Monthly Archives: September 2008

Getting Things Right

It’s often hard to get things done right the first time.

Life is one learning experience after another. And even though I am a teacher, I will forever be a student because I am constantly learning. That’s what life is about.

So here is what I learned this week.

1) Things never run smoothly

We pretaped the interview and it was a good thing we did because we ran into some difficulties.

2) Bumps in the road can’t throw you off course if you are determined

We had a hard time getting both members of Invizzibl Men on the phone to do the interview. I had to use my PC prepaid phone card to dial up one of them on the phone, But we couldn’t get the other one on the line and on-air at the same time. So Daddy J, the host of the show, got Spekt on Voip. And it worked.

3) Embedding a podcast on Blogger can be done

It took me a long time to figure out how to use this feature. And when I had finally did it, I didn’t think I had. The problem was that the player only shows up in a reader and not on my actually blog.

4) There are some excellent hip-hop blogs out there.

I’ve found quite a few this week. I know most of my readers aren’t into hip-hop but it certainly is amazing to see all these sites. I might be able to stop buying hip-hop magazines now and just read blogs.

Chase March – on a podcast!

As you know, I am passionate about hip-hop music. Well, yesterday, I got to take my passion to the airwaves.

I joined the crew of Dope FM to help interview a rap group.

Dope FM is one of the best hip-hop shows in Canada. It is broadcast every week from the campus of McMaster University in my hometown of Hamilton. The program travels a lot further than the frequency of 93.3 fm as it is available on a podcast. I have been listening to this show for a long time now.

It was a pleasure to be a part of the program this week. Gamma Krush, and I conducted the interview while Daddy J held down the boards and all the technical aspects of the interview.

We had the pleasure of welcoming Invizzibl Men to the show.

(left to right) Karniege (pronounced Carnage) and Mark Spekt are Invizzibl Men.

Please listen to the interview. We all had a lot of fun on the show.

I want to thank Dope FM for always blessing the airwaves with a great show. I want to thank them for having me on the program. And I want to let everyone know that Chase March will be back on the program soon interviewing more artists.

That was a great experience. I hope you enjoy listening to the show as much as I enjoyed helping produce it. This is definitely a group to look out for. Download the podcast for free or stream it with the player below.

If you cannot see the audio controls, listen/download the audio file here

Day Off for them Not Me

Today is a P.A. Day, which is short for Professional Activity Day.

The students get the day off so that us teachers can sit in on workshops and in-service meetings. Sometimes these workshops can be quite good, but most of the time I find that they offer me very little. If I can walk away with one good idea for my classroom today I will call it a success.

I don’t know why but the school week seemed to be extra long this week, even though it was short. Teachers will often speak of this. The short weeks always feel long. It’s a strange phenomenon.

I know that my students will enjoy having today off. Truth is, I would have enjoyed having today off too. I feel like I need a break already. And I guess this is sort of a break. It’s a break from routine. It’s a chance to get to know some of the other teachers better. Oh yeah, and a free lunch.

I guess I shouldn’t really complain.

Rabbits Ears and Wireless Internet

I get three channels on my TV that come in quite well. For the most part, that is enough for me. But I really wanted to watch the season premiere of Heroes on Monday. The problem was that it was on a channel that doesn’t really come in.

So I moved my rabbit ears every which way until the station came in with a little bit of fuzz. But the show was watchable. It bothered me at first that the picture wasn’t perfectly clear but after a while I didn’t even notice anymore. I just enjoyed the program.

While I was watching the show, I had the laptop on and was wirelessly downloading some music.

I like to watch TV in the dark, so the only light in the room (other than the TV) was coming from the computer screen. There was about fifteen minutes left of the two-hour season premiere when my downloads were complete. So I shut off the computer thinking that I could enjoy the rest of the show better.

This is the weird thing. The television reception stayed the same for a few minutes but then it completely fizzled. I tried to get the reception back by playing with the rabbit ears, but it was no use.

I could hear the finale of the program but I couldn’t see it very well. At least I know what happened and got to watch most of the show.

I very rarely even try to watch anything on that channel because of the poor reception. But the fact that I could watch it while I was downloading makes me wonder if the rabbit ears and the wireless modem worked together somehow to enhance the television reception. I mean, weirder things have happened right? I guess I can try it again next week just to see if that’s what did it.

Things I said I’d never do

I’ve made a lot of promises in my life.

I’d like to think that I kept most of them but the truth is I haven’t. I don’t think I’m too much different than most people. I have good intentions and reasons, but then again, I can justify almost anything. It’s a skill I’ve gotten quite good at.

Anyway, back to the theme of this post.

Here’s a list of things I said I’d never do;

1) Smoke

I can honestly say that I have kept this one. Never have, never will. Well, at least there is one on my list.

2) Yell in the classroom

I promised myself that I’d stop yelling in the classroom. I don’t do it nearly as much as I used to. But I have already yelled at my class this year and we are only three weeks in.

3) Download music

Downloading is wrong. I won’t do it. I’ll make tapes but not CDs. CDs are too good a quality. Tapes aren’t and therefore they are okay to make. At least that’s what I used to say.

4) Drink

I promised myself that I wouldn’t drink. I bowed into pressure and tried it a few times. But I went back to my promise and don’t touch the stuff.

5) Too Many More

I know that there are many others. I just can’t think of them right now.

How About You?

Do you have any promises broken that you’d care to share?

Come on and drop a comment.

A Teacher’s Lunch

“Seeing a teacher’s actual lunch is, like, so depressing.”

Angela on My So-Called Life

This quote has been running over and over in my head whenever I have to eat lunch with my students.

It comes from a TV show where a teenage girl is asked to stay after class by a teacher. The teacher asks her if she minds that she eats while they talk because she doesn’t get a lunch on Tuesdays.

Well yesterday, I didn’t get a chance to eat my lunch during the first nutrition break. I grabbed a granola bar and an apple and it seemed the best I could do.

I almost forgot that I got a prep period every day from 12:00 to 12:30. So out of necessity I ate my lunch in the staff room at that time yesterday. And what do they say about necessity being the mother of invention?

I used to stay in my classroom at that time and work at my desk. I think I’m going to have my lunch at this time now instead.

It’s the perfect solution. This way I still have an actual lunch break every day and I get some time to myself.

It seems perfect.

The Entire School Ran

On Friday, here, I wrote about my favourite running star, Allyson Felix.

Today, I need to write about a running hero.

Terry Fox lost a leg to cancer and ran across the country to raise awareness and money for the cause. Since then Terry Fox runs have been a yearly event in cities all across Canada.

Almost every school has a Terry Fox run yearly. The run was this past Friday at my school and it was amazing.

All the students, teachers, and staff participated in it. Some of the teachers and staff manned water stations and check points along the route. Other staff members walked the route. I ran it.

The Grade 8 students left the school first and they all were running. I was amazed. I’d seen events at other schools and there were very few runners. The Grade 7 students left seconds later and they ran as well. The Grade 6’s and 5’s left and then it was my class’s turn. My class started running and did a pretty good job.

Some of the students quit running after a kilometre. They finished the course by walking it, which is fine. Not everyone is a runner. But there were enough runners there that it was a great event.

I stayed with the leaders for the first few kilometres and then decided to drop back. I turned around and found the second group of runners. I ran with them for a while and then caught back up to the leaders.

The running route had the students returning on the same road which they ran. So as I ran past students still making their way to the turn-around point, I would turn around and run with them for a moment. It was a great way to talk to the students and give them some encouragement. It also meant that I ran a lot longer than the planned route. All in all, I think I ran about eight kilometres that day.

We had gorgeous weather. The students put it an amazing effort and the whole community turned out to help. The police were there helping patrol the route. Parents and grandparents came out and walked the route as well.

It was a great day.

I Hate Itunes

Itunes is pretty easy to use and can sure be addictive. I’ve bought two albums off of it so far. I also bought three single songs. And I’ve subscribed to 16 podcasts and downloaded over 40 different shows. I imported a few of my favourite Cds too.

So what’s not to love you ask?

Well first off. I’m kind of a traditional music junkie. I like going to record stores and browsing the shelves. I like physically picking up a CD and flipping it over and over. I love pulling out the liner notes, seeing the art, and reading the productions credits. You can’t have this experience with Itunes.

Plus going to the record store takes some effort. Now I have the Internet at home and I keep thinking of albums that I want. In two seconds I can go on Itunes, find it, and see that it costs less than $10.00. I’m used to paying more than that, so it seems like a good deal. I click buy, and it’s just way too easy.

But here’s the real part that I hate. I can’t play those files on anything other than an Ipod. I burned a disc and tried to play it in my car. It wouldn’t work. I brought it back inside and opened up the files. They are all mpeg4 files. What is an mpeg4? And why won’t it play on anything other than my Ipod or Itunes?

So, in order to turn a few albums into MP3 files, I burned a regular audio CD on Itunes, shut down Itunes, and then opened up Media Player. I then ripped the disc to Windows Media Player and burned those songs back onto a disc in MP3 format. It seems like a bit of a pain just to get a nice long disc to listen to in the car.

I think I am going to try and find another online store to buy music from. Itunes just doesn’t do what I want it to. I want MP3 files that I can use however I want.

I will continue to use Itunes for podcasts. I can burn those to a disc and they will play on my car. I don’t know why regular songs and albums won’t do that. I can burn regular audio discs but that’s not what I want to do. I love having more than one album on a disc. It’s the best thing for the car.

Itunes shouldn’t tell me how I can use my own music. It’s not right.

Conjuction Junction What’s Your Function?

I teach students all the time that conjunctions are to be used in the middle of sentences only.

“You can not start at sentence with a conjunction. A conjunction is used to join words or phrases together. If a conjunction is at the start of a sentence it isn’t doing its job.”

I’ve actually said this or something similar more times than I can count during my teaching career. I’ve even shared the School House Rock DVD with my classes.

School House Rock is a brillant cartoon series of shorts that teach. Each short is set to music and has great visuals that help chidlren learn about grammar, science, mathematics, social studies, and more. I’m sure a lot of you recognized the reference in the title of this post. If not, go look it up. It’s well worth buying if you are a parent or an educator.

But here’s the point of this post. I don’t practise what I preach. And I always use conjuctions at the start of sentences when I write. Maybe this is something I need to correct. Maybe not.

I like using conjunctions because it seems to let my writing flow. It makes it a little more conversational in tone. And it’s okay to break the rules in writing if it helps to get the point across or evoke feeling in the reader.

So what do you think? Should I work harder in my writing and use conjunctions the way they were intended to be used? Or should I just blaze on and use them haphazardly if I find that it works?

Who knew that after all these years I’d still be asking, “Conjunction junction, what’s your function?”