Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Second Sleep

At the heart of much speculative fiction (and fiction in general) is a question. What if? On Tuesdays I like to throw one out there and see what you make of it. Do with it as you please. If a for-instance is not specified, feel free to interpret that instance as you wish. And if you find this becomes a novel-length answer, I'd appreciate a thank you in the acknowledgements ;)

I don't know where I saw the article originally (I thought I bookmarked it, but alas...), but I found another that says the same thing. Apparently, our eight-hour a night sleep cycle is wrong. Just another thing that modern life has done to us.

What if our modern society had adapted to two four-hour sleep cycles? Would it be better for us? Or would someone be out there trying to get us to do something different?

Friday, March 27, 2015

Auditioning for the Ministry of Silly Walks

I like to throw out the occasional obscure reference. Well, the references are obscure to middle schoolers.

A girl complained that she was afraid that the ceiling was going to fall on her. She pointed up...

I looked at that cracked tile, and I thought something completely different. I told her I'd be worried about other things... (I did mention Doctor Who. She was perplexed. Luckily, the girl behind her knew what I was talking about, and I freaked her out in an entirely different way.)

But this week a weird thing started happening. Or maybe I started noticing it.

Boys, for reasons unknown, have broken into dance at random times. Usually while walking across a room. Or in the door. Or out the door.

There's no music playing. Well, maybe only in their heads.

So, I've been commenting: "Auditioning for the Ministry of Silly Walks?"

I'm greeted with blank stares. Brilliant.

They never ask. Oh, I want them to ask...

Well, one did ask. When I told him to look it up, he wanted to do it right then, on his phone. Sigh.

I have to keep myself entertained somehow...

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Name Tags

I spotted them as I walked to my classroom for the day that morning. Hearts stuck all over the walls. Each heart had a name written on it. Interesting...

It was during the morning announcements that they were explained. It was a game. The students were to find their own names and bring that heart to the activities room. They would get a prize.

So, for the rest of the day, students came in wearing these hearts. Some complained that they couldn't find their own. As the day progressed, more and more of them had found theirs.

Then 6th period came in. Nearly half came into class with hearts...that were not their own.

"Alice, I have yours..."

Yep, they brought in hearts of their classmates. And gave them to them.

Well, it was "kindness week". That was rather kind of them.

(And it was an interesting game. I wonder how many hearts the activities room got back.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Interesting Choice

CAHSEE day. Ms. B was in charge.

I was doing my normal walk of the room when I spotted her. She was a normal teenage girl in normal teenage attire. She was wearing a pair of sandals with socks underneath. Pink socks. With an interesting leaf design...

Um, really?

High school dress codes can be a bit over-the-top. Banning spaghetti straps, for instance. Or the ban on non-natural hair colors. And of course there's frayed or oversized clothing. (That one is because of its association with gangs.)

But there are certain things in the dress code that make sense. Like banning drug images. Marijuana leaves? That shouldn't even be a question.

Especially when one is going to be in a room with the strictest assistant principal at the school. I mean, come on! Did the girl really think Ms. B wasn't going to notice?

Ms. B let the girl finish her test, and then as soon as she was ready to leave, Ms. B pounced.

I'm sorry, but she had it coming. I guess she wanted to push the boundaries. And the boundaries pushed back.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Doorway

At the heart of much speculative fiction (and fiction in general) is a question. What if? On Tuesdays I like to throw one out there and see what you make of it. Do with it as you please. If a for-instance is not specified, feel free to interpret that instance as you wish. And if you find this becomes a novel-length answer, I'd appreciate a thank you in the acknowledgements ;)

What if you could magically create a door anywhere?

Monday, March 23, 2015

There Is No Theme

I didn't officially sign up for the blog hop. I kind of last minute decided to participate. Not for A to Z. No, I signed up for that early. But I wasn't going to do a theme reveal. Because I'm not doing a theme.

Nope, things are going to be business as usual around here.

It's what I do every year. I count on my misadventures in the classroom to provide blog fodder. Well, not every day...

Tuesdays will continue to be "What if?" days. Yep, I even have a "What if?" question for X.

Since I don't usually post on Saturdays, Saturdays will be a simple picture.

And if subbing doesn't provide a suitable post, then I'll opt for telling you about what I'm knitting on Mondays, Throwback Thursdays, and Random Quiz Fridays. Wednesdays are promotion day, either self promotion or promotion of others.

Make sure to come back for G day. That's the day I'll announce the giveaway I'm holding that'll go throughout the rest of the challenge. (Winner(s) to be announced on A to Z reflection day.)

I've almost got all my letters knitted...er, done. Are you joining us? See you around.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Threw it Away

Eighth grade science. It was an...interesting day.

The kiddos had a laundry list of assignments to complete. They had a "warm up" which took some of them half the period (probably because they weren't working on it all that hard). Then they had a review worksheet that was multiple choice. And finally they had vocabulary and fill-in-the-blank assignments for four different chapters.

This should have been enough to keep them busy. Half the class claimed they finished everything. (This is where I ask them to prove it and show me their work. Which is suddenly not where it should be. Hmmm...) They asked me what they should do next.

Older students have figured out that when they've finished the day's assignments, it's probably a good idea to get ahead on work for other classes. 8th graders haven't learned this yet. So, that's what I told them to do. (A few of them had a math test later in the day, so they did manage to find something to do.)

One boy started going through his backpack. He cleaned out a bunch of papers. Took a softball-sized wad and threw it out.

And I just knew this was coming...

Later, as he sat twiddling his thumbs (metaphorically), I wanted to make sure he had finished the day's assignments. He went looking for the review worksheet...

"I threw it out." With the wad of paper he just cleared out of his backpack. Naturally.

Me: "Well, go get it."

It was early in the day. The trash can had been emptied the night before, and the only thing in the can besides the liner was the wad of paper he had thrown out.

"I don't want to go digging through the trash."


I probably should have been nice and given him a fresh sheet of paper. Probably. Or, I could have gone and retrieved the page he had thrown out. I had no compunction about digging through the trash. But I did neither of these things.

What do you think? Was I a meanie for not fixing this for him? What would you have done?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Too Much Fun

Algebra 1. They had an open book/open note quiz. And 6th period only had 10 students in class (of a class of 13).

The picture at the top of this post isn't the classroom I was in, but it is similarly situated. While most of the class was in the front two rows, there were three boys who were kind of isolated. One was in the seat nearest the door. One was dead center in the room. And the third was opposite the boy who was next to the door in the back. All three boys had no neighbors in any adjacent desk.

With such a small class, I didn't expect any trouble during the quiz, and there was none. After they finished, they were to work on a worksheet that the teacher said they already had.

I can be lax after quizzes. So long as they stay silent, I won't bother them. Some students do work for other classes. One girl pulled out a book and read. One boy took out paper and started drawing. Another boy put his head down on his desk and slept. I wasn't concerned about any of this.

But those three boys. They had nothing on their desks, and they were way too entertained. They weren't close enough to talk, so they weren't, but they were eyeing each other. And giggling. Getting up to "sharpen a pencil" (read: steal another's mechanical pencil so boy can't do work). Getting up for hand sanitizer.

I approached. Where were their worksheets? You know, the worksheet that was the assignment after the quiz, the worksheet that I told them about before the quiz. The worksheet I was again reminding them of.

Oh, that worksheet? They never got one.

Time to go looking...

The teacher's desk had a pile of various worksheets on it. I took a peek at another student's, and soon enough I located more copies. I pulled them out of the pile, turned around...

And suddenly the boys were in their backpacks, pulling out... the worksheet. I guess they did get one.

I approached the boy in the middle of the room. His worksheet was completely blank. Well...

"I already did it."

Me: "It looks blank."

"It's done. At home."

And he proceeded to spin a tale of how he had two copies and the copy at home was done. So he didn't have any work to do in class...

The other really good thing about such a small class: this whole incident (with student names) got documented in the note to their teacher.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Head Count

AP classes. No seating chart. I really, really hate calling out the roll.

But AP classes. Surely they were all present.

Period 1. 24 on the roll. A quick head count and... 21 students in class. Noooo!

Period 2 was missing 1. Period 3, 2. Period 4, 1.

But AP classes. So, surely a simple "who's absent?" would yield results. (It's worked for me in the past.) No?

Oh, come on, guys! All I have to do is say, "Who's absent?" and somebody rattles off a couple names.

Not this day. I had to read all 34 names to find the one absent in period 2. (And I have to do the whole list or the students at the end of the alphabet start hounding me--"But you didn't call my name. I'm here." Yes, I know.)

Yes, it's cheating. I'm supposed to call roll. I must take accurate attendance. But you should see some of these names. (I'd share them with you, but they're minors, and I never name them here. Any names I use on the blog are changed from their actual names.) If the vowel sound can go two ways, I invariably pick the wrong one. And when I encounter that kid again, I usually use the incorrect version, even when the kid's informed me of how his/her name is pronounced.

So, I avoid calling out the roll whenever possible. Seating charts are wonderful.

I was so grateful that 5th period had all 29 students present.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Hears Everything

At the heart of much speculative fiction (and fiction in general) is a question. What if? On Tuesdays I like to throw one out there and see what you make of it. Do with it as you please. If a for-instance is not specified, feel free to interpret that instance as you wish. And if you find this becomes a novel-length answer, I'd appreciate a thank you in the acknowledgements ;)

Almost a year ago I discovered a show called The Listener. It's a Canadian import shown locally on ION. It's about a mind reader who works with the police, or rather a federal law enforcement agency. I'm nearly caught up to the current season, but that's not why I bring it up. It brings up today's question...

What if mind reading was an employable skill? How would we use it? How would it change various workplaces?

Monday, March 16, 2015

In the Pink Headband

6th period "computer literacy". They had a scavenger hunt assignment. The teacher had found 20 images online, and the students had to find those exact same images using image search.

(To make sure the students didn't cut and paste, the teacher had color coded his assignment sheet.)

Some of these images the students located easily. Many of them recognized Channing Tatum. The parts of a leaf they could narrow down to. An image of the Afghan flag took some scrambling, but eventually they figured it out. Some clip art and logos they got in the ballpark for, but weren't quite there. (Okay, I got as close as I remember to some of those links, but I don't think I got the exact ones that were used.)

They explained all of this to me. Then they pointed out one picture. (This link is to the picture that was on the scavenger hunt.)

"You see the guy with the pink headband?"

Me: "You mean Andre Agassi?"

It was early Agassi, before he shaved his head, when he wore all the wild colors. But I recognized him readily enough.

Student: "It took US forever to find out who that was, and then to find that image..."

Yep, I feel old...

Friday, March 13, 2015


It was a crazy Friday at the continuation high school. Five teachers were out.

(This year has been crazy busy for us subs. There have been several trainings where whole departments are out. There's some new math program. There's Common Core trainings. And they just purchased a whole new system of projectors and peripherals such as tablets that the teachers all need to be trained on. Which means that not only does every sub in the pool seem to work daily, many days there are so many teachers out that some teachers don't get their very own subs.)

My prep period was after snack. I was hovering around my door, outside. Which, in retrospect, was kind of stupid...

The tardy bell rang. There were a whole slew of students standing around outside. The principal was there corralling them. Then he noticed me.

Ah well. I didn't actually expect a prep period, anyway.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Full Disclosure

How much should a sub tell the class about a teacher's absence?

Most of the time this is a non-issue. I don't know where the teacher is and I admit as much to the class. (I could, of course, lie and make up a story, but that's just not me.) But there are times when I do hear something...

All Ms. P said in her email was that she had to see her dentist. That was the part addressed to the principal. The rest of the email contained the lesson plans for the day.

Do I say she has an appointment? Do I say she has an emergency? Do I say she's seeing the dentist? It's hard to know how much she tells them. It's hard to know how much she wants me to relate.

Algebra 2. 1st period. The class arrives...

"Did you see the picture?"

"I didn't click on the link..."

This conversation and the students expecting to see a sub led me to inquire further. Turns out the teacher sent them an alert that she wasn't going to be in class. She included a selfie. She broke a crown, and... Well, it looked painful.

What? I asked to see the picture. Several students were willing to show me.

Well, now I don't have to worry about how much info to share with them.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

No Time to Goof Off

9th grade English. Their assignment was to complete the final draft of some culture essay. They had their graded rough drafts. They had writers' folders. And they had the whole period in which to complete it.

The lesson plan warned that I was to collect all final drafts at the end of the period no matter how much they might whine about it. So, I clamped down on them early. I warned them that they had the period and only the period, and once they knew I meant business, the room settled to a comfortable working silence.

I took a seat at the front of the room. I looked out at all the busily working freshmen. Only Juan stared back.

So, I watched him. Usually, my undivided attention is enough to get a student to look back down at his desk and to the work that he should be doing. But not Juan. Juan watched me back.

He had way too much time. I went over to investigate.

Juan was drawing circles on his writer's folder. No rough draft was visible. He had no paper nor was he working on something that looked like a final draft of what I assume was an essay worth a bunch of points. So, I asked him about it.

Juan explained that his rough draft was missing. He took it home and threw it out or misplaced it in his backpack or something. So, instead of panic, trying to reconstruct it, or finding something else to do, Juan was watching me and looking like he had all the time in the world to goof off.

I have a feeling I should get to know Juan so he'll be easier to handle when he gets to the continuation high school.

I did make sure to note his lack of work in my note.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

No Blue

At the heart of much speculative fiction (and fiction in general) is a question. What if? On Tuesdays I like to throw one out there and see what you make of it. Do with it as you please. If a for-instance is not specified, feel free to interpret that instance as you wish. And if you find this becomes a novel-length answer, I'd appreciate a thank you in the acknowledgements ;)

What is blue? How do we see color? That article was posted to Facebook by Theresa Milstein, and it got me thinking...

What if blue didn't exist in ancient times? What if another color appeared in the future, a color we do not see nor do we have a concept of?

Monday, March 9, 2015

Unusual Student Government

It had been a while since I had been at the continuation high school. I missed it.

The class was world history, but the teacher was in charge of the ASB 5th period.

ASB stands for Associated Student Body, and that just means it's the student government. This is the class of the student body president and all the other elected students who run all the student activities. From time to time I'll pull the ASB class, so I know what to expect. Some will do homework. Some will eat. And all will sit around and talk.

No actual student government work will get done.

And at the continuation high school? Yeah, this would be a nothing period.

I wasn't shocked to get a call from the office for a student who was leaving. Nor was I shocked to learn this was the student body president. What did shock me: she located her vice president and let her know that she was in charge.

And the vice president proceeded to actually make sure stuff got done.

And stuff actually got done. The teacher left a list. Everything on the list was dealt with.

I don't cover ASB very often. This was the second most productive ASB period I'd ever witnessed. It was a good period.

(Unfortunately, the whole day didn't go so well, but I'm sure you don't want to hear about the loudmouth in period 3.)

Friday, March 6, 2015

Sitcom by Character

I don't think my quizzes have been all that random. I keep finding the same types on Facebook. I guess I need to go a little further afield.

But not today.

This is a name-the-sitcom quiz where you're given several character names. I only missed two. How well will you do...?

Name That Sitcom.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Caught, But Lost

"Why didn't you tell me?!"

"I thought you knew."

"I was completely turned around. How could I know?"

"But she [demonstrating heavy steps]. How could you not hear that?"

Algebra 2. They had a review assignment. Half the class was on task. Half the class socialized.

Periodically, I'd get up and roam the room. Seeing what they were working on. Or not working on.

I walked up to one group. Noted that while they had the assignment out, they weren't doing it. My looming over them was ignored. I walked away. I got to the front of the room and heard the above exchange.

The turned around girl was embarrassed. Really embarrassed.

I wracked my brain. What had they been talking about?

I heard the conversation. I know I did! But as soon as I walked away, all memory of it evaporated.

And now I wish I remembered! With a reaction like that, it must have been good.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Not a Memorable Conversation

At the heart of much speculative fiction (and fiction in general) is a question. What if? On Tuesdays I like to throw one out there and see what you make of it. Do with it as you please. If a for-instance is not specified, feel free to interpret that instance as you wish. And if you find this becomes a novel-length answer, I'd appreciate a thank you in the acknowledgements ;)

What if you could make someone forget their conversation with you? Not that they saw you or talked to you, necessarily, but just what was said.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Dress Debate All Day

Friday morning on my drive into work I had the radio on. I flip stations until I find music, but this is harder and harder to do as even my go-to station switched to morning personalities that like to talk and talk and talk. Sigh. 

So, when one of the personalities talked about the Internet being used to argue about a dress or watch the llamas, I didn't think much of it and switched the station. I should mention that I had just been hit with a cold, so Thursday night I spent dozing while the TV was on in the background. I had seen a link on Facebook to something about llamas, but I didn't watch it, nor did I care to. And the dress? I hadn't heard a thing.

My prep period was 1st, so of course I was sent to cover another class. The teacher had a meeting, so she was there putting up the day's lesson on the projector as the students began arriving. A student asked Ms. F if she could show her something. She pulled out her phone.

"What color is this?"

And that is how I was introduced to #TheDress.

(I am not going to go into an explanation about this thing. If you have blissfully missed the brouhaha, you can click on the link to learn what this thing is about.)

12th grade English. They had several assignments to complete. And all they could talk about was that stupid dress.

They debated. Loudly. Their teacher and an assistant principal were in the room and they argued. Depending upon which side one was on, the student was either derided or supported. And it went on and on and on. Because yelling at one another is going to change how one perceives something.

But eventually they wore out the topic and the conversation turned to... the llamas.

And it continued all day long. Even in the class where I was for the rest of the day. That damn dress. Every. Single. Period. Someone brought it up.

I really hope they got it out of their system. Because if I go into work today and have to hear about it again...

So, how did you hear about the dress? Do you actually care? Did you get into debates with your friends and/or family?