Friday, March 29, 2019

French to Me

Seventh grade English. It was a Friday, so of course there weren't enough subs to go around. I was covering a math class for the rest of the day, but for fourth period, I ran across campus to cover this class.

As they were getting seated, I perused the lesson plans. I hurriedly passed things out because apparently they had a test, and we were late getting started.

(This is normal for covering an extra period. It takes security a while to get to the room to open the door. And then it takes me a bit to get up to speed while they settle in.)

I passed out the test. And they balked.

"It's in French..."

From what I could gather, they'd been studying how to figure out unfamiliar words using context clues. And by "gather", I mean that on the teacher's desk were papers indicating that they had been going over this concept for at least a couple days (if not longer).

Then, the instructions on the paper they had in front of them clearly stated that while the passage was in French, they should be able to figure out what information the questions were asking for.

(But nobody ever reads the directions, so...)

I mean, the first question asked how old the person in the passage was, and in the first sentence was the number 16. Come on! That's kinda obvious.

I read the instructions to them. I read the teacher's instructions to them. Then I focused on getting them silent as this was a test.

"But he speaks French."

The students pointed out a boy in the second row.

The area we live in, it's likely there are students who speak Spanish. There are various other languages that they may speak at home as well, considering the mix of ethnicities in the area. (Off the top of my head, I would not be surprised at Tagalog, Vietnamese, Korean, or Arabic. I know of one boy who speaks Russian.) While I would not expect French, it's not out of the question.

So, I did the only thing I could do. I turned to the boy.

"This will be really easy for you," I said.

And I made a note of this for the teacher.

As for the rest of them... It was a simple passage asking for simple information. And if they'd been studying context clues, it should not have been beyond them to figure out the questions which were in English.

But seventh graders react first and then think... Well, not second. Fifth or sixth, really.

Starting Monday, I'll be doing the A to Z Challenge. But you likely won't notice the difference.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Hearing Test

High school science, special ed edition. We were reading a chapter on sound.

We had a whole period, and just reading gets a bit tedious, so to break things up I searched for videos demonstrating sound waves. In the limited time, I came up empty, but I did find this article on sounds only young people can hear.

Oooh, I had to try this.

I played the 8000 Hz. Then, the 12,000 Hz wasn't working in the article, so I found another on YouTube. We could all hear those. As I am over 40, the 15,000 Hz was inaudible to me and the instructional aide. The kiddos said they heard it fine. (They complained that it was irritating, though.)

And then I played the 17,400 Hz...

"Wait. I can't hear that! Are you playing something?"

I've had Josephine Joe in several classes. (You are probably aware I don't use students' actual names, and I haven't here. But I remember her because her first name is the feminine version that shortens to the male name that is her last name.) She hasn't made the blog before.

Everyone else in class heard it. They didn't much like it. One girl said it was giving her a headache.

I tried to calm Josephine down. In the previous class, there was one boy who didn't hear that tone either. He freely admitted that he plays his music on his earbuds way too loud. So, I assumed it was something like that.

Once Josephine was calm, I read that that was the frequency heard by only those under 18.



"Oh, okay then. I'm 19..." 

(Before you question why a 19-year-old is still in high school, recall that this is a special ed class. They give those students a bit more leeway in completing their graduation requirements.) 

She then proceeded to tell me how she was planning to see her doctor over not hearing that tone. She thought she was losing her hearing. She was so relieved to learn that she was normal. 

Those tones worked perfectly at school, but when I tried listening to them on my home computer, there was some weird static. If you have similar issues, just go to YouTube and search the various frequencies. They have several videos with them.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

A Ninja Turtle

Seventh grade special ed world history. They're studying the Renaissance.

We had a few paragraphs to read. Then they had some multiple choice questions to answer. As they were special ed, we were doing them together.

Question number 3: Who was Michelangelo?

Very faintly, from the back, I heard, "A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle."

I pounced.

(The Ninja Turtles were huge when I worked at the evil toy store. And, he wasn't wrong.)

I had the kiddos recall the names of the Ninja Turtles. Raphael. Leonardo. Michelangelo. Donatello.

Then I informed them that the Ninja Turtles were named after Renaissance artists. 


It's a stupid random piece of trivia. I love throwing out stupid random pieces of trivia. Silly, I know...

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Unlikely Ally

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 done this one before, although in a slightly altered form...

What if the only person who could help you was your middle school bully?

Monday, March 25, 2019

Finally Finished Scarf

I finally finished the scarf! No, not that one. Or that one. But the one that I was making for eldest nephew's birthday. In December.


Yeah, it's only three months late...

But it's finished.

I had a couple visitors while photographing it.


Yup, the kahonks are back. (Why kahonk? Here's the explanation.)

It's one of those self striping yarns with very subtle color changes. It's hard to see from the above photos, but you can see it here...

So, now back to the other scarves. The ones that I've been working on since last summer. I'll get those finished. Eventually.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Reading the Clock

I was scheduled to go to the continuation high school for day two of a two-day assignment. I got a call in the morning telling me that they had to pull me. There were not enough subs to go around so I was being sent to...

Elementary school.

I was not happy about this.

(I avoid elementary school for various reasons. They know this. I was not given a choice.)

But none of this was the fault of the elementary school staff or the students. And the fifth grade class wasn't too terrible.

We were midway through their math assignment. A student asked how long until recess.

I pointed out the clock...

Frequently in the middle school and sometimes in the high school when I point out the clock, the kiddos inform me that they "can't read" it. And I grumble and sigh. They seem to be perfectly content not knowing how to read an analog clock.

No, I don't help them out with this. They can figure it out.

So, when the fifth graders asked how long until recess, I figured we could go over clock reading.

The clock on the front wall was set up for learning to read a clock. (I'd think they learned that younger--I recall it being part of the curriculum in second grade--but I know from experience that they don't.) The teacher had posted the minutes on the outside.

I asked when recess was. They knew and said. I asked what time it was. I took a volunteer. We read the time off the clock. The student managed it. And then I had them subtract...

They were able to figure it out.

And now I know what I'm going to do next time a student informs me they can't read the clock on the wall, whether it be in middle school or high school. If they don't know their elementary school lessons, we can go over them again...

Thursday, March 21, 2019


Thursday, two weeks ago. I was covering for a special ed teacher who co-taught all day. It's a pretty easy gig when the other teacher is present (as opposed to also having a sub).

I was to co-teach with three different teachers. Plus, I was to cover an extra period somewhere else. The schedule was:
  • Period 1: co-teach English 8 with Ms. W.
  • Period 2: co-teach English 8 with Ms. R.
  • Period 3: co-teach math.
  • Period 4: co-teach English 8 with Ms. R.
  • Period 5: conference (but I was to cover a science class).
  • Period 6: co-teach English 8 with Ms. W. 
In other words, I was not in the same room two periods in a row. So, I got to do lots of walking that day. 

During first period, I got a call from the office. Instead of co-teaching third period, I was to cover a different English class. As luck would have it, that room was right next door to the class I'd be in periods two and four. Okay, then. 

Second period. The eighth graders were writing an essay. It was pretty quiet in the room. 

So, the noise from next door was more pronounced. 

We could hear voices. We could hear banging. It sounded like kiddos were running into the walls. Or just hitting them. (Neither scenario is ideal.) 

All I could think was, I have to cover this class next period. Eeek. 

It was so bad that Ms. R went next door to yell at them. It didn't make a dent. 

Period three wasn't nearly as bad. They were a bit obnoxious, but there were only a dozen or so of them, so that made the period that much easier. 

And I'm done, right? Well, not so fast. 

I book assignments ahead when I can. One look at my calendar, and I saw that I was scheduled to cover this same class all day in a couple weeks. For three days. Eeek. 

I'd worry about that when it came time. I took a breath and got through the rest of my day. 

When I period sub, if the note I want to leave is going to be longer than "the class was fine", I like to email it. So, when I emailed the teacher, I let her know that I was scheduled to cover her class later. Having the communication open is better than not, right? 

She emailed me back. She was not going to be out for three days, only one. 

I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Three days with that group... But one day I can manage. And I put it out of my mind. 

It was Thursday of last week when I called to book some dates for this week. The only class I had scheduled was for Friday for this teacher. 

There was a math class for Thursday... Well, for Thursday and Friday. But I already have a gig for Friday. Well, it's better to stick with the same class for two days if the teacher is out two days, so they could just reassign that English class... 

And now there are none. Instead of tonight sweating out having to deal with that class tomorrow, I am scheduled to return to a high school math class. 

I've been granted a reprieve. Woo-hoo! 

Assuming that all goes according to plan. Lately, that's not so certain. (See tomorrow's post.)

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Bad News

It's district writing assessment time!

Four times a year, the district requires all the kiddos write an essay on a given topic. Each grade level is assigned a prompt and is given articles (and sometimes videos) to use as sources.

They've been doing this a couple years now, so the kiddos are used to the procedure. (And I've covered this a few times, so I'm used to the procedure as well.)

I was at the continuation high school. It was day two. (They get three days to write.)

Period one went much as I expected. I had to keep after kiddos who kept talking.

Period two went a bit better on the talking front. However, well, this is what I wrote in the note:
The good news: They stayed pretty quiet and I didn't have to keep after them whispering...
The bad news: ...because most of them were sleeping, so I had to keep waking them up. 
Although, to be fair, it was the week after the time change. I was dragging myself. However, I'm sure we would have had a similar issue even without Daylight Saving.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Oh, the Butterflies

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. 😉

We've been having butterflies everywhere. I first saw them on Friday, but I wasn't surprised, as the news reported what was happening. And it was just amazing to stand as butterflies flew past me. (It wasn't as fun as they flew past as I drove my car. I was very anxious about not hitting them.)

But I can't take these things at face value...

What if this isn't a butterfly migration? What if they butterflies are fleeing something we can't see?

Monday, March 18, 2019

An Old Knit Friend

I haven't posted the last couple Mondays. I didn't forget. I just didn't have anything to write about.

I'm working in scarf land, on scarves that I've written about before. We're at what is known in writing as the muddle in the middle, and there's really no story there.

Well, there's story, but it's of the things-are-going-along-nicely variety. There'll be nothing much to report until I have finished objects to show off. (Although, I could tell you all about how my yarn somehow got stuck in a zipper and I couldn't get it unstuck so I had to cut it. There. Just did.)

And so, I had nothing to write about for today until I was perusing other blogs. Lily Element showed off her latest pair of fingerless gloves. And they made me think of my gauntlets...

Yes, there's a story...

Several years ago, I saw these knit on a knitting TV show. (Well, not these, exactly. I hated the cable pattern used, so I substituted my own.) And I had to have a pair.

They're perfect for those mornings when it's cold enough that I sort of need a jacket, but the cold will burn off by mid morning. So, I'd put on the jacket to get into work, take off the jacket as soon as I get in the classroom, and have to carry the jacket back out to my car. It's silly to wear a jacket for maybe 15 minutes and then have to lug it around the rest of the day.

These gauntlets fit perfectly in my bag.

I liked them so much that I made a pair for every female on my Christmas list that year after I finished my own.

I've had mine ever since. They mostly live in my car. I've worn them a few times this winter. So, they're never far from my mind, mostly like ambient lighting or that side table that is just always there.

So, when I saw Lily Element's gloves, I had to share the pattern for these.

I did a cursory search right then, but to no avail. Then I searched the blog. Surely I had posted about these. (Nope. Turns out these predate the blog.)

Ah well. I knew I had a copy of the pattern somewhere. I'd be able to find the correct pattern name so I could search it that way. (I was pretty sure it was no longer on the website for the TV show it was on as that TV show has been off the air for a while.)

I pulled out my knitting notebooks. In the third one I located the pattern. And the date on the printout is 10/18/2005. So, um, yeah, it's been a while.

At least little ol' organized me had kept the pattern with my modifications and the cable pattern I'd substituted in. So I could totally make another pair today if I was so inclined. (There are a couple modifications I'd make today as there are some techniques I've learned since I made these that would make them all that much better.)

First I tried the URL on the printout. I was not at all surprised when it took me to a 404 error page.

The pattern name wasn't all that notable. I'd already used it when I did that cursory search for the pattern before. But my printout had the pattern designer's name. I typed that into Ravelry, and the pattern's page popped up.

Alas, it looks like the pattern is unavailable unless one wants to buy the book of all the patterns from the TV show. Sigh.

Ah well. At least it gave me something to post about today. This post prompted me to get pictures, and now I can add these to Ravelry. Perhaps it's time to go through the wayback files and find other knits that predate the blog.

Nah. I'm sure I can come up with something new. Although, maybe not next week.

And, in a momentary weakness, I went and signed up for the A to Z Challenge again. Not that you'll notice, likely. I'll do as I do every April since 2013 and keep on keeping on, just fitting my normal post to the letter of the day. Some letters are trickier than others. (But X falls on a Saturday, so that's just a picture of something X-related this year. What will I come up with? I have no idea.)

Friday, March 15, 2019

Mystery Science Theater 3000, Eighth Grade Edition

Eighth grade English. Friday. The teacher left them a video.

It was the classic Twilight Zone. We had time to watch two episodes. "The Fugitive" and "Little Girl Lost". (If you want to refresh your memory, they're available on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and

It had been a difficult day. One period would not stop talking. Another whined about having to watch something in black and white. The advanced group was even a challenge to get settled.

I had been warned about sixth period. I braced for the worst. 

After booting a kid for defiantly eating in class (his parting shot: "fatty Patty"), the rest of the group sort of almost settled. And then I started the show. 

Did they sit back and enjoy the show? Of course not. The kiddos heckled the screen. 

They compared the old man in the first episode to R. Kelly. They made fun of the crazy contraption that healed the little girl. 

Then there were all sorts of suggestions for the second episode. I had to assure them that the man was the girl's father. (They were dubious on this point.) They urged the father to look in the closet for the little girl. They argued the pocket universe looked dumb. There were references to Poltergeist

It was like being in an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, but rather than a human and two robots, the theater was filled with loud, obnoxious eighth graders. 

I begrudgingly admit much of their comments were on point. Alas, the way they commented...

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Missing the Scene

Tenth grade world history. Their assignment: continuing watching the movie Swing Kids.

Natalie claimed the bean bag cat on the teacher's desk. She said she needed it. It was hers. While the request was a bit odd, it wasn't terribly out of the ordinary. And I didn't see the point in arguing.

The reason for the comfort stuffed animal soon became apparent.

In case you're not familiar with the movie (via IMDB):
A close-knit group of young kids in Nazi Germany listen to banned swing music from the U.S. Soon, dancing and fun lead to more difficult choices, as the Nazis begin tightening their grip on Germany. Each member of the group is forced to face some tough choices about right, wrong, and survival. Written by Susan Southall 
We got to a scene where some Nazi youths beat up one of our central characters. It's rather brutal. They pummel him and kick him when he's down. Repeatedly.

That's when I noticed Natalie. She was turned away from the screen, tossing the toy from hand to hand. Ah. It was too much for her.

I can relate. There's a point where certain scenes get to be too much for me. I've become a bit desensitized to a lot of what we see as normal on TV, but when I was younger, I had a lower threshold.

So, when her classmates were telling her it was okay to turn around when the beating was still happening... Not okay. Not nice at all.

I let her know when it was actually safe to turn around.

Some friends...

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Thirteen Classes

Last week was kind of crazy. On Friday I tallied up my week. I had covered for thirteen different teachers.

Normally, I cover a teacher a day. Each teacher generally has one preparation period. (Not all do. Some teachers have a class every period. And some teachers have extra no student periods.)

It used to be that I'd be asked to cover a different teacher on that prep period occasionally. Lately, it's more likely than not.

(The fact that we're currently experiencing a sub shortage is surprising. Last year at this time they laid off 55 teachers district wide. I was supposed to be worried that we'd have a surplus of subs as laid off teachers go to the top of the sub list. But most of them got called back to full time the first weeks of school.)

Of the thirteen, eight were classes I covered for one period. Wood shop. AP computer coding. Special ed science. Middle school ELD. And science (biology), history (world), math (IM2), and English (10th grade).

The remaining five teachers were the ones I had been called in to cover for the days Monday through Friday. (Chemistry, health, high school math, and eighth grade English two days in a row for two different teachers.)

Some of the highlights: 
  • A student playacting brushing his hair on top of his hoodie. With a whiteboard eraser. 
  • Having to walk the entire length and width of the campus to cover an extra period (I was late).
  • Getting pulled to cover a different class than I was scheduled for.
  • Realizing that other class is one I'm scheduled to cover in a couple weeks. And the students are awful...
  • Repeating a class I'd covered for three days a couple weeks ago. And it raining on me again. (It rained the last time I covered for that teacher.)
  • A "game" on evolution.
  • Eighth graders essay writing. (Oh, peaceful day.)
  • And a couple video assignments that I'll tell you about tomorrow and Friday.
On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I travelled all day. (I was covering special ed teachers who co-teach. It meant that there was another adult in the room. It also meant that I got to change classes like the kiddos all day.)

On Tuesday I had two periods in a row in the same room, but with snack break between them. On Wednesday I had two periods in a row in the same room, but with lunch between them. The closest I got to two periods in a row in the same place on Thursday was having two classes next door to each other (and separated by the snack break). 

So, yeah, it was a week. I'm hoping this week will be much calmer.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Remember Me

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 had the most brilliant what if story idea just as you were falling asleep? (Not like that happened to me yesterday or anything...)

Friday, March 8, 2019

So Fire

ASB (read: student leadership). I was supposed to cover three days, but I got pulled for one of them.

They were "working in committees", which meant they were treating the time as free. (They were going to be graded on what they had accomplished when the teacher returned, so if they weren't done, they'll regret not doing anything then.)

Second period, talk turned to prom. They were debating the merits of a party bus over a limo. (Apparently driving oneself is not done.)

"The party bus was so fire," the girl said. Apparently her friend's family owns one (the company?).

Then the talk was on where to go eat before. Certain places were "fire" while others weren't.

Yup. Fire. That was the word they kept using. And through context, I was able to figure out that "fire" means good. Really good. Probably what my generation would have called "rad" or "awesome".

Consider yourself up on the current lingo 😉

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Missing Test

Integrated math 1 for eighth graders (read: advanced eighth grade math). They had a test.

The whole district is adopting a new textbook that has an online component. When I covered that co-taught class a couple weeks back, one of the days the class was logging into the website for the first time. So, I wasn't unfamiliar with what the kiddos were doing.

But new programs mean glitches...

The whole class logged in and got started on their test. Then one boy raised his hand. There was no test for him to access.

He explained that he had switched classes, so he was still enrolled online in the teacher's second period class. He logged into that, but there was no test there.

I don't have access to the teacher's view, so there wasn't a lot I could do...

It took me longer than it should have to remember that I could email the teacher.

(I mean, seriously, I email teachers all the time about the crazy that goes on in class. Why it took that long for it to occur to me that I could email her during class time... *facepalm*)

The teacher was on campus. She explained how the test was going to work to me before she left.

So, I sent the email and went about my business. I hoped she's answer me in a timely manner as to what to do with that one student. About the time I thought to check back with my email, the classroom door opened. Ms. J was back.

She conferred with the boy. I caught enough of the conversation to hear that she had him create a new account. Then she had to fly out to go back to whatever it was that was the reason she was out of class in the first place.

It took the boy several minutes to create the new account. And then... The test still wasn't there. Sigh.

By that time, there wasn't enough time in class for him to get anything done, so we just left it as it was. At least next time he shouldn't have any issues logging in. I hope.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019


Ninth grade special ed English class. They were doing a lesson on comparative and superlative adjectives.

The instructional aide warned me that fifth period was a bit challenging. Freshman boys? That's kind of like warning me I'll get wet when it's raining.

Liam did all the usual delay tactics. No pencil. No paper. Not sure what to do. Then the assurance he was brilliant and could complete the whole assignment with minimal effort.

Although, when Liam finally did do some work (I was shocked), he did breeze through the first two sets of questions. (I did not check his work, so it might have been sloppily and incompletely done.) The third set of questions had words he was to put in a sentence. Number one was "funny".

I didn't much care what his sentences were, but he felt the need to announce them. (Notably, no other boys in the class felt this need.)

Then he got to number three. "Longer".

Liam: "Mine is longer than everyone's, especially Carl."

I should have seen this coming. Because, seriously, they do have a one track mind.

Me: "There will be no comparing of body parts."

Liam: "I can't say, 'My arms are longer than Carl's?'"

Carl: "I'd say, 'My legs are longer than Liam's.'"

Uh huh. Sure. Arms and legs were what they were thinking. And Mexico is going to pay for that wall.

Freshman boys. Deep sigh.

Yes, they do grow out of it. Eventually.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

In View

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. 😉

The other day on my way into work, one morning radio program had found a bit of news that they were making fun of. Apparently, there's a View-Master movie in the works. And they just found that hilarious.

The question they posed to one of the guys on the air was: How could they possibly make a movie about a View-Master?

And off the top of my head, I came up with two different ideas. (One could be a Twilight Zone episode, and the other is more of a bio-pic.)

If I can come up with a couple ideas...

What if your story had to start (somehow) with or contain a View-Master? (And hey, it sounds like no one is attached to this project, yet, so you might consider pitching your idea to the studio.)

Friday, March 1, 2019

The Bird

ELD (English language development). Third period was the eleventh graders.

About twenty minutes into class, Rebecca arrived. She had an excused tardy pass from the attendance office.

I told her what the assignment was. (They were writing essays.) She said she'd already finished. Then she asked to go and see her counselor. I gave her a pass.

I've had Rebecca in various classes since she was in middle school. She can be a little irritating. But she's never made the blog before now.

She returned from the counselor after only about ten minutes. And that's the first time Rafael noticed her.

"You're late," he said. "Where have you been? Class is halfway over. You should be working on your essay. It's due tomorrow."

Rebecca turned to him and flipped him off.

And me? I told Rafael to mind his own business and get back to the essay he was not working on.

I'm supposed to call Rebecca out for inappropriate hand gestures and all, but seriously...

At the beginning of third period, Rafael grabbed a computer immediately. He had to start on his essay right away, never mind that there was a warm up he was supposed to complete first.

We argued. I pushed for him to do the warm up. He complained that he had to do his essay. We got through the warm up, no thanks to him, and then the class got to work on the essay. (He seriously wasted a good two minutes with his arguing.)

I meandered to the back of the room so I could see what everyone was doing on their computers. Rafael was busily typing an essay, right? Of course not.

Nope. Rafael spent the period avoiding doing the essay. He was staring into space. He was "doing research". We had another argument about him getting something done. He explained that he didn't need to be in the ELD class, he had the top A in the class, and he was resentful about being there so he refused to work. (Yes, those contradict each other. This is typical for a teen argument.)

So, when he noticed Rebecca (the second time she walked into the classroom) and went after her? Yeah, no. Nope. No.

Rafael was flabbergasted that I didn't say anything to Rebecca about her giving him the finger. But I had a few seconds only to offer my reaction, and I picked the more egregious behavior. And I stand by that.

Rebecca's response? When Rafael turned back to his computer, she gave me heart hands.