Building an Independent Reading Culture in the Classroom

Build a Culture of ReadingIn the past, I have had a hard time getting the students in my class to read.

I could get them to pick out books and to look at them, but I couldn’t seem to motivate them to actually read the book or stay quiet during Silent Reading time.

I have finally figured out how to build a culture of reading in the classroom by modelling the behaviour I want to see, having the students practise reading, and working on building up reading stamina together.

Step 1 – Individual Book Bins

Buy some magazine holders from the dollar store and give one to every student in the class.

Step 2 – Picking Books

Teach the students how to pick books that are at an appropriate reading level. You can have them choose one book on a theme that you are working on in your curriculum. You can have them choose a picture book, a novel, a work on non-fiction, and a book of their own choice.

Step 3 – Find Your Reading Spot

I have table groups in my classroom and assign points for good behaviour. I give the winning squad, as I call them, the first choice of reading spots. Many of my students like to sit under the teacher desk that is up against the wall. Some like reading under the conference table. And some prefer the carpet.

Once everyone has found their reading spot, I let them know that we will not be moving from these spot until the time elapses. I sit down and read this first day as well. It’s important to model the behaviour you want to see.

Step 4 – Building Up Stamina

Tell the class that we will read quietly for three minutes only today. They will probably tell you that they can, and want, to read much longer. But we start off in small increments and gradually increase that in the next few weeks.

Let them know that we are working up on building up stamina to read for much longer. The goal is to get to twenty minutes or thirty minutes of quiet reading time for everyone in the classroom.

There is absolutely no talking allowed during independent reading time. Most  of the students will be able to read for three minutes.

Step 5 – Reading Journals

The students will write in their Reading Journal. The date needs to be at the top and the title of the book. Model this on the board. Then give the students 5 minutes to write a response to their book (how they felt, why they choose it, difficult words, I wonder statements)

These ideas come courtesy of

The Daily 5

The Daily 5 by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser

Teaching Tip Tuesday – free resources, tips, and lessons for classroom teachers every week

No one Can Live Without Art

ART - MONEYI have never had much in the way of money. I have more or less scraped by my entire life. However, I have never gone without. And for that I am thankful.

I know what I need most of all in life though. That is story. I need great novels, film, and television. I need to be able to tell stories in my own writing, in my radio show, and in my real life.

As such, art is greater than money. And it always will be!

“Money may be a big deal, but not as big a deal as art. You can go quite some time without spending any money, but you can’t go even a few minutes without needing to hear or tell a story. (Whatever your medium, all art tells a story.) And while some people can live totally off the grid and barter rather than ever buying a thing, no one can live without art. No one. When you are working on your art, you are managing a much more powerful force than mere money. Art is infinitely more vital than money.”

Sam Bennet goes even further into this thought in her book, Get It Done. She writes . . . 

“My performance studies professor at Northwestern, the late ethnographer Dwight Conquergood, used to say hat we should be called Homo narratus” 

We as a species need story. Our memories, our dreams, and even our daily lives get formed into story all the time. We tell stories every single day whether we are consciously creating art or not.

I don’t much like scientific terms but Homo narratus seems fitting, doesn’t it?

Do you agree, Is Art > Money? 

Please leave a comment below!

 

The Animal Man Series Concludes

My brother bought me the first trade paperback of Animal Man last year for Christmas and I was immediately drawn into the fictional world.

I read Volume 2 of the book as well but only just got around to reading the complete series.

Animal Man Vol 3

Animal Man – Volume 3: Rotworld – The Red Kingdom

Animal Man is the protector of The Red, the force of all animal life.

Swamp Thing is the protector of the Green, the force of all plant life.

The Rot, is death and decay.

Throughout time, the three forces have maintained a delicate balance. But when The Rot invades and starts to terrorize the earth, Animal Man and Swamp Thing must join forces to push the evil force back.

Things aren’t that easy! Animal Man’s daughter now has the power of the animal kingdom as well. She is the new avatar for The Red and The Rot will stop at nothing to have that power.

This is not a family story despite the importance of family in it. It is a horror comic, combined with a super-hero tale. It’s a compelling read and I must say that I have really enjoyed reading the entire series.

Animal Man Vol 4

Animal Man – Volume 4: Splinter Species

They won the battle in the last volume, but in the process, Animal Man’s family has been torn apart.

He is at a very low spot in his life, and wants nothing more that to be left alone. However, the papparazzi, desperate for a story, and an evil force determined to enter the Red Kingdom and possess that power, won’t leave him or his family alone.

Maxine is also trying to develop her powers further to reunite her splintered family. We get a break from the horror for a little bit in this volume and it is a nice respite, however brief.

Animal Man Vol 5

Animal Man – Volume 5: Evolve or Die!

I like when we can get closure in a story, whether it be in a novel, film, or comic book. It makes the series all the more worthwhile. And this tale didn’t disappoint.

I highly recommend all five issues of this series.

My List of 2015 Reads – Coming soon (I blog about everything I read)

First Nations Research Info for Kids

FN Info For KidsI have had a really hard time finding appropriate resources to use to for my Grade 3 Social Studies Unit.

The problem is that most of the teaching resources are written for middle or high school students. Very few texts are suitable for elementary school and our new curriculum.

I just recently discovered that my board has a First Nations, Metis, and Inuit division, and they have been extremely helpful.

Their goal is to “engage FNMI students, parents, and community members (including Elders and Cultural Teachers) in the planning and decision-making processes that affect the educational experiences of FNMI students.”

I contacted them and they were able to provide me with some great resources. One member of their staff came into my classroom and gave a great talk about her Ojibwa heritage. She brought in a hand drum and homemade moccasins. She even lent me a kit of leveled readers. It is in an invaluable resource that I am glad to have.

I wanted my students to do some research to learn more about some of the First Nations people in our community and beyond. I searched online for quite some time and finally found a worthy site.

http://bigorrin.org/

Orrin Lewis has put together some great information about dozens First Nations groups.

He writes, “This website was written for young people seeking information for school or home-schooling reports. We encourage students and teachers to visit our main language and culture pages for in-depth information about specific tribes, but here are our answers to common questions asked by kids, with pictures and links suitable for all ages.”

Teaching Tip Tuesday – great tips, tricks, lessons, and resources every week.

Long Live the Audio Book

Audio Books in Any FormatTechnology changes so fast that it is sometimes hard to keep up.

I remember when books first appeared on cassette. They were simply called Books on Tape at that time.

A few years ago, I noticed audio books available for free at the public library. Some of the stories take anywhere from 10 to 20 CDs to tell the unabridged versions.

As such, Books on CD aren’t that practical in the new digital age. Fortunately, we can get novels on MP3 CDs where the entire program can fit on a single disc.  Or, we can download the entire story to stream on our wireless devices.

Last week, I wrote about the need we have for good stories. Audio books are just one of the formats available to us to enjoy stories when we are on the go.

I always have one in the car with me. I’ve been making some fairly long trips and they are the best for those drives. 

I toggle between talk radio, music, and audio books. It’s a nice balance.

Some Stories Need to be Heard

Some of my favourite books sound better and need to be heard rather than read. Even Orson Scott Card agrees that the audio productions of his books are the way to experience his work. Sharon Creech’s Heartbeat falls into that category as well.

Hopefully good quality audio books can continue to be produced for an online audience. When I finally release any of my fiction, I will make sure that it has a good audio book version as well.

Love Live the Audio Book!

20th Anniversary of Star Trek: Voyager

Star Trek Voyager 20th20 years ago today, Star Trek: Voyager soared onto our television screens.

I have always been an avid Trekkie. My dad and I used to watch reruns on the original series back in the 1980s.

We then watched Star Trek: The Next Generation together. It wasn’t quite the same as the original series, but we gave it a chance and it really grew on us. It became a great series over the years even though it didn’t quite start out that way.

When Deep Space Nine came along, neither of us really got it. It didn’t feel like Star Trek and even though I gave it a chance, I stopped watching it.

Voyager, however, managed to capture the essence of Star Trek and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was on the air for seven seasons and I watched it all the way through. I actually haven’t seen it in quite some time now. Hard to believe that it has been twenty years.

And next year, Star Trek as a franchise will mark it’s 50th Anniversary!

I hope Star Trek returns to television soon. I am not a fan of the reboot of the film franchise. I think we need a new series to help celebrate all that is Trek. For now though, we have reruns and DVDs.

Long live Star Trek! 

Wake – A Great Read!

Wake by Robert J Sawyer

Wake by Robert J. Sawyer

Caitlin Decter is a bright 15 year old girl. She navigates the web with ease despite being born blind. She has a braille interface for her computer but manages to remember the order of links she clicks on to quickly traverse the pages she wants to access.

One day, she gets an email from a doctor who says that he can cure her blindness. He had developed a chip that would interpret visual stimuli and send it to her brain so she could effectively see.

After the procedure, Caitlin can’t see the real world, but she can see the World Wide Web. And she finds that there is something there besides raw and discarded data.

The doctor keeps working with her and soon she is able to see the real world as well. Just as she is starting to see things, an artificial intelligence is emerging in webspace. At first, she doesn’t know that he is exists, but they start to communicate and she becomes its teacher and conduit to the real world.

Robert J. Sawyer is one of my favourite science fiction writers and he always manages to pen a captivating tale. This story stands alone and has a great ending, but it is also the first part of a trilogy.

I enjoyed this book so much, that I am going to start reading the entire trilogy. The second book is entitled, Watch and the third book is entitled Wonder. As such, this is the WWW trilogy. Very clever!

My List of 2015 Reads – a complete reading log for the year (Coming Soon)

 

Quitting Teaching Super Sale

Going Out of Teaching SaleI have been collecting teaching resources for the past 15 years. I have bins and bins of resources that I have grouped together by grade level. And they are ALL FOR SALE!

It’s my “Going Out of Business Teaching Sale” 

These bins are too heavy for me to ship them, so you can pick them up or I can deliver them to you. I live in London, Ontario and often visit other cities in Southern Ontario so I am sure we could work something out.

These bins have anywhere from $200 to $500 worth of great resources in them. And I am selling the bins for only $75.00 each.

Here is what you will find in each bin.

Kindergarten to Grade 2

BOOKS – Grammar Handbook 1 (Part of the Jolly Phonics Program – I love this resource) Teaching with Ezra Jack Keats Books, Crayola Imagination Book 1 and 3, Painted Words, Learn Every Day: Grammar Skills, OPHEA: Jigga Jump, Creative Reading Gr 1, Guide to Effective Instruction in Writing, Connect with Words, The Teachers Guide to Building Block, Jump Start – Outer Space Unit, Fun to Learn – Finish the Picture, The Complete Book of Science Gr 1-2, Basic Skills Helper, Brighter Child Math, Family Fun Games, Learning Land – First Words, Lightning Lessons – Graphing, Hands On Physics Experiments K – 2, Calculator Math Level A, Funtastic Frogs Measuring.

BINDERS – Come Play With Us Unit, Skills for Success for Your First Grader, NaNoWriMo – Young Writers Program, 100th Day of School, My Little Grammar Books, A Guide to Effective Instruction in Mathematics, Show Me – Teaching Information and Visual Texts, Art Ideas.

Grade 2

BOOKS – Grammar Handbook 2 (Part of the Jolly Phonics Program – I love this resource) Connect with Words, Method Math, The Complete Math Smart 2, Sunflowering, Math Skills, Phonics, Reading Comprehension, Science Courseware Pack, Reading Workbook, Writing Mini-Lessons, How to: Inventions, Owl: Funbook, Learning Activities, Teach Children to Read and Write, Daily Language Review 2, Creative Reading, Daily Word Ladders, Write Now, Total Basic Skills, Words Every 2nd Grader Needs to Know, How to Make Books, Teachers Guide to Shared Reading, Think on Your Feet

BINDERS – Reading Assessment, Working it Out, Read and Understand, Strategies that Work, Reading Package K – 10, Art Ideas, Guide to Effective Instruction in Mathematics, Apple Attitude, AND a bin of Unifix cubes

Grade 3

BOOKS – Take it to Your Seat Literacy Centres (already prepped and laminated) Method Math, Science Courseware Pack, BrainQuest 3, What the Heck is a Grape Nut? Total Reading Grade 3, Words Every 3rd Grader Needs to Know, The Inuit Thought of It, Complete MathSmart 3, Creating Reading 3, Quick and Shirt Book Reports, New Start Canada, Nurturing Growth, ArchiGames – 50 Activities to Build Creative Thinkers, Math at School 3, Basics First Vocabulary Development, Canada Curriculum Teacher Helper – Art Lessons, Year Round Activity Guide – Planting the Seeds, Home Workbook – Word Problems, Daily Language Review Grade 3, Total Basic Skills 3

BINDERS – Show Me – Teaching Information and Visual Texts, Mapping Skills, Cursive Writing, Mad Minute Math, Let’s Write, The Write Genre, Guide to Effective Instruction in Mathematics, Get Writing, Land and Sea Unit

Grade 4 – SOLD

BOOKS – Ontario Assessment Instrument Tool – Reading Passages for Assessing Language Arts and Reading on Assessing Language Arts (These are invaluable tools that I hesitate selling. They are so good) BananaGrams for Kids, How Do We Dream, More Picture Stories, Making Big Words, The Complete Active Minds Workbook, Just for the Pun of It, Complete MathSmart 4, Daily Language Review 4, Characteristics of Flight Gr 4 – 6, Comic Strip Grammar Gr 4 – 8, Multiple Intelligences Gr 4, Basics First – Capitalization and Punctuation, Basics First – Spelling Practice, Canada Social Studies HW, PowerThing – Cooperative Thinking Activities, Method Math – Step by Step Problem Solving, Daily Math Practice Gr 4, Canadian Problem Solvinng, Fun Projects for Kids, 50 Literacy Strategies

BINDERS – At the Watering Hole Unit,Courseware Pack: Mathematics, Rocks and Soils Unit, Mini-Lessons for Narrative / Descriptive / Expository / Persuasive Writing, Do Tell – Storytelling for You and Your Students, Incredible Quotations – 230 Thought Provoking Quotes with Prompts, Canada Stuff, Problem Solving, Computers, Cursive Writing, Language Skills for Gr 4

Grade 5 – SOLD

BOOKS – Daily Learning Drills Gr 5, Basics First – Capitalization and Punctuation, Basics First – Spelling Practice, Ontario Math Workbook 5, Summarizing – The Test Connection, The Complete Book of Science Gr 5, Total Reading Gr 5, Grade 5 Summer Activity Book, Complete MathSmart 5, Flags of the World, Clothing Language, Arts and Crafts, Looking at Pictures with  Rolf Harris, What Makes Popcorn Pop, Task Reading, Maps and Symbols of Canada, Amazing – Interviews and Convesations, Do Cats Really Have Nine Lives, Teaching Off the Wall – Interactive Bulletin Boards, Opening a Can of Words

BINDERS – A Guide to Better Writing, Show Me – Teaching Information and Visual Texts, Working It Out, The Writing Teachers Strategy Guide, Literature Circles, The Real Word Activity Card Centre

Grade 5-8 – SOLD

BOOKS – Shakespeare in the Classroom for Intermediate Grades, Basics First – Spelling Practice, Canadian Soccer Association Coaching Manual, Gr 6 Summer Activity Book, Picture Stoires, Capital Letters and Endmarks, Basic English, Language Power Book D, Genuine Articles – Authentic Reading Texts, Teaching Tools for the Information Age, Weather – Electricity Environment Investigations, Elementary Astronomy, Using Graphic Organizers, Paying Attention to Algebraic Reasoning, Quest 2000 Gr 6, Total Basic Skills Gr 6, Complete MathSmart 6, Armchair Puzzlers – Brain Teasers, Armchair Puzzlers – Word Problems, Lucky Book of Mad Libs, The Mishomis Book – The Voice of the Ojibway

BINDERS – A Teacher’s Guide to Planning and Programming, Aboriginal Units and Resources, Electricity Games Galore Unit, Daily Paragraph Editing Grade 6, Teaching Phonics and Words Study in the Intermediate Grades, Language Skills Preparation, Science and Technology Units Gr 6 and 7 (these are great) Canada and The World Unit, Great Artists

School Supplies

– 3 sets of 25 duotangs (red, yellow, grey)
– 32 page exercise book (50 blue, 50 yellow, 50 green, 25 pink)
– 150 loose-leaf paper packs (16 sets)

Craft Supplies Bin

80 foam sheets, 30 foam glider kits, 1000 craft sticks. 25 gingerbread necklace Christmas Craft Kits, 45 Reindeer Necklace Christmas Craft Kits, Assorted Christmas Craft Supplies Bin, Crayola Color Explosion 3D Kit, 3 Self Adhesive Vinyl Rolls, 16 Desk Magnet White Boards, 18 Plastic Clothespins, Artist Calendars (Monet, Van Gogh, DaVinci) Magnetic Calendar

Bulletin Board Bin

Lots of border trims of different themes and colours, letters of different sizes and colours, and magnetic border trim for the blackboard or whiteboard

Assorted Bin

Hanging Folders for your desk and filing cabinet, number line for the wall, various posters for the classroom.

Board Games Bin

Pattern Blocks Tub, Colour Tiles tub, 2 Colour Counters, Double 12 Dominoes Game, Princess Card Games, Math Board Game, Race to Read Board Game, Scrabble Junior, Parcheesi, Syl-la-bles Game, The Children’s Quiz Compendium, Early Discoveries Games

Mathematics Super-Kit

Good Questions: Great Ways to Differentiate Mathematics by Marion Small, Intermediate Communicating Mathematics with Colour Tiles (Bin of Tiles and Book) Introduction to Problem Solving Grades 6-8, Big Ideas from Dr. Small, Wooden Pattern Blocks bin

Professional Reading Pack

The Art of Dramatic Writing, Unplugging Power Struggles, Disrupting Class, How Children Succeed, Mindsets in the Classroom, A Place for Wonder, Shouting Won’t Grow Dendrites: 20 Techniques for Managing a Brain-Compatible Classroom, The Reading Zone, Beyond Monet: The Artful Science of Instructional Integration, Right-Brained Children in a Left-Brained World, How to Teach: The Book of Plenary, The Thinking Teacher, Tribes

Bundle Discounts

I will offer bundle discounts as well.

If you are interested in buying any of these bins, please contact me!

The Scotty Guide to Being Awesome

Scotty Guide to Being AwesomeScotty earned the reputation of being  a miracle worker when he served on the Starship Enterprise. It wasn’t merely because he was good at his job. Sure, he was a great mechanic. He knew his engine inside and out. He was well-studied and continued to update his skills.

But it was how he talked to people under him in the engine room, and above him in command that made all the difference.

Scotty would estimate how quickly he could complete a job. He would then do two things. He would give himself some wiggle room by stating that he would need more time to get it done than he actually would. Then he would go above and beyond and deliver more than what was asked of him and do it ahead of time.

That is the secret to gaining a reputation of being awesome.

Underpromise and Overdeliver 

I was reminded of this little mantra when reading the book Get It Done

Sam Bennet explains it this way . . .

“When it comes to deadlines, always underpromise and overdeliver. You’re much better off telling a client the job will be done on Thursday and finishing it on Wednesday than the other way around.”

Wise words indeed!

White Oaks Skatepark – London, ON

I really didn’t think I’d get the chance to skateboard during the Christmas holiday break. But due to warmer than season temperatures and nice weather, I found myself at the newly redesigned White Oaks Skatepark.

White Oaks Optimist Park

It’s really close to the mall of the same name and a great place to skate.

White Oaks Skatepark

The park is a nice size and has a great flow to it.

White Oaks quarter-pipe

This quarter-pipe lets you launch towards two different sections of the park. It is a little steep for my liking but well-designed nonetheless.

White Oaks Stairs

Nice stairs and down-ramps. I like the three stairs to ramp portion!

White Oaks box

There is a series of boxes and edges to do grinds and other tricks on spread out throughout the park.

White Oaks Spine

This is quite typical for the middle obstacle at outdoor skateparks.

White Oaks skatepark 2

I had a great time skating here last week and will definitely be coming back soon.

More Skatepark Tours

The First Day of School – TLAP Style!

TLAP sign

That is the sign that is on the door to Dave Burgess’ classroom on the very first day of school. He suggests putting this sign on your door even if you are new to the school and the students haven’t heard any stories of you yet.

“The sign’s message creates an interesting sense of anticipation. They immediately wonder, What in the world is this class all about?”

Burgess also suggests having positive, upbeat music playing as students enter the room on that very first day. He states that it is “an audible reminder that they are entering a different world . . . my world.

Next, their eyes will focus on the desks. Every desk has a paper plate with a can of Play-Doh on it. Across the board, written in giant letters, are the worlds, “Do NOT Open the Play-doh!”

Already I am trying to break their pre-conceived notions about what to expect in a typical classroom. My goal is to stand out, to be different from their other classes.”

That has always been my goal as well. I have tried several opening activities on the first day of school. This year, I even did the Play-Doh activity, although I did it a little differently. I am eager to tweak it to make it even better next year.

As Burgess states, “it is far more important to create a unique experience from them on the first day than it is to be sure they know how many bathroom passes they will have each semester and when it is OK to use the pencil sharpener!”

Of course, those administrative details are important and need to be taken care of. Then, you can officially greet the class.

Good Morning Training

Start by standing in the front of the room and getting ready to address the class. Awkwardly square up papers, adjust the table or podium, straighten up your shirt, and other such activities.

If done correctly, there should be a combination of a few giggles and many wondering what the heck is going on. I then look up and say, “Good Morning” in a loud, firm voice. I wait in silence until I hear a smattering of good mornings and then storm through the class ranting that their response is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

Not one single time will I accept that from you! When I say, “good morning” to you, you say, “good morning” to me. Not only that, but however I say good morning to you is how you say good morning to me!

If I say, “Good Morning!” (said with a strange accent). . . you say “Good Morning! (said with exact same accent).”  Let’s try this again, this is your first test of the year and yes . . . I am grading!

I then return to the front, face the class, and whisper my greeting. They should respond in kind and then I say, “Welcome to class, thank you for coming. I’m Dave Burgess and I’ll be your host on this Learning Extravaganza!”

The language here is important. And it is followed up by a hand-out to the students

“Welcome to the World Famous Learning Extravaganza!
Hosted by: Dave Burgess
Now Playing in SS-9

This class isn’t taught, it is hosted. And the phrase “now playing” gives the students the impression that they have entered a show.

This is a No-Meanness Zone!!!

This is the ultimate rule in the classroom. “I let them know that I will tolerate unbelievable levels of banter, playfulness, and seemingly outrageous behavior for a classroom, but I will never tolerate meanness. All of the fun will come grinding to a stop if somebody is being mean to another student or doing something that hurts another’s feelings.

You just can’t teach with my style of openness without emphasizing this rule It is critical for creating the safe and supportive kind of environment in which creativity, learning, and fun can coexist and flourish.

As part of this rule, I also tell them they should feel free to let me know if I am making them feel uncomfortable by drawing unwanted attention to them through my banter and teasing. I want my students to feel perfectly at ease approaching me about any issue that is occurring in class. Creating a place of safety is a prerequisite for the successful implementation of my teaching style.”

Creation-Time

After that, give the students ten minutes to create something out of Play-Doh. The goal is to make something that “is in some way representative of themselves. They can have complete creative license to make anything they want as long as it is classroom appropriate.

I explain that I will show the class their creation, ask a question or two about it, and then have them tell us their name. They will not have to come to the front of the room and the whole process will take thirty seconds or less. That simple explanation of what to expect helps lower the stress students feel about speaking in the front of the class.”

And while the students are working on their creations, you can walk around, have informal conversations, and get to learn a bit about some of the students. You can help them come up with ideas and use all of this info to help design hooks to lesson later on in the year.

Learn Names

Address the students by name as many times as possible that first day and throughout the first week. Encourage the students to learn each other’s names as well. Names are an important part of the rapport and atmosphere you are trying to create in the classroom.

Hype Tomorrow

Thank the students for coming “and then say something along the lines of. ‘You don’t want to miss tomorrow. Something wild and crazy is going to happen at the beginning of class. You can either be here and see it, or just have to hear stories about it when you come back.’

This book is an amazing read and quite inspiring. I highly recommend it!

TLAP

Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess

I will be blogging about it once a month over the rest of the school year. Make sure you keep coming back here for Teaching Tip Tuesdays so you won’t miss a single post!

Chasing Content – The Best of Last January

Chasing ContentIt’s time for another edition of Chasing Content, that monthly feature that has us looking back at what was happening here last year at this time.

So, jump on the train and lets travel back to last January.

Read all of the posts from January 2014 or just these highlights . . .

Create Visual Poems with Your Students

It’s important to get students creating in the classroom. I really love the idea of playing with poetry to make it visual somehow. Why not try this with your class and see what brilliant things your students can do.

Winter Camping

My dad passed away last year. I wanted to share some of my favourite memories with him. The time we went Winter Camping was one of those great stories that I will tell again and again. I’m glad I finally wrote it down.

8 Tips for Young Musicians

I paraphrased these tips from a book I was reading on creativity to fit the needs of the young musicians I teach. I think it is a great list for anyone just learning to play an instrument.

Know Your History Season 4

Know Your History is a monthly documentary radio series I produce about hip-hop music and culture. Last year, I did episodes about the history of radio broadcasting, women in hip-hop, hashtag rap, storytelling rhymes, metaphors, concept songs, and much more. You can download the entire fourth season  in one handy zip file.

Recommended Read – Will and Whit

I really loved this graphic novel by Laura Lee Gulledge. I had to add it to my recommended reads list.

Thanks for Chasing Content with me!

My Goals for 2015

2015 GoalsI don’t like New Year’s Resolutions. Never have. If there is something I want to change about myself, I do it, I don’t need to wait till the start of the year to declare a resolution.

That is why for the past few years I have get some personal goals for myself. The only problem is that I have left those goals on a blog post and not reflected on them over the course of the year.

This year is going to be different. I’ve been thinking about how detailed I do my planning for the school year and how that could be applied to my personal life as well.

So, I am going to set some goals today. I will figure out specific months to work on each one, and I will revise and update the goal list throughout the year. I will do that on a calendar in my house and will blog about my progress to.

There are things that I have been saying I would do for years now and that simply keep falling by the wayside. Maybe it has been fear that has held me back. Either way, I am going to do them this year.

1. Revise, Polish, and Actively Seek Ways to Get My Novels Published

I started this blog with the goal of being a published author within five years. However, I started working on radio and haven’t followed through with what needs to be done after writing has been completed. This year, that will change.

2. Write Something New

I want to write a new work of either fiction or non-fiction this year. Not sure what the new project will be, but I hope to get back to writing this year.

3. Continue Producing Quality Radio

I love what I have been doing on radio. It’s where I feel most like where I am supposed to be. I am going to seek out new areas to expand in this area and possibly even find a paying job in the field.

4. Stay Fit 

Despite a major wipe-out on my skateboard this Christmas break, I don’t plan on giving up the sport. I will also continue to trail run during the spring, summer, and fall season.

5. Read a Lot

I love reading and will continue to blog about every single title I read.

6. Revise and Track My Goals

I will revise my goals, track them on a calendar, and blog about them to make sure I can better myself throughout 2015.

Do you have any resolutions or goals? 

Please share them below!

All the Best in 2015!

How I Did With My Goals for 2014

I set goals for myself at the start of the year. I had the best intentions when I set them. I was determined to track my progress on a calendar as well.

Unfortunately, I didn’t follow through with the tracking and I haven’t looked back at the list since I wrote it. I really should make a more concerted effort this year. That being said, let’s see how well I did.

1) Polish and Perfect my YA Novel and my Literary Novel

Yeah, I didn’t do this. I really should have.

2) Continue to do weekly episodes of The Word is Bond Rap Radio Hour, Our Show, and DOPEfm.

I did this one. I was able to interview some amazing artists this year for the show including Atmosphere, AZ, Del the Funky Homosapien, Dilated Peoples, John Robinson, J Rawls,  Moka OnlyRas Kass, The Left, and many more. It was so much fun!

3) Continue to do monthly episodes of Know Your History

I fell behind on this one. I still need to produce the December episode and I haven’t run the November one yet on the radio. I will catch up though, promise!

4) Write the book version of Know Your History

What a great idea! But I already read the perfect book on hip-hop history, The Big Payback. It was so good that it probably derailed me. That being said, I think I still have something to offer when it comes to hip-hop literature. Hopefully, I will get back to this idea and follow through with it one day.

5) Keep Fit

Did that! I even started tracking my runs using the Nike+ App. It was so cool to get the actual distances I cover in my trail runs instead of having to approximate it like I have in the past.

I kept skateboarding too. Although last week, I fell off a half-pipe and threw out my shoulder. I’m still feeling that one. Ouch!

6) Read a Lot

I read 78 books this year. That’s pretty impressive! I beat my record of 65 books two years ago. I really love having a detailed reading log. It is something I am going to continue to do.

My Score

3/6 but that will probably be raised to 4/6 when catch up on the Know Your History episodes.

Tomorrow Comes

Tomorrow Comes by Donna Mebane

Tomorrow Comes by Donna Mebane

In the afterward to this novel, Donna Mebane writes,

I’m not a theologian or a psychologist or a philosopher. I’m not even a writer. I’m just a mom who loves my kids and assumed, like every mom does, that they’d be a part of my life for all my life. But in July 2011, after an evening during which she laughed for hours with her family and helped her best friend prepare for a long-anticipated trip to New York, my beloved daughter, Emma went to sleep and never woke up.

That was the impetus for this novel, a work of fiction where her daughter gets to wake up. As such, this is sort of a ghost story. Emma finds herself in a world much like the one she left behind but one that is populated by those who have passed away. She meets her grandparents, and her deceased dog.

There are rules to the way this new world works, and Emma, in typical teenage fashion, figures a way to work around them. She tries to reach out to her family to let them know that she is okay. She navigates her new reality and tries to make peace with her new reality.

Win a Free Copy of this Novel

If you would like to read this book, please contact me and I will mail you my copy for free. The Mebane family would love to have this story spread. It was suggested for me to do this on the very last page of the book. If you want to read it, I encourage you to pass it along when you are done with it as well.

My List of 2014 Reads – the complete list with links to each title I read this year

Happy Reading! 

 

Christmas Haul 2014

Here are the highlights of the Christmas gifts I received this year.

Smallville Chaos 1

Smallville Season 11: Chaos

My brother is a traditional comic book fan. He prefers single issues as opposed the collected editions I enjoy. So, he got me the first six issues of this comic.

I just did some research on it. I enjoyed watching the complete series of Smallville and I own every season on DVD. I didn’t know that the story has been continuing in comics form for some time now. There are several issues of this comic and the story doesn’t start in Chaos. Hopefully, I can follow along good enough with this arc. Looking forward to reading it!

Elektra

Elektra Action Figure

The packaging is damaged but it’s still nice having this edition to my extensive Daredevil collection.

Here is the new figure against the larger one I already have.

Two Elektra figures

I have the Daredevil figure of the same series for both of these as well.

Doctor Who 

Mini-TARDIS

I got this really cool mini TARDIS that lights up.

Silurian General Restac

And I got a new mini-figure as well. This is the Restac, the Silurian General who was part of team TARDIS for the last season of Matt Smith’s reign as The Doctor.

Other Swag

I got socks, underwear, pants, and some chocolate.

Overall, it’s not a bad haul. Christmas is for the kids after all.

I hope you had a great Christmas and have enjoyed some time together with your family!

Celebrate Christmas with 3 Hours of Mixtapes

Merry Christmas from SC

I get really bored of the same old Christmas Carols. That’s why I crafted some original Christmas-themed music mixes to help you celebrate the season.

A DOPEfm Christmas – great hip-hop mixed by yours truly

 

and if that doesn’t do you for your Christmas music needs, you can check for the sequel.

I’m proud that I didn’t have to repeat too many songs in this second edition either.

A DOPEfm Christmas 2

 

and if hip-hop isn’t your forte, you can stream or download,

All I Want for Christmas is a Mixtape!

 

Enjoy the tunes!

I wish you all the best this holiday season!

Bubble Bobble on My Phone

Bubble Bobble is back!

Bubble Bobble Title Screen

And it’s on my iPhone.

Bubble Bobble Level 1

The game is exactly the same as the arcade version I used to love.

I really miss the joystick and the physical buttons. It takes a little more finesse to control the character on the touch screen.

I so wish I could have a stand-up arcade. I’d pay good money to have one of these.

Bubble Bobble Arcade

This game system was homemade. If you have any idea of how to do this, it would be the best Christmas present ever!

For now, my app version will have to do.

bubble-bobble-double_5

It comes with a new version of the game as well.

In it, our character remains static and enemies come at you from all angles. It’s a tougher game and I haven’t quite figured out how to get passed the bosses yet.

This double version of Bubble Bobble is $4.99 from the App Store.

Bust-A-Move Islands

Bust-a-Move Islands is the iPhone version of Puzzle Bobble and the best part of it is that it’s free.

Bubble Bobble Level 65

There are all sorts of things that you can buy to customize your playing experience. If you want to play for free, you only get 5 lives per half hour. I have done just fine without paying anything extra. I’m up to Level 65 right now and really enjoying it.

I really love the Bubble Bobble franchise!

Free Christmas Carol Music for Band

ChristmasI have quite a bit of Christmas music written specifically for the concert band. The problem is that many of my students don’t like the sheet music that I have purchased. And when I look at the individual parts, I can see why.

The pieces sound great when played in a large ensemble but when played individually, they don’t sound like the tunes we all know and love. I know that if I were a student, I would want to play the main melody and not some back-up bass line or harmony part.

That is why I love what Chad Criswell has done for all of us music lovers out there. He has written simple versions of all of the Christmas Carols for every instrument of the concert band. There are no tricky two part melodies or harmony parts. Every instrument plays the same tune in unison. It is absolutely perfect for beginning musicians in middle school. And best of all, it is free.

He has even given us the original SIbelius notation files so we can customize the pieces further if we want to. This is such a great Christmas gift that I had to share it all with you.

So head on over to his site, and leave a comment that I sent you. I am sure he would love to know that his work is being used and appreciated by all us musicians.

Free Lyrics and Sheet Music for Christmas Carols

Teaching Tip Tuesday Archive – your weekly source for classroom tips, tricks, lessons, and resources.