Thursday, February 28, 2013

Alien Visitors?

My Thursday posts consist of random questions. The only purpose of these is to generate story ideas. I'm not sure where this idea came from, but make of it what you will:

What if intelligent alien life has found us and is visiting us, but we can't perceive it (because the aliens are too small, too large, too fast, or otherwise outside our limits of perception)? 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Do It Again

8th graders. In groups they can be...well...interesting.

I was only there to cover one class period (during the prep period for the teacher I had been called to cover for the whole day). After waiting five minutes to get someone to open the classroom door to let us in (five minutes after the bell rang) the entire class was so wound up that it took a while to get them seated and settled. And there were no lesson plans to be found.

Luckily, that's when the phone rang.

The teacher told me to assign them work from chapter 9.  I repeated back, "Chapter nine". I wanted to make sure I had it right. Then I got up in front of the class and explained their assignment.

They told me that they had already done that assignment. Loudly. Repeatedly.

Okay, I must have misunderstood. I asked if they had done chapter ten. Eleven. We settled on chapter twelve, but still half the class insisted that they had done this.

At this point I should have told them to do it again. It was busy work. (This was one of those instances where the original plan went awry, and my job was to keep the class busy.) But the idea of becoming one of those subs bothers me, so instead I looked for a different solution.

I'd almost gotten them settled when their teacher showed up. I told him about the issue with chapter nine. He turned to the class and told them they needed to prove to him that they'd done it. Show their completed work to him.

(One student claimed that they had turned it in. The teacher gave that student such a scathing look!)

Turns out, they had skipped chapter nine, and now was the time that they go back to it.

That's what I get for trusting them.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

No Right Answer

"Do you work here?"

I don't understand the question. This is a problem, because it comes up. A lot.

I work for the district. They contract me to fill in for a teacher for the day. Do I work for the particular school? Well, on any day: yes. Generally: no. I go where I'm sent.

Every time I get the question, I hesitate. How am I supposed to answer?

This time, the student clarified a bit. Enough so that I could clarify:

"If I had other duties, I would not be free to cover all of Mrs. N's classes today."

I said this straight--no sarcasm implied or intended. It was as honest an answer as I could give.

And the student was offended.

I wasn't making fun of her. I swear. But she took it as such.


Perhaps I should just ignore the question?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Keeping My Hands Busy

This one's Wanelo's fault. (I can't blame them all on Pinterest.)

It started when I saw this. (Not sure the legalities of posting pics of things that are not my own, so I'm hedging and just giving you a link. Go look. I'll wait.)

I thought, "I can do that." Well, not actually. I'm not sure what technique was used, but I figured I could crochet something like that. First, I went on a web search, and I found all sorts of interesting ways to cover a cord in yarn, but they were all the ways I could figure out on my own (although, I did get some interesting ideas).

I got to playing, and this is what I came up with...

Covering the earbuds

Covering the power cord

And I added a button so that I could keep the cord bundled
Yes, I know. I have too much time on my hands and no new project ideas. I even covered the power cord for my nook.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Newfangled Notes

It was the third time I'd covered for the AP US history teacher this year (since January). And a couple of those times I was the sub on the second day of her absence. This is unlike her. I hope she gets better soon.

This time, the class was supposed to prepare for a test the next day. They were a bit bewildered. They hadn't gotten the official notes on these two chapters.

As the absence had been unexpected, papers were strewn about the teacher's desk. A student noticed one of these--the Power Point slides for the current chapters. The chapters on the test.

"Can I take my phone out and take pictures of these?"

I've gotten such requests before. In most cases, the students should just copy the notes. But this time I had no projector or computer, and I wasn't about to write all those notes on the board (there were a lot).

In next to no time, the rest of the class got wind of the found notes. And many wanted pictures. But photo sharing is easy, right?

Turns out, the class has a Facebook page. So, the one student shared those photos to the page. Now everyone had access, or at least everyone who had a Facebook.

Technology. Ain't it grand?

(I also noticed the test on the teacher's desk. That I hid away before anyone got wind that it was there. Pics of notes is one thing. Pics of test--not happening on my watch.)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Question in Time

Are you watching Continuum on SyFy? I'm not sure if I like it. I don't hate it, so I'll keep up with it, but it's not a favorite.

Anyway, something happened a couple weeks ago that threw my mind for a loop. I can't make sense of it. So, I might as well turn it into a what if...

What if we could go back in time and change something? What if it didn't change us? What if it didn't change our present/their future? How would that be possible? 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Little Crochet

I've been making new things for my little shop.

Shamrock Earrings just in time for March


A little something to keep your lip balm wrangled

I have no idea what to make next. Any ideas?

Oh, and what do you think?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Doing the Minimum

There are certain classes where I expect bad behavior. Earth science class is one of those.

The problem with these classes is that the students who take this failed 8th grade science. (If they passed, they were enrolled in biology.) Some of them will eventually get it together, take their studies seriously, and graduate. Others I will get to know a whole lot better at the continuation high school.

On top of this, I was warned to keep an eye out for 4th period--the worst class. So, I made sure when 4th period came around that I was moving around the class and watching them a bit more than I normally would.

I made my rounds. I stood in front of groups of students and browbeat them into at least opening their books. Some actually did some work.

I came upon a group who were doing nothing. I did my usual bit. But before I moved on, I caught a snippet of conversation. They were discussing their GPAs.

"I have a 3.3."

He was doing no work. So, he explained.

"I calculated how many points I need to get a B, and I only do that much work."

He told his group that he does well on tests. He was just lazy (his words), and he wasn't interested in doing more than the bare minimum. School wasn't his priority.

(The implication was that there are Things Going on at Home. As he didn't volunteer and it frankly is none of my business, I didn't press the topic.)

It saddens me that he can do so much but chooses to do so little. But I can't make them care. I can only help them if they do.

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Rainy Distraction

Algebra 1. Quiz day.

I passed out the quizzes, and the students settled to silence. I took my first look at the group to make sure no one was attempting to cheat.

Then the thunder boomed.

And the rain beat down so hard we could really hear it.

And the class lost it.

"That sounds like hail."

"Can we look outside?"

"I'm scared."

"This rickety room is going to break apart."

I assured the class that we weren't going to lose the roof. (It was a fairly old bungalow, but I didn't see any leaks.) I explained that opening the door would only let the water in (I learned this one the hard way). And I promised them that they could look soon as everyone finished the quiz.

"But by that time, it'll be over and the sun will be out."

One girl said that she was going to really take her time so that we didn't have time to look outside. She didn't want to.

Somehow, the students managed to get back to silence. The rain continued to fall heavily. (Turned out it was hail. I learned this later.) We had a couple more booms of thunder (only once saw a flash of lightning through the blocked out windows), and then we could no longer hear any precipitation.

By the time everyone had finished the quiz, the rain had stopped. I think I saw sunlight.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Anti-Valentine Question

It's singles' awareness day. The one day of the year that being single makes you feel even more like an outcast than the rest of the year. Yeah, I hate Valentine's Day. With a passion.

Which made me think of this week's question. (I'm so glad this fell on a Thursday this year.)

What if the world was set up for singles rather than couples?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Welcome to the Spamfiles

Mwa-ha! I took over Liz’s blog for the day for some blatant self-promotion, the kind so flagrant I can’t do it on my own blog. Why it’s okay on someone else’s blog I have no idea, but that logic problem is a whole different can of worms.

I’m here to talk about spam. Not the ground up pieces of pigs left over after they finish butchering but the kind you get in the mail enticing you to buy V1gara pills from a Canadian "Pharmacy". In other words, things like this…

The summation of all spam.

And this…

I have a daughter now?

Not to mention…

That's not how brainwashing works.
All actual items caught by my email’s spam filter. It’s like looking at the world through a lens of madness. Lose eleven pounds in one week and don’t die of dehydration/starvation! Proper blog drainageIndelible Gamechanger!

I don’t know what it means. I just think it sounds interesting. Like it might have something to do with video games.

Some people were born to craft tomes to change the world. I was born to laugh at spam. I’m surprisingly okay with this.

So that’s my pitch. I hope you come visit me at my blog and especially at the Spamfiles. And if you ever check your spam filter and find a piece of insanity tucked in there, or maybe you see an ad that seems like it’s spam someone was paid to post, go ahead and forward it. I will find it AWESOME.

Jeanne (JE) Fritz is a blogger of words and collector of spam. She loves talking any subject to death and has a particular fondness for linguistics and any type of novel. If she’s not at Still Writing or the Spamfiles, catch her on Twitter. Hugs!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Scenes from the Testing Room

It's that time of year again. CAHSEE testing time!

*Crowd cheers.*

False Alarms

Cell phones are an issue, especially at the continuation high school. Before we started, I had one battle. ("If you insist on having that phone out, your test will be invalidated and you'll be kicked out.") I kept an eye peeled...  

Girl looking down at her lap. Fingers moving. I moved to a vantage point behind find that she was picking at her nails.  

Boy had something in his lap. Just as I was ready to pounce, he brought the item up to his face. Lip balm.  


The students who finish session 1 quickly have to wait for the rest of the group before we start session 2. (After they finish session 2, they get to leave.) One boy asked for scratch paper--which I did not have.  

So, necessity and all, he rolled up his sleeve, exposing his arm. He got out a pen...  

Well, that's one solution.  

(About that time I realized that since the test booklet could be used as scratch paper for the test, there was no reason he couldn't draw all over it. Saved his arm, just in the nick of time.)  


The CAHSEE is untimed. But that doesn't mean the students get to sleep when they should be working. (I don't get to go home until all tests are finished, so I watch out for sleepers.)  

His head wasn't down on the desk. He started off by staring into space. As sometimes the students do that (they then figure out whatever and get back to work), I moved on. I looked back at him later, and his eyes were closed.  

I walked over, and just before I reached him, he awoke. Apparently, he was just resting his eyes for a moment.  

A pretty sedate testing session. Not that I mind. It's certainly better than encountering a big freaking cockroach.  

Monday, February 11, 2013

Half a Story

"I was chewing gum, nothing unusual, when Mr. F said that there was no gum allowed in his room. He asked me to spit it out. I thought about spitting it at him, but then..."

And that's when the girl turned around in her chair to find me standing behind her.

"Can I help you with something?" she asked.

At this point, I wanted to hear the end of the story. Because I know Mr. F. He's not the sort of teacher who tolerates such misbehavior. And I wondered why she got so upset over so little.

And I wanted her to, oh, I don't know, perhaps...STOP CHATTING AND START WORKING!

Well, with me standing there, the story was at an end. Not that she got back to doing any work. No. She just started talking about something else.

It wasn't until I walked away that she went back to the story.

Alas, the reason I walked away was to assist another student, so I did not get the end of the story. Too bad. But that's usually how these things work out.

Friday, February 8, 2013

A Student's Worst Nightmare

"Can I print something on the computer?"

Last day of the semester. Minimum day. Seniors. Nothing on the agenda. I didn't see why the student couldn't print out her assignment for another class, so I allowed it.

It was taking too long. For some reason, the girl's assignment wouldn't come up. When it finally did, the girl learned the awful truth. While she had done the assignment, she hadn't saved it to her flash drive. Her completed assignment was at home.

I went into problem solving mode:
  • Was someone at her home? Yes, her mother.
  • Could her mother email her the completed assignment? No. No Internet access at home.
  • Could her mother print out the assignment and bring it to her? No. No printer at home (which is why she needed to print it out at school).
The girl was practically in tears. She had half the assignment on her flash drive, and it was due the next period.  

There was no help for it. She just had to redo it.  

I gave her permission to sit in the next class and finish it. It wasn't like she'd be disrupting anything. It took her about a half hour. Then she went to print...and it wouldn't print. Sigh. 

(For some reason, you can't print from various computers if you have the wrong log in. My sub log in rarely lets me print, but the student log ins usually work, so I was stumped as to why it wouldn't let her print it then.)  

Ah well, she could print it out in the library.  

Technology. It creates as many problems as it solves.  

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Our Prison

While looking for something else, I stumbled on a list of what if questions. Go me! Although, it would have been nice if I remembered that existed that week that I was completely blank. Ah well...

What if Earth was constructed as a prison of sorts? What if our ancestors were put here as a punishment or a way to isolate us from the rest of the intelligent species in the universe?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

I'm In

I went and done it. I signed up for...

I sat back and watched it last year. My reasons for not jumping in... Well, I'm not much of a joiner, really. But it seems like everyone did it last year, and I spent all of April thinking, "What would I post today if I was doing the A to Z challenge?"

Last May, I started a plan. I set that plan aside and got on with the year. Then when January hit, I went looking for that plan... (I hid it from myself really well. I put it in the most obvious spot, but it took me 20 minutes of tearing everything apart before I remembered I left it in that obvious spot.)

Anyway, I dusted the plan off, and I thought, "Why not?"

Basically, nothing too unusual is going to happen around here. I'm going to go for business as usual, only using the correct letter for the day. Somehow, I'm going to keep up with my Thursday "What Ifs?" And I'll have to figure out what to do on Saturdays.

I'm number 525 on the list. (Yikes, everyone is doing it.) Are you?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Off Game

Typing class at the continuation high school. After making sure the students were on the proper program, I went back to the front of the room and took a seat. Of course, the teacher's computer was open to the monitoring software.

I hadn't even had a chance to settle when I heard the loud protest: "He turned my computer off." Then seconds later, that student's computer also mysteriously powered off.

Oh no. Really?

Both students claimed innocence. "Diego did it." (Diego was seated two seats away from the both of them, and he was busy on his own computer.)

Time to move students.

Marcus, the one who supposedly started it all, moved to the new computer indicated with minimal protest. Jose, however, wasn't having it. He didn't do anything. Why was he being punished? (I was moving him to an on computer unlike the off one he was sitting in front of. He's lucky I wasn't passing out referrals.)

Eventually, Jose went to the computer indicated. I turned around for one minute...and Marcus glided across the aisle to turn off the computer of a girl who had nothing to do with any of this.

Okay, that one I saw. (The others I only saw the aftermath.)

You think they'd be done with this, but no. That's when Diego went over to "visit" Jose, and Jose's computer turned off.

Diego: "Jose turned it off himself."

Um, right. Sure.

At that point the period was over. It was time to log off computers and get ready to leave.

As they were going, from Jose: "It's no fair. You [referring to Marcus] got me three times, and I only got you once."

Jose, that is a confession. So much for your innocence.

Friday, February 1, 2013


"Teachers, please excuse this interruption. At this time, we ask that you do not allow any students out of your classroom--not to the restroom or the office. We are not on lockdown, but please keep your students in class."

This announcement came about 20 minutes into first period. The students were semi settled, but this riled them up right fast. No one had asked to go anywhere, but then...

"I was just going to ask you for a restroom pass."

"Now, I've really got to go."

Three students. All with "dire emergencies". Another student "helpfully" suggested the corner of the room. And then all of them were at the room's windows, peering out.

(At least they didn't try to leave. One time on an actual lockdown with a room full of freshmen, I had to put myself between them and the door to keep them inside.)

From the windows they saw nothing. I reminded them that they had an assignment, but they weren't interested in that. Then, ten minutes later we got the all clear.

"I don't need to use the restroom anymore. Now that they said we can go, I don't want to."

Okay, then.