Monthly Archives: January 2010

Laughs in the Mail

I got this letter in the mail on Friday and I laughed out loud.

It’s not often a letter can evoke laughter from me. Laughter that brightens up my whole day. Laughter that was desperately needed that day.
Before I show you the letter though, it needs a bit of set-up.
I hope you’ve been following me on Twitter.
I’m having a lot of fun on that micro-blogging site. It’s interesting to publish thoughts and ideas, to share links, and to communicate with others in the short space allotted.

One thing that is amazing though is how I keep picking up new followers. I can post something and almost immediately I pick up new followers interested in what I had just shared. I actually posted about that on January 20th.

This is what I wrote
“I posted about a Scrabble game I played & had scrabble fanatics follow me right away. I replied to a post about barber hours and got a barber following me. How about I post about needing money, maybe it’ll come to me 2.”

That’s the set up, here’s the letter. I hope you get a laugh out of it too.

Short and sweet. Right to the point. The words I posted on Twitter and a ten dollar bill.
Is this the law of attraction at work here?
Not quite.
It was my cousin’s brilliant sense of humour. I loved getting this in the mail because of the laugh it gave me. My cousin is awesome and has proven to be my best Twitter follower.
Here’s a prize for you cous,
Thanks!

Sunglasses, who knew?

I must admit that I’ve never been a fan of sunglasses. I normally wear a hat when I go outside and thought that was enough. The brim of the hat stops the sun from getting in my eyes.
The optometrist suggested that I start wearing sunglasses to protect my eyes from some of the harmful rays.
She helped me pick out a new set of frames that included a pair of clip-on sunglasses.
So I’ve been wearing my sunglasses for about a week now and I must say that they really work. I don’t know why I hadn’t worn them before.
Benefit # 1 – When driving.
When the sun is low in the sky and the highway seems to be leading directly into it, there isn’t much you can do. I normally lower my visor so I can see the road without being blinded. But now I just clip on my shades and can see so much better.
Benefit # 2 – Snow
In the winter, the sun seems so much brighter. I often have to squint when I’m outside and I never really thought about why. That was until I found out this little tidbit of information.
80% of sunrays reflect off of the snow whereas in the summer only 25% reflect off the water.
I learned that this morning as I watched CHCH Morning Live.
That is why it is more important to wear sunglasses in the winter than it is at the beach in the summer.

This Show Really Sings

I don’t watch a lot of television. It’s not simply because of the limited choice I have with the rabbit ears on top of my TV set either.
I think it’s due to the fact that most shows seem to let me down. I haven’t had a must-see show in a few years, which I find to be really strange. There was a time when I had at least two shows on my schedule each and every night. I was a self-confessed couch potato.
Nowadays, I seem to be able to take it or leave it. I don’t really have any shows that I go out of my way to see.
Perhaps DVDs and the Internet have really changed the way I consume television.
For the most part, I rely on borrowing DVDs from the library to compliment what shows I can tune in.
I absolutely love that you can get full seasons of TV shows on DVD now. I’ve been enjoying several series that I would never had a chance to watch otherwise.
One show that really surprised me was The Sopranos. I didn’t think I’d like a television drama centred around the mob so I never paid any attention to it when it was on the air. However, I had the chance to discover it when I borrowed the DVDs from the public library. I quickly became a fan and worked my way through all six seasons in a few short months.
It is a really well-written show with some amazing characters and performances.

Here is a scene from a second season. Tony is the mob boss and has had a bad day. His teenage daughter seems to have withdrawn from him a bit. He’s upset about it as well as a few other things.

This scene is rather poignant and I like how it ends. It’s a great exchange between a father and a daughter.

Tony: “Everything I do, and everything I’ve done, and everything I will do, it’s all for you and your mother. You know that?”

Meadow: “I think you should go to bed.”
Tony: “I tell people you’re like your mother but you’re all me. Nothing gets by you. And I know you think I’m a hypocrite-“
Meadow: “I’m going to bed.” (leaves table)
Tony: “Yeah alright. Go ahead.” (plays with his glass)
Meadow: “Dad, why don’t you go to bed?”
Tony: “I’m gonna finish my drink.”
Meadow: “Good night.”
Tony: “Good night baby.”
Meadow: (stops and turns around on her way out of the room) “Sometimes, we’re all hypocrites.”
– Sopranos Season 2: Episode 10
I like how the daughter says the exact right thing here. She doesn’t have to agree with her dad or what he does but she shows him that she understands. It’s exactly what he needed at that moment.
That is why I love that scene and this series.
I really like how Season 1 ended as well. It showed us a nice normal family. Of course, the head of this family also happens to be the head of the mafia. But that doesn’t seem to matter. You come to care about these characters and you become invested in them. That is the power of great television. And the Sopranos is a great show that is definitely worth checking out if you have not done so.

Three Elusive Quarters

This is a short story I wrote entitled “Three Elusive Quarters”


It is fiction and told from the point of view of a ten year old girl. I thought I should make that clear since “I” on this blog normally refers to me and not a fictional character.

Let me know what you think.

I hope you enjoy the story.
Three Elusive Quarters

I was born in 1999. For my “birthday” present, my uncle gave me a commemorative collection of quarters. There were twelve quarters in all, and each quarter had a different design on the front of it. I’m sure my uncle just wanted to give me something cool with the year I was born on it. He probably didn’t think how those quarters would come to define me, or did he?

We really only have one “birthday,” the day that we are born. So every year when we celebrate our birthday, we are really celebrating the anniversary of our birth. So for my first anniversary, also known as my first birthday, my uncle gave me another collection of quarters.

The first set of quarters celebrated the history of our great country from the very beginning of ancient times before Canada was even a word. The images cycled through prehistory to First Nation communities, to explorers to technology such as planes and trains, and finally to a panorama of tepees, skyscrapers, mountains, forests and the wheel of industry.

The second set of quarters moved to words such as pride, ingenuity, and achievement, and each one had an image to compliment the word.

When my uncle was born, they only came out with one new quarter a year. He would search through his change and try to find the shiniest quarter from each year to save for his collection. If times were still like that I would be 57 years old, but I’m only 10.

I haven’t been able to find all those quarters either. I’ve been on a mission to collect them all but there are a few elusive ones. I wish I had started collecting them when I was two since my uncle never bought me any other collections.

I asked him about it last year and he said, “It’s more fun when you have to find them yourself.”

It was easy to find all of the quarters for this year’s Olympic Games but I still don’t have the red Canada Day coin from 2002.

I’m also missing a 2004 French Colonies Quarter

and a 2005 Saskatchewan coin.

I’ve found quarters dating back to 1982 and have a solid run except for those three missing coins.

Last week I was at the supermarket when the gumball machine guy came to empty the machines and collect the quarters. I watched in amazement as he dumped loads of quarters into separate bags. A canvas bag for each machine. After he had done one machine, I asked him if I could sort through the bag.

He looked at me like I was a petty thief who would just grab the bag and run. Then he looked towards my mom.

“She really does collect coins.”

He looked back to me. “Alright, if it’s okay with your mom you can come to my truck and sort through a bag. I got a ten minute break now before I need to move on now anyway.”

“Can we mom?” I pleaded and she let me.

The man let me go in his truck and dump a bag of coins on the floor. I knew I didn’t have much time so I sorted through them as quickly as I could. I kept an eye out for red ones but only found the poppy one, of which I have several.

When my ten minutes were up, I had nine quarters in my pile.

“Wow, that’s a pretty good haul,” she said as she looked at my sorting.

“Yeah, it is,” I said, “but I didn’t find those elusive three. These are all older ones.”

“So, it’s still good,” she said as she handing the man two dollars and twenty-five cents to make up for the quarters I was taking.

“Thanks a lot!” I said.

My collection is always growing but it seems that those three elusive quarters are still hiding. I will find them. I will. One day.

– a short story by Chase March

The Key Elements Great Teachers Possess

What Makes a Great Teacher by Amanda Ripley is a great article that really dissects the key elements that great teachers possess.

1) “First, great teachers tended to set big goals for their students.”

I agree. I think this is the key to teaching. We need to expect each and every student in our classes to live up to their potential. We also need to realize that this differs from student to student and to not accept anything less that a student’s best work.

2) “They were also perpetually looking for ways to improve their effectiveness.”


I can’t tell you how many times I have tinkered around with my timetable this year because it didn’t seem to be effective for my current class. I finally found a timetable that really works for them. I implemented a nice new visual schedule just a few weeks ago that the students have responded quite well too.
I realize when lessons don’t work and try find different ways to present the same material so that my students can grasp it and be successful.
So far so good. I am doing the things that this article states that great teachers do.

Superstar Teachers
Okay, time to see if I fall into the Superstar Teacher category.
“Superstar teachers had four other tendencies in common: they avidly recruited students and their families into the process; they maintained focus, ensuring that everything they did contributed to student learning; they planned exhaustively and purposefully—for the next day or the year ahead—by working backward from the desired outcome; and they worked relentlessly, refusing to surrender to the combined menaces of poverty, bureaucracy, and budgetary shortfalls.”

– Steven Farr

3) Parent involvement – I have to admit that I am not good at this one. I kind of gave up on getting parents involved because it has been extremely hard. I rarely get many parents out to interview night or the special events we do run at the school. However, I realize that getting the parents and the community on board is an important thing and I will start to try harder to make that happen.
4) Everything must contribute to learning – I don’t do fluff activities in my classroom. I don’t show my students movies that aren’t related to the curriculum. Every activity or lesson I present is founded in the curriculum expectations or is, in my opinion, a useful skill that the students need to learn.
5) Plan exhaustively – I have been told again and again that I am a very organized teacher and that my planning is impeccable. I never leave the school on Friday without having a full week of lesson plans for the following week on my desk. The photocopying is all done a week ahead as well. I have a very detailed year plan that I work on and update constantly. And I also have back-up supply teacher plans ready to go.
6) No excuses, Get it done! – I think I have this attitude as well.

“It’s the mind-set that teachers need—a kind of relentless approach to the problem.”

– Timothy Daly at the New Teacher Project

There’s always a problem or a hurdle to overcome when teaching. It can really get exhausting at times.
I realize that my first goal is to the students. I make sure that my students do their work so that they can learn. I hold them accountable for their actions and their own learning.
My Grade

Of the six traits listed in this article I think I do an excellent job on points 1, 2, 4, and 5.
I think I have some room for improvement on point 6 because I sometimes let certain things slide. Overall though I would say that I do a good job on that one for the most part.
I definitely need improvement on point 3 and I realize that it is something that I really need to work on. I will write a post for an upcoming edition of Teaching Tip Tuesdays to address this issue further.

Your Turn

I hope you are finding my Teaching Tip Tuesdays post useful. Don’t forget to check the Table of Contents for more great tips.
If you have a great idea, website, or teaching practice that you’d like to share, please send me an email and consider writing a guest-post.
Teachers helping teachers is what this is all about. I’d love to hear from you.

The Best Album Ever*

I think Good Weird Feeling is the best album ever released. It is by a group called The Odds.

This album is absolutely amazing. It is one of only a few albums in my collection that I never seemed to get bored of. I can listen to it no matter what my mood.
When it first came out I listened to it all the time. I can sing along to every song on it. Now that it is over 15 years old, I still listen to it often.
In fact, it has been in heavy rotation since I got it. I listen to it several times every year. I don’t think I can say that about too many of my albums. As such, I think this is one of the greatest albums of all time.
My brother is a huge fan of this Canadian rock group as well. He actually signed up for The Odds mailing list in the 1990’s. They mailed him tickets to an exclusive concert in Toronto for the release of the album after this one. It was the coolest thing in the world. They were quite a large group at this time because this album was a huge success. As such they were billed as Nigel the Cat at the venue so no one would know that it was actually an Odds concert except for the industry folks and fans that were personally invited.
Good Weird Feeling is my favourite album by the Odds. The songwriting is witty and comical. The songs really rock and have a timeless feel to them. This is by far my favourite non-rap album of all time. This is the second most important piece of my entire music collection. The first being, Run-DMC’s Raising Hell.
*This is an updated version of a previous post. I knew that I need to rewrite it slightly and publish it again because I still feel the same way about this album even 15 years after the fact. I just finished listening to the entire album and I never once felt the urge or desire to skip a track or switch discs. That is saying a lot.
If you haven’t heard this album, do yourself a favour and go check it out.

This Torch is Brilliant

Any of my regular readers will know that I don’t have cable television. I get a few channels in using rabbit ears but for the most part, I rely on borrowing DVDs from the library.
I absolutely love that you can get full seasons of TV shows on DVD now. I’ve been enjoying several series that I would never had a chance to watch otherwise.
I’ve wanted to write about some of those series for some time now. I just haven’t gotten around to it. Yet.
Although tonight I need to correct that. I just finished watching Torchwood: Children of Earth and was absolutely blown away by it. It is amazing television.
I’ve written about Torchwood here before. It’s basically a spin-off of Doctor Who.
Back when it premiered, I faithfully watched the entire first season. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to see the second season. Yet.
This latest release is the third season of the show and it is only five episodes in length. However, the five episodes are brilliantly written, suspense-filled, action-packed jewels that tell one complete story.
Here is a little background information about the show. (Spoiler Alert)
Torchwood is a secret organization that deals with otherworldly threats to Earth. It is headed by Captain Jack Harkness. In a episode of Doctor Who, Rose Tyler tried to save his life by tapping into a power she didn’t understand. The consequence is that in the process, she somehow made it so that he cannot die.
Jack is immortal, sort to speak. He can die but he always revives after a few moments. Well in this five episode arc some of his past sins catch up to him. Torchwood is destroyed and the remaining three members have to save the world without any of their resources. They become outlaws at a time when the people of earth, especially the children really need their help.
I really don’t want to give away any more of the story line. I think it is really worth checking out. It might be best to watch season 2 of Doctor Who first so you can see how Captain Jack Harkness comes to be. You could then watch Season 1 and 2 of Torchwood as well but I don’t think you really need to to enjoy the series.
Amazing television! I love when I can write those two words. It seems rare. That’s why I need to blog about it.
If you want a more detailed report of this series, go check Calvin’s awesome blog post here.

Learn How to Signal Already

I need to register a complaint…
It’s about all of the people on the roads who do not know how to use the turning signals correctly.
This is especially annoying when there is only one lane in each direction.
I’ve had to slam on my breaks more than a few times because someone in front of me suddenly slows down for seemingly no reason.
The car is almost at a complete stop or already initiating a turn and then I see the signal flashing.
I would yell, “Thanks for the warning bud!” but I’m sure no one would hear me.
That’s what turning signals are for – to give the other drivers on the road some warning about what you are going to do.
“I can see you turning, I don’t need to see your signal. It’s too late now. Why’d you even bother?” I’m still yelling even though I know it’s no use.
HOW TO SIGNAL
Use your mirrors. Check to see if anyone is behind you. You should be checking your mirrors frequently, not just when you want to turn or change lanes.
If you know you are on a one-lane road and you know someone is behind you, you should be signaling way before you even slow down. Give me five seconds at the very least, please. It’s only common courtesy.
I hope I’ve educated those annoying drivers I’ve been stuck behind on more than one occasion. If not, and you know who those people are, please send them a link to this post. I’d appreciate it.

Collected Wisdom This Week

I’ve come across a few really cool jewels of wisdom in my online travels this week. I wanted to share them with you.
This week’s contributers are,
Reverend Run (of Run-DMC.) – he posts inspirational Tweets each and every day.
Calvin – runs a great blog where he shares what he finds online.
Nothing Profound – doesn’t post often but his posts are filled with great aphorisms.
Bubbabrain – shares useful links and resources for teachers

@RevRunWisdom

“When you end a hurtful relationship, throw away the key! We have a tendency to re-open doors that need to remain SHUT!”
“A man went in search of one perfect moment. The price he had to pay was the rest of his life.”

“News used to come too late; now it comes too early.”

via Calvin’s Canadian Cave of Coolness

“You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.” – Jessica, age 8

“Great teachers tend to set big goals for their students. They also perpetually look for ways to improve their effectiveness.”
I really need to start adding these collected jewels into my commonplace book. I haven’t been doing so because I have been sharing them on Twitter. However posts on Twitter get quickly buried and they don’t seem to be easily searchable. So perhaps once a week or so, I can quickly collect my favourite tweets into a post here. Sounds like a solution.

Teaching Tip Tuesday – Eliminate the Negative

Teaching is a tough profession. In fact, the only way to learn how to be a teacher is to teach, to make mistakes, to learn from them, and to improve your teaching practice so that you find something that works for you.

I know that I have felt like a failure time and time again at the end of a school day. It actually took me five years to figure out how to be a teacher. I distinctly remember that smiling at the start of my fifth year and saying, “I’ve finally got this. I know what I’m doing now.”

But since then, I have continued to learn. Some lessons don’t work. Some days are better than others. Each class and each school is different.

My job as a teacher is “to help every student develop to his or her full potential. To develop intellectual potential and provide opportunities for social, ethical, emotional, physical, and aesthetic development of every child in my class, and by extension, the entire student body whenever the opportunity presents itself.”

That is my Mission Statement, My first duty is to the student. Simple and plain.

I don’t try to please everyone as a teacher. It’s pretty impossible to do so. However, this year I have finally realized that teachers do need to be politicians as well. We need to let people feel confident that we can do the job and that we support what they want to see. This goes for parents, principals, other teaching staff, etc.

People don’t want to hear negative things. So as a teachers, we need to emphasize the good things.

A former principal told me it best. She said. “Be your own cheerleader and highlight the good things that happen in your class.”

This goes a long way. If people see the good things that happen in your class and you downplay the negatives, people won’t be able to focus on the bad things that do happen in the classroom.

I expect a lot from my students and I hold them accountable for their actions. We work hard in my class and use our time efficiently. Of course, I don’t tell anybody this. I don’t try to sell my class. I just do my job to the best of my ability and I don’t worry about what people think.

I’ve never wanted to be a politician. I have kept that role out of my teaching practice and quite possible to my own detriment. It is something that I plan on correcting starting today. From now on I am selling my class as the best. We are going to show off all of the good things we will be doing this New Year.

From here on in, I am going to do my best to eliminate the negative.

An Extra R

I like that my family played board games together. We played Uno, cribbage, snakes and ladders, chess, checkers, and Candyland.

But by far, my favouite game of all time is Scrabble. I’ve played it since I was young. My grandma really liked playing the game and I’m sure she humoured me back then because my vocabulary couldn’t have been good enough to hold a candle to her.

My mom, though is the one you have to watch out for. She is a really scary player opponent. You can never let her have access to a triple word or she will undoubtedly rack up a humongous score.

I remember one time playing against her and I could only think of one word that could possibly fit into an open triple-word score. I counted the tiles on the board as well as the ones in my rack and surmised that she wouldn’t be able to play there.

She would need an “r” and I had the last one. There were only a few tiles left in the game and I was ahead in the score. So I played somewhere else.

I then watched in horror as she placed her tiles down

one
by
one,

played that “r” word and scored 36 points.

“How could you possibly have an r,” I yelled. “I counted the tiles and I had the last one.”

We counted the letters again and sure enough, this game board had one extra “r” tile in it.

“How do you know you had the last ‘r’ anyway? Maybe I had it all the time,” she said.

Good argument there. But I was unwilling to lose the game on this technicality. I had her. I had been winning. How can she come along with an extra letter on the second last play of the game to win?

How?

“I’d had that ‘r’ for like the last seven turns,” she said. “I hadn’t been able to play it though.”

I knew that I had had only just recently picked it up but I didn’t want to admit it. I was furious. And I was a sore loser that day, that’s for sure.

It’s amazing how competitive I can become over a game. But this is more than a game. Always has been. It’s a place to play with words.

I love words and I hate when they fail me. Maybe I was mad that that particular word had crept by me. I had recognized that it would fit there, and next turn, I would’ve been in a position to play it.

It’s funny because this particular game was two years ago and the pain remains.

I hate that extra “r.” That was one crowded game board.

Please Think Before You Tweet

Twitter is a great platform. It allows you to express yourself quickly and succinctly. You can connect with other people and share your thoughts or observations, all in less than 140 characters.

The only problem with it is that it is almost too easy. Any random thought can be quickly typed out and published.

I know I have some great thoughts that I feel I just need to blurt out. My thoughts are important. Everyone should hear them, shouldn’t they?

So I quickly type out my thought.

Before I hit “update” though, I read it over and really think about whether I want this thought out there permanently.

Sometimes the answer is no. Certain thoughts are better left unsaid or unTwittered.

I think some people really need to edit themselves more. Not everything should become the subject of a Twitter of Facebook update.

These social networking sites shouldn’t be random and uncensored thoughts repositories.

People really do need to think before they hit “update.”

So here is a quick test you can do before you hit “update”, “publish”, or “send”

Do I want this thought out there forever?
Is it appropriate to wear this tweet on a T-shirt?

I can see all sorts of PSA “Please think before you Tweet” Maybe we really do need such ads. People seem to have lost their common sense.

We Need to Switch Things Up

I had a crazy idea today.

I would like to have an exchange program at my school.
I know, it doesn’t sound crazy because exchange programs have been around for a long time. However, they’ve never been done like this (to my knowledge anyway.)
I would like to have a regular day of school where my students actually don’t come.
I’m not talking about a Professional Development day either. I’m talking about teaching a full day’s work.
To who? you ask.
The parents.
That’s right. I want all of my students to stay home and send their parents to school instead. I would treat them just as I would their children. We would have a regular day of lessons, seatwork, recess, and gym.
I would make it mandatory for at least one parent to come as well. This way they could experience exactly what happens in today’s schools.
I think this would give the parents a new perspective on the challenges that I face on a daily basis.
Too many parents don’t take an interest in their child’s education at all. Some parents make sure their child is at school each and every day but that’s the extent of their efforts. The truth is, parents have a much bigger role in their child’s education and need to be aware of it.
I think this experience would actually help the parents to buy into what I’m doing. I don’t like feeling that I am just a glorified babysitter (glorified in the fact that I have two post-secondary degrees and am a professional. The truth is I don’t feel any honour or praise directed my way and it’s really frustrating)
Things need to change soon. I can’t continue to do this all alone. I need the help and support from home. The children need it as well. I’m just not sure how to get this message across to those who really need it.
I don’t think this exchange idea could ever fly. But I can dream, can’t I?

Just Because I Used To…

I’m often reminded that I’m not a kid anymore. It’s a sad realization for me.

I like the carefree attitude.

I want to be able to run, play, jump, and abound with the youthful energy that I still feel running through me (most days anyway)

However, I’m starting to realize that just because I used to do something, doesn’t mean I still can.

This past weekend, I went toboganning, which is something that I do every winter and I don’t plan on giving it up.

Anyway, I was taking some kids to the hill and we had three sleds. The kids both had a brand new plastic saucer and I had a long plastic sled that could easily hold all three of us.

I hadn’t seen those saucer type sleds since I was young. I really wanted to relive the old glory days where I would run full speed, dive onto the saucer, and spin myself crazy fast down the hill.

So I borrowed the green saucer and gave it my best shot. I dived onto it and sure enough I broke it on my very first ride.

When I got to the top of the hill with the cracked sled in my hand, one of the kids I was with read the label to me. “It says no diving right on it,” she said. And then she chastised me by adding, “You’ve should’ve read that first.”

The sad thing is that I had read it beforehand. I just chose to ignore it. I wanted to zoom down the hill and in the process relive some of my great childhood memories.

When I got home I posted a message on Twitter about how I had broke the sled on the very first ride. This was the reply I got from Alexis, “You’re not a kid anymore, Chase…”

It’s sad but true. I’m not a kid anymore. No more diving onto saucer sleds for me. I guess I’ll stick to the old long toboggans. That’s not so bad though, I guess.

It’s a long winter here and it would be even longer if I weren’t able to toboggan every now and then. I’m just going to have to remember that I can’t justify doing things just because I used to. I am getting older after all (so sad!)

Bitesize Science

Here’s a great website that I liked to share with you today for Teaching Tip Tuesday.

It’s called Bitesize and it’s from the BBC. They have great interactive games and activities for students. I really like the science activities but they also have some for spelling and math. There are also worksheets and other great resources available.

The online activities can be embedded into your classroom blog or website but I have found that they seem to work better on the full screen mode. So I always leave a link like this for my students to follow.

Click on this link to make this activity full screen.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/ks2bitesize/science/activities/friction.shtml
I like how these activities can either introduce the students to a scientific concept or help further their knowledge. There is also a multiple choice quiz that they can take after they have completed the activity.

When my students have completed the activity and gotten at least a 7 out of 10 on the quiz, I then let them have some free time.

I think it is important that teachers utilize the computer lab as a learning atmosphere and not just a place for our students to have free time. There are some amazing interactive websites that we should be exposing our students to.

I hope you are finding my Teaching Tip Tuesdays post useful. Don’t forget to check the Table of Contents for more great tips.
If you have a great idea, website, or teaching practice that you’d like to share, please send me an email and consider writing a guest-post.
Teachers helping teachers is what this is all about. I’d love to hear from you.

Tha Alkaholiks’ autographs

I met Tha Alkaholiks when they played Hamilton’s infamous X-Club way back in 1996. It was one of the best concerts that I have ever been to.

I got two of the members to autograph my cassette tape cover.
This one is from Tash.
And the liner notes were signed by J-Ro.
I got them to address it to my rapper name at the time (just in case you were wondering)
I remember that concert pretty vividly. I really miss the X-Club. It was a small venue where the artists were never afraid to come and hang out with the audience after the show. I saw so many great shows there and have a handful of autographs to show for it. I will be sharing more with you later.
Pretty cool, eh?

Meaning of a Name

Names don’t mean anything. Sure, there may be some history behind a certain name and you might find out what your name “means” but for the most part, your parents didn’t pick your name based on its meaning. They picked it based on its sound, how it fit with your last name and the others of those in your family.

Take for example my name.

Chase

Of course “chase” is often used as a verb. Does this mean my parents decided to name me this because they always wanted to make sure they followed me on my life’s journey? Did they want to run after me constantly? The former sounds plausible and the later ridiculous.

As a name, Chase means “hunter”

My parents never took me hunting. I don’t hunt. I don’t even fish. So the person I am is far removed from the so-called meaning of my first name.

Strangely enough, my last name is also a verb.

March – to walk with regular steady steps of equal length, usually in a group or military formation.

I have always been a bit of a loner. I guess you could say I march to my own beat. So perhaps my last name does fit with who I am.

The meaning for the name though, removes me from it one again.

The name March was “topographic name for someone who lived on the border between two territories, especially in the Marches between England and Wales or England and Scotland, from Anglo-Norman French marche ‘boundary’ (of Germanic origin; compare Mark 2). In some cases, the surname may be a habitational name from March in Cambridgeshire, which was probably named from the locative case of Old English mearc ‘boundary’.”*

or “from a nickname or personal name for someone who was born or baptized in the month of March (Middle English, Old French march(e), Latin Martius (mensis), from the name of the god Mars) or who had some other special connection with the month, such as owing a feudal obligation then.”*

So let’s put both names together and see what they say about me.

Chase March is someone who hunts after what he wants with deliberate actions to help him achieve his goal. Chase March strides the boundaries and bides his time until the third month of the year when he can spring into action.

What?

Okay, it’s just a name that doesn’t really mean anything. But it is my name and I like it so I’m keeping it.

* from the website http://www.ancestry.ca/

Teaching Tip Tuesdays – Visual Schedules

I’ve decided to switch things up in the classroom for this brand new decade.

I hit the ground running with these changes yesterday for the first day back to school.
The students should be able to follow the daily visual schedule without any problems. I’ve been told that schedules such as these can really help a certain type of student and we will soon find out if that is the case.
The other major change I made, besides adding pictures to my agenda, was to chop my math block into three different segments. I used to have an hour of math in one block each and every day but I found that my students had a hard time staying focused for that time.
So I decided to break up that hour’s worth of math into smaller chunks.
This is how it will work. The first twenty minute block will be for my main lesson, a little bit of guided practice with the skill I have taught, and a question or two for the students to do independently.
The second block of math time will involve a quick review of the skill. By this time, I will know what the students had difficulty with the during the first block. The rest of the time will be for the students to complete their seat work.
The third and final block of math will contain the daily timed drill. The students will then get to do a hands-on activity to further develop their skills for the concept of the day. We will work in partners or small groups with manipulatives or games.
You’ll see that most of the periods in this new schedule are about twenty minutes long. I will make sure that the students know exactly what is expected of them in each block of time. I’m hoping by keeping things moving like this that we will actually be able to be more productive in the classroom.
I hope this works. It took a lot of time to split up my day like this and to create the daily schedules using MS Word. If you would like a copy of these files, please email me and I would be happy to share them with you.
Teachers, don’t forget to check the Table of Contents for more great Teaching Tips. And if you have one that you’d like to add, please send me an email and consider writing a guest-post.

First of the Month Project

Ivan Ives is attempting something this year that could catch on and become the new trend in how music is delivered.

He launched his First of the Month project with a video and single for “All My Life” on January 1st. He will be releasing a new song again on February 1st, and continuing this pattern for the rest of 2010.
By the end of the year, he will have released 12 songs that will be sitting in an album in my iTunes.
I’ve decided to support this project because I really enjoy his music. I have yet to purchase any of his albums though. I have enjoyed them for free and I feel a little guilty about that.
I think any Ivan Ives fan should support this project since it will only cost us 99 cents a month. It makes it manageable to support an artist for an entire year and actually purchase the music that we love.
I see this as being the future of the recording industry. The old me would lament that this is the death of the album. But I don’t think this necessarily needs to sound that death knell.
I really enjoy his Iconoclast and NewSpeak albums and I’m sure by the end of the year, I will also enjoy his First of the Month album.
So here is the video for you to check out. It uses some pretty cool stop motion animation and apparently took him two months to complete. If you enjoy this video, please go buy the song from iTunes.

You can find out more about Ivan Ives

on MySpace

Enjoy!