Friday, October 30, 2020

The Ultimate Spooky Halloween Trivia Quiz

 Halloween is tomorrow, so how about an easy Halloween quiz? 

The Ultimate Spooky Halloween Trivia Quiz

While some of these questions are challenging, the decoy multiple choice answers are so clearly wrong that it's hard (on most of the questions) to pick the wrong one. I'd say you might have to think on five or six of them (out of 20).

I got one wrong. How did you do?

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Bubble Gum Physics

Last week was kind of slow, so I went back into my archives for a #ThrowbackThursday post. I searched "Halloween" and found this post from November 2, 2007. Funny thing is, I remember this day. It was a cool assignment. And the kiddos behaved as eighth graders would for such a thing. 

As you know, Wednesday was Halloween. And I covered an 8th grade science class.

The teacher left them a lab assignment. "Bubble gum physics." The object was. . . Well, I think the ultimate object was to learn about speed (measuring it and figuring out how to find it) and all the calculations that go into it. What they actually did, though, was to chew gum.

Gum is not allowed in school. So, using gum in a class experiment was a treat. It's just that it would probably have been a better treat if the assignment wasn't overseen by a substitute teacher!

Well, all things considered, it went pretty well. I actually spent the day reminding them how to round numbers and how to take averages. And I had to make sure that they didn't take more than one piece of gum. Unfortunately, at that I failed. How do I know? I was given 380 pieces of gum. By the end of the day, I had four. 35 students per period, 5 periods. . . The math just doesn't work out, kind of like most of the math they were trying to do.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Becoming Routine

I was back at the continuation high school for the first time since the new school year began. It had been late February the last time I was there. (The last continuation high school blog post before the shut down is here.) 

I was covering a teacher I had covered many times before. (I've subbed for all the teachers there.) It did not look like she'd been on campus since the shut down, but that's getting to be kind of usual now. Not many teachers are coming to campus. 

But apparently the teachers at the continuation high school haven't been taking many days off. I was told I was the second sub they'd had this school year. 

I could kind of tell. They weren't sure how to log me into the teacher's Google Classroom. And I had to ask for a Chromebook and bell schedule. 

I've subbed enough days now in this virtual thing that I knew what I needed. And I got to the school with enough time for everything to be good to go. 

The day went smoothly, actually. While I didn't have access to the Google Classroom to make sure the kiddos were working, I had the meet links and all the information to describe the assignment. If they didn't work, it was on them. (I imagine they worked like they generally work. Some got a lot done. Most didn't do anything.)

It was weird hearing little kids running around outside. There's an elementary school across the street, and they've been using the campus for the students that they do have. (There's a day care kind of thing going. Mostly the elementary kiddos are at home as well, but some families need the day care, so that option is available. With safety precautions in place.)

Another subbing day during the pandemic. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2020


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 received a random check for $5000? (It's your money. Legally. No mistake was made.)

Monday, October 26, 2020

Friday, October 23, 2020

The Wrong Assignment

It was one of the "very" special ed classes. Fifth period was math. 

The teacher had left no lesson plans for me. In Google Classroom she had posted what she wanted the kiddos to do. 

Luckily, the earlier classes were co-taught, so I got the idea of how things were set up. They'd divided the classes into two groups. Group 1 started at the beginning of the period. After about a half hour, they were left to continue the work on their own while group 2 logged in and got a different assignment. 

Some from group 2 would log in at the beginning of class, and some from group 1 would remain if they had questions. As the teachers know who's in which group, this isn't a big issue for them. 

At the beginning of fifth period, I pulled up group 1's assignment and started going over it. We did the work together. 

At the half hour mark, I looked for new students to log in. No one did. So, I continued on with group 1's assignment as the students were clearly having difficulty with it. 

At the end of class, I dismissed them. I input the attendance. And I wondered why group 2 didn't show up. So, I checked the names on who was assigned what. . . 

And I discovered that I had not had group 1 in class at all. They were all absent. Then I looked at group 2's assignment and understood why they were having so much difficulty. It was much easier than group 1's assignment. 

Deep sigh. 

So, I messed up. But, I maintain this was not my fault. Yes, I probably should have checked the names before class, but besides that not occurring to me, I really did not have the time. Not if I wanted to start class on time.

I did not have a list anywhere of who was in group 1 versus group 2. In Google Classroom, if I went into each assignment, I could access who was assigned what. It took about three steps to get to, but only if you know where to look. 

Ah well. At least the kiddos were busy for the whole hour. Hopefully they understood their work well enough to complete it on their own. (They could access it in Google Classroom and turn it in for their asynchronous work.)

Thursday, October 22, 2020

A Very Different Evacuation

Desk with chair and two computers

I really, really hate emergency drills. But we're doing the distance learning thing with no kiddos, so we're exempt now, right? Uh. . . 

Every year, California does its Great California ShakeOut. The district I work for always does it. And last Thursday was the day. 

Usually, I know it's coming. But this year is so different. I didn't even realize it was the day until the assistant principal came over the speaker system beginning with, "Attention all teachers who are on campus. . ." 

I happened to be co-teaching on this day, so I let the other teacher know something was going on. As she was working from home, she kept going while I evacuated with the rest of the staff on campus. 

I wasn't the only one in my immediate vicinity, it turned out. Three other teachers exited classrooms in that wing. One got five steps away from her classroom, noticed that we were all wearing masks, realized she wasn't wearing hers, and turned around to go back and get it. (I think we've all done this once or twice this year.) 

When we got out to the evacuation staging area (outdoors, in the PE area), I heard more than one teacher say the very thing I was thinking. "I didn't realize there were this many people on campus." 

I'd guess there were about fifty of us. Now, compared to a student population of 3000ish plus 170ish teachers plus instructional aides plus security staff plus administration, that's really nothing. But considering how empty the place feels, it's really a lot of people who are actually around.

We hung out until we got the all clear. When I got back to the room, the class was still going. (I left the meet on.) It's amazing how long it did not take when we did not have the whole campus population to deal with.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Distant Musicians

chair and desk with two computers

Have you been wondering how they're conducting music classes distantly? Only me? 

Last Tuesday I was called in to cover band (and music appreciation). Last Wednesday I was called in to cover choir (at a different school). 

It turns out that the marching band is actually learning a parade march. I mean, that's what they always do every year, but they generally do that with the expectation that they're going to perform it while marching in various parades. 

Rehearsing distantly with the wonky wifi connection is odd. The drum major did the conducting while everyone else had their cameras and mics off. (I'm sure there's got to be a way that a band can rehearse this way, but the technology apparently doesn't exist yet.) The drum major had various section leaders play their parts, but not together. At least they'll know their individual parts when they can meet in person? 

It was a good thing the drum major was doing the work, because I got kicked out of the meet six times. Yup. Six. At least I was accessing the attendance software via a different computer, or I might have been kicked out of the meet more than that. 

The music appreciation class allegedly watched a video. They turned in the questions before the class was over, so they did something. (They were given the YouTube link for the video, so I didn't have to show it to them.) 

As for the choir, they were to do rehearsals via various websites, and then they were to record themselves via another website. So, unlike the band, their teacher could hear what they were doing. (Although, I assume the band director was having them play individually for him at various times. They had a "test" coming up where they were to have their parts memorized for various sections.) 

It'll be interesting when we get back to in person classes. I wonder if they'll be performance ready. It's a different way to learn their music, to be sure.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Missing a Day

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 woke up this morning with no memory of yesterday? (At some point after you woke up, you realized that it was a day later than the day you thought it was. This is not a case of quarantime, or you thought it was Monday but it's Tuesday. Nope, you've actually lost a day somewhere.)

Monday, October 19, 2020

Entrelac Scarf Progress

Last week I just knit along on the scarf for my sister-in-law's birthday. Her birthday was at the end of September. She got to choose what she wanted. 

Last Monday I showed you this. . .

Since then, I've progressed to. . .

Then. . .

And as of Sunday. . .

The color changes are all from the yarn. It's a simple enough pattern, so for now it's just a matter of knitting along until I finish it. 

I think right about now I need a project that I don't have to think too much about. This is that. 

I hope you have a good simple project to keep your mind off things. Do you?

Friday, October 16, 2020

75 of the Most Popular Films of 1980-1995

Since the horror movie list from last week went over so well. . . 

This is a quiz for those of you who are about my age. Well, I mean anyone can try it, but for those of you who are about my age, this is our movie sweet spot. 

75 of the Most Popular Films of 1980-1995

I got 52 of the 75, or 69%, mostly because I'm just contrary that way. There are very popular films (*cough* Jurassic Park *cough*) that I refused to see. (There are stories behind some of them, mostly long stories.) 

How many have you seen? Are there any on the list that you refuse to see?

Thursday, October 15, 2020


Period six was the biggest period of the day, thirty plus students. Because we are on a modified schedule for distance learning, I only had the class twice in four days. 

On Wednesday, I had gotten them started on the assignment. I went to input the attendance when, poof. Suddenly I was kicked out of the meet. 

The internet was still working, so I just rejoined the meet. And it was all fine.

The exact same thing happened on Friday. 

I think since more of them had their cameras on, it was taking up more bandwidth? Perhaps. And it only occurred while I was accessing two things online by taking attendance. 

This is why when students drop out of the meet, I'm not concerned. Especially when they rejoin a minute or two later. Because it has happened to me. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

An Obvious Fix

desk with computer

I got the Google extensions so I could see all the students on screen and so I could track whether they stayed in class all period. I was all set. Not so fast. . .

The prior week I included the attendance files in my email to the teachers. I thought the files went through. Now I know differently. 

Last week I covered a French class for four days. (The teacher's father passed away.) Because it wasn't a one-day thing, I wanted to save the attendance files and send them all at once. 

Upon attempting to save the files, I discovered a small, teeny issue--I couldn't retrieve the actual data in the saved file. 

After trying every trick I knew, I admitted defeat. And that's when I had the bright idea to take a screenshot. Not ideal, but it gets the job done. 

The attendance extension is really cool. It gives a graphic that looks like this: 

sideways bar graph with green bars

I cropped this to cut out all identifying information. The pink row is an absent student. Green means they were "in class". You can see who came late and who left early at a glance. There's even a student in the middle who left and returned. (He let me know it was a wifi issue upon his return.) 

Alas, those green bars did not make the transition when I emailed this to the teachers. And those green bars are kind of the whole point.

To get a bit technical, this thing saves as an .html file. But to save to Google Drive, it opens as a .doc file. I could not find a way to get it to open as an .html (the extension I tried wouldn't work on the school Chromebook), and if I tried to save it as a PDF, the green bars didn't save. 

And then two days later, I noticed a little note at the bottom of the screen. "If you want a printed copy of this report, make sure that the More Settings --> Background Graphics checkbox is checked in the Print dialog". 

The easiest way to save stuff as a PDF is to go as if to print the screen, but rather than selecting a printer, select "Save as PDF". No converter or extension necessary. 

At that moment, I realized I was an idiot. All I had to do was save the file via the print option as a PDF, and voila. The checkbox was very easy to find. 

Well, at least Thursday's and Friday's files were easily saved. And from now on, I can save those files as PDFs and email them to the teachers. 

I'm learning. Slowly.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Work Buddy

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 it turned out that coworker you really like, your best friend at work, committed a crime?

Monday, October 12, 2020

In the Cards

My sister-in-law had a birthday at the end of September, and as I did for all her children, I gave her the choice of what she wanted me to make her. 

She chose an entrelac scarf. 

I've never knit anything in entrelac before, but I'm familiar with the technique. I've done some modular knitting in the past (which is entrelac-adjacent). . .

(I still use this purse.) 

One thing I learned when making that purse (and a couple other purses in a similar vein) was to use cards. 

This kind of technique is made by knitting up blocks. Each set of blocks has a slightly different pattern. Once you're doing the knitting, it's pretty easy to see what needs to be done. But when you set down the work, it takes a bit of time to recall where you are in the pattern the next day (or next knitting session).

This is when I hit upon making cards. 

Each card contains the instructions for one specific block. I keep them clipped together. The card on top is the next block in the sequence. 

(I usually keep the pattern next to me as I'm working. Why would you memorize a pattern you're making once?) 

As I finish one set of blocks, I flip that card to the back to move onto the next set of blocks in the sequence. It makes it much easier to keep track of where I am. And I don't have to wade through a page of instructions (or the pages in a book or magazine) to find the set of instructions I need. 

I haven't gotten very far on the scarf yet. 

And it doesn't look like much. But now that it's set up, it's just a matter of working it until I finish. I'll keep you updated. 

Friday, October 9, 2020

175 Essential Horror Movies

Last week was a slow week subbing. (It might be like this for a while. We'll see.) So, that means it's a random Friday quiz. 

Since it's October, I figured a good horror movie list would be fitting.

Horror Movies - 175 Essentials

So, I'm a horror movie wuss. I do not like them. I avoid them. Which just means that you'll have to be the judge as to whether or not these are really the "essentials". 

I have seen 11 of the 175. I consider that a high number for me. Of those 11, I'd only recommend The Frighteners. I do love that movie. 

So, how'd you do? If you're a horror movie person, are those movies essentials?

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Uploading Pages

desk in middle of classroom

World history. The kiddos were to read a chapter, outline, and answer questions. (The above is my remote work station. Glamorous, eh?) 

I've covered this teacher's classes in the past. This is a typical sub assignment from him. 

I went over the assignment with the first group. I got a few of the usual questions. And then. . . 

"What if we don't have the book?" 

It's October. School started mid-August. While books aren't distributed on the first day, it's been a month and a half. 

They set up a drive through. There were days for the students to show up and get stuff. And, since then, they can still come to the campus to pick things up. 

"I'm going to pick up the book tomorrow." 

Deep sigh. 

But, I decided to be nice. I know how to upload pages to their Google Classroom. I did it for the class I started the year with. Now, I did it for them because I knew they didn't have books yet, and I knew they hadn't had a chance to get them. (If I had been there another week, I would have stopped the practice as they had all picked up their books.) 

It's a laborious process. I take pics with my phone, and then I convert those pics into PDFs that I attach to an assignment in Google Classroom. (I tried just linking the pics from my drive, but for some reason it didn't work. This worked consistently.) But what took the longest was finding where the school computer stashed the PDFs I created.

By the time I got the files uploaded, the period was just about over. (Only two students said they didn't have the book, so the rest of the class was working just fine.) But at least I was prepared now. If the next class had the same issue, I was ready. 

The next class arrived. I gave them the assignment. And. . . crickets. Either they all had the book (likely) or they weren't fool enough to admit they hadn't picked it up yet. 

I guess they haven't done much with the book. I imagine the teacher does more lecturing than having them read. 

At least if this happens again, I should be able to upload the pages much more quickly. Or, perhaps I shouldn't offer at all. Because, they really should get their supplies.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Changed Minds

desk with two computers and various clutter

Last week I was back into the usual day-to-day subbing grind. (The above photo is of my setup. I had two computers going so I could "present" an agenda on screen while also being able to see the full class.) 

This was the Intro to Health Careers class, where the kiddos do modules exploring various health career options. I've written about it before. As it was mostly online pre-pandemic, I imagine not much has changed for the distance learning. 

The kiddos logged into the meet. A couple of them were confused as I was not their teacher. I explained that I was a sub. I imagine they haven't had many subs in this distance thing, but they're not unfamiliar with the concept. 

However, there were two students who logged in, saw me, and logged back out. . . 

One thing that has frequently happened is students logging out in the middle of class. Generally, they immediately log back in. Occasionally I get an explanation: someone closed their computer, the system logged them off, or other reasonable technical glitches. It's so commonplace for a name to have "left the meet" and then moments later that same name "joined the meet" that I don't sweat it any more. 

But these two, in the same period, never did return. 


Now, I mean it could be a technical issue. And they can talk to their teacher about that. But, it looked to me like they saw a sub and decided not to remain. 

But I saw them. So, they didn't get credit for attendance, and they got mentioned in my note (now via email).

Tuesday, October 6, 2020


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 doing a lot of rereading lately. And I'm kind of out of ideas. So, today I'm going to borrow from one of the books I've been rereading. . . 

First, suppose you have a stalker. What if that stalker tried to pass themselves off as your boyfriend/girlfriend? And in this case, I'm going to specify that this person has some of your friend group convinced. If you're married, this may be even more problematic. 

Monday, October 5, 2020

Red Phone Holster

The thing I was swatching last week. . . 

. . .is finished. 

I made a long strip of star stitch. . . 

. . .folded it in half. . .

. . .crocheted around the edges, "seamed" up the sides, and a bit added to the top. . . 

. . .to create a phone holster. 

When I go walking, I use an app on my phone to track how long and how far I go. I have a phone "purse" that I made for my previous phone, but it's kind of awkward to use, so I'd been planning on making a new one. 

After covering the earbuds cord, I realized that this yarn would be perfect. [The yarn was a Christmas present from my brother two (?) years ago. It was from a "mystery box" from this seller on Etsy, the colorway (which I looked for, but it doesn't appear to still be in stock) called 50 Shades of Love.] So, I started playing, and this is what I came up with. 

The pictures are awful, but it's too hot to set up my lightbox. I'll get better pics another time. And I can make this better, so there's probably a redo in my future. But for the moment, I like it. 

It'll do what it's intended for. And that's all I need for the moment.

Friday, October 2, 2020


Wednesday is the day I have a prep period, and I was busy doing something when I noticed I had an email from the sub caller. It was two sentences long. They had hired someone for the vacant position I was covering, and she was starting the next day. 

I immediately informed my co-teachers. It was news to them as well. 

I was given two "overlap" days. Day one the new teacher (Ms. D) was doing her orientation stuff. Day two she followed me around getting acclimated to her new position. 

We were all surprised as no one at district had kept us in the loop. But it was a pleasant surprise, as the position needed to be filled. And there were things a sub can't do that a special ed teacher can (like IEP meetings, differentiating assignments, reaching out to parents, etc.). 

She seems like she'll be a good fit. She's experienced, so even though she's jumping in a month after school began, she'll be able to get up to speed fairly quickly. 

And now I'm back to day-to-day subbing. This may or may not be a good thing in the current situation. But at least it keeps the blog interesting.

Thursday, October 1, 2020


All of last week in the English classes, I was dealing with the testing. (I already explained about the testing here and some of the issues we had here.) Because the classes are co-taught, it was easier to split off those who still needed to complete the test and continue class as normal for those who had finished. 

Our testing window (the time the district allotted us to complete all the testing) was closing the following week, so a few students who had been absent needed to come to complete the testing outside of class time. (There's an hour a day set aside for teachers to meet with students for any issues they might be having with the assignments.)

Alas, the students aren't showing up for that hour even though we've been telling them they have to. 

Friday. I'd set up a test session just for all the students in all the periods who needed to complete the test. The "office hour" arrived, and one student showed up. 

Well, one is better than none. And Bennet only had three questions left, so it wasn't going to take him all that long to finish. 

Ms. W went to log him into the test, but she came up with an error message. Apparently, he was still logged into the reading test given by another teacher (his health teacher). 

Ms. W asked Bennet to log out of that test, only he couldn't, because he was no longer actively taking the test. 

It took us a half hour of trying everything to figure out what happened. The health teacher never ended Bennet's test, so Bennet couldn't log into a different test. And we couldn't contact the health teacher as he wasn't working on campus and no one had his home phone number. (The teachers that usually work together have cell phone numbers and such, but this health teacher isn't among their friend group.)

This testing thing has been a big fat pain in the behind. And the ones paying for it are the diligent students who are doing what we ask of them.