What an exhausting week! The school load was immense this week, with five chapters to read (and I’m a slow and deliberate reader when it comes to reading college texts). I may have put in somewhere between 60 and 70 hours this week, and I was “in class” all seven days this week. I’m intentionally taking Tuesday off starting week 4 to give myself a mental break. It sure doesn’t feel like a three unit class — it seems like a full time job! My wife says that this is so only because I’m a hard worker who puts in a lot of extra time to make things perfect. She may be right — I don’t see most of my other peers doing the same, but I also assume that they have jobs and are stressed simply trying to keep up with the workload. Meanwhile, I’m only taking a sub job or two per week, and maybe a couple hours of chip work. I’m lucky to be able to take the time off.
I heard from Jeffrey. He made it to his new base at Sheppard in Texas. So far, he is the only guy to be single in his room (at the end of the hall where he likes it), even though the dorm room is meant to house three. He hopes this lasts – he likes having his own space.
This week in college was not as bad. I guess week one has some additional work to begin the class. Still, I probably put in 25ish hours and I didn’t finish until Monday at noon. Last week, I was getting the impression that my teacher didn’t like me very much, but it was probably just stress on her end. We’re all working with new software and not all her previous class material transferred over or worked well with this new software. She was pretty much on call with tech support all last week. This week, most of her technical issues are solved, and I posted a whole lot more, which is important with an online class, so now she seems to appreciate me a whole lot more. Starting next week, we launch into four weeks of group work. Group work online is a messy affair, so I hope we all get along (the four of us in our group, that is).
My sister and her husband visited my son over the weekend. She says that he’s very muscular now. I believe it – boot camp will do that to you! They sent a picture and Jeffrey looks great. She also said that he was an exceptional young man and that I should be proud. I am!
Now that Jeffrey is out of the house, we wondered what to do with his rabbit, since the rabbit will never again be with Jeffrey… and is mean. We don’t want to take care of her anymore. The solution: taxidermy! Seriously – Jeffrey has decided to get his bunny stuffed and put in a “fierce” position. Wow, it must be nice to have so much money and no bills. The bunny is on death row as of today, and the taxidermist will put her down tonight. It’s a little sad, but it sure does solve a problem. Now we have to see what we can do with the dog…
End of week 1… OK, technically, Monday at midnight is the end of week 1. I got everything accomplished, but man, there’s a lot of reading! I think I wound up spending over 30 hours either reading or writing, and I’m not quite done. This class is pretty massive, as was my previous Methods class, so I’m glad to not be working very much right now. I think I may only work one day a week while this class is in session. I need around five full days just to do the work!
Yeah (?), first day of class for my English Teaching Methods class, now required by the State of California to get an English credential. This would also be my first online class experience.
I initially found the website disorienting – things were not always intuitive. Still, after an hour or so, I was able to navigate just fine. One thing that struck me immediately was that the direct teacher instruction was completely missing. The teacher in an online class is part facilitator and part administrator and the students basically teach each other as they read through the week’s lessons and assignments. My particular Phoenix online class has nine students, including me, and I’m the only male in the group. Of the four who showed up on the first day of class, like me, three of us are either well into our career, or transitioning from one career to another – in other words, around 45-55 years old. Only one had ever taken an online class before so most of us were lost.
I started to plow through the week’s activities and I believe I finished around 60% after 10 hours online. I think I was probably supposed to spend less time online, as I am required to be online four days out of seven. Oh well, I’m new at this. I also found out that the teacher/facilitator monitors this website by day, but then goes and teaches a class at night, so this really isn’t a night class, at least not if you want immediate feedback.
Today I was a P.E. teacher, at least eventually I was. As it turned out, today was also a special testing day with a special testing schedule. My first task as a P.E. teacher was to administer a two hour long practice reading and writing exam for the new Common Core standards. The students would spent two hours on this test tomorrow as well. According to the rather vaguely worded instructions, I was to read something to the students as they read along, except it didn’t state what that actually was. After a phone call to the office, it was confirmed that I was to read all 10 pages of this packet! Other teachers were calling to ask the same question, but they kept calling my phone because I was using the English teacher’s classroom for this test – He was in charge of this test, and he had a first period prep, so he was in the office coordinating this thing. I wish the other teachers had known that! Anyway, it took me about 45 minutes to read this, coughing much of the time because I had allergy issues and because my throat was dry from reading out loud so much. I was also trying not to be dyslexic, which is increasingly difficult as I read. It didn’t help that there were several impossible-to-pronounce people names and a few vocabulary words I have never seen before (other teachers at lunch made the same comment). There was no direction about what to do after I had read all the content, so I put them to work re-reading it and highlighting as they went in preparation for tomorrow’s essay. I discovered later that this was the correct thing to do. While being bored, I looked through all the pamphlets that I hadn’t distributed; on the very bottom were the instructions for the test that the teacher was supposed to read to the class! What a stupid place to put this! I had to read this to the students. It had all kinds of background that would have been helpful BEFORE we read everything. It also stated that the last hour today was for brainstorming, mapping, pulling supporting quotes and creating an outline, all the things I had told them to do, since these are the things I would be doing if I were taking this test. Tomorrow, they’ll have two hours to create a rough draft and a final draft of their essay.
After that initial two hours, plus a break, it was time for first period. With a two hour chunk of time gone, each class period would now be 40 minutes long. This worked out great for me because the lesson plan called for girls, then boys to run a one mile run today. The P.E. teacher had arranged it this way for a normal 50 minute class period. I would simply “dawdle” to get to the track and then have the boys and girls all run at the same time. It sort of worked; though counting laps was a lot harder with 40 people running by instead of 20 at a time. I had the kids then tell me their final time after everyone was done, which took about 10 minutes. If I took my time in doing all this, we’d be back in the locker room at the perfect time. Alas, I was too efficient for three of my classes and they had to hang around for about 10 minutes… and many of them didn’t, they just left to go get water, which seemed reasonable except that the other P.E. classes would see my kids going to the locker room and assume that it was time for them to go, so they’d go as well. The normal P.E. teachers were able to stop their groups, but there was another sub who wasn’t able to, and she got mad at me for releasing my kids early.
By the end of the day, I was sun-burnt (even with sunblock!) and tired.
This morning I took the long drive to the other side of the valley to get to Monte Vista High School, the site of all CSET examinations for the South Bay. I grabbed my usual spot just off campus and studied for about 45 minutes. When I strolled into the quad, the announcement guy had already started his spiel, about 15 minutes early. I had heard it before so I didn’t miss anything, and within two minutes, I was sitting in a classroom. It was so nice to only have one test to worry about. I didn’t pass this test last time largely because I didn’t have time. I breezed through all four paragraphs in 20 minutes, basically answering off the top of my head. No wonder I didn’t pass that section! It looked like those around me had had the same experience – I counted three other people who were only taking this one subsection.
I was initially excited when I saw the booklet because it said “Test A,” which was the same version I had taken last time. I knew how to answer all four of those essays, and this time I could spend a lot more time crafting my response. Alas, this was perhaps this month’s Test A because none of the essay questions were the same. Still, I knew how to answer all four topics so I started working. My method this time would be to brainstorm, write everything down that I knew about the topic, then choose the thing I was most knowledgeable on to answer the question. I had also noticed that the “good” example responses in my study guide all used a particular pattern in responding to the topic, so I would do that as well: State the issue, perhaps state some considerations, state the solution, give an example of how it works, tell why it will work, perhaps give an alternative approach that will also work, conclude by restating the best solution to the problem. The thing is, you only have one paragraph and maybe fifteen lines to hand-write your entire response so each sentence must be perfect, clear, and succinct. As a rather verbose writer, this is difficult for me to do. This is why I chose to actually use all that scratch space in the booklet to work on things before committing it to the answer sheet.
I felt that I had done all four sections thoroughly and relatively quickly (though one essay may lack “purpose” because I answered the question, but not in a way that specifically addressed what the question asked). I was the first person out the door, beating the other three who were taking the same test. When I looked up at the clock though, I was really surprised to discover that I had been at this for two hours. I thought I had finished in about an hour. Gee, I guess I was having fun and time flew! It was a rather enjoyable experience, though one I would like to not experience again because I need to pass this test to get a job! Hopefully, this will be the last of my CSET tests. I’ll know in a month.
I had to watch the same film five times today in a Science class. This afforded me some time to review my notes for this weekend’s CSET test. The movie wasn’t so bad. It was on Mountains and the animals who live there. When I got home, I put in a couple of hours on the chip to finish the “layout vs. schematic” verification. Everything looks good. Tomorrow, I’ll do the other verification, “design rule checking,” which will involve me writing a lot of code, since the program doesn’t exist currently. This might take me longer than the chip work to do, but once I have it, I can use it on all future chips on this process, so it’s a worthwhile exercise, and it’s been pre-approved by my employer.
Finally, a day off (actually, I took the day off), and boy did I do a lot of chip work! In just 6.5 hours, I pretty much finished the layout. It felt good to be that productive. I also made it through about half of the verification and found an error that had been there for years that no one had spotted. Yeah me! Tomorrow I’m back to school, but it’s a pretty minimal Wednesday at the middle school – I’ll be out by 1:27, yet I get paid the same. I’ll have time to finish that verification tomorrow.
I’m beginning to wonder how I’m going to finish this chip by this weekend, which is my goal. I made a hefty dent in it over the weekend, but now school is really after me for sub jobs. Today is only Monday: I sub’d today and I’ve been asked about a position for every single day this week – already! I turned down Thursday and Friday so I can stay at home and study. It was a math class anyway, and my online description of what classes I’ll substitute for says that I don’t do math. I also turned down an AP Calculus class for Tuesday. Again, it’s the math thing – I don’t want to do it! I have no doubt that I’ll get assignments for Tuesday and Wednesday because so many teachers are sick right now.
Tonight, I’m going to a free preview of “300 – part 2.” I hope that it’s as good as the original. It won’t be worth sitting in the rain for two hours otherwise.
Hey, I finally got to the chip. It was fun! I spent all day on it and wound up not seeing the sun. Folks on Facebook were posting pictures of the beautiful hills just outside my house, which is how I found out that it was a beautiful day. Gee, and the weatherman said it would rain all day. I guess not.
After “work,” I played Passion Songs for about two hours. Now my fingers are sore, but I’m happy.