Friday, September 28, 2018

Who's to Blame?


For the first four days of the six day chemistry assignment, we were watching The Day After. (They then had a writing assignment about nuclear power.)

It was period 4, the difficult group. I had just been shushing them again, so I stood and moved to a different spot where they could all see me. Glaring at them.

On screen, two characters had emerged from where they were holed up after the nuclear bombs had been dropped. The girl was having an understandable meltdown. The guy was trying to get her to go back inside, trying to explain that the radiation in the air was dangerous.

"What do you think killed all these animals?" he asked.

A boy at the back of the room responded. "White people."



(Go to about 4:54 for the scene in question. I couldn't get it to embed at the proper time code.)

My reaction? I laughed. I mean, he wasn't wrong...

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Expected Drill


There's always a fire drill on a minimum day.

I was surprised to learn Tuesday was a minimum day. The kiddos would get out at 12:45 so the teachers could ready their rooms for back to school night.

When I checked in for the day, I asked about the fire drill. The secretary said there wasn't a fire drill.

No fire drill? On a minimum day? Really?

Okay, fine. But on my way to the classroom, I ran into another sub. He mentioned something about a fire drill.

I knew it! I called the secretary. She said she'd check.

As the students walked into period 1, one of them mentioned that there was a fire drill in ten minutes. I figured she knew what she was talking about. And she did. Ten minutes into class, the principal came over the PA to do his usual talk before the fire drill began.

At least this fire drill was mostly painless.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Which Stapler?


The assignment was for six days in a high school chemistry class, the same one from last week. The teacher had left them a movie (that took us four days to get through--it was a crazy schedule week). After the movie, they had a three paragraph "report" to write.

(The writing was tangentially related to the movie which was tangentially related to chemistry, so I won't bore you with assignment details.)

Upon completion of the writing assignment, they were to staple their writing to the prompt and turn it in. There were two staplers left out for the students to use.


They all went for the red one. So much so that students on the side of the automatic stapler would wait for the student using the red one to finish before stapling.

Turns out, they weren't sure what to make of the automatic stapler. I know this because I started offering it to them.

"That's a stapler too."

Every single person who tried it needed me to explain how to get it to work. Some tried to press the top down. And when the staple slammed home (it's loud), half of them jumped. Most of them looked like they were never getting anywhere near that stapler again.

However, a few thought it was cool. A couple boys (it's always the boys) started taking up others' papers so they could do it again. This was more of the reaction I was expecting.

Ah well. At least I exposed them to the thing. Perhaps next time they have to staple something, they'll be braver.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Oft Repeated Phrases


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. πŸ˜‰

OK, so, the other day I noticed how often I preface a story with these words: "a blogger I follow". And it got me thinking...

What if your life was made into a drinking game? What phrase(s) would trigger a drink?

Monday, September 24, 2018

Can I Take That Back?


It was a farmers market Sunday. I sat behind this table (above) and watched the world go by. (My table to the side is below.)


As happens, kids would walk by. And some clearly had an interest in something or other. I could see it in their eyes. They'd stare a bit before walking on.


So, I called out to one. "You can come over and touch..."

At which point I realized how that sounded. Sometimes I should not be allowed to talk.

(I encourage kids to touch my wares. Most are washable, and all are unbreakable, so it's not like the kids are going to bother anything.)

Friday, September 21, 2018

Name Disney Films by Eight-Word Descriptions


Last week was a slow week. (I'm considering it my summer vacation.) So, I have a quiz for today...

Name the Disney Films by Their 8-Word Descriptions


These are ones you have to type in, but you can omit "the" and still get the correct answers. Note the "forward" and "back" buttons. You can skip questions. 

I got 24/26 my first try, but when I just redid it for this post, I got 100%. (*whispers* I cheated for the last one.) 

Good luck, and let me know how you did in the comments.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Unexpected Reaction


Seventh grade science. As we're in the first month of the school year, they're working on things like "how to measure".

One of the questions had a couple boxes that they were to find the volume of. One problem: the numbers on their copies were illegible. So, I made a reasonable guess.

The quickest way to communicate "these are the numbers we're using for that problem" is to write it up on the board. Alas, the board was full of information they needed. But it was one of those sliding boards (here's a link to what the board looks like; I couldn't find an image that wasn't copyright protected, and someone *ahem* forgot to take a picture of the board in the classroom), so I slid the board over, drew a couple boxes, and labeled them with the numbers they were to use.

Problem solved.

When the next class had the same question, I slid the board over. They...



But these were seventh graders, so the look on their faces was way more. Apparently they'd never seen a sliding whiteboard before. Which is astonishing as they'd been in that class for four weeks now.

I have to assume that she spends more time using the projector and not the whiteboard.

Of all the things to shock them, this would have been the last thing I'd expect.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Figuring it Out


High school chemistry. It's the beginning of the year, so they were learning about significant figures. I thought the assignment much easier than they thought it was. It helps that the topic isn't new to me.

As I did my first walk around, one girl was explaining to a fellow student something about the assignment. I stopped and listened for a moment. As she was explaining it correctly, I didn't interrupt. Then I moved on.

(I like when students help students. Both students get something out of it.)

A bit later in the period, a boy raised his hand.

"Who's right, me or her?"

As the girl he was indicating was the one who had been helping another student earlier, I assumed the girl. But when he showed me which problem and I looked at it, I was surprised to find that the girl was actually wrong.

The boy gloated. I pointed out that he was still figuring things out too. (Not all his work was 100% correct.)

The girl and I debated for a bit. But once I found the rule she needed in her notes, she was able to figure things out. (She had her notes out. The boy did not.) She had been looking at the wrong rule.

(I had not realized how much of this I had internalized until I'm hit with seeing the "rules" written out. It's amazing how much one can retain.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Dubious Professional


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. πŸ˜‰

What if you ran into your high school bully, who had you help them cheat in their biology class, and this bully was now a doctor? 

(This was an actual plot point in a TV show I tolerate--that is, I watch it, but only because nothing else is on--and it irked me so much that this what if was born.)

Monday, September 17, 2018

Crocheted Mini Backpacks

I decided to make some more mini backpacks...


It's purple, but I can't get my purples to photograph well. I just replaced my camera (that's a story in itself), so if it was a camera issue, I'll soon find out. (These were photographed with the old camera. These are probably the last pictures I'll take with it.)


The coral pink shows up much better...


I think this is one of those things that show up better in video, however...


I also have all the pieces of a gray one done, but it isn't assembled. I had a bit of a mishap in the assembly, so I put it aside to be dealt with later.

Also when I took these pictures, I took some new shots of my firework earrings...


Just because.

I really should get playing with the new camera. Other things just kept getting in the way.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Familiar Request


Eleventh grade U.S. history. I had just gone over their assignment and asked for questions.

"Can we move seats and work with a partner?"

I should mention that this was already on the board...


No other class had bothered to ask. This is the teacher's handwriting, by the way, not mine. He had written up their assignment along with these instructions.

I pointed out this as I told the student no.

"Can we work in groups?"

Well, that's just messing with me.

"Mr. L isn't here. We don't have to tell him. You can let us..."

I'm familiar with this argument. I hear it a couple times a month. It's generally partnered with, "This is your class for today".

Me: "This is Mr. L's class, so we're going to honor his request."

I wonder if the boy does ever convince a sub to go along with that. Some must fall for it as the students use it frequently.

Once denied, though, the students didn't argue the point any longer. They settled into blissful silence. Ah. That's the kind of class I like.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Blame Lucy


I was back at the continuation high school. English class.

The assignment was a group project poster discussing fixed mindsets and growth mindsets using examples from the movie Freedom Writers.

It was one of those assignments where I needed to spend a while on explanations. They had two pages of instructions. Each person in the group was assigned a specific job.

Fifth period. Ms. S had said that periods five and six already had their groups. So, when Lucy said she knew what to do, I was ready to not launch into the big, long explanation I had to give all the previous classes. And when she and her group wanted to work outside, I was happy to let them.

The first hint that I'd been duped was when two girls walked in late and went to join Lucy's group. They were in groups of four. Adding two put Lucy's group at five.

Then another late student informed me he was part of Lucy's group, but he didn't want to go outside. He'd wait for their return.

A quick glance at the group told me they definitely weren't doing the group project. They were clearly playing cards.

I'm generally hesitant about letting students work outside. Lucy just burned all goodwill over working outside for the rest of this year, at least.

I brought them back in the room. Oh, I was livid. I probably shouldn't have been. When they were outside, the room was calm. Back inside, not so much. When they returned, they did no work. Naturally.

Ah well. Now I have a handy reason for when a student asks to work outside, I say no, and they ask why not.

Blame Lucy.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Bouncy Kids


Eighth grade math. It was a team taught class, so I spent the day in support mode. But it's also how I learned about the new toy they had in class.


It's to help with fidgety middle schoolers. Imagine bouncing your feet on these. (I kind of want one.)


The teachers received a grant to outfit the classroom with them.

I don't know if the kiddos like them or not. The other teacher kept them busy all period, so I had no chance to ask.

However, one student pulled it back and released it, creating a low note vibrating through the air.

Ms. V: "If you're going to deliberately make noise with that, I can move you to a desk that does not have one."

After that, all vibrating bands were clearly accidental. I guess they didn't want to be moved.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Hurting Head


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. πŸ˜‰

Have you been watching In Search Of on the History Channel? They've done some interesting topics.

A couple weeks ago, the topic was mind control. And they talked about an incident from 2016 when various diplomats in Cuba mysteriously began having concussion symptoms with no apparent cause. (Here's a write up from the New York Times and one from NBC News.)

Take a look at one or both of those articles. I'll wait...

Okay, back now? Here's this week's question:

What if, while travelling someplace, you suddenly developed a headache and other possible concussion symptoms? Do you begin to wonder? Or do you dismiss it as something that just happened due to being out of your usual routine?

In case you'd like to see the episode in which the story was brought up (it was sometime in the second half)...

Monday, September 10, 2018

The Leftovers


Yes, this is another amigurumi jellyfish post. (The pattern I use for these is from One Dog Woof, and you can find it here.) 

Pretty much for the month of August, I covered one computer aided drafting class at the continuation high school. (The teacher was on jury duty.)

After a while, I got into a rhythm with the class. I spent the beginning of each period giving announcements, getting them started, and taking roll. At the end of each period, I called for clean up (well, log off), and making sure things were neat for the next class.

However, in the middle of each period, as the kiddos were working (or, I should say "working"), there wasn't too much for me to do. (I had the occasional question. Or a call from the office. Or students asking for restroom passes.) Watching students "working" all period can get a bit tedious. I needed something to do with my hands.

It was an excellent time to have a crochet project.

There is a reason why handiwork projects have been taken along for centuries. It's really easy to focus on listening and watching while the hands are busy.

The first jellyfish I worked on was the one I already showed a couple weeks ago...


I bought the yarn months ago with the intention of making a jellyfish. But it got usurped by other more pressing projects. Once I found the yarn again, I knew it was as good a time as any to finish this guy off.

I finished it, and then I learned the teacher was going to be out for another week. What to do now?

Well, after making 30-something jellyfish, I had plenty of leftover yarn. From any one jellyfish there wasn't enough to make another, but after making four in the darker blue, I had enough leftover yarn to complete another blue jellyfish...


You should have seen the box of cotton yarn I have. It was a mess. I took an evening and detangled all sorts of odds and ends. And after weighing what I had, I found I had enough of a couple colors to crochet more jellyfish caps. As for tentacles, I had various odds and ends that would work.

I decided the next one to do would be in purple...


And the one after that would be pink...


I even have two more colors I could still do, but that's when the assignment was coming to a close. (When I heard that the jury was in deliberations, I focused on finishing up all the tentacles.)

For the record, the pink jellyfish is jellyfish number 37.


And there'll be more after this. There are plenty of days where all I'm doing is watching kiddos work. I have a great take-along project to keep my hands busy and my mind alert.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Performance Review


"Oh no, not her. I hate her."

"She heard you..."

9th grade AP human geography. The students were outside looking in. It was passing period. It seems like there's always one who is not pleased to see me.

How did I offend a student already?

Oh, right. They were 8th graders last year. Yeah, I can see how I would have gotten on someone's bad side. I tend to come down hard on 8th graders.

I get worried when they're happy to see me. It makes me feel like I let them get away with something the last time I saw them. Hating me? It means I did my job properly the last time I saw them.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

The End


The students in the computer aided drafting class did not believe that their teacher was on jury duty. They accused him of going on vacation. They were sure he was out of town.

Never mind the fact that he had stopped in on various occasions. He attended Back to School night. He was grading their work.

On Monday, Mr. G emailed me to let me know that the jury was deliberating. (Finally!) On Tuesday, they still were. So, I left Tuesday afternoon expecting not to return on Wednesday. They'd be done, right?

I told the classes that there was a 70% chance their teacher would be back on Wednesday.

Tuesday night, 11 PM, I got the email. They were still deliberating.

So, on Wednesday, I hedged again. Would he be back on Thursday? Hopefully?

Again, Wednesday, I left with the expectation that I would not return Thursday.

This time, I was right. I got an email at 9:30 PM. They had rendered a verdict. They were done.

I wished I could have been a fly on the wall on Thursday. I would have loved to have seen the kiddos' faces when they walked in and Mr. G was there.

So, the CAD class is now over. The school year is officially underway. Goodbye, summer.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Everyone (Doesn't) Graduate from High School


I was back in the computer aided drafting class I'd been in all month. The teacher was stuck on jury duty. Let me repeat: FOR OVER A MONTH!

It was again Wednesday advisory. This day's big announcement was about picture day. As most of the students hadn't been at the school for the last picture day, I gave them a brief overview of how it would go.

Lucas wanted to know what would happen if he ditched school that day. (Some students I am totally not surprised to find at the continuation high school. Lucas practically announced he was going to end up here.)

It turned out the issue was Lucas didn't want to take the traditional cap and gown picture. Why not? He didn't want to celebrate getting a high school diploma. "Everyone graduates from high school," he complained.

Um, no, Lucas, they don't.

I was at one of the other schools the previous school year. It was one of those days where my assignment disappeared, so the office gave me busy work to do. On this day the busy work was stamping transcripts.

I wasn't paying close attention to the transcripts. I found an empty spot, and I'd stamp them as "official". After a while, I noticed that some of the transcripts didn't have "graduation" on it. Instead of "class of", the transcript just kind of ended. That's when I realized. These were the students who didn't graduate.

Most of the transcripts were for graduates. But there were several where the student did not finish.

Not everyone graduates from high school.

I attempted to tell Lucas this. He wasn't hearing me. He had moved on.

But what I found sad was that he wasn't thinking that earning a high school diploma was an accomplishment. Because it is. It is an accomplishment denied to some.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Put a Cell Phone in It


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. πŸ˜‰

I've done a lot of cell phone hating on this blog. In a classroom, they are a distraction. But, there are also so many benefits of having one. I know I enjoy mine.

I've been outlining a story. (My writing hasn't been happening for a while, so slow outlining is good.) It takes place in the future. And I've been working out how cell phones function in the story. But that's not the only reason this is on my mind.

So, today's question: What if they had cell phones? 

And I'm being very general. There was a thing on Twitter a while back about ruining a well-known story by including a cell phone. (Alas, I can't remember the hashtag to link to it.) There are also some fun articles with this idea. (This is fun: "23 Famous Movie Plots Easily Solved by Text Messages".) So, "they" can be whatever you want--old movie plot, old novel plot, your current WIP...

Monday, September 3, 2018

A Scarf Closeup

Last week was one of those weeks where I just didn't get all that much done.

So, today, I'm showing a close up of the infinity scarf I've been working on since before the summer...


Maybe next week I'll have something new to share? I'll just have to see how the week goes.

I hope you had a productive week last week. Happy September.