Monthly Archives: November 2009

The Law of the Universe

There are some universal laws that are so simple and easy to understand that they often get lost. These laws have been written down time and time again but they have sometimes been misinterpreted.

Universal laws are broken every day and unfortunately, we often don’t see the consequences that go along with breaking them. As such, we can see people seemingly getting away with acts we know in our hearts are wrong.

Over time, the inefficient policing that we perceive coupled with the misinterpretation of the laws muddle the truths we already knew.

When I was a teenager, I thought I had this all figured out. I knew the secret of life. I know that I did. I tried to share it and to express it but I was met with criticism and skepticism. I then stopped believing what had so vividly come to me. And now I can’t even remember what it was I knew back then.

This is what I remember though,

What goes around comes around

If you do wrong, it will catch up with you. So when we see people seemingly getting away with stuff, we can rest assured that there will be consequences down the line.

You can get everything you want in this life, by helping others get what they want.

Be respectful. Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Things have a tendency to work out.

If you have a good attitude and try to live a good life, good things will happen to you. Things will work out.

You Need to Be Positive

A positive attitude is contagious. It can get you far and inspire the people. If you are positive yourself, you can thus create a more positive atmosphere around you as well.

You Gotta Believe

Believe in something. You don’t have to be religious or spiritual but you can believe that you are here for a reason and that you have something to contribute to the world today.

And much more

There are more universal laws out there for sure but I think these are probably the most important ones. Either that, or they are the only ones coming to my mind right now.

Writing Helps

Writing is probably one of the most amazing tools that we have. I was reminded of this last month.

I was at a really low place in my life. I was feeling depressed and miserable. I couldn’t figure a way out of my bad mood. It seemed like I was stuck.

But then Thanksgiving came around. (To all my American readers, I hope you have a great Thanksgiving holiday today. In Canada, we celebrate ours in October.) I wanted to write a post about all the things that I was thankful for but I wasn’t inspired to do so.

I went back and read my Thanksgiving post from last year and I realized that I was happy back then. I then had an epiphany. I realized that I was focusing on my heartbreak and all the things I thought I had lost. When the truth is, I hadn’t really lost anything. Sure, things hadn’t turned out the way that I had wanted them to, but while we were together I was really happy. I was reminded of the saying that it is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. And I finally got it.

I wrote a thankful post and immediately felt better. It was amazing how much my writing helped me. If I hadn’t of written that post last year, if I hadn’t been able to look back at it, and if I hadn’t been inspired to write a new one, I’m not sure how long I would’ve stayed in that blah mood.

Writing helps me to figure things out. I like being able to look back at what I have written to see what I was thinking and feeling at the time. I never knew that writing could actually break me out of a really low spot in my life. That was amazing.

That is why I am thankful for writing. I love having this blog and I still write in a journal because I truly believe that writing helps. I hope you do too.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Scary New Territory

I don’t know why but I find it hard to write short fiction. For me, it seems a lot easier to write a novel than a short story. So I find myself in some scary new territory as I try to take some advice that a published author gave me.

Barbara HaworthAttard did a reading and book signing at my local library last week. She told us how she first got published in a children’s magazine and how that opened up all sorts of doors for her writing career. Her first novel actually stated on the back cover that she had been published in Cricket magazine.

So this past weekend, I made a trip to the main branch of the library to pick up copies of Cricket, Spider, Owl, New Moon Girls, Chickadee, Ladybug, and Chirp magazines. I wanted to familiarize myself with what kind of stories are found within those pages. I then looked up the submission guidelines on the Internet.

I wanted to start working on a new novel this winter but I think I am going to work on some short stories for magazines instead. I kind of already started. A few weeks ago I wrote a story to share with my class and I even illustrated it using the SMARTboard in my classroom. So I have written my first digital picture book that I will be sharing that with you here next week.

I also wrote a story today but I don’t know if it is any good. I would like to post it up here to get some feedback and support but I’m not sure if magazines would like to publish something that is already available online.

So, I am entering scary new territory. I am going to write short fiction this winter and send off submissions to magazines. Wish me luck.

Teaching Tip Tuesdays – Music Class

Music doesn’t need to be a scary subject to teach. You don’t have to be a musician. You don’t have to be a good singer. You don’t have to have any talent or passion to teach it to your students.

This week’s Teaching Tip Tuesday post is for all the reluctant classroom teachers who find themselves without a music teacher in their schools.
Here is what you need to design your own music program.
Put Music on Your Schedule

Half an hour a week is all you need. I teach my music on Friday afternoons.
I have seen way too many classroom schedules that don’t have weekly music classes. Music is part of the curriculum that you have a responsibility to teach. Please don’t just leave all of your music instruction to the Christmas pageant.
Learn a Song Together

Pick a song that you like and that is easy to sing. I like to start off the year with Yellow Submarine. I create a song map to help students understand that music can be written down and read. A song map is basically a simple diagram that stands in for the words of the song.
Teach basic notes

The best way to teach basic note values is to clap patterns.

I use these overheads that I inherited from a retiring teacher years ago. I scanned them into my computer so I could use them on the SMARTboard this year.
The Rhythm Pattern below is ta, ta, ta, ta (which are all single claps and are timed with a 1, 2, 3, 4) , the next measure is ta, ti-ti, ta, ta (a ti-ti is pronounced tee-tee and is two quick claps but still follows the same time of 1,2,3,4) The Z like shape is a rest and you can clap a rest by bringing your hands apart.
To start clapping this pattern in unison, count the class in.
Say, “Clapping hands ready. 1, 2, ready, go.” You can tap the beats out using a meter stick if you find it helpful.
Teach your students the hand signs.
You can now use the same overhead as above to teach your students how to sign across the top line.

If you have a keyboard, a piano, or a harmonica, you can play a C and ask the students to find their “So”

You should sign too and show them how it make take a moment to hit that note. Don’t be embarrassed. Just try to make your voice sound like the note you played.

You can then sign “So, so, mi, mi, so, la, so” (each so should sound exactly the same and the mi is pronounced “me”)

Play some music games

There are some great books and resources that you can hopefully find in your school or in the public library. I will try to post up some music games and other resources for you in a future Teaching Tip Tuesday post.
You Can Do It

I hope that you have found this post useful. I know it’s hard to teach music if you are not a musician. But trust me, you can do it.
Please remember to check the Table of Contents page for all of the tips I post here every week. They are organized by theme as well.

Any ideas or suggestions

If you have any ideas, tips, or advice that you’d like to share, please leave a comment below or email me about writing a guest post.

Doors Open

Last month, I was given the key to the city, sort of speak. It was the annual Doors Open event in London, Ontario. I was able to visit 9 different tourist attractions and sites of interest. Here are a few of the highlights.

Banting House – National Historic Site of Canada

Sir Fredrick Banting woke in the middle of the night and scribbled down an idea that lead to the discovery of insulin. The house where he made this breakthrough is an historic site. Outside, in the square, a flame of hope burns for all of those people afflicted with diabetes. It will be extinguished when a cure is finally discovered.

Inside, we can see some of his paintings and artwork, we can learn of his time in the Armed Services, and we can see where he woke and scribbled down his now famous twenty-five-word thesis.

The Secrets of Radar Museum
This quaint museum is located in a post-war cottage off of Westminster Ponds. They have some old technology there and knowledgeable staff and volunteers to guide you through the exhibits.

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

There are lots of things to see and learn about the history of several wars here including the Northwest Rebellion of 1885, South Africa War, the two World Wars, Korea, and the peacekeeping missions all over the world.

The Museum of Ontario Archaeology

There was a First Nations Pow Wow going on all weekend long. I was able to try my hand at soapstone carving. It was quite interesting to see the dances and drumming. I actually spent the afternoon outside in the First Nation village and never got the chance to go inside to the museum.

All in all, it was a great event. I look forward to it every year. There are also a lot of events to take the kids to as well. I have also found out that this event is run in several different cities annually as well. Perhaps next year, I could go do some touristy stuff in a different city.

No Homework Please

This is the news article that has been the topic of much discussion today.

http://www.vancouversun.com/life/Calgary+family+signs+homework+deal/2241272/story.html

A family in Calgary has won the right for their children not to be assigned daily homework.
I think this is an amazing thing. I actually contemplated not assigning homework myself this year. However, I was told that my board has a policy on homework and that I had to follow the policy by assigning homework and keeping track of who has done it.
I don’t think that teachers should assign homework because of a policy. Homework for homework’s sake misses the point.
The parents in this case really do get the point and I applaud them for it. They make sure that their kids are learning at school and at home. I really like the fact the parents in question actually do work with their children and help them study for tests and further their learning at home.
That is what homework should be about.
Learning does not have to start and end at school.
Parents have a responsibility to teach their children just as much as parents do. Teachers cannot control this by assigning homework. Instead, we should suggest things that our students can work on and I do that every month with a detailed newsletter.
So perhaps it is time that we rewrote those policies that we all seem to be blindly following.
I think we should make sure that the students are accountable for doing their work at school and if they choose to waste their time, they should then be assigned that work to do at home.
And of course, students should study for tests, practise learning their math facts, and read. These things go without saying. And the family in this case seems to agree with me. What else do we need?

Meet the Author

Last night I met an author. She came to my neighbourhood library to talk about her writing and to read some excerpts of her work.

Her name is Barbara Haworth-Attard.
I love how she told us that she had always written but had never even thought that it was something you could do as a career. She said, “I thought all writers were either British or dead.”
She also told us that if you want to be a writer, you should never quit your day job because you more than likely would not write. “Writing doesn’t work like that,” she said.
I found her talk to be enlightening, entertaining, and quite funny. She had quite a few fans there. I, personally, had not read any of her work yet but I just had to go to an author reading in my neighbourhood. I’m glad that I did.
I picked up a copy of her book A is for Angst


and she signed it for me.
A lot of people there told me it was hilarious. I look forward to reading it.

If you want to find out more about here, you can check her website.

http://www.barbarahaworthattard.com/

Teaching Tip Tuesday – Song Maps

This is the song map that I created to teach my class the song “Yellow Submarine.”

I love using song maps because it teaches that music can be written down and read. This image is read just like you would read any text – from left to right and top to bottom.

Here is a break down of how to read this song map.

“In the town”

“where I was born”

“lived a man who sailed the sea.”

“and he told of us of his life in the land of submarines.”


“so we sailed

up to the sun,

until we saw a sea of green.”

“and we lived beneath the waves

in our yellow submarine.”

You can easily make a song map for any song that you wish to teach to your class. All you have to do is draw simple pictures to go with each phrase or lyric.

I have drawn this song map several times in my teaching career. I like to create my song maps in front of the students so they can see that music can be written down by drawing a series of pictures. I often ask for suggestions for what picture we could draw for a certain phrase. Once the students have been exposed to a few song maps, they can then begin making their own.

I like to teach students about song maps before introducing them to sheet music or the staff. I think song maps are a great first step that any student can read without difficulty. Reading sheet music is a lot more difficult and some students have a really hard time following along.

Music teachers are scarce these days. If your school does not have a music teacher, I implore you to teach your own music each and every week. Please don’t be intimidated by music or what you may feel as a lack of skill. Start off simple by singing songs together and making song maps.

And stay tuned to Teaching Tip Tuesdays for more help teaching music. If you would like to share an idea, tip, or teaching story, consider writing a guest post. Send me an email or leave a comment below. Teachers helping teachers is what this is all about.

An Extra U, A Weird Q, A Strange S, and a Zed

I love the colour of our currency

but sometimes I write a cheque.
I like going to the Recreation Centre
but we just call it the Rec.
I practise my strokes
and analyze my technique
to get efficient and speedy
at the 50-metre freestyle
in the olympic-sized pool,
which is spelled with a Zed.
I like the extra U
the weird ending with a Q,
the RE in place of the ER,
and the S in the verb.
So don’t miss your practice,
so you can be complete
from A to Zed.
See you at the Canadian Spell Bowl Meet.

Cale Sampson Interview and Podcast

Last month, I had the chance to interview Toronto emcee Cale Sampson.

I transcribed the interview and laced it with some YouTube videos but at the time of the posting, we had some technical difficulties getting the podcast up.
Well, I am glad to announce that the podcast is now available for free download. I hope you will go check out the interview and some great hip-hop songs from the talented emcee Cale Sampson.
You can read the transcript of the interview as well if you want here.

Be Kind Today

Please remember to be kind today.

After all it is World Kindness Day.
The fact that we even need such a day is awfully telling.
The world is often not a kind place.
Yet, it can be. And it all starts with YOU. That’s right, YOU.
No one else can make the world a more kind and caring place other than you.
It’s simple really, just do something kind for someone each and every day. Please don’t limit your kind acts to family and friends either.
You can go to the Random Acts of Kindness website for some great ideas. There are also some great resources for teachers to use in the classroom.
I like that this foundation is trying to make a difference in the world by inspiring people to perform simple and acts for one another.
It reminds me of my days in Boy Scouts where one of our mottos was “Do a Good Turn Daily,” which meant simply that we should do something nice fore someone else every day.
I think we should all try to take this up as our mantra. The world would quickly become a more more kind and caring place.
So please, do something kind today,
and then again tomorrow,
and then again
and again
and
again.

Take a Moment

I never understood the phrase “Lest We Forget.”

To me, “lest” looks too much like “let’s” and of course, “Let’s forget” is something that we never want to do.
I was glad that we had some Veterans come into my class yesterday and talk to my students. I think it was enlightening for them.
My students had some great questions and one of them was,
“Did you get to shoot guns?”
Two of the veterans who served in different wars, and were highly decorated with medals that they wore proudly, told my students that they didn’t shoot guns in the war.
This lead us into a discussion about all the different jobs that are available in the army. I think most kids, boys in particular, think that war is glamorous and guns are cool. But today, I think they got to see that these men sitting in front of us were cool and that they didn’t even have to shoot a gun to protect us and keep us safe.
What a great message!

Teaching Tip Tuesday – Monthly Homework Newsletter

I send home a newsletter to parents each and every month. This is the homework portion of the newsletter I sent home last week for the month of November.

Homework is an important part of your child’s learning. It is expected that Grade 3 students do at least 20 minutes of homework per night.

Below, I have listed some ideas of things that you can be doing at home to help promote learning. Whatever you choose to do for homework that night, please write it down in your child’s planner and initial that your child did the work.

I check the planners Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday each week. I don’t expect homework to be done on the weekends. I think this is a reasonable expectation. If your child’s planner is signed and you have written down what homework was completed, I place a sticker on a homework chart beside your student’s name for that day.

So far your child has completed homework ____ out of the 25 times I have checked this year. We will be starting a new sticker chart this week. Please do your best to earn more stickers in the next 25 homework checks. Thank you.

Internet

If you have Internet access at home, you can check this website for more great homework ideas

http://www.teachersnetwork.org/dcs/homeworkhotline/intro/directory.htm

http://math-drills.com

or you can check our class blog for some ideas as well.

Workbooks

There are some great workbooks that you can purchase to get some extra practice in reading, math, and science. You can even find some at the dollar store. I have found quite a few good resources at dollar stores.

You could also buy a blank notebook for your child to write stories or to journal in. Students become better writers by writing daily. It is also nice to have all the writing your child does in one book. It gives them something to look back at and be proud of.

Times Tables Tests

Every Thursday we have a one-minute test on the times tables. Please practise the number facts so that you will be ready for the test. We started with zeros last week. Remember that any number times zero equals zero.

3 x 0 means that you have three groups of nothing so 3 x 0 = 0.

If your child passed the zero test, he or she will move on to the ones this week. Remember that any number times one will remain the same.

3 x 1 means that you have three groups of 1 so 3 x 1 = 3.

Any student who fails the short weekly test, will repeat it the following week.

I will send these tests home in the planners on Fridays so you will be able to track how your child has done.

Individual Activities

The activities below are ones that could be done on a daily basis and require little in the way of materials.

1) Read for twenty minutes
2) Write a paragraph about your day.
3) Write a poem or a story
4) Have your parent write down some math questions for you to solve (addition, subtraction, or multiplication) or print off a math sheet from http://math-drills.com
5) Try to add up a grocery bill while waiting in line at a store.
6) Memorize times tables. (0x1 = 0 …. 0 x 10 = 0, 1×1 = 1 … 1 x 10 = 10, etc) Make a game out of it. Quiz someone in your family.
7) Watch a nature show and write down jot-note facts that you learned. (i.e. – rabbits have many enemies)
8) Go online and play a math game.

Leveled Readers – On Tuesdays I will be sending home a small reader that you may keep at home. Please encourage your child to read it to someone in your family. There may be a worksheet to go with it as well.

Suggested Daily Activities

Monday – copy down the spelling words for the week, three times each

Tuesday – write sentences using the list words. You could write one sentence per each word or try to write a sentence that uses two or three words.

Wednesday – do a math sheet. I have attached one sheet per week based on what we will be learning in class.

Thursday – do one of the family activities listed below.

Family Activities


Job Activities – This week the homework will center on job activities.

Day 1 – Tonight your child is to choose an adult in his/her family to interview about their job. Please help him/her complete the task by finding the answers to these questions.

Who did you interview?
What is the name of his/her job?
Where does he/she work?
How does he/she get to work?
List three things he/she had to learn to do the job.
Does he/she like the job?
How long has he/she been doing it?

Day 2 – Draw a picture of the person you interviewed last night doing the job.

Day 3 – In an effort to show children that people need to help and cooperate to get jobs done, have the children ask the same person they interviewed earlier in the week to list three ways they need other people’s help to do their job.

Day 4 – Tonight your child is describing a job he/she might like to do by answering these questions.

What job would you like to do someday?
Why?
List three things you will need to learn how to do to do that job.
Draw a picture of yourself doing that job.

More Family Activities

Night Activities – This week the homework will center on night activities.

Day 1 – Have the children keep a journal of their activities every half hour from 5:00pm until bedtime.

Day 2 – Nighttime can be a happy time or a scary time. Have the children write (dictate) three goods things that happen at night. Choose one to illustrate as their favorite.

Day 3 – Flashlights are used at night to help us find our way in the dark. List 10 other things we use to help us find our way in the dark.

Day 4 – Since we just had Halloween, have the children make a list of candy they received for each of the colors: red, blue, green, brown, purple, yellow, orange.

Home Safety Activities (these activities went home in September but since only two students choose to do some of these, I have attached it here again. They are worthwhile activities to do with your family)

This week the homework will centre on home safety activities.

Day 1 – Have the children talk to the adults in the home about an escape plan in case of fire. Practice the plan. Have the non-writers’ adult write the plan to be brought to school to share. Writers should do the same in their owns words.

Day 2 – Have the children walk around the rooms in their homes and find dangerous things. Make a list. For five of the objects, write (dictate) a safety rule for that object. For example, for a mixer, never stick your fingers in between the blades when it is plugged into the electrical outlet.

Day 3 – Have the children write (dictate) five safety rules for using their bikes. Bring these rules to school for a class poster or book of Bike Safety Rules.

Day 4 – Have the children discuss with an adult Telephone Safety: how to answer and what to say and not to say.

Parents

– Please make sure that your child does 20 minutes of homework Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
– Please write down what they did and initial it in their planners.
– Make sure planners come to and from school every day
– Your child receives a sticker on our homework chart every day that the planner is signed with what homework was done.
– If you have any comments or questions, feel free to write me a message in the planner as well.

Thank you for your help,

Mr. March

Interestingly enough, after sending this newsletter home, I started to get a much better return on the homework assignments. Parents now understand that they need to sign the planners each night with whatever work was done that night. I have found that it is a great system that takes the ownership of homework off of the teacher and places it on the parent. And quite frankly, that is the way it should be.

Reclaimed My Name

Silent Cacophony was born a long, long time ago. It was originally a title of a book I tried to write when I was a teenager. So I knew when I started blogging that it just had to be the title of my blog as well. It just made so much sense. It also seemed like I owned the phrase because I had never heard anyone else say it. In fact, cacophony is not even a commonly used word.

So last year when I Googled the term, I was really surprised to find that other people online were using the term. Not only that, but I was third in line.

This is what I wrote in January 2008,

I don’t know if I can change the search results so I can be first in every search engine.

I want this blog to be the REAL SILENT CACOPHONY but I guess I might have to settle for sharing it with others. Too bad!

Well today I Googled “Silent Cacophony” again and it seems that I have earned that number one spot. I’ve jumped the queue and I couldn’t be happier. If you search for “Chase March” the first several hits you get are all me as well. This is awesome!

In order to celebrate, I thought I would organize the posts I wrote when I first stumbled across my old notebook that first spawned the title and the idea for this blog.

This original Silent Cacophony book was going to be the ultimate guide to life; boy was I naïve. It was full of personal observations, stories, anecdotes, commentary, etc. It was quite effectively everything that my blog is today, except that it was on paper.

When I found that long lost book, I typed up what I had written so I could share it with you. Here are those entries for you to enjoy again.

Cale Sampson Interview Part 3

In between Part 2 and Part 3 of this interview I had a really hard time reading my messy scribbles otherwise known as interview notes. We had just played a song called “Never Had a Choice” but with my writing it looked like is said “Chance” instead of “Choice.” It led to some funny moments that I might put together in a blooper real for you.

For now though, I bring you the conclusion of the interview I did with rapper, Cale Sampson. If you missed Part 1 or Part 2, please go back and check them out. You can also download the podcast for free so you can hear all our talk and his songs.

Without further ado, here is the conclusion of the interview.

Chase: “I like the lyrics in ‘Never Had a Choice.’ You point out that you are your toughest critic. ‘I expect nothing but the best.’”

Cale Sampson; “Like I said before, I’ve always held myself to a higher category (within myself.) I am my own toughest critic because I expect so much out of myself. I want my songs to be the best that I am capable of. And when I was writing that song, there was a little time period where I felt that I was losing touch a little. Nothing special was coming to me like how I was used to it.

So it was this song, that when I started writing it, that kind of got me out of that slump. I guess some of us go through that. That was just a weird little time period. I don’t know, I think I was paying to much attention to flow. People were telling me, ya know, try to ride the beat, do this and that. It kind of got to my head and I sort of went away from my normal style, which is telling stories and just trying to raise the bar lyrically. Ya know, I started listening to some that material and was like, Nah. And then I started writing ‘Never Had a Choice’ and talked my way out of that and kind of got myself back on track. So that is what that line was about.

Chase: “Very nice. And the other line I like in there that’s really cool is that you almost swear. You say, ‘I almost say the F-word but I don’t need to cuss.’”

Cale Sampson: “I’ve just made it a point ever since day one, I juts decided that I’m never gonna bother swearing in any of my tracks. That was for a couple of reasons – number 1, I don’t really swear in real life so why would I get on a track and start cussing all over the place. It doesn’t really make sense. Number 2 is like I said before, I want as many people to be able to hear this music as possible. Unfortunately, the reality is that you can be talking the best stuff in the world, you can be making a lot of sense, making great points, killing it on the mic but the second some people hear a swear word they just dismiss you and all that other content is no longer relevant. That’s just been my approach and I feel it’s more challenging when you feel that you are gonna swear to just stop and try to think of another way to say the exact same thing without actually swearing.”

Chase: Yeah, that’s pretty nice because so many people that I run into on an everyday basis just think rap is ignorant right. ‘Oh, they’re swearing. They’re just talking about garbage.’ And you hear that so much. And then you can say, ‘Yeah but there is rap that doesn’t swear,’ and then you end up pointing to Christian rap or something and people don’t necessarily want to hear that either. So it’s nice that you can kind of rock that fence and still have dope hip-hop without the curse words.”

Cale Sampson: “Exactly man. And I don’t even think that most people even realize that I don’t swear because I’m just expressing the exact same thing except I’m just not really saying it. That’s just my style. It seems to work for me. I think that the music that I’m making appeals to people anywhere from 15 to 45 or whatever. I think part of that is the fact that I don’t swear. I don’t feel the need to do it.

Chase: “Nice. It kind of reminds me of the old Tribe Called Quest records ‘cause the later stuff has a couple swear words that leak in there. Phife Dawg’s solo surprised me cause he swore so much.”

Cale Sampson: “He was waiting to get it all out, He was like, ‘Now that Q-tip’s not around man, I can go nuts on my own record.”

Chase: “Yeah, but I like how you had the rhyme in there that Tribe should’ve stayed together. Ya know, ‘cause A Tribe Called Quest are amazing. Definitely.”

Cale Sampson; “I was fortunate enough to see them live together last year at Rock the Bells, which was not a very good show but at least we got to see Tribe, we got to see De La and everybody. So that was dope to see them together one last time, for sure.

Chase: “Yeah, I got to see them years ago at Canada’s Wonderland. Busta Rhymes was on the bill, and Cypress Hill, and TLC, and Bass is Base.”

Cale Sampson; “I heard about that show. I heard Busta Rhymes was climbing up to the top of the podium or whatever in a yellow suit.”

Chase: “He was crazy. Because he did his set and he came out on everyone else’s set for the entire night.”

Cale Sampson: “Busta Rhymes collaborates with everybody. I think he’s done more collaborations with a wider-range of emcees that possibly any other emcee I can think of. Think of any other rapper, chances are Busta has done a collaboration with them. It doesn’t surprise me that he was out on everybody’s set.”

Chase: “One thing I like to talk about in interview is influences but if you listen to your album, I think you hear them. You have a song on your album called 1994 to 96 and you just run through tons and tons of album titles and references to albums and things like that. So I’m assuming that those are big parts of your record collection and influences on your style.”

Cale Sampson: “Yeah, definitely that period – 1994 to 1996, the whole song is a three minute song with no chorus. I basically tell a story using references from all my favourite records and artists and songs from those three years. All in sequential order too. The first verse in ’94, the second verse is ’95 – ’96. If you listen to that song, you’ll realize, ‘Wow, were all those songs and all those artists really within that time period?’ And definitely that was a time period where I was really focused on hip-hop. It made me step up as an emcee and made me really want to go forward because I was just feeling it so much. It was a really great period of hip-hop. Definitely a massive influence on me as a person and definitely as an emcee, for sure.”

Chase: “Yeah, I think 1994 holds a special place in a lot of hip-hoppers’ heads. I’ve seen an album, ‘I wish it was 1994,’ or something like that.”

Cale Sampson; “Nas. Illmatic. Biggie’s album. Smif and Wessun. Jeru the Damaja dropped. Gangstarr had their album code of the streets that year. It goes on and on and on. Check out the song 94 to 1996. And ’94, all those songs I just mentioned are from that period and there’s another 20 of them too that came out that year as well.”

Chase: “Maybe we should drop that one just because it’s kind of interesting to see if you can catch all the references.”

Cale Sampson: “Let’s do it. It would be fitting right now considering we’re talking about that. Pay attention to the references here. We’re going to get into the next track called 1994 to 96.”

Chase: “Okay we’re back. That was 1994 to 96 by Cale Sampson. This is Chase March on the interview tip and Daddy J is manning the boards as usual. How ya doing Cale?”

Cale Sampson; “Hey man, I’m doing great. Like I said, just happy right now, getting psyched, about ready to go on stage very soon. I’m ready to kill it and just thankful for the opportunity to on the show and speak to you guys.”

Chase: “Yeah, I’m looking forward to the show. You’re going to premiere a video, aren’t you?”

Cale Sampson: “Tonight is the video premiere of the latest – well the first video I’ve done off of this album called ‘Never Had A Choice’ that you guys heard earlier. So we’re going to be displaying that tonight. It’s gonna be good. I’m really proud of this one man, It’s done in black and white. It’s very different but it’s cool. It looks great. It’s just very me. It’s nice to be able to do a video that is a visual representation of who you are as an artist. So I’m very proud of this one. We’re going to premiere it tonight and I think people are going to enjoy it. I’m gonna pitch it to Much Music and hopefully it gets picked up. We’ll see what happens but I’m definitely excited.”

Chase: “I hope they spin it ‘cause I first saw your video, Rhytmicru ‘We Have Come For Your Children’ and that was my first exposure to you as an artist until Daddy J told me, ‘You gotta check out this disc and we gotta interview this guy, man.”

Cale Sampson; “Yeah, that’s the thing. Once you can get on Much Music and once you can get your video played. I mean I’ve been around for ten years, and as soon as that happens your audience becomes national, ya know. You can get fans that never head of you. The video is a huge thing. That’s why I’m hoping that this video goes through too.”

(A fan came up to us at this point and didn’t realize Cale was being interviewed)

Chase: “No problem. We’re at the venue. Of course Cale’s getting love here. It isn’t the only time we’ve been interrupted tonight so it’s starting to get packed here. It looks like you’ve got a lot of fans.”

Cale: “They’re ready. People are getting restless man.”

Chase: “Ready for the Cale show. They’re getting restless. Definitely. I’m feeling the album. Let’s talk about ‘Till I Met You.’ Interesting track there. Is any of that autobiographical? Is that relationship drama stuff you’ve gone through? Or is it just a typical kind of story rhyme?”

Cale Sampson: “Truth be told. That song was produced by my man Merciless, a great producer, a great man to work with, and a great dude in general. But ‘Till I Met You’ the lyrics in that song are kind of a hybrid off all the different experiences I’ve had over the years or whatever, all meshed up into one song to make it sound like a real-life story. I think it’s a good song because people can relate to it – male and female. Females love that track and dude’s can relate to it too. It’s our number one song on iTunes right now and I’m actually gonna perform that for the first time tonight just because people are feeling it.”

Chase: “Oh wow. I like that track because we’re passionate about hip-hop at DOPEfm, obviously, but one of my past girls didn’t share that passion at all and that was always a bone of contention. Every time I tried to do something hip-hop related, she’s was on me about it.”

Cale Sampson: “It’s pretty impossible when you’re this deep into hip-hop to have a girlfriend who’s not into it. That’s the big test. If she’s not feeling my lyrics or is like, ‘yeah, yeah, that’s good,’ or whatever when I play her a song, she’s not gonna be my girlfriend. My girlfriend has to be into it, man. For real. You’re not still with her are you?”

Chase: “Nah man, not at all. I totally get you there. Some people say that hip-hop is their first love too.”

Cale Sampson: “That’s just the way I feel man.”

Chase: “I think De La Soul had a lyric like that one on of their songs too. I can’t remember what the song is right now. I guess it’s a common theme.”

Cale Sampson: “Look man. If you are living hip-hop, which we are, I mean if a girl isn’t feeling that, then she’s not feeling you. So I’m not feeling her either, ya know what I mean. You’ve got to find a girl who can respect that passion, respect that drive, and understand it and be by your side, and find inspiration through her man that’s doing that. And when that happens the culmination of working together with this lady is special. Ya know, sometimes you’ve got to filter through a lot, especially in hip-hop because some girls are attracted to you and they’re not necessarily attracted to you for the right reasons because you’re on stage and you look cool. But any other day, it’s not that. It’s about what you’re doing behind the scenes, all the hard work that you’re putting into that. It’s about that passion. They got to be there for you feeling that, ya know what I mean, there by your side and rising to the occasion.”

Chase: “Yeah definitely. Hip-hop is a way of life. A lot of people don’t understand that. Hip-hop is a culture it’s not just the music.”

Cale Sampson: “Absolutely”

Chase: “So thanks for stopping by. Thanks for the opportunity letting us interview you. I think we’ll play one more track and call it a night. Really looking forward to seeing your show tonight.”

Cale Sampson: “Thanks a lot, I really appreciate it. Big up DOPEfm. Big up McMaster. All you guys in Hamilton. Really appreciate your support. And yeah, much love.”

Chase: “Alright thanks. Stay tuned for more DOPEfm all night long.”

Thanks for checking out this interview. Make sure you download the podcast to hear some great songs that I couldn’t embed in the blog posts. Consider subscribing for free as well. We always bring you the best in underground hip-hop with great mix sets and dope artist interviews.
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Cale Sampson Interview Part 2

Chase: “How ya doing Cale?”

Cale Sampson: “I’m doing great, man. Thanks very much for having me on the show. I really appreciate it. DOPEfm is solid radio show that’s been around for a long time. I got much love for you guys. I’m really happy to be on the air with you guys to talk.”

Chase: “We just played your song ‘Potential” and I really like the lyrics in that one. It’s kind of ‘poor man rap’ relating it to Sweatshop Union there. In one part you say, ‘This is a call for help. Ya know, this is real life, I can’t do it all by myself.’ and then you start addressing the listener. So I’m wondering if that was about you needing listeners or like you needing support from like the whole business aspect?”

Cale Sampson: “Yeah, definitely. I think both. It’s the struggle, right? I remember when I wrote that first verse of ‘Potential,’ I remember the exact spot I was. It just came to me. I basically freestyled it. But it came right from my heart and I remember at that time, ya know, just loving it and feeling like I was at my peak, lyrically. But just being broke. I remember walking to the bank to take out my last twenty bucks and not even knowing what I was going to do next, really desperate. I just wanted to fulfill my dream. So that song starts off with desperation but it builds up into courage, and like I said, just sticking with it and over time finding your strength. And at the end of it, it’s basically the struggle leading to the glory. Nothing in life comes easy as we all know. I’ve been rhyming since I was nine years old and since I was a little kid, it’s always been a part of my life. I’ve gone through ups and downs. I think most emcees feel that struggle. It’s a beautiful struggle, but in the end, when you experience the glory, it’s all worth it, ya know.”

Chase: “Definitely. I want to talk a little bit about the writing process because you have a really nice lyric in that song, once again. It says, “Cale’s rhymes always control the instrumental, the beat rides me.” Now most people say it the other way around, that the beat tells them what to say and that they ride the beat. But you’re flipping it and saying, “the beat rides me.”

Cale Sampson: “I’ve always put a lot of focus on the lyrical side of things. I felt that that was one way to make myself stand out, was to try and find subject matter that other rappers never really touched upon, try to develop different styles that people had never explored before, just try to be original, know what I mean? Try to do something different, try to contribute something unique to hip-hop and to my style. I actually had written about 80 percent of my songs without a beat. A lot of the lyrics just seem to come to me. into my head when I’m walking or when I’m traveling. And a lot of time I don’t have a beat, but what I will have is a napkin or a piece of paper around. So, in a way, I just wait until I find that right beat and sometimes it takes a long time but I keep all these lyrics and all these songs. Basically, the lyrics come before the beat does in most cases in my situation, which is a little bit different than the way a lot of people work.”

Chase: “Yeah, I heard Shad writes the same way. You’ve actually collaborated with Shad, I think.”

Cale Sampson: “Yeah, we’ve done a couple of joints together. Also with the Rhythmicru did a track off of Supertoke 2 called ‘This is the Underground.’ We did some stuff with Shad when Shad was first getting into Toronto, we did a lot of shows with him. We went out to London and did some shows with him too. Great dude, amazing skills, I wish him all the best. It’s great to see him killing it and building his career too. I think it’s good for hip-hop in general to hear Shad’s voice out there.”

Chase: “Definitely. He’s really taking off. The Canadian scene seems to be growing right now and getting some international success. And it’s interesting to see that you have some producers on here. You’ve got Kemo producing something on here, from the Rascalz. You got Classified producing a track.”

Cale Sampson: “And we got D-ray as well. D-ray, my man from the crew.”

Chase: “So, it’s a Canadian production there through and through.”

Cale Sampson: “We got my man Merciless too. He’s also one of my producers as well, who is actually here right.”

Chase: “Nice! We’re at the venue right now. Cale’s gonna to be going on shortly so lots of people are here. Good to see, good to see. Speaking about the writing process, how you’re saying you actually write a lot of stuff wherever you are or you write it down on a napkin. And before you said that you kind of freestyled ‘Potential.’ Don’t you think some of the best writing does come spur of the moment like that?”

Cale Sampson; “When I write a song, I try to make every single song unique, something distinct, and also kind of diverse. I think if anybody listens to the album, they’ll feel a wide-range of not just subject matter but emotion too. Ya know, there’s happy songs, there’s angry songs, there’s positive songs, political songs, and I’ve got songs that may not appeal to a hip-hop head but then I got songs like 94 to 96 that only a hip-hop head could fully understand as well. So, I think as long as you write from a real, genuine, emotional state whatever it may be. When you’re feeling something for real and you’re able to get it out somehow, which is a lot of the time how I write, it hits. It hits hard and that’s the songs that most people feel.”

Chase: “It’s interesting because you do have that versatility there. You’ve got some political songs, you’ve got some jiggy songs that, quite frankly, I kind of want to skip, like you just said, some heads might not be feeling it. Do you not feel an obligation to maybe make an underground album and label yourself that way because I know at DOPEfm we play mostly underground like that’s kind of our mantra.”

Cale Sampson: “Well, I came from the underground, I’ve grown up in the underground, and I still am in the underground. I think that my album is an underground album, for sure. There might be a couple of tracks on there that are a little bit less underground. I did that, in a way, on purpose. Some of my songs, for instance ‘The Human Genome Project’ before that there’s a song called ‘Distractions’ and in a way they’re kind of polar opposites. But what I was thinking was that I’m not trying to make an album solely for underground hip-hop heads.

I want everybody to be able to listen to this. And you know sometimes those songs that may not be the underground hip-hop heads’ favourites serve a purpose because it gets someone who might not normally be listening to my music listening and then the next song that comes on after that will be the most underground hip-hop song, which I want them to hear. So that’s the purpose for some of those songs.

And at the end of the day, I’m an underground hip-hop artist. I do all my own stuff. I’m my own businessman. College radio has been very friendly to me. Ya know, it peaked at number 3 in Canada so I think that’s representative of where I’m at, ya know? I’m happy if a mainstream radio station will play my song or if Much Music picks it up because all it is, is bringing the underground to a wider audience.”

Chase: “That’s a nice philosophy to have. And that ‘Distractions’ song is actually kind of cool in the way that you are kind of making fun of pop culture and just the consumerism culture that we have and how there really isn’t privacy. And like you said how those two songs kind of work together because in ‘The Human Genome Project’ you have that same kind of theme. Whereas, if we’re manipulating genes and stuff like that, then where’s the privacy there because people can see where that goes. So they almost do kind of blend together.”

Cale Sampson; “Exactly, and that was my purpose. It was a very strategic move to stick that song in front of the other one to try to set up the common listener so they could hear that song. Because I think that that song is one of my best songs and definitely one of the most politically relevant tracks. But it’s also maybe not the easiest track to listen to if you’ve never heard me before. The first song sets up the other one and it was done on purpose.”

Chase: “Very nice. Alright. I think it’s time we drop another track and I really want to drop ‘Never had a…’ Is it ‘choice’ or ‘chance?’ I can’t read my own writing here.”

Cale Samspon: “Never Had a Choice”

Chase: “It’s Choice, okay. I was scribbling in the car, sorry man. It’s a little messy there.”

Cale Sampson: “It’s all good man.”

Chase: “Alright so this is ‘Never Had a Choice’ It’s off of Cale Sampson: The Album. Disc One. So hopefully you’re here tonight because with the cover charge you can get this disc, which is really nice. And it’s good Canadian underground hip-hop. So anyway, we’re gonna play this track and I want to touch on a few of the lyrics when we’re done. So this is ‘Never Had a Choice’ by Cale Sampson, Chase March on the interview tip, Daddy J’s manning the boards. Let’s spin that track and we’ll be back.”

Sorry I couldn’t find “Never Had a Choice” on YouTube. Make sure you download the podcast to hear it. In the meantime, I leave you with this video from his group Rhythmicru “We Have Come For Your Children” and hope you will come back here tomorrow for Part 3 of this interview. If you missed Part 1, please click here.


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Cale Sampson Interview

Last month, I had the honour of interviewing Toronto’s own Cale Sampson. I have transcribed the interview here but you can also catch the whole thing as a podcast at the DOPEfm page. Thanks to Daddy J for helping to set this interview up and for manning the boards. So without further ado, we bring you the Cale Sampson interview – Part 1.

Chase: “Alright everybody this is Chase March. We’re at the Blue Moon for the Cale Sampson show today and we’re lucky enough to be able to sit down with him before the show. How ya doing, Cale?”

Cale Sampson: “Doing fantastic. Really excited for this show. People are starting to roll through right now. I’m super-stoked. I think we’re gonna have a sold-out show tonight. I plan on really giving ‘er during the live performance and hopefully just giving back to all my friends and fans who’ve been supporting me this past year. I really want to give them a great show and just touch them in their hearts, make them feel special tonight.”

Chase: “Sounds good. So, you just put out an album recently and it’s really interesting because there are two discs in it. There’s Cale Sampson: The Album and Cale Sampson: The Demo so can you tell us how this came about?”

Cale Sampson: “Yeah, sure. Well, for people who haven’t heard of me, my name is Cale Sampson. I’ve been rhyming for well over ten years. I first started rhyming, believe it or not, when I was nine years old. And I just haven’t really stopped since then It’s been a passion and it’s slowly just become who I am and a massive part of my life. I’ve been making tunes for well over a decade and never really released a solo album. I have released albums with my group, Rhythmicru but a solos album was something that I always wanted to do. So over the past ten years, I’ve been recording songs, building up to this release.

There are two discs. One is the demo, one is the album, and they represent two different time periods of my life and my career. the demo is sort of me during my developing stage. I’m a little bit more raw, more hip-hop focused, my voice is a little but more squeaky, but it’s still me developing.

The album is sort of where I’m at right now, more storytelling, more personal, and given the fact that this was my first solo release and I’ve been involved for so long and experienced so much, I just felt that it was only fitting to include them both. It’s like looking at a painting, ya know what I mean, you can’t really see the picture till you see both sides. It just seemed fitting to release all my best material to tell my whole story. I think that once people listen to both albums, they really understand where I’m at right now. Whereas if I just gave them one or the other, it wouldn’t quite tell the whole story and as I was referring to before, show the complete picture.”

Chase: “Yeah that’s pretty cool because most demos will get leaked further along the line and it’s like when Cale’s huge everyone will be like, “Yo, did you hear his demo?” and some people will brag over it, “Oh, I heard his demo a long time ago man.” So now, like everyone’s getting the demo right now.

Cale Sampson: “I know and it’s dope. A lot of the songs on the demo people may have heard. They were on smaller releases but mostly they were just tracks that I did live that were people’s favourites, and I felt that I wanted to include those because a lot of people’s favourite tracks come off of the demo. In fact, a lot of people even when they listen to the album right now they say they can’t tell which one is their favourite. They like them equally as much and some people actually do like the demo better than the album, which I can respect too.”

Chase: “So it’s been a long time coming for the Cale Sampson solo stuff but you have been with Rhythmicru for about seven years now, is that correct?”

Cale Sampson: “Yeah, I guess it has been a bout seven years. We first started in about 2002, 2003. Ya know, those were guys I grew up with in my neighbourhood. We were all sort of solo artists. We’re all trying to just pool our talents together to try to make something bigger than the sum of our parts. That’s what we did and for the last five years, we’ve been releasing a steady stream of albums together as a crew. We started our own record label and did a lot of stuff, had a lot of great experiences, we went on the Van’s Warped Tour, opened up for a lot of different acts that we respect, and one of our highlights was going to Taiwan and doing a two-week tour out there that was just a dream come true for me and all the guys too.

We were like brothers and friends and to be sharing our mutual goals of going across to the other side of the world, a place of the Earth where nobody really speaks English and being on this side of the stage rocking shows for thousands of people is literally almost unbelievable. I had to punch myself, but it was great. It was cool.”

Chase: “That’s pretty amazing. I understand that on one of the Rhythmicru albums, you had a solo joint ‘Facts of War’ and that track was apparently pretty huge. I saw that there was some write-ups on it about people were really interested in your subject matter and how it was a really gritty, anti-war song.”

Cale Sampson; “Yeah, I mean, that song was the song that got Rhythmicru and myself known. I think that was a statement song that people took notice of. This is one of the songs that’s on the demo disc that we were talking about. ‘The Facts of War,’ I actually wrote that shortly after 9/11, very shortly after. And believe it or not, when I was writing this song, I was originally gonna write a song dissing the terrorists and whatnot. And then, I realized that if I was going to do a political song, ‘cause not all my songs are political, but if I was, I wanted to make sure that I got my facts straight.

So I went on the Internet, and this was pre-anti George Bush. Nobody had any knowledge including me. The only person who was writing anything, who was sort of behind the curtain, was Noam Chomsky. So basically, ‘The Facts of War,” I just researched Chomsky and a couple other different guys who were on the Internet.

And the more I started to research 9/11, the more I started to realize that maybe I didn’t really want to talk about the terrorists, maybe I want to talk about what’s going on in the US government right now. That’s sort of where my research led me and ‘The Facts of War” is a sort of a culmination of all that research. It’s not an anti-American track, it’s more just an anti-US-government with George Bush at that time, which is kind of funny.

It was a risky move when I first put it out, even guys in my crew were like, “I don’t think we should do this,” ya know what I mean. I’m not sure. But we did it and it made an impact and it got ourselves known, it touched a lot of people, professors were using it in university, kids were doing projects about it in high school, it seemed to hit a market that was way beyond hip-hop people, you know.”

Chase: “Wow, so that’s on your demo but the first track of your album, you actually mention George Bush so you’re still kind of on that same topic.”

Cale Sampson: “Yeah, I guess. In my opinion, I was probably the first or one of the first people to take a chance and diss George Bush which seems kind of funny now because there’s thousands of anti-George Bush tracks out there. But at that time, I felt that I was going against the norm by taking that chance. And I felt that I backed it all up with facts and information because the way I wrote that song was basically the way a student would write an essay, ya know what I mean. An introduction, all my points, and then a conclusion at the end. So I approached that song as if I were a student at university handing in a paper. I mean, occasionally I’ll still reference it but I think I’m done with that now, I think we all are. We’re on to bigger and better things now in the world. There’s no reason to really focus on negativity like that anymore.”

Chase: “Definitely, there’s a lot of positive lyrics in your album and in your demo. So I think we should let the listeners hear something right now, so do you have a favourite track you’d like to spin right now?”

Cale Sampson: “Maybe, if we don’t listen to Facts of War, I feel like I’m a little bit of an underdog. I feel like, in a lot of ways because of all the things that I’ve done. I’ve just stuck with it for so long. Now I’m starting to, I wouldn’t say reap the rewards, but I’m feeling the love back to me now. A lot of opportunities have come my way and I feel blessed. I feel like all the hard work has paid off. So I think my story is one of just sticking with your dream and sticking with your passion even against all odds. Just believing in yourself and going for it when things look down, you stick with it and they eventually come back up. I think a good song to go off of that spirit and, like how you said, positivity, is probably a song called ‘Potential.’”

Chase: “Nice! I really like that track. Alright, so we’re gonna throw to that right now. Daddy J is gonna spin that, he’s manning the boards. This is Chase March on the interview tip and we’ll be back with more of Cale Sampson right after this.”

Sorry but I couldn’t find that track on YouTube to share with you so I will leave you with “Facts of War” instead. Download the podcast to hear all of his great songs that we dropped. And don’t forget to tune in here tomorrow for Part 2 of the Cale Sampson interview.


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Teaching Tip Tuesday – Mark Book

It is very important to have an organized record of the marks you assign your students.

Marks are a personal matter and should not be written down in your Day Book. That’s why it is important to keep a separate Mark Book.

I use a sheet just like this one to record all of the marks I assign. I write my students names in number order and then photocopy this sheet for every strand of the curriculum.

You can download a MS Word version of this tracking sheet here.

There are two rows for each student. On the first row you can record the student’s mark. The second row can be used to keep a running percentage if you choose to do so. I used to do that but it doesn’t really need to be done if you teach the primary grades. Instead I use that second row to put in some codes “w/a” stands for “with assistance” and it lets me know that the student did not complete his or her work independently. I can also write “ND” for “not done” or “I” for incomplete or “A” for absent.

I find that these codes really help me when I scan these marking sheets in order to assign grades when it comes time to write the report cards.

My mark book is in a 1 inch binder and I use a index divider like this one. I assign each number to one particular strand of the curriculum. That way, I can easily flip to that tab whenever I need to add a mark for a student.

The first three tabs I use for school info, staff meeting minutes, and any initiatives I need to keep track of.
The rest of the tabs are used for the individual strands of the curriculum. For example I use #4 for Reading, # 5 Writing, # 6 Spelling # 7 Oral Communication # 8 Media Literacy # 9 Math drills # 10 Math – Number Sense # 11 Math – Measurement # 12 Math – Geometry # 13 Math – Patterning and Algebra # 14 Math – Data Management, etc.
This way I have a separate mark sheet for each unit. I find that this system really helps me keep track of all the marks I will need to be able to write the report cards.
I also like all of this in a binder so I can take out whatever sheet I want to record marks on and attach it to my clipboard. I can quickly walk around the room and add marks this way. I can also take a load of work and my binder with me so that I can input marks wherever I chose to.
It’s a handy way for me to keep all my marks organized and together. I also find that this system works great during the parent-teacher interviews as I can show these marks to both the parents and the students. Missed assignments and blanks really stand out this way and can be eye-opening.
I also level everything so that my marks in this book need to do be converted or averaged when it comes to write report cards.
I hope that you are finding these series if tips useful. If so, please leave a comment below or consider writing a guest post to share some of your best teaching ideas.
Teachers helping teachers is what it is all about.