Thursday, June 28, 2012

Holographic Ghosts

Remember back in April at Coachella when some media group created a holographic Tupac and had it perform? Did you hear that Elvis is next?

When I saw a story about this, the strangest thought went through my head. (This is how you know I'm borderline nuts.) Mind you, I don't believe this for a second, but it's an interesting thought, and it might make an interesting story...

What if these performances aren't done by holograms? What if the media group figured out a way to get ghosts to perform? What if someone figured out how to talk to the dead and they ended up using it like this?

Utterly crazy, but I could so see someone using such a technology in this way. What do you think? Should I be committed?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pattern Coming Soon

A couple summers ago, I was at a county fair, it it was ridiculously hot out. I was dressed sensibly in shorts and a tank top. (I was wearing sneakers. I never wear sandals when I'm going to be doing a lot of walking.) I had my shoulder-length hair in a ponytail.

We perused the products pavilions. They're air conditioned.  

This is where I first stumbled across the Qwik Bun. The people in the booth put up my hair, and it was nice to get it off my neck. Of course I purchased one.  

And of course after I took the thing out later (after we left the fair), I couldn't figure out how to make the thing work again. Ah well.  

But it was summer. And my hair was long. Ponytails get old quick. So, I spent some time playing with the thing. I'm not sure how long it took, but after a while I figured out how to get my hair up in it. Soon, it was the easiest thing for me to do.  

I'm not sure how long after my knitter brain kicked in. I figured there had to be a way to make a knit version.  

That slit in the middle? A really long one-row buttonhole. With a few increases at the start and decreases at the end, it makes a pretty convincing oval.  
In the end it does the job.  
The hardest part was figuring out how to get wire around the edges. One of these days I'll figure out a good way to do it. For now, what I do is cut a length of wire and encase it in duct tape.  

I've been toying with the idea of sharing the pattern. (I was going to do that today, but I haven't had the time to get things written up.) So, consider this a coming soon post. Coming soon: the pattern for this bun thing I reverse engineered.  

Although, if anyone knows how to work with wire, I could use some advice. Does anyone know a better way to get a loop of wire that stays as a loop without resorting to duct tape?  

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bailing Out on Summer School

It's intersession time at the continuation high school. (Summer school.) It lasts for a week. (Their school year starts up in about six weeks, near the end of July.) They get to take one four-hour class. They need to make it count.

Intersession is voluntary. Every student at the continuation high school is there to recover credits so that they can graduate from high school. Intersession is one way to earn a semester's worth of credits quickly.

We were in our third hour yesterday. We had finished watching a biography on Mark Twain, read some of his more famous quotes, and read "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County". It was time for the class to answer questions about the story, so I passed out paper (as the students don't bother to bring their own).

One girl called me over. She wasn't going to return the next day. She wondered if she could leave.

Really? You got out of bed early, came to school, and after three hours you've decided that it's too much work and you're not going to bother?

I didn't say this. I just let her go. Then the girl in the seat next to her decided that she had had enough as well.

Then, at the end of the day as I was retrieving materials, another girl told me that she wouldn't be back the next day.

On the one hand, I'm glad that they're not coming back. The class was big enough. But then again, if they would just stick it out...

I wonder how many kids will still be in the class on Friday. Care to take a guess? (We started at 29, so it won't be more than 26 now.)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Year End Tally

June 20th was the last day of school. That means that it's time for me to compile my stats. Although, I made it easy on myself this year. I kept list.

Of the 177 school days (there were three furlough days), I worked 100. That's down from last year and the year before. 42 of those days were in high school classes, 22 in middle school classes, and 34 were at the continuation high school.

I worked the last day of school (the whole last week, actually) but not the first.

Specifically, here are some of the more interesting numbers (although I'm not going to include every day worked):

  • Science: 24 days
    • Physics: only 2 days (boo!)
    • Chemistry: 7 days (including the last week, which doesn't really count)
    • Biology: 7 days
    • 8th grade (which is physical science): 7 days
  • Math: 9 days
  • English: 17 days
    • The majority were at the CHS: 9 days
  • Social Studies: 25 days
    • Economics: 7 days (funny, as econ is a subject I am very weak in)
    • Government: 6 days
  • Re-entry: 5 days (a record, as she's rarely out)
  • Opportunity: 4 days
Most notably, I did not have a full special ed day all year, although I covered 10 extra periods in special ed classes. I did not cover any music or theater classes (I usually cover those a couple times a year), and I only covered art classes on 4 days.  

Today summer school begins. And guess where I am?  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

International Relations

For the last week of school I got a three-day assignment. As the last week of school was only three days, I was very happy with this.

Wednesday, the last day, was a minimum day. And as per tradition, no one was doing much of anything. My lesson plan said something along the lines of "let them hang out and talk quietly". Um, okay.

Also as per tradition, all the classes were half empty.

It was the last period of the day, and the students were doing what they had done all day. They sat around and talked about random stuff. (One period they discussed the pros and cons of taking AP classes. Another they pondered what they could get away with, as in "what are they going to do, suspend us?") Then one boy had a thought. He was going to talk to the kid that no one had talked to during the school year.

There was one kid who sat kind of away from the rest of the class. That one boy explained that the other kid didn't speak English, so no one had gotten a chance to get to know him. And the boy was bound and determined to talk to the kid at least once.

So, they all pulled out their cell phones. (Okay, normally I'd have objected, but it wasn't like they were neglecting to do any work.) They pulled up Google Translate. This took forever (cell phone reception in that room was bad--I lost 20% of my cell phone's power, and I didn't even touch it), but finally they got it to come up. Then they had to figure out what dialect of Chinese the kid spoke.

As a group, they went over to the Chinese boy. First question: Where was his iPhone? He told them that his family had it. The Chinese boy then pulled out his translator.

It was kind of funny to watch. The American kids didn't know what to talk about. I suggested they ask him what he was planning to do over the summer. Then the conversation turned to siblings (the Chinese boy was an only child) and basketball.

I often wonder about the students who don't speak English, the new immigrants. It's nice to know that the other students want to include them even if they don't always know how.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Question for My Followers

It's the time of year when I transition into my "summer schedule", although calling it that is somewhat of a misnomer. I consider my blogging schedule a year round schedule, only the interesting subbing stories take priority over the specific daily topics. 

Today is the last day of school, and I've been working this week, but these are the sorts of days that don't lend themselves to good subbing stories. So, I find that I'm pondering something for a Wednesday post, and again I'm coming up empty. 

I have Wednesday set aside as the day I talk about my shop, Zizi Rho Designs. You may notice that I don't post on Wednesdays much. Occasionally I have a story about a new product, but much of the time I don't have much of anything to say. 

A few weeks ago, I held a contest. I didn't get very many entrants. But I like holding contests. It's fun to give away stuff. And now we get to the point of this post. 

If I were to hold some more contests over the summer (and I'd really like to), what sort of things should I give away?

I like to give away things from my shop. I'm willing to customize things that I make. I am even open to product suggestions. But my past contests have gone over like hot chocolate in July. So, I need to know--what would you like to win?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Graduation Daydream

This has become an annual post for me. It all started a couple years ago when I was subbing for a special ed teacher on the last day of school (she was attending her 8th grade son's promotion ceremony). I had some time to myself (read: no students), and I was kind of dozing.  

One thought became an image, and the image turned into a montage. The last day of school for us is Wednesday, but since this is my day for reposts (and since I don't have much to say about the chemistry class that watched a movie all period), I thought it was time again for the thing that goes through my mind at this time of year.

It starts with a stage. On this stage, there's a group of teens in caps and gowns. They look over the audience filled with proud parents.

After the graduation ceremony, the new graduates slowly descend the steps at the side of the stage. They hug each other. Many are in tears. they meet up with parents, take pictures, and gradually leave the area.

The stage is empty, but not for long.

Off to the other side of the stage is another group of students a year younger than those who just exited. They climb the stairs and claim the stage for themselves.

The new senior class surveys its domain. Some look in corners. Others go to the edge of the stage and peer out at the audience. Many are cheering, fist pumping, and bouncing up and down. Two boys run at each other and bump chests. They have arrived.

While the new senior class celebrates, the area just off the stage that was just vacated starts to fill. This group looks around in awe and wonder. A few look up the steps, itching to join the seniors. Several look out over the line that stretches out behind them. It's a long line and it seems to disappear into the horizon.

As each group moves up to the next position, they look over their new surroundings. The new freshman class, however, is so busy celebrating and laughing at the group just below them that they don't notice how trashed their new position is. Then again, their old spot in the line wasn't much better.

The newest middle schoolers carefully take up their new position. They are all wide-eyed wonder. The more adventurous pull their peers along. They take their time looking around, acclimating to their new position in line. There's a demarcation behind them, and they thought they'd never get beyond that border. Now that they are, they're not sure what they're going to do next.

Each elementary grade moves up one. As the former kindergartners take their first grade spot (and make themselves right at home), an empty spot is left at the end of the line. But like all the other spots in line, this one doesn't remain empty for long.

Off in the distance, family groups start to arrive. The parents push their little ones into their spot in line. Some of these children run to take over their spot. Others cling. The families stand there, watching their little ones for some time, not sure what to do next.

One mother shakes her head as she watches her little one acclimate to the line. "They grow up so fast," she says.

Nearby, various people are on their way out of the area. One woman hears the kindergartner's mother, so she turns to her and says, "You have no idea."

The woman looks off into the distance where her graduate is off with friends. "You have no idea," the woman repeats.

Friday, June 15, 2012

No Notebook

7th grade science. They start class with a "warm up". This time, they were to read two pages from their textbooks and answer the four questions that went along with it.

One boy wasn't doing it. His desk was empty, so I asked him what he was doing. He explained that he didn't have his science notebook.

I got this excuse several times during the day, so I had a solution. They could do the warm up on a loose piece of paper and staple it into the notebook when they got their notebooks back. Every other student was okay with this, so I reiterated that instruction.

"I don't have any paper."

Of course not. I wasn't much in the mood, so I informed the student that I'd let his teacher know this. As he wasn't bothering anybody at the time, I was going to let it go at that.

Two minutes later, the boy pulled a notebook out of his backpack. Hmm. I guess it wasn't lost after all.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Proofread, Please

Wednesday I covered a photo class. (They still teach it, and the students still use black and white film.) I would really like to discuss something with the teacher, but even if I did get the chance, I don't think I'd actually bring this up. It's kind of, um, silly.

In the lesson plan, it stated: "When they have 15 minutes of class time reaming..."

I know he meant "remaining". I know it's just a typo. But I've subbed for him a few times, and he still hasn't fixed it.

A lot of teachers do this. They use the same basic lesson plans every time they have a sub. They change out specifics like the date and the specific assignment, but things like discipline and the schedule remain the same. No big deal, except when they have a glaring mistake.

Sometimes it's a misspelling. A couple teachers have "role" when they mean "roll". But they don't read through it, and so I'm the only one who sees the mistake.

I kind of want to take a red pen and put editing marks on these things. I know it would be in poor taste, so I don't. Oh, but I'm itching to.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A #2 Pencil

It's the penultimate week of school.

On Monday I was called to cover a biology class. They had a multiple choice test that they were to answer on a Scantron sheet. I've done this sort of thing before, so I know the drill. But this time, the teacher helped me out just a little bit more.

The lesson plan stated that if a student didn't have a number 2 pencil, that student could write the answers on a sheet of paper and then come in at lunch the next day and transfer those answers to a Scantron sheet.

Brilliant! I can't tell you how many times I get students who don't have a pencil on them. Unless the teacher left some for student use (I don't carry extra materials with me), we're left scrambling, because somehow this becomes my problem.

I'm going to file this one away. I will use it again. It will come up, of that I'm sure.

Third period, a student raised his hand to inform me that he didn't have a pencil. I gave him the instructions as per the lesson plan.

"I don't have a pen, either."

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Fight

I have had four in-classroom fights in my career as a sub. The fourth happened on Friday.

It was the same opportunity class that I've talked about so many times before. I thought they were difficult when I had five students. Currently, the class contains 18 (although 6 of them were absent). And a couple of them were just itching to get into it, anything, with someone.

Jonah's thing was making wadded up paper balls. Big ones. He'd take a sheet of paper, wad it up, then add a second, then a third, until the thing was softball sized. This didn't bother me. At least he was doing something that wasn't antagonizing someone else. I warned him, though. As soon as he threw it, I was going to kick him out of class.

Jose had to argue with everything I asked him to do...

(Okay, I know that it's not a good idea to have two characters with names that start with the same letter. And yes, these names are not the students' actual names. But both boys' names did start with the same letter, did sound similar, and were hard for me to keep track of.)

Jose was the tough guy. Later I learned that the rest of the students were a bit afraid of him. They would do what Jose asked of them. Too bad he didn't use his powers for good.

It was passing period for the rest of the school. Three boys decided that they wanted to leave the class, so I got them back in the room. I shut the door, and the class exploded (figuratively).

The next happened so fast that I have a hard time keeping the timeline straight. But first, I got hit in the back of the neck by one of those flying paper balls. I went to call the office for backup as someone was going to leave, I just wasn't sure who yet. And that's when Jonah threw his softball-sized paper ball, hitting Jose.

In the midst of this, I talked to the office and told them that I needed assistance.

Jose wasn't about to take this insult, so he jumped over a table and flew at Jonah, swinging his fists. Jonah defended himself. I yelled, but I wasn't stupid enough to jump between the two of them.

Then it was over. I'm not sure if the door opened before or after the two boys separated. Behind the door stood five adults including a counselor, the principal, and security. Jonah and Jose left, and then it was a matter of settling the rest of the group.

The class was not pleased with me. They argued that Jose was just responding to Jonah's thrown paper ball. I disagreed. Jonah was gone the moment he threw his ball. Jose only made the situation worse.

But in the end, two of the worst offenders were gone for the rest of the day. This helped me, if only a little.

I understand why the teacher needed a break from this group. I don't know how she does her job every day.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Break In Fail

Opportunity class again. The group has gone crazy. But rather than tell you about all the idiotic things they did (read: throwing things and mock fights), I'm going to relate the one thing that made me laugh.

The room had this kind of a door handle/lock thingie:

There is a key that will keep the latch hidden so that the door can remain unlocked. I had the room unlocked. (My issues weren't in keeping kids out of the room.) But then it was time for snack, and before I left the empty room, I made sure it was locked.

When the latch popped out, I noticed a piece of scotch tape hanging below it. Upon further inspection, I saw that someone had put that piece of tape across the latch kind of like in movies when someone wants to make sure the latch won't engage (usually so the hero can sneak into the place after hours).

They used scotch tape.

No way that heavy duty latch could be held open with scotch tape.

They think they're clever. They don't realize how much they don't know. (I wish I could be there when they try to sneak in later. I would love to see how they react when they learn their scheme didn't work.)

On another note...

My contest ended Wednesday night. I got three entries. I don't want to decide amongst them, so I decided to award all three the prize. I'll be emailing you either today or tomorrow to work out details. (Briane: your profile doesn't link to your email, so I'll DM you on Twitter.)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

It's Not So Bad

I've gotten several comments lately about how awful my job must be. It's not. Really, it's not. But perhaps the problem lies in what I choose to relate here on this blog.

Unfortunately, the stories where the kiddos behave and do their work are not all that interesting. So, I do not tell these stories. I tell the stories of things that I think are funny. That they aren't coming off as funny tells me that I really need to work on my delivery. (I guess I'm too deadpan. I see too many people who try too hard to be funny and it just isn't, so I go in the other direction.)

Wednesday is a good example. I was called to cover 7th grade core, which means that I had the same group of kids for two periods. They had one period of English and one period of world history.

For the first three periods, things were good. Really good. We read the assignment. They actually volunteered. The rest of the class paid attention and didn't talk over the readers. Then they worked on the questions. Silently.

See. Boring.

I know you'd much rather hear about the one group that made rude noises while students were trying to read. And then denied involvement when caught. (Although, I didn't catch all the perpetrators.)

See, much more interesting story.

This is my dilemma. It's the crazy things that make for good posts. They make my job look horrible. But it isn't. Most days, it's the one crazy thing that I blog about, and the rest is just kids being well-behaved students.

Perhaps I should just turn this into a blog exclusively about my knitting. (Nah. I'd get sick of that real fast.)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Call to Confirm

My contest is open until 11:59 PM (my time: PDT) Wednesday. Make sure to enter.

And today I'm also over here with a bunch of cute plush items. Make sure to stop by and say "Hi". 

Wednesday at the continuation high school was a bit of a mess last week. There were so many teachers out that one of them wasn't covered. While this is standard at the traditional high schools, it's unusual at the CHS. So, I knew what I was going to do on my prep period.

I waited in the office to get confirmation. The office staff was busy. I asked, but I didn't get a yes. (I didn't get a no, either. I didn't get an answer.) Eventually I went to the class I was to cover for the day. I kept waiting for them to tell me that I was indeed covering that class. No one ever said anything.

Then it was the prep period. And I heard nothing. Until 15 minutes into class. I got a call.

"No one discussed you covering the class?"

Insert scream here.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Math Movies

My contest is still on. Practically no one has entered. Your chances are pretty good. Contest closes on Wednesday...

Thursday and Friday I was called to cover a math class. The teacher left them videos. (Don't judge her too harshly. I've subbed for her several times, and this is the first time that she didn't leave them lots of work to do.) In the lesson plan she stated that we could watch a movie they brought, so long as it wasn't rated R.

The videos she left were educational, but not math related. I doubt they would have wanted to watch something math related anyway. So, when 2nd period saw what their choices were, a couple students asked if they could go to other teachers to borrow something that they would like more.

Once we had a couple appropriate choices, I took a vote. On Friday it was 6 to 4 with more than 10 abstaining. I put in the borrowed A Walk to Remember.

More than half the class ignored the movie. And if it had been something class related, I would have gotten on their case. As it was, I harped on them to keep the noise down. Some of them wanted to watch the movie.

One by one, a few students moved to seats at the front of the classroom. One pushed her desk so that it was next to the speaker. The girls were all riveted. Not that every girl in the class was in the front group, but the front group was all girls.

Then two boys joined the group at the front.

That's what I get for stereotyping.

I'm glad that a few of them enjoyed the movie. Most hadn't seen it before.

But this got me to thinking. There aren't any math movies out there. There's Stand and Deliver, of course, but it seems like every math teacher shows that at least once a year. What other movies are there that feature math in some way? Help me out here. Can you think of any?