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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tangled...and the winner is:

Winner update:
Congratulations Lisa of Columbus, OH! She is the winner of the DVD combo pack of the Disney movie "Tangled"
(Winning selection was made using the latest online random number technology available and verified by a real church secretary to guarantee an unbiased result.)

In a shameless attempt to drive traffic to the blog and promote the DVD release of the Disney movie "Tangled",  the promotions people have offered me some freebie giveaways. One of which is a DVD of the movie.

To enter for a chance in the random drawing, email with your name and return email address to:  (One entry per person, please)

The cutoff date for contest entries will be midnight March/31 . Winner will be posted here (First name only) on or about April 2

Promoters update(s):
3/24: "...winner's DVD is being upgraded to a BLU-RAY COMBO PACK!!"
3/24: "...if people take pictures of themselves doing the Tangled talents  (Rapunzel hair, cooking, lanterns, etc), we'd love to see them forwarded to us..."  (If there are any, I'll forward them on...)

Entries submitted to date: 20  (odds are good!)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Pay Period Update…

The school district pay period for substitute teachers runs from the 26th of one month to the 25th of the next with the check issued on the 10th of the third month. When you factor in unpaid school holidays and breaks, this works out to an average of 20 possible working days a month. A good paycheck for me is little more than half that.

The reason that it isn’t 20 of 20 days every month is that the district doesn’t call every day. When the system does call, I’m might not have been at home to take the call. If I am home to take the call, it might be for a school/class I’d rather “gift” to someone else if you know what I mean. Then there are the calls that I let go just because I need a break. Subbing lots of elementary assignments in a row tends to fuel more of those “just need a break” occasions.

Since I added a couple middle schools to the list of 13 elementary schools I sub, the system has been calling almost every day. My trepidations about working with 7th and 8th graders hasn’t come to pass (yet) as I’m tending to actually prefer the middle school assignments over elementary.

For the pay period Feb/March, I worked 7 days at the elementary schools and 8 at the middle school for a total of 15 working days.

Just in time for tax day April/15.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Kahn Academy

I sure could have used this when I was in school but the internet wasn't invented yet...

Try it out here ->

Monday, March 21, 2011

Never a Good Sign…

I had an ART class assignment at the middle school Friday. In addition to the lesson plan there were four detention referral forms.

Pre-filled out with student names!

But…didn’t have to use any of them.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Bomb Threat…

The emergency alarms went off Monday morning about half way into first period Language Arts class I was subbing at the Middle School.

We excited (danm dose spel chexers) exited the building and assembled with rest of the school at the far edge of the athletic field and waited. At some point, school administrator(s) tour all the rooms to make sure everyone has left the buildings. When complete, classes are then dismissed one at time back to class and lessons resume.

I’ve been through these drills before and except for the district wide earthquake drill, it usually takes no more than 15-20minutes out of the school day.

After 20mins had passed and there was no indication of anything happening, I approached a group of other teachers to find out what was happening and how much longer it might be before they called “all clear”.

There were discussing the same thing. No one knew what was happening. It was obvious this wasn’t an earthquake drill and there didn’t appear to be any sign of smoke in the air to indicate a real fire.

About 30mins later, after spotting a few police cars in the parking lot, we were told that an anonymous call was made indicating there was a bomb on campus. We were instructed not to tell the kids anything and not to let them back into the school until the search of the school was complete.

It was now obvious to the almost 1000 students on the athletic field that this was no drill as evidenced by the numerous police and school maintenance people poking around trash cans, bathrooms, classrooms and behind the bushes on campus. “But I gotta go BAD!” complaints became more and more frequent from the students standing in line. My advice to “hold it” was not well received.

By the time the police issued an “all clear”, second period was long gone. The school issued a short announcement about the bomb threat and that all kids should skip 2nd period and report to their 3rd period class instead.

The teachers at lunch told me that they’ll probably know who was responsible for the anonymous call in 2-3 days. They explained that it’s most likely a student at the school that made the call. The guy (they knew that much from the phone call) most likely has friends he’ll brag about it to. His friends will have friends and after that, word will spread to the school staff.

I was back at the school Thursday for 8th grade Algebra. The school and police had the name.

No one was surprised…

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Butterflies and Moths…

One big difference between subbing middle school and elementary is that every now and then I get to learn something new.

Subbing in middle school science class,  they were watching a video about the differences between butterflies and moths.
  • In certain cultures, butterflies in the house are a sign of bad luck.
  • In medieval times butterflies were sometimes consumed by pregnant women to insure a healthy baby.
  • There is variety of moth called the “Vampire Moth” that pierces the eyes of farm animals to drink blood.

But the biggest reaction from students was when a man picked a caterpillar off a plant branch and ate it…raw.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Old Enough To Be a Documentary…

The middle school called for an assignment Friday. Unlike the usual recognizable assignments like Math, Science, PE and (shudder) SPEC-ED this one was for a subject called “Quest”. I accepted it and immediately called the school secretary to ask what this assignment is. If it was going to be a repeat of last week's experience, I could always go back, “decline” it and throw it back in the job assignment pool.

I asked: “Knowing how my day went with that last week's SPEC-ED class, would you think this something I would go for if I knew what it was?”

She assured me that it’s a regular class that covers something vaguely called “life skills dealing with the real world”. It still sounded a bit suspicious but she said it would be “ok”.

My “quest” assignment was to have the students watch the video documentary titled “The Children's March” about the young people of Birmingham, Alabama that braved the fire hoses and police dogs in 1963 that brought about the end of institutionalized segregation in the U.S.

During the first period viewing of the video, I was impressed that the actual video footage included the uncensored rough language that would normally be cleaned up by the censor “bleep” button. Hearing the “n-word” used in a classroom setting was a bit surreal but it fit the context of the documentary. Real life is sometimes pretty ugly.

It was during the 3rd or 4th viewing that I realized that I was the same age as some of the youngest students from 1963!  I’m now old enough to be theoretically included in a middle school documentary lesson!

Feeling tired now…

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Beware Field Trips With Teenagers...

I've only been on one field trip as a substitute teacher and I've always felt a bit uneasy when the kids are "off the reservation" so to speak and here's one reason why...

From: CBS San Francisco
...An eleventh-grade student from Windsor High School survived a plunge off San Francisco’s famed Golden Gate Bridge on Thursday...Officials don't think the boy was trying to commit suicide, but said it was possible he jumped as a result of a dare by fellow classmates...

(see the link for the full story)


“You got to pick popstickels!” 

This was from a 1st grader in class yesterday. I was calling on individual students to answer problems in the math homework when the boy suggested I should use the cup containing Popsicle sticks with the kid’s names printed on them. I had him repeat the word because I hadn’t heard it before,  thought it was clever and actually accurate.


I like it!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Ain’t Gonna Do THAT Again!

This first week back after the winter break started calm enough. I had a two day assignment in 5th grade at the “Country Club” school near the house. Great class, very organized plans, great kids.

Then the call cane this morning at Oh-Five-Dark-Thirty for a Spec-Ed class at the middle school down the road. I hung up and went back to sleep. They called back at 06:30 for the same class. Being more awake, I took the assignment figuring that it shouldn’t be that bad on this “minimum day Thursday”. Even if I did get a stinker or two in class, I only have to endure it for that particular 40min period.

My first disappointment came upon arriving at the school for check in to be told that they “don’t do minimum day Thursdays” at the middle school level.

The second disappointment came when I got the attendance sheets for all five periods and saw all the same names listed for ALL five periods. Still, trying to be optimistic, I recalled my experience at the elementary school with SPEC-Ed  and hoped for the same.

Arriving at the classroom I couldn’t seem to find any kind of lesson plan. Oh-Oh!

The office called before the first bell with news that the teacher had emailed the lesson plan and they would get it to me shortly. Well that should be fine since the class aide would know how the day starts and could direct me in what should be done until the lesson plan arrived.

Fortunately the plan arrived before the first bell and I had just enough time read that the aide for this class doesn’t show up until 30mins after school starts. Whew! That was a close call. No plan, no aide… disaster avoided!

How did my day go from there? Not really great. The leader of the pack, “She-Wolf”, is a 14yr old girl taller and heavier that me. Her attitude was that she could sit anywhere, do anything, SAY anything, slap her “friends” and be a general pain in the ass without consequences.

The aide wasn’t reacting except to instruct “She-Wolf” to stop it. In a NORMAL class, I would have called down to have her removed immediately for this behavior, but it IS Special-Ed. The aide, now in class and running some of the assignments didn’t seemed phased by the activity so I went with the plan until between periods.

It was then I approached the aide to ask if this was normal and expected behavior for “this class” or could I write a detention slip and eject “She-Wolf” in the hope that the rest of the class might settle down.

“She-Wolf” must have overheard because she shouts out: “YEA! I WANNA GO OFFICE!”

I guess the aide was waiting for me to take the lead because she immediately agreed and made the call while I wrote the detention slip. The principal arrived, instructed “She-Wolf” to pack up. As she was leaving, WannaBeGangster, sitting in front must have made some kind of snide comment I didn’t hear because the principle turned on him, pointed and said: “You! Pack it up and come with me”.

I like this guy…

With those two gone, the rest of the day was still difficult but much better than before. I’m glad it’s over and I won’t be accepting any more late morning calls for SPEC-ED/Middle School in the near future.