Let’s Go Back to February 2008

Chasing ContentAt the start of every month, I take a moment to look back at what I wrote last year at this time. This serves as a “Best-of” list and helps highlight great pieces from the archive.

I’ve missed a few months of doing this, case in point is February 2008.

Let’s fix that omission right now!

You can read all of the posts I wrote seven years ago this month . . .

or just these highlights!

Need Something to Blame, Why Not Hip-Hop?

I went to a conference where one of the speakers blamed the erosion of values on “Chuck E. Cheese” and “hip-hop culture.” Those were his exact words. I’m glad we finally pinned down this problem. Now we can do something about it. Did you get the sarcasm there?

This kind of ignorant thinking really infuriates me. Both Chuck E. Cheese and hip-hop music have great things to offer. I hate my culture being used as a scapegoat all the time. It needs to stop.

The Third World is Right Here

This is not a metaphor either. We have people living in this very province who live in Third World conditions. It’s hard to believe that this could happen in the rich and abundant country we live in. This is something we should be rallying behind. Let’s do something!

Be Happy With the Little Things

It’s a hard thing to do when we see everyone around us having things we don’t have. It’s the human condition to want more. But perhaps, we should be content with what we have and appreciate all of the little things more. Rest in Peace, Lucas Tait!

A Brief History of Hip-Hop

I did this series before I started working in radio. It’s a nice little series. You should check it out!

Thanks for Chasing Content with me!

Great Teaching Blogs You Should Be Reading

I have an online breakfast every morning, meaning that I read all sorts of blogs while I munch away on some cereal. Here are some teaching-related blogs that I check for on a daily basis. You should too!

dangerously irrelevant

Dangerously Irrelevant – Scott McLeod’s blog is full of food for thought for teachers.

FreeTechForTeachers

Free Technology for Teachers – Richard Byrne always shares the best of the web when it comes to websites, apps, and technology that you can use in your classroom for FREE!

iLearn Technology

iLearn Technology – Kelly Tenkely shares some of the great practices and resources that she uses in the school she started up.

Langwitches

Langwitches – Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano’s blog is always a great read about teaching-related issues and resources.

Larry Ferlazzo

Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day – I don’t know how Larry keeps on top of all this stuff. He shares dozens of resources every single week and everyone is something useful and free. It’s a must-visit for any teacher in any grade!

Speed of Creativity

Moving at the Speed of Creativity – Wesley Fryer is a STEM teacher and always shares great information about teaching science, technology, engineering, and math.

Feedly

Feedly – a great place to organize and subscribe to all of these blogs so the content will come to you. This is my one-stop everyone morning for great reads!

Please Share Any of the Great Teacher Blogs You Visit on a Regular Basis below. 

Teaching Tip Tuesday - Teachers helping Teachers is what it is all about.

Rap Radio Shines Worldwide!

I love listening to hip-hop radio. Here is a quick guide to the show I listen to on a regular basis.

They are in alphabetical order by title. And I guarantee that each one delivers quality music by dedicated DJs who respect independent and underground artists. This is where real hip-hop lives. Tune in and enjoy the tunes on a weekly basis

TheBadI

The Baddest Incredible

HOST – Gamma Krush

WHEN – Fridays 6:00 -7:00 p.m. EST and repeated Mondays 11 p.m. to 12:00 midnight on 93.3 CFRU

WHERE – Guelph, Ontario. Canada

PODCASThttp://gammakrush.ca

consignment show

The Consignment Show

HOST – Tyler Hetherington

WHEN – Tuesdays 12:00 midnight to 2:00 a.m. Wednesday morning on 94.9 CHRW

WHERE – London, Ontario. Canada

PODCAST – http://chrwradio.ca/programs/consignment-show#prev-shows

DOPEfm

DOPEfm

HOSTS – Daddy J and Chase March

WHEN – Saturdays 12:00 midnight – 7:00 a.m. EST Sunday morning  on 93.3 CFMU

WHERE – Hamilton, Ontario. Canada

PODCAST – http://cfmu.msumcmaster.ca/app/programming/ (select DOPEfm from the guide)

In Tha Kut

In Tha Kut

HOSTS – Mookie The Greek and John P

WHEN – Thursdays 9:00 – 10:30 p.m. EST on 93.3 CFMU

WHERE – Hamilton, Ontario. Canada

PODCAST – http://cfmu.msumcmaster.ca/app/programming/ (select DOPEfm from the guide)

LC Show

LC Show

HOSTS – Shay D and DJ Shorty

WHEN – Sundays 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. GMT on Itch FM

WHERE – London, England

PODCAST – https://www.mixcloud.com/ItchFM/

masterplan

The Masterplan Show

HOSTS – DTS and DJ Romeo

WHEN – Saturdays 8:00 – 10:00 p.m. EST on 89.5 CIUT

WHERE – Toronto, Ontario. Canada

PODCAST – http://www.ciut.fm/shows-2/music-shows/masterplan/

OUR show

Our Show

HOST – Conshus

WHEN – Saturdays 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. EST on 91.5 WPRK

WHERE – Winterpark, Florida

PODCAST – http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/its-our-show-hiphop-for-people-that-know-better/

SausageGutRadio

Sausage Gut Radio 

HOSTS – DJ Hullewud and Mat Labatt

WHEN – Saturdays 10:00 p.m. – 12:00 midnight  on 94.9 CHRW

WHERE – London, Ontario. Canada

PODCAST – http://chrwradio.ca/programs/sausage-gut-radio#prev-shows

WIB_RRH_Chase_Logo

Word is Bond

HOST – Chase March

WHEN – Mondays 12:00 midnight to 2:00 a.m. EST Tuesday morning on 94.9 CHRW

WHERE – London, Ontario. Canada

PODCAST – http://www.thewordisbond.com/audio/wib-podcast/

tune in

WHEN – whenever these shows are on – live on your computers, phones, or tablets

WHERE – http://tunein.com/get-tunein/

Enjoy the hip-hop tunes on your radio dial wherever you are using the Tune In App on your phone.

Any great shows to add to this list?

Please leave a comment below!

My List of 2015 Reads

2015 ReadsI keep a detailed reading log of every single title I read over the course of a year. This is where I do it.

After I read a book, I blog about it and then add a link to that post here. As such, this page becomes a table of contents for all of the books I will read this year.

When I started this tradition in 2012, I read 65 books. The next year was pretty close to that number as well. In 2013, I read 61 books. Last year, I totally smashed my record. In 2014, I read 78 books.

This year, I am also trying a 50 Book Reading Challenge. I won’t let it restrict me from what I want to read. but I’ll will be checking off items from this list as I go along as well.

Let’s so how well I do this year on both challenges.

NOVELS

Wake

GRAPHIC NOVELS

Animal Man – 3 titles (Rotworld: The Red Kingdom, Splinter Species, Evolve or Die!)

TEACHING RELATED BOOKS

Kids are Worth It

WRITING BOOKS

NON-FICTION

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life

Running Total of Books Read So Far in 2015: 6

Let’s Influence and Empower Our Students Every Day!

Kids are Worth It

Kids Are Worth It : Giving Your Child the Gift of Inner Discipline by Barbara Coloroso

Barbara Coloroso is a renowned author of books on parenting and teaching. She offers great advice that we can all use in our daily lives. I can’t believe I hadn’t read any of her work till just now.

One of her cores beliefs is that we can . . .

Influence and Empower Children

“If we accept that we can influence and empower our children, we will no longer feel that we must control them and make them mind. We can then begin to look at empowerment tools that are alternatives to the manipulative  tools of behavior management. They are encouragement and discipline.”

Here is a great model that we can use when we need to discipline our students.

Four Steps of Discipline

  1. Show kids what they have done wrong
  2. Gives them ownership of the problem
  3. Gives them options for solving the problem
  4. Leaves their dignity in tact

We can let them experience consequences that are directly related to their actions.

Real World Consequences

“Real-world consequences either happen naturally or are reasonable consequences that are intrinsically related to the child’s actions.”

It is perfectly acceptable to let our students and children experience real-world consequences. These events can be powerful learning experiences.

While this book is aimed primarily at parents, I believe that the advice she gives is equally applicable to teachers.

Morally Threatening Consequences

I like the idea of getting our students to think before they act with this simple question, “Why Can’t I?” and then looking closely at the answer to see if this applies . . .

  1. Because it is unkind
  2. Because it is hurtful
  3. Because it is unfair
  4. Because it is dishonest

In each of these situations a parent can take the opportunity to teach the child about the virtues of kindness. Compassion, fairness, and honesty and can provide guidance and options for behaving in a virtuous way.”

Character education is a big buzz word in school these days. We can teach virtues in our daily lives by the way we act and how we treat each other. It doesn’t need to be complex and super-involved. In fact, it all boils down to this . . .

Walk Your Talk

“If you are a courageous and giving [teacher] with principles and values that you are willing to stand up for, if you ‘walk your talk,’ your [students] will have a wonderful model to learn from and emulate.

Children need [teachers] who model self-discipline rather than preach it. They learn from what parents actually do; not from what they say they do.”

This is the first in a series of monthly posts!  Stay tuned to Teaching Tip Tuesday for more!

Teaching Tip Tuesday – great tips, tricks, lessons and inspiration for classroom teachers, every week!

Happy Valentine’s Day – A Mixtape for My Love

Valentine's Day Mix for My Love

As I write this post, I am reminded of how I have declared my love on this blog three times. I was in love that many times. It’s true! And I thought each of those relationships would blossom into a death-till-you-part marriage. That is something I have wanted my whole life.

Today, I am thankful that none of those relationships worked out the way I had intended them to. If they had, I would have missed on out on finding someone absolutely incredible.

Her name is Diana and I am completely in love with her.

My grandma used to say when you meet “the one,” you will just know.

Well, I know that I have finally met her.

We connect on so many levels. I have never had someone whose soul aligns with mine as perfectly. We just fit. And it is an incredible feeling.

This is our first Valentine’s Day together and in honour of the occasion, I have made her a mixtape.

You can download the album version for free (with skippable tracks)

or stream it with the player below.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone! 

Shaping Our Story to Live a Better Life

What I Learned While Editing My Life

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life by Donald Miller

Donald Miller believes that we can use what we know about storytelling to live better lives.

He writes, “If Steve was right about a good story being a condensed version of life – that is, if story is just like life without the meaningless scenes – I wondered if life could be lived more like  a good story in the first place. I wondered whether a person could plan a story for his life and live it intentionally.” 

We are all Characters in a Story

I think this goes beyond metaphor. We tell stories all the time, stories of our day, stories of how we got into our professions, and stories about our families. It makes sense that we are all characters and that someone wrote us into existence.

“If I have a hope, it’s that God sat over the dark nothing and wrote you and me, specifically into the story, and put us in with the sunset and the rainstorm as though to say, Enjoy your place in my story. The beauty of it means you matter, and you can create within it even as I have created you.”

I am not a religious man. However, I have always felt that there is a lot of truth in fiction. And while I disagree with a lot of spiritual texts, I agree with what Millers writes here . . .

“I like the part of the Bible that talks about God speaking the world into existence, as thought everything we see and feel were sentences from his mouth . . .

I feel written, My skin feels written, and my desires feel written . . .”

The Ultimate Writer 

I am a writer and I have created characters who have moved my stories in ways that I have never imagined the story going. They make choices, they say things, and they direct the story. And these are fiction characters that I should have complete control over. And yet, somehow I don’t.

That is why I don’t believe that anything is written in stone. We can all shape our personal story. The ultimate writer, as I call him, doesn’t have complete power over us.

“You can call it God or a conscience, or you can dismiss it as that intuitive knowing we all have a human beings, as living storytellers; but there is a knowing I feel that guides me toward better stories, toward being a better character.

I believe there is a writer outside ourselves, plotting a better story for us, interacting with us, even, and whispering a better story into our consciousness.”

I agree!

We Can Control Our Own Story

Donald Millers admits that we don’t have a lot of control in our lives. He writes . . .

“I don’t know if anybody actually writes his or her own story in real life. It’s an odd thing to talk about, because while we control our destiny, it’s a limited control in so many ways. . .

as real life protagonists we can control only control what we do and say, what choices we make, what words we say. The rest is up to fate. And so life has positive and negative turns.”

So, even with limited control, we can affect change in some big ways. We can lead a live with purpose.

Life Has Purpose

“We live in a world where bad stories are told, stories that teach us life doesn’t matter and that humanity has no great purpose. It’s a calling, then, to speak a better story.”

I am determined to live a better story, How about you?

My List of 2015 Reads – my reading log for the year with links to every title

GPS – Free Music Method Books for Recorder

I have posted about the GPS – Grade Performance Steps for beginning band before. It is an incredible resource that students really respond well to. It gives them specific tasks, is easily trackable, and makes assessment a snap.

A colleague of mine formatted the books into individual instrument sections and you can find all of those books here. 

He just recently added Year One Recorder Books to this list. These include method books and tracking forms for both Alto and Soprano Recorders.

GPS Recorder

GPS Year One: Alto Recorder Method Book
GPS Alto Recorder Task Tracker Form

GPS Year One: Soprano Recorder Method Book
GPS Soprano Recorder Task Tracker Form

You can find the original GPS books and many other great resources at the OMEA site.

Enjoy and happy playing!

Teaching Tip Tuesday Archive – over 200 great resources for teachers

The Music Industry – What’s New in 2015?

Music Industry 2015Music has three personas – the artistic side, the legal side, and the business side. And every year, consumers are in for some surprises, and 2015 will probably be no different. Here are some phenomena and issues that we are likely to see over the next 12 months.

Legal Issues

Probably the biggest issue during 2015 will be the current battle between Pandora and The Turtles about royalties on music created prior to 1972. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the issue, current law does not allow copyright law to apply to any music recorded before 1972. No, in Congress, sits the Respect Act – a law that would expand copyright law, so that these artists would be covered and would indeed receive royalties when their music is played.

Additional legal issues will continue to revolve around streaming, and how artists should or should not be compensated by sites such as Spotify and Pandora. The issue is one of fairness. A music streaming site can allow users to listen free amid all sorts of advertising which gives huge profits to the site owners and to the advertisers but not to the artists. For this reason Taylor Swift and several other artists have pulled their music from such sites as Spotify, and it is anticipated that more will do so as this year progresses. Streaming sites may in fact lose significant revenue and ultimately fold. Apple will certainly be the first of such sites to “fold,” because it really got into this niche late and it is definitely not going to be profitable!

Artists

Predictions for 2015 in this realm are a little more difficult, but the experts seem to agree on the following:

  1. Billy Idol will probably hit the rock scene hard, bringing “punk” back to the forefront.
  2. Taylor Swift will need to come up with something new to “freshen” her appeal – this may be in teaming up with male vocalists.
  3. Justin Bieber will still have plenty of money but his popularity continues to wane and, in fact, he has not tours or concerts yet scheduled for 2015 – his bad behavior may be catching up with him!
  4. Adele has been off the radar since her huge year in 2012. But, she had throat surgery and a baby in the past few years. Look for her to make a huge comeback now that her life is more “even.”
  5. Major cities will begin to spend money featuring and promoting their “hometown” groups – Chicago Birds is a prime example of this growing phenomenon.
  6. Country music will continue its move into “mainstream” with many artists crossing over between different music niches – a nice thing to see!

The Business

  1. The RIAA will probably change its Platinum Album formula, because the current one is so not realistic. Changing forms of consumerism (purchasing hard copies vs. downloading) will force the Association to factor in online download sales to a much greater degree.
  2. Touring will continue to be the most profitable venue, and we may see more multi-group festivals, more reminiscent of the 60’s and 70’s – I think this is a real plus!
  3. FLAC files may become the most popular online format for streaming, although there remain quite a few technical issues to be worked out!

Certainly, there are a number of surprises in store for us this year that can not be foreseen, just like last year. All in all, however, it will be an exciting and new!

BIO: Armed with a Master’s in Journalism and strong wanderlust, Kateline Jefferson set out to explore exotic places, financed by her freelance writing. She is now a regular blogger for Premier Essay and sells feature articles to English-speaking publications around the world.

Chasing Content – February 2014

Chasing ContentFebruary is the month of love.

And don’t you just love digging through the archives and reading the best of what Silent Cacophony had to offer last year at this time?

Of course, you answered, “Yes”

and will click on all of the links below to explore these great articles.

You can read all of the posts from last February

or just these favs . . .

A Recipe for Great Teaching

I love metaphors and this is a good one. Teaching requires a unique blend of ingredients perfectly combined and presented in a mouth-watering way. Check the recipe!

Fast Fiction – A Guide to Novel Writing

I enjoyed this book and need to work on applying some of its teachings this year. There’s tons of great advice in here that any writer of fiction can benefit from.

Valentine’s Day Hip-Hop Style

It’s time to celebrate Valentine’s Day hip-hop style. You can download or stream the last two years of our special programming to enjoy with your loved one!

Jalal of the Last Poets

I got to interview a legendary artist who helped inspire the culture of hip-hop we all know and love. He is a veteran of the game and a great poet / musician. Press play to be educated and entertained by one of our elders. Let’s celebrate music history!

A Great School Doesn’t Need a Building

This school takes place under a bridge and has very few resources. It has everything a school needs though; dedicated teachers and willing, eager students. It is truly an inspiring story.

Thanks!

You can visit this page often to read these “Best of” posts for every month of Silent Cacophony.

 

 

The Second Day of School – TLAP Style

TLAP Day 2This is the second in a series of posts on how to Teach Like a Pirate, a really cool and engaging methodology by Dave Burgess from a book of the same name.

Day two of the school year starts with my opening ritual that was a part of their “Good Morning Training” from the first day. 

I then turn off the lights, return to the front of the room , and transform myself into a airplane. 

Burgess describes in detail how he does this, how he crashes into a body of fictional water, saves fellow passengers from the plane, how they float away on a raft, and finally find safety on an island. It’s an impressive piece of pantomime that will more than likely throw students off. It’s not a typical way to start a lesson, but it is very engaging and has a purpose.

Survivor Game

A helicopter comes to rescue the survivors but there is a problem. The pilot admits that he is lost and more than likely won’t be able to find this island again.  He also only has room for 5 of the 10 survivors.

It is now up to the class to decide who will be saved and who will have to fend for themselves on the island. The students work in groups of four students to come to a consensus.

The teacher has to provide them with a list of ten characters who survived the plan crash. Each of whom have been specifically designed to spark debate and discussion.

The Goals of This Lesson

This exercise accomplishes two main goals. First, they are once again socked in the stomach with an outrageous and outside-the-box intro to the period that is not only bizarre, but highly entertaining. 

Secondly, I get the chance to discuss group dynamics, the collaborative process, and the procedures we use to get into groups, all in the context of a fun, engaging activity that does now have any particular right or wrong answers.

The answer to who is rescued and who stays on the island doesn’t matter; it is the process that is important. I emphasize that they must bot only come to a consensus, but they must be able to justify their answers. 

This is No Ordinary Class

After two days, every student has introduced themselves to the whole class and has participated in a collaborative group. In addition, they have yet to see anything resembling an ordinary class experience.

And Coming Next . . .

Dave Burgess sets up his class like a television series. He hooks students with a teaser, gets them engaged in the process, and then leaves them wanting more with a brief glimpse of what is to come.

He closes my saying that Day 3 is “the single most important day of the school year”

Teach Like a Pirate Series – Part 3 coming next month!

Teaching Tip Tuesday – archive of great tips. tricks, and lessons

January 2015 Recap

I normally do a best of list at the start of every month. I think it is a great way to highlight content from this blog that we may have forgotten about or want to revisit it. I call the feature Chasing Content and feature the best posts from the year before. I do this at the start of every month.

I have noticed that scrolling through the archive takes a little bit of time, and I know that everyone is hard pressed for time these days. I have even had a hard time finding some old posts that I’ve wanted to revisit.

I think I have found the perfect solution. I am starting a Pinterest page for every month that I blog.

Here is the January 2015 Silent Cacophony Blog Pinterest Page.

When you click the link above, you will be taken to a page that looks like this.

SC Jan 2015

You can quickly browse the pictures to find the content you like. Then by clicking on the picture, you will be redirected to the specific post on this page that you want to read.

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

 

2015 Reading Challenge

2015 Reading Challenge Here is an intriguing reading challenge that I have seen floating around on social media.

I have challenged myself for the past three years to keep a detailed reading log and blog about every single title I read.

Here are my totals so far

2012 – 65
2013 – 61
2014 – 78

As you can see, reading 50 books probably wouldn’t be that much a challenge for me. But, I don’t want to be restricted and simple stick to this list.

I want to read comics, non-fiction, writing books, teaching-related books, and anything else that I find interesting.

I think after I blog about each book this year, I will look at this list and check anything that may apply.

So, I have two challenges this year.

Number 1 – Read a lot and see I can keep keep up with the average number of books I have been reading since starting a reading log.

Number 2 – See how many of these 50 I can knock off at the same time

I will start My List of 2015 Reads next week!  

Happy Reading in the New Year! 

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)