Archive for August, 2009

Sorry, been sick

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

Hey, all I’m sorry for no tutorials and not being around.¬† I’ve been really sick.¬† I’ve been trying to not miss work (school) but that just means that I’m extremely worn out when I get home.¬† I’ve been hitting the bed about 7 pm every night.

This has actually been going on for a while.¬† I’ve been having fatigue and swelling problems, and breathing problems.¬† But with school back in session, the fatigue has been hitting me very hard.¬† My idiot doctor decided to run some blood tests, telling me that I didn’t need to fast for these tests, but then he ran a check on blood sugar.¬† Well, I hadn’t fasted, so of course my blood sugar is high.¬† So now I need to go back again for another blood test (fasting this time)¬† to see if my blood sugar is really high.

I’ve changed doctors.¬† This is ridiculous.¬† 1 hour after¬† walking around and chasing teachers around, I’m exhausted, and feel horrible.¬† The doctor says:¬† Your blood sugar is high, 2 points from being a diabetic.¬† Diet & exercise, and wait 3 mos, then come back for more blood work.

Meanwhile, what am I supposed to do about the fatigue and feeling horrible?? Which was the reason I went to the doctor to begin with.  I cannot leave my job early every day until he decides to run another PROPER blood test in 3 months.  So I changed doctors and have an appt Monday.

At the same time, I now have another sinus infection — and all he gave me was an antihistamine — which dries me up and makes me light-headed (add that to the effects of the diuretics he gave me for the swelling), but the infection doesn’t go away, just stays around waiting to pounce on me again when I least expect it.

School has been hell.¬† Teachers are worse than children.¬† I haven’t seen anything like this!¬† I have been teaching for 20 years, and these teachers take the cake!¬† There’s a pacing chart for each subject to teach a unit within that timeline.¬† I’ve been helping out with the science department while their dean was on maternity leave.¬† The physical science teachers and biology teachers were supposed to give the unit 1 test on Friday, Aug 28.¬† NONE of them had a test planned in their lesson plans, and none¬† of them planned on finishing the unit before the end of next week.¬† Of course, the principal is not happy with them.¬† He called an emergency meeting with that department.¬† They think they can teach whatever they want and when they want.¬† It doesn’t matter that certain things¬† must be taught to be ready for the semester exams.¬† Oh, and whatever happened to teaching what needs to be taught so they can be ready to start next year’s class.

And my math teachers are not any better.¬† 2 of them are telling me they won’t meet the Sept 4 deadline for their unit 1.¬† One even told me that the pacing chart gave them 6 extra days than what the activities required, and she will be a minimum of 3 days late on the deadline.¬† Not even a month and she’s already almost 2 weeks behind schedule.

On top of that, they were required to give a pretest by a certain date.  I checked up on them.  They all told me they were on schedule and would be completed by that Friday.  But on the Wednesday AFTER the deadline, I observed a class, and she was giving the test when I walked in!

I will¬† get some tutorials up today.¬† I’m so sorry for the delay, and sorry, Shane that I did not get back to you.

School Days, School Days….

Saturday, August 8th, 2009

So what was your first day of school like?

I remember, standing out in the hallway crying.¬† My dad left, and the teacher stayed in her classroom with the door shut.¬† It was my first day of kindergarten.¬† My dad was in the Air Force, and we had just moved to Maine, so we knew nobody and here I was starting the first day of school — about a week or so later than the other students.¬† My dad took me to school and walked me to the classroom, but he had to report to duty and couldn’t stay and the teacher had no time for a new student who was reluctant to start school.¬† Needless to say, that began a tug-o-war with that kindergarten teacher.¬† Don’t get me wrong,¬† I behaved in class and did my classroom assignments.¬† However, on some things I could be “contrary”.¬† At play time, I liked to play with puzzles and stuff.¬† I got along with the other children, but I was used to playing by myself.¬†¬† The teacher did not think it appropriate that a 5-year-old play by herself and could not understand why I would not play with the other toys.¬† So she “punished” me by trying to get me to pick up the toys at the end of playtime.¬† But I would refuse, because “I did not make the mess.”¬† The other kids had, and I could not see why they did not have to pick up their own mess.¬† I mean, my mom made my younger sisters pick up their mess!¬† So that’s how the year went.¬† I “got even” with her when we had a sub one day.¬† While the teacher was gone, I played with the toys!¬† lol¬† That put a bee in her bonnet.¬† At the end of the year, that teacher wanted to hold me back in kindergarten.¬† I could do all of the tasks well above my grade level, but she felt that “I would not do well”¬† in school.¬† Hmmmm

This year I start my 21st year of teaching.  On the first day of school, I always reflect back to that experience.  Teachers often make judgments about their students from the first dayРand some of those teachers limit their interaction based on those judgments.  I try to keep an open mind about my students and continue to remind myself throughout the year that one experience (good or bad) does not define who they are.

This year I teach three classes of geometry and spend the rest of the hours as Academic Dean for Mathematics.¬† It’s a fancy name for a department head in a new program.¬† As Academic Dean I’m acting as a Math coach for the rest of the teachers in the department.¬† I’ll be observing their teaching, helping them with their lessons to teach them best practices and become more effective in the classroom.¬† This is in addition to what I was already doing as a teacher and department head.¬† So you can see why I’ve been absent from the board the past few days.

Wednesday and Thursday were training days for the teachers.¬† The mornings were filled with meetings and professional development, and the afternoons were set aside for us to work in our classrooms.¬† I don’t have a classroom anymore.¬† The three classes that I teach will be in other teachers classrooms, who are on their planning period that hour.¬† Instead, I have a¬† math office.¬† I should say “we” have a math office, but that’s my home base.¬† I had to pack up all the math equipment from my old room and move it to the new room, and then arrange it into the cabinets.¬† The janitor “dumped” 8 teacher desks in there, and only 3 of my teachers helped me to arrange the room.¬† That’s a typical example of the teamwork in this department, and throughout the school.¬† About half the staff seems to be ego-centrical.

There was no air conditioning for the first 2 hours on Wednesday — the time span I had to use to move my things from my old room to my new room.¬† I lifted and carried boxes that I probably should not have.¬† I have bruises, and body aches to remind me to reflect on why did I become a teacher.¬† Those first two nights, I worked from about 6:30 am to 3 pm at school and came home and crashed on the sofa.¬† I’m not usually one for a nap.¬† But my energy was spent.

Between the meetings and arranging the office, I did not get much time to go through my own personal things and organize them in my new space.¬† So¬† I am still feeling my way through my things.¬† It’ll probably be a whole year progress, at the rate that my “experienced” teachers seem to have problems and need help.

My teachers started off the year with a “bang”.¬† One teacher that we were expecting back quit 2 days before, and so we would be getting a permanent sub.¬† It turns out that the permanent sub is the same sub that I told last year to go take the PrAXIS¬† and get teacher-certified.¬† He did.¬† He passed.¬† Now he’s waiting on the certification.¬† So he will be a good instructor, but needs training in the paperwork and procedural stuff.¬† That I can deal with, as he wants to do his job well, but knows that he doesn’t know it all.¬† I have another new teacher to the staff.¬† She taught at one of the middle schools that were taken over by the state because their scores were failing.¬† School district pride set aside,¬† there’s something to say about a teacher who was teaching at a failing school.¬† She could be a good teacher, but still wasn’t effective.¬† Yet she has questioned EVERY decision from the principal since she walked on campus Wednesday!¬† She’s also been late for every department meeting we’ve had.¬† 2 of my experienced teachers who should know better helped themselves to equipment out of the library without having it checked out.¬† So the department is still plagued with the usual goof-offs.¬†¬†¬† And they don’t realize that their lack of professionalism here spills over into their classroom and affects their effectiveness as a teacher.

I spent alot of time those 2 days walking from one classroom to another, and from one end of school to another, re-educating the teachers in their procedures and acting as a go-between for the other departments, soothing their rightfully “ruffled feathers” for all the infractions that my insensitive staff members cause.¬†

Don’t get me wrong.¬† The other half of my staff in my department are wonderful.¬† They are from the Phillippines.¬† So you can imagine how their culture has taught them to be helpful, polite, and team-centered.¬† They are the ones that dropped what they were doing to help arrange the desks.¬† They are the ones that CUT OUT letters to make the titles on my bulletin board in the office, even though I would have been happy with a hand-written banner.¬† And they are the ones who stayed late after school on Friday to pick up all the trash caused from putting new batteries into 300 calculators.¬† They work hard, and I don’t mind dropping what I’m doing to help them out.

Friday was the first day of school for the students.¬† It was actually a good day.¬† Many students still needed to register and get their schedules, but they were out of the gym and in classes within a couple of hours.¬† I had many returning students happy to see me.¬† Imagine that!¬† They were happy to see their mean ol’ geometry teacher who wouldn’t give them a point so they could have a B instead of a C.¬†

My classes are small.¬† Last year I had 5 classes, and 4 of them were at 30 or more.¬† My largest class had 37 at one time, and never got smaller than 34.¬† This year I have 3 classes.¬† My largest¬† class has 18.¬† I can handle those numbers.¬† Now the numbers can change.¬† Because of schools being taken over, it’s possible we’ll get more adds over the next few days.

I guess the worse part is the fact that I have to travel to other rooms¬† to teach those 3 classes.¬† I knew it meant that I would have to tote my stuff from office to class, but I didn’t realize how much we rely on having our own room.¬† During my first class on Friday,¬† I had 7 people have to share the two pens I had because they did not have something to write with.¬† Usually, I have stacks of extra pencils, but I wasn’t in my own room.¬† Yes, I know.¬† Students should be responsible for bringing their own paper and pens, but I refuse to just let them sit their just because they “forgot” to bring something.¬† I did remember to bring me a dry-erase marker so I could write on the board, but somewhere along the way I left it in one of the rooms.¬† I did not have it 7th hour.¬† I have bought one of those pull carts that you see some teachers use.¬† It’ll hold my gradebook and some daily supplies that I will need to bring with me, so I can stuff it with a supply of paper and pencils.¬† But.¬† it will not hold a crate of calculators that ways 10 pounds.¬† And there will be some days that my geometry lessons will require more than the usual daily supplies — string, drawing paper, etc.

My first day went well.¬† The students seemed eager to be back in school, and my classes were not overloaded.¬† As I said, I try not to pre-judge my students.¬† They did seem like the typical teenagers.¬† I could see where some would present challenges as a learner, but¬† I’m happy with what I have.

The worse thing to happen occurred the last hour of the day.  On Thursday when I was helping the new math permanent sub/teacher, we realized that he was scheduled to teach in the same classroom 7th hour that I would be teaching in 7th hour.  It took a while, but we got that straightened out.  However, when I arrived at my 7th hour class, I found my students being turned away because there was a third teacher also assigned to teach in that room!  So now we had a math class and a science class in the same room.  Eventually, the principal worked it out, and moved me to another room.  Of course, it had to be on the other side of the school.

So all in all a good start to a new school year.

Rain, Rain Tag Tutorial

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

Learn to use a mask in PSP to create a tag like my new Rain, Rain, Go Away Tag.


Try the Rain, Rain Tag Tutorial

Watermark Shape Tutorial

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

Create a custom shape to use for your watermarking.¬†¬† What’s so great about using a custom shape?¬† The shape can be resized as needed for large and small projects.¬† I wrote a tutorial for creating such a watermark shape in Photoshop. You can find it here:

Watermark Shape Tutorial

You can find my other Photoshop tutorials here.  Check them out!

Rain, Rain Go Away Tag

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

A new tag available for download!


NO LONGER available for download




Beginning Tutorials

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009





Use PSP or Photoshop and don’t know how to use scrap kits?¬† We’ve started beginner lessons on using scrap kits at the Dragon’s Breath Forums.¬† Learn how to use scrap papers as patterns for backgrounds and selection fills, and learn how to use the different elements¬† of the scrapkit.¬† These lessons are available to all registered members of the Forums.¬†¬† The lessons are set up for independent study, though a moderator will check your lesson results and answer any questions you may have.¬†


There are also hatchling lessons for PSP, Photoshop, DAZ Studio, and Bryce.  Come check them out!

If you’re beyond beginner, we also have galleries for learning beyond the beginner stage, and posting your results.¬† Come check us out!