Thursday, May 6, 2021

Where I Found My Earring

This has been the weirdest year. Not only did I get a chance to attend Back to School Night, I also got to attend Open House. Because I'm doing the long-term assignment. 

I just timed these long-term assignments wrong right, I guess. 

Even though we have students on campus now, Open House was fully virtual. So each department got together to create a presentation. As the sub in the mix, I went along with what the three other eighth grade English teachers wanted to do. (It's not like I knew what to showcase, anyway.) 

The night of, we were all in the same meet, but we were all in different classrooms. I got a call from the teacher who took charge. As we talked, I felt something strange with my earring. When we finished our conversation, I felt for my earring, and the back had fallen off. (With masks, I've been wearing stud earrings exclusively.)

It had to have fallen somewhere... 

The co-teacher was in the same room with me. She looked from one side of the desk, me from the other. I used my flashlight. I got down on my hands and knees. Nothing. 

I put what was left of my earrings in my wallet, and we went on with the Open House presentation. (We had, like, 13 parents show up. Sigh.) 

After, I went straight home. It had been a long day. (There was time for me to go home between the end of the school day and the start of Open House, but it seemed like a waste of time, so I had remained on campus. That made it a 12-hour day.) 

And that's when I texted the co-teacher with one of my stranger texts...

She had said it probably ended up in my bra. The earring back had somehow slipped into a pretty secure location on the inside of my bra, between the lace and the structural support. It was safe there until I found it.

Whew. 

I would have been very upset at losing that. I wear those earrings all the time.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

The Giggles

A teacher at one of the high schools I sub at wrote a book about parents and teens and effective communication. She's looking for backers on Indiegogo. You can read (and watch her talk about the book on video) here.

Spring in eighth grade English means it's time for them to read The Diary of Anne Frank. Because eighth grade, we read the play version. 

Reading plays in class can be fun. Parts are assigned. If you have the right mix of kiddos, they can get into it. Some do a voice. Some get engaged in their roles.

Alas, with the hybrid thing, things are different.

Getting kiddos at home to turn on their microphones and respond is hard. Those that do often have background noise: dogs barking, babies crying, siblings making noise, etc. But since we have kiddos in class, we have willing volunteers to read. 

Okay, maybe "willing" is stretching it a bit. It's more like I told them they were reading, and they didn't contradict me. And with few kiddos in class, everyone in class got a speaking part, so it wasn't like any one of them were getting singled out. They all had to, ahem, suffer the same fate. 

Sixth period. I had four students in class.

Scene 1, Act 2 has eight speaking parts. I divvied up the parts so each boy got two roles. And away we went.

Only... Adam had the giggles. 

When he wasn't speaking (he was playing Anne and Miep), it was fine. The kiddos at home didn't hear him as he kept his microphone muted. But when it was his turn to read...

He had to try to gather himself together. Then he'd get a sentence or two out only to burst into laughter again. Luckily, he didn't have too much to do in the scene.

Why was he laughing? I have no idea. He blamed another boy's picture in the meet. (With cameras off, a picture holds their place on screen. Very few students use their actual pictures, so it was some odd image.) But I doubt that was what caused the giggle fit. 

Somehow, we made it through the scene.

With the at home and in class groups thing being awkward, I took some time to search, and I found an audio version of the play

The one day a week we're all distance (kind of a long story as to how the whole thing works), I teased the recording. I asked the class how they enjoyed reading in class. As expected, the in-class kiddos weren't so enthused about having to read. (The at-home kiddos rather enjoyed it, though.)

When I told them I had found a recording, the in-class students cheered. (Yay! in the chat counts as cheering.) But not Adam. Adam said he rather enjoyed reading in class. 

But the rest of sixth period were happy. It seems that they didn't get a whole lot out of our reading of that scene as the kiddos in the classroom did.

Not surprising, really. I could probably say the same about most things school-related.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

A Different Origin Theory


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 found this on Twitter on Sunday, and I thought, "why not?" It's way better than any question I can come up with today...

Friday, April 30, 2021

Zero Game

I've written this post before. Many times, actually. And I'm sure I'll write it many times after this. Because, kids.

Because hybrid classes (some students online, some in person), and because when Ms. R created the plans for her maternity leave while we were still all in distance learning, the assignments are all online. (Although, eighth grade English was largely in Google Classroom before the pandemic. The distance learning thing just pushed the rest of it online.) 

So, every day the in-person kiddos come into the classroom and log in on their computers.

Thursday. First period.

They were to watch two videos on women in World War 2. (One on Rosie the Riveter and one on the WASPs.) Then they had questions to answer.

The co-teacher was doing her usual circulating around the room when she happened upon Diego. With a game going on his computer. 

Deep sigh.

And he pulled the "I have no idea how that got on my screen" ploy

What makes this particularly stupid is that we had only seven students in the classroom. It's not like we're not going to notice.

When they're at home, we can't police them. We hope the parents do that, but in reality, their parents are probably as busy if not more so. But when the kiddos are in the room with us? 

I have a pretty good idea why Diego's parents sent him back to in-person.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

You Again

The sixth period on this long term eighth grade English class has two in-person students. (Well, two in-person students in each cohort, but the whole cohort thing is another post.) Brice and Adam.

On Tuesday, Brice and Adam showed up together. As they likely did the week before. And they'll likely continue to do so. 

They explained. The two of them have the exact same schedule. Well, except for their math class. They each have a different math class. 

But the rest of their school day, they are together. 

Two eighth grade boys who have the whole day together? That is way too much time to plan mischief. 

(At least they're in the advanced class. That means they're less likely to be difficult in class.) 

The thing they were laughing about on this day, however, had to do with them meeting up with each other that morning at the discipline office. The discipline office is where the kiddos check out their computers. And both of them managed to break theirs that Tuesday. 

Brice's water bottle leaked, and he had doused his computer. He flooded his entire backpack. 

Adam... Well, Adam managed to smash his. How? Well, Brice told the story. Adam didn't offer details. So, I suspect Adam was at least partially at fault. 

Those two can't escape each other, it seems. I imagine this will be a great story for them in ten or fifteen years.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Xion's Grade

I don't use the students' actual names on the blog, but today's X-name isn't a cheat for A to Z's X-day. This boy's name actually does start with an X. So, now you know what his real name is. Unless it's that other fairly common X-name...

It's week two of my long term assignment in the eighth grade English class. I have a co-teacher for the first half of the day (read: she teaches those classes). 

A fair number of students have done little to no work this semester (and last semester, I expect), and the co-teacher had had enough of that. She warned the kiddos that she'd be calling home.

Ms. R was assigned an instructional aide, so she gave the IA a list of students who were failing, and she had her call the parents. Mostly, the IA left messages. However, a few parents did pick up the phone.

It was her second day of calling when Xion's stepfather picked up. And he was not happy to hear the boy was failing English...

Ms. R and the stepfather had an interesting conversation that was blog-worthy. As I was verifying details for this post, I found a mistake... 

Xion has a fairly common last name. It's so common, he isn't the only student to have that last name in that class. 

It turns out Xion has a B in the class. The girl above him on the roster with the same last name (no relation) has a 30%. She's missing more than a month's worth of assignments. Xion? He's turned everything in.

The IA called Xion's parents about the girl's grade.

As soon as I spotted that mistake, I let Ms. R know. And she got back in contact with Xion's stepfather. Because it turns out that the stepfather had it right; Xion's grade wasn't an issue.

Hopefully Xion didn't get into trouble for the mix-up. Clearly the parents are on top of Xion's schoolwork, as the stepfather knew his grade wasn't an F. (The parents have access to the online gradebook, so they can check the kiddos' grades as easily as the kiddos can.)

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Whoops


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 wrote this "what if?" a month ago when this story was happening. It's old news now, but it got me thinking, and it fit the letter of the day...

What if you made a small error that ended up having global implications? 

Monday, April 26, 2021

Vacillating

I'm not sure what I want to do. 

I had hoped to be done with the cardi this month, but that's not going to happen. And it's all about the edging.

When I finished the knitting portion, I had: 

Then I added a bit of border: 

Now I'm at the point where I think the border is going to be as chunky as I want it: 

(It is a little hard to see. On this close up, the left side has one more row of single crochet than the right side does):

But I wonder. Do I want to do something more interesting with the crochet border? Or do I want the knitting (and that pattern was a challenge) to be the focus? 

Frogging it at this point isn't that big of a deal. It's April. I won't really want to wear this until probably November. But do I want to frog it? 

I'm just not sure. That's one of the reasons this finishing part is taking so long. (Well, that, and I've been a bit busy at work. Having kiddos in class has been tiring. It's been a year, so I just have to get used to it again.) 

Ah well. I think I need a new project to distract me. Some time away might help me figure out what it is I want to do.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Taking a Trip

On this hybrid thing, while we have a few kiddos in class, we have way more still at home. So, on this long-term assignment, I'm getting emails from the students explaining their absences: 

I hope you are doing well. I just wanted to inform you on why I won’t be able to attend the Google Meets for tomorrow. My aunt is making my family go on a trip and we’ll be leaving the house early in the morning. However, I will be able to join the Google Meets on Friday because we’ll be home by then. I hope that’s fine with you and I will make sure to complete any assignment assigned that day. Anyways, thank you and see you on Friday!

So... I have questions. None of which I did ask because it's not really my business. But... 

"My aunt is making my family go on a trip." 

I mean, I would love to have an aunt make me go on a trip. Although, this might not be a fun trip. It could be any number of things. 

Like I said, questions. But since he did complete that day's assignment, it's not really my business. He took care of his responsibilities. (I know, weird to hear an eighth grader did that, but this was from the advanced class, so they're a bit more responsible.) So, this will remain a mystery. Unless I think to ask him about it later.

I doubt I'll ask him about it later. 

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Scare

First period, Thursday. I got a call from one of the assistant principals (AP). 

"The student that we pulled out... Don't touch his desk."

We hadn't been in first period more than five minutes (the co-teacher had barely started class) when security arrived. He asked if a student was in class. He was. Security removed the student. 

(In the before times, this was common, so I didn't think much of it. I figured he hadn't completed his self check or something.) 

The co-teacher went back to teaching the class. 

The phone call was quite a bit later. 

It wasn't until after class that the AP explained as she had us vacate the room. (We were moved to an empty classroom for the next period while they deep cleaned ours.) 

The student may have had Covid the week prior. Or, he had been in contact with someone who had. (The story changed over the course of the day.) He had been told to stay home this week, but he will be cleared to be on campus next. We'll see. 

And... I can't say that I was in "close contact" with him. He was in the room for less than fifteen minutes. He was farther than six feet from me the whole time. We were both wearing masks. And we were both behind plexiglass partitions. 

And I'm two weeks past my second vaccine dose. 

Still, it's a bit disconcerting. 

Ah, the joys of schooling in the dread plague era.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Remembered, Eventually

The week after spring break I started a new long term assignment: eighth grade English. And since the district just transitioned to hybrid learning, that meant that I was back on campus.

Because it's a long-term, I checked out keys to the classroom and I checked out a school computer. That means I don't need to go into the office to see the secretary I check in with. But she does need to know I'm on campus. 

She told me to call her daily to let her know I'm present. 

Day 2 of the assignment. Tuesday. As I got on campus, calling the secretary was on my mind. "I need to call the office immediately." 

But, I have a co-teacher who gets to campus way earlier than me. She was already in the room when I arrived. We got to talking, and...

About halfway through second period I remembered I hadn't called the secretary. But I got distracted before I could call, and...

It was halfway through SIXTH period when I finally called. You know, the end of the day. 

Ahem. 

The rest of the week, I called immediately upon arrival. Funny how messing up Tuesday made me pay way more attention after.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Question for Our Times


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 had an odd thought the other day...

What if your reaction to the COVID vaccine (mild side effects versus the more severe reactions) is indicative of how you would have reacted to catching the virus?

Monday, April 19, 2021

Potty Potion

Rather than another post on how I barely accomplished anything with another photo of the unfinished seven (and a half) year cardi, I'm going to show you the one thing I did do this week: 

Several years ago, I ran across a recipe for a concoction online, and I had to try it. I'm sure you've seen ads for a spray that makes your toilet not smell after using it. This was a recipe for a DIY version.

I've been using it ever since. 

I wrote down the recipe, but I have since lost the site where it originated. I did a quick internet search, but I haven't located it. (I'm sure I can find it, but right now digging through pages of search results isn't a priority.) This means that there are tons of other formulations to try, if you want to give it a whirl. 

One batch lasts me several months. Last week I ran out, so I made another. It's not all that crafty, but it's as close to a project as I got.

The recipe calls for using a spray bottle, but I found that a bit cumbersome, so I use a water bottle with the pop top head. I pour a small squirt in the toilet before using it, and it cuts the smell way down. 

Into the water bottle goes: 

  • 3/4 of a cup of water
  • 2 teaspoons of rubbing alcohol
  • 2 teaspoons of hand or dish soap
  • 40 to 50 drops of an essential oil (lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, etc.)
I bought all the ingredients, including the water bottle but excluding the essential oil, at Dollar Tree. And as you can see from my bottles in the pic, I've still got plenty for the next batch when I need it. (At the rate I go through it, it'll be winter, probably.) 

The essential oil is the main expenditure, and that's more for a pleasant smell than for its odor cutting, I think. (I've never tested this hypothesis.) 

Have you tried the store bought variety? Isn't it amazing what projects you can find on the internet?

Friday, April 16, 2021

Notes on the Second First Day

Someone, ahem, forgot to photograph the room I was in the first day back, so this photo of the long-term room will have to do. Hey, it's been a while. I'll get back in the habit soon enough.

Our first day back to in-person learning was the last day before spring break. (There were Reasons for this.) I had just finished the long-term assignment for Ms. A's class, and my next long-term didn't start until after spring break, so I got a lone one-day assignment. Math, special ed. 

The day was interesting... 

  • First period I had one student show up. Alas, he belonged to the wrong cohort (the cohort that was supposed to remain at home on this day), so he had to be sent home.
  • Another student showed up late for first period. Alas, she didn't know she was supposed to bring her Chromebook with her, so she was unable to do the assignment that was online.
  • The in-person students looked at me strangely when I'd just start talking to the computer. I had eight students who were still doing distance.
  • Third period I was to have one student in class, and he showed up.
  • The room had seating for ten students. I let the students sit where they liked (provided it was approved seating--a chair with a plexiglass partition). Naturally, no two students chose the same seat all day.
  • This meant that when the custodian asked which desks he needed to wipe down, I had four desks to point out. But this is fewer than ten, so he didn't have to reclean all the desks.
  • Oh, the students do get wipes to clean their desks when they leave, and we have the option of letting them clean their desks when they arrive. 
  • Fifth period (we were on block schedule, so only three periods met) I had one in-person student of the two who were supposed to be there.
  • The other in-person student showed up to the virtual meet. I let her know she was supposed to be in class, but she got credit for attending the virtual meet.
  • Another student, upon finding out he was supposed to be on campus, asked how he could change that. (He didn't want to attend in person. He's not the only one. The office was getting calls all day about changing from in-person to virtual.) 

I was worried about being in classrooms with lots of students. It turns out, most don't want to return just yet, which means that the classrooms aren't packed. With plexiglass partitions, open doors and windows, constant airflow, and masks, things are pretty safe.

We'll see how this goes going forward.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Moving Boxes

It was the Monday (March 29th) before spring break and the first day I had been on campus since November. My long-term assignment was due to end at perhaps the best/worst time. Ms. A (their regular teacher) was returning on Wednesday (March 31st). In-person instruction was beginning on Thursday (April 1st). Spring break started Friday (April 2nd). 

Oh yes, the timing. Is bad. Very bad. There were Reasons why this was the schedule. My long-term had been set to end on that Tuesday (March 30th) since the beginning. So this all kind of hit at once.

And a programming note: I saved the school days from before spring break to post when school has resumed. During spring break last week I posted about other things. 

Ms. A hadn't been to campus since about a week before things shut down last year. She was out on maternity leave. (I was wrong about her being on maternity leave this year. She was out for other personal reasons.) So, I walked in to a bit of a mess.

Her desk was piled high with notebooks. The classroom desks had cheer uniforms on them. And these boxes covered the entire front of the room.

If I was going to be teaching in the room, I would need to deal with the mess. But, she would be back a day before school resumed in person. I just had to finish up my grading and make sure the kiddos had work for those last two days. 

But... I can't live like that. Those boxes... 

They were how the cheer uniforms had been shipped. (I didn't talk too much about Ms. A's cheer class as there was nothing much to say. They were fine.) Someone had removed the uniforms and gotten them ready for the students to pick up. Only about a third of the class hadn't had a chance to come to the campus for them.

But the boxes... 

Another neighboring teacher said if I broke down the boxes and left them outside, a custodian would remove them. 

That was something I could do.

I couldn't deal with the notebooks. I couldn't deal with the cheer uniforms. Where were those to go? What needed to happen to them? But empty boxes? Those I could definitely get rid of.

It took a bit of time to break them all down, but it felt so good to have that space open up. And sure enough, a couple hours later a custodian did come by and remove the boxes to wherever the dumpsters are located.

As for the rest of it, when Ms. A returned, she dumped the notebooks (they were from last school year), and she bagged up the uniforms. And then the classroom was ready for students to return.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Long-Term Thoughts

I don't talk too much about long-term subbing assignments here on the blog as I don't generally do too many long-term assignments. I'm not a fan. 

But, with the pandemic year and fewer day-to-day subbing assignments, I ended up stumbling into a couple. First, there was the one at the beginning of the school year. Then, I happened into this English class that I've been talking about for all of March.

Right before I started Ms. A's class, I did a day assignment for Ms. R's co-teacher. Ms. R asked if I would be willing to cover her class when she went out on maternity leave in April. Figuring we would still be doing the distance thing, and frankly, figuring that it would somehow fall through, I agreed. 

Which is why right after finishing up Ms. A's English class, I'm starting Ms. R's English class, and I'll be covering that until almost the end of the school year. 

And, just at this transition, the district is opening back up for hybrid learning. This means I'll be on campus with the students who have chosen to come back to in-person learning. 

Still with me? 

The week before spring break, we were given prep time, sort of. The students were "asynchronous", meaning they had work, but we didn't meet for class. Those were my last days with Ms. A's classes. I played catch up on grading.

I also got to attend the opening up staff meetings, so I'd know the protocols for this hybrid thing. And I got a chance to meet with Ms. R so I'm ready for her classes.

It was a weird week. 

And now, my blog transitions from distance learning to hybrid learning. This should be interesting.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Keep the Secret


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 were sworn to secrecy about something, but you know the person you're keeping the secret from needs to know this? 

Monday, April 12, 2021

Jabbering On

I had the worst time coming up for a title for today's post. I had to resort to pulling out the dictionary and reading through all the Js. And this is the best I could come up with. Sigh.

I didn't get a whole lot of anything really done done. I continued to play with the seven (and a half) years cardi. Border time...

It's hard to see in that image. I'm about halfway around adding a double crochet border. It'll make more sense on this image...

The right side has the border, the left side does not. I don't know if I like it. It needs something, but do I want to jazz it up a bit, or do I want the knit stitch (that I struggled with for years) to take center stage? I'm not sure.

And I also finished a couple more masks. First, I decided I wanted one in pink...

And then I just need a plain black one. (I have another black one, but I made a mistake on it, so I needed one made right.) 

So, progress of a sort. Perhaps next week I'll get a bit more done. (Don't count on it.)

Friday, April 9, 2021

H Blitz

Since I am on spring break and pushing all my subbing stories from last week onto next week, that means that it's a day for a random quiz. And since it's H day on the A to Z (which I am doing unofficially), that leads to this quiz... 

H Blitz

This is one of those Sporcle ones where all you have to do it type the word in the answer box and it'll find the blank it belongs in. It is timed (4 minutes), and there are 40 questions.

Everything begins with an H. Hopefully your blog reading today will have reminded you of some of these, like a state or an Olympic event or a Shakespearean tragedy. 

I only got 28/40. I'm sure you can do better. Good luck.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Good Morning

Buttercup has absolutely nothing to do with today's post, but as today's post really doesn't have an image, she'll just chill in the backseat while I go on about something completely different.

Monday morning, 4:30 AM. I awoke to use the bathroom. 

Before falling back asleep, I picked up my phone. I've been playing Words With Friends 2 since about July, and recently a mini-game has been added. It's a head-to-head competition where I'm given 45 seconds to come up with a word. Me and my competitor get five turns, and highest score wins. 

These mini-games aren't "free", however. To earn a "ticket" to play, two hours must elapse. So, after having been asleep for several hours, I had a couple "tickets" to play. So, I did.

None of this would normally make the blog, except something happened...

I was on turn two when I felt a large jolt. It felt as if a car had crashed into the wall behind my bed. And my heart raced as I had a moment of panic.

I blame it on the hour and being pretty groggy. 

In the next moment, my rational brain took over. "Oh, calm down. That was just an earthquake. You've been through earthquakes before." 

At which point, I realized my clock was counting down, and I needed to play a word, quick. 

I finished the game. I couldn't tell you if I won or lost. Then I pulled up the app on my phone to see a bit more about that earthquake. 

It was a 4.1 (it said 4.0 when I checked, but since then it's been upgraded). Epicenter was near Inglewood in a town called Lennox. I know where Inglewood is. It's not terribly far away. 

I'm actually rather grateful to the earthquake, as I was scrambling for a topic for today's post. I needed something that started with a G, but I thought I might have used this title for a similar post before. Turns out I haven't. But, in 2010 there was an earthquake on Easter, and I posted about it on April 4th. I mean, this was technically Monday the 5th, but I thought the coincidence way too funny not to mention.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Fully Vaccinated

COVID vaccine shot, 28 days later...

On my last visit to the Long Beach Convention Center, I made my follow up appointment for vaccine shot number two. I figured the sequel would be much like the original. I was wrong.

The first surprise was that my school district decided that we were going to open to in-person classes. So, instead of heading from home to the vaccination site, I was going to have to leave from the school site (which is a bit farther away as I don't work for Long Beach's school district). 

And, I had hoped to leave early. But, the principal had an all staff meeting that afternoon...

Okay, this is a bit of a story. Normally I wouldn't be invited to the all staff meeting, but with the long-term and how things were opening up for us, I ended up needing to attend this meeting. All the whys and wherefores are way too complicated for this post.

I left campus in a bit of a panic. I figured I was going to be stuck in line for hours. 

I had scheduled my appointment for 3:56 PM. I got to the convention center at roughly 3:50. 

And... There was no line. 

I pulled up. Checked in. (It was a drive up site.) Pulled into the parking lot. Got my shot. And by 3:59 I was parked in the observation area where we were to wait fifteen minutes just in case.

This was my view...

See all those cones? That was the feeder line for cars. Notice there are no cars? If you can see those smokestacks in the distance, that's the Queen Mary.

To my right was this building...

I didn't have a chance to take pics before this as it went so quickly. Way, way different than the first time.

And so, now I have had two shots. I'll be officially fully vaccinated in two weeks (April 13th). 

I worked the next day and felt fine (other than a very sore arm), until I left campus that day. Then I got home. And that's when I felt it. I was so, so tired. And warm and cold at the same time. I went to bed very early, but I was fine the next day.

If you have not had a chance to be vaccinated yet, I hope you're able to get in really, really soon.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Easy Fix


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 that one thing you've been putting off and putting off, that you thought would take you maybe five minutes (or maybe an hour), ends up being way more complicated than you expected?

Monday, April 5, 2021

Dread Plague Face Coverings

Why am I making myself some more masks? 

  1. I'm getting bored with the ones I have.
  2. I cut out some fabric ages ago, and it's high time I got to finishing them up.
  3. My district just opened to in person instruction (right before spring break), so I am going to have need of them.
  4. I don't want to do another "I didn't make much progress on my seven (and a half) year cardi" post.

I only got those two knitted up. I have two more blanket stitched and just waiting for the knitting part...

And I think I finally got the dimensions right on the fabric. These fit so much better than the ones I made last year...

Although, we'll see how much better they feel after I've had them on all day... 

Wow, the freckles on my forehead really popped out on that one. 

I make no promises as to what I'll have completed by next week's post. I'm on spring break, so ideally I'll have more time for my projects, but who knows? 

Friday, April 2, 2021

Brazen Request

Please tell me I am overreacting. 

I've been on this long-term English assignment for a bit over a month. (While you're reading this, I am already done with it. It ended on Tuesday.) Because of everything, many students are behind on their work. I have told the kiddos that they can turn in late work for credit. I only ask they give me a heads-up email so I know to look for it in Google Classroom.

The kiddos on email are kind of funny. Some are very apologetic. Some haven't quite gotten the conventions of email down, so they tell me too little or too much. And, of course, there are the grammatical errors of teens. 

I don't mind it at all. Except for Rodolfo. 

His first email to me: 

I submitted the OMAM chap 3 questions and the OMAM characterization chart.

It would be appreciated if you put this in as soon as possible.

(OMAM is short for Of Mice and Men, the book they're reading.) 

The thing that irritated me? Not that he sent the email at 10:38 PM. What got me was I had just graded the chapter 3 questions and input them into the gradebook, including his assignment. I checked. 

Wisely, I did not respond to his email. Nor did he ask me about any of this in class. (Nor did he stay after class to ask me anything one on one.) 

I was behind on grading. So, the emails piled up from students letting me know they had just submitted something. As did the assignments that were being turned in on time. Rodolfo emailed again: 

I submitted the chap 4 quickwrite and OMAM chap 3 questions. Also waiting for the characterization chart to be updated into aeries.

Yeah, I didn't need the reminder that I was behind on grading. Got it. I'd get to grading his characterization chart as soon as I could. And the chapter 3 questions...? 

Again, I didn't respond to the email. 

I was finally caught up on grading when Rodolfo sent me another email:

You graded the OMAM CHAP 3 questions and my mom is asking me about it. I am just waiting for it to be put into aeries.

Huh? I input that ages ago. But I checked... Nope. For some reason, I had never input his score into the online gradebook. *hangs head in shame*

Otherwise, it felt as if Rodolfo was hounding me about getting to grading his late work. But I'm being ridiculous. I know I am. Aren't I?

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Assigned an Extra Period Remotely

Tuesday, third period. While we were "reading" (listening to the audiobook) of chapter five of The Great Gatsby, I got a text from the secretary in charge of subs at the school. (Remember, I'm at home.) Could I cover an extra period? 

Extra period assignments used to be commonplace. I'd dread answering the classroom phone because it was likely the office calling to ask if I could trek across campus to cover another class instead of getting an hour to myself. (But I got paid for that extra hour, and when they'd call they really needed coverage, so I never turned them down.) I counted them up, and I'd frequently get a "bonus day" out of them if not two per month. 

But, with the distance thing, extra period assignments just haven't happened. 

Until last week. 

The teacher wasn't feeling well. Considering that she had something in the feed on her Google Classroom from the previous day about her maybe not being in class, this must have been something that was ongoing or she was expecting. 

Of course I took it. It wasn't like I had to go anyplace. It was simple to log in.

And a few of the students looked familiar. I had them in the class I've been covering all month. 

(The class was "medical assistant". It's a science elective.)

So, that was another new thing with this distance learning. And just when I thought we'd pretty much done it all by now.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Reasons

 

When I started this long term subbing assignment, I told the kiddos they could turn in late work. I wasn't sure what the actual class policy was, but considering everything, I figured being too lenient wasn't a bad thing. 

I did tell them that they'd lose points for late work. And then I didn't take points off when I graded and recorded late work. So many who were turning in late work needed the points, and their grades were going from Fs to Ds or Cs. 

So, when Greer asked me if she could turn in late work, I didn't even hesitate when I said yes. 

It was the honors class (read: the kiddos who usually get As). Greer had missed several days and hadn't turned in any work in a week. When she asked in the chat if she could talk to me after class, I wondered if I was in trouble. 

Once everyone else had left the meet, Greer asked about turning in late work. She apologized for not being on top of her schoolwork, and she said it wasn't that she didn't want to do the work. Then she dropped the bomb.

Her family had been evicted from their home, and she had been worried about that.

Um. Yeah. I can see how schoolwork might suddenly be hard to concentrate on.

Suddenly my not docking late work didn't seem like such a bad idea.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

The Most Important Job


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.
😉

There's a new comic book show on The CW with a very familiar protagonist. Superman and Lois. And that's where I got the idea for this week's "what if?". Because in this iteration, Superman is married and has twin sons who are just starting high school. And that got me wondering... 

What if a good superhero neglected his children to the point that they went bad and became supervillians? 

Monday, March 29, 2021

Fully Attached Sleeves

Last week I was a bit busy, so busy that I didn't do any work on the cardi. (And this week... It's going to be interesting.) 

The plan was to not do a post for today. And then Saturday night I got a bit industrious. I finally fixed this: 

Now the sleeves are fully attached: 

Or, both: 

I don't anticipate getting much done this week, either. We'll see.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Pinky And The...

When I started this long-term assignment, I noticed his name. Brain. 

Students' actual names are not used on this blog, except in rare instances. Today is one of those exceptions. This post isn't about the student, just his name. And it's a fairly common name, so he won't be identified by this post.

Brain? Not Brian? 

I mean, I've seen some weird names. I took down the sidebar "Student Name of the Week" last year, but I might reinstate it at some point. (There's still a tab at the top where you can see previous entries.) But for some reason, this one seemed wrong.

I didn't call on him. When he typed his name into the chat, he typed in Brian. 

Some of the teachers have them type their name into the chat as a form of attendance. I don't particularly use it, but I don't want them to get out of the habit for those teachers that require it, so I don't discourage it.

According to the official school stuff, his name is Brain. But mistakes can happen, and it's a simple transposition of two letters. (Those of you who have friends named Brian, be careful. It's really easy to accidentally type in Brain, and spellcheck won't catch it as it is a word.) 

So, I set this aside in my head, and I did my job.

Thursday. End of third period. The class was logging off. 

Sometimes students stick around for a bit to ask a question of me one-on-one. Sometimes they just lag. One boy was about to ask me something when he saw Brain's name on screen.

"Why does Brian's avatar say 'brain'?" 

And that's when I knew for certain that it was a typo.

The boy tried to call out to Brian, but he had already logged off. 

"I'll text him and ask."

At this point, I don't know who has access to fix it. I assume that Brian noticed the issue before this, so it might be something he can't get fixed. But if he hasn't, at least his friend will let him know.

Although, it took his friend long enough to notice.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Moving Away

For the most part, the kiddos don't talk. They leave their cameras off as well as their microphones, so we communicate via the chat. But a few of them to turn on their mics and talk to me.

In period four, that student is Drake. 

I really appreciate Drake. When I have them doing work, he asks questions. I'm sure some of his questions are questions the other students have. And he answers when I pose questions for the class.

On Friday he was early to class. He's usually early, but this time he needed to talk to me.

Drake explained that he had just moved and he was using the WiFi hotspot from his phone to log into the meet. He wasn't going to be able to do the work for class due to the move. (They were going to install the internet the next week, probably.) 

Trying to be helpful, I pointed out that the school has WiFi hotspots for school work that the kiddos can pick up. That's when Drake informed me that he had moved two hours away.

Well, it's not Egypt, nor is it in an undisclosed foreign country for a funeral...

Drake will transfer schools, but at the end of the school year. This distance thing means he can finish off this school year where he's at. And I heard from other teachers that this seems to be a thing lately.

I would have liked to meet Drake in person. Sigh. But I consider that a valid excuse for late work. There are some things that one can't control.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

A Small Error

About a week into this English long-term, I got an email from one of the school's counselors. The freshmen had done a 100-point essay with the previous sub. A girl had questioned her grade. 

She got an 85. Alas, in the gradebook, it was listed as 0.85.

That's quite the typo. 

It was an easy fix. And her grade jumped from an F to a B or something. (They haven't had many assignments, so it was a majority of her grade.) 

I wasn't sure why she felt the need to go through her counselor, though. Clearly that was input wrong.

Then last week another student contacted me. He had gotten a 10 on something, but it was in the gradebook as 0.10. 

At least this time he went directly to me. And again, it was an easy fix.

So, now I wonder. How many other grades did a decimal get accidentally inserted before the score? 

I'm not terribly tempted to go and look. It would take me a while to go through all the grades in all the periods. They should be checking their grades anyway, right? 

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Not an Expert


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's "what if?" generated the same response from many of you. It was something along the lines of, "People wouldn't want me to sing. I can't carry a tune." Hmmm.

There's a similar sentiment in just about any other endeavor you can think of. "Oh, I couldn't do that. I'm terrible at it." Why? 

What if we did more things that we are bad at? What if we did things that we might be bad at but that we enjoy doing?

Monday, March 22, 2021

It's (not quite) Finished!

A very surprising thing happened last week. I bound off the Seven (and a half) Years Cardi...

I tried it on Thursday night, and it felt like it was just about where I wanted it to be. I was just about to finish a pattern repeat, so it seemed like the perfect moment to put a stop to it all. 

But, it's not quite finished. 

All you writers know what happens when you get to the "the end" part of the book. Then it's time to hunker down for the editing and revisions.

What I've got left isn't quite that, but there are still odds and ends to tidy up. I have ends to wind in. The underarms need to be sewn shut... 

And I plan to crochet an edging around the whole thing. 

So, I've got a bit more work before I can call it completely finished. But the main knitting portion of the sweater is complete.

Although... After binding off, I wondered if the collar was too wide. I'm still considering. I figure I want to do a few rows of crochet just to tidy things, and that's probably going to be enough. But maybe...

This is what happens when one creates a sweater as opposed to following a pattern. Decisions get made, and things can change. We'll see. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, March 19, 2021

End of Quarter

Last Friday was the last day of the third quarter. 

I flashed back to last year. I do remember exactly what I was doing on the last day of the third quarter. It was a graphic arts class. I've covered this teacher's classes before, so it was a fairly typical day in her class. It was so typical that I didn't even blog about it. 

It was also the last in-person school day we had. 

That whole week had been odd. Morning announcements told us of cancelled events due to the approaching COVID. They got rid of reusable restroom passes and they gave each classroom new disinfectants. 

We were all walking on eggshells. 

I remember leaving school that day. I had three assignments scheduled for the next week. I told the secretary I'd see her Monday. She had just gotten word another nearby district had closed. She wondered if we would see each other on Monday.

She was right.

After I got home I got word. The governor had issued orders that everything, including schools, needed to close. I got an email from the district as well as a phone call from the sub caller. 

It's amazing to think it's been a year. The nerves. The worry. The new normal. 

I think from now on, the end of the third quarter will bring up these memories. Where were you one year ago?

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Football Season

It's Sunday. I write all my blog posts over the weekend, and I have for many years. It's simpler that way. 

Before getting to the blog writing, I did a quick perusal of my emails. When I got to my "student" account, I found another email from Khalil. 

Khalil is an eleventh grader in my fourth period class. He's on the football team. And his grade is not where it should be to make him eligible to play football. 

Yes, I know it's spring. But CIF shut down school sports in the fall. As COVID cases have fallen, they've allowed a modified spring schedule, including the sports we lost in the fall. The first high school football games were played last weekend. 

He's been saying that he needs to get his grade up. I told him he needs to complete his missing work (of which there is a lot). Yesterday (Saturday), I graded the two things he submitted, so his grade did rise... to about 33%. 

But today, he said that I had not graded his essay assignments. 

I took over this English class the last week of February. Before that, Mr. P had been the sub. The essay assignments had been assigned under him. In January. 

This is a case of "a lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part". But while Khalil has been persistent, he hasn't been rude about it. So, I'll grade the assignments (for partial credit due to them being so late). 

I doubt they'll be much help. His grade is so low at this point. But at least he's trying.