Friday, March 31, 2017

Perilous Rain

Rain had been forecast for this day for a full week. The sky was cloudy that morning. I saw girls walking around with umbrellas.

In other words, rain was expected. So, when water started falling from the sky that afternoon, no one should have been surprised.

But I was with 7th graders.

It was the end of the day. The bell rang, dismissing them. They hovered at the door, watching it rain. Hesitant.

But eventually end of day won out, and they exited the classroom. Well, most of them. A couple continued to stand at the open door.

"I can't go out there. I can't get my hair wet."

She explained that her hair would get frizzy. Um...

"You can't stay here until the rain stops," I replied. (It rained pretty much continuously, if lightly, from the time I left the classroom until after I got home. I was not about to wait out the rain.)

So, she braced herself and braved the rain. I have no idea how her hair fared.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Video Loop

7th grade life science. The teacher was exceedingly kind. She left a video.

Middle school science tends towards the wild on a good day. While videos don't settle them down, under the right conditions they can be easier to execute than bookwork.

The teacher, who was on campus, told me that it was "pretty violent. They'll love it."

It was on the extinction of the dinosaurs.

I had the usual issues. A few of them had seen it before. My response: "I've seen it five times today. You can watch it again."

Yeah, that's the downside of videos. One of my occupational hazards. I get to see the video on loop all... day... long...

Two days later, I'm back at the same school. 7th grade science. Different teacher.

Guess what he left for his class?

On the bright side, a couple of his classes were awful, so I was busy on misbehavior correction. Because at some point, I really have to tune the video out or it's going to drive me crazy.

In case you're interested, this is the video. (It's 56 minutes, so I won't actually expect you to watch it.)

Also, I'm over at Unicorn Bell today with a guest post by someone from my writing group. I'd love it if you checked it out.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


"Ashley says hi. And she says she wants a pair of your earrings."

Um, okay. It was before class when a boy approached me with this. Ashley? A common enough name. I didn't recall the girl.

"You don't know her," the boy accused. I admitted I didn't. He thought that quite funny, and we moved on.

Two days later I was at the continuation high school. At snack a girl accosted me.

"You don't know me, huh?"

Oh, Ashley...

I recognized her, but I wouldn't have recalled her name if not for the interaction with the boy. I'm sure she's a very nice girl, but our interactions have not been such that make her memorable to me.

I stammered something out about how the boy hadn't mentioned she was at a different school. I left out that considering how many different students I see, I don't remember every one.

I guess I'm supposed to, though. Remember every one, that is. I really need to work on my facial/name recall.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Betrayed, Part 2

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 asked "What if the one person you thought you could trust betrayed you?" The responses ran from possible forgiveness to cutting that person out of one's life completely. Which is to be expected. But it leads to a follow up question. Sort of.

Okay, so this one person you thought you could trust betrayed you. I'll leave the details up to your interpretation. But consider the term "betrayed". Whatever happened was bad.

Now, let's say that this person is now thrown into your orbit again...

What if you were forced to work with a person who betrayed you in the past towards a common goal? 

When I say "forced to work with", I mean that someone you can't refuse has put the two of you together again. Like, a boss who puts the two of you on a project. Or a relative who you can't turn down. You might be able to argue against the partnership, but refusing would negatively impact you in a big way.

And make sure to stop by Unicorn Bell today for Theresa Milstein's book tour...

Monday, March 27, 2017

Help Wanted

J.E. Oneil and I are (very last minute) putting together a little A to Z Challenge side project. Posts with a liberal theme. If anyone would like to help us out with writing a post or two (or five ;) ) let me know in the comments or shoot me an email. Thanks.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Long Time No See

8th grade history. 3rd period was the worst class of the day. It was the only class that was at all difficult, but boy, was it difficult.

I had them for two days. On day one, I informed the class that no one got dismissed until everyone was seated. They decided to test me on my resolve. After about a minute of this, Julie decided she had had enough and left. Without being dismissed.

The next day I gave Julie a consequence (standards and a think sheet). She rolled her eyes.

"You were taking too long..." she informed me.

Um, no. The class was taking too long to settle. (And they had two minutes before the bell to settle as well as that's when I had told them of the being seated rule.) Besides, the rest of the class remained until they had been dismissed.

I was so glad to see the end of that group. And I went on with my day.

Being a Friday, of course they were short subs. I was asked to cover an 8th grade English class. And guess who was one of the students there?

She was about as pleased to see me as I was to see her.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Speak Not, Google

Miguel and I are well acquainted. Last year I covered his 8th grade science class when they were behaving badly. I said some things that were not well thought out. He has not let me forget my slip.

ELD. They had specific book work to complete. Then they could get on computers to complete other tasks.

Miguel played around a lot. But, eventually he got to the point where he could get a computer. Did he get on task? Of course not.

You know how you can type something in to Google and have it speak it for you? (I'm not sure how this works. All I know is that it does exist.) Miguel knows. Because, while the rest of the class was busily working, his computer started spouting off something... rude...

The words weren't inappropriate per se, but the sentiment... And it was directed at the boy seated next to him.

Miguel lost his computer privileges. This period I had an instructional assistant. (I've worked with him many times.) He went looking for a think sheet for Miguel. At which point I realized I had a few that I "borrowed" for just such an occasion.

Freshmen boys...

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Blue Slime

It was the 3rd time I'd covered the advanced ELD class at the middle school in four weeks. 5th period was... challenging...

The teacher expected them to work silently, and while the rest of the classes did, 5th period would not.

There's something about this age. Emotions are heightened. Brighter. And impulse control is nearly nonexistent.

When Alex went into his backpack and pulled out a container of blue goo, I knew where this was headed.

(The slime/goo stuff has been around for a bit, now. I've seen it before. Not as often as I see Rubik's Cube. A calmer class on a different day explained the recipe to me. You can find that here.)

I told Alex to put the goo away. He refused.

It was passing period, he said. He just wanted to look at it, he said. He'd put it away at the bell, he said.

By the time the bell rang to begin class, Alex had a portion of the goo stuck to the carpet on the floor... (And, of course, two other boys were also distracted by other issues at the same time.)

Somehow, I got the rest of the class settled, passed out the day's assignment, and got roll taken. Alex still had the slime out and by now it was all over his hands.

15 minutes later he was almost ready to get to work. The goo was back in its container. He just needed to go to the restroom to wash his hands. They were now blue.


You know that old sign? "A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine"? Apparently, this was Alex's first exposure to the idea. 

Tuesday, March 21, 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 ;)

What if the one person you thought you could trust betrayed you?

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Lacy Sweater and the A to Z "Theme Reveal"

The sweater is going fairly well...

I didn't get much done on it last week due to choosing to go to bed over watching TV and knitting. It was that kind of week.

I got introduced to "zombie" Easter bunny amigurumi which I may have to try.

But, of course, today is the A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal Day. Since I pretty much blog every day anyway, I will again partake. For me, the challenge is in keeping up with the hop portion. 

Regular readers know my "theme". My challenge is to fit my normal posts to the letter of the day. 

I've already written my Tuesday "what if?" posts. X falls on a Friday this year, and I managed to find a great quiz that features it. (Unless something interesting happens that I can fit to X, that is. But I might keep it at the end as the quiz is so perfect.) The rest of the days it's a whole lot of "how can I title the crazy thing that happened at school to fit the day's letter?" 

Wish me luck. 

Are you doing the A to Z Challenge in April?

Friday, March 17, 2017

Awaiting a Pizza

"It's a disaster. I ordered a pizza, and it still hasn't arrived. Ms. P would be okay with me going to the office to get it when it gets here. Will that be okay with you...?"

It was the start of 5th period, just after lunch. Presumably Lydia had ordered the pizza with time to get it by lunch...

Um, yeah. So, sometimes the students order food in. Usually a parent or sibling will bring it, but occasionally I've seen delivery people arrive. I'll just leave that right there.

Lydia waited. And waited. And got angrier and angrier.

She wanted to call the pizza restaurant to complain. But, she knew her friend was working and answering the phone, so she didn't want to yell at her. Except, it had been over an hour since she ordered.

(It wasn't like I was hovering over her during all of this. The class had a bookwork assignment that most of them were doing. I had a "monitor the class" day. Lydia's lamentations were the class entertainment for the period.)

Lydia's friend said that the manager should give her a credit for the poor service. The friend called to complain. And still they waited. Apparently, the delivery guy had left some time ago.

Then Lydia got a "hope you're enjoying your food" notification...

By the end of 5th period she still had not gotten her pizza. (So, that's a half hour for lunch and about an hour for class.) Yeah, I'd be ticked, too.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Almost Alone

Passing period before 3rd period at the continuation high school. The teacher was out chaperoning a field trip to Crystal Cove for their citizen scientist program. (There's a video about it here.) And I was awaiting all six kiddos on the roster.

And waiting.

The bell rang... and I was still alone.

I marked everyone absent. I couldn't quite believe I had a "free" period.

And then a student walked in. One student.

Well, one is better than none. At least I no longer felt like I was cheating.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Run Around

Some mornings are more chaotic than others.

One of the first things I do upon getting into a classroom (after turning on the lights) is to log into the computer and the online attendance. This particular Monday morning, the computer wasn't cooperating.

Upon closer examination of my temporary attendance password, I discovered I had been given a temporary password for a different teacher. That wasn't going to do me any good. But, by the time I discovered the error, class had already started.

(This particular morning was a mess. Lesson plans reached me very last minute, as in as the kiddos were arriving, and other issues derailed my usual calm setup.)

Normally at this point I'd've called the office, but this day I had a co teacher. And when I showed her the problem, she said I could go and fix it. (That's one of the perks of a co teacher. One of us can run out if need be.)

I was covering 11th & 12th grade English. I had the login for a special ed. math teacher. I went to his room, found the sub, and asked if he had "my" login since I had his. But, of course, it wasn't going to be that easy...

He had the login for an 11th grade history teacher. I knew which room he was in, so I headed directly there. But that sub also didn't have "my" login. He had the login for a 10th grade history teacher. Unfortunately, I wasn't sure which room she was in, and at this point I wondered how much exercise I was likely to get. I returned to "my" class.

"My" class was still reading silently. The co teacher was still attempting to print out the day's lesson plans. (That's another story.) She knew where the history teacher's room was, but this time I made a phone call.

Guess who actually did have "my" login?

One more trip. And then all of us subs for the day were sorted.

(The secretary who checks us subs in and who gives us our packets with teacher schedules and logins was running late. A different secretary covered for her. As this isn't her usual gig, she made a simple mistake. It happens. We all had a good laugh about it when I checked out for the day.)

Tuesday, March 14, 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 ;)

What if someone close to you (a best friend, a romantic partner, a child, etc.) played a particularly terrible practical joke on you? Could you forgive them? How terrible would it have to be for you to cut them completely out of your life? 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Famous Last Words

I knew it wasn't going to be a UFO forever... 

A UFO in knitting is an unfinished object. Lots of knitters have them--those projects that sit on the needles forever. My last UFO was an afghan. I did eventually finish it. It only took me six years. 

Last Monday I mentioned the lightweight sweater I started ages ago. (I looked it up on Ravelry. I started it in October of 2013.) I started working on it again. And things were going pretty well. 

After all the mistakes I made with the gauge swatch, I wanted to be cautious with the actual project. For the first time in my knitting life, I started using lifelines. (A lifeline is a strand of yarn strung through a row of stitches. It's a place to rip back to if major mistakes were made, a way of keeping the knitter from having to rip the whole thing out and start over.)

This, of course, made no difference for the two years when I didn't touch the thing. And after moving my lifeline up the project, I began to wonder if I really needed it. After 10 rows or so, I started to feel like I was getting the hang of the stitch. 

So, I pulled the lifeline from the knitting...  

You know what happened next. I know you do. 

The bottom brackets show what the stitches are supposed to look like. It should look the same in the top brackets. "Should". Doesn't. 

On the bright side, I have become an expert and laddering back to fix errors. And, I had gotten the feel for the stitch pattern, so I knew how to fix it without having to start over. 

It was just one panel that was easily findable. And I only had to rip out three rows. 

I used a couple double pointed needles, recaptured the twelve stitches, reknit those three rows. Oh, did I mention that I repeat the stitch pattern ten times. And, naturally, I knit it wrong that entire row, so I had to do this fixing procedure ten times. 

You'd think I'd be more careful. Well, maybe from now on? 

And that's fixed. If you scroll between the first and last image, you'll see the difference in between the top brackets. So, it's all good now. 

No, I'm not dropping a new lifeline. I think I proved that I can fix the stupid errors I'm making. I just hope that this is the...

Nope. Not going to say it. Not going to jinx myself. 

What stupid mistakes have you made lately? Anything easily fixable? 

Friday, March 10, 2017

TV Timeline Minefield Quiz

Last week was kinda...boring... Well, not boring exactly. Just, not really fertile fields for blog posts.

I had three days where the the majority of the day was spent in silence. And no, I wasn't alone. I was in class. The classes worked silently.

I even covered a period where I blundered through a PowerPoint...and the kiddos took notes and didn't give me a lick of trouble.

So, it was a good week, subbing wise. But the blog... What am I possibly going to write about?

Time for a Random Quiz Friday.

Hopefully it embedded. (If not, you can access the quiz here.) It's a quick one. Only 14 TV shows. You just need to put them in chronological order (the dates when the shows take place, not when they were made.)

I made one error early on (the 6th show), but I immediately knew which was wrong, so I retook and got 100%. Try it and see how you do...

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Not All Stars

I'd had trouble with them all period. I made reasonable requests ("Get to work"; "Turn off YouTube"; "Stop mocking your classmate") that they ignored.

6th periods can be interesting. These 11th graders were downright rude.

So, I wasn't terribly shocked when at the end of the period, as they were getting packed up, they all burst into song...

It was an odd selection, but the majority of the class joined in. They stumbled over the lyrics. Does anyone know if this song has been in some movie or TV show?  Because, why this one came up...

Some days I use my note to the teacher to vent. (And bonus, I received a packet of apology notes about a week later. So, my venting was heard.)

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Presumed Deceased

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 were mistakenly declared dead? Would you be tempted to walk away from your life and start anew?

Note: In solidarity with A Day Without a Woman, I will go dark tomorrow. I will not post, nor will I make the usual blog rounds. See you on Thursday.

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Blahs (and St. Patrick's Day Earrings)

Instead of doing any knitting (or crocheting) the last week or so, I've been sitting and staring at the TV. It's not like me. I just don't know what to work on. So, I pull out something, and instead of picking up the needles (or hook), I...don't...

This is my way of saying that I don't have a new knitting post for today. (You may have noticed I didn't post anything last week on Monday. This is why.)

I did pull out my dormant sweater. Which I haven't touched in something like two years (three years?). And I've barely made any progress.

So, I'm pulling out some old pics. Since St. Patrick's Day is coming. And if you need a pair of obnoxious earrings for the day, I've got you covered. (I know you need a pair of these. I love mine!)

(Old picture--my hair is much shorter today.)

Aren't these cute? 
I have five pairs for sale. You can find them here.

Friday, March 3, 2017

A Burning Question?

7th grade science. The teacher had a meeting for the last period of the day, so I came in to cover on my prep period. As he was on his way out, the teacher warned me that the class could be a little difficult, and I was to leave him the names of any troublesome students.

Surprisingly, they managed to settle fairly well, although many weren't getting all that much work done. Too much talking. After they "finished" their warm up, I was to explain their assignment. I passed out the paper...

"Where do babies come from?"

The boy was on the other side of the room. I continued to pass out paper.

Now, while this is not an unreasonable question, the timing was awful. The class was loud. I was in the midst of getting them ready to do the next thing. And reproduction was not the topic for the day. So, I ignored the boy.

I finished passing out their paper. I turned on the projector (this was the sort of assignment that needs an example). But before I could get going, the boy doubled down...

"If they don't want us to know, why is this in our textbook?"

The boy held up a page showing... well, it's a life science class, and the end of the book has a unit on organ systems. I'll leave it to your imagination.

I picked up the standards for "causing a disruption" and gave it to the boy. (Standards are where they make them copy lines as punishment, in this case for disrupting class.) Then I attempted to explain what they were expected to finish by the end of the period.

Some students will do anything to get out of doing work. This boy was an amateur.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Calling his Mom

Two weeks prior, the last time I had covered this English class at the continuation high school, Jeremiah and I had a bit of a conflict. It's a long story which ends with him on a three-day suspension. So, while I wanted to be respectful of him, I also had to make sure he knew I was in charge.

The previous day, the class completed a first read of excerpts from "Song of Myself" by Walt Whitman. On this day, they were to look for textual evidence supporting attributes of the poet expressed in the poem. They were writing out their findings in a bubble map.

Jeremiah chose not to do his work. Also, he chose to sit in the front of the room. So, of course I stood over him and asked what he was getting done.

What he was doing was talking on his phone. Or playing his music too loud. Or accessing various apps on his phone (texting, Instagram, etc.). And he did not like being "singled out".

"Go sit over there," as he pointed to the chair behind the teacher's desk. "That's your seat..."

He did not agree that my job was actually to make sure he was getting something done. I was "picking on him" and he didn't like that one bit.

I walked the room. Then I returned to see he hadn't gotten any further on his assignment. And he wasn't having my nose in his business any longer.

"I'm going to call my mom..."

His phone was already out, so he pulled up his contacts and started the call.

"Oh, she'd better pick up..."

The phone rang and rang, but he got no answer. He hung up.

I'm not sure what he hoped to accomplish. Was his mom going to tell me that I should let her son sit in class and not do his schoolwork?

I managed not to break into laughter in front of the class. Barely. The student called his mom on me! *shakes head*

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A Dictionary App

It was the third time in two weeks that I'd covered the 11th grade English class at the continuation high school. This day, they were doing a first read of excerpts from "Song of Myself" by Walt Whitman.

First up, I asked the class to define ten vocabulary words their teacher had left for them. They were allowed to use their phones to find the definitions.

(Having students look up definitions on their phones has become common practice in the last couple years. Before anyone gets "these kids today" about this, just think about how you'd rather find a definition or check spelling on a word. You're going to use your phone or a computer, right?)

The continuation high school has many students who have tuned out. They may attend class (although many rack up the absences), but they're there under protest, and they refuse to do anything. But nowadays, rather than spend a period antagonizing me, they spend the period glued to their phones--texting, Snapchatting, Instagramming, and watching videos.

(Depending on various factors, I may or may not choose to do battle over the phones.)

Jake is one of those. I think he has a phone addiction as much as that device is glued to his hand. So, I thought looking up words on it would be right up his alley...

"I don't want to go on Safari..." he whined.

He's glued to his phone, and he doesn't want to use his phone...? OMFG!

But, I had a solution. "You know, there are dictionary apps..."

A few minutes later, I noticed him texting. He explained he was waiting while the dictionary app downloaded. Sure enough, there was now a dictionary app on his phone. Hooray?

He even defined a couple of the words. (Although, not all ten...) Until he got bored of the whole endeavor and put his head down on his desk. Deep sigh.