Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Brag Post

The beginning of December was cold for us. (Not as cold as the rest of the country, of course, but cold for us in Southern California.) I didn't mind so much. It meant my Christmas presents would be appreciated.

Then we got a warm up.

Yeah, Christmas Day it hovered somewhere in the 80s. Degrees. Fahrenheit.

My three-year-old nephew wasn't much into the shark hat I knit him. Sigh.

However, the eight-year-old nephew liked it quite a lot. (I made each of them one.)

The other two nephews (yep, I've got four nephews) turned eight-months-old on Christmas. They got something a little more appropriate

Then their mother told me in conversation that her wrists get cold in the winter (when we're having winter weather), so I knew just what to knit her.

I also made her a pair in black, but I neglected to get a picture of them.

And finally, I made a hat.

Which deserves it's own blog post considering all the mistakes I made on it.

I included Ravelry links to all the patterns I used, in case there are any knitters (or crocheters in the case of the twins' gifts) who are interested. A couple of the patterns were free online. A couple came out of magazines that I have.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Parallel Lives

Quantum particles can be in two places at once. They say people can't be.

But what if...?

What if we had two separate existences that we lived at the same time, only we are unaware of the other when we're not there? What if we somehow became aware?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Busy Knitting

I've mentioned before that I write these posts ahead, haven't I? So, while you're reading this (thank you for stopping by this holiday week, by the way), I'll be busily trying to finish the last of my Christmas knitting/crocheting. Because even though I knew what I was going to be making everyone, I took a very long time getting started on it.

I may have mentioned that I contribute to Unicorn Bell from time to time. They're looking for a new moderator. If you'd be interested in joining us, Charity has explained the requirements much better than I could.

How's your Christmas shopping coming along (assuming you celebrate)?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Barter System

I was roaming around the room. (7th grade core class.) I stopped by this one girl. She was asking everybody if they had 0.7mm lead as her pencil had run out.

The boy in front of her said he did. But he wanted something in return.

Girl: "What color do you want?"

Boy: "Purple."

Girl: "For that, I want three leads."

So, the girl pulled out a small fluffy pom-pom like purple ball and handed it to the boy. The boy handed her his case of leads. She pulled out a bunch, put back all but three, and returned the case to the boy.

Me: "What is that?"

Girl: "It was for a project. It's finished. These were extra."

Satisfied, I was about to move on...

Girl: "I would have given him one for nothing."

As he would have likely given her one lead for nothing. (A student running out of lead for a mechanical pencil and then asking around for a lead is commonplace. Just like asking for paper.)

But, in the end they both got something out of the exchange.

(It was funny how they both felt the need to explain to me how they were bartering, like they were doing something wrong. I was just entertained by how they worked the whole thing out between themselves.)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Lack of Imagination

So, I was watching something-or-other, but not really watching it while I was doing something else. It was science-y. And some of the things they were doing seemed science-fiction-y to me. And it got me thinking...

A lot of the things that are real now were imagined by someone in the past. It took time and effort to come up with them. Some things that seemed so out there in stories told by writers in the past are now almost commonplace. Our stories give us so much, even though they also give us TV and too much time spent watching other people's stories.

Which led to the question of imagination. We, as a people, clearly have one, if some individuals may not.

What if imagination was something that people feared? What if stories were forbidden? What sort of a people would we be?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Festive Wine Bottle Cozy

My mother is giving a bottle of wine for some gift exchange thingie, and seeing it, I volunteered to make a cozy to wrap the bottle in. Because I'm not behind with my Christmas knitting or anything...

There are eyelets in the stitch pattern, so she's going to get a ribbon to tie the top with. I think it turned out rather nice.

Since it was a rather easy thing, I thought I'd include the pattern (mostly so I can find it again if I ever have need of it).

I used a yarn called Caron Jewel Box. I've had it in my stash for a while, and I'm sure it's been discontinued by now. It's a bulky yarn with lots of texture, which is the reason it was picked for this application.

I didn't plan this pattern out all that carefully. I used the crochet hook and knitting needles that were closest at hand. I didn't swatch. I crocheted the bottom, held it up to the wine bottle, and once it was big enough to cover the bottom, I switched to knitting needles and knit up the sides.

So, if you plan to try this, I suggest that you do the same thing. Make the bottom until it's the right size for your wine (or whatever) bottle, erring on the side of just a little bit too big. Then pick up and knit around.

The knit pattern works over a multiple of three stitches, which is why I started off by working nine double crochets into the ring. That way, I was sure to end up with a multiple of three stitches when it was time to knit. If you need a round 3 for the bottom, you only need to increase by 9 (that is, *dc, 2 dc in next dc, repeat from *).

So, I used:
Yarn: Caron Jewel Box
Crochet hook size N
Double pointed needles size 10 1/2
Marker to mark beginning of round

dc=double crochet
sl st=slip stitch
yo=yarn over
k3tog=knit 3 together


With N crochet hook, chain 3. Join to first chain with a slip stitch, forming a ring.
Round 1: Ch 3, 8 dc in ring. Join with sl st to top of chain 3 (9 sts)
Round 2: Ch 3, 2 dc into each dc from prev rnd. Join with sl st to top of ch 3 (18 sts)
Take the loop off the hook and transfer to knitting needles
Round 3: Through the back loop of each of the dc, pick up and knit 1 (18 sts). Place marker and continue working in the round.
Begin Puff Rib stitch pattern:
Round 4: *P2, yo, k1, yo, repeat from * for the round
Rounds 5 & 6: *P2, k3, repeat from * for the round
Round 7: *P2, k3tog, repeat from * for the round

Repeat rounds 4-7 until cozy is desired height. Bind off on a row 6.

I used a stretchy bind off. Depending on how tight the cozy is to the bottle, this may or may not be necessary.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Dictionary Skills

7th grade English. They've been reading Freak the Mighty. They day's assignment was a worksheet to go with their reading of the novel.

The worksheet consisted of eight vocabulary words, space where they could summarize four chapters in three to four sentences, and ten comprehension questions. (They've been getting similar worksheets as they read through the book.)

The lesson plan stated that they could look up the vocabulary words in dictionaries that were on shelves in the back of the room.

I started class by passing out the worksheets. I explained the assignment.

"Can't we look up the words on our phones? She lets us."

While I was sure this was a true statement, the lesson plan said to use dictionaries, so I told them they had to use dictionaries.

And that's where the whining began.

Looking up words in a dictionary is hard. It's so much easier to type it in to the phone. It pops right up. Why did they have to flip through pages, especially because they couldn't find the word right away? And half the words weren't even in the dictionary...oh, wait, there it is.

(All the words were in the dictionary. They were just on the wrong page. Whoops.)

On and on and on it went. One boy even argued (okay, he tried to convince me) that using the phones was better. And they should be allowed to do that rather than get out those unwieldy books.

I don't want to be one of those who laments "these kids today". I don't want to be one of those people who talks about the dumbing down of our youth by talking about what they don't know or what they're unwilling to do.

But sheesh!

When did looking something up in the dictionary become so hard?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Trouble Noted

Most teachers leave me seating charts. Some make notations.

It was 6th period. They were just arriving. One student claimed he didn't know where his seat was.

I asked for his name. "Elliot." I pointed out where Elliot sat. "Oh, there's really an Elliot in here?" Which meant his name wasn't Elliot. Then who was he? He was unwilling to say, so he leaned over and peeked at the seating chart.

"What does that circle mean?"

His name was circled. At the top of the page, also circled, was TROUBLE.

He wasn't supposed to see that. And he was offended.

He went on a little tirade. "But she likes me. She's my second mother. She says she likes teaching and she likes students and..."

Not five minutes later another student approached me. He said he needed a health office pass as he had a headache. (I believe him as he didn't look so good.) As I wrote his pass, he leaned over and peeked at the seating chart.

"She what?"

His name was circled, too. He was quicker figuring it out.

Here's the funny part: the seating chart had exactly two names circled for all the classes. Two. All day, I only had two students peek at the chart. The only two who should not have seen the notation.


And yes, they were as advertised.

Friday, December 13, 2013


"I got in trouble the last time you were here."

I nodded at the girl. I was glad to know the teacher took action with regards to my note.

The girl's actions were so memorable I already recounted them on the blog. She had asked if she could nap after her quiz, so she stretched out on the floor of the classroom.

Apparently, there had been a reckoning on Monday after I covered the class. Their behavior, while still not ideal, wasn't nearly as bad as it had been the last time I covered.

But the girl didn't come up to talk to me just because of the trouble. She wanted to set her wallet up near me so it wouldn't get stolen by her classmates. She claimed the wallet contained $300, and she thought that someone would try to take it from her if it wasn't safeguarded.

There are many things wrong with this picture, not the least of which is why she'd allegedly be bringing $300 in cash to school. (I have no idea if the wallet contained said amount. I did not check.) And considering how I'd informed the teacher about her behavior last time, she trusted me? But the class was crazy, and I was trying to get things started, so I set the wallet aside where no students would get to it, and I started class.

I forgot about the wallet. So did she. She had to return after she had left because she left it behind.

No one touched the wallet during class. Not even me. But still, I wonder...

But then again, she didn't seem like the sort of person who thinks things through well. I'm sure what I'm thinking never occurred to her. I hope.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


I was watching some thing on Mars and sending explorers there. So, I'm sitting here, staring at the blank page, wondering what to "what if" about, and that show came to mind.

My first thought was: What if a mission went awry?

But that's been done. To death. I can think of three instances just off the top of my head. And I'm not even trying hard.

Okay, time to dig a little deeper.

What if some space and/or exploring mission went awry? How would those who sent them react? Would they try again? Would they even know what happened?

Okay, that's been done, too, but at least it's a little better. I'll try harder next week.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Blogging Around

As I was leaving school the other day, I spied two boys tossing a football. Across the street. The busy street clogged with the traffic of parents picking their kids up from school.

While I observed, the boy on the opposite side of the street fumbled the ball. It bounced into the street. Well, the gutter. And he dove for it. As a car drove by.

You'd think they'd have gotten the idea, but I saw them toss it at least once more before I lost sight of them.

That's almost as bad as the kids who like to skateboard down my street. On a hill. In the middle of the street. Without looking out for traffic.

Sometimes they make me tired.

Yeah, so today I'm posting about other things on other blogs. It's my week at Unicorn Bell. I'm talking about endings. And I did a post for the team I'm on with my shop: California Crafters Club of Etsy. I'm talking about social media, this time a site you might not have heard of.

If you've got a moment, I'd love it if you'd drop by.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


The week before Thanksgiving I covered an English class at the continuation high school. The assignment: read "No Witchcraft for Sale" by Doris Lessing together, out loud, as a class.

They moaned. They complained. There was no tape? Couldn't they read it individually?

Exactly two weeks later I returned to the same class. I was thrilled to read the lesson plan. The class was to read "A Devoted Son" by Anita Desai individually. To themselves. Not as a group.

We got through the intro stuff, and I delivered the good news.

They moaned. They complained. There was no tape? Couldn't we read it together as a class?

[Insert reaction here]

Monday, December 9, 2013

Too Much Help?

Whenever I proctor a test, I get student questions. I will clarify directions, but often I get the "spelling test question":
Me (reading from list): [random word]
Student: How do you spell [random word]?
I glare at the student. 
So, I have to be careful. I have to look at the question the student is working on. Sometimes my answer is, "That's what the question is asking if you know".

7th grade math. Test. Their teacher has warned me that these students are struggling. Stuff they should have mastered wasn't.

The previous day we had gone over their practice test (which looked remarkably like the actual test--up to and including having some of the problems using the same exact numbers as were used in the practice test). We spent the whole period on it. I took questions, going over exactly how to do all of them. They should have been ready for the test.

A boy raised his hand. He needed help subtracting $4.86 from $5. He was trying to borrow twice from the 5 to cover the tenths and hundredths places.

I looked at the question. It was a word problem. Person had $5 to spend, and a list of items was given. The question asked if a person bought certain things, how much change should the person get?

So, on the one hand, he should know how to borrow when subtracting. He should have learned this in an earlier grade. But on the other, he set up the problem correctly, just having trouble doing the computation.

In the end I decided to explain what he needed to do to get an answer. Whether he got it right after that...

The whole day it was like that. Many questions. Some of which I could answer.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Soggy Chips

Oh, I really can't let this week pass without relating one Thanksgiving story. I just can't.

I was sitting at the dining table with my three-year-old nephew Rambo (not his real name. His mother has given all her children online nicknames, so I'll stick with it). We were both munching on chips. Because, that's what you do when you're waiting for dinner, you fill up on snacks.

Rambo dunked his chip in his mother's salsa. He took a tentative bite, and decided that the salsa was too spicy. Or something. He didn't like it.

Not that I blame him. I'm not a fan of salsa.

Anyway, I figured he'd put his chip down and eat another plain chip. But no. He explained to me that he was going to "wash off" the his water cup.

This did not sound like a good idea to me, but I was fascinated nonetheless. Rambo is not one to take well-meaning advice. I thought about explaining how the salsa would now be in his water. I thought about how he's a bit clumsy (well, he's 3). Instead of saying anything, I just watched.

Rambo dipped his chip carefully in the water. He pulled the chip out to take a bite...of water logged chip. He made a face.

Yeah, I could have told him that would happen.

But instead of going to the other chips in his bowl, he lifted his water cup, and he somehow ended up pouring a bit of water into the bowl. (3-year-old. Clumsy.) Making all the chips now soggy.

I waited to see if he'd go for the other chips. It was at about this point that he lost interest in the chips. He left the table and went to do other things. Ah, the attention span of a three-year-old.

He never did taste the salsa-flavored water.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Moonless Sky

Is the Moon necessary for life on Earth? There are those that say yes and there are those that argue no. It's an interesting problem.

But that's not why I'm bringing it up.

I'm supposing an Earth without a Moon...

What if we didn't have that large shiny object in our night sky that seems just within our reach? If it wasn't there, a place we can strive for, would we even have a space program?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

New Technical Problems

It was an interesting Turkey Day at the continuation high school.

(Yes, I already did a post about Turkey Day. But there was no school last week, so my topics are a little thin.)

In years past, the school would put on a school-wide movie to keep the students entertained while we were waiting to eat. And then after.

At one time this set up was state of the art. We'd pull out the TVs, make sure they were hooked up to the school-wide cable, and somewhere in the office someone would start a movie.

Of course, every year this was an issue. First, was the TV hooked up correctly? Then, was it on the right channel? Sometimes the connection was bad, so we'd get no picture. I'd call for technical assistance (once I'd done everything I know how to do) only to learn that the office hadn't started the movie yet.

This year, they did something different. They uploaded the movie to each teacher's computer so we could play back at our leisure (so we could pause it when we went to eat). Every room now has a projector connected to the teacher's computer. Great idea, right?

Getting the movie to play--no problem. Unfortunately, the movie lasted one hour. We had three hours to fill.

The students all told me to put up Netflix. One problem: I don't have a Netflix subscription. And none of them were willing to use theirs so we could watch something else.


And no, I'm not getting a Netflix subscription to show two hours of something for one class. No matter how much they pestered me to do so.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Homeless Hat

I'm not having the best of luck with my Christmas knitting. I won't even get into the hat that I got two inches into and then had to rip out and start all over. Or the yarn I bought that isn't going to work for the project I bought it for. Yeah, it's been that kind of year.

It's been a hat year. I already showed off the shark hat (which came out really nice). Then I started working on the Amstel Hat. I liked it. But about halfway through it, I knew it wasn't going to work for its intended recipient. It just wasn't her.

So, all subtle at Thanksgiving, I asked my niece if she wanted me to knit her something this year. It's not exactly her color, but it's more her style. But she's not interested. She'd rather have...books. Gasp.

(Okay, books are good. I'm glad she's a voracious reader. But come on! Who wouldn't want me to knit for them?)

So, I've got this lovely hat. It's finished. And I don't have a soul to give it to.

(I suppose I could keep it for myself, but it's not really my color.)

(I could also really use a hat model.)

Friday, November 29, 2013

Poor Russell

It was Turkey Day at the continuation high school. This is an annual tradition. (I've been at the school for this a few times in the past.)

It takes place the Thursday a week before Thanksgiving. The school hosts a turkey brunch (they call it a dinner, but since we are fed between 10 AM and noon, I'd say it's more of a brunch) for students in the school and members of the community. (Full explanation here.)

There are three teachers who are in charge of the thing (which is why subs are always needed that day), plus they have a dozen or so student volunteers who help out with the serving and such.

We were in the hall. We were seated and eating. One of the student volunteers came by our table to make sure we had everything we needed. Suddenly, his peers needed all sorts of things.

First, the girl seated two down from me hadn't gotten a dessert. ("I didn't want to carry two plates.") Then another boy needed water. And someone else needed a napkin.

It wasn't just the table I was at. The neighboring tables broke into choruses of "Russell. Russell, over here."

Soon I was sick of Russell's name. He went back and forth, nicely retrieving things for his rude classmates.

He did a great job under trying circumstances. I kind of expected him to dump a plate on someone's head. He didn't. He didn't even snark back when he was called yet again for some random thing.

The students around me made jokes about the "service in this restaurant". I reminded them that Russell was one of them and a volunteer, not some waiter to be ordered around.

Ah well. I have no doubt that Russell will get even with some of them later. Several were "friends". Yeah, they'll get theirs...

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Spring Turkey

It's a holiday and a Thursday. That can only mean one thing...

Holiday-themed What If.

Yeah, I know that's what you were thinking.


What if we had a Thanksgiving-style holiday in the spring? What would that look like? Do we already do that in a different way?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Sip of the Wild Side

It must be my limited HTML knowledge, but I can't seem to update my patterns page. Grrr.

The reason I want to update my patterns pages is because I've added a new pattern. You may recall my scaly water bottle carrier:

and scaly demi cozy:

I finally got the pattern posted. It's a bargain at $5.00. It's 24 pages of instructions and photos illustrating those instructions. It only took me three months to complete.

For my regular readers who aren't crocheters, I was thinking of giving away the cozy and carrier pictured. The ones that I made as I photographed them. What do you think? Would you be interested? (If so, I'll get a contest set up in the next week or so.)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

So You Think You Can Edit

It was an extra credit assignment, so the majority of the continuation high school English class weren't doing any of it. 

(It's been a while since I've had a good continuation high school story. For some strange reason, I stopped getting calls to go there. I don't know why. I kind of missed them. I'm glad I got a chance to go back.) 

I think the directions for the paper say it all: Find the errors in the following sentences that occurred in the rough drafts for your last essay. (Sadly, peer editors did not find the errors.) What followed were the kinds of sentences I see students writing all the time.  

There were a couple students on task, though. And they had questions.  

I could see a couple ways to edit some of the sentences, so I basically led the students towards the way they wanted to fix them. Asking questions. Hinting. The students who were working told me that some of the sentences were "messed up". What idiot wrote those sentences?  

I pointed out the directions (which they had not read), and commented that these were from essays that they had turned in. 

"One of your sentences might be in there."

The boy I was working with scanned the rest of the page and found a sentence from his essay: 
I live in Salonia Greece, in my city there is over 60,000 Jews. 
(Note: The students went to The Museum of Tolerance and their essays were about the person they picked as they went through. This should give you an idea of the kinds of sentences that they were writing.)

The boy was kind of horrified to learn that this was wrong. He needed a bit of help in fixing it, but then he wondered if it made it into his final draft (all the final drafts were posted on the wall) as it was.

But still, they managed to laugh at some of the sentences. Some of the grammar mistakes made some of the sentences almost unreadable. We had a tough time deciphering some of them.

Rather a brilliant assignment, I thought. Using the students' own mistakes to teach them. Wow. Great idea. If only more of them had attempted it.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Roll Taking Rant

It was first period in an 8th grade US history class. I was attempting to take roll via the seating chart.

As I normally do, I called out names of students in seats that were currently unoccupied. The first name I called informed me that he was over on the other side of the room. His seat should have held a girl, but she was elsewhere as well. By the third or fourth student, I was done with the seating chart. The students confirmed that the teacher moved them about a lot, so the seating chart wasn't accurate.

At this point, I would normally pull out the class roster and just call roll that way. But the teacher didn't have any class rosters. The teachers at this school are lazy about rosters as we subs are given a temporary password to access their online attendance. But, this teacher had no computer in his classroom.


So, not only could I not call the roll, I couldn't input the roll as is my job. (The teacher does have a computer he uses, but it's a laptop, and he takes it with him when he's not at school. Which I totally understand. But it would be nice if there was something there--ancient and slow would be fine--for my use on days when he's not there.)

I did the only thing I could do. I pulled out a sheet of paper and had the whole class sign in.


Some days! I swear, some teachers don't think about the things we subs need to take care of their classes.

Okay, rant over.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Incriminating Evidence

It was the end of fourth period. I noticed a sheet of paper lying on a desk, but before I could go pick it up (to toss it--I was trying to keep the room neat), a student brought it to me. He said he found it in the back of the room. Presumably, it was from the previous class.

There were no identifying marks on it. But instead of throwing the note away, the girls left it? Curious.

I think I'd throw something like this away. After tearing it into little itty bitty pieces.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Pink Impossible?

(Have I done this question already? I seem to remember planning to write it, but I don't recall if I ever got around to it. I can't find it in my archives.)

So, I saw this...

And shortly thereafter I saw an article on io9 called "Train Yourself to See Impossible Colors".

Okay, so we know there are all sorts of things our eyes can't perceive. But...

What if we could learn to perceive things that we shouldn't be able to see?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Lure of the Forbidden

Some days I really should ignore the phone.

It was fourth period when I got the call from the office. Could I cover a fifth period? (Fifth was the teacher's conference, so I was free.) I never turn these down, even when I can tell by the room number that I'm in for another period in a severely handicapped special ed class.

When I got there, the room was packed. Fifth period is right after lunch, so I walked in on the tail end of a party. By the bell, the room contained seven students, three aides, and me.

I was pretty useless.

I tried to help out where I could. They had been watching a movie during the party. As the movie was ending, one boy grabbed the remote control and started rewinding the DVD. Now, I don't know these kids, so I don't know where the lines are. All I could do was ask for the remote, but the boy refused to give it.

He wasn't even supposed to be back by the TV. Luckily, one of the amazing aides noticed my plight and got the remote away from the boy. He spent the rest of the period getting too close to the "forbidden zone" behind the teacher's desk, going past the blue line any chance he could. I don't know why. There wasn't all that much of interest back there.

I guess it's the lure of the forbidden.

Another boy had to be hemmed in by another aide all period. The boy had a tendency to take off and get into trouble. At one point he got all the way on the other side of the room, snatched a pen, and started writing all over a desk.

At least the pen was of the dry erase variety. But why he felt the need to write F W something all over everything (there was a third letter to this graffiti, but we managed to get the pen away from him before he went any further) I have no idea.

This is the third such class I've covered (for one period only) this year. (I didn't write about the second time, but the first time is here.) I don't have a point about this. Just making note of it.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Quiet Game?

"Let's play The Quiet Game!"

That got my attention. I watched as a couple students wheedled the rest of the class into going silent.


Immediately, someone on the other side of the room started giggling.

It took a couple more tries, but then the room went completely silent.

For about 15 minutes.

Keep in mind that this wasn't a "silent assignment". I didn't care if they talked. In fact, the silence surprised me. Of course, it didn't last. They finished their work for the day...

...And then decided to play Heads Up Seven Up.

Um, okay...

Just another fun day in AP physics.

(Before I get into trouble with you all, understand that first these were juniors and seniors. Taking an AP class. Likely, this is not their only AP class, so they're of the high academic achievement group.

Second, they had completed the day's assignment and turned it in to me before they started the game. Third, of all the things they could have done with the rest of the period, this, while juvenile, was the least likely thing to cause problems.

Fourth, I could have put a stop to this at any time and I would have if I had seen a danger to anyone or anything. If I had stopped them, I have no doubt they would have stopped and found something else to do. And fifth, I did put all of this in the note to their teacher.)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Reorganizing Old School

You know I'm a little strange, right?

My iPhone has been driving me crazy. I've needed to reorganize my apps into a coherent configuration for a while. But there's something about those jittery boxes and having to go back and forth between screens that disorients me, making it impossible to get the phone set up just right.

So, I set out to fix it.

I wrote down (in pen, on paper) every app I had. Then I cut out a bunch of little slips of paper, and on each I wrote one app. I spread these out...

...and then I grouped them into similar types (an organization that made sense to me, but only me I expect). 

There's something about having those little slips of paper. It's why writers organize using index cards (something I really should try as it clearly is how my brain works). It made it easy for me to see what should go where. 

Soon enough, I had a configuration that seems to be working out for me. For the moment.

And it only took me two hours.  

(Okay, it was more like two periods. With time off for starting class, taking roll, and collecting work. And writing restroom passes. But what else did I have to do? These were a period of US history and a period of government where the class worked silently--yes, in absolute quiet--all period.)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Nap Time

It was one of those lovely days where the math class had quiz. I gave the class my usual warning at the outset. This consists of me explaining that I will have silence for the duration of the quiz. If any students finish early, they are to do something quietly at their desks until all quizzes are complete.

The quiz went fairly normally. When one girl who sat in the back finished, she asked me if she could now take a nap. As this is a quiet activity, I told her she could.

I didn't understand why she felt the need to stand up, but before I could investigate, I got sidetracked by another student issue. Once I was back to monitoring the whole class, I was back to shushing whisperers. Then someone pointed out the girl.

She had stretched out on the floor at the back of the room.

First, ick. I know the janitors occasionally vacuum, but I wouldn't voluntarily lie down on the floor. Second, the floor? Really?

Students ask if they can nap all the time. If they have work to do, the answer is no. But after a quiz, I don't have a problem with them putting their heads down on their desks. I repeat: putting their heads down on their desks.

Why would a student lie down on the floor?

She couldn't understand why I would have a problem with this. I had said she could nap.

Note to self: when asked if a student can nap after a quiz, tell student he/she can put head down on desk.

The freshmen are really strange this year. I think I need a new tag.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Another Parallel Universe Question

I don't have an interesting story as to how I came up with this week's question. It just kind of popped into my head when I wasn't thinking about much of anything. So...

What if we were to come across a parallel universe (or world or people) whose time was running opposite to ours?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Pattern Testers Wanted

A while back (I'm talking over a year ago now) I made a water bottle carrier and a demi cozy using the crocodile stitch. My thing this year has been to write up the patterns for things (you may have noticed my patterns tab). So, I decided to write up the pattern for both of these.

At the end of July.

Yes, I know it's now November. It's taken me a while.

Because when I first went to write up the pattern, I couldn't figure out a way to write it out that made sense, so I thought doing it in photo tutorial form would work best.

Did it? I'm not sure. It's taken me this long to get the photos all taken and the pattern written up, but now I need someone to take a look at it and see if it makes sense. Kind of a beta reader for a pattern.

So, if you crochet and would like to make something that looks like this

or this

let me know. I could really use some extra eyes on this thing, to make sure the pattern makes sense and I didn't leave anything out.


(If you don't crochet but would like one, I do sell them in my Etsy shop.)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Not So Smooth With the Monitoring

Middle school math class titled "study skills" 

The lesson plan indicated that I was to go to the computer lab and monitor the students. Easy enough.

I've noticed a few of these "study skills" classes this year. Some students need a little more help in math. These classes are for them. It's also called math support.

They all got on their computers and accessed the program. I logged onto the teacher computer and pulled up the program where I get to see what each computer in the room is doing. Then I did my usual walk around the room to make sure the students were doing what they were supposed to be doing.

I had all sorts of computer issues to deal with. Programs logging off for no good reason. Programs not recording the student's progress. Plus, it was a middle school class, so I had plenty of middle school mischief to deal with. (A boy took his sweatshirt and shoved it into his t-shirt, holding it in such a way as to mimic a feminine chest. Then he pranced around his desk. Stopped the minute he saw that I saw him.)

I ended up back at the front of the room and noticed a student on a website that was not the program he was supposed to be on. I opened it up on the teacher computer to see what it was before going over to him. (They hide these websites when I get over there, so it's good to be able to say, "Why are you looking at shoes?" even when the proper program is up and running by the time I get there.)

After making sure the student closed out the website (he left it open on his task bar), I went back to the teacher computer and attempted to get back to the full classroom view. But I couldn't find the proper way to back out. I know it exists as I've done it before. But for some reason, I couldn't find it.

I clicked on something, and suddenly the whole room could see the student's computer.


By that time he was on the proper program, but now his screen was on all the students' monitors.

I explained that it was my mistake, and tried to give individual access back to all the students. It took longer than I would have liked. Logging them all out of their programs in the process.

Eventually I got everything back to normal. Well, normal for a middle school class. And I didn't open up any more screens. I didn't want to make that mistake again.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Cockroach Attack

The period was going along just like any other. The class had an assignment, and some of them were working on it. Then out of nowhere the screeching began.

In moments I figured out what the problem was. A cockroach had found its way into the room.

(The door was open, so I'm assuming it got in that way.)

I couldn't get close to the bug as it had found its way into the midst of the students' seats. Too many bodies kept me on the sidelines. Still, I looked for a container to put the thing into.

(I know, why didn't I just stomp on it? I prefer to release bugs back into the wild when possible.)

The class had descended into chaos. The students fled as far as they could go. One boy was all the way on top of his desk, shrieking that the thing had to be gotten rid of.

I finally got a look at the beast. It wasn't as large as the one in the testing room, but it was of fairly decent size. As I grabbed the closest container, a girl grabbed a sheet of paper and managed to grab the thing.

The girl got halfway to the door when the roach made a break for it. She bent down and got it again, and this time she managed to get all the way out the door.

Once the thing was gone, the class was able to settle. (Sort of. There was another whole incident with the boy on the desk, but that's a story for another post.) And then things got back to normal.

How does one describe such an incident to the teacher in a sub note? I wrote: "Ask them about the cockroach." I figure that they'll tell the story better than I could.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


Two weeks ago, I got this response to my "what if" question from Lynda Grace:
...My brother jokingly says that it is possible that we (earth humans) may have originated in another galaxy and were “brought” here. Actually he says we were dropped here. I say, “why not?”
 And I thought: Perfect question.

What if we (humans) originated in another galaxy and were dropped here (on Earth)?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Reverse Engineering the Test Questions

Remember that special ed. algebra 1 class where I got to give them a test? Well, I was back again, and again they had a test.

(Considering the number of repeat classes I'm doing this year, I need to seriously rethink my tagging system. I've been in this class eight different days now, and I should link them all together.)

Actually, it was my day two (of a three-day stint) in the class, and this was their second test.

As they worked, I made myself a mini key. The teacher had left a key, but he had done this on the test itself. The students weren't to write on the tests. Instead, they had answer sheets. So, rather than flip pages for each test I corrected, I thought it would be easier to read from an answer sheet that looked like theirs.

It did make grading that much easier.

But, as I copied the answer key, I noticed that the last four problems required a pie graph that was not included in the test. First clue: each of those problems said "SEE BOARD".

I looked around for the pie chart and found it on the back of the answer key. Immediately, I went to the board and wrote it up.

Three students turned in their tests. A fourth came up to me and asked a question. "Out of how many people is that?"

The pie chart gave percentages of people who had worked out (0-1, 2-3, 4-5, and more hours per week), but not the number of people. The four questions asked how many people fell into each category.

I looked for the number. It wasn't there. Um...

But I had the answer key! If the answer to number 27 was 240 and 240 represented 60%... A quick calculation, and I knew the total number. I wrote it up on the board (then went and checked the next question to make sure that the number worked for it as well).

Funny how three students "finished" their tests without having that key piece of information. I'm assuming they guessed. And that they didn't know how to do the problems.

Because sometimes the test is wrong.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Scarf Envy

It caught my eye immediately. It was a red infinity scarf. It must have been knit on needles size 5 or smaller as the stitches were pretty small. It had eyelet pattern panels interspersed with garter ridges.

As I do when I see interesting scarves that I could conceivably make, I mentally deconstructed the thing.

"Scarves aren't against dress code, are they?"

Me: "Huh?"

The girl caught me staring at her scarf. And, as is common with teenagers everywhere, she assumed that I was finding fault.

Once I ascertained that she thought I was planning on citing her for dress code, I assured her that my interest was purely as a knitter. I asked a couple questions about the scarf, and then it was time to start class.

It's not quite cold enough for me to pull out my alligator scarf, but maybe soon? Not if the weather forecasts are correct. Sigh.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Wrong Test

It was Friday at the middle school. One of the things the teacher had left for me was to pass out tests to the students who had been absent for the test. They could make up the test during class.

Fourth period. I gave the one boy his test, and he went to another class to complete it. He returned in a reasonable amount of time and returned the test to me. I put it in the pile with the others. We continued with class.

Time passed and it was the end of the period. The class was done with the day's work. The boy asked me if he could see his test. He thought it might be the wrong one. The girl sitting next to him was going to check. So, I pulled out his test and brought it to him.

The boy was suspicious because the test wasn't that hard, yet his classmates had told him that it was a killer.

Fourth period was marine biology. The other periods were 7th grade life science. Marine biology is an elective that the 8th graders can take.

When we looked at the test, it turned out to be the test that the other classes took. Not the marine biology test. The life science test.


Now, this was not my fault. The teacher paper clipped the tests to the answer sheets, and I just passed out what she had left me. Although, I would have thought the boy would have realized that the test wasn't covering the material they had covered in class.

After the bell rang and the class emptied, the boy approached me. He had a suspicion that the test wasn't his test, but he didn't want to disturb the class by returning to ask.

I explained to him that when this sort of mix up occurs, it is completely reasonable to come back to the room and alert me to the problem. Not that I could have given him the correct test (the teacher hadn't left it out), but at least we could have put it aside. Sigh.

He wasn't pleased that he'd have to take the test again. On Monday. But at least that test should be the correct test.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

My Halloween "Costume"

What are you dressing up as for Halloween? Are you dressing up?

The last time I voluntarily dressed up was in the 8th grade. I was an alien. I took a trash bag, turned it upside down, cut out arm holes and a head hole. Underneath I wore a leotard and tights. With makeup, I think I pulled off the look I was going for.

It was incredibly hot, though. Black trash bags don't breathe, and Southern California Halloweens can end up being warm days. But that's not why I stopped dressing up.

All the other kids laughed at me.

Now I know they were just jealous of my creativity. (At least, that's the story I tell myself. I'm going to keep telling myself that story.) But I've never since gone to the trouble of creating a costume again. (Except for the one year it was required, but as that was under duress, I don't count it.)

I still love Halloween, though. And every year, I "dress up". In a science fiction/fantasy sort of way.

Last year I was an alien anthropologist sent to Earth to study humans. Since I had to blend in, I of course looked like everyone else. This year I'm a time traveller from the future who's come back in time just for a visit. (Castle came up with the perfect moniker for this: temporal anthropologist. I'm stealing it.)

And this brings me to my question for this Thursday (you didn't think I forgot it was Thursday, did you?). Not so much a "what if" as a question to ponder.

If you weren't going to dress up for Halloween but wanted to say you were dressed up, what would you say you were dressed as? 

(Okay, I'm just asking to get ideas for what to call my non-costume next year. I'm sure there are plenty.)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I Wish I'd Thought of That

A couple weeks ago, a customer on Etsy contacted me about my knitted cell phone mini bags. (My shop on Etsy is here.) You remember the one:

She wanted to know if I could add a snap to the strap. So that she could attach it to the strap of a purse or through a belt loop on her jeans...

What a brilliant idea. I wish I'd thought of that.

So, the answer to her question was yes. It just meant I had to rework the strap, but that's totally doable. And it turned out like:

The purple one is the old strap, the black one has the detachable one.

Strap open for attaching to things

Now I just need to add this variation to the pattern. It's not hard to do, but it will take me a little time to write up. (And now I must make one for me.)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Pick a Color

It was 2nd period at the middle school, which is the period where they do the announcements and pass out things that they want the whole school to get. On this day, they were doing a special bracelet activity. Every student was to get a bracelet, and their challenge was to talk to another student they didn't know who was wearing the same colored bracelet.

About half way through the period, the middle school leadership student came through and delivered the bracelets.

I lucked out with this group of 7th graders. They were silently working on their assignment, and the delivery didn't stop them from working. But they saw it.

"Are you going to pass those out?" one student quietly asked me.

"At the end of the period," I replied.

One thing I've learned about middle schoolers is any excitement will distract them, and I'll never get them back. Something like these bracelets would lose me their attention for the remainder of the period. (Well, maybe not these kids, but I wasn't about to risk it.)

But they eyed those bracelets. They wanted them.

As promised, I did pass them out the last five minutes of the period. But there was another issue I knew was going to crop up, so I addressed that first.

"I am going to pass these bracelets out randomly. No, you can't ask for the color you want. If you want a different color, you're going to need to trade with someone who is willing to trade their bracelet with you."

It took me a minute to pass out the bracelets. They took the remaining four to trade. And as I got no complaints about being stuck with a color they hated, I think it worked out.

Whew. That could have been a disaster.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Coded History

I had the Science Channel on in the background. Again. (The Science Channel is my background noise when I'm busy doing other things.) The show on was about the planets, but at that moment they were discussing Venus.

The topic had to do with the age of Venus' surface and how scientists had postulated that at one time Venus must have had a massive volcanic event where the entire surface was flooded with lava.

Flood. Of lava?

Of course, my thoughts went sideways. Eventually, that led to today's question...

What if The Bible is a coded history of our (the human race's) existence elsewhere before settling on Earth?

Don't ask how flood of lava got to The Bible. Really. Don't ask. (I wouldn't know what to tell you, because I'm still scratching my head.)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Reward: Watering the Plants

For a while, I wasn't covering special ed. classes at all. I don't specifically refuse them. I just had not been offered them.

The other thing that has picked up this school year is the extra period assignment. Some of it is due to beginning of the year IEPs, but some of it is teachers not covered. On this particular day, I was covering a teacher while she was out for an IEP.

These special ed. classes are designated "severely handicapped". We were at the middle school. And their assignment for the period was to write out their name, address, and phone number. If they did not know it, they could go to one of the classroom aides to be given that information. Then they were to write it down twice more, hopefully without looking back.

Every student needed the aide to help them fill out the first section.

After they finished that, we were to go out and water the garden.

One girl kind of refused to finish filling out her name and address twice more. Another aide (there were three) informed the girl that she couldn't go out with them if she wouldn't finish. And when she didn't finish, she was left in the room with me.

The girl stood up and refused to budge. So, I tried the only trick I know. I bribed her.

I promised her that I would take her out to water if she would sit down and finish her work. Sure enough, she sat down and did finish.

Which kind of surprised me. Usually, I offer these sorts of things, but the student doesn't get the work finished. I guess going out to water was enough of an inducement to get her moving.

How the teacher and those aides deal with those students every day, I have no idea. They are amazing. And very nice to the ignorant sub as well.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Get Out Your Notes

Remember that special ed. algebra 1 class? Last week, I covered it again for three days. (The teacher had a training thing he had to go to.)

The classes were given review worksheets which turned out to be a good thing as the students clearly needed the practice. At least, it seemed so because of all the questions I got. 

Of course, it was a difficult chapter. Solving multi-step equations. Don't know what that means? It means that they were solving for x things that looked like
2x + 3(x+1) + 7 = 25
This is a challenge in the beginning. So, I made sure to go over things with them and help them as much as I could.

One girl got stuck on the 3(x+1) part. So, I explained the distributive property as well as I could. This involves a bit of hand waving along with pointing to the 3 and trying to indicate how it has to combine with the x and the 1.

All I got in return was a blank stare. So, I asked the girl to get out her notes.

I knew the teacher had gone over this with the class. I had seen the notes. He had shown the distributive property on them. I figured that perhaps seeing those notes might jog her memory.

But, she refused to move.

I asked her to get out her notes again. Told her that her notes would help. Explained that her teacher had done this with her and her notes might remind her of the procedure. Still, she stared at me, making no move to get into her backpack.

So, I walked away. My only two other options were to write her up for refusing my direction (kind of harsh) or going into her stuff and getting the notes out myself (which I'm not allowed to do, but even if I was, I wouldn't as that was her stuff).

A couple minutes later, I looked back, and she had gotten out her notes. She looked them over...

Next thing I saw, she was busily working on the assignment. Making progress. Because sure enough, those notes did contain the thing that I was not able to convey to her.

At the end of the period, she had not finished the assignment. The back and forth between us had taken a while.

Why do they fight me on these things? I don't really want an answer. I'm just shaking my head.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Amigurumi Jack-O-Lantern

Two weeks ago, I posted pictures of the amigurumi pumpkins that I had crocheted.

And Jeanne made the comment:
...It would be perfect if they came with little jack-o-lantern features. Much less messy than carving.
Which got me thinking...

First, I thought I could embroider a face onto the pumpkins, but I couldn't figure out how to embroider a mouth. (If any of you know how, please let me know, because I've searched the internet, and I haven't found the thing that would work.)

So, then I decided to try a little color work. I got out grid paper and sketched out what I thought would work...

...and it turned out way creepy. (Notice I didn't even finish it. I got this far and knew I was going to toss this effort.) This picture doesn't even do it justice. That mouth!

So, I scaled back a little...

Better, but not quite there yet. The right eye is off by one stitch (by the time I saw it, it was too late to fix). And the mouth... I guess I can't do the cut-out tooth thing. It doesn't quite work.

So, why am I posting not finished designs? Because at the rate I'm going with this, it'll be Thanksgiving before I get it right, and I wanted to get this posted before the actual holiday it corresponds to.

Although, if any of you have any ideas on how to get this pumpkin to look like a jack-o-lantern, I'm listening. I can use any help you're willing to give.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Accidental Ditch

Last Friday I covered a special ed. class (the same teacher that I subbed for on Monday). So, I knew what was in store for me 5th period.

During 5th period, he covers the resource room. That's a place where the RSP special ed. kids can go when then need extra help with an assignment or a quiet place to take a test (or take extra time on a test). On Monday, the place was hopping.

Because it was 5th period, lunch was involved. Turned out I got the first lunch, so on Friday instead of going over there immediately, I took a bit of a break before heading over there. But it was a good thing I didn't take my whole lunch time as the teacher who was supposed to be there wasn't when I got there. (There were other adults in the room, however.)

When I arrived, there were two students there. One was working on a test. The other was reading. Neither needed me, so I took a seat and sat back.

The testing student wondered if he could use his book on the test. I called his teacher. The answer was no.

And that was the extent of my duties for the period.

The testing student finished his test and went back to class. The reading student continued reading.

Eventually, the bell rang signalling the end of 5th period for those who had not had lunch yet. This bell startled the reading student. I informed him that it was time for lunch.

"I missed lunch?"

Me: "No, that was the bell to begin lunch. Fifth period is over."

Student: "Fifth period? I missed fifth period?"

After a bit more back and forth, I understood the problem. For some reason, the student missed the bell ending 4th period, the period when he came into the resource room. (Although how he missed the three other bells dealing with the other lunch I have no idea.)

He ran out of the room to go and talk to his 5th period teacher, but his 5th period teacher wasn't there. He knew he was in trouble. He had inadvertently ditched 5th period. His parents were going to kill him.

"Explain what happened," I said.

"They won't believe me," he replied.

Yikes. I felt kind of bad for him.

"Good book, huh?" I asked.

He showed me how far he'd gotten. He was almost finished with it. He said he didn't usually find books that hooked him so, but this one did.

So, the period wasn't a waste, after all. (Although, his science teacher might not think so.)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Money, Money, Money

I happened upon this article from io9 ("Here's How You'll Make and Save Money in the Future") and it got me thinking that I have another What If Thursday coming up and I need a question to ask...

When we create other worlds for our stories, we can create any sort of society that we want. Oftentimes, we base our worlds on what we know. But we can make just about anything possible.

What if money was not an indicator of wealth or power? What if we lived in a world where money was used completely differently than we use it now?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Parental Diploma Obstacle

It's again Blog Action Day, and this year's theme is human rights. And again this year, I've got nothing. It's kind of sad, really.

I spend a lot of time interacting with kids who don't want to be in school. At least, they act like they don't want to be in school when I'm there, prodding them to get their work done. I wonder how many kids around the world would be more appreciative of such an education.

The story that keeps coming to mind every time I think about today's Blog Action Day post is this one girl I met while covering the reentry class. She was in the morning class, but she had finished up all the credits she needed to advance to the afternoon class, meaning she was very nearly ready to graduate. Just a few more credits would do it. But she couldn't attend the afternoon class.

She explained the situation. She had to be home to take care of her younger siblings. Her father wouldn't allow her to go to school in the afternoon even though that would mean that she would have to drop out of school without obtaining her high school diploma.

Well, the teachers in the reentry program do try to work with the students. They found a way to keep her in the morning class so that she could finish her diploma. And last I heard, the girl had graduated.

Why do some people make it so hard for students to get that high school diploma? Don't they understand how important an education is?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Wrong Princess

It was voting day in the freshman English classes. Time to elect their class' homecoming princess. I passed out the ballots, gave them time to vote, and then retrieved those ballots.

Oh, I should mention that one of the candidates was a student in the class. There was some lobbying. But I didn't reveal any ballots to her. If the students wanted her to know they did or did not vote for her, that was their business.

It was also 5th period. Shortly after voting, four girls (including the homecoming princess candidate) all had to leave for a volleyball game. Two boys left for a football game. And another boy had a "race", although I'm not sure which sport that was. (Possibly cross country.) So, there was a bit of chaos while I got the rest of the class going on the rest of their work.

After the mass exodus, the door to the classroom opened again. Two girls who had left returned.

"Can I get my ballot back? I want to change my vote."

Um... They don't put names on those ballots. I had no way of finding her ballot.

"I know which one it is. I circled it a certain way."

These were not fill-in-the-blank ballots. These were circle-the-name ballots. Even harder to figure out which one belonged to her.

I suppose I could have found a ballot with who she said she voted for and had her change that one. Because there was no way I was letting her flip through all the ballots from the class. There are so many ways that could go awry.

And besides, the rest of the class was supposed to be listening to a short story on CD. I could just imagine the disruption allowing her to change her ballot would cause.

In the end, I said no. I feel a little bad about it, but not much. We're talking freshman homecoming princess. There are so many more dances after this for them.

Monday, October 14, 2013

I Got It Wrong, Too

Last Monday I covered a special ed. algebra class. They had a test. Which meant that once I got them silent and working, I didn't have a lot to do.

The IA asked me if I would mind correcting the tests. The answer key was provided. Of course I didn't mind. It was especially easy as the tests were multiple choice.

Only one student got a perfect score. The next highest grade was a 27 out of 30 (which is an A). Some didn't get a whole lot of them right. But one thing I did notice was that other than the perfect score, everybody (save maybe 2 other students) got the first question wrong.

Keys have been known to be wrong. I've come across some in the past.

So, I pulled out the test and looked at the first question. It was a "put these numbers in order from least to greatest" using three fractions and one decimal. And three of the numbers were negative.

I looked at the choices, and I agreed with most of the class. Then I had second thoughts. So, I pulled out a calculator and converted all the fractions to decimals...and found that the answer key was, in fact, correct.

Interesting. I can see why they made that mistake. Too bad they didn't check it over like I did. Of course, I had the key to work from.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Student Commerce

A student walked into 6th period carrying a guitar case. He asked me where he could set the thing during class.

(The students don't have lockers, so many carry around their gym bags or musical instruments as well as their backpacks. A student carrying a guitar is so normal that it normally wouldn't even merit a remark.)

I pointed to a spot at the front of the room. Then I wondered...

"What do you normally do with it?"

Student: "I've never had it before..."

I was getting ready to ask him what he'd been doing in a guitar class without a guitar all this time, but he continued before I could voice the thought.

"...It's not mine. I'm holding it for someone."

Me: "Why?"

Student: "He paid me a dollar."

Me: "That's the going rate?"

Student: "I was hungry, so I used it to buy some chips. I was considering selling [the guitar that isn't his], but then..."

(The rest of the conversation veered off course, and I was no longer sure if he was referencing the guitar, his friend, the chips, or... Well, he's a freshman, so who knows what he was talking about.)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Space-Industrial Complex

As I was making breakfast, I had the Science Channel on in the background. It was a show on the moon landings and the Cold War. And, of course, my mind went sideways.

What if instead of building up the military, the government instead put that money towards space exploration? How different would our world be?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Schedule Change

Jennifer did not belong in a CAHSEE math class. Yet, she was in that first period class on the first day of school.

(I am, of course, referring to the class I covered for the first two weeks of school. I have a feeling I'll be referring back to this class from time to time, especially as I encounter students I met there first.)

Jennifer approached me after class that first day. She wanted to know how like the CAHSEE the practice test they were given was. Because if that's what it was like, she knew she didn't need to be in the CAHSEE prep class.

Apparently, she had moved to the area from out of state, which is why she had not passed the CAHSEE previously. She explained that her last math class has been pre-calculus. I agreed that she'd probably pass the CAHSEE with no problem.

By the second and third day, I could see that Jennifer did not belong in that first period class. It was well beneath her abilities.

Jennifer talked to her counselor. I mentioned Jennifer to the administrator keeping track of us subs. Jennifer stopped showing up after the fourth day. I assumed she got her schedule change.

Last Thursday I learned where she ended up.

I was covering a science class. First period was AP Environmental Science. I recognized a name on the roll sheet. Jennifer.

Now, I'm really glad she managed to get out of the CAHSEE class. An AP class is a much better fit for her abilities.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Monday was a bad day. A really bad day.

I covered an 8th grade pre-algebra class. The lesson plan had me going over fill-in-the-blank notes with the classes. I couldn't get them to stop talking long enough to complete those notes.

I tried everything. I called out the talking students. Moved a couple around. Kicked a couple out of class. Took away time from their break. Nothing worked.

I was scheduled to return on Tuesday. I tried not to think too much about it overnight.

I got back to the school Tuesday morning. The secretary told me, "You've been reassigned."


There was a bit of a sub crunch, so I was sent to the other middle school.

Subject: 8th grade pre-algebra. The classes: Oh, so much better!

They weren't silent. But they let me get through the stuff I had to tell them. And I think the fact that I didn't have a lecture/notes to give them helped. Of course, the fact that they let me do anything at all tells you how much more cooperative they were than that other class.

Same grade. Same subject. But the classes were so completely different. Tuesday was a good day.

(I ran into the sub who ended up in the other class on Tuesday. He had the same experience with them that I did. So, it wasn't just me.)

Monday, October 7, 2013

Amigurumi Pumpkins

I have this really bad habit of finishing all my projects at the same time. Leaving me with nothing to do with my hands! Ugh.

I was actually sitting and watching the TV. My fingers itched. They needed something to do. So, I went looking through my Pinterest boards. Actually, I was looking for something else when I stumbled upon something I'd pinned almost a year ago (Pinterest tells me it was pinned 51 weeks ago).

The timing was impeccable. I already had the yarn (color name: pumpkin) and the fiberfill.

Aren't they cute?

Friday, October 4, 2013

A Plausible Lie

"What does this look like?"

It was 6th period in a 9th grade English class. They were doing "Vocabulary Pictures". The assignment was to take four of their vocabulary words and draw them.

The boy was illustrating "vow". I overheard the conversation he had with his tablemates. He decided to draw a ring on a finger, as in the vow one takes when getting married. A decent interpretation, I thought.

The other boys at his table didn't think his picture was very good.

(I am terrible at drawing. I avoid it as much as I possibly can. So, when a student asks if a picture is good, I never tell them that it's not. Most of the time, it's better than I could do. If it's not, then that student doesn't need my criticism. That student needs my support. And I am always nice to them about it.)

The boy then asked me what I thought of his drawing. He held it up for me.

I knew what he was going for. And if I looked very closely, I could see it. The ring was large and prominent as was the finger it was on. He had drawn the other fingers very small and close to the palm.

Perspective-wise, it was well done. Execution-wise...

He asked me what I thought it was. I swallowed my answer. I couldn't tell him.

I can't even tell you what I thought it looked like. I made a promise when I started this blog that there would be nothing objectionable on this blog. I checked a little box. That's why there's no content warning when you try to access the blog.

Before I can tell you what it looked like to me, I would need that content warning.

Of course, what I saw did not even occur to them. If it had...

I frantically searched for a lie. A plausible lie. What did it look like? Other than that. What could I say?

In the end I said I didn't know. The boy went on to his next panel. And I didn't laugh.

I really should worry about my mind.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Dinner with a Time Traveller

What if you could travel back in time, but only long enough to have dinner with a friend? This friend knows you're a time traveller...  

(Okay, I know I'm leaving out a lot of details that would make this scenario make sense. But this is "what if?" Thursday, so this is only here to give you something to ponder. Then again, if you can add the details to make this scenario make sense, you've got a better story here than I do.)

...and this friend can ask you anything. Would you answer your friend's questions? Would you volunteer information? Would you consider any questions about the future off limits?  

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Goofing Off in Period 3

Me: "Okay, Daniel, settle down. You could get some work done this period. Unlike period 3. You don't want to make the note this period, too."

Daniel: "What did I do in period 3?"

The majority of the class in period 3 was on task and fine. However, four boys decided it was play time, and I spent all of my energy "chasing" after them.

Me: "First, there was that paper airplane..."

Daniel: "That wasn't me. That was some guy over in that row," and he pointed over one row and ahead of where he was seated.

About half the class had been in period 3 with him, and they agreed that the paper airplane hadn't originated with Daniel. (Period 3 was government. This class was economics. The seniors need both classes to graduate, so that's why I had so many duplicate students.)

Daniel continued: "I wasn't even in the room."

He had been out of the room for a time. But the class had been fine until he returned from the office. When he got back, the crazy started. That's what made me think he was the instigator. I still think that.

"Then, the three of you..."

He didn't deny any of the other charges. He knew he had been that student--the one who was goofing off all period. And he didn't ask for me to remove his name from "the list". Which I wouldn't have done anyway.

He didn't get any work done that period, but he didn't play around, either. I guess it helped that two of his buddies weren't there, so he had no one to play off of.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Not Sneaky Enough

Last day in the math class. They had a test. I didn't plan it that way; that's just how it worked out.

Brandon was one of the reasons I modified the seating chart. He and three others sat in the back far corner, getting into their own conversations while I went over the material. They knew it all already. They took algebra last year. Never mind that they failed it--the reason they had to repeat it this year.

Brandon, by sheer luck of the draw, ended up in a front row seat.

I passed out the tests and they got started. Brandon raised his hand.

"Am I supposed to add these?"

The test was on exponents, and knowing whether to add or multiply was the point of the question. I replied with a, "That's what you're supposed to know," and I moved on.

Brandon called me over a few more times. All his questions had to do with how to do the problems.

"Is this one right?"

I did not answer.

The fifth time he called me over, his neighbor remarked, "It's a test. She's not going to answer you."

(I will clarify directions. Sometimes the copy is bad or something is unclear. There can be mistakes on the test. So, I do respond to raised hands during a test. To a point.)

Brandon was one of the last students done. He spent ten minutes checking over his answers.

After I had all the tests, I released the students from the imposed silence. I gathered the tests, paperclipped them, and put them away. Brandon pulled out his notes.

"Wait. Can I check something on my test?"

He explained that in the rush to finish, he had written the wrong answer for a problem. "I did it right, but I just wrote the wrong thing in the answer column." So, I said I'd check.

The problem:

Under it he wrote 1/-2. In the answer column, he did indeed write -2.

The answer should have been 1/2. I would have given it to him except for that pesky negative sign. (I spent quite a bit of time explaining that a negative exponent means "take the reciprocal" and that the resulting answer is NOT negative. Adding the negative sign makes the answer wrong.)

I informed Brandon that he got it wrong. I explained why.

"Let me see... No, it's right. See, it's positive. Right. There."

As he leaned over me with his pencil and added a small vertical line over the top of the small horizontal one already on his paper.

Geez. Does he think I'm that stupid? I marked it wrong right then and there.

And after all that, it turns out that Brandon only missed three or four questions on the test. He got a B.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Open Letter to my Sister-in-Law

Heather, I'm sorry.

I just couldn't help myself.

I saw the pattern, and I couldn't resist. HapkidoKid and I were watching a shark show one day while I was babysitting, so I know he'll appreciate it. And I can't knit something for HapkidoKid and not knit something for Rambo.

Maybe they won't fit (although, that would be bad seeing as these are their Christmas presents).

I refuse to turn into Aunt Clara. I will only knit them boy things. And what's more BOY than a shark hat...

They aren't too shark-like, are they?


Oh, and by the way

Friday, September 27, 2013

Race Relations

Last Friday, I was asked to cover a different class on my prep period. Luckily, I was finally caught up with the math classes, so I could do this (without stressing myself out).

I arrived in the classroom to find half the class was from my first period CAHSEE math prep class. As it was a special ed group, the room had six students.

They had an assignment. They were working in two groups of three. They were on task until near the end of the period.

A student from group one addressed Jose who was working in the other group. Marcus, his partner, answered. Instead of saying something along the lines of, "I was talking to Jose," the student said something different.

"You're not white."

Marcus looked down at his arm in surprise. "What? I'm not white!? When did that happen? What did you guys do to me?"

Which was so ridiculous I didn't even try to hide my laughter.

Marcus explained that this was his response any time anyone used the "you're not white" line on him. So, apparently that's the usual thing people say to him when he responds to a comment or question not directed at him.

Jose, on the other hand, was also offended. "I'm not white. I'm Mexican."

The question the boy asked? If I caught it, it got lost in the stuff that came after.

Come to think of it, I might have been the only white person in that room. Not that it matters, really. (There's a reason I don't mention race too frequently on the blog.)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Other World Portals, Part 2

Briane Pagel's comment on last week's "what if?" is the basis for this week's. Because it's an interesting idea. And I've been so swamped that all my deep thoughts have fled the brain. I hope they'll return...

What if you were suddenly transported to a different world or realm? Would you think you'd gone utterly and completely mad? 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Major Award

Every Wednesday (hmmm, that would be today) Crystal Collier hosts Writerly Wednesdays which highlights a different young adult author each week. There's also a two-truths-and-one-lie contest with a prize drawing for all those that guess correctly.

Why am I bringing this up?

A couple weeks ago, I was the winner. See my prize.

Cool, huh? This was from C.M. Keller. I got an ecopy of the book as well. (Which I'll read one of these days. You should see my Nook library. Or, then again, maybe you'd better not.)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Geometry Intelligence Test

It took them a while to get me a class set of geometry textbooks. But once they were in, I found that it was easier to not use them. I had sort of a rhythm going. (Don't worry. We were using workbooks they already had.)

But then one day I needed to use the textbooks. So, we passed them out. But because of the way the day was configured, I wanted the books collected and put back at the end of the period.

The shelves were neatly arranged. Five books would fit on each half of the shelf. (I'm so glad I took a picture of this. I can't describe accurately what the configuration should look like, but I can show you easily.) The geometry textbooks are the blue ones. The red ones are the algebra 1 books.

At the end of the period, I had a student from each row return the books. I explained that there should be five books in each slot. And they managed to put everything back where it went. Except for one student.

One student was out in the restroom when it was time to put back books. When he returned, he had a book to replace. He went to the back bookshelf...

I watched. I wondered if he would figure it out on his own or if I would have to explain.

He looked at the shelves. As his was the only book not put back, there would be one slot open for him. Sure enough, he found the one section with four books and put his book there.

And I didn't have to say a word.

I was impressed. It's good to know that the geometry students can figure it out without my input. I hope this bodes well for the rest of their school year.