Friday, May 27, 2022

Reshowing

Towards the end of the day, I like to muse aloud about what I'm thinking for the plans for the next school day. It was Thursday afternoon, and I didn't really have anything planned for Friday. 

So, I asked the class if there was something they wanted to do on Friday. 

Jennifer: We could watch a movie. 

That was kind of what I wanted, but I didn't want to inundate them with movies. But if the idea came from them... 

Then I asked what movie they'd want to see. Jennifer said she wouldn't mind seeing Sneakerella again

(Then we got off on a tangent as to why it wasn't called Sneakers. This is where I explained that it was a remake of Cinderella and how the title was meant to evoke that. Jennifer was unfamiliar with Cinderella, something I should probably rectify, so I explained the basic plot of the original, pointing out how Sneakerella used those elements. Jennifer didn't grasp the concept.)

This whole past week, Jonas has been using his free computer time to play the songs from the movie, so I wasn't surprised that he was okay with watching the movie again. 

On Friday, movie time, and I started the movie. Penelope had been out the prior week (on vacation with her family), so it was new to her. 

Jennifer took a count of the songs. (We thought there had been six songs. We were wrong. There were nine, with a reprise of the first song at the end. I explained what a reprise was to Jennifer.)

When the first song came on, Jonas got up to dance along. And it was clear he had been watching the songs all week as he was pretty close to the choreography of the dancers. (He's no dancer by a long shot, but for his ability level, his dancing was a match to what was on screen.) I even got him to put on his glasses (something he resists) so he could see the movie better. 

Because we have other things that we have to do as well, I had to pause the movie a couple times. (We have lunch duty on Fridays. And we had to break for lunch.) Each time, Penelope asked for her computer to watch videos to keep herself entertained. When it was time to start the movie again, she closed her computer. (She'll watch her own thing many times, so that she closed her computer herself tells me that she was into the movie.) 

All in all, it was a nice afternoon on a Friday. I may be leaning too heavily on movie days, but when you read this, we'll have three more days of school. We're almost there.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Paper Airplanes and the Substitute Teacher

First thing in the morning, we do a "calendar" thing. It starts with changing the date on the board, but it encompasses the weather and current events. (I try to draw the whole thing out so it takes us about an hour and a half.) 

We have two sources for current events. The first is software that contains lessons for special ed classes such as this. They have a breaking news feature with stories that are written simply so they can understand. 

The second source we use is CNN 10. (I have talked about CNN 10 before.) 

On Wednesday, the software had a story on the world paper airplane championship. On Thursday, CNN 10 did a story on it.

Sometimes that happens. We get the written and then we get the video. I make sure to point out that we already heard about something when we get the story a second time.

This time, I asked them a question. Had they ever made paper airplanes before? 

They had not.

Oh, we had to, then.

I found paper. I showed them. They couldn't quite grasp how the thing folded, so I went to each of them and bent the paper to where it needed to touch. Then I had them smooth out the fold. 

They weren't great looking planes, but they were paper airplanes.

Then we went outside to throw them. 

Mine... didn't fly very well. Jonas' really sailed through the air, flying far. Jennifer's did lovely loops. 

Which is just a lesson in folded well doesn't mean that the thing flies very well. 

Jonas really enjoyed the lesson. He colored his plane and brought it out for snack and lunch. 

I'm glad I was able to add a bit to their education.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Staff Party

On Wednesday, one of the other teachers arranged a picnic for the school. 

When the picnic was announced, I discussed with all the aides. We determined that while a couple of the students would enjoy the day (Jennifer, Jonas, Yohana), the rest would be difficult to get out to the park. It would be too much trouble for insufficient reward. 

So, we decided to split up the class for the day. 

One of the aides could take the students who could go to the park. The rest of us would remain behind with the students who couldn't go. And I had to remain behind because we needed a certificated person with the students who remained behind. 

The school has a small kitchen. We use it for cooking lessons for the students. But lately the staff will use it to make lunch. And on that Wednesday, the aides decided to take advantage of the empty kitchen. 

We had salmon. We had dessert. We had just a few students who kind of had free time in the way of students who don't get to go on the "field trip" have. 

We kind of had a party for ourselves. 

It was a nice, peaceful afternoon. 

Then the rest of the students got back. They seemed to have had a fun time. Jonas returned with a Styrofoam airplane. They had played games, eaten hot dogs, and had a good time hanging out with the rest of the school. 

I was glad they got to go. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Jail or Death


Speculative fiction has a long history of taking the issues of the day and reframing them in a new context with the hope that people will look at them in a new way. Our "unprecedented" times are bringing all sorts of old ways and old thinking back to the forefront. On Tuesdays, I present "what if?" questions. Previously, the intent was as an idea generator. It still is. But now, I ask that you really think about all the repercussions that these ideas will have. If only these were just thought exercises.

What if getting medical help meant you risked going to jail? What if not getting that medical help might kill you?

Sadly, this is real.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Time Crunch

I am trying to come to terms with the fact that I won't have the top I'm knitting for niece done "in time". So far:

I don't generally knit to deadline unless I'm sure I'm going to make it. If I know a Christmas present won't be done in time for Christmas, I'm fine with sending the gift out in January, or March, or later. (I've done it before.) 

But in this case, niece is going to be visiting in a couple weeks, and I kind of wanted to have this done so I don't have to mail it. 

It's not going to be done.

But it'll be close. So, at least I can make sure what I have done will fit. I hope.

Previous posts about this top: 

Friday, May 20, 2022

Pit Stop

At the end of the day, we take the students to the gate, and we wait for the buses. 

We have a locked gate and a fenced in waiting area, although half the time we'll leave things unlocked as there are staff around and about supervising. Someone stands at the gate to make sure no one wanders off. 

While most of the students travel to and from school via bus, a few are picked up and dropped off by their families. 

On this day, I was manning the gate. The buses had not yet arrived. A woman approached the gate. 

I recognized her. She's Pizza's mom. 

Usually she waits in her car. Pizza looks out for her car and lets us know when he sees it. But Pizza's class hadn't been dismissed yet. 

Apologizing, she asked if she could be let in to use the restroom. Of course I let her. Another teacher went about finding a key to the closest restroom (as we did not have one--we usually use a different restroom). 

It was at about this time that Pizza arrived at the dismissal area. And he saw his mom's car. But he didn't see his mom. 

I pointed her out and told him it would be a couple minutes. 

He accepted this explanation.

But then he was looking out at the car again. Pizza has a tendency to get anxious about things. He couldn't understand why his mom's car was out there but his mom was not.

I repeated that she was in the restroom and would be out shortly. 

He expressed palpable relief when she reappeared to claim him. 

There's a reason these students are at this school. Many times they can seem quite normal. But then something like this occurs, nothing major but a change to the routine, and it throws them for a loop.

Luckily, Pizza is one of the more "advanced" students, so he can cope better with these sorts of things. Of course, "better" is relative, and at this school, that meant that it made for a couple anxious minutes for Pizza. 

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Buttoned Up

There is software that the school uses for lessons for the students. It's geared towards their level, understanding-wise and age-wise. That is, the words and sentences are very simple, but the topics are geared towards adults learning to navigate the world.

This month's topic is laundry.

They actually do laundry. We have a washer and dryer on campus, and they'll assist in washing towels and such. 

On this particular Tuesday, the story we read had to do with not throwing away clothes that can be fixed. The character in the story was taught that she could treat stained clothes, have pants hemmed, and replace a button on a blouse. 

When we got to that point, I asked the students if they knew how to sew on a button. They did not. 

And now I had a lesson for them. 

Vera is a seasoned sewer, so I asked her if she had the materials to sew on a button. She did, and she brought them the next day. 

I was not expecting them to become expert button-sewers. I have done a couple crafty-type things with them, and they have a hard time. But the point of the story was that sewing on a button was doable, so I wanted them to at least have a go at doing it. 

And they managed it. It took a while. I don't think they'd be able to repeat it without help. (If I was the permanent teacher, button sewing would be part of the curriculum every time the laundry unit rolled around.) 


In the second image, we had to cut the thread as Jennifer had gone around the fabric rather than over and under it. Definitely a good first attempt.

It's something we would have spent a lot more time on if I was seeking mastery. But a lot of what we do with them is for introduction and so they know it's possible. So, by that standard, it was a success. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Sneakerella Showing

First thing after the students arrive for the day, we do "calendar". I have turned this into almost an hour and a half of activities/lessons that include a bit of "current events". 

The software that the school uses has a breaking news feature. The language is simplified so they can follow along, and there are simple questions that go with each story so I can check for understanding.

The news stories are broken into news, sports, and entertainment. Last Thursday, under entertainment, there was a story about a new movie on Disney + called Sneakerella

We did the story. We did the questions. I led them to figuring out the movie was premiering the next day. And then I clicked on the link to the trailer. 

It's a live-action gender-flipped contemporary version of Cinderella. 

Keyla gave us access to Disney +. The next day was going to be a Friday. And I had an idea.

I asked the students: who wanted to see Sneakerella? Jonas was in. The rest of the class kind of indicated that they wouldn't mind. Jennifer was dubious. 

Jennifer doesn't really like new movies. She wanted to be sure that it would be school-appropriate. (A Disney + movie advertised on our news feed? A retelling of Cinderella?) I assured her it would be fine. She reluctantly gave her assent. 

So, on Friday, after our morning snack/break time, I put the movie on. 

It was cute. I'm a sucker for Cinderella stories, so it was in my wheelhouse. It was a musical, so Jonas was happy. 

Jennifer? She enjoyed it once she got into it.

Jennifer doesn't really take to new movies easily. She was reluctant to see Turning Red when it premiered, but she picked it when we did a different movie Friday

She asked a lot of questions and needed various plot points explained. (This is a special ed class, after all.) But once she realized that it was a "safe" movie, she was willing to sit back and enjoy.

So, I guess to a certain extent, I am helping Jennifer learn when we play movies. It opens her up to new things. And that's good.

I'm posting about this on a Wednesday as Wednesday is my "summer schedule" day to recommend TV shows and movies. And I do recommend it, with the caveat that it's good for what it is. If you enjoy Cinderella as a genre, give it a go. Here's the trailer: 

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

It Happened Again


Speculative fiction has a long history of taking the issues of the day and reframing them in a new context with the hope that people will look at them in a new way. Our "unprecedented" times are bringing all sorts of old ways and old thinking back to the forefront. On Tuesdays, I present "what if?" questions. Previously, the intent was as an idea generator. It still is. But now, I ask that you really think about all the repercussions that these ideas will have. If only these were just thought exercises.

What if you murdered a bunch of people and were celebrated for it? What if someone murdered your family members and was celebrated for it? 

Monday, May 16, 2022

A Week's Progress

Last week

This week: 

I didn't get as far as I would have liked. There was an increase row every three rows. As of last Monday I had four increase rows to go. I did one on Monday, one on Tuesday, one on Wednesday, and one on Thursday.

That's very, very slow. But I was so tired last week that I'm going to call any forward progress a win.

On Friday I got started on the part where the top divides into bra cups. So, not too bad.

I've got a little under a month to finish the top if I want it done in time for niece's birthday. I wouldn't say I like my chances, but at least I'm making progress. 

The pattern is well-written. I have employed a few tricks I know so that I don't lose my place. That blue marker that's just hanging out on the piece is my reminder of which is the public side of the work. (In something like this, it'll be easy to lose track.) 

I hope to be working on the back of the piece at this time next week. We'll see if I actually get that far.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Culmination Conundrum

The students at the adult transition center are ages 18 to 22. At age 22, they "age out". 

As the end of the school year approaches, we get ready for their "graduation" which at this school is called culmination. There's a ceremony for those who will not be returning next school year. 

I don't generally get to participate in these sorts of things. I'm usually just there to fill in. But I will be covering this class until the last day of school, so that means I'll be on campus on the day of culmination. 

And one of the students in the class is finishing up this year. 

Last week I was informed that it would be my job to "say a few words" about Elena at culmination.

Crap. 

Usually I can dodge these types of events, but not in this case. So, now I have to figure out what words I want to say. And I have absolutely no idea.

I mean, I'm a writer. I can come up with something, right? 

Deep sigh.

Elena is... Well, she's not what one would call sweet. She's not allowed to use a fork at lunchtime because she will stab people who pass by her. She will get out of her seat to go and hit another student, kind of out of nowhere. (We have no idea why she attacked Jennifer or Yohana, because neither of them bother Elena. Ever.) 

When Elena has decided she's done doing her work for the day, she'll go and get her computer without permission, and I have to be sneaky to get it back from her. (She does get computer time, but later in the day.) 

She has a one-to-one aide, Vera, who keeps a close eye on her. Vera is strict. Most of Elena's acting out happens when Vera is on her lunch. Elena will try things when Vera is there, but Vera puts a stop to it quickly. 

I suppose I should ask Vera what to say. But I have a feeling she'll have some of the same concerns as me. 

I mean, I could say Elena is headstrong. Determined. She knows what she wants and she'll do what she can to get it. But is that the sort of thing I want to say at the sort of ceremony we'll be having? 

Wish me luck. I have no idea how I'm going to manage this. Is it too early to anticipate being "sick" that day? (Although, the ceremony is virtual, so they might make me attend anyway.) 

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Deciphered

Natalie has certain behaviors. I've gone into detail about how she's always about getting on her computer, but there are other things that she does that we have to watch out for. 

She likes to bang a specific rhythm on the tables. (I could write it out in musical notation for you, if anyone is interested. Yes, it is that specific. Yes, it's always the same rhythm.) She likes to play in the water. She likes to chant, "Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!" (As in Jerry Springer.) 

And she likes to make an announcement that none of us can understand.

She repeats all of these behaviors, multiple times a day. The "Jerry!" thing will only happen if someone starts her. But the others appear at random intervals all day. 

One of the aides pointed out that Natalie likes to watch a local TV station. It's the TV station that broadcasts The Jerry Springer Show

So, after about two weeks, we were able to figure out that the second half of Natalie's announcement is, "Channel Five". Okay, then. 

But what she said before it...? 

Natalie has a very cartoony voice. She's hard to understand. After dealing with her for a couple months now, I can make out various things she says all the time. And we ask her a lot of yes and no questions to determine what she wants. But what was she saying in that announcement? 

It's one of those things that from time to time I think I'll dive into. It would entail finding video of channel five and their station identification stuff. (My streaming service does not have channel five. Otherwise, this mystery would have been solved months ago.) But it was something that I would do later.

Until last Wednesday. 

We were sitting outside at snack. Natalie made the announcement. 

Then Flash said, "Ontario's channel five." 

My jaw dropped. Ontario. 

Ontario. 

OMG! He figured it out. 

I thanked Flash. A couple times. Because, yeah, it was driving me a little crazy to not know what Natalie was saying. And now I know. 

Ontario's channel five. 

Mystery solved. 

(Ontario is a city out in the Inland Empire of California. The Inland Empire consists of the counties of San Bernardino and Riverside. It's about an hour drive from where I am. And I don't care how hard they push it, I will not call it "the IE" just like I don't refer to Orange County as "the OC". Nope. It's a stupid name.) 

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

A Mother's Day Project

Mother's Day was Sunday. Last week, with Mother's Day approaching, I realized the class had to do some project for their mothers. 

So, I went online and searched for art projects that kids could do. These students are chronologically adults, but mentally they are very much still kids. 

I found one that I thought was very cute and totally doable for them. It was a butterfly that they used their handprints on to form the wings. I printed out the poem. We had paint in class. And on Tuesday we took the time to get them to do the handprints. 

They picked the colors they wanted. And they put their handprints on the page. 

(Two of the students didn't participate. Doris told us no, and considering how things went the last time we asked her to paint something, we let it go at that. And Natalie wouldn't leave her computer. Natalie is in foster care anyway, so she wouldn't have had a mother to give it to.) 

We let these dry overnight. Then the students were able to color and personalize these a bit more.

It was a good thing we did them early in the week. Jayden didn't come to school on Friday. (And I had enough warning to let him take it home Thursday.) 

Then, on Friday, I had them pack these into their backpacks in the morning. And then Jonas was picked up from school early. So his went home with him, too. 

I hope their moms liked our little project. It's too bad we'll be out of school for Father's Day as I'm sure we could have found something fun to do for their fathers as well.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

No Way Out

Speculative fiction has a long history of taking the issues of the day and reframing them in a new context with the hope that people will look at them in a new way. Our "unprecedented" times are bringing all sorts of old ways and old thinking back to the forefront. On Tuesdays, I present "what if?" questions. Previously, the intent was as an idea generator. It still is. But now, I ask that you really think about all the repercussions that these ideas will have. If only these were just thought exercises.

What if you were dying and the only treatment that could save your life was illegal? 


"We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented." ~Elie Wiesel

Monday, May 9, 2022

Gauge Is Important

Niece's birthday is a little over a month away. I asked her what she wanted. She texted me photos of three tank tops to knit (or crochet). 

The first one, a crocheted top, I could not locate. 

The second one was cute. I read through the description. That's when I decided I wouldn't be knitting that top. Why? Because of this: 

Yarn: I've used an aran which I DK, (image of white and black tanks) and a cotton chunky Blue and silver tanks, you can use any yarn, you will not need a gauge, the pattern works on any yarn,

The highlighted portion stopped me. "You will not need a gauge"? ???

No. Just no. 

Gauge is the thing that tells a knitter if they're going to make the right size or not. If the pattern says I should get five stitches per inch and I'm knitting six, then if I follow the pattern exactly, my finished garment is going to be way too small. 

Having a set gauge lets me know if I have to adjust things to get the correct size. I have made gauge errors in the past. Those are on me. 

If I don't know how big something is going to end up, I have a better than average shot of knitting something that'll be unwearable. 

Which is why I ended up choosing to make my niece the third top she selected. Because this designer knows what she's talking about when she mentions gauge: 

designed with you in mind. this pattern will walk you through the math (i swear it’s easy, don’t freak out) to make a tank top in your favorite yarn, in a style that suits you and that will fit you perfectly. seriously. it works in any size yarn for any size person.

And the pattern does just that. 

Swatching is important for other reasons, too. I started off using the needle size indicated on the yarn. It looked like this: 

Which in the picture doesn't look too bad. But it felt wrong. It was way too loose. I knew before I got this far that I'd have to go down a needle size, but I knit a few rows just to make sure. 

In the end, I went down three needle sizes, and I'm happy with how the fabric is turning out: 

And the whole thing is a big as it should be, via the pattern. So things are going well so far. 

Fingers crossed that the knit continues to go smoothly.

Friday, May 6, 2022

Dance Party

It was about an hour before the end of the day. Vera (instructional assistant) suggested we put on some music. I opened up the floor for requests. 

I'm not a fan of choosing music. I know what I like, but for the most part, I find no one else really enjoys my choices. And I'm generally quite content to sit in a silent room. So, when in a group, I let others pick what we're listening to. 

We started with a couple recent top 40 hits. We got Jayden up, although he was only reluctantly dancing. Vera danced with her student, and a couple students from other classes joined us. We even pulled Penelope into the fun, which is a bit different as she's wheelchair bound. (Jennifer and Jonas weren't interested, and ignored us.)

And, of course, we got Yohana in on the action.

I don't think I've mentioned Yohana before. She's pretty quiet. She follows where we lead. She goes where we tell her. And she's so quiet we sometimes forget she's there.

But, when left to her own devices, she'll dance. There doesn't have to be music. As she ambles around when we're on breaks, she'll dance to her own internal music. 

Various aides know what she likes, though, so we put on some music for her. And for the rest of them, actually. Songs that everyone seemed to like. 

New-to-me music, but old favorites for many of them.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Ending the Year 13

1. There are 19 school days left. 

2. I'm not generally a counter-down, but I am in this one class until the last day of school, so I set up a countdown. For me. And the other staff. And the students. 

3. Usually, I'm a bit ambivalent towards summer. No work = no paycheck. But this year I'm really looking forward to the downtime. It's been a long year. 

4. And yet... I signed up for summer school. The list was sitting there when I dropped in to the district office. I looked at it. I thought about it. And then I put my name down. I mean, what are the chances that I'll actually get called? (Don't answer that.) 

5. I feel fairly confident that the rest of this school year should go smoothly. Well, as smoothly as my current long-term assignment goes. I knew what I was getting into when I agreed to take over this class. And now we're in a sort of rhythm, so barring unforeseen crazy, we should be able to ride out the rest of the year.

6. Jayden has integrated into the class fairly seamlessly. The nurse who's his one-to-one has fit in with the class nicely. She and Keyla became instant best friends, which works out. And the whole lunch thing never came to pass, so all that previous drama was for naught. 

7. I got tired of having to change Penelope's videos every three minutes, so I created a YouTube playlist for her. Unfortunately, it only has nine songs on it. She loves every song (going by her squeals of glee when a new song starts), but it's only nine songs. They're all by One Direction. I would like to add some more songs that Penelope might like. Any ideas? (We've tried introducing her to other boy bands, but I really don't know that many. Help.)

8. I have been printing out coloring pages like crazy. Did you know you can find coloring pages online? I found Jonas' favorite band. There's Star Wars (for Star Wars day yesterday). And I found all sorts of flowers for spring. This is more a filler activity for when we're between other things we do, but they really like the coloring pages. So, they stay.

9. The next thing I want to try is to teach Natalie how to play video games. Since she's obsessed with being on the computer, it might be a way I can sneak in some learning. All she does is watch videos, but she keeps trying to make videos. Games might be a good middle ground. Anyone know any good games for developmentally disabled young adults? 

10. Doris' "accidents" have begun lessening, but she's still having to change her clothes a couple times a day. You might be surprised at how much restroom time takes up our day. I'm not really trained to be of help at this, so it falls on the instructional aides' shoulders. 

11. The summer program for the adult transition center is two weeks and two days (instead of the full month for the other schools). Since the teacher retired, "my" class might not have a teacher for the program. I keep getting asked if I'm doing the summer for them. I keep saying no. As far as I know, I'm maxed out on days I can cover this class as of the last day of school. 

12. So, my signing up for summer school might not be the best idea. Because I could totally get called that first morning to cover the full two weeks and two days. It's happened before

13. But it's not like I have summer plans. Just resting. It's been a long year. It's been a weird year. (My end of year stats are going to be unlike previous years, even more than the past two years have been.) And I really kind of need some down time.

This has been a Thursday 13. It's a list of 13 things. Check out the link and join in.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Going Home

It was Tuesday. Morning snack time. I brought Doris her food. (Her family provides a croissant and a slice of spam.) 

Doris eventually ate. She was given some water. She had gone back to her usual spot. And then, out of nowhere, Doris was angry. 

She grunted. Slammed her fists onto the picnic tables. Hit herself in the face. 

Keyla herded her into the classroom. Doris hit her. On the way to the classroom, Doris shoved another seated student, knocking him to the ground. 

I called the office. Doris needed to go home.

It was the end of snack. The rest of the students kind of got herded to the classroom next door. (This is the room I was in while covering Ms. S's class. When I left, they disbanded the class, so the room is vacant.) We could hear Doris pounding on the wall.

Then, Keyla found me. The office called. Penelope's father had arrived, and she was going home.

Penelope? 

Wait. Did I give the office the wrong name? 

I mean, Penelope is never an issue. If I had said Penelope was throwing a tantrum, the office would have questioned me, right? 

I told the other aide. She wondered, too. But Penelope had been called for, so Penelope they would get. The aide wheeled Penelope to the office. 

It turned out that Penelope had a doctor's appointment. No one had told us she was going home early. 

It wasn't that we needed that information, per se. But at least I hadn't used the wrong name when calling the office.

It was probably twenty minutes later when Doris' father came to retrieve her.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Aliens Among Us


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 aliens are already among us? Specifically, what if an alien species came here a long time ago and has been here ever since, but we don't notice because we think that species is native to Earth (like, what if bats or kangaroos or whales or some other ordinary Earth creature is actually aliens sent to observe us)? 

Monday, May 2, 2022

It's All Downhill

I have officially passed the half way point of the Calash scarf/hood

It's all downhill from here.

Although, niece's birthday is in a little over a month. I have the yarn (it arrived Tuesday). I have swatched. I have measurements. I just did the math. I am ready to start. So, this scarf will be put aside until further notice. 

But I feel a sense of accomplishment that I have less than half the scarf to do. 

The hardest part of this scarf are the short rows. It's just a little bit of shaping where the top of the hood is: 

It's kind of subtle, so I wouldn't be surprised if you can't see it.

If you look at the top, the purple and light blue stripes meet with the dark blue not quite making it to that edge. It gives just a little more fabric at the top of the head. 

It'll make more sense when I sew up the edge after the whole thing is complete.

Which won't be happening until I have finished niece's birthday gift. Which I'll probably start on later today. 

But I'm more than halfway done with this, so when I pick it up again (whenever that is), it'll be closer to the end than the beginning. 

I feel okay putting this down now.

Friday, April 29, 2022

YouTube Music

It was Thursday. We were watching CNN 10. They did a story on the sun's eleven year solar cycle (as we're reaching a busy time, solar-wise). 

And suddenly I thought of a song. 

I'm sure you know that you can find just about any song on YouTube. The students like to play their favorite songs when they have free computer time. I've discussed this before

As the story played out for the students to watch, I started humming this song to myself. And I realized that I just had to play it for them. I just had to. 

After we finished the day's video, we discussed what we saw. Mostly that's me asking, "What did they talk about?" and the students repeating something like, "The sun". 

(I'd welcome longer conversations, and with the news lately, I do go a bit more in depth on things. But they don't really understand nuances, so things stay fairly surface, and we can't really get into deep discussions.) 

So, this time, instead of talking too much about the sun, I pulled up the song and played it for them. 

I enjoyed it more than they did. But I enjoyed it a whole lot. (Jennifer was not amused.)

Thursday, April 28, 2022

X-ed Out

When Natalie gets computer time, she goes from video to video on YouTube. She has not figured out how to exit. She just opens new tabs. 

At the end of a day, her browser looks like this: 

Just in case you were wondering if you have too many tabs open... 

So, every day, I go through and exit all of the tabs for her. Because she doesn't go back to them ever. 

Computer time is what Natalie wants, so computer time can be weaponized when she isn't listening. 

Last Thursday, Natalie snuck into the classroom during snack time. (Well, ambled in while we were busy.) When I followed to bring her back outside, I found her again on Penelope's iPad, attempting to get to YouTube. Or something. 

(Penelope's iPad is always open to her communication app. She can toggle through and indicate what she needs. Penelope can speak, but she doesn't say much, and it's hard to understand her due to her cerebral palsy.) 

The last time Natalie did that I took away computer time. This time, I gave the same consequence. 

Alas, it was more a punishment for me.

I gave Natalie a task. (They have "task boxes". The one I gave her had her sorting different colored Legos into little compartments.) She refused to do it. I told her if she completed the task, I would allow her back on her computer. She still refused to do it.

Her refusal wasn't verbal. She sat at her desk for a while. Then she got up and ambled around the room. She came up to the teacher's desk. So, I put away my computer. (At this point I had hidden Natalie's computer away as well as Penelope's iPad.) 

I put Natalie back at her desk. She sat for a while. Then she got up and ambled towards the front again. 

They had delivered the food for lunch. Natalie went to investigate. 

I moved her back to her seat. 

Natalie got up to go outside. Since Domingo stays outside, Earl blocked her way. They talked for a bit. (Earl did most of the talking.) Then Earl urged her inside. 

Then Natalie got up and ambled towards the front... 

This repeated for an hour and a half. 

Finally (once I finished the task I was working on), I sat with her for the last ten or so minutes before lunchtime. 

Natalie is exhausting when she loses computer time. But she can't be using other students' devices. I just hope one of these days she figures out that the shiny electronic device that isn't hers is not hers to touch. 

I don't hold out much hope of this happening.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Winding Down the Year

Last week was the first week back from spring break. And we're all feeling the end of the school year's approach. 

I don't normally do a countdown. I'm too busy going from assignment to assignment to pay attention. But this year, I actually sat down and counted. 30 days. 

So, on Wednesday, I found a spot on the board and wrote "days left". 

At the beginning of the day, two of the students take care of changing the dates on the board. We have a little calendar with velcro numbers. Jennifer puts up the number for the current day. And then the date is written out by Jonas. 

Jonas has trouble writing up the date. We point out where Jennifer placed the correct day. We'll tell him to add one to the previous day. But it's always a bit of a struggle for him. 

Because I'm lazy Because Jonas needs the practice, I've decided that the countdown is now part of his responsibilities. I assigned it to him on Friday. 

I explained that he would need to change the number down one. I asked him what one less than nine was. (He could leave the tens-place two up. That's a whole other discussion on how hard it is to get him to grasp that concept.) But he got to eight pretty quickly. Success. 

We'll see how Jonas does with the countdown. (Obviously, he doesn't do this alone.) It'll be good practice for him.

(When you read this post, our countdown should read 25 more days left of school. Woo-hoo!)

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Virtually Real


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 all of this (*gestures to the world at large*) is just a simulation? (No, really, physicists think it might be.) 

Monday, April 25, 2022

Updating the Plan

I have new yarn incoming. 

Today is the twin nephews' birthday. They're turning nine. They opted for birthday money, so no knitting for them. 

Their elder brother, middle nephew, has a birthday in about a week and a half (May 4th). He'll be twelve. He also opted for birthday money, so no knitting for him. 

(Eldest nephew--who turned sixteen--had his birthday back in December.) 

That leaves niece. She turns twenty-one in June. 

Since my yarny plans were wide open, I texted her to find out what she wants for her birthday. She opted for another top. She gave me a couple options, and we agreed I'd make her this one

I ordered the yarn. It should be here soon. (Today. Tomorrow. This week for sure.) 

So, the Calash that I've been working on will be put on hold. (This should surprise no one.) Currently it's at: 

But while ordering the yarn for niece, I just happened to peruse the yarn website a bit more, and I found that t-shirt yarn I wanted to knit myself a new purse with. The last time I looked, it was out of stock. But it was there now. So, I ordered it. 

I'm not sure what this purse will look like yet, other than it'll be a shade of brown. But choosing yarn forces other design choices, so it'll get easier from this. I might just actually start that new purse that I've been talking about starting

Which means the Calash will be waiting longer to get completed. 

We'll see how things go. 

Friday, April 22, 2022

Scorching Hot & Soaking Wet

The day before spring break (which was two Fridays ago) was forecasted to be hot. 90-something degree hot. On the day, we actually got up to 101F (38C). 

On the Wednesday, instructional assistant Keyla informed me that she wanted to do "water play" that day. See, we called it "water play" in the note that went home to the parents (so the students would have towels and extra clothes to change into) rather than telling the parents we planned to have a water balloon fight. 

When the time came (it was well into the 90s before noon), the aides filled a couple buckets of water, filled up some balloons, and pulled out the water shooter/squirter thingies

Earl turned on the hose and sprayed Keyla with it. Keyla took the water shooter and got him back. Alas, in that exchange, I was collateral damage. 

Jennifer and Jonas went after each other and the other students outside. Keyla showed Doris how the water balloons worked, and Doris proceeded to douse herself with them for the duration. (She kept breaking them on herself.) 

One of the other classes was out on a break. They watched the fun. Many of them got hit by random splashes, although they didn't seem to mind much. 

Not everyone really wanted in on the action. We coaxed Natalie out, but she stayed out of the way until she was able to convince someone to let her back into the classroom and onto her computer. Sigh. 

Penelope and a couple of our other lower functioning students were given bowls and buckets of water with toys to play in. 

They were probably at it a half hour. They were soaked when the balloons had finally been exhausted. 

We finished up the day in the classroom with pizza and a movie. 

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Repetition

So, um, we did it. Natalie has now learned how to log in to her computer. 

I started this story three weeks ago. I decided to teach Natalie how to type out her username. I recited it to her, and she typed. She had the whole thing memorized in a day.

If I stood over her while she typed it, it would work. But I would hear her sometimes recite her username when I wasn't standing over her. It wouldn't be long before she would come up to the teacher's desk to request, "Help, please". 

(One of the things we work on with the students is for them to request help when they need it. They don't always.) 

I tried to get her to not log out as often as she does. (She isn't good at exiting things, but she knows how to restart the computer. And this leads to having to log in again. A lot.) 

Because I stood over her while she was logging in so much, I spied the big problem she was having. She always hesitated over the period key. 

So, the week before spring break, I asked Natalie if I could put a sticker on the period key so she could locate it. She agreed. 

And after that, she hasn't called me to help her log in. 

Did she suddenly stop logging out? Nope. I hear her reciting her username periodically. 

But now, I see that it actually works for her.

Stubborn Natalie can learn something through repetition. Now, if I could only leverage that to teach her something useful. Because stubborn, she will fight me on doing anything she doesn't want to do.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Questions Answered

When a substitute teacher needs a day off, we just make ourselves unavailable that day. When we're doing day-to-day subbing, it's really easy to just turn down an assignment. (Of course, if we don't work, we don't get paid.) 

But when we're on a long-term assignment...

Now, I've subbed for a sub before. I have covered a long-term sub who had to take a day off. But I have never before been the long-term sub in question. 

Last week I posted about my dentist appointment to deal with my cracked tooth. I took that day off work. It was a good thing, as I was in the dentist's chair for three and a half hours. 

And it had been something that was going to have to happen. 

Substitutes have a limit as to how many days they can cover a class. Before, it had been 30 days (or 20 days in a special ed class). But this year of our pandemic, the state passed a law extending that time to 60 days (and then extended it again to 120 days for non-special ed classes). (This was one way of dealing with the substitute teacher and full time teacher shortage.) 

When I started covering Ms. L's class, the sub caller and I counted. From the day I started to the last day of school: 61 days. (The class is special ed, so I'm still bound by the 60 day max rule.) 

By taking a day off for the dentist, I can cover this class until the last day of school. 

So, I made lesson plans. I told the instructional aides and the students I'd be out. I let the office know. I cleared it with the sub caller. I was good to go. 

So, how did the class do with a sub for a sub? 

I'll never know. They didn't cover me. 

Yeah, you know that sub shortage? One of the other teachers on campus was out sick that day, too. The campus only got one sub. 

Sigh. 

Ah well. I did what I could. And it was only one day. (Everybody was very happy to see me the next day.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Pen Deluge


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 every pen you've ever lost suddenly reappeared (like, at your desk, or on a counter in your home)?

Monday, April 18, 2022

Output for the Week

Short post today. My computer is being an absolute pill, taking over an hour just to get to the point where I can do a blog post. 

(It does this to me every time it updates. I want to throw it through a window right now. But hopefully the update is complete, so the issues won't crop up again until the next time.) 

I have made progress on the Calash

(For comparison, the last time I posted a picture:)

So, progress. Finally. (Last week was spring break. I had some time and the mental energy to do some knitting.) 

I'm about six inches away from the half way point. So, yay. 

Friday, April 15, 2022

Molar, Cracked

I broke another tooth. 

The last broken tooth. I did not get a picture of this one.

I think it was Wednesday, but it might have been Tuesday. It was evening. I was sitting in front of the TV, snacking on ice cream. It felt like one of the chocolate chips (more a shard, really) was stuck between my teeth. But by the time I brushed my teeth later that night, I realized that it wasn't a chocolate chip I felt. 

Nope, what I was feeling was the tooth. A small piece of it had been shorn off. 

After last year's incident, I figured that the best way forward would be to take a day off work to deal with it. I cleared it with the sub caller and I made the appointment. 

I made the right choice. I was in the dentist chair for three and a half hours. 

The dentist took a look. Numbed me up. I wasn't sure if I was numb enough, so he gave me more. He pulled off the shard that had formed (which you couldn't see until I moved it as it fit in my tooth like a puzzle piece). Only then did I realize I had been numb enough as my tongue (which I didn't think was numb) didn't feel the hole that was left once the shard was removed. (The tip of my tongue felt it, but not the side next to the hole.) 

Ah well. Better to be too numb than not numb enough. 

The dentist drilled the tooth so that he could fit a crown over it. He fitted me for the crown. And then I left with a temp crown in place until my permanent crown could be fabricated. (You're reading this on a Friday. My appointment to put the permanent crown on was for yesterday.) 

Buy on Zazzle

These things go much easier (mentally) when I've been through them before. I knew what to expect. And that tooth has been giving me issues long enough that I knew this was coming, sooner or later.

So, now I have two fake molars, both on the bottom of my jaw. One on the right side (last year), one on the left (this one). Balance has been restored. (Yes, they are exact opposites.)

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Leaky

We have a water issue at the place where I live. Have had for years. Whenever something goes wrong, water to the whole complex is turned off. Sigh. 

Two Sundays ago, at roughly 11 PM, we got word that the water to the whole complex was being turned off due to an "unexpected plumbing issue". I didn't think much of it and went to bed.

But, the water had not been turned back on by the time I had to leave for work. (This made for an awkward morning.) And it had not been turned back on by the time I got home from work. We did get an update: 

The plumbing vendor is on site working on the leak, and we don't yet know when the water will be able to be turned back on. It is a complex situation which includes the pipes from the laundry facilities and the City is also involved. Our property manager worked past midnight last night coordinating resources to mitigate the excessive damage caused by the leak, and is continuing to work to get it resolved as soon as possible.
Scuttlebutt was that maybe by 9 PM we'd have water. Maybe. 

So, I wimped out. I got a hotel room for the night.

I mean, if I have time to prepare for no water, I make contingencies. I have things set up to "survive" the duration. But with no warning...

We got an email after 8 PM that the situation was resolved and the water was back on. By then I was already set up in said hotel room, showered and ready for bed. So, we did have the water back by 9 PM. But only barely. 

I'm not sure if I made the right choice, but it made for a less stressful evening anyway. It was like a mini vacation right before spring break. 

(As you read this, I am on spring break.)

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Kennections

I am on spring break. So, I am holding all of my subbing posts until next week when I'll be working. Normally, I then make this week a "summer schedule" week. 

However, as I was sitting in the dentist's chair (see Friday's post), I realized what would totally fit for K day. But that meant instead of doing a random quiz on Friday, I'd have to do it on Wednesday. But the reason for the dentist visit totally works for M day, and how I spent the morning and evening before the dentist would fit for L. 

So, not summer schedule. But this is more filler for spring break anyway. 

Kennection #4

I had no idea that they had revamped this, so it's different than the last time I posted one of these. Instead of being interactive, you have to go to the next screen to see if your guesses are right. 

It's five questions. Once you have those answers, you have to guess what they have in common. I failed on this one. Perhaps you'll have better luck than me.