– Kieran Egan. Teaching as Story Telling. The Althouse Press: London, 1986 pg 109
Have a safe and Happy Halloween Everyone!
Yesterday, I went to go get gas at Canadian Tire. One of the bonuses of going there is that if you pay with cash, you get Canadian Tire money to use in the store. Last time I went there, I forgot that and paid with my Visa. Well this time, I wasn’t going to forget. I had just enough money in my wallet to fill up and I didn’t want to use plastic to pay at all. I’m trying to cut down on that.
I tried to get gas as I usually do. Normally, you fill up and then walk inside the store to pay. That is the way it should be. But for some reason, the pump wouldn’t start up. It beeped at me instead, and the display read, “Sorry for the inconvenience, please pay inside.”
I went inside to pay and there were five people in front of me and only one teller. The line wasn’t moving at all. I paced around for about ten seconds and knew that this just wasn’t worth it. So I left. I went back out to my car, took the nozzle out of my tank and hung it back on the pump. I drove away without getting any gas.
Canadian Tire has lost a costumer. I don’t have time to go in and prepay for my gas. What happens if I pay too much? I have to go back inside and wait in line again to get my change. What if I pay too little and don’t get my tank filled up? I’d have to come back tomorrow and do it again. I don’t think so.
I lost too because I went to the Mac’s and filled up there. I had to pay a cent more a litre but at least it was worth it to go some place that treats me like a human being.
I shouldn’t just blame Canadian Tire. I have seen other gas stations move to this way of business too. The problem is that we accept it. Some people just pay at the pumps now because it’s easier. I don’t like paying at the pump. I don’t think we should have to put up with this.
I know that some people have driven away without paying. But does everyone have to pay for this behaviour? And how often does this actually happen? I just don’t like being treated like a criminal from gas stations that I frequent and give a lot of my hard earned money too. It’s just not right.
I think we are in the process of forgetting a lot of the things we used to know. The irony is that everything is recorded and stored in someway nowadays. With this constant storage and compiling we don’t think we are forgetting anything. It feels like knowledge is readily accessible and that we are in no danger. However, this is far from the truth.
Imagine a room filled with paper. There are sheets of it everywhere. Every sheet has some historical significance. Every page offers some truth about the world we live in. Every page is relevant is some way.
Now a lot of this information isn’t something that particularly interests you. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t important. But you walk over the pages and throw them to the side. You search for something that you want.
You search and search. You flip through pages and pages of material hoping that the next page will give you something. If not, you quit.
Do you ever feel like that?
I know that I do. Sometimes while doing a web search, I come up empty. I waste tonnes of time and never find anything remotely close to what I wanted. I give up and create the material for my classroom myself or I just move on to a different topic.
I wish there was a better way to find information on the World Wide Web. I haven’t found it yet. Search engines will often let me down. I know the information is out there but if I can’t find it, it’s pretty much useless.
If the knowledge is there but lost, isn’t it like we have forgotten it. Does that make sense?
We need to collectively stop and take a look back.
That’s why I am proposing a Blog Inaction Day.
That’s right. A day of inaction. A day where all bloggers don’t publish anything. A day where we bloggers honour the past by doing nothing except reading old entries. We can dip into the vaults of our favourite blogs or explore blogs we’ve never been to before.
We can keep a record of what jewels from the past we were able to find. We should all find at least five articles from the past that interested us in some way. We can then go and post the links up on our blog. No commentary is needed.
All we need to write is, “Look what I found in the sandbox!”
Then we will let the discussion begin. We will have created a dialogue with the past. We will honour our history and still move forward.
What’d ya say. Are you with me?
You know it’s true. I mean, when was the last time you read a post of any blog that wasn’t the most recent post?
Why is it that we always gravitate towards the newest material? We only want to see the latest movies, either at the ciniplex or at the rental store. We only want to see the latest research in anything we are interested in.
The news is the same way. We don’t read old newspapers or old magazines for the most part. We read them quickly and throw them them away just as quickly. We are always looking for the next thing.
I think we sometimes need to work against this commonly-held belief that it’s old it doesn’t count. There are some jewels of knowledge hidden in previous blog posts, old newspapers, old stories, and old theories.
My old posts mean something to me. They are there for you to browse through if you choose to. But who has the time?
So old posts are discarded and never to be thought of again. At least, they aren’t recycled into a new edition like the daily newspapers are. The old posts remain. The titles call for your attention. But like the voices of the elders, we seem to be hastily moving forward all the time. Maybe this isn’t the best practice.
What do you think? Are blogs disposable? Do our voices matter?
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post as I will continue along this theme.
I don’t know why I always manage to put my foot in my mouth. I’ve done it so many times over the years, you’d think I would’ve learned by now. I guess I haven’t though because I did it again today.
It was a professional development day and the students had the day off. We had to travel to another school in a different district to attend these workshops. I was impressed with this conference. The workshops were very well presented and I got a lot out of them. A hot lunch was served and it was excellent. And as an added bonus they had free massages throughout the day.
The massages were assigned randomly and we were told when we registered if we were to get one or not. I managed to find my way onto the list. Now, I had no interest in getting a massage so I asked them to give it to somebody else. “No problem” they said.
I talked to a colleague shortly after that. She teaches at my school and I know that we are the same age. Anyway, she was excited that she made it on the list. She asked if I did. I told her I did but I gave it away. She asked why. I said, “I don’t know, I’m young and vigorous.”
“What does that make me?” she retorted, “Old and decrepit?”
I said, “Why do girls always do that? They always assume the opposite of what you say. That’s not what I meant.”
Next break, I bumped into her again and I knew what to say this time. I said, “What I meant to say earlier is that I had no interest in getting a massage so I thought I’d pass it on to someone who’d appreciate it more.”
She said, “I know that is what you were supposed to say but you didn’t.”
I told her that I should’ve learned not to put my foot in my mouth by now. She said she thinks it is just the way guys are built. You know what? I’m positive she is right. She always seems to be about everything else. So next time I put my foot in my mouth, cut me a break, it’s just the way I’m built.
Silent Cacophony was born a long, long time ago. I remember exactly how it started.
I was fishing through the dictionary and came across this wonderful word “cacophony.” It meant a harsh or discordant sound. I didn’t even know how to pronounce the word at the time, but it resonated with me for some reason. I also immediately thought of the oxymoron “Silent Cacophony.”
This term energized me. It felt like a description of who I was. I didn’t feel like I fit in anywhere. I hadn’t yet discovered my place in the world. I tried to make noise so people could know me but it didn’t work. I felt invisible. This was the perfect term to describe myself.
It was also the perfect term to describe the act of writing. Words can speak volumes even though they make no noise at all.
So I decided this term would be the title of the book I had always wanted to write. I was a teenager at the time and I thought I had all the answers (boy was I naïve.) Anyway I wrote my observations about life in a coil notebook. I didn’t follow through with it though. The book was never completed.
Years later, I decided to start writing seriously. I wrote a screenplay and had a few other ideas floating around in my head for some novels. I thought I should have an on-line presence if I wanted to become an author so I set out to get a blog. Right away, I knew my blog should be titled “Silent Cacophony.” I was glad it was available in blogspot and I got right to work.
Since then, I have written a verse novel, a young adult novel, a short story, some poems and songs, and a literary novel. My blog has grown and developed too.
If you are new to Silent Cacophony, please check some of these posts. If you are familiar with me and my blog, please check these out for a trip down memory lane.
Thanks for stopping by!
Five Year Mission – My very first post
A Nice Short Story – Survived by Stuff
The Title Here Says It All – Nothing
On The Radio – Chase March on a Podcast
Hip Hop Commentary – Rap Isn’t Music
Relationships – Whatever Happened to Commitment
Break Up – Trouble With Falling
Ari at Our Best Version inspired this post. He mentioned that he plans to home school his children. I started to type of this reply and then thought that it might be a bit long for a reply. Check his post here and my response both here and there (they are different.)
To School or Not to School?
Teachers have a huge responsibility. And believe me, it’s not a job that I take lightly.
My dad is an amazing guy. He taught me a lot of things in life. He still does. But I am glad that he sent me to school. I’m sure he could’ve kept me home and taught me all sorts of things. I could’ve spent tonnes of time focusing on my interests and not being bogged down by curriculum and schedules. However, school is more than just that.
School teaches us how to get along with all sorts of people. It forces us to be part of a community of people we might not otherwise associate with. It forces us to expand our horizons. But I don’t think force is the right word here. We all need to do things in this life we don’t want to.
Education isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I’ll readily admit that. Some of the students in my school probably shouldn’t be there. But for the vast majority of children, school is the right place for them. Besides, sometimes parents are too blinded by their own children. They think they know what is best for them all the time. They try to control them and all the situations that they come across. This can stifle a child’s development.
I also know that some parents just aren’t good teachers. I wasn’t a good teacher at first either. I knew I wanted to do this job. I went to school to learn and I got a lot better. I am a professional with a lot of training and experience, and I only accumulate more and more as time passes.
That’s why I think you need to trust me with your kids. Put them on that bus in the morning. Talk to me about any concerns you have. Let’s work together and give your child the best education possible. I’m sure that is both of our goals here.
I don’t know why some parents treat their children like they are precious and breakable items that need to be constantly looking their best.
It’s okay for children to get muddy. It’s alright if they come home with a grass stain. Bumps and bruises are part of childhood. A little scratch or bruise is not a big deal. In fact, these things are pretty much an essential part of anyone’s childhood.
Children need to take risks and try new things. They need to try a jump on their bike or attempt to ride a skateboard. They need to try rolling down a hill one day. They need to explore the world around them, interact with it, and learn all sorts of things in the process. Without these things, kids lose out on what life is all about.
I know parents only want to protect their children. No one wants to see a kid fall down and cry. But the important thing to remember is that the crying, bruise, or scratch doesn’t last long. It heals.
But if you teach a kid that they shouldn’t try something because they might get hurt, that lesson will stay with them. They will always be afraid to try things. And life is about trying, falling down, and trying again. Everyone need to learn this lesson. And childhood is the best thing to do it.
So let your kids explore. Let them get dirty. Don’t freak out over a little bruise, cut, or scratch. Children are not nearly as fragile as we might think them to be. They are not collectible toys that need to just be put on a shelf and admired.
I leave you with some lyrics from Kelly Clarkson’s “Because of You.” This song speaks some great truths about this topic. Check out the video on YouTube. There is also a great duet version of this song that I had never seen before with Reba. Check them both out. I love this song. Both versions.
“Because of you
I never stray too far from the sidewalk
Because of you
I learned to play on the safe side so I don’t get hurt.
Because of you
I find it hard to trust not only me but everyone around me
Because of you
I am afraid.”
– Kelly Clarkson “Because of You” from the album “Breakaway.”
“Hey I can see my mom’s house from here.”
That little red dot is where I started my run, approximately.
I have gone for some great runs in Grimsby. Last time I ran at Beamer’s Memorial Conservation Area on the mountain.
The time before that run, I ran the Waterfront Trail.
I knew that the Waterfront Trail connected up to the trails on the Niagara Escarpment but I wasn’t exactly sure how. The trail spit me out in downtown Grimsby and I couldn’t find how to get back on it.
Well, my mom showed me the entrance to the trail last weekend so I thought I’d combine both runs. My plan was to run the waterfront trail and then up the escarpment and finish at Beamer’s.
I thought it would be a long and tiring run, so I asked my mom to meet me up there so we could go for a walk. This way I wouldn’t have to run down Hamilton Mountain as well. After all I thought I’d be really exhausted after this run. But I was so excited about trying it.
It took me 19 minutes to come to the bottom of the mountain. I looked up the long incline and thought, “Here goes nothing.”
These are the stairs near the very top. It was tiring to get to this point and my legs were beginning to feel a bit rubbery. The entire run up the mountain only took me four minutes. I thought it would take much longer.
I met my mom at Beamer’s Conservation Area and we walked around the trails up there. I usually take a cool down walk anyway so this was nice.
My mom brought her camera and took some beautiful shots. It’s amazing how I ran this same route and took pictures myself only two weeks ago, but now it looks completely different. Don’t you just love the colours of the fall?
I thought this view was great before. But I just love all the different colours of the leaves. I could use this as an art lesson for my class. Look at all the warm and cool colours.
My Mom loved this red tree. She had to take a couple of pictures to capture it just right.
That was an awesome run. I wished I lived closer to my mom’s house. I’d do this run all the time. It didn’t even wear me out.
I ran up the escarpment. Wow! I don’t think too many people can say that.
And I will do it again. It was fun. Now, I really know not too many people can say that.
I have used this site and it’s resources for years. So I was really surprised today when I visited the website and saw a notice that read . . .
“OCUP is going off line as of November 1, 2008. Thanks for visiting the site.”
I’m sure glad I logged on today and got some advanced notice of this.
I go to this site frequently and just copy and paste lesson plans into my day plans for the class. I print off the Blackline Masters as I need them. I do this to save paper since every unit is incredibly detailed and has a lot of great resources. Most of these documents are 150-180 pages long.
I can’t understand why this site would be shutting down. Although, it does give us a link to sign on from approved school boards. I don’t think my school is on that list. So until this site gets shut down, I am saving all the PDF unit plans on my computer so I will be able to continue using them.
If you are a teacher and don’t know of this site, check it out. If you are a fan of this site, like I am, visit it and save the PDF units before they go bye-bye.
Here is the link, enjoy!
Today is Blog Action Day. A day where bloggers everywhere unite and tackle the difficult topic of poverty.
It’s a difficult topic because there aren’t really any simple solutions.
As a teacher, I see poverty every day. It’s heartbreaking. It really is. Some kids come to school with new pencils, a backpack, brand new clothes, and a healthy and plentiful lunch every day. Whereas other kids come to school with no material, hand-me-down clothes, and little or no food.
Fortunately our school has a breakfast program and a lunch program. I know that without these programs some of the students would be in a real bad spot.
But they are not. This works. These students aren’t starving. They have access to clean water every day. We have water fountains at the school. We have washrooms inside the school. Every child at our school has everything he or she needs to have a successful day at school. When they go home though it is a different story. But at least at school I know they are looked after.
We are truly lucky to have clean schools with water and electricity. We are blessed that breakfast programs, lunch programs, and after-school programs exist. We should never take these things for granted. Many children in other parts of the world go without these basics.
That’s why I think we need to support Unicef. It’s also at this time of year that this wonderful organization does some great work. Unfortunately trick or treaters won’t be carrying the tradition orange donation boxes this year. But there are other ways to donate and be involved.
Teachers, check this website for links to lesson plans.
It is really great and doesn’t require you to actively fundraise in the school if you don’t want to. The lesson plans tie into the Social Studies curriculum and really get the kids to think globally. This is exactly what we need. We need to educate our kids. They are the future and maybe the future will be bright. Let’s hope so.
I had a great holiday weekend. It gave me time to reflect on all the blessings I have in my life. Things might not be perfect. I may be in debt up to my eyeballs. I might not have all the latest technology that some of my friends have. I might want some things that I don’t have. But I don’t really want for anything.
I have a great job that I enjoy and it gives me a great deal of personal satisfaction. I can come home after a long day and kick back on my couch, watch TV for a bit and unwind. I have enough money to buy food so that I eat three square meals a day, plus snacks. I have heat, electricity, running water, and indoor plumbing.
I have family and friends, who I spent thanksgiving with.
On Saturday I was invited to one of my students’ birthday parties. It was great to be able to go. There were other kids from my class there and they were excited to see me there.
On Sunday I went to my mom’s and had a really nice visit. My brother and sister-in-law were there as well. We had a great dinner and I stuffed myself silly. Then we played Mexican Train Dominoes. It was a great night.
On Monday, I got a great run in. I will write about it more in detail later this week. I visited my dad and had dinner there as well.
And today, was another great day at school.
I can’t really complain about anything. I may not have everything that I want in this life, but I have everything that I need. Life is good. I appreciate every moment of it.
It’s a bit frustrating teaching a split class. There is just so much stuff that I need to juggle. I’ve been trying my best and I know that I’ve been doing a good job. But I also know, that I can always do better.
I’ve been staying late almost every single night for the past two weeks. I’ve been trying to figure out how to teach the Grade 3 and Grade 4 curriculums at the same time.
Truth is, sometimes I just can’t. There are certain lessons or topics that I just can’t fracture. I need to spend some time on these topics so that everyone in the class can understand them. So I try to teach a lesson that can apply to both grades and then just vary the work that the students do afterwards.
Of course, this doesn’t always work. I find that I don’t have enough time to do everything that I want to do. So I need to pick and choose which topics or lessons need more time and which ones don’t.
The problem is that I know my students are losing out, just a bit. I can’t spend as much time on a science unit as I can if I were only teaching a single grade.
I finally have my year plan down to my liking. The problem is that I am already a week behind schedule. I found that my students needed that extra time for this current unit of math and science. So I gave it to them. Now I need to trim my plan once again.
It’s really not fair.
I also found that I don’t have the same amount of time I used to have for blogging. I think I might drop down to only three or four posts a week. But I don’t really want to cut back on my posting schedule. Besides, if I do that, wouldn’t I need to change my header again?
Ah man, there’s always something more to do. It’s crazy. I need a break.
Good thing it’s a long weekend.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
I don’t know what happened yesterday, but I was all out of sorts.
First, I tried to dismiss my class for recess ten minutes early. I had them pack up their work and I collected all of the papers that they were working on. I then waited for the bell to go. It didn’t.
The kids were anxious to get outside for recess. None of them noticed that we were too early. I thought maybe something was wrong with the bells. But then I remembered that recess wasn’t until 10:40 a.m. It was at 10:30 at my old school.
I apologized to the students. “I didn’t know what I was thinking there. Recess is at 10:40. We still have ten minutes.”
I handed back the papers and tried to get the class back on task and working on finishing the worksheet. All I got were moans and groans, and very little more done in the way of work by them.
I thought that was just a moment of disorientation. I thought it had passed. But it didn’t.
Next, I took the class to computer lab half an hour early. Most of the kids didn’t mind the extra computer time but some were getting restless. So I brought them back to the class once again for ten minutes before the next recess.
The rest of the school day went just fine. But when I got home, I felt completely drained. I cooked dinner, ate, and then hit the couch. My energy was gone. I had a sink full of dishes to clean, a pile of marking to do, and a blog entry to write. But I couldn’t find the energy to get off of the couch.
I watched TV, and then went to bed early.
I’m glad that weird day passed.
Today, things were back to normal. I’m still getting used to the new school and the schedule of the day. I still don’t have my yard and lunch duty schedule memorized. So I guess I’m still a bit out of sorts.
Good thing we get a long weekend at the end of this week. I sure need it.
In order for things to be consistent, we have a standard way of marking and a standard report card that all schools use.
At least, that is what is supposed to happen. But I have found that many teachers either do not know how to use the Provincial Leveling System or just don’t want to use it.
This puts me in quite the spot. You see, I believe in the provincial marking system. I think it is important to have a standard way of marking. The Ministry of Education has quite a few documents to show exactly how this works. I use their resources all the time when I mark. This way I can defend any mark that I give. I can explain why the student received the mark they did and I can back it up.
What’s the problem you ask?
Well, marking used to be done on a curve. Students who performed the “best” in the class often got A’s. They were used as an example for all the other students to live up to. But this system was flawed as the marks were often subjective and varied from school to school and district to district.
With the new system (that has been around for over ten years) subjective marking should be a thing of the past. A’s are rare and shouldn’t be so widely given out. An A means that a student has exceeded the curriculum expectations.
I checked the student files and noted that many of my students have gotten A’s peppered throughout their report cards. I even met a parent before the first day of school and she told me that her kids were A students. The problem, they aren’t. In fact, some of them are C students according to the levelling system.
So now what?
I know these students are going to be crushed when they see their report cards next month. I know that parents will be upset with me. But it’s not my fault. I’m doing my job and I’m being honest with my marks. That is what these kids need. Otherwise by the time they get to high school, they won’t be prepared for it.
I think elementary school teachers need to wake up and use this great system that we have in place. And then maybe I wouldn’t have to go through this every year.
I love going to concerts, and this summer I got to see a lot of great performances. One artist really stuck with me well after her show ended though.
Her name was Kreesha Turner and she blew me away with her presence and stage show.
I had seen a music video from her a few weeks prior and didn’t think too much of it. It sounded like something I’d heard before. I compared her to Rihanna and I thought that Canada had just produced another pop-princess clone. Boy was I wrong.
Right from the start of her concert she commanded the crowd. I didn’t even know who she was. I was just hanging out and hoping I would find some cool band to watch that day.
She had a jazzy kind of sound and had three back up singers who sang and danced behind three microphone sounds. However, she didn’t ride musical styles of the past. She showed a very unique mix of pop, jazz, and R&B. It was simply captivating.
I went to the record store several times in the summer but couldn’t find her album. But I noticed her new single on the radio and immediately fell in love with it. “Don’t Call Me Baby” is a very catchy song.
I just bought her album from Itunes (I know what I said about that in previous posts but it was so worth it.) The album is amazing. It’s a great mix of genres and styles and shows the immense talent of Canada’s newest and brightest recording artist.
Go check her out. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Last week when I was at the university for the radio show, I picked up a copy of the student newspaper. I haven’t read it in quite some time. Truth is, I used to write for it way back when.
I read almost through the entire publication. It’s still just as an interesting read as it was back when I was still in my undergrad. The paper hasn’t changed much, and surprisingly, the student voice still seems familiar to me.
Anyway, I found an interesting column by Sarah El-Hamzawi. In it, she discusses why blogs suck. I really got a kick out of her viewpoint and I agree with most of it. It might be strange for a blogger to actually say that, but she even admits to blogging. So here goes, the condensed version of her article.
Why Blogs Suck
1) It makes anyone an expert.
2) They are killing off the pen to paper means of writing.
Remember when you had a real journal and not a “live” one?
3) I can’t escape them.
Those are all good reasons Sarah. I agree with them and I have much of the same gripes about the whole thing that you do.
Anyway, go read her column f.u.b.a.r. I think I will be checking for that every week now.
I didn’t know what to expect.
All I knew is that we had an assembly today by someone named Q Mack. I heard that he was a basketball trickster. I thought maybe he was like a Harlem Globetrotter (who I’ve had the opportunity to see before by the way and they were really great)
When I first brought my class to the gym, I still wasn’t expecting much. For a basketball player, this guy was a little short. But when the whole school was sitting down and ready, he controlled the crowd and it was amazing.
He showed the kids all sorts of tricks and they were really into his presentation. They were focused like he was the coolest guy in the world. And he drew everyone in to the show.
I was really impressed with his message. He was constantly telling stories and motivating the kids to always do their best, and not to bully or tease anyone. He even touched on healthy eating. Everyone got an apple and participated in “the big crunch.”
I had a prep period during this time and was going to leave to do some work in my classroom but I stayed for his entire presentation. It was really amazing.
You can check out his website. If you are a teacher or a principal I highly recommend bringing him to your school. The adults had just as much fun as the kids did today. Too bad only the kids got to help him out and win prizes. And too bad I didn’t bring my camera. I took this shot off of his website.
But all in all, it was a great day.
It’s time for another installment of my Visual Running Tour.
This time I drove up the escarpment near my mother’s house and ran at Beamer Memorial Conservation Area. I had never been there before and looked forward to a great exploration and a great run.
Isn’t it a shame that you need signs warning you not to leave anything valuable in your car. Apparently, cars have been broken into a number of times here.
The trail looks beautiful already, but stay tuned. It gets better.
The trail leads to a large open field and there is a lookout. Apparently it is a perfect spot to bird watch.
Of course, I’m on the Niagara Escarpment for this run. There should be a great view up ahead.
Here’s some more information about where I was. I might even read this one day. I was too busy running by it to stop any longer than the few seconds it took me to snap the picture.
What a beautiful trail.
Here’s the first lookout. You can see all of Grimsby from here.
Off to the next lookout.
I wanted to climb over the railings to get some better shots. My camera doesn’t have a zoom, but I think I got some nice shots anyway. Better safe than sorry.
And when I started running again instead of just enjoying the view, I found the stairs. I love a challenge when I run, so I ran down them and then back up them. It was tough, but fun.
There was a waterfall further up but I couldn’t get a good shot of it from behind the barrier. But I could get some shots of the water. It has been dry lately so there wasn’t much of a flow.
I have more pictures but I think I will stop there. Otherwise this post will a million miles long.
It was a great run and the view was amazing. I hope you enjoyed this tour.