Monday, March 8, 2021

Nope, Not Done Yet

Last week was a bit much. In good ways and bad. 

Sometimes weeks are like that. 

Lately, I haven't been doing much knitting besides the lacy cardigan that has now been renamed the Seven (and a half) Years Cardi. (Ravelry asks for some sort of name for each project. That is what I've renamed this one as.) And for the last few weeks, I've been slowly working the yoke. 

On a good week the progress isn't obvious. Last week was not a good knitting week. A couple nights I stared at the TV with absolutely no energy to knit. 

I toyed with the idea of just skipping posting today, but then I realized that even if there's not much progress, this is still a record of whatever progress I have made. So, here's what the sweater looks like now... 

It's getting closer. 

Friday, March 5, 2021

Bugs Bunny Broke My Computer

The ninth graders are reading Of Mice and Men

I'm doing a long-term assignment for an English teacher on maternity leave.

Since all of the English teachers are doing the same thing at the same time, I checked with Ms. W to make sure that the next day we were going on to chapter 3. Alas, her class was behind. So, rather than get ahead of the group, I took a day to "discuss" what we had just read in chapters 1 and 2. 

I prepared. I went through the chapters and found some discussion questions and created a slide presentation to help move things along.

I was ready.

Thursday morning, first period. 

To break up the discussion a bit, I thought it would be fun to show a short video that references the book. And I found the cartoon I had vaguely remembered. 

I intro'd the video by saying that Of Mice and Men is well-known in pop culture. Then I hit play...

We got to the point where Daffy was going to find a real rabbit for the abominable snowman when the buffering wheel of doom appeared on my screen.

Aaarrrgggghhhhh!!!!!

While I attempted to get the video to play again, I asked the kiddos what allusions they caught. They caught the obvious ones, so I was pleased. With them. With my computer, not so much.

(I have two computers going, one with the meet and the other I use to project stuff for the class. It's simpler.) 

I did everything I could think of. I did a hard shut down of the computer. Twice. A restart. I attempted to load things, but it just wasn't going to let anything play. 

After a few minutes of this, I had the kiddos work on the questions for the chapter that were due. And then I spent the entire period trying to get the stuff to work again.

No dice.

Deep sigh.

Well, at least they had time to get their questions done.

Friday morning, I had second period. Also ninth grade. 

I loaded everything. Crossed my fingers...

And it all worked perfectly. 

Sigh.

At least my preparations were used for something. Yay?

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Old People's Tech

I'm covering an English class long-term for a teacher who is out on maternity leave. The eleventh graders are reading The Great Gatsby

On Tuesday/Wednesday, it was time to start chapter 1. But, I did not have a copy of the book. I asked the other teachers, and they did not have a PDF for the book to use for the classes. 

(The students can check out a physical copy of the book from the campus library, but that means they have to go to the campus, and as we're doing the distance learning thing, most aren't getting down to campus to do that. Mostly, the teachers are putting copies of the materials needed online.) 

This was when it occurred to me I had heard that The Great Gatsby had entered the public domain in January. I wondered if it was up on Project Gutenberg

If you have not heard of Project Gutenberg, it's...

...a volunteer effort to digitize and archive cultural works, as well as to "encourage the creation and distribution of eBooks." It was founded in 1971 by American writer Michael S. Hart and is the oldest digital library.

(That's via Wikipedia.)

It was. So, I downloaded a copy and uploaded that and the links to the students' Google Classroom.

On Thursday/Friday I explained where the copy of the book came from. Just so they'd know. 

I uploaded three things: the PDF, the html version, and a link to Gatsby's page. The reason for the third is because from that page, one can download an EPUB or Kindle version of the text that can be sideloaded to any ereader.

As I explained the third link, I asked the class if any of them had an ereader. Crickets. I explained what an ereader was. 

I got a few nos. Then one student chimed in with, "My grandma has one of those." 

Gee. Thanks for sharing. 

And here, I thought the kiddos liked ereaders. Consider me educated. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

A Random Comment

Last week I took over an English class for a teacher who is out on maternity leave. I don't have to figure out lesson plans on my own as all the English classes in each grade are doing the same thing together. This makes lesson planning really easy. 

The eleventh graders are getting ready to read The Great Gatsby. The prior sub (who had done his 30 days so could continue no longer--our subbing credential won't allow us to work any longer than 30 days in one class) had started some of the prelim stuff, and as of Monday they were still getting ready to read the book.

Monday's assignment was to watch a video on the Roaring '20s: 

Because distance learning and the way kiddos watch videos, I naturally assigned "notes" to go along with the video. And because I detest the listing of facts (which the students half-ass anyway), I decided to create some questions for them.

I made the questions pretty general. They were like, name something that was new in the '20s, name something that started in the '20s that we still have today, etc. I came up with four rather general questions. 

But I decided that I wanted the assignment to be worth five points, so I needed another question.

That's when the influence of too many years of blogging kicked in. I realized what the fifth question had to be.

I had them write a random comment. 

Most did well with that. Some tried to be cerebral and told me a fact from the video. Some said they liked or did not like the video. Some said something they found to be interesting.

And some didn't answer that question at all. And... I...

I mean, that was the easiest question of all. A gimme point. They wrote something, they got the point.

Yet, of the 10% of students who did not get the full credit for the assignment, it was because of that question. 

(And, seriously? Before we started the video, I went over the questions, and I told them number five was a write anything question.)

I may have to assign random comments more frequently. Just because I'm contrary like that.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Named


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.
😉

Today's question comes out of a weird train of thought I had the other day. I won't go into the whole thing, but I started musing on people who change their name for various reasons. I'm talking about people who for whatever reason feel their name doesn't fit them. Or trans people who switch their name to fit their gender. Or people who pick a more Americanized version of their name to go by. And it got me thinking. . .

What if we were required to use a name that was given to us by someone else? I won't specify who that someone else is, only that if you chose to change your name, you couldn't pick what name you change it to yourself.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Slow Week

This week's sweater progress doesn't look much different than last week's progress: 

I had hoped to try it on for you, but when I did try it on, when I took it off again, I dropped a few stitches, and it took me a good half hour to set them to rights again. Rather than tempt fate, I figured I could try it on when there are fewer stitches at the top.

Will I have it finished by next week? No. I can say that for sure. But it's closer. 

Got anything exciting planned this week? 

Friday, February 26, 2021

Kennection #455



Last week was one of those boring weeks at school where not a whole lot that was blog-worthy happened. So, that means it's time for another random Friday quiz.

This week I'm pulling a Kennection for us: 

Kennection #455

There are five questions. Type in the answer. If it's correct, the site indicates it is correct immediately. (That's a big hint. If the site doesn't accept it, you can change the answer.)

At the end, you have to figure out what the five things have in common. Type that in and hit "Submit". If you don't know, you can always do "I Give Up". 

I didn't think this one was too bad, but you'll have to let me know how you did in the comments. (I didn't know #3 or 5, but I did get the Kennection.)

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Famous

The previous day, I had gotten a brief call from the sub caller. Could I cover twenty days for Ms. A? I would get two overlap days with the current sub, Mr. P. 

(Ms. A is on maternity leave. She's due back in April.) 

Some subs are well-known. Mr. P is one of them. 

I see him around all the time, and if I mention his name to students, they know who I'm talking about. And they like him. He's good at his job. 

Thursday morning I joined the first period. Mr. P greeted me, even pronouncing my name correctly. (I'm not particular about it, but mostly those who talk to me get it close enough.) 

After class, we had some time to talk. He said he had informed the other teachers in the department of who was taking over for him, and then he said something that shocked me. He said that my name should be familiar to them because I was more well-known than him

Uh, I beg to differ, Mr. P, but no, you're way more well-known than me. I mean, I know the other teachers do know me. They're definitely familiar with me. No question. 

But if I were to rank the "famous" subs, I am well below Mr. P. 

It's hard to know how known one is outside of their little circles. I guess Mr. P doesn't know how familiar he is to the rest of us.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Early Removal

Eighth grade English. I was covering for a special ed teacher who co-teaches with two different general ed teachers. But, all the English teachers plan their lessons together, so all the eighth grade English classes (and the other grades as well) are doing the same thing on the same day. 

I co-taught with two different teachers, but both of them did the same lesson. 

It was day one of their Holocaust unit. 

The largest component of this unit is the reading of The Diary of Anne Frank. But before they get to the literature, they do some preliminary work. 

The way their history classes are structured, they don't learn anything about World War II until tenth grade. While some of them might have picked up some knowledge from various media and such, most of them don't know anything at all. 

So, day one was all about some background info on WWII. 

We watched a short video that gave a bare bones overview of the war. And then they had questions to answer. 

Sixth period. Ms. W was doing the questions with the kiddos. I had the document up on my other computer (yes, I have two computers) so I could follow along. As she typed in an answer, I replicated it in the chat so those students who had a hard time reading it as a presented doc on the screen could see it. 

Then suddenly, the doc gave a warning message saying I no longer had access to it. 

What? 

I tried to refresh the screen, and all of the classes for the day in Google Classroom were gone. I had been removed. 

We still had ten minutes in class. 

When we subs are added to a class for the day, we have teacher access. But we don't need to retain teacher access for classes after our day in the class. Depending on the school, it may take a day to get removed, or I might remove myself. 

This was the first time I got removed while in class. 

I was still in the meet, so I was able to get the info for the questions from what the other teacher presented. The students didn't notice. 

I know some days I'm anxious to get done with class. Now I know that someone is more anxious than me.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

I Didn't Do Anything


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 your inaction caused someone harm?

Monday, February 22, 2021

It's a Sweater

Friday night, right before I put away my knitting for the night, I thought about what I was going to post for Monday. Over the last week I have made steady progress, but nothing terribly exciting. 

Last week, the project finally began to look like a sweater. All I've done since then is add to the yoke. 

But before I went to bed, I laid out the sweater, just to admire my handiwork. And I was astonished by what I saw... 

It looks like a sweater. 

I mean, last week it did look like a sweater, but this week, it really looks like a sweater. 

I tried it on. With the needle around the neck portion, it didn't go on very well. (But this was a good thing as I had been worrying about making the yoke too long. It's not.) 

That was way more progress than I expected to see. 

At this rate, I'm going to finish this up pretty quickly. By next week? No. Definitely not. 

The above shot is of a sleeve. The hole at the underarm is where the sleeve got attached. That bit gets stitched together. I may attempt this part next week. 

So, I'll keep plugging away at it. Even getting two or four rows done a night is still yielding dividends. 

Friday, February 19, 2021

I Remember You

Biology. They had an assignment on genetic drift--a video and then a virtual lab. 

Now that I have videos working, I showed the video. I explained the assignment. I released them to work. 

In the chat, a student wrote: 

Wait a second I remember you-

I get this a lot. I replied with something noncommittal. If the student pursues the question, we can chase down where they remember me from. But virtually they haven't really been all that interested.

However, this girl then gave me more information: 

I'm the kid who screamed its Wednesday my dudes and you didn't like me after that

Ah. Yes, I remember that she thinks I hate her. And since there's nothing I can do to disabuse her of this notion, I let it go. 

The next time I see her, she'll have to remind me that I hate her and why. I guess this is a game we'll play until she graduates or grows out of this notion. It'll be interesting to see which it is.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

The Tennis Team

In case you've been wondering (I know I have), the various sports teams still have class. CIF (the state's interscholastic sports' governing body) pretty much closed all competition for the fall. (I hadn't heard what they're doing for the spring.) 

But many students still belong to the various teams. 

Last week I covered a biology class. The teacher was also the tennis coach. So, sixth period, I had to cover the tennis team. 

How does one do tennis remotely? The same way they've done every class. 

In the before times, I'd go out to the tennis courts with the kiddos and "supervise" while they practice. (For tennis, that would just be hitting balls around.) 

Now they're watching a video and answering questions online. 

So, in case you're curious, here are the videos they watched. First, Monday's video... 

And this was Wednesday's video...

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Audio Fix

Sunday night. Before I went to bed, I peeked at my email and discovered that the secretary from the school had already sent me all the info I'd need for my assignment Monday morning. 

Since it was available, I took a look at the lesson plans. And, bad news. The teacher wanted me to show a video. 

Deep sigh. 

I have lamented my video issues already. But JE pointed out the obvious: why don't I Google to see if there's a fix? Honestly, that thought hadn't occurred to me before. 

So, I looked on my phone that night to see what would pop up, and wouldn't you know it, there were a bunch of videos on YouTube. I watched two that had weird solutions. The third one I found had a simple fix that looked like it would do the trick. 

Monday morning, I logged in to everything a half hour early so I could play with the video settings. And. . . 

Didn't work. 

It seemed perfect. But the audio continued to sound like it was coming to me through a fan. Yikes.

I ended up having a prep period right after the monster fail in second period. Could I figure out a fix before sixth? 

I went back to the previous two videos that seemed way too complicated. The second video I watched Sunday night was where I went next. 

It was a bit easier to follow watching it on my computer, especially because I could pull up the things as the presenter described them. I made the recommended changes, and. . .

SUCCESS!!! 

The video actually played with good audio. Woo-hoo! 

Then came the test. Sixth period. (Which was the tennis team, so they had a different video than the biology class. But it was still a video.) 

Things did not go smoothly. By making changes to get the video to work, I had knocked out my microphone to speak to the students. When I started class, they did not hear my greeting. I was only clued in as the students sent messages in the chat of "Can you hear her?". 

I was able to tweak things so they could hear me, and I repeated my greetings as well as the intro for the day's assignment. Then it was time for the moment of truth. Would it work? 

I started the video. And. . . IT WORKED! 

Whew. 

Good thing too as I had this class for the week, and the teacher specifically said to show the video to the class. 

In case you ever find yourself in a similar circumstance, or you're curious as to what sound issue I was having, here's the video that provided the actual solution: 

Just to be clear, videos work just fine if I watch them on the computer. But the minute I attempted to present a video in a Google Meet, the sound issue happened. (If you want to get a demonstration of what we heard, go to about 50 seconds into the video.)

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Not False


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 the accusations leveled at your friend turned out to be true? (I won't specify what accusations, but it could be anything such as bullying someone online, money laundering, lying about something, or even murder.)

Monday, February 15, 2021

The Home Stretch

I have now "finished" both sleeves and "attached them to the body of the sweater...

And so now it actually resembles a sweater...

This is the yoke. It's rather complicated with maintaining the stitch pattern as well as decreasing along the neck edge and along the sleeves. These are also long rows, so it's slow going. 

But, I am closer to the end than the beginning. The finish is in sight. 

Here's a close up of how the sleeves got attached...

There's a hole under the arms that I'll stitch up, but after I get a bit further with the yoke. 

It's getting there. Faster than I expected. 

Friday, February 12, 2021

Too Much Information

Middle schoolers are way more fun virtually. Things that are annoying (or worse, disruptive) in person take on a certain whimsy online. 

Friday. I was covering a special ed middle school English class. Out of nowhere, a student turned on his microphone and announced, "I pooped my pants!" 

Me: "Thank you for sharing???" 

Then he turned his microphone back on to apologize. Apparently little sister took control of his computer to...? Perhaps she was trying to embarrass him. 

Mission accomplished. 

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Mistaken Identity

Middle school math, special ed. They were working on order of operations

I recognized Seth as soon as I heard his voice. That he's in special ed did not surprise me one bit. He immediately spoke up with a question. 

"Are you on your phone again today?" 

Uh. . .

Okay, so full disclosure, I am on my phone way more than I really should be. But there comes a point after I've gone over the assignment for the day, I've released the kiddos to get to work, and I'm staring at a screen full of unblinking avatars. 

I thought I hid it better than that. . .

But another student replied to Seth. "No, that was a different sub. . ."

At which point I realized what Seth was asking. Apparently their last sub had accessed the class via her phone. 

I was accessing the class via computer. 

The class got pretty boring after that. The kiddos worked on the assignment. And I. . . pulled out a magazine and read. (They had few questions after we did the first problem together.) 

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Do Not Disturb

Some things never happened while I was working on campus.

Monday. I was covering a tenth grade English class. They were working on vocabulary from their next book, Night

There was a tap at my window. 

My window overlooks the front door. On this day, plumbers were coming to work on a leak or something, and water was going to be shut off to our building. We had had due notice. 

The water shut off to the building is in our garage. (Some things were built really stupidly in the complex.) So, the plumbers needed access. 

And, uh. . . Yeah, I was home. But I was working. I was on camera. I couldn't just. . . 

I have roommates. When the plumbers knocked on the door, Luisa answered and took care of the issue. 

I like having my blinds open. It was a sunny day, and I like the light. But, perhaps I should keep them closed? Or, I might just need a sign, a "do not disturb" sign. 

But then again, we really don't get too many visitors during school hours usually. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Your Kind Don't Do That


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.
😉

Today's question is brought to you by Miss Scarlet and the Duke, available in the U.S. via Masterpiece Mystery on PBS...

What if you were barred from doing the one thing you were best at because of something intrinsic about you (your race, gender, height, etc.)?

Monday, February 8, 2021

Sleeve Two

Last week I started on my second sleeve. . .

So, because I needed the needles, I parked the first sleeve on the body of the sweater. . .

Once I finish up the second sleeve, it'll get parked on the other side of the cardi, and then I start on the yoke (shoulders). It'll be knit in one piece from there. 

(Yes, these are short sleeves. I do not need long sleeves.)

Slowly, it looks more and more like a sweater.

Friday, February 5, 2021

A Lingering Question

Twelfth grade English. It was co-taught, so I took roll while the other teacher explained the lesson. (They were continuing analyzing an article that they had read earlier in the week.) 

As is normal, some students blinked out of the meet only to return. I've stopped worrying when a student disappears from the meet. Most of the time they're having technical issues.

In second period, a student returned from logging out. He explained why in the chat: 

Sorry for leaving my aunt just got out and I was on the phone with her

Besides the kiddo's propensity for not using punctuation, the explanation left me wondering. . .

Just got out of where?

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Good Enough for Now

Special ed English class at the continuation high school. They were reading Animal Farm

Only, kiddos don't tend to read. Not willingly. Especially not special ed kids. So, the teacher had been playing the audio for them via YouTube. 

That's an easy enough lesson plan. Alas, I have a technical issue.

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but for some reason, I can't present videos to classes. I mean, I can. I know how. But whenever I try, the audio comes out sounding like someone is trying to talk through a box fan. It's all choppy and stuttery. 

I have tried every trick I know. (If any of you technical wizards out there have any ideas, I'm all ears.) 

Knowing the problem, and knowing that they didn't have to see the video, I attempted to just play the video on my computer while I had the meet going so they could hear the book via my speaker to the microphone.

I patted myself on the back. Problem solved. 

Except...

The next day, I asked if the sound quality was good the previous day. Nope. They couldn't hear it. 

So, in the end I played the video on my second computer (yes, I have two computers), turned it up loud, and angled those speakers towards my main computer. That they heard. 

Whew. 

Now, I just need to find a fix for the stuttery issue. I'm sure other teachers will assign videos. It's the nature of subbing. 

In case you're interested in hearing it yourself, here's the YouTube version we were listening to: 

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Not Again

The last time I covered a class at the continuation high school, I was in the "wrong room" for the virtual meet. So as not to make the same mistake twice, I made sure to add the classes as a student, and I used that link to access the meet for the first class. 

(I'm using an old picture for my header for this post. It's from this teacher's classroom, but she's modified the room since then. And, it's not like I'm actually on campus at this point, anyway.) 

So, 9:00 AM. No one logged in. 

I took a deep breath. I had not done this again? 

I double checked the link. It was correct. It was the one in their Google Classroom. I logged in with a second computer. It was the same room. 

One minute passed. Then two. Then three. . .

Then someone else logged in.

Whew. I was really, really starting to get nervous. But, they were all just late. (Considering how the class went, that turned out to be not surprising.) 

The rest of the classes logged in just like normal, some early, some later. But first period decided to throw some anxiety my way for the day.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

In Dreams


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 muses do whisper stories to us in our dreams?

Monday, February 1, 2021

Sleeves!

Well, one sleeve. So far. 

When I started this cardigan, back in 2013, I decided to knit it in one piece. That is, rather than knit a back, a right front, and a left front, and then sew those together, I'd do all those pieces in one go. 

It's pretty boring knitting until one gets to where the sleeves go. 

Rather than reinvent the wheel, I'm using a template to construct the sweater. In this template, the sleeves are worked circularly, where the body had been worked back and forth. 

This should not be a big deal. I can do either. But I ran into a bit of a snag when I got into the staggered part of the stitch repeat.

This is the part where I explain what that snag is, but I can't do it. I would have a hard time writing this as an explanation for a knitter, so trying to explain to a non-knitting audience just isn't going to happen. It has to do with lace knitting and yarn overs and not doing two yarn overs in a row and attempting to knit a wrong side row and right side row in the same pattern repeat. 

Yeah, that didn't even make sense to me.

By the time I figured out there was a big problem, I had knit three rows. 

On the bright side, I learned how to ladder down and adjust mistakes early on in the knitting of this sweater. . .

So, the fix only took an hour or so. And once I recognized the problem, the solution to how to knit the sleeve in the round presented itself. 

At least the sleeves are going quicker than the body. If you look closely, you can see where I bound off for the armholes. . .

Okay, maybe not. Suffice it to say that progress is being made, and the body (above) is just sittin' and chillin' until the sleeves are knit. I'll post pics once the sleeves are added. Then the construction will make a bit more sense.

(The new blog background is this stitch pattern close up. It was time for a new one.)

Friday, January 29, 2021

Still Life

Last week I covered a photography class. They were to read this article and then photograph the items that the article listed. Then they were to watch a video on symbolism, likely to help them arrange their still life images. In case you want to take a look at the video: 

So, why am I telling you all this? Because embedded in the Google Classroom for the class was a link I'd like to save. For me. And the easiest way to do it is to put it someplace I'll find it again. 

Apparently, they've been taking pictures using their phones. When school is in person, they can check out cameras to use. At home, that's harder. (They only have a set number of cameras, so when at school, they work in teams.)

And the link I want to save is for converting HEIC (the format that iPhones now use) to JPEG (the format I need if I want to use the images anywhere else, like this blog). I had been using them via Google Photos. I'm not sure which is easier, but I like having the choice. 

There. Now I can find that link again, even though I did bookmark it. (I never look at my bookmarks. I forget they're there.)

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Silent Third


Last week I covered a photography class. They were to read an article on still life and respond to it before taking still life pictures. The teacher had set up a kind of comment page (on something called Padlet) for them to list three things they learned as well as comment on fellow students' lists. 

(Since they can't have a discussion due to the distance thing, this is the next best way to have students communicate with each other.) 

Everything went well first period. At the end of third period, I checked the Padlet page only to find that none of the students had made their comments. Before I dismissed the class, I reminded them that they needed to create posts so that their peers could comment. 

Fifth period. Since things went sideways third, I made sure to start with telling period five about the commenting thing. 

A few minutes later, a student alerted me to a problem. 

For the students to add their comment to the page, they needed to "add a comment" using a plus sign button. The students in period five told me they didn't have that button. 

Upon further investigation, I discovered that the same issue happened to period three. In fact, only one class, period one, had the button to add a comment. 

Deep sigh. 

I won't go into the mess that ensued when I attempted to contact their teacher to let her know. (I'm still rather irked over the incident.) Suffice it to say that the issue never did get fixed. 

But period three... *shakes head* Not a one of them piped up to let me know that there was a problem. 

Usually, there's someone who will chime in with "there's a problem here". At which point I can troubleshoot, or at the very least, let their teacher know that they couldn't complete something due to a technical issue.

Of course, there are some classes that are just quiet. They keep their heads down and don't comment on anything. 

I suppose period three was one of those. If we were in person, they'd probably be the "best" class of the day only to later discover that not a one of them had done any work. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Missing Third

Last Tuesday morning I was called to cover a photography class. As we're doing things virtually, that means I roll out of bed and then log in.

The school sends me an invitation to join the Google Classroom classes. I logged into the four classes and perused the lesson plan.

Four classes? I should have five.

I verified that the teacher did, in fact, have a full schedule. (Some teachers don't.) I then emailed the school to let them know I was missing a class. 

I started first period.

The class I was missing was immediately after first period. (We're on a block schedule, so we go periods 1-3-5 one day and periods 2-4-6 the next.) But the staff is busy, so I wasn't concerned right away. I got first period going with instructions and attendance and such. 

Halfway into the period, I still had no response. Time for a follow up email. 

I got a response that time. The secretary's email said she was having technical difficulties, and did I get the invitation that time? 

Technical difficulties? You don't say...

If I didn't have technical difficulty posts, this blog would have been blank for weeks. 

Luckily the invitation went through, and I was good to go in time for the class. 

Of course, that wasn't the only technical difficulty I had this week, but that's another post.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Impending Doom


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 question wasn't read in the way I intended it. That's not really a problem. I want questions to be interpreted differently by different people. But last week everyone got bogged down in the how rather than the what, so this week I'm going to try the question again. Hopefully this time the focus will be where I had hoped it would be.

What if you learned that something terrible was coming (either coming for you or coming your way)? (The how you learn this is unimportant. Only, the source of this knowledge is trustworthy, so this impending doom is coming.)

Monday, January 25, 2021

A Bit of a Surprise

Remember last week how I went and picked up an old project?

When I started the thing, back in 2013, the intent was to knit myself a lightweight cardigan. Instead of finding a sweater pattern, I found a stitch pattern I liked, and I decided to wing it. I know roughly how a sweater is constructed. I've knit sweaters in the past. 

I swatched. I found my gauge. I figured how many stitches I'd need to cast on to make it sized for me. And then I cast on. 

I figured it'd be a couple months, and then I'd have to figure out how I was going to attach sleeves. 

Seven years pass... 

So, a couple weeks ago, I found myself between knitting projects. And I remembered the cardigan. I figured I could knit a few rows on the thing until something else catches my interest. 

Only, a funny thing happened on Tuesday or Wednesday. I looked at how long the thing was, and I wondered. I pulled out a t-shirt for comparison, and yep, I'm just about there. It's almost long enough to need to figure out the sleeve portion of the project. 

Suddenly my sweater is looking like it might get finished. 

I haven't bound off for sleeves yet, but I'm close enough that it was time to do some calculations. I actually have a sleeve plan. Barring any weird distractions, I should be ready to get the sleeves started this coming week.

The picture of the thing doesn't look much different than last week. I completed about half a pattern repeat.


But, in an experimental mood, I tried filming myself knitting. (I'm planning to film some videos of me making stuff. Figuring it all out is turning out to be more complicated than I expected. So, baby steps.) 

Remember a couple months ago when I tried to post the videos I had made of my lip balm holders? It seems that the only solution to getting videos to upload and embed is to upload them to YouTube. I guess this means I started a YouTube channel.

Well, hopefully it works...

There is no sound. I'm knitting one pattern repeat on row three of the pattern. It's slow. I'm a more confident knitter, really, but dealing with having the camera set up slowed me down. 

It was a first attempt. I'll figure out how to set it all up eventually.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Fully Asleep

Friday. Special ed math. More of them had their cameras on than is usual for me. Some of the kiddos were bouncy. One boy had his father walking around in the background. And a couple of them had one-on-one aides with them. 

Cannon logged in. I noted that his camera was on its side, so while Cannon's head was oriented up and down, it was obvious he was lying down. 

And. . . His eyes were closed? Yeah, his eyes were closed.

After a bit of time passed, Cannon placed something over his camera. And I heard nothing from him all period. 

Ahem. If you were to tell me that some students slept through class, I would not be surprised. I'm sure some of them are. But they make sure their cameras are turned off. 

Because, seriously? If you're going to sleep in class, the least you can do is not make it obvious. 

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Busy

A lot of this distance learning thing consists of me staring at a computer screen with boxes of avatars and student names. When the students have their cameras off, all I see is their avatar. 

I leave my camera on, but I have an avatar of my own:


So, I find ways to entertain myself. One of the things I planned to do last week was come up with some questions for my "what if?' posts on Tuesdays. 

But I really should know better. . .

Friday. I had a special ed math class. And they had a review assignment. 

More of them actually had their cameras on. And they responded when I greeted them. 

I explained the assignment. I offered my assistance if they got stuck. Then I had them get to work. 

And they took me up on my offer of assistance. 

It was nice. I actually got to do some teaching. I ended up going over the same thing over and over. It's a bit of a challenge to explain things through a computer screen, but I do have a few tools at my disposal. 

I was actually busy. 

I answered questions right up until the end of the period. One class was dealing with inequalities while the other two were working on fractions, decimals, and percents. These are challenging for all students, so it wasn't a shock that they needed help.

I really should know better. Never make plans to work on something else during class time. Those are the days when I don't have the time.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

In the Wrong Room

The last time I covered Ms. L's class was early November. The continuation high school isn't doing distance like the other schools. Rather than adding me into the Google Classroom as a teacher, they just gave me the link for the meet. And the last time I covered Ms. L's class, that worked just fine. 

Tuesday morning. I got the lesson plans. I logged into the meet. And I waited.

And waited. 

I knew something was wrong pretty quickly. While the kiddos don't all show up on time, someone is there on time. If only one. And usually someone is a touch early. 

But five minutes into class and I had no one? Nope, that's a mistake. 

I went through about ten minutes of panic which included calling the school (which didn't help). But then I noticed that the teacher had given me the student codes. . .

Google Classroom is set up so that someone can be designated a "student" or a "teacher". Teachers can add assignments and grade things. Students can only see what's been input and complete assignments. 

But what I needed was the meet link, which everyone can see. So, I figured why not? I can sign up as a student. 

Once I had done that, I found the messages from the students, wondering if class was happening. 

I had missed about half of first period (the class periods at the continuation high school are a half hour), but knowing the issue, I made sure to log into class via the Google Classroom for the rest of the day.

Teachers have a tendency to reuse their lesson plans, only modifying the specific stuff the class is doing that day. Clearly, Ms. L didn't realize that the meet links change. I let her know about the issue.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Fear the Future


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 a reading done by a psychic (one you trust, one you know who's been accurate in the past), and their prediction for you was something terrible happening to you?

Monday, January 18, 2021

Old Projects

Last week I blogged about making a color choice for the Exasperation Hat (and you all gave me some good color suggestions. Thank you). 

Turns out, I wasn't feeling the hat. Instead of pulling out the black (or the olive green) and starting the beanie, I pulled out an old project. 

I started this back in *checks Ravelry* October of 2013. Which means I've had it on the needles longer than my six-year afghan. [I'd show pictures of the afghan or link to a blog post, but it predates the blog, and it's kind of buried in the closet at the moment, so getting it out for a picture would be awkward (read: not in the mood to bother today).] 

Ultimately, it's going to be a sweater. A cardigan. It's been a bit of a challenge. I had issues with the gauge swatch. Four years later, I again had issues with the pattern. And then there's the issue of me setting the thing down for a year or more at a time when I work on other projects. 

It's a complicated stitch pattern (that took me years to finally get the hang of--yet, I still make mistakes). It's also a very long repeat. Plus, each row is *goes and counts* 342 stitches long.

So, perhaps you won't be surprised to learn that I've only worked eight rows this week. It grows, but slowly.

Will I finish it this time? Not likely. Will I finish it ever? I intend to. 

The other thing I did this past week was to cut out some more fabric for masks. Because I'm getting bored with the ones I have. (Not that I go anywhere. Well, I do go to the store.) And they're kind of fun to make. 

Adding the knitting along the sides for the ear elastics is the fun part of it. I'll get to that. Eventually.

And I'll eventually get to the Exasperation Beanie. Probably.

How many masks do you own? 

Friday, January 15, 2021

Top 100 Toys of All Time

For this week's random quiz, I thought we'd take a trip back to childhood. 

Top 100 Toys of All Time

How many have you played with? I remember 36 of them. 

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Nope, That's Not Done

Last Thursday I was called to cover a class I was very familiar with. It was the class I co-taught in September until they hired a special ed teacher to take over

So, jumping in was easy. 

Freshman English. The kiddos were working on a vision board with goals for this new year. (They do a lot of planning and goal setting things in freshman English. It's perfect for kiddos starting high school.) Their goals needed to be SMART goals, and while the vision board (done via Google Slides) was mostly finished, the kiddos hadn't quite hit all the specific requirements, so Ms. W was pointing those out so they'd get full points for the assignment. 

Because they were mostly finished, Ms. W gave them a reflection assignment to also complete. 

Period three. Class had barely started. Ms. W was explaining what mistakes she was seeing in the project. 

Cassius typed into chat that he was finished with the assignment. 

Rather than reiterate that maybe perhaps he should check to make sure he hadn't made any of the mistakes that Ms. W was seeing, I responded (via the chat) that there was a reflection assignment to do.

Ms. W moved on to explaining what she needed them to do in the reflection assignment. She had barely finished when Cassius said he had finished that. 

I went in and checked. He had answered the first two questions very well. Then there was a page break, and no more answers to questions. Sigh. 

So, I told Cassius that he had to finish page two. 

My job was to check over the reflection assignment, and when that was complete I could dismiss the students. So, via the chat, they'd say they were done, and I'd check. 

I had dismissed a couple students when Cassius asked if he could go. I double checked his assignment. He hadn't added anything. So, I repeated that he needed to complete the second page. 

I continued checking the assignments. I dismissed a couple more students. 

Cassius popped up again. He finally found page two, and he had done it. 

Alas, there were still issues he needed to fix. I added comments so he'd know, and then I told him to check the assignment. 

But, Cassius had already left the meet. I guess he thought it was done or something. Sigh. 

After class, Ms. W said she wasn't surprised. Cassius had a tendency to half-ass assignments. He'd get distracted, walk away from the computer, or such. 

Not surprising, really. At that age, it is kinda typical. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The Weird Kid

The first day back from winter break, I was called to cover middle school choir. Because of course. 

The lesson plan had them looking up traditional/folk songs sung in a different language (hopefully one that they were also familiar with, but not everyone was bilingual). 

That I got lots of questions was not surprising. Middle schoolers always have lots of questions. But add in something that they are totally unfamiliar with, and they were lost. But that's good for me. It meant I had something to do rather than look at a computer screen with all their cameras turned off. 

But that's not what I want to talk about today. 

Every class has one. The weird kid. They're more prominent in middle school classes (as by high school, they learn to hide it better). 

Seth logged in early. His first question was about who I was. I explained that I was just an ordinary, run-of-the-mill, daily substitute teacher. I said it that was because of the way Seth asked about me. He wanted to know if I was their new teacher. 

Immediately I knew he was the weird kid. He sounded younger than middle school age. There was a bit of whine to his voice. And he had lots of questions. 

While I might tell you that he's weird, to him and the rest of the class, I act like nothing is different. Because he may be weird, but that's not a bad thing. 

All period I was fielding questions from the whole class as to whether this song or that song was one they could use. (They wanted to choose "Happy Birthday" but in Spanish.) 

Seth "raised his hand". (In Google Meet and via an extension, the students can indicate that their hands are raised.) I called on him. 

"My hand's not raised," Seth informed me.

Sure enough, the indicator that shows a raised hand was not on.

Another student chimed in. "He does that a lot." 

The indicator beeps when the hand is "raised". It also beeps when the student turns it off. So, when my computer kept beeping, I noted that Seth was raising his hand and putting it down. Repeatedly.

So, I went back to what I was doing. I did not call on Seth again.

"I do have a question," Seth piped in a bit later. "Why do you keep turning your head?" 

What I had been doing was marking the roll on my second computer. (Yes, I have two computers going most days. It's easier that way.) And I do this most days. But no one had ever questioned me on it before. Leave it to the weird kid to notice. 

I told him what I was doing. It wasn't a secret.

Ah, the joys of middle school (virtually). 

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

A Fictional World


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 the stories we write actually create other worlds? What if our world was created by a storyteller in another universe?

Monday, January 11, 2021

Indecision

Last week I finished the entrelac scarf that I'd been working on since October. And now. . .

I found this pattern for a beanie that I thought looked cute. I won't post a picture due to copyright concerns and the fact that it has a certain F-word scrawled all over it. 

A day or two after I finished the scarf, I dug through my yarn stash and pulled out all the yarn I had that was the right weight for the beanie. I printed out the pattern. I sat down and worked a gauge swatch. 

And I haven't done a thing with it since.

I ran into two issues. The first: I really hate stranded knitting. But, I can duplicate stitch the word when I'm finished knitting the hat. It might even work better that way. 

However, issue number two is what's flummoxed me since then. 

What color do I use? 

I'm probably never going to wear it. I might gift it to someone. I might sell it. And I have way too many choices when it comes to color combinations. 

I mean, a black hat with the neon yellow would really stand out. But the tealish blue might be nice. The color in the middle is an olive green. Or red...

I'm overthinking, so I thought I'd pose it to you all. What color should I knit the hat in? What color should I then pair with it to duplicate stitch the F-word? Do I go high contrast, or do I keep the colors close, so the word doesn't stand out? 

I really don't know here. I'm open to suggestions.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Not Entirely Wrong

For the class I was covering before the break, economics was sixth period. Which meant that it was the last final I gave. 

Mr. B emailed me their final. I uploaded it to their Google Classroom. Mr. B also sent me the answer key, so I was able to grade it. 

"Identify the income group that will receive the most benefit under a flat tax." 

I remembered actually reading this in their textbook with them. (The final was only over the last two sections they had covered; it wasn't a comprehensive final.) And the test was open book/open note, so they didn't actually have to remember the answer. 

Mathias had a rough time with the question. Now, I'm not supposed to "help" with tests, but sometimes they just need a hint. 

The correct answer was: individuals with high incomes. 

Mathias, however, was thinking that the answer needed to be more complicated than it was. He, in fact, said he tended to overthink things.

So, I told Mathias (and, by extension, everyone else in the class, as virtual learning doesn't really have a whisper-to-one-kiddo mode) that the answer was an income group. I gave three examples of income groups (high, medium, low). Mathias was still kind of hesitant, but I really couldn't give him more.

After class I got to do the grading. The way that Google sets up the tests for grading makes things really simple. I can grade all the students' responses to one question at a time. So, when I got to this question, I got to see what everyone answered as a group. 

Most of them got it correct. The wording was different. Some said "the wealthy" or such. Close enough. Some chose the wrong income brackets. Of course those were wrong. 

But the best answer? "The IRS." 

I mean, they weren't wrong. But sadly, I had to mark it incorrect. 

I consoled myself with adding a comment to that answer. "LOL." I appreciate comedy when I find it in the wild.