Sunday, September 8, 2013

HP Incompatible Cartridge Error - Hewlett Packard's Dirty Secret

My printer started displaying an error at the beginning of the summer.  The error said "Incompatible Cartridge Error", which seemed strange because I hadn't changed the cartridges, and they were genuine HP cartridges.  I read the steps from the HP website about this error, and nothing changed.  Not wanting to drop $50-60 on new cartridges, when I was not sure that they were the problem, I called HP, and after many frustrating exchanges, some representative agreed to mail me new cartridges.  Of course, they sent me incorrect cartridges.  So, I went to Staples to try to exchange them for the correct ones, which, of course, they were unwilling to do.  However, I learned something from their tech support guy that HP does and apparently won't admit they do.  So, I am posting this corporate secret today to spare other folk from the headache that I experienced with this issue.

Hewlett Packard date stamps their print cartridges.  This means that once they are used, they are designed to cease working after a certain amount of time.  The rationale given to me was to prevent black market or refurbished cartridges from being used.  Hmmmm...  The problem with this is that, since the price of toner ink rivals the gold index, we like to use our ink sparingly.  I guess thrift is looked down upon from mega corporations.  I am going to call HP each and every time a cartridge times out and there is still ink in it.  I urge you to do the same, and tell them that we will continue to do so until they change this stupid, wasteful policy. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Being Bradys

A typical nighttime look for a
mother of six, only if she doesn't
work and has a maid.
My little  joke that I keep from my husband is how I can't be Carol Brady and Alice.  You know, if Carol had to clean the house and feed the kids and launder eight of everything everyday, then those scandalous scenes where Mrs. Brady wore her fluffy nightie in the shared marital bed will not be possible.  Her bouffant would never have existed, and her patience with Cindy using the word "stinker" would have been seriously dimished if she was lugging groceries and washing dishes, I am sure.

I just know this woman does NOT
have a problem with the cake I made
for her!
I now realize that I am Mike Brady, as well, because I'm the one out there making a living.  That Hawaiian vacation isn't going to pay for itself!  And, since I don't have three girls and three boys, I have to entertain and supervise my little one a la Marcia and Greg.  So, I guess what I am saying is that I am the entire Brady Bunch, minus the X factor and the young, thin, sexually budding bodies.  My problems don't resolve themselves in 30 minutes, though.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

My Own Wet Burrito

One of the reasons I love New York City is the cheap, delicious, exotic eats.  Almost anything you can imagine, you can get, and as authentic as if you were on a culinary tour of the world.  Everything, it seems, except a specialty of Grand Rapids, Michigan, where I spent my teens and twenties, called a wet burrito.  I make a point of getting one every time I visit, but this year I didn't make it.  So, I prepared some at home.  It takes a bit of work, but you could cut down on the time commitment by buying canned beans, enchilada sauce and taco seasoning.  But, I had as much fun making these as I did eating them.  Here's what I did.
  • Grand Rapids, eat your heart out!
    half a medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed
  • ground meat (I used turkey)
  • pink beans (one can or a half a bag dried) 
  • one can tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 cup stock or gravy (I used leftover cooking water from black eyed peas)
  • 5-6 oz shredded cheddar cheese
  • tortillas
  • 2-3 chopped tomatoes
  • a half a head lettuce, shredded
  • sour cream
Start the beans cooking if you're using dried. Cook the onions and garlic in a pan until transluscent.  Open a can of tomato sauce and pour into a pan, add the stock or gravy, cumin and chili powder.  Add half of the onion and garlic mixture and cook down to around half.  When it's cooked down, blend in the blender.

When your beans are cooked, put them into the blender with some cooking water and the remaining onion and garlic mixture and blend to a paste.  You can refry these if you want to be authentic, but I cannot tell the difference.  Add the tomatoes and half the shredded cheese.

In the pan in which you cooked the onions, cook the meat until browned and drain the grease.  Warm up your tortillas, then assemble them with the browned meat, the bean, tomato and cheese mixture, and some shredded lettuce.  Top them with the tomato sauce and the remaining cheese.  Warm to melt the cheese, top with sour cream, and enjoy!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Christmas in July

I completed my Christmas in July swap with Rosa Maria in Spain.  Thank you, Mini Jazzi, for setting this up!  It was my first swap, and I did it like a total beginner.  My first mistake was not taking a picture of the items I sent.  The second mistake was making big things.  I made a pipe cleaner Christmas tree, a Celtic knot rug and a lounge chair from coffee stirrers (picture not available).  So, the items suffered from a lack of a theme.  Everyone else made such delicate little things.  And third, I didn't wrap the items nor put in a card.  Well, now I know how to do this, and next time I will do it more properly.  Sorry, Rosa!

The contents were even more amazing!!!
I receive my items, and honestly, the packaging was so well done that I thought Rosa had made me little Christmas presents to put under the mini tree.  But, when I squeezed the packages, it felt as if there were things inside.  Wow!  Look at the loot!

They were packaged so nicely
I thought the gifts were the

She made me a bulletin board decorated with tiny Christmas cards and holly sprays, the most amazing doily ever, a bead wreath, and my personal favorite, flowers!!  I am in awe.  This was so fun, and now I have a new friend in Spain.  I hope she likes my presents, and she is understanding that she was paired with a total newbie.  Merry Christmas, everyone.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

My Cancer Story

Last school year was the year of cancer.  I had my annual birthday mammo and PAP smear, because what better way to celebrate one more year than getting a flattened boob and the "slight discomfort" in that other female area?  Well, this year, things went a bit different when my gynocologist left a message on my cellphone on the Friday before the three-day weekend of Labor Day.  After a tense weekend, and another tense week where I left many unreturned messages to his office, he explained that I had abnormal cells.  Not to worry, however, because it is so common and he would simply remove the abnormal cells with a LEP procedure.  A LEP, in my layman's terms, is like a melon baller that scoops out the bad cells.  When I went in for my LEP, the doctor didn't do it, saying that it wasn't a candidate for this procedure.  I needed a biopsy.  The abnormal cells were precancerous.  Okay...

I had a biopsy on a Wednesday in mid-October.  I had told my assistant principal that I would be back in on Friday, but something told me that morning to stay home one more day.  And then the doctor called, asking me to come in because he had forgotten some post-operative instructions.  Uh-huh.  I was extremely doubtful of his pretense, and of course, my instincts were right.  I didn't have to suffer the typical hour-long wait; I was seen immediately.  Double uh-oh.  He told me I had cancer.  I remember writing this down on my notepad: "I have cancer", as if I might forget this nugget of information.  He then took out a medical diagram of the cross-section of the female reproductive system.  You think you understand everything down there, but once a doctor says the word "cancer", nothing makes sense anymore.  I couldn't locate the cervix on the drawing, nor remember what the purpose of it was, other than it dilates during birth.  I couldn't understand why the cells that were precancerous after the PAP had suddenly become very-much-so-cancer.  My husband accompanied me the next day to get the important information.  I needed a radical hysterectomy. 

That weekend, I googled cancer and learned about stages, and scary things like survival rates.  It was frightening.  My mother told me that I wanted a laproscopic procedure, because the healing time was reduced.  My onocologist (saying that was new) said I had stage IB cancer.  That was good news.  And I would need a laproscopic radical hysterectomy.  To quote my sister, a hysterectomy was okay because "that thing's been nothing but trouble".  I needed to get a PET scan, to determine if the cancer had reached my nodes.  The PET scan was an absolute delight!  Yes, it involved not eating for a day, and being pricked many times to find my vein, and drinking vile radioactive iodine water, but I was put in a room with a reclining chair, a blanket, and a television, ALONE.  I felt like I was at a spa.  The PET scan came back "pristine", meaning that the tumor they removed during the biopsy probably was all that was necessary to treat the cancer, but the doctors were still concerned that it may be in the nodes microscopically.

So, the hysterectomy was on.  Since I had a stroke four years prior, I needed clearance from my PCP and neurologist.  The neurologist sent me to his Doppler tech, who detected a heart murmer, so I needed to visit a cardiologist.  Finally, it was the day, my mother was here from Michigan, I had taken my meds and prepped my colon, out the door at 4:30 am, and they discovered a UTI.  It was a no-go.  Another round of clearances, and finally, a week before Christmas, my surgery went off without a hitch.  And, on New Year's eve, my onocologist told me that the lab did not find any cancer in the nodes, and I was cancer free.

Lovenox, nurses visits, having to get help to get out of bed; it was just a bit too reminiscent of my last convalesence.  Foley bags were new, though.  But, on the plus side, I did get to drop off and pick up my daughter from school, and in doing so, I met a great many of her classmates's parents.  We even found a Daisy troop!  All in all, if it wasn't for the burden of fearing imminent death, cancer was relatively easy.  I realize this is not the case for everyone, but the recovery, and again I'm speaking for me only, was far easier than for my stroke. 

So now I'd like to formally go on the record that I no longer want to try everything once.  Some things I do not need to experience include:

  • cardiac arrest
  • hostage situation
  • scrapnel wounds
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • plane crashes
  • flesh eating disease
  • pulverized bones
  • gunshots
  • nail gun through brain
  • whatever is happening in this picture

This list is not comprehensive, of course.  I just needed to put that out there.


My tech skills are rusty.  There is no debating that.  I only just restored my phone from the unneccessary factory reset I did over a month ago.  I  worked out the admin password for my laptop this week in order to load software.  And I brought my scanner back to life.  These processes took half of my summer vacation. 

So, my ancient hardware is puttering along again, so that it all may slowly break down in the course of the school year, so that I can repeat this annually.  After I "recalled" the laptop password (and, "recalled" is in quotes, because I did remember it, but it had been entered with the caps lock on), I installed my photo editor program, and finally cleaned up my website header.  I also had to figure out what was making the image lead with white, requiring me to thread through Style Sheets, which I only understand a fractional speck of a smattering.  So, it wasn't easy.  But, I think it finally looks decent.
pretty bad

an improvement

that took forever!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Schooooooool's Out! For! Summer!

Whew!  Year 10 teaching is in the books, and it was a record year.  First of all, I don't remember it being this hot for so relentlessly long while in school.  Our school carnival was Monday and I was thinking the bouncy castle would fuse onto the scorching pavement.  We could have cooked the burgers on the cement.  Yuck!  I couldn't help but think of the heat advisory that Bloombergito issued while I sat in my rotisserie classroom. 

Secondly, I don't remember a year that dragged on as long as this one did.  Even having been absent 30 days for my surgery plus a week off due to Sandy, this academic year just would not end. 

And, finally, I have to comment on the students.  This bunch was far and away the least motivated than any other bunch,  Sure, there were many clunkers in years past, and of course there were stand out students this year.  But, as a group, they could not be less interested in school.  I'm tired of trying heroically to teach those who cannot be bothered to improve themselves.  It's really akin to ramming one's head into the wall, and then having an administration Mack truck hit and pin you to said wall.  It's painful.

But, now's my favorite part of teaching: vacation!  We're whooping it up over here.  Now's the season where I get to do all the things I put off during the school year.  Of course, two months is never enough time to do everything on the summer to-do list, especially with a healthy dose of amusement parks, barbeques, beaches and pools and swimparks, and all the other summertime fun.  Miniatures are on the back burner for a bit.  Especially since I have discovered AND Candy Crush Saga.  It's time to chill....

Thursday, June 13, 2013

School Miniature Project and Christmas in July Update: Celtic Knot Rug

Knot bad for my first try.
One day, I will make a full scale version of this
I completed another item for the Christmas in July swap: a Celtic knot twine rug.  I've long wanted to recreate a twine rug in full International Guild of Knot Tyers.  I love knowing that such a thing as a knot tyer guild exists.  The pattern is deceptively difficult to follow.  I used pins to hold the overlaps, and I used a yarn needle to make the job easier.  Still, there are places where I went under when I was supposed to go over and vice versa.  On my second attempt, I'm going to fix these mistakes by correcting them on the second iteration of the pattern, and then undoing the entire first pass, and redoing the pattern correctly.  It went quicker the second time, although the do-overs will stall my progress.  If you're going to try this, may I suggest a pillow underneath the pinned cardboard?  Otherwise, it will look as if you were attacked by a maniac cat.
scale, along the lines of the Roost beauty that was a) expensive and b) no longer available.  I actually started spiraling twine to make a Roost knockoff, but I abandoned it due to technical difficulties. To complete the mini rug, I followed a pattern from the

Balconies are mostly attached
Street lamp
The miniature version of the French Quarter is coming along nicely.  We attached the strawberry basket balconies, and we made a lantern out of cardboard, a planter, transparencies and a dowel.  Students are drawing scenes and ironwork on the bulletin board.  The students are now out of control, and it will be impossible to reel them back in once the project is over.  Luckily, there is only a week and two days left after the competition.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Christmas in July Swap

If I measured, it may not have
had that bald patch on the left.
I was paired with Rosa of Contrastes-RosaMaria for the Christmas in July swap.  One of my items is in process, but one is already completed.  It's a pipe cleaner Christmas tree!  And, it cost nothing, since the pipe cleaners were left in the teacher's cafeteria last year.  I have no idea how long any of those donations stay in the cafeteria before I get there, but I do know that after I get there, they're gone.  I've scored games, workbooks to handout to parents who claim they don't know what to do to help their children (here, have a workbook!), construction paper, bulletin board border, and on and on.  I used a blend of two tutorials from Pucci Collective and Martha Stewart's website, and of course I tweaked it somewhat.  First, I didn't measure.  I eyeballed it, cause that's how I roll, y'all.  Plus, I pushed the branches upwards, because real trees don't grow straight out.  And here's what I created.  Ta day!  (that's a combination of "ta da" and "today", and it's what Tootie Pie used to say).

School Mini Project in High Gear

I did the cutting of the windows and doors,
everything else was completed by students.
Obviously, the shutters did not go
through quality control, since they are of
extremely different sizes.
Still-to-be-completed walkways,
fountain and streetlamps, underneath
the 7 x 3 = 21 fact family (yes, I
 teach sixth grade) and an attempt
at a fleur de lys.
It's truly amazing what a difference enjoying teaching makes to one's demeanor.  I don't mind going to work, and I even like some of the students more.  We are building miniature models of the French Quarter.  The students are doing all the work, with the exception of the using of the carpet knife to cut out the windows and doors.  The balconies and the fountain required hot glue, and, yes, I had students do that.  That takes nerves of steel, let me tell you, considering that, when they were told to only wear black or orange shirts to school, a student wanted to know, "and no pants?".   Teachers are brave fools, for sure.

The students drew these from
 artwork printed off the
computer.  They're charming (the
art, not the students - ha ha!)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

How to Truly Waste Educational Time and Money

I attended a PD (professional development) yesterday.  I knew ahead of time that it would a) focus on literacy and b) be of no practical use whatsoever.  I knew this because every other PD I've sat through was the same; they have some sort of formula to make it as condescending and useless as possible.  Rather than present any helpful information, all presenters ask the participants what they think the topic means or how they do things in their classrooms.  For instance, in a training where we were supposed to be learning how to structure group work, the presenter asked us "how do we add fractions?".  Then, we're supposed to put our ideas on chart paper.  Then we share our work, and everyone oohs and ahs about all the different ways we came up with to add fractions.  And that's the end of the PD.
Ah, the money spent on the graphics, actors, programming that
puts a very fancy veneer on common sense and basic teaching

So, first of all, that doesn't teach us how to structure group work. And second of all, educators know how to add fractions.  How are 11-year-olds supposed to know how to add fractions?  If they came up with a way, as we did in the so-called training, they would incorrectly add the numerators and add the denominators.  This is what they do even after being taught how to add fractions.  So, even if we did this exact lesson in our classroom, that would not be useful or practical for the target audience.  It's aggravating.

Some frustrated former film student made this and
finally got to use ''unique framing", a la 1996.
And, so I went to the PD, on a beautiful spring afternoon, entitled "Creating a Common Core Task".  Sounds good on paper, since we're changing the curriculum to common core.  The presenter, naturally, asked us what we thought a Common Core task entails.  (If we knew that, would we even be there?)  Next, put it on chart paper.  Share. Then, she went over a lesson plan; objective, prior knowledge, standards, materials, time frame, mini-lesson.  General, generic stuff that everyone learns in their ED101 class.  Then, we did the lesson: read an article and underline one fact and one opinion (another literacy lesson, what a surprise!).  Then, we were to turn to our group and discuss our facts and opinions.  For over 30 minutes.  I already know what a fact and opinion are!  I've known this since fourth grade.  I want to know how to structure a common core task!  This was the actual "professional" development; she didn't even close the lesson, it just fizzled and we left, pissed off.  The presenter and her company were paid a boatload of money, and the school paid teachers overtime for this utterly useless training.  No value came of it to any teacher.  Zippity doo, diddly squat. 
Gosh, is it C?
The money spent on these trainings is obscene.  The NYC DOE created "modules" at great expense that cover the importance of basic teaching skills.  For instance, Designing Coherent Instruction.  Because teachers are so often designing incoherent instruction, I'm guessing.  And the module involves an obviously non-teacher actor reenacting the equivalent of a drivers' license exam: Sally approaches a pedestrian crossing against the light.  Should she A) Veer wildly into oncoming traffic B) Accelerate and aim at the pedestrian C) Check if it is safe to gradually decelerate and do so or D) Drive erratically and swerve judiciously?  I mean, c'mon, enlarge the image above and see if there aren't glaringly obvious clues as to the correct response.
Graphic artists are getting paid.  What budget crisis?

What I'm getting at here is the same thing I've been getting at all along.  We have an educational crisis.  These slick videos and expensive PDs are not the solution.  Paying specialists and test makers and voice-over actors and PD presenters are not doing a blessed thing except lining the pockets of big business.  Spend the money on giving us lessons and textbooks.  If teachers are being evaluated to keep their jobs, shouldn't a federal curriculum just provide teachers with the lessons already?  Invest in one Common Core textbook that all teachers will use, give us the lesson plans, and then we'll all be rated as Highly Developed, unless we deviate from the lesson plan.  It's so simple.  Do they really want us to succeed?  Or do they just want to spend more money.  I think we all know the answer.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

School Project Starts in Earnest

I'll never look at a broken umbrella the same again.  Since the populace in the neighborhood in which I teach is not in the habit of using trashcans nor of sweeping up, there are a lot of little goodies everywhere.  One day, I thought I had stumbled across some sort of charger, so I picked it up.  Another day, there was a nice little umbrella made with a satiny pink fabric, and thought it would make a wonderful accent pillow, so I grabbed that, as well.  During my umbrella deconstruction I realized that the thing I thought was a charger was actually the mechanism for opening and closing an umbrella.

Umbrella moving part + Christmas bulb = ?
Bubble tea straws +
My New Orleans scene in school is in need of streetlamps, so those little circular black things will serve as the base, with a bubble tea straw post and a
Pencil eraser holder cutters
with the polymer clay shapes
they created
Christmas bulb top.  I did some sawing and drilling today and hope to create balconies out of those pieces.  And from the tops of pencils I've created mini stamps to cut out leaves and fleurs-de-lis to decorate the balconies, which are strawberry baskets cut in half decorated with phone wire.  Everything is in pieces and ready to be assembled.  I am actually having fun "teaching" now!

Strawberry basket balconies
with phone wire curlicues.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Before Trilogy

Awkwardly sharing a beautiful song in a
listening booth
Seventeen years ago, my sister told me that I would probably like a little indie film called Before Sunrise, and did she ever have me pegged.  This movie touched me in a way no other movie had before or since.  It struck a chord.  It is the story of two twenty somethings who meet on a train in Austria and decide to pass the night roaming the streets of Vienna, before Jesse, who lacks the money for a hotel, leaves the following day for America.  Basically, the two just talk throughout the film, with magical Viennese backdrops.  The two share their ideas about life and love, and I still held out hope that I would someday return to Europe and meet someone like Jesse with whom I could discuss my hopes and fears on memorable adventures.  In the end of the movie, they decide to meet again in six months on the train platform, and the places they visited are shown in the early morning light, without the pair and their young, idealistic love.

The romantics knew that this was the how
the couple ended up.
Around six years later, I went to see another movie, called Waking Life, that had the same pair, Jesse and French Celine, in bed, discussing what the moment just after death may seem like as the brain slowly shuts itself down, and the common, shared memory of all humans.  Deep stuff shared in total intimacy, presented in a dreamy, surrealistic cartoon, which was perfect, since we couldn't know what happened to the couple after Before Sunrise, unless we made it up in our heads, right?

Set in Paris, the saga continues
Seeing if he dissolves into molecules. Lovely,
lovely, lovely.
Wrong.  A few years after that chance encounter with the pair that so moved me, I spotted a poster in a indie movie house for Before Sunset, with Jesse and Celine backlit from the setting sun.  Dread filled me immediately; surely the magic of the first movie would be ruined with a follow-up.  But, after my trusty rottentomatoes gave the film a very fresh rating, I went to see it and, against all odds, it was a fitting and lovely, and just as ambiguously ended, update from the first movie. The two are older, and less idealistic, but we're still not certain if they end up together.  I, too, had given up my youthful hopes and dreams, and life had settled into unexpected patterns that I was somewhat disappointed with.  But, ah, I could watch that ending again and again.  And, once again, I knew in my heart what would become of them.  Could there be hope for me, too?

Finally, they are a couple.  Does this spell
trouble?  I'm dying to know.
And now, Before Midnight is currently playing in Manhattan.  I cannot wait for this movie to come out in Queens in two weeks.  I feel like one of the Star Wars or Twilight fans who will go to the midnight screening and line up during a downpour to see the latest installment of my favorite film franchises.  And just as I don't understand the fascination with blockbusters and special effects, I expect very few people to understand my attraction to a movie without a plot per-se, that follows lovers and the course of their lives.    It's hard to create tie-in Taco Bell merchandise on that premise.  But, as the previous two films did at the time of their releases, this movie  looks to sum up my current situation pretty well, only stated more eloquently in much more beautiful surroundings.  What's not to love?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Collage Frame DIY

Here's a joke for you: What's the difference between a regular frame and a collage frame?  Around $40.  Ha ha!

Tootie Pie needs a collage frame for one of her Daisy projects.  I told my husband that I could make one, but he decided to try to find one.  After around three hours, he called me and asked if I could make one.  No problem.

Actually, it really is easy.  All it requires is a bit of measuring and a square, plus a sharp X-Acto blade or, what I used, carpet cutter.  I used a spare piece of cardstock that was slightly too small for the frame, so I backed it with a piece of cardboard from Tootie Pie's Tinkerbell Tea Set she received for her birthday.  I cut the holes in the cardstock, then glued it to the backing, leaving the top part open to slide the pictures in.  It only took around one hours to complete, and I have a custom frame for a fraction of the price.  Sweet!

Teachable Moments? The Stupid Ish Kids Say

Remember when a
cartoon child was
Common Core, Danielson, and higher order thinking.  I've been trying it.  The problem with higher level thinking is, you need the basics before you can synthesize information into an opinion.  This week, we created a stem-and-leaf plot from the ages of Presidents' deaths.  One of the questions was to analyze why not all of the presidents were listed.  What this has to do with math, I don't know, but many children could not work out why President Obama was not listed under "Dead Presidents".  Hmmmm...

This led to a ridiculous solicitation about living presidents, since they were all gathered recently for the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library.  Some students were vaguely aware of the existence of a President Bush (did they know there were two?  No.), none knew about President Clinton, and Carter?  Who's he?  Here's my interaction with my classes on the subject of Jimmy Carter, along with other little gems of wisdom over the years.
  • Who was president in between Ford and Reagan?  The last name starts with a "C", and the first name is Jimmy."  "Jimmy Neutron!"  (Jimi Hendrix was also guessed, but Jimmy Carter was not).  Setting aside the fact that neither name starts with a "C", how many different ways is this incorrect?  At least Jimi Hendrix was an actual person!  Jimmy Neutron?
  • "I be tired", a student tells me.   "I am tired", I say, trying to fix the subject-verb agreement.  Obviously mistaking my rephrasing for a statement of commiseration, he replies, "yeah, but you're old."
  • What day was Wednesday?
  • I had a student talk to his mother about how he does not do his homework.  He put her on hold and said to me "My mother wants to know why I don't do homework".  I swear this true. 
Any off the wall wisdom from your classroom to share?  Let's compile them.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Anecdotal Evidence There is Too Much Testing

Our state tests finished up a couple of weeks ago.  That took six days total.  After that, two out of my three classes took the NYSELAT, a test for ELL's (English Language Learners) for three more days.  Now, we are doing mock science and social studies, and mock Regent's, to practice for the real tests later. 

Since the results of the state tests will not be ready in time to make promotional decisions (and, isn't that the point of these tests?), we have been told to give past year's level ones and twos a Portfolio assessment.  If a student scored a level 1 or two on either math or ELA, they have to take this assessment.  In my school of 2400, 2000 scored at least one level 1 or 2, so essentially the entire school is taking this test.  Also, we have to give a final.  And a Performance Series test.  On top of all of that, the individual departments still have two post tests and one pretest to give students.  Oh, and we are giving certain students in extended day assessments for inquiry.

Does that sound like too much testing?  Because it does to me.  Let me bullet these tests for you:

  • ELA state test - 3 days
  • Math state test - 3 days
  • NYSELAT - 3 days
  • mock science state test - 2 days (written and lab)
  • mock social studies state test - 1 day
  • mock Regent's - up to four days
  • actual science state test - 2 days (written and lab)
  • actual social studies state test - 1 day
  • actual Regent's - up to 4 days
  • Portfolio assessment math - 2 days
  • Portfolio assessment ELA - 2 days
  • Performance series math - 2 days
  • Performance series ELA - 2 days
  • Final math - 1 day
  • Final ELA - 1 day
  • Final social studies - 1 day
  • Final science - 1 day
  • Post tests math - 2 days
  • Post tests ELA - 2 days
  • Post tests social studies - 2 days
  • Post tests science - 2 day
  • Pre test math - 1 day
  • Pre tests ELA - 1 day
  • Pre tests social studies - 1 day
  • Pre tests science - 1 day
  • Extended day assessments - 1 day
This list doesn't include other subjects pre- and post tests.  Now does it sound like too much testing?  Has anyone experienced anything similar?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Another test to add to the list: field tests.  These tests are to test the test-makers test questions.  For real.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

How to Make Exceptionally Unnatural Looking Miniature Grass from Foam Rubber

It may be grass,
or miniature
primordial ooze.
I took a before picture to
wow you with the
amazing results
Another don't from moi.  I thought one item my Undersized Urbanite entry was lacking that others had was landscaping.  I would like to add this to my Spring Fling build.  So, I followed some instructions on eHow using foam rubber, since I had some on hand.  I measured the paint perfectly, so I didn't need to drain any extra out.  However!  I failed to take into account the whiteness of the foam rubber, and my spring green lighted to neon alien skin color.  So, I'm chalking this up to a learning experience.  Next time, I will mix my paint much darker so that when it blends with the green, it will actually look like grass.  Oh, well.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Vote for My Spring Fling Design

Can you believe such a place exists?
I have some choices to make. I'd like to make a fairy house, but Tootie Pie came up with an inspired idea: she wants a Hello Kitty home.  I'd still like to try a castle. So, we'll need your help. Vote above for your favorite.
Is there such a thing as
too sparkly?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Educating Dzhokhar

Oh, yeah, he's dreamy, alright
I am disgusted by the girls who idolize the surviving Boston Marathon bomber.  Girls, if you think he's so cute, get a load of him in the hospital.  He looks so cute with his hook nose, his affected
hipster soul patch and self-inflicted shrapnel wounds, doesn't he?  Ladies, there's a well-known phenomenom where people put up profile pictures that are out-of-date.  Those pictures of hunky, cute Dzhokhar are from two or three years ago.  The current pictures of him above show him as the ugly troll that he is, with his flared nostrils, too-close set eyes, and fuzzy hair.  I am also sickened that our country helped pay for him and his mental family.  We took them in, we gave them over $100,000 in benefits, and they turned around and blew up innocent people and Americans.  They bilked the system.  They stole.  They killed their former friends.  Gross.  Just disgusting.
The pictures you choose make a difference

As for those of you who think this dreamboat is too cute to perpetrate such atrocities, or that it is some sort of conspiracy so that the Obama administration can, um, what would the point of this be again?  To push his liberal agenda banning the use of pressure cooker bombs?  If good guys carried a pressure cooker bomb, then the bad guys couldn't, uh, how would that help?  I get the distrust of our government, I really do, but these losers are shown in video surveillance putting the bags down.  This case is so clear cut that the defense attorney's only goal is to avoid the death penalty.  Good grief.

Frankly, I think it is way beyond time to reconsider our immigration and asylum policy.  Now, I live in NYC, and most of my friends are immigrants, so I am not anti-immigration by any means.  However!  I have seen one too many a lady in a grocery store with 24 karat gold earrings the size of wallets, twenty to thirty gold bangles and ruby nose rings using WIC checks.  I have seen too many immigrant children who come to school without basic supplies, but outfitted with a smartphone, airbrushed nail art and Air Jordans.  We let in too many people with misplaced priorities.  If you're coming here to work, great.  If not, no dice, I'm sorry.  Maybe you could even bring a skill with you, instead of just way too many children to feed, clothe and house.  You need to assimilate to our culture.  Wear whatever thing you want on your head, praise any god you like, but for the love of God, will you please learn English and convert your Third World manners that are offensive here?  If one more student tells me "I'm Columbian" or "I'm Egyptian" or talks about "my country", I'm going to puke.  If America is good enough to suck all the wonderful benefits from, then consider yourself American.  Frankly, I don't think any immigrant, for any reason, should receive assistance, until they've paid into the system for a set amount of time.   I'm sure I'm not being PC here, but I think PC has gotten us into this mess and it's time we say enough's enough.  Sorry.  No more Tsarnaev's.  Not having the first one would have been even better.  Yuck!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Folly or Garage?

I am fresh off the fun of one miniature contest and I'm already looking at joining another.  Should I?  It is Greenleaf's Spring Fling, and the kit is $20 including shipping.  I have been wanting to make a castle, especially since we have very posh Petite Princess furniture, and I've been eyeing the egg carton brick technique and carved foam for a while.  Should I make an architectural folly, or a garage?

As I'm writing this, I already know the answer.  Yes, a garage is practical, and I could have an organized and clean garage, if only in miniature.  But it is no fun.  A folly: even the name is fun and cute.  I think I will fashion a princess tower, with turrets and spires and passageways.  I'm getting excited just thinking about it.
A two-legged tree house? Because "one leg is dangerous, and three are too stable and boring". Love it! Okay, I'm in!

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