Friday, June 23, 2017

The School Year by the Numbers

It's that time of year again, where I go back into my files and tally up what classes I covered this year. It was a pretty busy year.

Of the 180 school days, I worked 163. This is up two days over last year. This number does not include the days I worked for summer school (12 four hour days) nor the days I worked at the continuation high school in August before the school year officially began (7 days).

Of those 163 days, I didn't get a prep period for 78 of them. On 64 days I covered an extra period, while on 14 days, the teacher I covered didn't have a prep period.

77 of those days I covered high school classes, 42 of those days I was covering middle school, and 30 of those days I was at the continuation high school. It's interesting how year after year, the percentage of each stays roughly the same.

I didn't work the first day of school nor the last. But, I covered the second day of school and the penultimate day of school, which is kind of unusual for me.

More specifically:
  • English: 55 days and 8 extra periods
    • This year's winner: 11th grade with 21 days and 4 single periods. 
      • I count a "full day" when the teacher has at least 2 periods of that level. A "single period" means the teacher has a different level the whole day, or I covered it on the prep period. 
    • Runner up is 12th grade with 15 days plus 8 single periods.
    • In 3rd place is advanced ELD with 8 full days plus 14 single periods.
    • Then 9th grade with 9 days/4 single periods; 10th grade with 7 days/6 single periods; intermediate ELD with 6 days/1 single period; 7th grade with 5 days/1 single period; 8th grade with 3 days/3 single periods; and beginning ELD with 1 single period
  • Science: 41 days and 13 extra periods
    • This year's winner: 7th grade life science with 16 days and 2 single periods
    • Runner up is Earth science with 15 days and 1 extra period. This is not surprising as most of those days were that one class I covered before and after winter break.
    • Then: biology with 13 days/4 single periods; health with 9 days/4 single periods; intro to health careers with 6 days; forensics/criminalistics with 5 days/2 single periods; environmental science with 4 days/4 single periods; chemistry and physics both with 2 days; and 8th grade physical science with 1 day/5 single periods. 
    • (Wait, one day of 8th grade science? That has to be a record. I'm usually in those classes quite a bit more.)
  • Social Studies: 30 days and 10 extra periods
    • This year's winner: 11th grade U.S. history with 10 days and 1 single period
    • Runner up is 12th grade economics with 8 days.
    • Third place is a tie of 7 days for both 7th grade world history and 8th grade U.S. history.
    • Then 12th grade government with 6 days/3 single periods; 10th grade world history with 4 days/2 single periods; 9th grade geography with 3 days; and the continuation high school's orientation at 3 days/1 single period
  • Math: 32 days and 10 extra periods
    • This year's winner: Integrated Math I (which replaced algebra 1) with 18 days and 5 single periods
    • Runner up is Integrated Math II (which replaced geometry) with 11 days and 6 single periods
    • Then 7th grade math with 6 days/1 single period; algebra 2 with 4 days/5 single periods; 8th grade math with 3 days/4 single periods; and business math with 3 days/1 single period
  • Special Education: 16 days and 21 extra periods
    • Note: These days overlap with the above numbers as I would cover something like a special ed. biology class. Or, I'd be a co teacher for 7th grade math. 
    • Of those days, 7 days/8 single periods were RSP (as in, co teacher); 5 days/9 single periods were in SDC (or self-contained special ed.); and 3 days/4 single periods with classes that were... pretty low academics wise.
  • Miscellany: 
    • 3 single periods ASB
    • 8 single periods school newspaper (both at the continuation high school and the traditional high school)
    • Art: 4 days/2 single periods
    • One single period of theater, two single periods of choir, and one single period of music appreciation. (Kinda grateful that I didn't have any middle school band horror stories this year.)
    • Two single periods of sports (I think they were both golf this year) and one period of P.E.
    • Spanish: 1 day/2 single periods
    • Business and/or computers: 5 days/3 single periods
    • And one period of "roving" where I covered two different classes in one period. (I was supposed to cover three classes, but the other two teachers took too long.)
Looking back at this, it's funny what I do remember and what I don't. I guess that's why I write the blog.

I cherry pick the stories I use. I go for "interesting". So, it may seem like the kiddos are wild, do no work, or aren't learning anything. But as you can see from the above, I worked far more days than I mentioned on this blog. Those are the days where everything goes right, the kiddos behave well, and progress towards educational goals are met.

This is a yearly reminder that the educational system isn't so bleak, and kids today are much like kids of the past.

Happy summer.

Previous years' stats:

Thursday, June 22, 2017


For the penultimate day of school, I was once again at the continuation high school. (I did not work the last day of school this year.) The kiddos had an assignment, but very few of them chose to do it. In fact, very few of them chose to come to school at all.

(I think this is why the traditional high schools give students finals. It keeps them coming to class and makes them try for those last few days.)

I was basically on crowd control. Well, if you consider a class of seven to be a "crowd".

2nd period. I pointed out the assignment. A couple of them even got out books and paper.

"Remember when you pulled that knife on me? I wanted them to expel you for that."

This is not the sort of statement that is usually accompanied with laughter. But there was no anger in Julio's voice. He seemed to be in instigating mode. Waiting to see if I'd have to intervene, I just listened in.

"You stole my pizza," Daniel replied.

This is when Julio noticed that I was listening, so he explained.

Back when the boys were in middle school, they were in home ec. together. One day the assignment was pizza. They cooked it. At the end of the period, they each got a slice.

You know when you take a slice of pizza how sometimes a bit of the tip of an adjoining piece gets stuck to it? Julio's slice had a bit of Daniel's slice's tip attached.

So, Daniel demanded that Julio give him back that little bit of pizza. Julio refused. Daniel grabbed a butter knife and held it to Julio's ribs...

They didn't tell me what happened after that. Apparently the teacher called for backup as it sounds like the issue got resolved with school administrators.

"If I could forgive you for that..." Julio said to Daniel.

Apparently, this is one of those funny stories that they like to remember. At least they can laugh about it. If they were still angry at each other...

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Self Referential

7th grade world history. It was the last Monday of the school year. The students had a study guide for their final (which was going to be Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, depending on which period class it was).

The day went pretty well. I had the usual issues with fidget spinners or slime, but most of the students were actually finding answers and getting ready for their final.

As I always do, I let the class know that if they were having difficulty with any of the assignment, they could ask me. (That's my job, after all.) Some even took me up on my offer.

One boy 'round about 4th period pointed out the question he couldn't find the answer to:
What do we call the scientific laws that describe how objects move in space? 
It took me a moment longer than it should have, really. But once it hit me...

Because, yeah, I know the answer to that question. And I don't even have to look it up.

I chuckled as I scanned the boy's book to point out the answer. I would have loved to explain to him why I found this so funny, but he wouldn't have gotten it.

But you will.

Don't know the answer? It's right here on this page. Scroll up. Keep going. See those words right at the top of the page? In white on a purple background? Yes, I'm talking about the title of my blog...

Some days the jokes are just for me.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Take a Second Shot?

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 ;)

Last week I pulled a question from the last three episodes of this season's Legends of Tomorrow. (If you weren't here last week, make sure to check that out first.) The setup had me shaking my head and yelling at the TV. But it was their bad choice that leads to this week's question.

Even though they had a time machine, the heroes chose to brave a battlefield in the middle of a battle (during World War I) to dig up... Well, what they needed is rather irrelevant to this discussion. They somehow managed to get to the item, blasted the area (they had no time to dig), and made off with the item only to have a stray bullet hit it and destroy it.

This MacGuffin was the only one of its kind. Bad guys win, right? Or...

What if the item you went back in time to retrieve got destroyed in the retrieval? Is it gone, or can you think of another way to get at it? (And keep in mind, you've already gone to get it, so your past self must find something.) 

Monday, June 19, 2017

I Couldn't Resist

A few weeks ago, the designer of the jellyfish published a new pattern. She posts new patterns to her blog fairly often, but this was the first one in a while that made me say, "I have to make that". 

I have absolutely no use for it. But when I saw it, I just couldn't resist. 

It's a unicorn gift card holder. And I finally finished it this past week. 

Don't see a gift card? Well, open the arms...

It wasn't terribly hard, but there were a lot of pieces that needed to be sewn together. And the rainbow mane had to be knotted on strand by strand. (That makes it sound like it was a lot more work than it was, but there was a bit of assembly involved.) 

Several members of my family should consider themselves lucky that I didn't finish this thing sooner. They might have ended up with it. (I was soooo tempted to give it to my father for Father's Day--he got a gift card for movie tickets--but I restrained myself.) And as the next birthday in the family is mine... 

I'm probably going to put this up for sale. Although, I may just want to look at it for a while. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Accommodations for a Final

For the penultimate week of school I covered a special ed. health and biology class.

(Yes, the last day of school was yesterday. I write all my posts for the week at once, so you're always reading about what I did last week.)

As they had finals the following week, they spent the week I was with them working on a "study guide".

The teacher and instructional aide (IA) had honed this study guide over several finals that they'd given their classes. (The IA was with me for the entire week, so basically she did all the "work" and I sat around and looked "official".) The IA explained what they were doing to me.

Each student was given the actual final along with the "study guide". While in class (they weren't allowed to take it out of the room) they were to look up where to find each answer in the book (the final was open book) and note down what chapter, what page, what paragraph, and what sentence each answer could could be found in. (They were given what chapter.)

Easy, right? But remember, this was a special ed. class. It took some of them all week. Although, to be fair, it took all week for the students who spent most of their time staring at walls rather than looking for the answers for their final.

Deep sigh.

And the IA told me that even with this help, no student gets 100% on their finals.

Ah well, it turned out to be an easy week for me. (Even with Asia in one of the periods.)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Graduation Daydream

Nine years ago now it was. I was working the last day of school. (The teacher was attending her child's 8th grade promotion.) I had the door open. It was passing period, and I could hear the students just outside. One girl said to her friends, "We're seniors now". It wasn't exactly true as they still had three periods to go, but the seniors had had their graduation ceremony the night before, so they were the oldest students at the school at that point. 

I had a prep period then. And I was beat. So, I leaned back, closed my eyes, and I tried to doze. The girl's comment replayed, and I imagined a scene...

It starts with a stage filled with teens in caps and gowns. A graduation ceremony. The new graduates look over the audience filled with proud parents. They're excited. They've finally finished school, and they're looking forward to the next phase of their lives.

The new graduates exit at the side of the stage. They hug each other. Many are in tears. They meet up with parents, take pictures, and gradually leave the area.

The stage is empty, but not for long.

Off to the other side of the stage is another group of students a year younger than those who just exited. They climb the stairs and claim the stage for themselves.

The new senior class surveys its domain. Some look in corners. Others go to the edge of the stage and peer out at the audience. Many are cheering, fist pumping, and bouncing up and down. Two boys run at each other and bump chests. They have arrived.

While the new senior class celebrates, the area just off the stage that was just vacated starts to fill. This group looks around in awe and wonder. A few look up the steps, itching to join the new seniors. Several look out over the line that stretches out behind them. It's a long line and it seems to disappear into the horizon.

As each group moves up to the next position, they look over their new surroundings. The new freshman class, however, is so busy celebrating and laughing at the group just below them that they don't notice how trashed their new position is. Then again, their old spot in the line wasn't much better.

The newest middle schoolers carefully take up their new position. They are all wide-eyed wonder. The more adventurous pull their peers along. They take their time looking around, acclimating to their new position in line. There's a demarcation behind them, and they thought they'd never get beyond that border. Now that they are, they're not sure what they're going to do next.

Each elementary grade moves up one. As the former kindergartners take their first grade spot (and make themselves right at home), an empty spot is left at the end of the line. But like all the other spots in line, this one doesn't remain empty for long.

Off in the distance, family groups start to arrive. The parents push their little ones into their spot in line. Some of these children run to take over their spot. Others cling. The families stand there, watching their little ones for some time, not sure what to do next.

One mother shakes her head as she watches her little one acclimate to the line. "They grow up so fast," she says.

Nearby, various people are on their way out of the area. One woman hears the kindergartner's mother, so she turns to her and says, "You have no idea." The woman looks off into the distance where her graduate is off with friends.

"You have no idea," the woman repeats.

And the cycle begins again. Happy end of the school year.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Coming Attractions

Welcome to the end of the school year. For those of you keeping track, our school year ends tomorrow.

At the end of each school year, I have a little ritual. First, I repost my "Graduation Daydream". This I will do tomorrow to commemorate the last day of school. And then I'll do my annual "Year End Stats" post where I tally up all the different classes I covered.

But, I have been working, and I'll have classes up until practically the end, so before I go on "summer schedule", I'll have a few more subbing posts. Last week I covered one special ed. class for the whole week. And this week so far I have three days scheduled. There are more stories to tell before I completely close out the school year.

(Yeah, that gif has nothing to do with anything. It just made me laugh.)

As for my "summer schedule", it's my actual schedule (which is posted in my About Me page) minus the subbing stories.

I will continue to update the "Student Name of the Week". What? You didn't notice my newish little project on the sidebar? Just look over to the right. It's under "Twitter" and above "Subscribe To". (Kind of between those last two gifs.) I started this a few months ago, and the explanation and full list of names already featured are on the "Student Name of the Week" page, which has a link at the top of the blog. The list of names I have currently will safely see me through the summer (and through the end of the year and into next year if that were to become necessary).

But the real reason I'm writing this particular post has to do with a question I have for my regular readers. I was contemplating adding a random TV show post one day a week, but before I begin this, I was curious if there's any interest.

A few years ago, I tried doing a random movie post one day a week. I didn't keep it up as I wasn't finding the right sort of random movies that would fit. But I got to thinking that there are a few TV shows that I watch that no one has heard of, and it might be interesting for me to tell you about them. Especially with streaming abilities and summer. Some of you might be looking for some different things to watch.

I used to do my random movie posts on Fridays, but then I replaced them with my random quiz Fridays. So, my second question is, if I do the TV posts, would you like to see them on Fridays? Or Wednesdays? (Because at the moment, while I do have an official topic for Wednesdays, I don't actually do that topic ever. In fact, I usually just skip Wednesdays entirely in the summer.)

I appreciate any opinions on the topic. I hope you'll stop in tomorrow for the "Graduation Daydream" and next week for my "Year End Stats" (spoiler: I worked more days this year than last). And I hope you'll continue to stop in all summer. I'll try to keep it interesting.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Getting It First

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 ;)

Today's question was prompted by the TV show Legends of Tomorrow. It finale'd in April, but the last three episodes have been sitting on my DVR until about a week ago.

The show annoys me. I've given it up a couple times. Then the other shows that I actually like go off the air for a bit, and I decide to give this show one more chance. This time I figured it was only three more shows and I'd be caught up for the season.

So, this week I'm going to borrow their premise and see what you make of it.

The setup: All season our protagonists have been trying to prevent the antagonists from acquiring a MacGuffin that'll destroy the world (rewrite reality--same difference). It's been hidden throughout time... Did I mention they have a time machine?

They've gone back in time to acquire... well, what it is really doesn't matter... this item will help keep the MacGuffin safe from the bad guys. They found an expert to help them find this item, so now they know where it's buried.

Unfortunately, the item they need is buried in the middle of a battlefield. And the antagonists are after it, too.

Which leads to today's what if. (To make a long story short too late!)

What if you needed to acquire an item that would help you "save the world"? You've gone back in time (in your time machine) to find an expert to help you locate it. Unfortunately, the item is buried in the middle of what is currently a battlefield. (The item was buried there in the Middle Ages.) How do you get this item before the bad guys can get to it? 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Enemy Sub

Remember the boy from "Rolling Starbursts"? He remembers me. Unfortunately.

Seventh period math at the continuation high school. The bell rang. Then Terrence walked in.

"Are you going to mark me tardy?"

Well, of course.

"But I had to walk by the basketball courts..."

The continuation high school is not large. They have a four minute passing period. You can make it from the office to the classroom I was in (the farthest anyone ever has to travel) in about a minute. (Which I had to do earlier that same day.) So, there's really no excuse to be late.

Ah, but now I'm the enemy, so Terrence refused to do any work. And he was still angry that I told his science teacher about his game. (I asked if he had gotten into trouble. He admitted that he hadn't. So, why this animosity?)

As I was leaving for the day, I mentioned the tardy thing to the secretary. (It was an "isn't this funny" incident that I couldn't not share.) "I guess Terrence hates me."

Her reply: "There aren't very many people Terrence does like."

Oh. Suddenly Terrence's behavior makes a whole lot more sense. (And since I'm likely to forget all about this until I see Terrence again and he reminds me, as he had to remind me of the "Rolling Starbursts" as I hadn't remembered it was him until he said something, this won't trouble me too much.)

Note: If you live in Alaska, West Virginia, Nevada, Arizona, Maine, Louisiana, Tennessee, Ohio, Colorado, South Carolina, Arkansas, or Pennsylvania and are against the ACHA (and seriously, this is one bad bill; it will hurt everyone), would you take a moment and call your Senator(s)? Please. If you're not sure why or what to do, take a look at this post for links. 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Worst of the Worst

I had been warned about 6th period. While the rest of the day was 8th grade math, period 6 was the "support & enrichment" class (read: the extra math class for students who hate math). I kinda knew what I was in for even before they arrived.

In a class of the difficult, table 1 stood out. Jacob and Elijah were just that little bit of extra crazy. Let me see if I can recall their shenanigans:

  • Confiscated a Tech Deck from Jacob
  • Removed a girl from table 1 as she and Jacob were having a loud argument (something about each being racist against the other)
  • Prevented Elijah from writing on Jacob's forehead in marker
  • Only then discovering that they had written Slipknot on each other's arms
  • Asked them to stop pounding on table and stomping in rhythm: "This is not a Queen concert or a basketball game"
  • Argued with Elijah about whether he was the son of a Kiss band member (who he would not name to prove his assertion)

Would you be shocked if I told you they got no work done?

Even with that list, I did not spend the period hovering over the boys. There was plenty of other crazy to contain, although not as crazy as Jacob and Elijah, of course. 

A little over halfway through the period, I was on the other side of the room. Everybody's attention was drawn to Elijah throwing his arms in the air as Jacob... (Don't ask. I have no idea.) 

The boys at table 8 (where I was at that moment) looked at Jacob and Elijah in disgust. (Keep in mind that they were loud in their own right.) 

"You need to write their names down." 

(Name in note can be a serious consequence. In the case of this class, the teacher had specified that she wanted names taken, with a likely outcome that names in the note got severe consequences.) 

I laughed. "I wrote their names down a half hour ago," I told the boys.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Missing Class

Continuation high school journalism class. (Yes, they have a school newspaper.) It's the end of the year, so the class only had four students. (One was absent.)

The continuation high school works on credits. Once they've earned the required 220, they are done. By this time of year, most of the seniors have completed high school.

It was newspaper delivery day. Two students were to go pass them out to all the classes. One of the assigned students was absent, so I let the other student pick her partner. But all three girls wanted to go. And the boy wanted to join them...

What's the harm, right?

Five minutes later I got a call from another teacher. They were being disruptive. (Naturally...)

Well, they should have come back soon, so I could scold them. I waited.

And waited.

And waited.


I went to the door looking for them. They were not visible on campus. (The campus is small enough that I could see all of it from my door.) But the principal spotted me.

The girls did eventually return. The boy returned some time after them. (This is the way subs get into trouble.) What happened? They explained that several of the papers had been stapled badly, so they had to fix.

The boy...? He was taking advantage of the situation. Naturally.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Just a Watcher

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 time travel was possible, but the traveler couldn't interact in the time? That is, a person could see, hear, touch, and smell the world, but no one from that time could perceive the traveler. What if time travel was like a holographic projection that one could only watch?

Monday, June 5, 2017

Covering It with Yarn

I got the idea Wednesday night. Friday night I attempted it. And managed to complete it in about two hours. (That included a bit of swatching to get the measurements right.)

Can you tell what it is? Probably not as it's something I made up. Does this help?

You can kind of see what's in there, if you're looking closely. So, let me take it out...

Why would I made a cozy for a fidget spinner? Remember when I told you all about the hot new teen fad? Well, it's gotten to the point of annoyance. Turns out these things aren't so silent, especially not in a silent classroom.

It's not surprising that the things have invaded my subconscious since they've become ubiquitous.

Once I turned my brain on the problem, it didn't take me too long to work out how to cover it. And it even spins while it's encased in the cozy...

A post shared by Liz A. (@zizirho) on

I'm going to tweak the pattern a bit before I write it up. If I write it up. I think my curiosity is now sated.

Friday, June 2, 2017

No Hablo Ingles

I was covering two days of a U.S. history class. As they were juniors and Ms. G's classes tend to be on the good side, I wasn't too concerned when a few students gathered together while they did their work.

Of course, I made a point of going over to them and looking over their shoulders. And they explained their grouping.

"Kevin needs our help. He doesn't speak any English."

Hmmm. Now I'm suspicious. There are some students at that school that don't speak any English, but usually the teachers give me a heads up (and they give the student an alternative assignment or the student has a "helper"). But why volunteer that information so readily? I hadn't asked.

Plus, the boys were having way too much fun in their little group.

Day two in the class. I was a little stricter with them, but the boys still found their little group. A couple of them went out to the restroom. When one of the boys returned, he stood over another boy, and it was clear something was going on. So, I approached.

The boy sat down. He pulled out his backpack, and then I saw that it had been flipped. So, now I understood why he was upset. I gave the other boy my best "really?" look. I growled at them to get back to work (and stop messing with each other).

It was only after I left the group that it hit me. The boy who had been upset? Was Kevin. Who supposedly doesn't speak any English.

Funny how we were able to communicate pretty readily in English when he asked to use the restroom and when he returned and we discussed his backpack.

This is why I am dubious when I am told a student doesn't speak any English. Because they lie.

But luckily they are really, really bad at this lying thing.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Conservative Tide

I don't talk politics on this blog. (I save that for Talking It Out.) And while I'm not going to start today, I do feel I need to preface today's post with a nod to my bias.

I'm a liberal. (You all already know that, right?) Which is why I found this so funny.

11th grade U.S. history. They were to do a guided reading (read: worksheet) on a section entitled "A Conservative Movement Emerges" about the '80s and Reagan and Bush Sr.

As they turned in their work, I glanced at it. And then I took a closer look.

The question (if it's too small to read, click on the image to blow it up):

And their responses:

As you can see, they "worked together". And it's pretty obvious they didn't read the chapter carefully (or at all, probably). They may have looked it up on their phones.

Still, it gave me a good chuckle.

And I made sure my instructions to the next class were a little clearer. As in READ THE CHAPTER. (You'd think this goes without saying, but apparently not when they want to get done so they can goof off.)

Oh, and the teacher is a conservative. So, when their papers are graded...

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

It Won't Hurt Anything...

Fifth period economics. Seniors. It was after lunch on a warm day.

Class started. I closed the door and switched on the air conditioner. But it wasn't clicking on quickly enough for Nathan. He got up and went to adjust the temperature.


Sure enough, he had moved it down to 66°F, touching nothing else.

"No need to freak out. It won't hurt anything..."

And I growled. Internally.

A couple years ago, Ms. P told me of her a/c issues. It was one of those days where I saw the teacher before she left for her training or whatever. It's been a saga. She'd figured out how to make sure the a/c kept working, but eventually it did die. It has since been fixed, sort of.

The air conditioner warning remains in her lesson plan:

Having been in class when the a/c died by 5th period, I know she's not being an alarmist. So, I made sure to set the thermostat to 73°F (just to be safe), and I turned it off during passing periods when the door would be open.

Which is why Nathan's offhand comment irritated me so.

"Um, yes, actually, it might blow out the a/c," and I explained to Nathan why his thoughtless a/c adjustment could be really bad. "You don't want to lose the a/c before June, do you?"

Half of me wanted to let him blow out the a/c just to spite him. But it would have hurt Ms. P and the rest of the really nice students. And who knows when I'd end up covering that class again?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Taking Sides

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 ;)

Imagine that you're out someplace. Maybe shopping. Maybe in a park. Or just taking a stroll someplace. It's a nice day, and everyone is peacefully going about their own business...

What if while you were minding your own business, you witnessed someone chasing another person? Neither are obviously police or some sort of official good or bad guy, so you don't immediately know what the situation is. Do you help the chasee get away? Or do you help the chaser catch their quarry?

Friday, May 26, 2017

Friday Chaos

It was Friday at the middle school. On Thursday, I had run into the teacher and mentioned that I was his sub for Friday. He told me he was chaperoning a field trip (to Raging Waters--end of year reward for the well-behaved), and he'd see me in the morning. So, when I arrived to his room to find no lesson plans, I wasn't worried.

The warning bell rang. I was still alone. So, I opened the door to let the kiddos (7th graders) in. I stood at the door, looking for the teacher... 

"Oooh, get it away..."

"Get what away?" 

"It's a spider." 

"That's not a spider..." 

It wasn't a spider. It was a cockroach. And it was on the floor next to a girl. To her credit, she wasn't freaking out. The rest of the class, however... 

Since it was an "advanced" class, the kiddos problem solved, and as a team managed to do something about the insect. Loudly. This is why I didn't hear the phone ringing, although someone helpfully told me that it was. 

The teacher was on the phone. He was on his way, but he wasn't going to get to class before the bell, so he wanted to let me know what first period was doing. 

Somehow I managed to get the class' attention, and I told them to get their computers. (Naturally, they had a Google Classroom assignment.) A couple more students then walked in. It was then I realized that the bell hadn't rung yet. Oops. 

I was curious, so I asked how many of the students were going on the field trip. (They were leaving after first period.) 60-70% of the class. No wonder they were wound up. But still, they logged into their Google accounts and got to work. Eventually. 

It took some time, but the chatter gradually subsided. Slowly, the room crept towards silence. And at about the moment they achieved it, the teacher walked in. 

Way to make me look good, kiddos. 

(I did admit to Mr. F that the silence was a recent thing. The students told him all about the excitement.)

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Rolling Starbursts

It was fifth period science at the continuation high school. The day had started off pretty good, but at this point, the students weren't all that into the doing of work of it all. Three of them put their heads together as one of them pulled out some Starbursts.

I caught snippets of the discussion. Something about "striped sides". It sounded like they were going to treat them as dice. Um, okay...

I pulled out my daily note. I started writing.

"Are you writing down that we're rolling Starbursts?" one of the boys asked.

Well, no. Actually at that moment I was finishing up my notes for period four. But I wasn't going to tell them that.

"Of course," I replied.

I made a mental note to myself. "Rolling Starbursts." Brilliant description. I went back to writing my period four notes.

The idea that I was writing it down upset them? Before I pulled out the note, when I was telling them to get to work, they informed me they would after their game. Their game that they play all the time. So, if they play it all the time, why would their teacher be upset?

The boy wouldn't let it go. "But, you're going to get us into trouble. He'll drop us from the class. Why you gonna play us like that?"

Huh? I always leave notes. I always write these sorts of things down. They know me. This shouldn't come as a shock.

He continued to argue. He told me that I should delete the mention from the note. He asked me exactly what I had written. (As I hadn't written it down yet, I hedged.) When I wouldn't, he said he was so upset he wasn't going to do any work. (Not that he had been doing work. But now, somehow, him not doing work was my fault.)

He went back to his game. I went back to my note. I finished up period four and wrote down what the boys were doing. What the boys were still doing.

The protester returned to argue with me a couple more times, between rounds of the game, I imagine.

The end of the period arrived. Had he finished his game and done any work? Of course not. The boys finished by "disposing" of their playing pieces. (Read: they ate the candy.)

If they would only put that sort of effort into their schoolwork, they would graduate in no time.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


I saw his name on the seating chart. Nah. Has it really been two years...?

I was covering a chemistry class, which means sophomores and juniors. But Oscar was just in the 8th grade, wasn't he?

Apparently not. I checked the class roster. He's in the 10th grade now.

Oscar... I vividly recall his 6th period math class from 8th grade. He was one of the challenging ones. He wouldn't sit still. He wouldn't do his work. He was a perpetual motion machine. I remember bellowing his name repeatedly to little effect.

(I went looking in my archives to see if I had written about him before. I hadn't.)

I was dreading seeing him again.

He arrived along with 1st period, and...

He sat in his assigned seat with no prompting. He did his work. If his name hadn't jarred unpleasant memories, I probably wouldn't have noticed him.

The assignment was of the due-at-the-end-of-the-period variety. Guess who came in at lunch to finish it?

When I say that some of them grow out of the crazy, I mean it. Case in point. Oscar grew up and mellowed.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


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 ;)

So, let's suppose that someone has perfected artificial intelligence. The promise/threat of so much near future sci fi has been fully realized. Now what do we do with it...?

What if we sent probes equipped with artificial intelligence to Mars (and beyond)? How do you think they'd react? Would they help our exploration of our solar system? Or would they behave like petulant teens...?

Monday, May 22, 2017

Jellyfish No. 20

Last week I did my jellyfish inventory and showed my current jellyfish in progress...

I finally got it completed Thursday night. Not that I had all that much to do. It was just one of those weeks where I'd get home and would be so out of it that I didn't have the energy to do that final bit of detail work--the face.

(The pattern gives great detail in where the eyes should go. Unfortunately, getting the smile right and in the center between the eyes is always a bit of a challenge.)

So, now it's finally finished...

And I posted a short video to Instagram (because I like to see it move)...

A post shared by Liz A. (@zizirho) on

Friday, May 19, 2017

Complete 5-Letter Words

I found this quiz on my Facebook feed via Mental Floss. You're given a five-letter word with one letter missing. Only one letter will complete the word, and each letter of the alphabet can only be used once.

But beware. You only have 1:30 minutes to complete...

Complete the 5-Letter Words 

It took me three tries to get to 100%. The first time I got 73%. I missed one, and I ran out of time. The second time I got up to 80%, again missing one and running out of time. It goes quickly. 

Try it. Some of the words are obvious. Some are a bit more tricky. Good luck.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Pointless Lie

When students leave their "home" schools and transfer to the continuation high school, they first take a class called orientation. It lasts about a month, and it covers how the continuation high school works. It's also an opportunity for them to earn other credits in various subjects. (They get sent to the continuation high school because they've failed several classes, so they do need these credits.)

As I've covered orientation many times, I'm familiar with the routine. So, when I noticed Kendrick was off task, I gently prodded him about getting to work.

"I only need five credits."

Yeah, orientation is worth five credits. But they can earn more if they put the work in. (They can earn less if they do nothing.) I explained...

"No, I only need five credits."

I was confused. There's no way the continuation high school would take a transfer from a student who was only five credits short. There's a waiting list for entrance. Besides, five credits can be made up in summer school or credit recovery which is offered before and after school at the high schools.

"I'm not new. I've been going here for years."

And only then did I catch on. He was lying to me.

I get lied to all the time. Blatantly, sometimes. About all sorts of things. But this lie caught me completely unawares.

I guess it was because it wasn't even a plausible lie.

I suppose he saw a sub, thought he could play it off like he was about to graduate, and figured he'd con me into letting him do nothing. Ah, how little he realizes how badly he misjudged the situation...

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A Panicked Sub

Before I headed out to the classroom, I asked the secretary if the teacher had emailed her lesson plans. Some days I know that the teacher called out that morning. Like, when I get the call pretty late...

Nope, there were no emailed lesson plans. So, fingers crossed, I headed for the classroom.

(This teacher has been out quite a bit this year, and on a previous occasion I had encountered no lesson plans, so that's why I was cautious.)

And, sure enough, there were no lesson plans.

I looked everywhere first. Then, I called the secretary back. Nope, nothing since I was just there. Not that I really expected anything, but I had to try.

The secretary gave me the number for the department chair as she might know something. I figured it couldn't hurt, so I called her. The department chair said she'd contact the teacher to see what the teacher wanted her classes to do. So I waited...

Then class started.

Seniors. English. AP. I wasn't really worried about them. They'd taken their AP test recently, so I was totally down with them having a free day. (I was more worried about the 11th graders coming in the class after them.) But, it turns out I worried for nothing.

The first girl to walk in was looking at her phone. Her teacher had texted the entire class. (They have things like Remind 101 so the teacher can communicate with them.) With their assignment for the day.


(Although, just a simple email to me, the sub, saying, "I texted them their assignment for the day," would have been nice...)

The department chair got back to me towards the end of the following period. (The teacher had just gotten back to her.) With the information that their assignment for the day was on the computers.

Uh huh. Great.

Perhaps I shouldn't have panicked. But, I have been in situations in which I had no lesson plans with classes that went a little wild while I was trying to find something for them to do. So, yeah.

I'm glad it all worked out. It turned out to be a very easy day. After the fright right after I got there.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Not Crazy

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 ;)

Suppose that someone close to you (a sibling, a good friend, a significant other...) has just been committed to the hospital for mental problems. "They" say it's because they're saying crazy things. You go to visit your friend (or sibling or...), and their "ravings" don't sound so unsound to you...

What if you believed your friend was locked up not for being crazy but for knowing too much of something? (That something can be something sci fi, like the aliens are coming, to something mundane, like the leader of the family is stealing millions.) What would you do?

Monday, May 15, 2017

Jellyfish Inventory

The other day (okay, it was more like a couple months ago), someone made a comment about how many jellyfish I'd made. And I realized that I had no idea what that number was. The vast majority of them have gone to other homes upon my finishing them.

But I had kept records. Could I track down the number? (And, the thought occurred, it might be a good idea to keep a list of them from now on.) So, since I really have nothing interesting to talk about today...

The initial idea came from someone at that farmers market I do from time to time. She showed me some images, and from there I was able to track down the pattern (via One Dog Woof). (This came out just about a year ago. Wow.)

And then I made my first jellyfish...

Shortly thereafter, I made two others...

And then the one that went to Betty...

The lady who bought the first one requested one in purple for herself. Then four others for her granddaughters...

I made three for others at the farmers market, two for Christmas presents, and one for someone family adjacent, none of which I remembered to get pictures of. Then MJ ordered one...

And finally, just a couple weeks ago, the one from my "neighbor" at the last farmers market I did...

That's 17. I've neglected to mention that after Christmas I got bored and made another one in orange. (The purple one in this image is from the second image. I can't recall when I made that middle blue one.)

And that's 19.

Wow. 19.

Anyway, the whole reason that this even came up was because of Anna. She's seeking donations for a Support the Troops Auction for the USO of North Carolina, and I offered to make something. She suggested a jellyfish, and I had the brilliant idea that it should be red, white, and blue.

It's not quite finished yet...

While I was working on this one, I started to wonder, again, how many of these things I'd made. And so, I decided to count them up. This one makes 20.

Oh, by the way, I also started another yellow one. Just because I had the yarn and I was bored one night. It's barely started, but it'll bring my total to 21.

I have this image in my head of my farmers market booth with a line of jellyfish. So, there are going to be more. Eventually. Probably.

Friday, May 12, 2017

A Non-Break

The schools are on block schedule for state testing. Two-hour periods. Which, depending on the lesson plan, can make for a very long period.

(Only specific teachers are testing on any given day. They're not absent on those days. I'm covering classes that are business as usual, albeit with very long classes.)

Health class. Freshmen. The teacher left them a huge packet on safety to complete. (Stuff like what to do in a natural disaster or if an accident were to happen in the home.)

I was braced for the worst. Freshmen. For two hours. Of what amounted to busywork. And it was the same teacher that I covered a few times in the fall semester. (I posted about those days here, here, and here.)

But then I remembered that health is a semester course (meaning that as we're now in the spring semester, all the kiddos I had issues with are no longer in the class). Except that Ms. E left me a few names of students to keep an eye on. And guess who was on the list? Kevin. Naturally.

Kevin was as happy to see me as I was to see him. (I was gratified to see his reaction to seeing me. He was so not pleased. I guess I make him do work, or something.)

Class started, and something surprising happened. The room stayed silent...

Oh sure, Kevin did no work. As did another boy on the other side of the room who I'd also been warned about. But they did no work silently. While the rest of the class busily scribbled away.

I wished for my knitting. Or a magazine. I was expecting to be dealing with issues, and there were none.

Ms. E had recommended that the class get a break at some point. With this group I think I would have offered on my own. They probably needed one. So, at an hour in, I told the class they could get up and stretch or move around.

They looked at me like I was crazy. And continued to work.

Well, not Kevin and the other boy. They took a break. (From not doing work. *shakes head*)

At the end of the two hours, two students had finished, while the vast majority had only a couple pages of work left. Well, except for Kevin. He still had seven pages to go.

Some weeks are easier than others. This week was pretty easy.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Blood Drive Fail

"Ms. S said you'd give blood if you were at the continuation high school on Tuesday..."

It was odd to get a call to work the next day at 5 PM. It was even odder to be called to cover the teacher who was running the blood drive. But then again, of course she couldn't be in class and run the blood drive...

I've subbed for Ms. S quite a lot recently. She told me about the blood drive a month ago. I did say I would volunteer, but it was likely that I wouldn't be on campus that day. Turns out I was wrong.

I did remember the promise. And it was a day of work. So, I took it.

The reason I've never given blood before doesn't have to do with a fear of needles or the sight of blood making me faint. I've just had really bad luck when it comes to having blood drawn. For example, the last time I had to have blood drawn for tests, it took them eight tries to find a vein.

Eight. Tries.

Yes, I got stuck eight times. I felt a bit like a pincushion at the end of the day.

So, I wasn't sure what was going to happen at the blood drive. I promised myself that I'd let them try twice.

I got through all the intake paperwork. I went to lie down. And the nurse went looking for a vein...

Turns out I needn't have worried about getting stuck twice. After two blood drive workers failed to find a vein, they let me go.

At least I tried. (This is what I keep telling myself. It isn't making me feel any better about it, though.)

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Godzilla on a Beanie

I finished middle nephew's birthday present...

Erm... Two days after his birthday...

Ah well. (The story behind this choice is here.)

If you follow me on Instagram, you've already seen the shots of the beanie in progress...

Godzilla all knitted in. But the rest of the beanie still needed to be finished.
Some duplicate stitch for the odd bits that would have been tricky to knit in.
Everything finished.
And I have come to the end of another project. Time to consult the list to figure out what to work on next.