct. But before I could do that, a new student arrived. So, I had to get him settled.

Each new student needs a folder, a contract, and an explanation as to how the class works and what to do. I managed to find the first assignment, and I settled the student next to someone who knew how the class operated. She was kind enough to walk him through how he needed to proceed.

Then I got called away to check off two other students, someone needed a restroom pass, and then another new student showed up. I found one student playing computer games instead of working, and he told me that his folder was missing. Just what I needed--something else to track down.

Finally, I had a moment to sit down and check the first student's work. Then two others needed the same.

I found contracts for the two new students (and folders too), got all the work checked off, and then I had time to sit down and fill out the roll sheet (which I usually do within the first five minutes of class).

And then I stopped to take a breath. I looked around the silent classroom. Everyone was working. And I was finally caught up.

I noted the time. It only took me 35 minutes.

I never did find the one student's folder. He said it had been missing for three days. I made a cursory search, and then I noted it in my note to the teacher.

I'm going to rest now. How was your day?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Inappropriate Classroom Conversation

Academic classes late in the day tend to have an interesting mix of students. 6th period is always a question mark for me. I wonder what kind of group I'll get.

Today I covered 11th grade English. They were listening to chapter 2 of The Great Gatsby. (I love books on CD. I think the kids prefer hearing the book to reading it, too.) That took about half the period. The second half they had questions to answer.

Some classes did more talking than working. I was heartened to hear actual conversation related to the assignment. Then there was the off-topic conversation...

When Joshua walked in to 6th period, he got more than one startled greeting. Everyone wondered where he had been. He had been out for the last two weeks (I saw this on the roll sheet). He had no idea where his seat was anymore.

They asked him where he had been. He told them he'd been smoking weed.

The comment passed by so quickly that I didn't have a chance to react. But later, when they were working on the questions, Joshua made another drug comment. He was seated near the back of the room, yet I heard his comment clearly. I strolled over to his table.

Joshua didn't realize that I heard him. I warned him to change his topic, suggesting that perhaps he might want to do the assignment. His reply: something to do with sex. And then he turned it around on me. He wanted to know if I "smoked" in my younger days.

I usually run into these conversations at the continuation high school. Although, considering his spotty attendance record, I may have a similar conversation with him there before too long.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Next Sub

I knew I was in trouble when I saw the stack of work and the note from the previous sub. The teacher I was to cover had been out for a while, and I was the next sub. All I could do was to take a deep breath and hope for the best.

I found what I thought were the lesson plans. I wrote that assignment on the board. Then first period told me they had done that already. Uh boy...

As it turned out, the previous sub had left something for them to work on. It just took me a few minutes to figure out that's what he had done. After switching gears, I transitioned them into that assignment. At least they had something to do (and I didn't have to figure out what they should be doing on the fly).

They had workbook pages that went along with a story they read with the previous sub. I vaguely recall reading that story some time in the past, and the workbook pages were mostly about vocabulary, so I knew enough to fake it. But they were 8th graders. They didn't really want to work.

I had one boy beg me to just tell him the answer to number one. It was a fill-in-the-blank with a word bank. But the words were "too hard" and he didn't want to look them up. There were only four of these questions. I wasn't going to give him that one answer. (I was going to tell him he was correct, but he started guessing randomly, and that's just cheating.)

When I told another boy that he could look up the vocabulary words in the dictionary (which was conveniently under his desk), he told me it was too late in the day to use a dictionary.

One girl couldn't find her notebook. So, it had to have been stolen. As retaliation, she took another student's notebook. This student wasn't even in class, so he couldn't have stolen her notebook. When I pointed this out, she informed me that someone had to pay. Then I saw her notebook under the desk behind her (probably left there by her yesterday). She returned the other notebook.

I had another boy spend half the period looking for his essay. He was sure that the previous sub had stolen it. The essay wasn't due today (if they turned it in, they got extra credit), he wasn't planning on turning it in today, but it was an excellent excuse to get up and roam around the room. I put a stop to that real quick.

And finally, the girl half of this pair was in class today. She referenced the last time we had met. (I remembered her instantly.) I asked about the boy. They no longer sit next to each other.

The joys of 8th grade...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Cloning Question

Another question from the what if files...

This one has to do with cloning. What if scientists were able to clone a human being? Would we want to?

Sure, there are people out there who will try anything just to see if it's possible. From that perspective, cloning is an interesting problem. But I want to take this out of the technical to ponder a couple things.

Let's say that we could clone anyone. We could go back through history and clone the greatest minds that ever lived. (Just for argument's sake, say we could get our hands on the DNA of any of these figures.)

Would we want to? Would it be worth the trouble?

Would creating a person with the same DNA as a figure from history really replicate that person? We can't clone a soul. Their lives would be different. Even if we could implant memories from the original person's life, would it be the same person?

I first got this idea when working on a short story that went nowhere. I may find a place for it yet. Or perhaps I've been spending too much time in my head this week. What do you think?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Yesterday was kind of upside down for me. I again covered the reentry class, so my school day started at noon. (It is highly unusual for the reentry teacher to be out twice in two weeks. She's rarely out at all.)

The class has two instructional aides (IAs). They had a stack of work to grade. They have a system. The students who are nearly ready to graduate go to the top of the stack.

They had a stack of government papers to grade for one student. It was kind of important. It was his final work.

While the IAs graded his work, he worked on his final project--a Power Point overview of the subject. He managed to finish and the IAs finished grading his work. Unfortunately, the Power Point had to be graded by the teacher.

We had about 20 minutes left of class. He had nothing left to do. He asked if he could go home. I looked at the IA. She looked at me. There was no reason to keep him, so we let him leave.

I don't feel too bad for him. Because the office was closed at that point, even if the teacher had been in class, the student wouldn't have been able to graduate then. There's paperwork to fill out and things to file. There are a few hoops to still jump through. And it's no fun to graduate when there's no one to hear the announcement.

So, by now it should be all done. I'm glad. I've had him in classes before, and he's a good kid. I'm so happy he finally finished his high school education.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

No Switching Seats

No matter how long I sub, some things never change. This was originally posted on March 28, 2007, but it could have just as easily happened today.  

I'm not sure why I looked down at the seating chart in 6th period. I had already taken roll. I think I was making note of some name or other. But that's when I noticed it.

According to the seating chart, no one sat there. But there was a boy in the seat. So, I asked him if that was his seat. He lied and said it was. After a moment of confusion, I asked again and this time I got the truth.

"Go back to your seat," I told him.

He wanted to know who had snitched. He accused several students of ratting him out. But eventually he did make it back to his seat.

Silly boy, no one "snitched". I just pay attention.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Not Campaigning

It is again time for Rachael Harrie's Platform-Building Campaign. Last week I mused about whether I'd be joining in this time or not. On Saturday I had just about made up my mind to do it, and then I checked the List of Campaigners.

As of right now, there are 66 people signed up in the fantasy group. Sixty-six! When I saw that number, I knew I was going to have to give it a pass this time.

I have over 200 blogs that I already follow. More than one hundred of those I never really look at. I mean to, but there are so many of them. I organize and reorganize my Google Reader, but I still can't get on top of it. And I just know that if I add 66 more blogs (well, several of those I already follow, but still...), I'll never find a way to catch up.

Instead, while you are all Campaigning, I'm going to make a concerted effort to tame my Google Reader. I started, and I found that some bloggers have kind of abandoned their blogs. The plan is to pare things down by eliminating some. Then I can spend more time reading and commenting on the others.

Those of you who are Campaigning, good luck. I'll enjoy reading all about it from the sidelines. And maybe next time I'll have my act together so I can join in.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Stuck in my Head

I have had this song in my head all day...

I have no idea why.

Teachers often leave this instruction in their lesson plan: "The students are to work quietly and independently." When I see that, I worry. Will I spend the day fighting the class? How am I ever going to get them to stay quiet?

Today? I read the instruction and nodded. No problem.

This history teacher is very strict. She likes a quiet classroom. So, because the students are used to working quietly, I knew I could get them there. And once I got them there, they stayed there.

My brain made up for the quiet classroom by supplying a soundtrack. Of one song. Not that I have anything against the song, but it's not a favorite. I didn't hear it on the radio this morning. If I had had a choice, I would have picked something else.

What song is stuck in your head?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Late for Opportunity

Monday night I stayed up longer than I normally do. I watched all my Monday night shows. I wasn't worried about getting to sleep--I was scheduled to cover the reentry class on Tuesday.

Monday morning the sub caller called me. She needed me to cover reentry on Tuesday and opportunity on Wednesday. While I would have rather skipped the opportunity class, I wasn't about to miss a day of work, so I accepted.

The reentry class starts at noon. The opportunity class starts at 8 AM.

Tuesday morning at 7:55 I got a call. The sub caller had mixed up the days. The reentry teacher was going to be out on Wednesday which meant that I was late for the opportunity class. Oops.

So, right now I'm covering the much nicer, calmer reentry class. (I'm scheduling this ahead.) And I'm really glad that the opportunity class was yesterday.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What's Number One?

It's been a while since I covered the opportunity class. I really hadn't missed it.

Opportunity is where they send students who are very low on credits. They did next to nothing in their other classes and usually have behavior issues as well. Lots of behavior issues.

I spent an hour trying to get them to do something. Anything. (They claimed to be finished.) When I finally got them settled, it was time to go over the work that they had done. On page three of their packets was a grammar page.

They were to have underlined all the nouns. Oscar, who had been as difficult as the rest of them, read off the answers to number one. And he was correct. I attempted to get someone else to give me the answers for number two, but they were arguing amongst themselves. Oscar proceeded to read off all the underlined nouns.

I was impressed. Oscar was mostly correct. He only missed one, and the rest of his errors had to do with including the modifying adjective with the noun.

We were on number three when Jimmy had a question. What was the answer to number one?

I ignored Jimmy. If he had been paying attention when we went over number one, he would have heard the answers. Instead, he was flipping off his neighbor. Oscar moved on to number four. Then five.

We had gotten to about question eight when Jimmy decided he had had enough. He got up to go.

He was half way out the door when I asked him where he thought he was going. He was going to report me to the assistant principal. I wasn't giving him the answer to number one, so therefore I needed to be reported.

Yeah, because his lack of attention was my fault.

I eventually got him to sit back down. I gave up on going over their packets, but I did get them to do their math. I'm still not sure how I managed that.

I'm exhausted. And there were only five students in the class.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Campaigns and Football

It's that time of year again. Rachael Harrie is holding another of her Platform-Building Campaigns. This one is the fourth. If you are unfamiliar with these, make sure to check out her blog post.

I'm not sure if I'm going to do it this time. I have until the 15th to decide, so I'm going to leave it until nearly then. If I don't jump in this time, I will still follow along and read the challenges. I'm good at being a spectator. I might enjoy this from the sidelines this time.

Since yesterday was the 5th, I blogged over here on Sunday. Can you tell I know next to nothing about football?

Are you going to join the Campaign? Did you have a good weekend?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Universal Mind

I've been posting these "what if?" questions on Thursdays, but I've been off the computer for a couple days. (Don't ask.) But now I'm feeling better.

On Thursday, I got a chance to watch a bunch of stuff I DVR'd. Through the Wormhole on the Science Channel was one of them. As I dozed and watched the episode "Sixth Sense", an image on screen got me thinking.

What if the universe is one brain, and we are just components of it?

That's it. I hope you're having a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

My First Posted Pattern

Remember a few weeks ago when I finished my iPhone cozy? Here's a picture...

I made a few modifications to the pattern and tried again, this time in red...

(You can't see the strap because it's much shorter in this version.)  

A couple kind people commented that they'd like to see the pattern, so I set out to write it down. And it took a bit longer than I expected.  

It isn't that the knitting is that difficult. It's just that trying to explain it in written form is a bit of a challenge. And the cable pattern is in chart form, which I love because it's really easy to work from, but finding a way to translate it into something to upload to the computer is a bit of a challenge. (I know there's software out there that does it, but then it's a matter of finding said software and figuring out how to use it.)  

I finally got it all figured out, and I was able to upload the pattern to Ravelry. It's called the Smart Phone Cable Cozy. (If you're a knitter or crocheter, you're already on Ravelry, right? Right?)  

So, now that I've figured that out, I think I might post some of my other patterns. I'm just not sure which ones. Ideas?  

And I thought about making the cozy for my shop, but I wonder if I should bother. Would any of you be interested in it?