Friday, May 30, 2014

Not a Permanent Move

It was the beginning of the period. I did my usual intro and checked the roll. But something wasn't quite right.

"Is everyone in their assigned seats?" I asked.

Several students replied no. Not about them. About the two boys sitting in the back of the room in seats that did not have names attached in the seating chart. I glared at them expectantly.

"But you let us sit here yesterday."

7th graders...

The previous day, they had been working on a project. The boys hadn't brought colored pencils (even though they knew they would need them), so they shared with a boy in the back of the room. I didn't so much "allow" them to sit there as I didn't protest when they did.

But that was the previous day. With a different assignment. This day...

(Don't they realize that I can't learn all their names in a day? And I was just about to mark them absent?)

This is why I don't allow them to move from their assigned seats normally. It's hard enough keeping track of all of them. Add in them moving around the room...

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Alternate Timeline

It's Thursday, so it's time for my my weekly random question...

Here's another one I don't know how to explain other than to just ask the question. I'm assuming you've heard of the alternate history genre in fiction...

What if our timeline is the one that was altered? What if someone wanted to go back and put us back on track?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Key Blunder

The class was an all-day special ed. That is, I had pretty much the same students all day. To give you an idea of their abilities, they are middle-school aged, but the math class assignment was probably 2nd or 3rd grade. They were to complete two worksheets where they had to tell time on analog clocks. And the third worksheet gave them an amount of change, and they had to mark how many quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies were needed to get it.

They needed a lot of help with this.

In 6th period, three of the boys went out to water the garden.

I thought I was fully prepared. Deshawn was the expert and he'd be in charge. Their teacher left the shed key so we'd have access. And I had a basic idea of what needed to happen.

So, we got out there, but the key wouldn't fit in the gate's lock. Oops.

There was a second garden to water. We went over there. Deshawn went to retrieve the hose from the office, but the hose wasn't there.

Deshawn asked one of the ladies in the office. She asked someone else. Eventually, they went in search of the hose in a classroom, but the teacher wasn't there. Then radios and phone calls were involved. The hose was located (in a different classroom), and the boys did the watering.

Then we went back to class.

I told the instructional aide that we couldn't get behind the gate. She was surprised as I should have had a gate key. And that's when it hit me. I did.

The staff restrooms are all locked, so subs get a restroom key along with a classroom key for the day. The restroom key also opens things like gates.

I really should have known that. I really should have.

Well, on the bright side, it took a lot longer to do the watering than expected. The boys got a nice day in the sunshine.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Games Cheerleaders Play

It was a Friday near the end of the school year, and I ended up subbing for the cheerleading coach. She taught science the rest of the day. It was only for 6th period that I had the cheerleaders. All sitting in one classroom. With nothing to do.

(Well, technically, they had a "study hall". But rarely do the students in these types of classes, i.e. student government, the yearbook, the golf team, do anything on days like this.)

I managed to get roll taken, and then I sat back. One girl asked the others if they'd like to play a game.

Days like these I get to be a fly on the wall. They know I'm there, but quickly they forget all about me. And I get to see them in their natural habitat. What sort of game were they going to play?

The girl announced that they were going to play "Going on a Cruise Ship". Each girl got to take two items with her. And if she got the items wrong, she was booted off the ship. Now, the rules of the game were kind of unclear, because one girl said she'd bring her swimsuit but was booted off while another said she'd bring an alligator but could stay.

But that was the point. From playing the game and listening in, the girls had to catch on. (A girl near me explained the situation.) It was a puzzle. And it ticked a couple of the girls off.

(I've done a couple cursory Google searches, but I have been unable to find the games. So, sorry, I can't provide rules.)

Apparently, they played this game at cheer camp last summer. And there were other games, too. After they all figured out the cruise ship rules (or some just gave up).

The next game had to do with a bouncing ball. Not an actual bouncing ball, but a fictional ball that one girl threw to another, but that girl missed it, and it went... That's what they had to guess. Who had the ball? This one they figured out pretty quickly.

Then the first girl took three dry erase markers from the board. She arranged them on the floor in the middle of the group, saying that she was "drawing a picture" of one of the girls. (No vandalism took place.) Then the girls had to guess who she drew.

Now, for me it was hard to follow along as I didn't know the girls' names. I learned a few as they did all of this, but from my vantage point and where the dry erase markers were, it was hard for me to see the full picture. (I could have gotten up. They wouldn't have objected if I sat among them. But I didn't.)

The last game had them looking at the moon (figuratively) and having something with them. Again, no rules. They had to figure it out themselves.

It drove some of them crazy. One girl would think she had it, attempt to do something using the rules as she understood them, and find out that she had it wrong.

I thought it was a great mental exercise. Very educational. Of course, I didn't mention that. They were having too much fun. (Or maybe "fun". You know, the kind that makes you crazy because you want to know how it works. Kind of like magic tricks.)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Spaceship Earth

It's Thursday, so it's time for my my weekly random question...

Through the Wormhole is returning in a couple weeks, and to gear up for the new season, the Science Channel is rerunning previous episodes as they tease the new ones. (Looks like one episode is going to be about the zombie apocalypse.)

Anyway, I'm not sure which episode was on in the background when this thought occurred...

What if the Earth (and the entire solar system for that matter) is just one giant spaceship taking humanity... someplace...?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

We were 45 minutes into 1st period when the boy arrived. The instructional aide asked for his pass. I went back to monitoring the rest of the special ed math class. But when the aide hit the ceiling, I turned my attention back to the late-arriving boy.

He had a pass, but he couldn't find it. He was digging through his backpack. He explained that he had been making up a test with Mr. M. No, Mr. Claus. No, Ms. L. And no, he didn't have a pass even though he dug through his backpack as if one existed.

The aide called Ms. L. Sure enough, the boy had made up a test with her. And she let him out 15 minutes before the beginning of the period.

What had he been doing for an hour? Looking for a restroom, he said.

One: there's a boy's restroom next door to this classroom. We can hear the flushing from the classroom. Two: it was very hot. Sure, it was early, but it was already not pleasant outside. Why would someone roam around outside in that?

The aide was angry. The boy ended up with lunch detention, for starters.

The 4th period class was very small. The three boys all arrived just as the bell rang. One of them asked to use the restroom. Fine.

Ten minutes later, another boy mentioned that the first boy had been gone too long. Could he check on the first boy? Upon his return, he told us that the first boy wasn't in the restroom.

The boy arrived shortly after this. Shoving a bag of chips in his pocket.

The aide asked where he had been. He lied and said the restroom. When he discovered that lie was caught, he said he went to get some water. And someone nearby just happened to be selling chips.

Um, right.

The boy then went into his pocket...

Uh, no. I informed him right then and there that if he went anywhere near those chips, he'd lose them. (I was sorely tempted to toss them anyway.)

Later in the period he asked for another restroom pass. A water pass. What, did he think I'd fall for that? Again?

Then he asked if he could eat his chips.

He ended up with lunch detention, too.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Ms. P warned me about her 5th period. She explained that they had a packet of worksheets, and the way she described the assignment put me in mind of throwing steak at a pack of wolves hoping they won't devour me. 

It wasn't that bad. They were in assigned seats. They remained seated (mostly). But as for getting any work done...

Jose threw something at (to?) a neighbor. I told him to stop throwing things. He informed me he didn't "throw" it. He "flicked" it. Fine. Then I told him to not cause any object to fly through the air. Best to nip these things early.

His neighbor insisted that he needed a textbook for reference. Francisco then caused a run on the books, and in the frenzy, someone managed to knock over the instructional aide's tea. And make a mess.

Carlos volunteered to go and get paper towels from the restrooms. He returned with them... eventually...

It was pretty much a constant battle all period. Just when I'd get one student settled, another would insist that she just had to sit in a seat that was not hers. At least she saw reason when I pulled out the referral form.

Then someone spotted a spider.

And Jose and Francisco were on top of their desks. Quaking.

The thing was two rows away from them. But they would not come down from their desks.


Once the spider was disposed of, they eventually settled down. Were the big, bad boys afraid of a piddly little spider? Or were they taking advantage of a crazy situation? I have a hard time believing that they were actually afraid. 

At the end of the period, I managed to get them seated rather than lining up at the door. (I have a trick for this.) So, the entire class passed the last couple minutes by making bird sounds.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Missed the Bold Print

In the midst of the sweltering heat last week, I got to help proctor a couple Advanced Placement exams. In the gym. Which had no air conditioning.

Proctoring an exam is not hard work otherwise. I'm an extra set of eyes in the room, and I help pass out and collect materials. AP students don't usually need any assistance. I'd get called over if a student needed to use the restroom or if one wanted to know how much more time he or she had left.

One boy called me over. There was a problem with his test. One of the questions had been repeated on two pages in a row.

As he explained the situation, I noticed in bold print above the question it said: This question has been reprinted for your convenience. Or something like that. I think I'm getting the exact wording wrong. But the gist is correct.

The boy was concerned that he didn't have enough space to write his full essay answer. He asked if he could just continue with the essay he had started on the previous page. I think. I wasn't really listening.

I put my finger over the bold print, pointing. Once he stopped talking he read what I pointed out.


So, this just goes to prove, even students who are taking college credit courses don't pay attention to all the details.

Of course, he was the only one to ask.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Star Fairy

It's Thursday, so it's time for my my weekly random question...

I had How the Universe Works on in the background while I made breakfast. And they started discussing how when a star starts producing iron, it dies. Immediately. Of course I couldn't find that specific video online, but I found something that explains what happens...

What did that immediately make me think of? Fairies. Specifically, how in folklore, iron was the way to ward them off or defeat them. (If you can find a better website that explains this, please leave it in the comments. I didn't have time to do an extensive search.)

Put these two ideas together and...

What if supernatural creatures are the embodiments of stars?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A First Attempt

Remember my ereader pillow... thing? (I really need to come up with a better name for it.)

This is the most recent version of the pattern. The original pattern is still here.
When I originally posted the thing on Ravelry, one of the comments I saw (it wasn't directed at me) was a wish that it came in a crochet version.

Crochet... Hmmm...

Since I saw that, I've been pondering the problem. Although, problem might be overstating the issue. I guess what I've been doing is figuring out how to make it work.

So, about two weeks ago I pulled out a hook and yarn and started in. I wasn't in the mood to make a big pillow, so I made it smartphone sized.

Something about how the bobbles were made make me think this looks a little like a bigfoot...

There are still a few kinks to work out, so I don't have a pattern for this quite yet. Soon. This summer.

What do you think? Is anyone still interested in a crochet pattern for this?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Old School Horror

It wasn't like it was a surprise. When I agreed to sub for Mr. T, I knew what I was in for. I thought I could avoid the majority of the unpleasantness.

The lesson plan made it unavoidable.

Mr. T has... a chalkboard.

Remember chalkboards? Nowadays, just about every teacher has a white board. You can use those lovely dry erase markers. Or even better, sometimes I have access to the document camera and projector, so I never have to turn my back on the kiddos.

But no. Chalkboard. And chalk.

Chalk is gritty. It doesn't write easily. And it's just awkward.

Yeah, I know. #firstworldproblems I'm spoiled. I get that.

It was a 7th grade math class. They were doing a version of Sudoku where they had to fill a grid with fractions. Each row, column, and diagonal had to add up to 3/4. Great assignment. But to a group of kids who might not be all that familiar with the concept, they needed an explanation.

They needed a demonstration. And an example. On the chalkboard.

How did teachers deal with that powdery mess back in the day?

And I heard he took the white board out of his room and had the chalkboard put in. On purpose.


Friday, May 9, 2014

The Important Conversation

Did you know students still write each other notes? On paper? Yeah, it happens.

Normally, I don't care. If the students are writing notes, they're not talking. If the students are writing notes, they're not disrupting class. Usually.

But this was that one math class. And I needed every student to complete this one part of the assignment before I could release them to confer with the other students. And these two girls were writing notes rather than doing what I needed them to do. So, I took the note.

"You can't take that! That's mine."

I don't threaten to read them in class, either. If note writing becomes an issue, I inform them that I'll put it up on the social media phenom of the day. So, nowadays I threaten Instagram, although Snapchat would also scare them sufficiently.

And because I like to share, here's that note (since they used various colors of ink, I'll try to replicate)...

I don't like the way I am with [student's name redacted]!

Why, what u mean?

like, I want to be with him 
it's the same s*** errday
we dont even talk alot.
Hes more like a friend
that I see around school.

Well talk to him about that
i can't do much.

IK. I'm jty. I dont want to have those "breakup" thoughts. And I feel like I annoy him a lot.

do you want me to talk to him or something & you wont.

What would you tell him tho?

i would tell him that he needs to make his girl happy
By Hanging out w/her 24/7. & Yea & more... ect

But I d

At which point I took the note away from her, not even letting her finish that last word. (Cruel, I know.)

I get why this was important to them. But, in my defense, they would have had time to discuss this later. If they had spent this time doing the assignment, they would have had plenty of time after to talk.

8th graders. It's all the end of the world to them.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Gods and Robots

It's Thursday, so it's time for my weekly random question...

I don't know what TV show was on in the background. It had something to do with Greek gods. My mind took this topic, morphed it, and an idea sprang forth. Let me see if I can get it into question format...

What if someday we create robots (or androids or some other mechanical creatures) that end up supplanting us? How will they remember us, their creators?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

(Not Quite) Wide Awake

The girl waved her hands in the air and then clapped loudly. Huh? I went over to investigate.

"I woke you up," the girl explained.

Woke me? I wasn't asleep.

"Yes you were. Your eyes were closed."

Um, no, they weren't.

I may have been yawning widely, but I wasn't asleep. I really should know better than to start reading a new book before bed on a school night. I can read for hours, even when I need to be up in the morning. And I drag through the next day. But I have never, ever fallen asleep in class.

I've heard horror stories about subs who sleep in class. If I feel like I might nod off, I'll get up and walk around. I anticipate a prep period where I can close my eyes. I whimper and moan to myself. But sleep? Absolutely not.

Soon, the discussion turned into my denying it and her insisting that I had been asleep.

When 8th graders think they're right...

So, I walked away. What was I going to do, write her up for accusing me of sleeping?

Monday, May 5, 2014

I Remember April

It's that time of year again. Time to reflect on the A to Z Challenge. Hmmm...

As I mentioned on the 28th, the main reason I signed up for the Challenge was because I had designed a project just for X. Probably not the best reason. But as I write a post just about every day anyway (not Saturdays, but adding one more blogging day a week is not that big of a leap), it wasn't like the blogging part challenged me.

It was the visiting other blogs that was hard.

Well, not hard. Time consuming. And this April was busier for me than usual, so getting around to the blogs was the challenge.

I did it, though. I did not visit five new blogs a day. I made sure to comment on an average of five new blogs a day. Why the distinction? There were a couple days where I commented on seven or eight blogs to make up for the days when I wasn't able to make the visits.

So, on balance I succeeded.

I did fail at a couple visit backs early in the month. In my defense, I couldn't find them. The bloggers didn't leave a link in their comments, and the link in their name led back to their profile (where their blogs weren't listed or there were too many blogs listed for me to figure out which one to visit) or their Google + page (which didn't necessarily list which blog was theirs if it was open to a non follower).

I say "early in the month" as after the first few days, the only new commenters I saw were commenting back after I had visited them first. So, I guess that is my main complaint. But I might not have been getting many comments due to the content of my blog. Which is on me.

I am grateful to all the new-to-me bloggers that did visit me back and leave comments. I stumbled across some great blogs. Which is the whole point, isn't it?

How was your April?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Compounding the Problem?

The phone woke me up. Pre-algebra? At that one middle school. I asked the question even though I knew the answer. "Who's the teacher?"

Yeah, I was afraid of that.

This is the third time I've covered this class this year. They are not good. I had a chance to meet the teacher (after knocking her projector to the ground--I apologized. Turned out it was none the worse for wear). She's been fighting the good fight all year. So, it's not just me.

So, I was wary about letting them get away with anything. Which is why when I saw the cell phone held up amongst the group of girls, I went in for the confiscate rather than giving them a warning.

(The word "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" was on the screen. I'm not sure why. She was showing it to her two friends. I missed most of the context of this.)

I got the usual protests, but the girl gave it up (after using way too many gestures to "turn it off"). I had it when she asked me if I would give it back to her at the end of the period. Or at lunch. Or after school.

When I told her that I would be turning it in to the office, she got worried. I told her that the extent of her punishment was that her parent would have to pick the thing up after school. That was the problem. Her parents would be mad.

One of her friends told her to tell her parents that she hadn't been using it. As the discussion was now over, I went on to other things.

All in all, the confiscation went smoothly. I turned the phone in to the office right after that class (I had a prep), and I thought no more of it.

Three periods later, I got a call from the office. Why had I confiscated the girl's phone? I explained what I saw, going into a bit of detail when the office secretary cut me off.

"So, she was using it in class?"

When I replied in the affirmative, the secretary explained. The girl's mother was on the phone. The girl had told her father that she hadn't been using the phone, so the mother was calling the office to complain. Or something. Well, it was easy enough to get my side of the story...

I guess the girl took her friend's advice. To her detriment, I imagine.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Skewed View

It's Thursday, so it's time for my weekly random question...

I can't blame this one on The Science Channel. It popped into my brain all on its own while I was driving. From where this idea came from, I have no idea. (I'm going to blame it on A to Z fatigue.)

What if our perspective is all wrong? What if what we think of as getting larger is actually getting smaller (and vice versa)?