Archive for January, 2013

“Block” Classes

Block classes are long classes for kids that scored a “1” (the lowest score) in reading/language arts on the FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test).

There are various reasons for a kid to have a low score on the FCAT. One example is not being able to read or reading very poorly below grade level. Having a learning disability such as dyslexia is another. Not being able to understand subjective questions is a big one. Being lazy and not wanting to be bothered with reading the questions, well, we have that, too. We have students with terrible family problems in there because with what is going on in their lives, the FCAT is a trivial concern. They’re worried about next week, not far into the future. We have off-the-wall ADHD kids that are constantly moving, drumming, jumping, and doing everything except sitting down and doing any kind of study. We have kids with emotional problems. We have kids that move from school to school as the rent comes due. We have special education kids that are supposed to pass the same tests as the other children because if we teach them hard enough, they’ll become normal.

In other words, there are 25 kids with 25 different reasons for scoring a one on the FCAT, and they are all supposed to have individualized education. Unfortunately, there is only one teacher, with one curriculum. And the kids are behavioral problems, too.

It is frustrating. Depressing, too, to know that there is no way in hell those children are going to be able to move out of the block class since their individual issues are not going to go away. The ESE kids will not magically have a normal IQ and the direct instruction reading curriculum, which would be quite effective with this population, well, we aren’t using. The kids that have family problems (and are in and out of foster care) will continue to have family problems. The kids that can ace any tests with objective answers but do not understand things like subjective answers. I don’t understand why the test makers choose some of the responses they do myself.

FCAT is in April. We have two months to bring these kids up to a 6th grade reading level. Some read at first or second grade level. All read below grade level.

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Up on Da Roof Day Three

My butt is kicked tonight. Lil’ bro’ and I have been up on the roof all day. I did the unskilled stuff like rolling out felt and laying out shingles and fetchin’ and steppin’. Lil’ bro’ did the stuff in which you actually needed to know what you were doing. I did the jobs relegated to the dumbass. If the boot fits, right?

When we got down from the roof as the sun was going down, I ran around and did all the feeding and putting in of the animals for the evening. One ewe had separated herself from the others and did not wish to go in for the night. She was ultimately enticed in for the evening by shaking the grain bucket at her. Awwwww, dang. I had hoped that lambing would hold off for another month until I had actual time to deal with it, but noooooooo. I lifted her tail and checked her vulva. Hot pink. Her udder was full and swollen. CRAP. And there’s NEVER just one ewe about to lamb. Nope. I checked a few other ewes that were nearly as ready to lamb as she was.

I drove lil’ bro’ the hour up to Mom’s and drove the hour back by myself. The hour up we were so busy talking that I forgot to stop at two gas stations we passed along the way. It was a few miles from Mom’s house in the middle of No and Where that I noted that my gas gauge was ominously near the red mark. And my cell phone doesn’t work there. I dropped off lil’ bro’ and told him if he didn’t hear from me in 25 minutes (which is about how far I have to drive from Mom’s house for me to have cell phone service), then I’m probably outta gas beside the road. Surprisingly, I made it to the nearest gas station.

The music of Joan Jett was rattling the truck windows on the way back. Singing loudly off key and playing air guitar while driving the F150 kept me awake enough to survive the return trip. No wonder I’m so tired. I’ve been driving four hours today!

Now that I’m home, I’m downing the second cup of coffee since I got here so that I can stay awake long enough to cook some dinner and periodically check the ewe through the night. I ran out to check the ewe as soon as I got home. She looked at me as though she hadn’t picked out a spot in the stable that she didn’t want to leave early this evening. Unh huh.

SwampMan had an ethernet cable stretched out to his barn earlier today so that he could watch tutorials about his particular CNC machine while he adjusted it. Our WiFi router AND booster doesn’t go quite far enough. No problem. SwampMan had cables. SwampMan PROMISED me that he’d stretch that longass cable out across the driveway and the pasture to the barn, and then he’d pick it up after he was done for the day. I tripped over it after he was done for the day. I could not help but notice that if I tripped over it, it must still be there. Puppy tripped and fell over it. I went and had a lil’ talk with SwampMan about him picking up his damn cable.

The moon was fairly bright when I got home and ran out to check the ewe, so I didn’t bother waiting to find a flashlight. Apparently the moon was not bright enough to illuminate the gray cable hanging down from above the gate where it had been tossed. I hurried through the gate, got wrapped in the cable, and said a few naughty words as I punched the air in a futile effort to free myself from whatever had grabbed me.

When I finished my sheep count and verified that nobody was in the process of lambing at that precise minute, I went back into the house. “HONEY!” I said. “Throwing that cable across the top of the gate wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. I got all tangled up and nearly faceplanted on the concrete!”

SwampMan grinned wickledly. “BabyDoll! Maybe it’s time you learned to stop and look where you goin’ before you take off like a bat outta hell. Better be more careful tonight.”

It is going to be a very long night.

Update: It’s a ram! I, uh, actually slept through his birth. I ran outside when I realized that my internal clock had NOT awakened me on schedule. I didn’t put on socks or protective legwear. I ran through a patch of stinging nettles. That was a nice waker upper in the chill morning air, as if the chill morning air weren’t enough!

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Nekkid Phone Pictures

Some of the kids were having trouble with an English assignment in a workbook. “Write two examples of things that are different between your parents’ generation and your generation.”

“What’s my generation?”

“All the people that were born about the same time as you and are about your age.”

“Oh. So what’s my parents’ generation?”

“Uh, all the people that were born about the same time as your parents and are about your parents’ ages.”

“My parents are REALLY old. They were born in like the 1970s.”

“My goodness. Did they even have electricity back then?”

“I think so. We don’t really talk, though.”

(Facepalm)

“Okay, here’s an example. Do you have a cell phone?”

(Eyeroll at stupid adult question.) “Yeaaaaaaah.” The “duh” was left unspoken. This time.

“Did your PARENTS have cell phones when they were your age?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Well, there’s a difference between generations, then!”

And here’s something different between generations, too. Pubescent and prepubescent girls (and some boys) were not taking nekkid and frankly pornographic pictures of themselves and sending it on their phones to their boyfriends/girlfriends who they are going to luv 4-EVER (or at least for this week). Then they break up. Boy or girl, angry, shows all the nekkid pictures to his/her friends. They may even post it online. If you knew how often this happens, you probably wouldn’t let your kids have phones. If you know how often this results in suicide attempts, you would not let your kids have phones. *sigh* But this never crosses the minds of parents and grandparents because this is something that didn’t happen in their generation because the technology was not there.

“So, Swampie”, you may ask, “What interest could you possibly have in this matter because your kids are all safely grown up?”

Well, guess what? If a kid shows off his/her nasty pictures on his/her phone at school, even before or after school, guess who is to blame? People that work at the school who have no idea what is going on or who the kids are, that’s who. You probably thought it was the kid or the parent that failed to provide proper phone and camera etiquette, such as no taking/forwarding pictures of naughty bits.

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Somebody Unfriended Me?

I keep seeing ads popping up around the internet that three people have unfriended me. It is always three people. This occurs several times a day.

By this time, I probably should be concerned at the number of friends I have lost, but (a) I never had that many thousands of friends to begin with, (b) I don’t have a Facebook account which is where I believe those friends are allegedly disappearing from, and (c) I’m not some emo middle school girl that cares.

What sort of emotionally fragile person is targeted by those ads? Are there actual (functioning) adults that care about this shit?

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Somebody’s Callin’ My Name

I was out feeding the livestock last night, hurrying, because it was twilight and I was nowhere near finished. I clearly heard “SWAMPIE!” being shouted from towards the house in a deep male voice.

“WHAT?” I bellowed back, annoyed. I’m fast runnin’ out of twilight. I looked at the sun slipping below the horizon. I only had a few minutes left until total dark.

“SWAMPIE!” The call repeated. Sounded like it was from the porch. The porch was dark. I couldn’t see whether SwampMan was standing there.

Damnit. “WHAT? I’M TRYIN’ TO WORK HERE!”

No answer. Maybe he couldn’t hear me. Or maybe he figured that now was not the time to ask about dinner.

Then I started getting worried. What if there was an emergency and somebody had been carried away in an ambulance and SwampMan was back inside getting ready to go? What if it was a grandkid? Ohmygawd NO! I dropped the feed and ran to the door and burst inside. “WHAT’S WRONG!” I bellowed as I slammed open the door.

SwampMan, until that moment, had been peacefully napping on his chair. He startled upright and nearly fell out of his huge recliner. “Hunh? Whuzzit?” His eyes were now wide open but somewhat unfocused.

“Um, I thought I heard you calling me while I was out in the pasture, so I ran in to see what was wrong.”

“What? No. I was sleeping. I didn’t call you!”

Hunh. I left poor SwampMan scared awake in his chair and went back outside to finish feeding.

Wonder what THAT was all about. If the grim reaper was callin’, I had too much to do. If it was an angel of the Lord, he better appear in a burning bush or something because I don’t get subtle. Maybe it was the dog. I hadn’t fed him yet.

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Newly Addicted to Coffee

I’ve never really liked coffee. Sure, the smell is divine, but the taste not so much. Then, while working at the elementary school in the winter, a colleague (with lots of spare cash!) would bring in Starbucks for everybody. Mocha lattes. Pumpkin spice lattes. Gingerbread lattes. It was an occasional indulgence, and I grew to really like them to the point where I was actually going out after work every couple of weeks and spending $5 of my own money on a cup of coffee. Madness. Luckily warm weather came back, and I decided that spending $1 on sweet tea on the way home was a better use of my (limited) funds.

This winter, at another school, there were no well-heeled collagues to bring in Starbucks for their lesser-moneyed friends. Then Mom got the sudden, fast-growing cancer and spent a lot of time in a Georgia hospital. My lil’ bro’ and I spent a lot of time there, too. And it had a Starbucks. And it was good. The addiction might have gone away again except that when we brought Mom home from her operations, we stayed up late and got up early in case she needed any assistance. The coffee was made 24/7.

“Hey, Swampie, coffee’s ready!” my brother informed me.

“You know, I really don’t like coffee. I’ll pass.”

“I thought you really liked those Starbucks coffees with the flavoring.”

“Well, I do! I just don’t like plain coffee.”

“I’ve got pumpkin spice creamer, Almond Joy creamer, peppermint mocha creamer, and caramel machiatto. I wasn’t sure which one you wanted. So you have to drink it because I sure as hell can’t drink it all!” True, true. Mom just takes a little cream in her coffee.

I tried it and it was GOOD. When I got back home, I bought my own coffee maker. Now I pour about 5 cups of coffee (and lots of flavored creamer*!) into a mug before I go to work in the morning when it is cold outside. That’s after drinking a cup before I go outside to feed in order to prewarm my insides.

When warm weather returns, I’ll trade in the giant mug of coffee in the morning for iced sweet tea. I think.

*The prepared creamers that I use are made of real ingredients such as milk and sugar and spices, NOT soybean oil or cottonseed oil like some of them. I also make my own from recipes on the net.

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T.G.I.F.

SwampMan was home when I got in tonight. He was sitting in his easy chair reading. I sat down with a groan and put my feet up. My lower back has been quite sore since I lifted some things that were really too heavy for me a few weeks ago. I did not move for about 30 minutes. Concerned, SwampMan spoke about the matter closest to his heart. “Hey, what’s for dinner?”

I forced my eyelids open. I’d been running around from class to class on the school campus, which is huge, all day. I’d been up three times during the night with flashlight and shotgun to try to kill the damn coyotes that had been digging under the fence and killing ducks and chickens. Lambing time is very close. Puppy had barked all night long, so very little sleep for me. I still had a couple hours of feeding to do before I could even think about food for us. “Whatever you want to cook or pick up is what is for dinner tonight. I’m done.”

“Does that mean you’re going to go get something?” SwampMan asked hopefully.

“No.”

“You mean I have to go?” SwampMan said incredulously, hoping to guilt me into volunteering to run fetch sumpin’.

“Yes.”

“You mean I have to put clothes back on?”

I lifted an eyebrow and stared at him. The middle school boys have told me that they HATE when I look at them like that. That Look is usually followed by a facepalm on my part.

“FINE. I’ll put my clothes on, then.”

After feeding, I ended up riding into town with SwampMan. He wanted to know what I wanted to eat, but I told him truthfully that I was so tired I didn’t really feel like eating anything. I’d just drink some coffee and go to sleep. G’night, y’all.

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