Friday, June 22, 2018

Decide the Decade


Before we start today's post, a little PSA for the Blogger bloggers out there. Have you noticed that you're no longer getting email notifications for your comments? There's a fix. 

First, go into your Settings, then under Email. Delete your email from Comment Notification Email. Then Save Settings. Once that's been blanked out, reenter your email. Blogger will send you a verification, and once you've confirmed, your email notifications will be restored. (Much thanks to J. E. Oneil for figuring it out. Make sure to stop by and thank her.)

And now, back to our regularly scheduled post...

School is out. I'll have my year end stats sometime next week. (I'm not in the mood to dig through them right now.) So, to close out the week, I'm offering a random quiz. *cue confetti*

This week it's "Decide the Decade" for you history buffs...

Decide the Decade


I got 10/15 the first time I tried it. The second time (as I was writing this post), I got... 6/15. Good luck!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

F-Bombed


On what ended up being my last subbing day for the school year, I was back in the math class at the continuation high school. It's been a while since I had seen the continuation high school, so it was nice to get there one last time before closing the year out.

It was third period. Jason walked in late. (I make no comment on tardy students as I'd rather they do show up to class. I do mark them tardy on the roll, though.) He immediately went to his computer and logged on.

I was doing my thing, and surprisingly getting called over to sign off on completed assignments for Brent. Brent is one of the well-known difficult students, so the fact that he was diligently working and not making waves was remarkable.

Jason had earbuds in and was listening to music. This is something that's so commonplace I rarely remark on it. If it helps them focus, great.

But, Jason got really into the music and started singing along. In the quiet classroom.

This would have only gotten a quiet nudge from me, except the lyrics Jason was singing along to were not appropriate for school. There was an f-bomb involved.

I informed Jason that he was using inappropriate language in the classroom, and he would owe "standards" (he'd have to write lines) as this is one of Mr. F's rules.

Jason protested. He hadn't said anything wrong. He was just enjoying Earvin's music.

This is where Brent chimed in. He confirmed that Jason had dropped an f-bomb. (Alas, by using the same word...)

Jason shrugged it off. There were only two days left of school. He wasn't going to write those standards.

Good luck with that, kiddo. Mr. F is rather strict about his rules, and arguing with him is like arguing at a brick wall. (Mr. F is a very even-tempered teacher. He doesn't yell. He doesn't get upset. But he slowly, steadily, and quietly enforces his rules.)

By the way, Mr. F is an author as well. You can find his author website here

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

A-Tacked


It was the last week of school. Monday. Tuesday through Thursday (the last day) were their finals. So, the Monday was all about finals prep.

Tenth grade world history. Special ed. Their final was on World War II, so I was to quiz them on what they should know.

I had been warned about third period. "All boys. Five of the six can be a handful..."

They arrived, and they behaved as advertised. Two boys sang songs in Spanish loudly. At the bell half the class wouldn't sit and let me start class. And as I attempted to get them to the task for the day, Thomas approached me.

Thomas held up his hand in the universal gesture of "give me a high five".

I'm always hesitant to high five students. It's not a natural greeting for me. And I wonder at the students' motives.

It was during this hesitation that I noticed Thomas' hand. And the tack held between his middle and ring fingers with the pointy end pointing towards me.

Thomas swore that he wasn't intending to hurt me. I'm not sure how he figured that. He can claim what he wants. Because of my hesitation, he got written up for attempting sticking-me-with-a-tack rather than sticking me with a tack.

(So many excuses/explanations afterward. He tried to talk his way out of it. I felt no guilt over kicking his butt out.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

A Life of Solitude


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 saw this article online, and I got to wondering...

What if you could get a "job" as a hermit?

Monday, June 18, 2018

Flip-Flop Keychain

Last week I mentioned the flip-flop keychain that I just had to make. Yeah, those got done sooner rather than later...


Aren't they just the cutest things? From this picture you can't really tell scale. Maybe from this one...


They're small. Key sized.

Yes, I made two. After finishing the first one...


...(in orange, naturally), I needed to make another right away.


I mean, once I got the hang of it, they were kind of fun.

And by "get the hang of it", there were some transcription problems. The pattern is actually a video. In Italian. But someone kindly captioned it in English.

I don't work well having to refer back to a video. I need the instructions printed on paper. So, I wrote out the instructions. However, I misinterpreted the toe part of the sole, and that made for some mistakes early on.

Once I found that mistake, I was good to go.


And if anyone would like me to make them one, I will sell these in your choice of colors (depending on if I can get the crochet thread in that color). I'm not sure of price yet, though.

If you crochet, here's the video (in case you're looking for a new project).

Friday, June 15, 2018

Three Sentences


Middle school ELD (English language development). This is one of those classes where you wouldn't realize the students aren't considered "fluent" in English just by talking to them.

The teacher had us practice writing sentences. We only had three to do, but we managed to make this take the whole period.

How did such an activity take the entire period? Some of it was due to language struggles, but the rest was just middle school squirreliness. Combine that with sub day and end of the year...

We did have another activity that we never got to.

Anyway, your assignment (if you choose to participate) is to write their three sentences. You may add more words than assigned, but you must have one of each of the words listed, and in this order:
  1. subject, helping verb, predicate, adverb, prepositional phrase, punctuation
  2. subject, conjunction, subject, past tense predicate, prepositional phrase, adverb
  3. subject, helping verb, predicate, article, adjective, noun, adverb
(They'd been doing this sort of thing for days. I even pointed out what the sentences should look like. I had them write sentences on the board and helped them "fix" them. But the playing around...)

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Blind Final


End of the year means end of the year IEPs. The special ed. teachers are busy.

The teacher of the visually impaired classes had one IEP third period. Her English student had a final to take.

Ms. D gave me the test in Braille, a typed copy of the test, and the original page (from some published book). She told me that I'd need to help Kelly with her reading.

I gave Kelly the Braille test. She put her paper into the Braille machine and we got to work. She read the first sentence...

And I understood why my assistance was required.

In case you've ever wondered, hearing a student who's visually impaired sound out words is exactly the same as hearing a sighted student's reading attempts. Although, some letter confusions were not the letters I'd expect.

She'd read the sentence. I'd nudge her towards getting the correct pronunciations. Then I'd leave her to figure out her answer, and she'd Braille it in. (So, I have no idea if she got it right or not.)

This took the entire period.

(That's why she's in special ed. If she didn't need the extra help, she'd be mainstreamed out to the regular ed. classes. They can accomodate students who are visually impaired.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

All Over the Place


It was the penultimate week of school...

(Keep in mind that my posts generally appear the week after the week in which they occurred. And I only do subbing stories Wednesday through Friday, so I'm cherry-picking the most blog-worthy events.)

(Yes, this is still late, comparatively. But in my part of the country, this was normal. I say "was" because next year we're joining you all. Our first day of school for the 2018-19 school year is August 20th. Which is way early for us. I guarantee whining will occur, especially with our shortened summer this year.)

...and I was kind of all over the place. Three days of middle school. Two days "roving" (well, one actual roving day and one that turned into a roving day). One day with a severe special ed class. Well, one and a half. The roving day had a couple of those classes as well.

Yet, I've been struggling to come up with blog posts.

I could tell you about Monday's severe special ed. class. But the most interesting thing about that day was how badly sunburned one of the instructional aides had gotten over the weekend. (It's a long story about him working on a historical ship.)

Tuesday had one awful period (out of five). Awful, as in I had to keep them from talking over the movie. Yup, a video day. What's more boring than writing about a video day? Working one.

Wednesday was one of my roving days. And I was able to pull a story out of it. You'll see that one tomorrow.

Thursday I covered a teacher who works in three different classrooms. And since I covered an extra period in the time between the two classes in the same room, I spent the whole day travelling. It's not as bad as it sounds. Alas, the drama class had little drama. The leadership class did as they were told. And the ELD classes... Well, I'll have a story from them on Friday.

And finally, Friday I had a lovely day with well-behaved seventh graders preparing for their finals. Seriously, they were actually working. And asking questions. That were relevant. There was one period with two students, but that was because the eighth graders were on their end-of-the-year excursion to Knott's Berry Farm.

Some weeks finding things to write about is hard.

Happy birthday to my niece, Olivia. She's 17 today. I will ask her what she wants me to make for her at some point today. What do you think she should ask for?

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Bloodthirsty Vehicle


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 have my klutzy moments. The other day, I stepped out of my father's car, and as I shut the door, it caught on my leg. It was just a nick, but...

"I think your car has developed a taste for blood," I told my father.

I meant it as a joke, because a few months ago, a similar thing happened to his wife. Although that time it was a much bigger deal. She really scraped her leg up, and it took a while to heal.

But, because I do have a bit of a twisted imagination (and we're all aware of Christine)...

What if you discovered your car had a taste for blood? What if a series of minor accidents (of the nick-a-leg variety) started happening? Would you wonder and/or worry? Or would you chalk it up to a twisted imagination?

Monday, June 11, 2018

New Infinity Scarf

Last week I mentioned my newest knit project. That I had just ripped out. I went down one needle size, cast on again, and I've made a little progress...


It's only about an inch in length (well, width), but that's over 324 stitches in a round. I'm happy with that. For now.


I'm looking ahead to the next infinity scarf. I had one stitch pattern I thought would work, but alas, I don't like how it works up. Maybe I'll have to crochet it...

I also found a couple patterns that I really like. There's this beanie made with short rows. I love how that looks. And then there's this crocheted mini flip-flop keychain. I'm definitely going to make one (or more) of those. (Due to copyright concerns, I'm only sharing links. Please do take a look. The pictures will tell you why I need to make these.)

Of course, there may be more jellyfish in my future...

Friday, June 8, 2018

The Pinata Project


Eighth grade math. It's the end of the year, so they were working on a final project. They were making pinatas.

It's a volume exercise. They were to use at least three different shapes, put them together in such a way as to suggest some sort of critter, and then calculate how much volume (for candy) was in the thing.

As you can imagine, they made quite a bit of a mess. This was the last day they could work on the project (it was due Monday), so mostly they had the main body complete, and most were doing some detail work.

(That may be a bit simplistic. We are talking about eighth graders. Some of them had barely started the project.)

The teacher had left all sorts of materials for the kiddos to use. (I imagine many of them were paid for out of her own pocket, such is the state of school funding these days.) They had rulers and scissors. There was construction paper and tissue paper. They had glue sticks and markers. And there were two hot glue guns the students could use.

I bet you can see what's coming...

"Ouch! That glue is hot."

Well, yeah. When you plug the hot glue gun into the wall, melt the glue, and then touch that melted glue, I'd imagine it's hot.

I didn't say this, however. I feigned concern.

"Are you okay?"

I offered to let the student go to the health office. I'm not a monster. I even suggested using the restroom and running cold water over any burns. But the girl didn't get burned. She had just not been as careful as she could have been.

Then it happened again. And again. Throughout the day, various students yelped in pain at the hot glue. (The glue guns weren't thrust upon them. They had to choose them and then use them. I imagine the teacher spent some time going over the proper use of them on a previous work day.)

I found this quite entertaining. Does that make me a terrible person?

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Spelling it Out


The class was intro to health careers. I have discussed the specifics of this class before. It's the end of the year, and they were working on an end-of-the-year calender project.

Three girls approached me. They asked to go to the library to print out items for their project.

I grabbed a pass, filled out the bits I knew (date, room number, where they were going, period, time), signed my name at the bottom, and then I asked for their names.

The first girl said her name. Then, without missing a beat, she began spelling it. The second girl did exactly the same. As did the third.

I appreciated the consideration. All three had the kind of names I highlight on my sidebar under "Student Name of the Week". (One of their names may--or may not--be there right now.)

"Used to having to spell your names out?" I asked.

I recognize the habit. It is my own. Not my first name. I figure most people can handle that. But my last name is one that most people have never heard before. I often say it and then spell it out (when in a situation in which someone is writing it down).

I wonder at parents who give their children such "interesting" names. Don't they know the lifetime of hassle these names bring?

Ah well. I guess they get used to it at some point. Either that, or when they're old enough they change it to something easier to spell.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

A Likely Story


Eighth grade English. At this time of year they have their Anne Frank unit which includes studying the Holocaust.

I try to avoid these classes at this time of year for this very reason. I do consider the Holocaust to be a very important topic, and I'm glad that it's part of the curriculum. However, I have a very low threshold for other people's pain. Being exposed to the horrors makes me physically ill. Usually it's just a migraine, but that migraine will be with me all day. 

This is why I will never again watch another Holocaust movie (if I can help it). I don't read the books. Whenever the topic comes up, I exit the situation. If you've ever wondered why trigger warnings exist, this is why. 

I may try to avoid, but I can't always do it. This day was one of those situations. Luckily, I was able to avoid the worst of it and I came out of this day unscathed.

For their final project they're researching one topic related to the Holocaust (they got to choose from a list), and the following week (as you're reading this) they'll be doing a two minute presentation.

They got to use the computers (you can see them on the desks in the picture). So, my main job was to police computer use. (Fortnite is the game of choice at the moment.) Surprisingly, I had very few issues with the kiddos doing things they weren't supposed to be doing. Most were diligently researching their assigned topic.

Gavin asked to use the restroom. This is not an unusual occurrence, nor is my permission. While he was gone, however, Connor, the boy seated behind him, got out of his desk and sat at Gavin's. Then he started doing something with the keyboard...

Um, no.

I made my way over there very quickly. What was Conner doing on Gavin's computer?

Conner claimed innocence. "I was just making sure his name was on it."

Sure he was.

The Google document appeared unmolested. I shooed Conner back to his seat.

When Gavin returned, I waited. Was something amiss with his document? No, it appeared that he didn't notice anything wrong.

Whew. That means I caught Conner in time.

But, still. What was Conner doing? What did he hope to accomplish? It's not like they had the same topic (the teacher had specified that each student had a different topic), so there was nothing to copy. The only thing he could have been doing was sabotage.

I guess it'll remain a mystery to me. Whatever it was, I hope I did catch him in time.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Less of Us


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 saw a thread on Twitter concerning a report that "...America is no longer making enough babies to keep pace with deaths." ("Millennials say no to kids, population 'replacement level' turns negative", Washington Examiner, November 15, 2017) Which is to say, if things keep going at this rate, the population is going to decline.

I know I've hit this topic before, so I'll keep this simple... 

What if the world's population declines (rather than expands)? What will that mean for us?

Monday, June 4, 2018

Four More Jellyfish

Last week I promised finished jellyfish. This week, I have finished jellyfish...


I did, in fact, have them finished by last Monday.


That's when I took these pictures. I even used this one to replace my header photo on a couple of my social media pages...


They were mailed on Thursday, and according to the online tracker, they arrived on Saturday. Hopefully the nephews are enjoying them.

Now, it's back to infinity scarves. I started one on Tuesday. It took me over an hour to cast on. I worked on it for the next couple days. On Saturday night, I ripped it all out.

The stitches were too loose. I decided to go with a smaller needle. And once I'd pulled it off the needles, I saw that it was waaaay too big. So, good call, that. (No one needs an infinity scarf that's 70 inches around.)

I'll post pictures when I have some progress to report.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Senior Ditch Day


It was Friday, day two of a two-day assignment. The teacher had been out all week. (Another sub got Monday through Wednesday. I only covered Thursday and Friday.)

There were three periods of AP geography, one period of AP psychology, and one period of AP government. (If you aren't familiar with the terminology, here's a link to what an AP class is.)

The fact that the whole schedule is AP is significant. See, the AP tests were from May 7-18. The students work hard to prepare for that test. Once they've taken the test, they're done for the year.

Yup, a whole day of students who were done for the year.

But I wasn't stressing. The teacher had left movies for them to watch.

Second period was the government class. Seniors.

Passing period. One student walked in.

"I'll be the only student here today. It's senior ditch day."

I laughed. I told the boy that there would be other students, but now my expectations for attendance went way down.

In case you're not familiar, senior ditch day is an unofficial tradition where the senior class decides to not attend school one day. It's usually in the spring, near to the end of the year. And it's usually a surprise as they don't inform administration. (The administration tries to discourage it.)

I rarely hit senior ditch day. The one day I did (years ago now) where I had senior classes, about half the students attended. If the teachers know about it, they're not going to miss that day. It's like a mini vacation for them.

In the end, I was right. Shortly after the boy, three other students arrived. That's four total students in a class that has 37 enrolled.

Alas, that was my only senior class of the day. The psychology class had only four seniors total (the rest were juniors), and the geography classes were all freshmen.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

That One Last Try


It was Friday, day two of a two-day assignment. The teacher had been out all week. (Another sub got Monday through Wednesday. I only covered Thursday and Friday.)

There were three periods of AP geography, one period of AP psychology, and one period of AP government. (If you aren't familiar with the terminology, here's a link to what an AP class is.)

The fact that the whole schedule is AP is significant. See, the AP tests were from May 7-18. The students work hard to prepare for that test. Once they've taken the test, they're done for the year.

Yup, a whole day of students who were done for the year.

But I wasn't stressing. The teacher had left movies for them to watch.

On Thursday I had done all the panicking. There were no lesson plans, but I knew what they were likely doing. I located the teacher's laptop (which is what they play movies on nowadays), got myself logged in (which was a story in and of itself), and found the teacher's DVDs when the teacher called. The DVD I found was the one he wanted them to watch.

The DVDs all worked on Thursday. So, when I arrived on Friday, I went about setting everything up. (I shut down the laptop before leaving the prior day.)

As it was a Friday, I had arrived a bit late. (Fridays I'm either running really early or really late. This was a late week.) So, I was still setting up when the kiddos started arriving. But no big deal, I thought. I was logged in. All I needed to do was insert the DVD...

And... it wouldn't load. I got an error message. By this time the bell had rung and I had 25 sets of eyes on me, waiting...

So, I tried every trick I know. I ejected and reinserted the DVD. I restarted the computer. I even resorted to asking the students for help. And nothing would work. There was no use for it. It was time to call for help.

The school has a tech helper. He has saved my butt on more than one occasion. But I don't want to call him in if I don't have to. At this point, I had to.

It takes him some time to get to the class, so I went back to the laptop. What if I tried a different DVD? (The government and psychology classes were watching something different.) I popped in the government class' DVD just at the tech helper arrived...

And wouldn't you know it? Now it worked. Naturally.

I apologized for bothering the tech guy now that I had managed to get the thing to work. As always, he was very nice about it. But, I still felt stupid about getting him to come all the way out to the classroom.

With the issues on Thursday and Friday, that class didn't finish the movie. Ah well. At least they had something to do the next week...

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Crayon Box: The New Watercooler


Seventh grade science. It's nearing the end of the year, so they were working on a major project--The Body Book. (It's a review of all the human body systems--like respiratory and skeletal--in an illustrated booklet.)

On this day they were to complete pages for the integumentary system and the endocrine system.

However, I had fair warning--this class was horrible.

As the assignment required colored illustrations, the teacher had provided a tub of crayons. Used, abused, broken crayons. (The kiddos don't treat provided materials with respect.) The students could borrow colors as needed.

A girl and two boys hovered over the crayon tub. When I queried them, they claimed they were searching for specific colors. But they weren't digging through the tub as vigorously as I'd expect. Or at all. No, it was clear they were having a conversation. (I definitely got a flirting vibe.)

I told them to find their colors and take a seat.

I would have hovered over them, but the class needed more attention. I had roamers to chase down. One girl decided she's rather sit on the floor. Another boy was arguing with a fellow student, and the pair needed my intervention.

I returned to the crayons to find the three still there.

Okay, fine. Time to put a timer on it.

I found the teacher's timer, set it for two minutes, and told them that was their time limit. They left before the timer went off--without crayons.

On the bright side, this assignment is worth major points, so the goofing off will impact their grades.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Worst Hero


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've been watching Legion again...

What if your sworn enemy (or the story's villain) is the only one who can prevent an impending major disaster? 

(Some specifics for this case: By sworn enemy, I mean a person who has done something horrible, like murdering your sibling. And by impending major disaster, I mean something huge, like a plague that could kill a large number--millions--of people.)

Monday, May 28, 2018

The Fastest Jellyfish

I've been making amigurumi jellyfish for almost two years now. I've written numerous posts about them, including inventorying how many I'd made just over a year ago.

Because I've made so many, I have a routine when it comes to constructing the things. If I push myself, I can get one finished in a week. (Not that the work really takes a week, but I've got a day job and other things that must be done. If I just crocheted all day...)

By the time you read this, I will have completed four in two weeks. For me, that's lightening fast.

(And the "lightening fast" only happened because I was doing the crocheting while at the day job. Sometimes I luck out and have classes that only need me to monitor, like having a student teacher or having AP classes after they've taken the AP test. I have to do something to keep my brain and hands busy or I'll be struggling to stay awake.)

As of "press time", however, I only had two complete...


...with two more just waiting for a face and stuffing...


If you follow me on Instagram (I'm @ZiziRho), you'll have already seen some of my progress...




(And I'll post pictures of the last two on Instagram once I finish them.)

That'll bring my grand total number of completed jellyfish up to 29. (I'm keeping a list.)

Wow, that's one short of 30. I'd better not say that too loudly. Someone will surely request number 30 before too long.

Apologies for being behind in responding to comments. It appears that Blogger has developed a glitch and is no longer sending me email notifications for blog comments. (Is anyone else noticing this? Or is it just me?) Hopefully, the glitch will be repaired soon.

Friday, May 25, 2018

A Friendly Reminder


It's nearing the end of the year. The 7th grade history students had been given a year-long project at the beginning of the school year. It was time for them to present (in front of the class) what they'd done.

Most of the presentations had been done the prior week. A few stragglers still had presentations to make up.

(The class was being taught by a student teacher, so things could go on as normal even though the full time teacher was out of town.)

Class had barely started. The student teacher called on a student. "You're presenting today."

"I know!"

Normally, the tone the student used and the fact that he rolled his eyes would be a these-kids-today-are-terrible post. But not today.

The prior day, the student had been pulled out of class. He had a doctor's appointment or some such--something he had no control over.

At the end of the period, someone in class thought it might be a good idea to remind the student that he'd be presenting the next day. The student teacher asked if anyone had the student's cell phone number. It turned out that over half the class did. (A class of 37 students.)

So, every student who had the kid's number texted him to "let him know" he'd be presenting first. They figuratively blew up his phone. According to the student teacher, the later texters were getting responses of "I know!". I imagine with appropriate emojis.

Middle school teachers have a wicked sense of humor.

(His presentation went very well. He did an awesome job.)

Thursday, May 24, 2018

A Group of One


I had a really easy week covering a class that had a student teacher. He did all the work. Well, except for that one period...

On this day he had to leave early as he had a job interview. So, I would be actually doing my job.

It was 7th grade world history. They're finishing up the Middle Ages and starting on the Renaissance. (Middle school world history goes up to the Renaissance. High school world history starts there and goes through modern day.)

They were to get into groups of four. Then they would look up (on the Internet) Marco Polo and the Medici family. They were to find a number of facts about each. This was to lead into talking about these topics.

I introduced the assignment and released them to get into groups. (This was the "advanced" class, so they could be trusted to work with their friends.) Two students had paired up but needed two more to join their group. I went looking for other students similarly situated.

Mostly, they were in groups of four. I found one student on his own. I told him there was a group he could join. He didn't want to.

"Can I work alone?"

The assignment was set up so each person in the group had less work to do. As a solo, he'd have to do four times the work as the rest of the students. I pointed out that working with a group would make his job easier. He said he'd rather work alone.

I said he could, and I went looking for others to join that first pair. I found another girl who also wanted to work alone.

Eventually, I found a third for their group, but alas, no fourth.

There is a mentality among some "advanced" students of perfectionism. They don't like working with others. (Even though this wasn't the sort of assignment that really called for being all that perfect.)

The funny thing was, the students still scrambling at the end of the period were the students in groups. The solo students were completely finished. (Perhaps they were on to something...)

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Idiot


I arrived at the school on Tuesday morning for a rest-of-the-week assignment. I ran into another sub, and after we checked in, we exited the school's office together. He mentioned that it was a minimum day...

Wait. What?

We confirmed with a school employee that it was, indeed, a minimum day. (My packed lunch would not be needed.) It was open house that night.

And I realized that I knew this. I was at a different school the previous day, and I saw that their open house was Thursday. Which meant that the school I was at's open house had to be Tuesday. So, I knew, but I didn't know.

This was good news, but I had a class to cover first. I went to my assigned classroom. Let myself in. Turned on the lights. Went in search of the lesson plans...

No lesson plans. I freaked out. I called the school secretary to ask if the teacher had emailed them. What was I going to do for four days in a class with no lesson plans? This was not the sort of teacher who just leaves a class hanging. I've covered his class a few times in the past.

I worked myself into a nice lather by the time the warning bell rang. I opened the door to let the kiddos in. And that's when the student teacher arrived.

Of course there were no lesson plans. The student teacher was going to be teaching the class.

And again, I realized that I knew this. The other sub who I bumped into on the way out of the office is a sub I talk to now and again. A couple weeks prior, I had mentioned this assignment. He heard the teacher's name, and his comment was, "He has a student teacher this semester". I filed this information away. And then I promptly forgot it.

At least these were good surprises. Eventually.

I must pay better attention to the clues around me. I had all the information I needed. I had just forgotten it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

I Robot


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. 😉

This week's question is inspired by Westworld on HBO...

What if you discovered that your consciousness (your personhood) was now living in a robot body? (That is, you don't realize that your body is now a robot body until you've been told. Just now.)

Monday, May 21, 2018

Thirteen Tentacles

I'm at it again. I'm making more jellyfish.

It's kind of a long story. It starts with me being a bad aunt. It ends with me having oodles of time last week. (Two words: student teacher.)

Anyway, I've made four bodies, and now it's time to make tentacles. I've made thirteen already...


Which is a good start. There are eight tentacles per jellyfish. I'm making four jellyfish. 8 x 4 = 32.

32 - 13 = 19.

Nineteen more tentacles to go...

Deep sigh. Why did I start this again? Oh, right. I've missed all my nephews' birthdays. Bad aunt.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Keeping Them Straight


I don't often cover Spanish classes as I didn't take Spanish in school, so I was rather grateful that the class had a test. Well, actually, they had two tests.

The first test was to be taken on the computer. The second test was written.

For the first test, I distributed the Chromebooks. They logged into the textbook's website and did that exam. Then I had them return the Chromebooks before I'd give them the paper for the second test.

If you take a look at the classroom setup above, you'll notice that some of those desks are right next to one another. Because of this, the teacher had two different written tests, an A test and a B test. It was my job to make sure that students sitting next to each other got different tests.

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, students finished their computerized test at different rates. As they returned the Chromebooks, I had to determine which written test to give them. I decided that desks on the left of the pair would get the A test and desks on the right would get the B test. I just had to keep track of where they came from.

Yeah, well... About half the class I watched get up. The other half I had to ask where they were seated. And with how the room was situated, you know I did screw up. At least I only messed up once. Which put three boys in a row with A tests...

Ah well.

I was bound and determined to figure out a way to not screw up again with the next class.

Then it hit me. The students weren't assigned specific computers (in some classes they are, but not in this case). All I had to do was give students who'd get the A test the odd numbered computers and give students who'd get the B test the even numbered computers. It's not like they'd notice...

And it worked. For every student who I hadn't seen where their seat was, all I had to do was ask what number computer they had.

Sometimes the solution is simple. Sort of.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

And Again


It was a roving day. That is, instead of being told I'd cover for a specific teacher, I was told I'd be "roving". So, I'd be covering two or more different teachers throughout the course of the day.

When I arrived, the secretary offered to switch me to a different assignment. Because guess who the first teacher I'd be covering for was?

But, as luck would have it, the school was on a block schedule, so third period wasn't even meeting. (That's the class that stole my clock and threw the stink bomb.) I'd only have to cover all of second period and half of fourth. Well, they weren't too bad...

And they weren't. They had an essay to write. And for the most part they did.

Well, except for that minor altercation between two boys. It wasn't a fight, exactly. More of a tussle that ended a moment after it began.

The next day I was back at the same school. I was covering for a completely different teacher. All day. And that class... Well, this is the only mention I'm going to make of them. They did their work. They gave me no problems.

This teacher had sixth period off. It is fairly normal for the office to ask me to cover a different class on that prep period, so I wasn't shocked to get called for that. But guess who I was asked to cover?

I mean, what are the odds? There are about 130 teachers at the school. Surely someone else needed coverage sixth period.

But sixth period was the best behaved class of the day. (I know, shocker.) So, I wasn't worried. And everything did go smoothly.

Now, fingers crossed. The goal is to avoid the class for the rest of the school year. Do you think I can do it?

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Future's Enemy


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. 😉

Let's posit a scenario. (This idea comes from the Timeless episode from last week.) Someone just tried to kill you. They failed. And while looking for answers, you stumbled across the crazy-sounding truth...

What if your would-be killler was a time traveller from the future sent back in time to get rid of you?

Monday, May 14, 2018

Harvest Porcupine Infinity Scarf

I was gifted a skein of yarn. I decided I'd make myself an infinity scarf with it.

I looked through my stitch dictionaries to find a stitch pattern to use. I decided to go with one called the Porcupine Stitch.

I made a test swatch. I figured out about how long I'd want the scarf to be. I did the usual calculations to figure out how many stitches to cast on. And then I began.

I've already blogged about this and how I made a bunch of mistakes at the beginning...


The yarn is fingering weight (read: pretty fine), so the progress was slow. A month later...


And that was about a month before now.

Because I only had the one skein, how wide the scarf actually became was somewhat out of my control (because I was knitting it long-ways). I'm terrible at estimating sizes. I hoped for rather than expected everything to work out in the end.

The other component of this knit was when to end it. The stitch pattern repeats every nine rows, and I wanted to end on a row that mirrored the beginning of the scarf. But, I only had the one skein, so I had to end it before I ran out of yarn.

Last Saturday (the 5th) I thought that was it. But as I approached the row I'd need to bind off, that ball of yarn looked like it had another repeat in it. So, I continued on.

Then this past Friday (the 11th) I approached the predetermined bind off row again. I looked at the remaining yarn and wondered...


Well, there was one way I could determine with certainty. I could weigh it.

(This is an old knitting trick. If you've knitted one mitten and you're not sure if you have enough yarn for a second, weigh the mitten, then weigh the loose yarn. If the yarn weighs more than the mitten, you're good to go.

As this isn't mittens, I needed to do a few more calculations. Weigh the project (minus the needles). Determine how many pattern repeats had been completed. Divide weight by pattern repeats. If that number was smaller than the weight of the remaining yarn, I'd be good to go.)

I got out my scale, and... The batteries were dead. And I had no AAA batteries in the house.

Okay, eyeballing it...

I got to the bind off row again...

Remaining yarn ball between blue brackets--hard to see otherwise.
And I decided not to risk it. It was finally time to bind off. That was Saturday night...

I finished the thing sometime after midnight.


I haven't blocked it. I kind of like the texture.


And I don't want to flatten it out. Who knows? I may decide to block it later. (I'm not going to be wearing it any time soon. We're going into warm weather season.)

So, did I have another pattern repeat's worth of yarn? I'll let you decide. Here's how much yarn I had left over when I cut the yarn after finishing the bind off row...


I think the size turned out just fine...


And now I'm again in between knitting projects. Deep sigh.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Facebook is for Old People


Eighth grade English. They are starting their Diary of Anne Frank unit, and as an intro, they had an article to read.

I was drawing the discussion out a bit. I didn't want to give them too long to work on the questions they had that went along with the reading. Students, especially middle schoolers, have a tendency to rush through questions just so they can have "free time" at the end of the period (read: time to go insane and make my job harder).

I mentioned that the Anne Frank Center was on Twitter (@AnneFrankCenter), and considering that they'd be studying not only the diary but the surrounding history and such, they might be worth a follow.

As soon as I said it, I realized the 13/14-year-olds might not be into Twitter. But the first group assured me that Twitter was still lit.

The next class, however, informed me that Twitter was for old people.

To the third group, I prefaced my remarks with, "I know Twitter is for old people..." They wanted to know who thought that. Facebook, they said, is for old people. Twitter, they said, is OK. It's great for memes.

As for the last group, they seemed to be divided. They agreed Facebook is for old people, but Twitter could be OK.

Which just goes to show that they don't even have a consensus as to whether or not Twitter is cool. Mostly, they stick to Snapchat, I think. At least, they will until the next big thing comes along.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Them Again


After the last time, I swore never again. Never again lasted two weeks.

Although the deck was stacked against me. The teacher requested me. And there were no alternative assignments for the day.

Friday. That eighth grade English class. You remember the one. First, they stole my clock (and got offended by my accusation). Then they threw a stink bomb.

I kinda thought the teacher wouldn't want me back after all that.

Now, actually, the rest of the day had been pretty much OK. Believe it or not, the kiddos worked silently. Eighth graders. It was just that persnickety third period...

I braced for them. I set up all the materials so I wouldn't have to turn my back on them. And then...

They were fine. I mean, we had the usual I-can't-get-a-word-in-edgewise discussions while reading an article together in class. But they did do the assignment. And they didn't figuratively blow up the classroom. They weren't even the worst class of the day.

A win. Sort of. Hooray?

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Test Ready


Integrated math 2. (Read: geometry or 10th grade math.) It was test day and we were on block schedule. They had an hour of review followed by an hour for the test.

During the testing hour, a boy called me over. He had a question about one of the test questions...

This was not the exact test question, but it is a good example of what the test question was like.
"How do you find that angle?"

Me: "Uh huh. Yeah. That's what the question is asking."

"But how do you do it?"

During the review hour, they had a test review packet to complete. They were given 10 minutes to work on a page, then the teacher (it was a co-teaching situation, so I took the support role) demonstrated the questions via the projector. And there was more than one example of this type of problem on the review.

How had the boy missed it? Well...

During that first hour, I ended up stationed at his table. I was trying (unsuccessfully) to get them to put away a phone. They wouldn't. They wanted to watch a baseball game. "We know the material. We're ready for the test. We all have As and Bs in this class."

Apparently they weren't as ready as they thought they were.

And I took a certain amount of satisfaction from the fact that the boy was going to miss that question. Does that make me a bad person?

(In case you're wondering, it's a sine/cosine/tangent question. Take the ratio of two sides, look up that decimal on a table that they had, and voila. If you want more details, I'll explain in the comments.)