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


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


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.