Monthly Archives: December 2009

Top Albums of the 00 Decade

Here are my pick for The Top Albums of the 2000’s.
It was a difficult task putting this list together. There have been some great albums in this decade of the double-o.
Here are my top 5. They are followed by an alphabetical list of albums that I have really enjoyed these past ten years.
5) De La Soul – The Grind Date
It’s amazing how these hip-hop pioneers always manage to hit us with gem after gem. The title track to this disc is amazing and inspirational. It lets us know that we have to work hard to get what we want and to make things happen. De La Soul leads by example by crafting a great album.

4) Common – Like Water for Chocolate

This album is sonically beautiful. It is produced by the Soulquarians, a collective of hip-hop and soul producers featuring ?uestlove of The Roots and the late great Jay Dee. Common is also at his lyrical best as he tackles a wide variety of topics.
3) Blu and Exile – Below the Heavens
Exile is an amazing producer who crafts some great beats that really compliment what Blu is able to do on the microphone. This album has been in heavy rotation for me since its release.
2) Blue Scholars – Bayani

This disc bangs from beginning to end. One of my favourite tracks is “Still Got Love” where emcee Geologic tells us about how much love he has for the things and people around him. It is the opposite of a dis-record and I hadn’t really heard anything like it before or since then.
1) Avril Lavigne – Let Go

From the first moment I saw the video to “Complicated” I was hooked on Avril Lavigne. I think this album got the most plays from me this decade. I can sing along to every single song on this disc. This debut album deserves to be at the top of the list. It is the best album of the 2000’s in my humble opinion.
The Best Albums of the 2000’s

Here is my complete list of bangers from the double-o decade in alphabetical order.

2Pac – Better Dayz
Afu-Ra – Body of the Life Force
Avril Lavigne – Let Go – Under My Skin (pop)
Bif Naked – Superbeautifulmonster (rock)
Big Pun – Yeeeah Baby
Black Eyed Peas – Bridging the Gap
Blackalicious – Nia
Blu and Exile – Below the Heavens
Blue Scholars – Bayani
Brother Ali – The Undisputed Truth – Us

Buffalo Tom – 3 Easy Pieces (rock)
Classified – Trial and Error
Common – Like Water for Chocolate – Be
De La Soul – The Grind Date
Dilated Peoples – The Platform – Expansion Team
EMC – The Show
Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP
Gangstarr – The Owners
Goldfinger – Stomping Ground (rock)
Ice Cube – Laugh Now Cry Later
Ivan Ives – Iconoclast
Jay – Z – The Black Album
Jurassic 5 – Quality Control
Kayne West – The College Dropout – Late Registration – Graduation
Kelly Clarkson – All I Ever Wanted
Kidz in the Hall – School Was My Hustle
Kyprios – Say Something
Little Brother – The Minstrel Show
Masta Ace – Disposable Arts
Median – Median’s Relief
Move.meant – Scope of Things
Murs – Murs for President – Murs 3:16 The 9th Edition
Nas – God’s Son
Q-Tip – Renaissance Man
Reflection Eternal – Train of Thought
Rihanna – Good Girl Gone Bad (pop)
The Roots – The Tipping Point – Game Theory
Tim McGraw – Live Like You’re Dying (country)
Self Scientific – The Self Science
Shad – The Old Prince
superGARAGE – Demolition (rock)
Sweatshop Union – Water Street – United we Fall
Swollen Members – Bad Dreams
Taylor Swift – Fearless (country)
Xzibit – Restless

The Torch Came Through

The 2010 Winter Olympic Games are being held in Vancouver early next year. That is on the other side of the country.

Fortunately, they decided to pay us a visit on their way. Here’s a picture of the convoy rolling through.

I had never seen the Olympic Torch before and was really excited to be a part of this great event. It brought the entire community together and you could feel the anticipation of the crowd.
Monty McGahey runs proudly with the flame.

We couldn’t have asked for a better day for it.

It was cold but we had clear blue skies and the community turned out in full force to cheer.
It was something to see.
It feels like a once in a lifetime experience. I hope that Canada can host the Olympic Games again some time. I like how it brings people together. The spirit of the games are alive and well.
I was glad to be a part of this day.

Top 9 Albums of ’09

Here are my picks for Top Albums of the year 2009.

1) Brother Ali. Us

I just love this album. The title cut is one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. The entire album has a feel-good vibe to it that I just can’t seem to put into words. It has been in constant rotation since I bought it on its release date.
The art work is simply amazing as well. Go to a store and buy the physical copy of this one. It is so worth it. In fact, there are only two albums on this entire list that I own a physical copy of.

2) Kyprios. 12:12
Kyprios is one of my all-time favourite emcees. I seriously can’t understand why he didn’t blow up on the strength of his major label debut album from 2004 or from the four albums he has done with Sweatshop Union.
This latest album has been in constant rotation for me since I picked up my digital copy from iTunes.

3) Taylor Swift. Fearless

This has been Taylor Swift’s year. I had heard her songs before on the radio but other than “Our Song” I hadn’t paid much attention to her.

I was thankful for all the success she got this year because I finally took the time to listen to her. In no time at all, I was completely taken in by her open and honest music. This album deserves the number 3 spot.

4) Kelly Clarkson. All I Ever Wanted.
This album really surprised me. I never followed American Idol and wasn’t impressed at all with her early material. It was in 2004 when her album, Breakaway was released that I started to pay attention to her. I didn’t buy her next album because I wasn’t really pulled in by any of those songs. This album though, I think is her finest work.
5) Just Me. Before the Twilight

Blogs are the best. I never would have discovered this gem if it weren’t for the hip-hop blogs that I subscribe to. I wish I knew which blog I found this on so I could big it up here.
Just Me is part of The Tunnel Rats, a legendary crew who make great music. You would never know it upon first listen but this is actually Christian rap. It doesn’t hit you over the head with religious messages, Just Me doesn’t preach to you, instead he gives you solid, underground hip-hop.
There were so many good albums released this year. I stand by the ordering in this list, but really wish this album had placed higher. It really is that good.
6) D-Sisive. Jonestown
D-sisive is an amazingly gifted Canadian emcee. He used to be a funny, punch line-driven, battle rapper. I was sure that he was going to go far in the music industry.
He disappeared for a few years and came back with some material that was much darker and depressing. I did my best to give his new material a shot but it was just too dark for me to get into.
Nobody with a Notepad from his album Let the Children Die really won me over though. I started listening to his new material again and was pleasantly surprised at how strong an album Jonestown is. It was released as a free album and I strongly suggest you go download it for free.
7) Classified: Self Explanatory

Classified’s latest album Self-Explanatory plays like a who’s who of Canadian hip-hop. There are some amazing guest artists on this album but it doesn’t dilute the potency of it one bit. Sometimes its obvious that an emcee cannot stand on his own but that simply is not the case with Classified.
Classified handles a vast majority of the production on this album and his beats bang. He is also a super-cool, down-to-earth guy. I really enjoyed meeting him this year and sitting down with him for an interview for DOPEfm. You can download the podcast of the interview for free. If you like what you hear, go cop this album. It’s worth it. (I own it on CD too)
8) New Cities: Lost in City Lights

I wasn’t sure I would like a pop-electro band but I had the opportunity to interview them this summer and was completely blown away by their live show.
This album has a feel good vibe to it and you can’t help but sing along and dance to it.

9) Bekay. Hunger Pains

Sometimes the beats alone really get you into an album. This album has some amazing production from the likes of The Alchemist, Marco Polo, The Returners, and DJ Babu. The beats are really reminiscent of DJ Premiere and sound amazing.
Bekay also manages to get some great guest appearances, most notable the legend Masta Ace. Also featured are Inspectah Deck, DJ Revolution, Dilated Peoples, and Heltah Skeltah.
The album doesn’t feel like a bunch of random producers and emcees were just thrown behind it, like can so often happen when you see credits such as these. The album really works.
So, those are My Top 9 Albums of ’09.

It’s been a great year for albums, which I am so glad to see. It seems that the industry is slowly moving away from albums in favour of singles. I much prefer albums and hope they never die.
I was as surprised as you to see the pop and country music on this list. But good music is good music.
I hope you enjoy the albums that I have picked this year.

An Avid Reader Set to Go Digital

I never thought that I would actually consider reading books electronically but I must say, that I think I am sold on this device.

It’s the Sony Reader. It apparently doesn’t hurt your eyes. It’s not backlit like a computer and is as easy on the eyes as a paper bound book.

Of course, not having enough money to buy one means that I’m not really “sold” on it, but I want one.
So that’s why I’m closing off my proverbial wish list with this gorgeous little item. Maybe someone has been listening.

A New Sampler Please!

Dear Santa,

I have had my eye on this device for a few years now.
It is a Roland MV 8000 Professional Studio. I’ve been drooling over this piece of tech ever since I saw an advertisement for it in Scratch magazine.

I loved making beats when I was younger. I haven’t really done it in years. Back in the day I used an AKAI sampling keyboard and programmed my sequences using Cubase on an Atari computer.

From my research, the Roland sampler seems to have everything that the more popular AKAI MPC series comes with.

I’m not sure which is the best sampler to get but I know that I want one. I would also really like Scratch magazine to be revived. It was an amazing read each and every month that focused on the creation of the music. I have yet to see a magazine that covered music production as well as this one. It was hip-hop through an through and I was very sad to see the magazine go under.

So my proverbial wish for today is to get a good high-grade sampler and to get XXL to start publishing Scratch magazine again. (Anybody listening?)

DC Universe DVD Collection

This is the second entry in My Proverbial Wish List.

It’s a box set of the animated movies from DC comics.
DC produces some great animation. Their movies tend to be a bit darker and are meant for mature audiences, unlike the Saturday morning cartoon shows.
My regular readers will know that I don’t have cable TV. I borrow movies and televisions series from the public library often and occasionally will spring for a rental movie.
I have wanted to see these movies for a while but I have only seen Superman: Doomsday so far, which I was able to borrow from the library. I must say that the movie was very well done and I really enjoyed it.
I hope the library will get the other titles in this series, but you never really know what they will order. These titles looks just as good as the above one. That is why I would like to get this box set for Christmas and am adding it to my proverbial wish list.
Here are the other 5 movies that come in the set,
Justice League: The New Frontier
Batman: Gotham Knight
Green Lantern: First Flight
Wonder Woman
Batman / Superman : Public Enemies

I’ve heard some great things about these movies and would really like to see them some day. This box set makes them affordable since I have seen each of these DVDs new on the shelf for about $20 each.
Could make a great Christmas present for any last minute shoppers that have comic book fans on their lists.

Classic Transformers

I absolutely loved Transformers when I was a kid. It wasn’t a show about toys. It wasn’t just about robots that could change into cars, airplanes, or guns. It was so much more.

These robots were real. They had motives, they had character traits, and you couldn’t help but get completely pulled in to the story. Which, of course, is what made this cartoon series so enduring.
I was glad to see that the first season had finally been released domestically. I bought it this past summer, as soon as I saw it in the store. I didn’t even have to think about it. I knew I needed to buy it.
I was a little nervous that watching these episodes again that the magic of the series would have been lost, like it were part of my childhood that I couldn’t return to.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the stories still hold up, that the characters are as well-defined and likeable as I remembered. I really enjoyed rewatching the episodes.
I was hoping that by purchasing this first set that they would actually release all four of the seasons. So far, I don’t think there are any plans to do so.
However, I just saw this new box set in the store.
Yes, this is the complete series, all four seasons of Transformers. I absolutely love how the box is drawn like the matrix and how it pulls apart to reveal the 16 DVDs. Man, that brings back memories.
It also comes with two magnets. The season 1 set came with an Autobot magnet.
I so want this box set. I had to linger in the aisle for a few minutes and really consider whether or not I should buy it. I knew I wanted it. But ultimately, I left the store without picking it up. I really can’t afford to spend close to $200 on it.
So for now, I am going to put it on my proverbially wish-list.
See you here tomorrow for Wish # 2.

My Proverbial Wish List

You know what’s funny?

Up until yesterday, I didn’t really think about Christmas gifts for myself. I was convinced that I didn’t need anything. Perhaps that is true in a sense.
I’ve had a lot of great Christmases and I don’t need to just accumulate stuff. I have pretty much everything that I need in life, as far as material things go.
So, I did a stupid thing on Saturday.
I had already completed all of my Christmas shopping. But here it was the first day of Christmas vacation and I was bored. So I went shopping for no reason.
I really shouldn’t have gone because I saw all these cool things that I really wanted to buy.
Of course, all I bought was a spool of blank CDs and an SD card for my MP3 player (the two things that I had actually went out for. And they were on sale too. Nice!)
I was proud of myself for not submitting to temptation and buying all sorts of things for myself.
So for the next few days, I will be posting my proverbial wish list. Any generous readers out there could send me any of these things as a belated gift (since I know it’s getting too late to get things shipped now.) But like I said earlier, I really don’t need anything. I probably shouldn’t even have typed that.
Maybe these items will inspire people who haven’t finished their Christmas shopping yet.
Happy Holidays Everyone!

In Fifteen Years

Boy meets girl and they share an intense connection.

Something happens and they get separated.

Boy moves on with his life but thinks of her often.

Girl moves on too and is sad that things didn’t work out.

Both boy and girl feel the intense connection they shared way back when, no matter how much time or distance separates them.

After some time, they find each other again and start their happily ever after together.

I keep seeing movies like this and I wonder when mine is going to come true.

Life is too short to be apart from the one you love.

I feel a strong connection to my true love and I think of her every day.

I just hope we can get our fairytale ending

like the ones I see happen in the movies

but I guess I can’t rush things.

I just don’t want to have to wait 15 years.

Christmas Concert – Relatively Painless

School Christmas concerts can be an agonizing affair. I know from experience. Fortunately, so does our principal. She is new to the school but she had some great ideas about how to make tonight’s performances go smoothly.

The first change was that we didn’t use the stage. It has terrible acoustics anyway.
What we did was have all of the classes sit together around the stage area (an open section of floor at one end of the gym). We had spot lights set up so that the stage area was lighted well and it actually felt like a stage.
I think it was great having the classes sit together all around the stage area. This gave plenty of room for the dancing acts to move around when it was their time to perform. For the singing acts, such as my class, when it was our time to perform, all we had to do was stand up and go.
This was a great way to run a school Christmas concert. We didn’t have to figure out how to enter and exit the stage. This saved a lot of time.
I also tried something new for this concert. I had the entire student body sing a song together to close out the show. I was a little nervous that we wouldn’t be able to pull it off. I had put a lot of work into putting it all together over the past several weeks. But it worked.
The students sang great and I got a lot of compliments for my conducting and organizing the school-wide choir. It was pretty cool. I’d like to try it again. Perhaps a spring concert, hmmm, (just thinking out loud.)
Anyway, it was a great night. And possible the most painless Christmas concert I have ever been a part of in my teaching career thus far. That’s saying a lot when I had 130 kids singing all at one time.
Success! It feels good.

Teaching Tip Tuesdays – Sometime You Just Need a Break

I hope you have been enjoying my Teaching Tip Tuesdays series of posts.

Today’s tip – Sometimes You Just Need a Break.
Teachers work really hard. We have so much work to do on a daily basis. That’s why it is important to try and do as much work as we can at school so we can enjoy our time off. This, of course, is easier said than done. I don’t know any teachers who don’t take their work home with them.
But since the Christmas season is approaching I thought I’d lead by example. I will not be bringing any work home with me this break. I am going to work hard this week to plan the first week back in January. I will clean up the classroom and do any marking that needs to be done before I lock up my classroom for this calendar year on Friday.
So I decided that I wouldn’t write another teaching tip for this year either. I was going to take three weeks off and just write an explanation as to why I needed this break. Yet, in so doing, it seems that I have indeed written another tip. Oh well, that’s how it goes I guess.
The New Year will be a great one here at Silent Cacophony. There will be some guest posts written by teachers from all over the globe. If you want to be a part of this project, please write a post and email it to me.
Don’t forget to check the Table of Contents page for all the Teaching Tip Tuesday posts. They are organized by theme there as well. Until then, I wish you all the best this holiday season.
Thanks for reading!

Give Me The Tools to Do My Job

Until you have done it, you will never know how difficult a job it is to get in front of two-dozen kids each and every day and try to teach them. There are so many obstacles that need to be overcome on a daily basis.

Some students make no qualms about the fact that they would rather be any other place than behind a student desk and in front of a teacher.

Other kids know that they need to be in class but other than being physically present, they don’t feel any obligation to learn. Their parents often treat school as a babysitting service and show their disdain for education in every way that they possible can.

Other students will do as little as possible and very rarely complete any work.

These behaviours and attitudes are really hard to overcome because teachers don’t have the tools to do the job effectively.

We can keep students in at recess to catch up on any work that has not been completed. The downside here is that both the students and the teacher lose out on a break that is needed. The old saying that you can lead a horse to water applies here too because some students still won’t complete the work.

As for disruptions to the class, kids do it so they can get sent out of the classroom. They usually get out of doing the work, have all the attention on them for a while, and come back to the class with little or no consequence.

If I have a problem with a student, quite often I don’t get the support I need from the parents. I know that when I was a student, if my teacher called home, my parents listened and I certainly heard about it. I was held accountable for my actions. I got in trouble and had actual consequences.

Nowadays this isn’t happening. I call parents with concerns or ask for some support from them if their child is being disruptive or unproductive in class. It’s sad to say but I often don’t get the cooperation from home that is so desperately needed.

So what do the students really learn?

They learn that they don’t need to be respectful to the teacher. They learn that their teacher basically has no power to offer any sort of meaningful consequence. They learn that they can slide by without doing the work. And they learn that adults don’t work together anymore in the interest of education. Quite frankly, they learn that education isn’t important.

I feel powerless sometimes. I need the tools to do my job. I need support from the home. I need real consequences. I need ways to show both parents and students that learning is important and that working hard is its own reward. I need the tools to do my job. It’s as simple as that (and as complicated).

Recommended Reads – Grease Monkey

I just love the public library.
I can’t tell you how many books I have discovered there, quite by accident, that have made it onto my all-time favourites list.
This book is just the latest addition. I’m only half way through it but it has totally pulled me into this fictional world. I stayed up so late last night reading it because I simply did not want to put it down.
The story centres around a gorilla mechanic aboard the starship Fist of Earth. A shy, young human gets assigned to work under him in the mechanic bay.
The humans and the gorillas work together on the starship but it is obvious that there is a little bit of distrust and fear between the two groups.
What really makes this book a winner is the pacing and humour. The story draws you in right away. The characters are believable and real.
Tim Eldred writes and draws this amazing graphic novel. It is told in short chapters and is published in black and white.
He has colourized the chapters and put them up for free on the Grease Monkey official website.
I haven’t recommended a book here in a while. So if you have any sci-fi fans, comic book readers, or anyone who just loves a good story on your Christmas list, this book would make a great gift. (And if you wanted to send me a gift, I would love to own a copy of this too)

Mixed With Love – Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday Baby,

I made this 3-sided mixtape just for you.*

I mixed it with love. I hope you enjoy it.

I also left another birthday surprise for you on my other blog.

So start downloading these files and then head on over to Thoughtful Cacophony.
*To my readers, I know, it’s weird to give a birthday present on a blog. But Witgirl doesn’t mind sharing this tape with all of you. So go and download it, burn a CD, put it on your MP3 player, give it a listen, and let us know what you think.


Lots of Love,

Chase March
Side 1 – right click and save as
Keith Urban – Only You Can Love Me This Way
Tim McGraw – My Best Friend
Taylor Swift – Our Song
Keri Hilson – Knock You Down
Maroon 5 – Won’t Go Home Without You
OK Cobra – I Quit (I Give Up)
Swollen Members – Certified Dope
Side 2 – right click and save as
Kelly Clarkson – Already Gone
Finger 11 – I’ll Keep Your Memory
Taylor Swift – You Belong With Me
Kyprios / Moka Only – She’s Gone
Murs – Break Up (The OJ song)
Ten Second Epic – Everyday
Bif Naked – You’ll Never Know

Side 3

Tim McGraw – Trouble with Never
Brother Ali – Fresh Air
Ivan Ives – All The Love That I Wasted
Akon – Be With You
Jay-Z / Alicia Keys – Empire State of Mind
Milli Vanilli – Girl You Know It’s True
Crash Test Dummies – Comin’ Back Soon

Teaching Tip Tuesdays – USB Drives

Here’s a great tip for helping your students in the computer lab.

Go to the surplus store and pick up some cheap USB thumb drives. The above drives only cost me $4.00 a piece. You can’t really beat that.
Label the thumb drives and keep them in your classroom.
I can’t tell you how many times my students have saved something on a school computer only to have it not be there on the next visit to the lab.
I know I’m paranoid when I am working on something and always save my work in two places. I save it to the hard drive and to a thumb drive. This is just good practice. That is why I like that I am teaching this practice to my students.
USB drives
– teach the importance of backing up work
– make the work portable so students can finish up work later from a different computer
– give the students a digital portfolio of their work over the year
I think this is a brilliant idea and I wish I could take credit for it, but I can’t. I borrowed this trick from a fellow teacher at my school.

Scenes From A Classroom: Episode 1

Mr. March tries to use skateboarding to help his class understand some of the concepts they have been studying in science and math. But today is no ordinary day. Find out what happens in …

Scenes From a Classroom Episode 1

While this story is based on fact, it is fiction. Any resemblance to students I have ever taught is purely coincidental. This is meant for comedy purposes only.

Please let me know what you think of this. It is my first attempt at creating an original short film.
I hope to make this a series. I have a lot of funny classroom stories I could share with all of you. This was so much fun to make.
I hope you enjoy it.

Mr. March’s Class Today (a picture story)

Mr. March tries to use skateboarding to help his class understand some of the concepts they have been studying in science and math. But today is no ordinary day. Find out what happens in …

Mr. March’s Class Today *

“Good Morning Class!”

“You don’t quite look like yourself today, teach!”

“I know but neither do you. So please take off your hat and let’s begin the lesson for today.”

“Why do I always have to take off my hat?”

“Why do you always have to argue about it? We’ve gone over how it is a sign of respect, many, many times this year.

Okay class, now that we’ve already wasted the first few minutes, it’s time to start the lesson.
I think you’ll be surprised how much skateboarding is actually tied into the math and science we have been studying so far this year.”

“Mr. March, can you do lots of tricks? How long have you been skateboarding? Can I ride it?”

“Let’s please stay on topic. We are dealing with math and science today.
So, why do you think I brought my skateboard in?
How does it tie in with what we have been learning?
Robbie! Stop daydreaming!”


“Come on, Robbie. I can tell when you are in your own little world and not paying any attention.
So let’s get back on topic. What forces are used to make a skateboard work?”

“I can do ollies and kickflips but one time I tried to do a railslide and I racked up good and had to get stitches.”

“Alright, that’s enough. You obviously can’t handle a special lesson so let’s take out our textbooks.”

“No, we can do this Mr. March. Just give us another chance. It’s all because of the stupid boys anyway.”

Just like skateboarding, it takes some effort to get a lesson started. But eventually we finally did get on track but only just before the recess bell sounded.

“Alright boys and girls. Go outside for recess. I know we can all use a break. And no you can’t borrow my skateboard.

Good Point Robbie, today would be a good day to go skateboarding. We could just put ourselves back together again. Never thought about that.
Lego is the best!
Let’s go!”
*Build your own lego characters here –

Parents – Let’s Talk

Today something amazing happened.

I had a parent come to my classroom and ask how her daughter was doing in class.

We talked quite frankly about the challenges she has faced, the success that she has had this year, and the things that she can improve on.

We didn’t dwell on the report card, comments, or the marks. Instead, we talked about what we both can do to help her child. We talked about the social and academic issues that were specific to her daughter. It was a great interview and I think it helped us both to see her strengths, weaknesses, and things we can both do to help her have a more successful second term.

This was the first parent-interview I ever had that didn’t focus on the report card. It was amazingly freeing not to have to just discuss this one document. I think school is about much more than the marks and the report card. In fact, I think giving marks sometimes misses the point entirely.

I had to give low marks to some of my students simply because their work fell below the provincial standard. These students really do deserve better marks and report cards than they got today.
I expect a lot as a teacher. I push every one of my students to achieve his or her personal best. I wish I could measure their progress against this standard instead. That is something that is definable and measurable.
That is why I was glad to talk to this parent first today. I followed the template of our discussion for each of the interviews after her and it really was amazing. The parents were eager to work with me to help their child succeed. We talked about the specific things that we can do to help them out.
I’m going to have to remember this for each parent-interview day in the future.
I didn’t meet with every parent today. But I am going to make it known that I am available if any of them would like to come in and see me next week, or any time they have a concern. After all we are in this together and it takes all three of us; parent, teacher, and student to make this work.