Monthly Archives: June 2009

Teaching Tip Tuesday – Learning Doesn’t Stop in the Summer

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I think we need to continue learning even though it is summer vacation. Summer is an important time for families. It gives parents a chance to spend some quality time with their kids. Time is the most important gift you can give to your child. 

I would like you and your child to think of the summer as a time where learning can continue. Please think of ways to extend your child’s learning. Encourage your child to do some creative writing or keep a journal. Go to museums, the science centre, or festivals that promote learning. Don’t let learning stop because of the summer vacation. Perhaps you and your family can learn a new skill together. It will set a good example and help your child tremendously in September when he or she goes into their new grade.

SUMMER HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT – Please write me a letter.

Here is my address,

XXXXXX
XXXXXX
XXXXXX
XXXXXX

I will personally answer each and every letter that I receive. I started this year-end tradition last year and three of my students sent me letters. I am hoping that my class this year can top that.

I will write you back and put a special surprise in each letter as well. I will only write you a letter if you send me one first though.

Thank you for the opportunity of teaching your child this year. It has been an honour and a privelege to do so.

Here are some other ideas of how to keep learning alive this summer.

Reading –  Go to your local public library. Most libraries have summer reading programs where the kids can sign up and read and get all sorts of incentives. Library programs are amazing because they are absolutely free. Go check it out with your child. Sign out books together and discuss what you are both reading together. Perhaps, you can even read the same book and have a mini book club. 

Math – I like to estimate grocery bills. You can have your child do this as you place each item into your shopping cart. While you wait in line for anything, you can drill each other on the timetables. You can learn basic number facts for addition and subtraction the same way. 

You can go to www.math-drills.com and print out computational worksheets. Do one sheet a day and time it. Challenge him or her to beat his/her score and time. The best thing about this is that it only takes 5 minutes each day to do. 

Work these activities into you child’s day and he or she will be all the better for it. They don’t take much time to do either. Consider limiting television and video game time as well. 

I hope these ideas help. Learning shouldn’t stop in the summer. 

Yours in education,

Chase March

p.s. I will be taking a little break from this series. It is the summer holidays after all. I will probably start this series up again in late August.
As usual if you have anything you would like to add or discuss, please consider writing a guest post. Send me an email or drop a comment here if you are interested. 
Thanks!

The Power of Nature


We’ve had a lot of rain in the past few days. That’s the explanation for why this tree fell over. I talked to someone who saw it happen. He said, “The ground was so soft it just fell over.”

Of course, this was a huge tree and as it came crashing down, it took out another tree in the park. 
It’s hard to see  in this shot but we were actually pretty lucky about how this tree landed. 

The branches managed to straddle either side of this lamp post at the park.

It’s amazing that this huge tree came down and took out another tree but just narrowly missed taking out this lamp post as well. You can see the downed tree branches on either side of it here. 

It also stopped just shy of taking out this picnic shelter.

The crazy thing is that there was actually a special event being held at this park on Saturday. Thankfully, it was rainy and not a lot of people were out. No on was hurt and no park structures were damaged. Thank goodness. 

It just goes to show you the power of nature. 

Peace and Respect to MJ

“If you ever made a cruel joke about Michael Jackson, you need to apologize first before riding his d*ck now that he’s passed.”

“Y’all knew Ghostface’s “All That I Got Is You” samples Michael Jackson?”

“Y’all knew Nas‘ “It Ain’t Hard to Tell” samples Michael Jackson?”

“Y’all knew Puff Daddy & Biggie’s “It’s All About the Benjamins” samples Michael Jackson?”

“Y’all knew Naughty By Nature’s “O.P.P.” and “World Go Round” both sample Michael Jackson?”

“Y’all knew Jadakiss‘ “Put Ya Hands Up” samples Michael Jackson?”

“Y’all knew Ludacris‘ “One More Drink” samples Michael Jackson?”

“Y’all knew Kris Kross‘ “Jump” samples Michael Jackson?”

“Y’all knew De La Soul’s “Breakadawn” samples Michael Jackson?”

“Y’all knew 2Pac’s “Letter 2 My Unborn” samples Michael Jackson?”

“Y’all knew Big Pun’s “You Ain’t A Killer” samples Michael Jackson?”

“Y’all knew Saigon’s “My Crew” samples Michael Jackson?”

“Y’all knew 50 Cent’s “Tia Told Me” samples Michael Jackson?”

These are some insightful posts that Ivan Rott of Hip Hop is Read put on his Twitter page. I appreciate how he has helped us all remember how influential and legendary this artist was. 

I still can’t believe that Michael Jackson is gone. He changed the face of pop music and pop culture.  Pretty much every musician these days is influenced by MJ. Rappers sample his music. Pop stars emulate his dancing style. Bands of every genre try to have ground breaking videos and some have even covered or remade some of his. MJ’s influence is undeniable.  

I remember playing his Thriller tape so much that I actually wore it out. It is one of the best albums of all time. 
That is why I don’t like to see some of the disrespectful articles that have been written about him since his passing. One headline even read “A Bizarre Life Ends.” 
I couldn’t believe that a newspaper could print something so disrespectful to the man’s legacy on its front cover. The newspaper articles and blog drudge up all the questionable things and problems he had over his short life as well. Is this really necessary?
Let’s just remember and celebrate the music and the influence we all feel today. 
That is why I am grateful that some people out there are covering this with respect and decency. 
I love that Ivan Rott put together a compilation entitled “Fathers of Rap: Michael Jackson” It’s a great way to pay tribute to a legend. 
Rest in Peace MJ. You will be missed, but your music, videos, and influence will live on forever. 

Let’s Watch a Movie Together

I really like to see events in my community. Quite frankly, there are not enough of them. We live in a day and age where we are often so busy that we don’t get the chance to know and converse with our neighbours.  That is why I was really glad to see the local business authority put on an event last weekend.

It was  great event. There were activities, games, and prizes to keep the kids busy all day long. There was a barbecue for lunch and/or dinner. And the day was topped off with a movie for the whole family in the park. 

I thought that it was absolutely great to take my lawn chair to the park and watch a movie on an inflatable screen with the rest of my community. 

Lots of families were there with blankets laid out on the ground. Some of the younger kids fell asleep right there and the rest of the family enjoyed the film.

This was the first time that our community has ever come together like this. But it will not be the last. We will be celebrating our community once a year from now on. I’m really looking forward to next year’s day long event.

Teaching Tip Tuesday – Summer Homework

You probably read the title for this post and said, “What? Summer homework! What kind of a teacher assigns homework over the summer?”

But the truth is, children need educational experiences over the summer. There have been countless studies done on this and there is plenty of data to suggest that after having two months off, many children slip back. They lose the good study habits and much of the information they worked hard at to accomplish all year.

I know from past experience that I often have to play catch up with the students in September. I need to spend a few weeks on review before the students are truly ready to learn the new curriculum for the year.

So I think teachers should encourage their students to keep their brains and bodies active during the summer holidays.

Last year, I gave my students my home address and told them that I would like to receive letters from each and every one of them. I promised that I would write a response to each letter I got and that I would include a surprise in the envelope as well.

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like getting letters in the mail. Children don’t often get mail so it can be a very exciting thing for them. The best thing about this entire homework assignment is that the students don’t even think it is work, They like reading and writing letters.

Of course, I only got three letters last year but it was a start. I was really excited to see the first letter in my mailbox. I wrote a personal letter back and included a photograph of the student that I had taken over the past school year. I also put some stickers in the envelope. It didn’t take much time or effort to do this and I know that my past students really appreciated it.

I am going to challenge my class this week to see if they can beat my past class. Hopefully I can do this every year until I get 100% participation. There’s some extra motivation for them and for me.

Of course, I also encourage my students to continue their learning in other ways. I will be sending home a newsletter this week with some ideas for the parents in it. I will post up a copy of that letter for next week’s teaching tip. See you then!

If you like this series and have some ideas or tips you would like to share, I would love to have you write a guest post. Please email me with your ideas, thoughts, comments, or suggestions. Or you can just leave a comment here on this post. I would love to hear from you.

My Journal Died

I tried to resurrect it last September but only got two entries in. I picked up the gauntlet again in December and ran for nine days. I managed to do the same thing in January. But I only got one entry down for February, zero for March, one for April, and nothing since. 

The April entry isn’t even completed. I meant to go back to it one day but now I think it is time to bid my journal farewell. It’s too bad too because this journal really serves a purpose.

This is the first part of what I wrote on September 13, 2008

I was going to quit this series a long time ago. I haven’t been able to do that though for some reason. I don’t know what it is that keeps me coming back.

This could very well be the final chapter. It is the final notebook. It’s almost as if I knew I’d need this many chapters way back when I started this.

I really liked these hard cover books, and, obsessive as I was, I bought a lot of them. I got them from Grand & Toy, which doesn’t even exist anymore. I got them from Centre Mall in Hamilton, which has been knocked down and is in the process of being redone. It’s amazing how things change.

And this is where I finished off on April 10, 2009

I know that I haven’t written in here in a long time. I tried to write two months ago but I just couldn’t bring myself to write anything.

A lot has happened in the last two months. I wish I had of written about all of it here.

Part of my excuse is that I haven’t had the time. But that’s not a good enough one.

So now, I’m left with two options here

1) Write a rather lengthy catch-up entry OR
2) Throw away this series completely

I’ve seriously been considering the latter. But I just went back and reread parts of this chapter and I can’t do it. I need to keep this up. This chapter should be the pivotal one for the rest of my life and I want to document some of it. So I guess, it is time for a lengthy recap.

The trouble is that I never did the recap and now there is even more to add to it. It is an impossible task.

I guess it is good that I managed to get two more years since I wrote this post. But the empty pages are really hard to look at. I should’ve filled them up with all the great things that have happened this year. I really wished I had done that.

One day, those blank pages may call to me again. If they do, I will heed the call and write but for now, my journal is dead. I’ve never said this before. I have always left it open in the hopes that I will write. The trouble is that there are so many other things I want to do right now. I just don’t have the time to keep it up and I know I probably won’t write another entry.

I really want to write that lengthy recap but I think it will I will have to settle for a succinct one here on this blog. Keep an eye out for it soon.

Peace!

Unnhh!

I’m feeling a bit under the weather today. I have a cold. It’s a week away from summer holidays and I have a cold. 

It started all of a sudden Monday afternoon. I was feeling pretty good before it hit me too. I had gone for a nice run through the trails near my house. I’m still a bit slower than I should be at this time of year but that is only because I had to take three weeks off after injuring myself. 
As I was just about to come out of the woods, I saw a deer leap across the trail in front of me. It was a little thing and I thought that there might be a mother doe following behind him. So I slowed my pace, just in case. But the fawn disappeared into the bush and I continued my run. 
I got home and felt fine. But after dinner, the energy seemed to just drain from me completely. The next morning, I awoke to a scratchy throat, always the first sign that I’m getting sick. My headache from the day before seemed to stay with me as well.  In fact, it has stayed with me all week. 
It’s funny how I felt this cold hit me on Monday afternoon. It’s drained all the energy from me this week. I almost didn’t even write a post for today. In fact, I don’t feel like writing at all. I think I’m going to go lay down now and take it easy. Only one week left of school, I can make it. 

Are You Ready Yet?

Last year on this day, I wrote a blog post entitled “I’m Not Ready”

Here is a small excerpt from that post,

“I’m not ready,” is one of the most popular excuses in the book. As far as excuses go, it is a good one. Perhaps it is a good idea to prepare before doing something that is tough. But I don’t think this is always the case.”

Click here to read the entire post.

I’m sure I could think of a lot of other examples of where it is just easier to plunge in and do it instead of waiting until you are ready.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t prepare. You should go to the library or use the Internet to do research on anything that you are interested in. This research will help you gain some confidence but there will probably be some lingering fear or doubt even after you have done your research.

I know that any new endeavor can be scary and intimidating. But you need to stop making excuses and letting fear or uncertainty hold you back.

Here’s a secret.

You can’t ever really be ready for anything. You just need to go out there and do it. Shoot for your dreams. Write your book. Start a family. Move out on your own. Become a teacher. Sing a song. Whatever it is you want to do, go after it and don’t make excuses.

You are ready.

Teaching Tip Tuesday – Packing Up for the Year

Last year when I inherited my new classroom, I also inherited a mess. It took me nearly two weeks to clean the classroom up, organize resources, throw out garbage, and clean off the chalkboard.

I really wasn’t expecting to walk into a disaster zone, and, I tell you, I didn’t appreciate it at all. I just wanted to move in, see what resources the class already had, unpack my stuff, get organized, do some planning, and get ready for the new school year.

There is a lot of preparation to do for each and every school year. And it is a time consuming thing. The list above barely scratches the surface. That being said, I don’t want to walk into a disaster when I inherit my new classroom. I think that this is something all teachers need to think about at the end of each and every year.

For most of us, there are two weeks left of school, our assessment in completely done and the report cards have been written. But our work is not done. 


Let’s make sure that our classroom is organized and clean before we hand in our keys and leave for the summer.

I know that I will be in a different room with a different assignment next year. I’m looking forward to the change and the challenges that are sure to come with it. What I’m not looking forward to is the prospect of another disaster zone.

Here are some tips on how to leave your room. You should consider doing these things even if you are returning to the same grade and room next year, because, we are in education after all, and there are always something happening to stir things up.

1) Group your resources together logically

This can be done several ways. I have my cupboards labeled on the outside so that it is very easy for anyone to find my resources. All the math manipulatives are in one cupboard, all my Social Studies resources are in another, all my Science resources on Forces are in one cupboard shelf, and all my Pulleys and Gears stuff is on one shelf. and so on.

You may also choose to completely clean out the cupboards so that they can be cleaned thoroughly over the summer. This is ideal and I did this last year. I took my resources that were already organized by theme and put them into cardboard boxes. I labeled these boxes with a permanent marker so that they are still easy to find and unpack. The added bonus to this is that the new teacher, doesn’t have to unpack any resources they do not plan on using.

2) Clean out your desk completely

Sure, you have markers, staples, sticky notes, paper clips and things that are always useful. However, we I inherit a new desk, I would prefer it to have empty drawers. So put all this useful stuff into a box and label it “Desk.” That way, I can unpack whatever I want and add it to my own stuff as well when I load up my desk.

3) Clean out and empty the filing cabinet.

Extra worksheets and other papers left behind could be put into a box to use as scarp paper. If there are some good resources, make up a file for each subject area and then put these all in a box labeled “Curriculum Resources” Make sure to get rid of any personal data on the students. I would like to have a clean filing cabinet when I come into your class so I can have a place to create my student files, and my hand out file folders for each day of the week. (more about this tip in a future post)

4) Keep a pile of extra workbooks and student resources out and handy.

Teachers will need to order materials so it is really nice to see if you have a surplus of things in your class. It will save me a lot of time and money in ordering stuff I don’t really need.  It’s good to see if the classroom already has things like workbooks, rulers, glue, erasers, etc.

5) Leave it cleaner than you found it.

This is a motto that I learned in scouts and one that I strive to live by. I know that the teacher who inherited my room last year, had a nice and easy task. I am hoping for the same thing this year when I move rooms. If we all live by this simple rule, the world would be a much cleaner place. And that is in all our best interest.

Thanks for joining me for yet another Teaching Tip Tuesday post. 

Please add to the discussion by leaving a comment or sending me an email. If you would like to write a guest post, please send me an email. We’ve already had two great guest posts here and I would love to hear from more teachers all over the world. Teachers helping teachers, that’s what it is all about.

The New Cities Interview Part 2

This is Part 2 of the interview I did with the electro-pop-rock band The New Cities.

Read The New Cities Interview Part 1 and don’t forget to download the entire interview on the podcast from The Chase March Show page. We had a lot of fun on the radio and you can hear it all for free.

Without further ado, here is Part 2 of the interview. enjoy!

Chase: “Alright, we’re back. I’m sitting with The New Cities, two members, the other guys are doing their sound check right now.“

Julian: “Unloading the stuff for us. It’s awesome.”

Chase: “I want to talk a little bit about image because a lot of bands are focused on their image and I’m wondering what kind of image are you portraying?”

Julian: “The image is an important thing for sure. But we try to focus on every element, like image and the music and everything. We try to make a focused package basically. So, yeah, it’s an important thing for sure.”

Nick: “I think people want to see a whole package, like you said. They want good music, they want to like everything that’s projected by the band. And that’s why it’s always been a priority too. Like people like what they see, they like what they hear, and also, the thing is, that it was always important for us to be comfortable with that image as well. So it’s kind of like trying to find the right spot in between what you want to project and how comfortable you are.”

Chase: “Nice, and the other thing, your music is pretty accessible. Trying to pin it down to a genre was kind of hard. When I first put in your CD, I liked it right away. It was one of those things, you don’t even have to get used to it. You can just feel the vibe and get down with it. So, outlets for your music, like where do you find you are being played? Are you being played on rock stations, or pop stations, or is it pretty much wide open?”

Nick: “It’s pretty much, like so far, it’s been a lot of pop stations. But there’s a few rock stations as well ‘cause we also rock. But I think it’s a problem with radio, that it’s pretty rare that you’re gonna get into both types of stations. Like, ‘cause I don’t know what the dynamic is between the two types of radio stations. But so far, it’s been a lot of pop radio.”

Chase: “Nice! And listening to your album, I can sort of hear different groups it kind of reminds me of at different times. It just kind of comes in and out. Like, ‘Oh, that kind of sounds like Goldfinger, that kind of sounds like Treble Charger, that kind of sounds like Garbage because of the way you have the electronic sounds and you’ve got a wall of sound.’ So where do you draw influence from? What do you guys listen to?”

Julian: “I listen to Justice, Daft Punk, we’ve been fans of Death From Above 1979 when it came out, The Killers, The Faith, and also the more pop-punk type of music like New Found Glory, Blink 182, all that stuff.”

Chase: “Nice. I’m impressed with what I’ve heard from you guys. I’m really looking forward to the show tonight ‘cause I hear you have a really energetic show as well.”

Julian: “Cool. Thanks a lot.”

Chase: “So what do you like to do with your shows? Do you have any specific routines or any things you like to do?”

Julian: “The main idea of The New Cities live is to throw a big party in the audience. We want to connect with the audience and make sure that everyone is having fun and dancing. So that would be the main goal.”

Chase: “Yeah, that makes sense ‘cause even your music is very danceable. It’s got a beat to it. And you just want people to party and have a good time, right?”

Julian: “Totally.”

Nick: “A lot of energy. That’s the main goal.”

Julian: “And to do the robot dance too. We’re going to try it out tonight, maybe. I don’t know. Never done that before.”

Chase: “Nice. Are you headlining this tour your on right now?”

Julian: “Actually Ten Second Epic is headlining. We’ve been headlining the Quebec dates but right now it’s Ten Second Epic, the main act, and we’re opening for them.”

Chase: “Alright, that’s nice because I went by and saw Ten Second Epic on the sign and I was like, ‘That must be wrong, ‘cause these guys are big enough to headline it themselves. It seems like you’ve been making enough noise.’ But that’s cool, cause Ten Second Epic is pretty good too.”

Julian: “Yeah, they’re awesome.”

Nick: “It’s been a good match with all three bands that are doing the tour; us, Ten Second Epic, and The Februarys. It’s been a really cool tour. We’ve had a lot of fun, and we still have one week left. It’s weird to say that we’ve been on tour for five weeks and it’s gonna be weird when we come back home.”

Chase: “Definitely. Well, I think we should drop another track. What track do you think we should play? Should we play something off the new album or your EP.”

The New Cities: “New album,”

Chase: “New album, let’s get something off the new album then.”

Nick: “We could play what’s probably going to be the next single. It’s called Leader’s of the Mislead.”

Chase: “That’s gonna be the next single?”

Nick: “Yup.”

Chase: “Okay, so we’re going to drop Leaders of the Mislead by The New Cities, then we’ll be back to wrap up the interview. This is Chase March. Check us out on http://chasemarch.com and the blogspot, we’ll have the transcript on there as well. So hope you’re listening and enjoying this. This is the New Cities.”

Chase: “Alright that was Leaders of the Mislead by The New Cities and we’re just on-location at the sound check right now speaking to two members of the band from the New Cities. How’s it going guys?”

Julian: “Super good!”

Chase: “So we’ve talked about your influences, we’ve talked about your shows, we’ve talked about a lot of different things about your music. So, how do you feel about covers?”

Julian: “That’s funny because when we were in Vancouver we were asked by a radio station, a main radio station there to do a cover song, and the night before. We didn’t have a cover song at all so we had to find a song and rehearse it and make sure it would sound good. So we did Love Song by The Cure.”

Chase: “Ah, nice!”

Julian: “So, it turned out alright.”

Nick: “It turned out pretty good actually. I think with covers, it all depends on what you do with it. Like, some people just live off of covers, which is a different crowd. We like to do original music and that’s different and that’s out choice. But we won’t say no to potential covers eventually. We just want to have the time to really work on it. Not just play a cover the way it is on their CD. We want to have out own version.”

Julian: “That’s what I was going to say. Yes!”

Chase: “Awesome. What kind of gear are you using to get you electronic sounds.”

Nick: “Lots of synths, yeah lots of synths. Basically, we have a sequencer as well, samples, a bunch of stuff that we all control it ourselves. Like the fact that we have two keyboard players in our band allows us to do a lot more stuff ‘cause like instead of two hands we have four. So, it’s pretty good.”

Chase: “Alright, well I really appreciate you sitting down with me and doing this interview. I’m looking forward to the show tonight. So thanks a lot for this opportunity.”

Nick: “Thanks to you.”

Julian: “Thank you.”

Chase: “Alright, this is Chase March. We’re signing off with The New Cities. I think we’ll drop one more track. This is Looks Over Substance by The New Cities. Looking forward to the show. Alright, thanks.”

The New Cities Interview

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of sitting down with the electro-pop band The New Cities. We talk about their major label debut album, their amazing live show, and lots of other things.

This also marks the debut of The Chase March Show. Please head on over there to download the podcast of this interview for free. You can also subscribe to it for free. My goal is to bring you monthly interviews from a variety of genres. I hope you enjoy the show.

Without further ado, here is part one of The New Cities Interview.

Chase: “Alright everybody, this is Chase March. I’m here with two members of The New Cities. You want to introduce yourselves?”

Julian: “I’m Julian.”

Nick: “I’m Nick.”

Chase: “Alright. We’re live on-location, well were not live but another on-location interview in London at Call the Office. So, how you guys doing?”

Nick: “Pretty good. I’m good. How are you feeling?”

Julian; “I’m okay. I’m okay. ‘Cause I just went to the walk-in clinic in London and I have a sinus infection, but it’s fine. I’ll get over it.”

Chase: “You’re the lead singer though aren’t you.”

Julian; “No I’m not. I actually do the harmonies and I play bass. It’s alright so I can manage to still play a show.”

Chase: “Okay, that’s great. I see that you guys are making quite the noise now, just being independent and just signed to a major label. So how is that being on a major label now?”

Nick: “Oh, it’s pretty good I guess. We have a lot of support now and I think what’s cool about it so far is that we still have our vision and our ideas but we have a team now that can help us do what we want to do and accomplish those ideas.”

Julian: “And we get to keep our artistic vision and have full creative control which is a great thing. So, we’re really happy, everything’s really cool these days.”

Nick: “And we get free promo CDs. It’s pretty awesome.”

Chase: “Excellent. ‘cause I just discovered you guys and I found your myspace page and I thought it was pretty interesting that you’re actually giving away your independent EP away for free as a free download. You’ve got a pretty strong web presence. You can find out a lot about you online. So I’m just wondering how important it is to you to be able to connect with your fans on that level.”

Julian: “It is really important to us, especially these days in 2009, you can’t neglect this side of things like the Internet, being able to connect with the fans so this is definitely a priority for us.”

Nick: “I think especially in the music industry, like, for a long time was kind of afraid of the whole online thing. And I think at one point everyone realized that you, kind of, have to use it as tool and not, kind of, fight it.”

Chase: “Alright, I just want to talk to you about your sound because you have a very consistent and I think a deliberate sound. And it hasn’t changed, ‘cause some people put out an indy CD and then they become major and it’s a completely different thing. But your sound, hasn’t changed like from the EP to the new album, you can tell that consistent sound there.”

Julian; “It’s a little different though. The pop aspect has taken a little more of a place, a little more space in it. But it’s basically the same synth driven.”

Nick: “And it’s the same basic idea of the band. I think we just pushed our limits a little more on every aspect of it, like the rock side is more rock, the electro’s more electro, and there’s been a lot more work on melodies. But I always see that as an improved version like the new album’s an improved version of the EP.”

Chase: “We’re with The New Cities and you’ve got a new video and single out right now called Dead End Countdown. What exactly is a Dead End countdown?”

Nick: “Well, it’s kind of hard to say. You have to read the whole song or the lyrics to kind of get it.”

Julian: “It’s like being at the end of a relationship that’s going really wrong and, you know, being at the dead end of something and there’s kind of a countdown going on, announcing the end of it or something. It has something to do with that but it’s more elaborate.”

Nick: “And I think that the biggest part is that usually dead end and countdown are separated. So it’s like two ideas and we put them together. Just read the lyrics, you’ll see it. It’s awesome.”

Julian: “Buy the album. Countdown to the dead end.”

Chase: “Alright, so I’d like to drop that track right now, so would you like to throw to it?’

Julian: “Alright, this is Dead End Countdown on 93.3 CFMU.”

Chase: “Alright we’re back. That was Dead End Countdown. I’m lucky enough to be sitting in front of The New Cities on-location in London at Call the Office. I just want to talk you about your sound there because you have a very distinct sound using electronic music with pop and it’s a whole kind of mixture. It’s hard to explain. How would you describe your sound?”

Julian: “I don’t know. We tried to come up with a word to describe the whole genre. But I guess it’s electrosynth-pop-punk, a blend of all those styles, I guess.”

Nick: “We should have a contest for people to name our sound, it’s kind of weird. No, yeah, it’s like you said, electro-rock-synth driven-party music.”

Julian: “Find a word for it, I guess, everybody.”

Chase: “Nice. So, you’re from Quebec and I know there’s a lot of artists that never make it outside of Quebec but just get huge. I’m mostly into hip hop and I know just from research that one f the biggest selling hip hop artists in Canada was Dubmatique, which nobody has ever heard of outside of Quebec. So, we’re wondering, like, you’ve obviously achieved some success in Quebec and now you’re trying to reach out further. So what’s the Quebec music culture like as opposed to the rest of Canada?”

Nick: “Well, the example you mentioned, the first difference is that they sing in French, which is probably why they were kind of… not stuck because they weren’t stuck in Quebec ‘cause they went to France as well. And they did a whole bunch of the francaphone countries in Europe. Yeah, that’s probably one of the main reasons. It’s a different culture as well but I think that in Quebec if you don’t sing in your first language, it’s hard to get out of Quebec.”

Julian: “Which is true. Ya know, if you sing in French, you’re not going to get marketed outside of Quebec, or France, or all of those countries in Europe. So that’s mainly the reason why we sing in English ‘cause you know, we want to make it outside of Quebec.”

Nick: “For sure, but I don’t think that the people don’t think it’s possible so they don’t try to get out and go on the road and go to Ontario, to the Maritimes, and to the West. That was our main goal at first. We just wanted to go everywhere. We love playing in Quebec but we also want to go everywhere and that’s the main part I think.”

Chase: “Nice, ‘cause you’ve been playing in bands collectively for some time now, isn’t that true?”

Julian: “Yup.”

Chase: “And this current formation has been together around, about three years?”

Julian: “This current line up here is for about a year and a half, I’d say, ‘cause me and Frank, the drummer, joined the band a little later. So it’s been about a year and a half that we’re all together, the six of us.”

Chase: “Alright, I wanted to talk to you about downloading and this current music culture ‘cause we don’t consume music the same way we used to. And I saw that your CD is actually on sale on iTunes for $6.99 and I’m wondering was that your decision, $6.99, where did that come from?”

Julian: “Yeah, well, we try to put more emphasis on the online side of things because obviously it’s predominate these days, 2009, and we thought it’d be cool to have it cheaper on the Internet because this is the main focus these days. So, yeah, it was our decision.”

Nick: “And I think the whole idea is to get the music out there, especially for a newer band to people’s ears. You want to get your stuff out there, and people don’t want to spend $25.00 to buy an album, like they wanna have a chance to buy multiple albums, so if you do it a little more cheap, you can buy a little more. And I think that putting it really cheap on iTunes gets people used to buying it there instead of just downloading it for free. And if they say, ‘It’s legal, and it’s good quality, and it’s just $6.99, then why wouldn’t I?’

Chase: “Yeah, that’s a definite plus ‘cause I know there’s a lot of people that don’t buy albums anymore. But I’m not one of them. I love albums. I’m not a single head at all, like I don’t wanna just buy songs here and there ‘cause I saw it on Much Music.”

Nick: “Same with me.”

Chase: ‘”Speaking of Much Music, you guys are getting a lot of play on there, eh?”

Julian: “Yeah, and we’ve just been nominated at the MMVA’s which is a great thing. So we’re really happy.”

Chase: “That’s awesome. So you’ve had a little bit of help from some big name artists that have helped get you into the spotlight, isn’t that true?”

Julian: “Oh yeah, totally. Greig Nori has always been there since the very beginning of this actual process of this album. So he gave a lot of support. He produced the album and he managed the band for a little bit too. So, yeah, it’s great for sure.”

Chase: “Nice. I wanted to talk to you about the song writing process. Do any of you write the songs or is that the other band members?”

Julian: “It’s very eclectic, like everybody brings their own ideas, everybody writes music, lyrics. Nick does a lot of the lyrics. Yeah, it’s very eclectic. Everybody writes.”

Nick: “I think the best way we found for us to write music is that someone comes up with a basic idea and then, like you said, everyone puts their little bit in. And that’s how we get to the sound we have. It usually ends up too that most of everyone is happy with the result, and it probably wouldn’t be the same if it was just one or two people writing for everyone.”

Chase: “Nice. I think we should drop another track right about now. So the album is called Lost in City Lights. What’s one of your favourite songs? What would you like to hear?”

Julian: “I like the first one Hypertronic Superstar. I think it’s a cool song.”

Chase: “It definitely is. Alright we’re gonna drop that right now and we’ll be back with more from The New Cities. Stay tuned.”

Read Part 2 of the interview here and don’t forget to download the podcast for free on The Chase March Show.  Thanks!

Teaching Tip Tuesday – What a Classroom Teacher Expects from a Supply

I am very honoured to be the guest columnist for Teaching Tip Tuesday! I hope I can live up to WitGirl’s fabulous column from last week. I suppose I should start off by introducing myself. My name is Elle, and I’ve known Chase for years: He and I went to teacher’s college together. I, with a fellow teacher friend, have a beloved (at least to us) blog entitled “The Complaint Department”. We’d be honoured if you’d have a read sometime.

I’m actually writing to give the opposite perspective of last week’s entry. If you recall, WitGirl wrote about A Day in the Life of a Supply Teacher. This week is about what the classroom teacher expects from a supply teacher. I’ve been teaching for a while now and have encountered many a supply. On the whole, supply teachers are fantastic; schools cannot function properly without them. There are, however, a few who are destined to be minimally employed supply teachers for life because they lack the drive and enthusiasm to impress a principal and obtain references.

I am an elementary teacher. I currently have a regular classroom assignment. My kids are really well behaved, though some are challenging in terms of their specific learning needs. When I first started out, I had two very difficult assignments in a row with a group of children that were considered to be difficult and dysfunctional (not my words – they were a challenge but I loved every minute of it). For the next couple of years I taught Core French. These details will be important as I continue.

As I wrote above, I have encountered a few supplies who basically view the day as babysitting and nothing more. It’s therefore obvious why classroom teachers like to choose their own supply teachers. I like being able to trust the person who is coming in and know that they are going to do the job at the same level that I expect for myself.

I like to give new supply teachers a chance. If I’m happy with how the day went, I will put them on my list of people to request. A few things in particular really impress me:

1) Initiative. I love to find little business cards in the office made by supply teachers who are looking to work in my school. It shows initiative and if I can’t get one of my regulars in for me, that’s the first place I look. I figure that if someone has taken the time to print business cards and advertise themselves, they must be enthusiastic about teaching and really want to work. Also, since it’s hard to get steady work at first, why not volunteer in my classroom? If you show initiative by talking to me and offering to come in on a regular basis to work with the kids I will be more apt to give you my supply days. If I’m impressed by the way you work with my students, I’ll spread the word to my colleagues. You’ll have steady business in no time!

2) A repertoire of extra things to do with the class. If you have extra time, it’s nice to know that a teacher has meaningful, grade-appropriate activities for the kids to do so that I don’t have to worry that I’ve misjudged some time for an activity. It shows initiative, and really goes a long way in my book. I’m sure it happens where a teacher has an emergency and does not have the time to make appropriate plans for the day. In that event, I’d like to know that whoever is in for me can and will enthusiastically cover the day. This has not happened to me yet, but it’s always in the back of my mind.

3) A positive attitude. No matter what kind of day you have with my class, I DO NOT need a negative note at the end of the day. Sure, communication is great. I like to know what happened in my class, especially if there is something I need to follow up on upon my return. However, if this note is nothing but negativity, don’t write it. I know the day probably isn’t going to be perfect, but there must be something positive you can report on as well. I have had a couple of particularly challenging classes, and was fully aware of their behaviour. I absolutely loathed coming in the day after an absence because I knew what was waiting for me. What a crummy way to start off a day.

4) Reliability. I used to teach Core French. I can’t tell you the amount of times that someone would accept my job the night before only to cancel it because something better came along, leaving my school with a vacancy for the day. I understand it’s not the most desirable job for a lot of people. That said, if you really don’t want to teach it, then don’t accept the job. This often happens with half-days. Sometimes teachers book off only half of the day because they have an appointment or some sort of workshop to attend. It often happens that the night before said appointment there is a supply teacher slotted into the job but the next morning it’s been cancelled because the teacher has taken a full-day job. It is also very important to be on time. Do your supervision duty. If you don’t know something, ask! Manage the classroom as if it were your own. The day does not need to be a party for the kids. Of course you can incorporate fun things into the day; just don’t let the students run wild and make the day redundant.

5) Flexibility. Teachers, no matter what their assignment, need to be flexible. It seems to me that this was one of the very first things I learned in teacher’s college. This goes along with the positive attitude. I find it truly off-putting to hear a supply teacher complain about their assignment for the day, or the actual teaching the classroom teacher left for them to do. I understand that perhaps supply teaching isn’t their dream job. That said, it is often the ticket to the dream job so you’re probably best to keep your complaints inside and vent to family members after hours. Conversely, look to those around you for support and suggestion if your day is not going well. We love to help out! It is also imperative that if something happens like your gym time gets cancelled or you’re asked to cover something that’s not in the original plan (within reason, of course – don’t let anyone take advantage of you) don’t complain! Approach it like it’s a new experience, and do your best to learn from it!

6) Trust your instincts and fantastic teaching skills! If something isn’t working during the day, don’t be afraid to try out your own ideas. Also, don’t be afraid to teach the lesson the way you think it should be taught. You aren’t me. You have to do what works for you. The way I see it is that if the material has been taught, who cares what the approach was? I would much rather come in the next day to see that a teacher has tried different things to help the kids grasp the material than find that I have to re-teach it. As WitGirl outlined in last week’s post, she “did not spend 4 years in University and a 1 1/2 years in teacher’s college just to sit behind a desk while students do desk work.” Classroom teachers need to remember this, and so do supply teachers. We’re a team. When a supply has my class, it’s their job to teach it. We’re all professionals, so let’s work together to make that happen!

At the end of the day, most supply teachers are there because they truly want to teach and do the job well. Again, schools can’t function without them. Classroom teachers need to view supply teachers like the qualified professionals that they are, and supply teachers need to hold up their end of the bargain. I will give as much work as I can to supply teachers that I trust. I will also pass on a good word for them to colleagues and most importantly, the principal. This is a sure-fire way to get a contract when the opportunity presents itself.

I’ll step off of my soapbox now. Thanks, Chase, for letting me contribute. WitGirl, I thank you for the original entry. Looks like we’re working together to make the supply/classroom teacher relationship a positive and successful one! I’m definitely going to take your ideas into account the next time I need a supply, and encourage my colleagues to do the same.

Elle

Unbalanced

What has happened to the balance control on most stereos and music playing devices these days?

I still need this feature on occasion and am often frustrated that I cannot find it.

For instance, this morning I wanted to get a stereo to play only the left channel of a track. I have a radio in my class but it doesn’t have a balance control. I usually play music on my computer because I can use Window’s Media Player and adjust the balance on the graphic equalizer of that program.

I have some excellent music teaching resources and many of these programs come with records or CDs that have split tracks on them. These tracks will play normally on any stereo. You can hear the song with both the vocals and the instrumental track. This is a handy feature since you can learn to sing along with the song and then when you are ready to perform it yourself, you can pan the signal all the way to the left and you will only hear the instrumental track. The songs basically then become karaoke versions.

I absolutely love split track recordings. The best thing about them is that once you learn a song in class, you don’t need to find a piano and a player to accompany you. I find that the students really like having music to sing along with. It helps keep them on time and on beat, and it helps them from being shy and singing without any accompaniment.

The problem is that I wanted to have the choir sing a song in this morning’s assembly. I tried to find a stereo with a balance on it and I came up dry. I knew that a few classrooms have laptop computers so I tried to use of those but they all have a different version on Media Player on them and there is no balance control on it. I couldn’t figure out why they didn’t have this feature.

I also couldn’t figure out a way to adjust the balance on the computer’s main volume. I think there is probably a way to do that but I ran out of time. So the choir did not perform today. I will make sure that we have the proper gear and equipment so that next time we have an opportunity to perform, we will be able to.

Let me hear from you.

Check your stereo or MP3 player. Does it have a balance control? If not, does it bother you that you don’t have this option? Why do you think this isn’t a standard feature?

J. Michael Straczynski’s autograph


J. Michael Straczynski is one of the best writers, period.

He wrote the amazing television series Babylon 5. The story in that series was phenomenal. It was actually a five-year arc. Plot lines continued through all five seasons and things that started in the very first episode were resolved in the finale. Amazing, amazing writing.

He has written a lot of television episodes for a variety of shows. He has also written comic books and graphic novels.

I met him at a comic book convention a few years back and got him to autograph this book. He also sat in on the panel discussion and had some very insightful things to say.

I’m proud to have this autograph in my collection. It will be displayed in the side panel for a month and then I will share another of piece of my autograph collection with you. Enjoy!

Drug Mart Sign Confusion

There’s something strange about this sign.

I drove past it the other day and turned into the small plaza. I went to the A&P to get a few groceries and then I walked over to the drug store.

At the check out, I tried to use my Optimum Points Card. The cashier asked if I had an Air Miles card instead. I asked if they had changed their reward card, and that’s when the cashier told me, “This isn’t a Shopper’s Drug Mart.”

I was taken aback. I was sure that this was a Shopper’s Drug Mart. I had seen the sign outside. Then the cashier told me that there was one right next door.

What?

That’s strange I thought. How could two drug stores even survive right beside each other? And how come I didn’t see the other store? So I went back outside to look. I focused on the sign behind the large street sign.

Right away, I noticed what was strange. PharmaPlus usually has a blue and orange sign like this one. And they don’t usually refer to their stores as “Drug marts” That’s why I think it is strange that they have the word “DRUGMART” written in red and white so that it looks an awful lot like their competitors brand. I think this is a blatant attempt to use someone else’s brand. This PharmaPlus location is obviously trying to draw Shopper’s Drug Mart customers into their store instead.

It’s probably very effective for them too because you can’t see the Shopper’s store from the plaza’s parking lot. The Shopper’s Drug Mart is in a standalone plaza next door. I looked at the plaza’s sign before I left to see if there was any further confusion.

Nope. No confusion there. But this was the view from my car in the parking spot. You can see that if you didn’t pay much attention and you didn’t look up, all you would really see is the red and white “DRUGMART” sign.

I think this is a cheap trick that this drug store chain pulled on me. I felt like a bit of an idiot at the checkout when I tried to use my Optimum Points Card. I bet the cashiers see this all the time. If they do, they probably think people are idiots. I’m not an idiot. I just wasn’t pay much attention. And with this photo blog entry, I think you can probably see how I feel for this rouse.

A Day in the Life of a Supply Teacher

Hello again, it’s Witgirl! I’m here to help out Chase who is busily preparing report cards this week. He feels he absolutely cannot go a Tuesday without posting a Teaching Tip, this is where I come in.

I’m not exactly sure if I’m offering a tip, maybe more of a suggestion. As I am a supply teacher I have had the pleasure of experiencing many different planning styles. The kind I prefer are the ones that follow:

1. Written clearly, as in legible on an actual day plan. How many times have day plans been written on the back of a piece of scrap paper? Where is the professionalism in that?

2. Follow a routine the students are familiar with. Now is not the time to mix things up.

3. Grade appropriate, enough of the word searches and colouring pages already. The school year goes by quick enough, let’s try giving them something a little more challenging.

4. Materials are at hand, not hidden away in some back storage room. I do not want to root through everything.

5. The day plans should be on the surface of the desk, not mixed in with all the garbage on the desk.

6. Lastly, it is also nice to do more than just give handouts. I did not spend 4 years in University and a 1 1/2 years in teacher’s college just to sit behind a desk while students do desk work. It’s boring for me and them. Let me teach them.

Thank you for listening, I feel much better with that out there.

It Only Took Me Injuring Myself to Realize…

Teaching is a wonderful job that I really put my heart and soul into. This job always gives me a lot of enjoyment. I make sure that I model the behaviour and attitude that I expect my students to have. I am there in the classroom, day in and day out. I don’t use my sick days unless I am actually sick. I expect my students to be in class every day and I lead by example.

I’ve only used a handful of sick days in my career and I’ve never used one if I didn’t need it. That being said, things have been a bit stressful lately and I felt like I really needed a break. I was struggling with this a bit because I have sick days allocated to me that I will never use. These days can’t be banked or rolled over to the following year. They are there to be used if needed, as they should be. But they are there, and last week they were tempting me.

I had secretly wished to have Friday off last week. It would’ve been nice. I could have went for a run, did some writing, and just enjoyed a day off. But I couldn’t bring myself to book it off.

Life works in weird ways though because I ended up having the day off anyway. I just couldn’t enjoy it because I was in a lot of pain and I spent most of the day immobilized on a backboard.

What I am really trying to say here is that it took me getting injured to come to a realization. I have a good job that I enjoy. I am there to serve the kids in my class, and that really is the only reason that I am there. I shouldn’t worry about all the BS that is happening in the board or the community. I shouldn’t worry about anything.

I have a job that I enjoy. Some people don’t have a job. Some people don’t have a job that they enjoy. I get holidays, days off, and sick days. I should be thankful for the opportunity to teach the children in my class.

I’m glad I had this epiphany. I won’t take my job for granted again. I will be there, doing my best, like I always have done. I now realize that I had a bad attitude last week. I guess I needed the time off to appreciate all that I have. Lesson learned. I just wished I could’ve learned it an easier and less painful way. It still hurts a bit but it’s getting better.