Friday, December 30, 2016

Sci-Fi Spacecraft Quiz

I'm treating this as a holiday week, so it's time for another random quiz. Hooray?

Today I'm challenging you with...

From the Enterprise to Serenity: The Sci-fi Spacecraft Quiz

30 questions. The multiple choice helped me a few times. Here's how I did:

Let me know how you did in the comments. Are you a total sci-fi geek and found this easy? Or was this more of a challenge for you?

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A Birthday Surprise

Normally about this time I'd post a bunch of pictures of all the things I made this year for Christmas gifts. Only, I didn't. Knit anything. (Well, a couple things, but they're things I've posted about before.)

I was more Scrooge than normal this year. It could be that school didn't get out until the 22nd. Or, it could be that I wasn't in the mood to think up Christmas presents. But Christmas went pretty well, regardless.

In what has become an annual tradition (apparently, two years in a row is a "tradition"), I got my birthday gift from my brother on Christmas. (For the record, my birthday is at the end of July.) And I had to share...

It's a vintage Doctor Who pattern book. From 1984. 


What fun things did you get for Christmas? (Or your birthday ;)?)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Future Jeopardy

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 ;)

A time traveller from the future has arrived. They've come to see you. For the sake of argument, let's say that this person is legit and you believe them.

What if this time traveller told you that your best friend will do something to jeopardize the world in the future? Would you help them stop your friend? 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Let it Ring Quiz

Are those crickets I hear?

Are you all out shopping? With family?

I'll save the rest of my subbing stories for the new year. Today and next week we'll keep it light. So, how about a little movie quiz? One about that quintessential Christmas movie It's a Wonderful Life.

Let it Ring! Earn Your Wings with Our It's a Wonderful Life Quiz

It's been a while since I last saw it, so I'm pretty happy with my score.

How did you do? When was the last time you saw It's a Wonderful Life? Are you a fan?

Thursday, December 22, 2016

One Dollar

Middle school math class, special ed. But, for a change, they had a fun activity. They were to play games on the computers. Math games.

The first one was a cashiering game called Cash Out. The second was called Garage Sale Wizard. (Click on the links if you want to try. There's a whole website with these sorts of games.)

They got started. Then one boy informed me that I owed him a dollar.

Upon closer examination, I discovered that the "prize" for winning the game was a "certificate" that they could print out with money depicted. Not real money.

When I explained this, the boy wanted to print out the certificate right away. I explained that he could save the thing to his cloud and print it out at his leisure. And keep playing.

Well, he bored with the game pretty quickly. I assume because he was having trouble.

Why do I think he was having trouble? That "dollar" he "won"? Was a low end prize. Other students won ten dollars or up to fifty dollars.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Return

They did not like me. 9th grade English, special ed. I gave them their assignment. They talked loudly and avoided doing anything.

*deep sigh*

We read the article together. They were to annotate it. They didn't. I told them to annotate for homework. And I made sure to write in my note the way the class had gone.

The next day I was back on campus to cover a different teacher. He happened to have 2nd period prep. So, like normal, I was given an extra assignment for that period. Guess where?

Oh, they were not happy to see me the second day in a row. (And I was not happy to return.) But, I knew what they had (or rather, hadn't) gotten done the previous day.

Surprisingly, several students had done the annotation for homework. So, they were able to finish the rest of the assignment (that they were supposed to have gotten to the prior day). The others...

I ran into the teacher the next week. (The second day was not a planned absence, but one that she couldn't avoid.) She did not appreciate how her students had treated me. (This is one of the reasons I don't mind covering her classes even though a couple periods are difficult. I know she has my back upon her return.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Underground Dwellers

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 ;)

The lecture was on earthquakes. We were discussing a slide on the PowerPoint that showed the makeup of the Earth's interior. (This was an Earth science class, by the way. More on it later this week.) A boy raised his hand. I called on him, and he asked his question...

What if we lived on the inside of the Earth? What if when we look up, what we see is an illusion?

Monday, December 19, 2016

More Projects in Progress

Last week I showed the progress of the tablet buddy (which needs a better name, if anyone thinks of one...). I did actually finish it...

And I'm told it arrived at its destination. Whew.

Now on to the next order...
School gets out this Thursday, so it's blogging as usual for me this week. Show of hands: how many of you are already on vacation? How many of you are working this week like me?

Friday, December 16, 2016

Impromptu Party

Friday. It was a cold, dreary day at the middle school. 4th period I had "leadership", i.e. the student government.

Leadership (or ASB at the high school) is a weird sort of class. On sub days, they generally don't have anything to do. So, I sit back and watch. Normally, I abhor "free days", but in this case, these kiddos tend to be responsible (hence, them being in student government), and my presence is mostly "ceremonial".

Earlier in the day, I had gotten this text from the teacher (I had texted him on another matter for a different period first):
Pizza is being delivered for [student] during 4th. It's a surprise. 
So, when the classroom phone rang and the office told me that they needed a student to come to the office, I knew who and I knew why. So, I sent her.

She returned with a wagon full of In-n-Out. Apparently, it wasn't as much of a surprise as I had been led to believe. She explained to the class that it was her birthday and her father had treated the whole class. (He told her he was bringing pizza, but this got swapped out at the last minute.)

The class was thrilled. So thrilled, in fact, that someone said they should make a video expressing thanks and send it to the girl's father. (They did.) They sang "Happy Birthday" to her. And they enjoyed their treat.

After, several students complained that they were stuffed. (Most had started eating their lunch in class before she returned with the wagon.)

Sometimes I get to be there for the party. It's rare.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Me, Too

Freshman English. On the agenda for the day was vocabulary, some time to finish their work from the prior day, and some time to write a story.

Unsurprisingly, they came in a boisterous crowd. I conserved my ire and waited for them to become compliant. (It usually happens some time after the bell. A few "let's get started"s tend to help things along.) Eventually, they took down the day's vocabulary words into their notebooks.

A few seemed befuddled by the word "debut". So, I made sure to pronounce each word before we checked their sentences for correctness.

Next, I reminded them of assignments due the next day. For one, their teacher wanted to make sure their final copy was word processed in MLA format. I related a tip I heard from another student. For clarity, use Google Images for the MLA format search. There are actual pictures of what the final paper should look like.

Finally, for the last half hour of class, they were to write a story using their vocabulary words. One student wrote that his character came down with a blight. I tried to explain that that was not quite how that word should be used. Another student wrote that the devil had a gory smile. Well, maybe...

As I walked the room, listening to amiable conversations only tangentially related to the assignment, I attempted to redirect them back to their stories. I was largely unsuccessful. So, I was unsurprised when many scrambled as I called for their finished work. Many stories were unfinished.

Typical freshmen.

I think I had more fun with their assignment than they did. I couldn't resist. Here were the words they were to use. I think I shoehorned them in rather well:
  1. agenda
  2. amiable
  3. befuddle
  4. blight
  5. boisterous
  6. clarity
  7. compliant
  8. conserve
  9. debut
  10. gory
Feel free to try it. It's kind of fun. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

How to Humiliate the Sub

9th grade world geography. They had a test review to work on.

I had been warned that period 4 needed a "firm hand". They demonstrated this when they came in and milled about the room rather than finding their seats, even after having been warned the bell was about to ring. But I insisted, and they sat down.

I went after the boys who were tossing around a tennis ball (which then miraculously disappeared, never to return). I insisted they sit (and remain) in assigned seats. And then we got underway.

They were seated. They stayed seated. They had work in front of them. Success! Well...

The phone rang. The teacher next door was checking in. She was concerned. She could hear us through the shared wall.

So, yeah, they were loud.

Well, at least they weren't trashing the room. Much. (And I will have you know they did remain seated. Some days I don't even get that.)

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Long Vacation

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 kind of did a similar question last week. I haven't had any jolts of inspiration this week, so I went back to my file of ideas, and I found this question, which isn't quite but is almost like last week's:

What if our world was a tourist destination for travelers from another dimension? And, what if that "trip" was a lifetime (our lifetime) commitment (that is, the traveler has to be born here and can't leave until that body dies)?

Monday, December 12, 2016

A Tablet Buddy in Progress

A project in progress via tweets. Because it's been that kind of a week.

The colors for each are a little off because I used various Instagram filters on them (whichever one struck my fancy the moment I was posting the picture). In the first picture, you can see the snack I had while working on that bit. And my TV remote is in the third. Things are kind of a mess while I sit and knit.

It's not finished because on Sunday...

A photo posted by Liz A. (@zizirho) on

A photo posted by Liz A. (@zizirho) on

But it's a new week. I'll post my progress on Twitter. And Instagram.

What's on your agenda for this week? Accomplish anything last week?

Friday, December 9, 2016

Online Help

I finally made it back to the continuation high school. It's been a while.

English class. Their assignment was online. (This is becoming more and more common. I think it's a good thing. And since I can fix the majority of the issues that crop up, I'm good with it.)

The assignment had them reading an article and an excerpt of the U.S. Constitution (yes, really), and then they had questions to go along with their reading. It looked to be a pretty straightforward assignment.

So, I was surprised to find the students Googling things. No, they weren't looking at random sites. (Well, they did do that, too.) No, they were Googling the questions to the assignment.

Um, why? The answers to the questions were in the reading. And the reading was part of their assignment.

"But I couldn't find it," they complained. Funny, I found the answers while looking over their shoulders and skimming...

Well, there's a reason they're at the continuation high school...

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Bad at Math

I was in Ms. J's math class again. This time they had a test.

8th graders. This is the first class in the high school math sequence. It's the class that most 9th graders take.

I did my usual test day intro, and during those remarks I mentioned that the test was open note. This turned out to be a surprise.

Oops? Was there a typo in the lesson plans? The other classes that day knew their test was open note. It was possible that the teacher could have made an error while copying and pasting for this group's test.

But I was going to go with what was written. I was sticking to the open note instruction.

(Then they asked if they could talk. Deep sigh. I gave my standard response: "The test is open note, not open neighbor.")

Tests passed out, they got to work. As I meandered about, one student confessed to me that he understood why the test was open note. "We're bad at math."

Um, no. If they were "bad at math", they wouldn't be in a math class one year ahead of their grade level. "Bad at math" kiddos take math 8 and have an extra period of math called "support" where they spend more time practicing math skills.

The boy amended his statement. "We're bad at this unit."

OK. I can understand that. (The unit covered functions: linear and exponential.)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Missing the Answers

Algebra 2. The students had a test the next day, so the assignment for this day was for them to review. They had a study guide, and the teacher had given them the answers to the problems on the study guide. They were good to go.

Not so fast. Not everyone was present when the study guide had been passed out. Uh oh. (This was the Monday after Thanksgiving. They got the study guide just before the break.)

Normally, a teacher will leave extra papers when the assignment is something like this. But I got the feeling that this teacher hadn't planned to be out. (The phone call that morning was my first indication.)

It was a simple oversight. It happens.

I had a student show me what the worksheet looked like, and I went hunting. I found it pretty quickly. I thought all was good until a student told me that the teacher has passed out a sheet with the answers on it (instead of giving them the answers in a lecture as I had assumed).

Again, I went in search of worksheets, but I was coming up short. Two girls asked if they could go see if another teacher had them. I wrote them a pass.

They hadn't been gone two minutes when I happened upon the worksheets. Naturally.

It took a while for the girls to return. When they did, they had the answer worksheets. The teacher they had gone to see made a bunch of copies. That we didn't need.

Ah well. All's well that ends well. (I hope they all did amazingly well on the test.)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

In Hiding

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 the Earth is a witness protection location for aliens?

Monday, December 5, 2016

Mini Wreath Pin

The other day I went rifling through my jewelry drawer for something or other, and I stumbled across a small crocheted wreath pin. Well, three of them. And it got me thinking.

Crocheted Mini Wreath Pin

At that point I didn't remember making them, but I knew they were my handiwork. I went in search of the pattern. I had to have it somewhere, right?

Well, no, I don't. Slowly, the memories returned. I do remember the initial idea behind them. (I found an old pin my great-grandmother made, and I wanted to do something similar.) I bought a couple skeins of yarn (which I still have--these pins don't take much). And I knew I still had the box of safety pins I bought for that initial batch.

I remember I gave them to everyone that particular December. How long ago? A good decade, probably. Maybe longer. (After 2001. Before 2007. I can't narrow it down any further.)

Time to reverse engineer the things. Turns out there wasn't much to them. Not surprising. I didn't write it down, so it had to be something easy enough.

And so, for me, so I have a record, I am going to put the pattern here. Because I know what I did now. And I don't want to have to figure it all out again.

Crochet Wreath Pin

Worsted Weight Yarn (I used Lily's Sugar 'n Cream Christmas Sparkle)
Size G Hook
Safety Pin
0.23 in/6mm Bells (although a larger sized bell could work)
Sewing Thread
Tapestry Needle
Sewing Needle

Gauge is not critical (it'll just be a bigger or smaller wreath), but my finished piece has a 2 inch diameter.

Ch 5. Join with sl st to form a ring.
Round 1: Ch 3. Work 15 dc into the ring (or the number to fill out the ring--a couple dc more or less won't be a big deal). Sl st into the top of the ch st.
At the same time: Attach the safety pin by holding the non-opening side to the back of the work. Work 2-3 dc over it (while working them into the ch 5 ring). It doesn't matter where in the round this gets done, but I generally do it near the beginning.

Attach safety pin to back of work by crocheting over it

Safety pin with two double crochets worked over it

Round 2: Ch 1. Work one reverse sc into each dc around. Then cut yarn and fasten off.
Wind in ends.

Back View

Once the base is made, cut a short piece of red yarn and tie it into a bow.

Attach the bow and the bell to the wreath using sewing thread.

Crocheted Mini Wreath Pin (with quarter)

Friday, December 2, 2016

Not Testing

Yesterday I talked about the final story they read. (11th grade English class.) On Friday (before Thanksgiving week) they had the quiz.

Well, naturally not all students were ready to take it. One girl asked to be excused because she had been absent all week (and had missed reading the stories). Then a boy in the same class had the same reason. (I had access to the attendance records. Both had been absent all week.)

This happens from time to time. I figure they can work out makeup times with their teacher. All I ask is they sit quietly and not disturb the testers.

The girl asked to sit over in the corner so she could work on another assignment. The boy, however, chose to remain at his table. And communicate with his pal who sat next to him.

Okay, seriously? During a test?

You know, that didn't get a complimentary write up in the note.

(Even the boy who decided not to take the quiz because he was leaving for the continuation high school behaved better.)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Knitting in Class

11th grade English. 6th period. I'd been warned that they might be difficult...

(6th periods are strange classes. They're either the worst period of the day or they're odd. There's something about having been in school all day that makes them a bit punchy. And, all the athletes have their sport's class then. So, for some reason, that's when most of them let their freak flag fly.)

The assignment was to finish reading "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker. (The link goes to the actual story online. Worth a read if you haven't read it before.

Now, I say they were to finish reading it, but when I questioned them on what happened the prior day (with a different sub), no one could tell me what had happened. And since the next day they had a quiz over this story (and several others), I figured we'd better go back and understand the thing.

But, 6th period. Having them read aloud (which presumably they did do already)...

I made the executive decision to read the part of the story to them that they were supposed to have already read.

They were actually happy with this idea. And let me read without talking over me. Score!

I noticed out of the corner of my eye that one girl pulled out her knitting. As someone who knits while watching TV, I had no issue with this. I figured she could pay attention just as well.

I finished the page or so they should have read. Then we went on, and I called on readers. (I had index cards, so I could randomly select.)

A couple students heckled the girl. Knitting in class? She wasn't paying attention...

So, naturally, hers was the second card I picked. And you know what? She found her place and read better than some who were supposedly following along. (Well, there were several heads down on desks, so not really following along.)

Her turn over, she went back to her knitting. (She ended up ripping it all out. She didn't like the feel of the yarn.)

I need more knitters in class. Although, most of the time they have actual work to do, so they can't really knit...