Friday, May 25, 2007

350 million cards?

I had another one in my e-mail this morning. A small child with a terrible cancer, who hopes to set a world record by receiving 350 million get well cards.

350 million.

I see these things, and I wonder if anyone has thought through the logistics of the plan. Where, exactly, do you store 350 million cards? Not in scrapbooks...

Let's say, just for argument, that you can fit 1000 individual cards inside a cubic box 1 ft x 1 ft x 1 ft . Judging from the junk mail piled on my breakfast bar, that's a generous estimate.

You would need 350,000 of those boxes to store your cards.

The volume of those boxes would be a cube of the size (cube root of 350,000 ) on each side...or about 70 feet on a side.

Picture a room that is 10 x 10 x 10 feet (a small bedroom with a tall ceiling)

You would need 7 x 7 x 7 of those rooms...or 343 rooms.

Maybe we should turn to e-mail, instead.

Let's say 350 million people each send the boy an e-card.

If he opens one card every second, it will take him 350,000,000/60(seconds per minute)/60(minutes per hour) to look at all the cards, that is, about 97222 hours.

That's about 4050 days, or slightly over 11 years (around the clock, all day, every day).

Honestly, I bear no ill will toward the sick child, but what if, instead of sending a greeting card, each person were to donate $1.00 toward cancer research?

American Cancer Society

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

CIC Knits, April/May 2007

CIC is taking a slight detour this quarter and supplying handknits to the Cheyenne River Youth Project in Eagle Butte, SD. They have especially requested hats and mittens, but are grateful for anything, and these Baby Surprise Jackets and socks were already either on the needles or in the shipping box. I'll work on mittens in June.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Nine years

I started substitute teaching when Elizabeth entered 9th grade. I wanted to get out of the house, I wanted to keep an eye on what was "really" going on in the middle school and high school, I wanted to see if maybe, just maybe I could like this "teaching" thing.

That was at the beginning of the school year, 9 years ago.

Today, I turned in my resignation.

This "teaching thing". Yeah. I like it.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Day 10. What I learned in school.

Appreciative parents sometimes bring treats for teachers.

Kolaches are a delicious diversion during Tutorials hour.

There's another baseball game.
There's a student/parent bus available TO the baseball game.
What time and where to meet said bus, and how much money to bring.

Tryouts for Drill Team officers are this evening.
5 young ladies from Pre-AP Physics are trying out.

What time and where "Friday Night School" happens.

It surprises some students to meet Algebra in Physics class or to meet Biology in Chemistry.

I can see the value to co-teaching certain subjects.

4 out of 5 Physics students surveyed will jump right into the lab without reading the instructions first.

What books are on the Summer Reading List.

Digital cameras and computer projectors can be checked out from the library.
It's not called the "Media Center" for nothing.

The ladies in the front office know just about everything. The librarians know everything else.

Pre-AP Physics thinks I'm going to do "just fine". Easy for them to say, since they can be pretty sure they won't be in my classes next year, but I'll take them at face value and thank them for their vote of confidence.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Day 9. What I learned in school.

What day New Teacher Orientation begins.

Where and what time the baseball game is.

Where to vote for next year's Honor Society officers.

How much money is reimbursable for classroom expense each year.

How to keep track of inservice/training hours.

What the teacher websites look like, and how they are updated.

How many compasses we have for the next mirror lab. Not enough. I've fixed that.

When the textbook turn-in deadline is.

A certain percentage of Chemistry students thought I was there for their amusement. Daily chemistry discussions just for the fun of it. They didn't think they were supposed to be taking notes (or doing the homework, evidently). They have a test tomorrow.

Crawfish guts clog up the sink.

Some really, really good illustrations for the concept of low entropy/high entropy.
Low entropy: All the clothes folded in the drawer.
High entropy: Clothes all over the floor.
Low entropy: Kindergarteners in a circle for story time.
High entropy: Kindergarteners on the playground at recess.
Low entropy: Saving money in the bank.
High entropy: Spending money!

I learned that it feels really good to bring up a concept from a week ago in a different context and have students both remember and apply it correctly. Something clicked.

One more day. It's going to be strange to NOT go to school on Monday.
It's OK, though. I'm subbing in Physics on Tuesday. My cooperating teacher has promised to come by and say "hi".

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Day 8. What I learned in school.

Teacher Appreciation Week has its perks.
I've heard a rumor of breakfast tacos on Friday.

The best perk of all might well have been "No departmental meeting today".

TAKS scores have been released.
There really are seniors who will not graduate.

How to submit work for a sick student who has requested it.

A whole lot of Science/Math teachers have 3-year-olds.
This is not a group I regret not belonging to.

It's an odd feeling to teach 3 classes in a row with a substitute teacher in the back of the classroom.

The Latin Club is raising funds for a trip to Italy.

The science wing cleaning lady and the crossing guard a block west of the school can lift anyone's spirits in about 10 seconds.

Working Dry-Erase board markers could be traded profitably on the black market.

A signed contract is a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Day 7. What I learned in school.

An entire class session can be planned in 5 minutes when necessary.

5 more minutes to fine tune the plan is good.

I have the only set of overhead projector fine tipped markers in the department.

By the end of the day, I'd reclaimed all but the blue one...

When graduation is.
Where graduation is.
Which student won't be graduating unless she gets her Physics lab turned in post-haste.

How, when and where the field test for the Biology End of Course Exam is being given.

That next year Chemistry will be field testing an EOC Exam.

Proficiency in protractor use is rivaled by proficiency (or lack thereof) in compass use.

The compasses with the "safety points" are not worth the time or effort. I'll take the risk of being poked with the good old fashioned metal compass points, thanks.

How hard it is to use a compass intended for pencil and paper on an overhead projector with a fine tipped overhead projector pen.

How to input grades on the computerized/online gradebook system.

Where the safety goggles are kept.

(Note to self: splurge on personal pair of safety goggles. Mother's Day is coming. I'm worth it.)

Monday, May 07, 2007

Day 6. What I learned in school.

It's not me, after all. It's the copy machine.

Fire alarms do go off during tutorials (the 45 minutes before school) and everyone still has to go outside.

A fire alarm during tutorials does not exempt you from taking the exam you were in tutorials getting help for in the first place.

Pre-AP Physics doesn't remember how to use a protractor any better than the regular level class did.

They listen to me! They really do! Some of them more than others...

Junior boys will giggle at their images in convex mirrors. They'll also crowd ear-to-ear to try to see each other in the same mirror (these mirrors are at most 3 inches in diameter).

Some paid attention, some didn't. Some did the homework, some didn't. Some tried, some didn't. Quiz grades ranged from 100 down to 10.

I'm going to need a large box of red pens.

Ms. S's multiple choice test questions are harder than the questions involving calculations.

I can go a long way on one "Thank you for helping me" from a student.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Day 5. What I learned in school.

Nobody is ready for Friday like teachers are ready for Friday.

The Physics room has two boxes of Kleenex. The Chemistry room has none.

Not every senior is counting down the days until graduation. Some are happy with the status quo.

There are parents who e-mail teachers daily.
Teacher websites can be a wonderful thing.

2 out of 5 students surveyed do not know how to correctly input order of operations into a TI-83 calculator.

Those same students will insist each time that the calculator MUST be wrong.

Mr. S1 can be counted on for good lab suggestions.

Mr. S2 can be counted on for "how to get along with kids" suggestions.

Ms. S can be counted on for test and quiz suggestions.

I may need to change my last name to fit into this department.

A new teacher teaching is a novelty. The regular classroom teacher observing from the back of the room is something unheard of. The new teacher's teacher visiting and observing could possibly cause a riot.

It didn't. My hat is off to first period Chemistry, who helped me get top scores in "New teacher teaching". They asked ALL the right questions, at just the right times. One might have thought it to have been scripted. It wasn't.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Day 4. What I learned in school.

There's a full sized statue of Dobby the House Elf in the library.

No matter how many students successfully print their simulation graphs, someone will not be able to.

No matter how few students need to print their simulation graphs, at least one will not work.

There's a certain prestige to being known as "that teacher with the pink calculator". I didn't even mean to get a Barbie Pink TI-84 when I bought it, but it's gotten a lot of attention. No one steals it, either.

Students do cheat on exams, they do get caught, they do swear at teachers, and parents do get called.

It takes about 100,000 Joules (100 kJ) to heat up the water for a cup of tea.

Where the printout ends up when you choose "Science office". Not on the printer in the science office.

A lot of forgetting has happened since students first learned to use protractors.

A well-timed conversation with an athletic coach can work wonders for certain students' behaviors.

Snell's Law really works. I don't remember ever doing the neat Snell's Law Lab...but I have now!

There's a lot of experimental error introduced between using a 1/8 inch mirror and using a 1/4 inch mirror. Be ruthless. Grab the thin mirror first.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Day 3. What I learned in school.

My possible class assignments for the fall. I am still processing this information.

The band is going on a trip.
The English classes are going on a trip.
The Seniors are going on a trip.

Alternative Classroom students get weekly visits from their classroom teachers. I'm still deciding if this is an incentive or a deterrant to being placed on AC status.

There are too many people in Pre-AP Physics. Just because there are chairs empty does not mean there is still space in the class. Not that class.

How to sign up for a computer lab.

"Last summer when I was fishing" can be applied to any class. I do not fish. This could be a problem.

There are only 16 days of school left (and I may well be the ONLY person who didn't know this).

The biology department is short on preserved minks.

A 20-year-old garage sale lamp makes a great visual during a discussion of total internal reflection.

At first glance, many students will assume that said lamp is a Van De Graaff generator.

A child who has missed 3 days of school CAN catch up in one class period if motivated. Another child will take the 3 missed days as an excuse to give up on the rest of the term.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Day 2. What I learned in school.

"A thing" that does "something" is not a valid test answer.

Low doorsills + heavy rain = live frogs in the hallway.

The importance of keeping students honest in the computer lab with occasional spoken checkpoints ("You should be drawing your diagram on part 7 by now").

Do NOT bring the jacket to the computer lab. All of the cold air stays in the science wing.

The stapler in the teacher's lounge doesn't.

Burnt gummy bears smell like burnt marshmallows.

Where the two nearest copy machines are.

Both microwaves in the science work room cannot be run at once.

If you smile at a child, the odds are good that he will smile back.