Monthly Archives: October 2010

Chasing Content – November 2009

Digging demo with Caterpillar 963DImage via Wikipedia

I’m hauling out the big machinery for this month’s installment of Chasing Content.

It’s time to excavate some of my past posts that would otherwise stay buried in the archives of Silent Cacophony.

So, grab a shovel and help me to unearth these gems. You can read all of the posts from last November or just these favourites. 

And while we are digging through the archives, please leave comments. I always love to hear what you have to say.

Thanks!

Reclaimed My Name – Silent Cacophony has a long history that predates this blog. It feels like this term should be mine and mine alone. At first, it wasn’t. But now if you Google it or my name, the first several hits are all me. I reclaimed my name and it feels great!

Take a Moment – My students got a lot out of a visit from local war veterans on Remembrance Day last year. This is a cute story and a great post to revisit at this time of year.

Teaching Tip Tuesday: Music Class – Music doesn’t need to be a scary subject to teach. You don’t have to have any talent or passion to teach it to your students. This post is for all the reluctant classroom teachers who find themselves without a music teacher in their schools.

Teaching Tip Tuesday: Song Maps – Song maps are easily to create and  a fun way to learn a song with your class. Try one out!

Writing Helps – I am so thankful to have this blog. The act of 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, which of course is another reason I do this monthly feature. I hope you enjoy it too.

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Warbler Woods Visual Tour

Are you ready for a visual tour of Warbler Woods?

Good, because I laced up my running shoes, grabbed my camera, and got out for a nice trail run.

Entrances to nature trails often have a tight fence like this one. They are meant to stop dirt bikes, ATVs, and snowmobiles from tearing up the site.

It was such a beautiful autumn day in London, Ontario. I’m so glad that I could get out and enjoy it.

Here is some information about the trail. I always love to see signs like this posted along the route.

Warbler Woods, named for the uncommon Golden-winged Warbler that once nested in the area, has been a favourite birding spot over the last one hundred years. 

It covers the eastern slope of a steep hill at the western end of the Ingersoll Moraine. The moraine is a mix of silt, sand and stony soil (till) that was deposited by a melting glacier about 13,000 years ago. In places silt and clay layers from glacial Lake London cover these deposits. The hillside has been eroded by creeks and mudslides, forming steep slopes and ravines.*

This trail is definitely a challenging one. It is almost hill after hill. I so love it!

There was a slight breeze that rustled the trees every now and then. I wish I had a better camera because it was literally raining leaves. I so would have loved to catch that better on film (uh, I mean digital print)

I’m not sure why this concrete post is here in the middle of the woods. Any ideas?

I’m not much of a bird-watcher. Instead, I tear through the trails at a pace of about 1 kilometre ever four minutes.

I did hear a few woodpeckers though. As much as I tried to see them, I could not.

There aren’t too many things that are  better than a quiet trail run at this time of year. I love the changing colours of the forest, all the leaves underfoot, and the shower of leaves all around me. 

Well, that’s it. I hope you enjoyed this visual tour of my run because I enjoyed bringing it to you.

This was an amazing run!

* Information was taken from The Upper Thames River Conservation Authority website – http://www.thamesriver.on.ca/wetlands_and_natural_areas/warbler.htm

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Teaching Tip – Smarties Math

Photograph of Nestlé Smarties as sold in the U...Image via Wikipedia

This lesson is ALWAYS a hit with the students.

How could it not be?

Everyone loves Smarties.

The first thing you need to do is buy each student in your class a regular box of Smarties. Don’t cheap out and buy the snack size or Halloween boxes though. There just aren’t enough candies in those boxes to make this a valuable learning experience.

Before you hand out the candy boxes to the students you need to be very clear about your expectations. Let the students know that these candies are to be used for math. They are not to be eaten until the work has been completed. If they cannot handle this lesson, then you will not bring food in for lessons again. You can let them know that we will be using marshmallows for an upcoming lesson as well.

Tell the students that the first thing we will be doing is making an estimate as to how many Smarties are in the box. Hand out the boxes and tell them that they can shake them, inspect them, but they cannot open them until they make their estimate.

Hand out this worksheet – http://chasemarch.com/smarties_math_challenge.pdf

I really like this lesson because it incorporates all areas of the math curriculum. The students need to estimate and then collect data using tallies.

The addition sentence above looks daunting at first but you can show your students how counting by fives using the tallies is a quick and effective way to find the total sum.

The students then need to use subtraction to find the difference between their estimate and the total number of candies in the package.

Now the students get practice graphing the data and experimenting with probability.

Problem solving and symmetry comes into play in the third page of this worksheet.

I designed this lesson with Grade 3 students in mind. However, it can be adapted to be used in any grade. It reinforces math concepts across the curriculum and does so in a way that is exciting to the students.

This lesson took about an hour to complete in my class last week. If you would like the MS Word version of this worksheet, please feel free to contact me. I’d be happy to share resources with you. Teachers helping teachers is what Teaching Tip Tuesday is all about.

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The Top 10 Canadian Rappers

The National Post revealed their list of The Top 10 Rappers in Canada

It was great to see such a list put together by our national newspaper. I actually have been impressed with the level of hip-hop reporting they have been doing lately. That being said, I don’t completely agree with this list.

The National Post’s words are italicized in red and my commentary is written below it.

10. Michee Mee: Still no other female Canadian MC has carried the weight of Michee.

What? Are you kidding me! What about Eternia?

When you think female rappers in Canada, these two names immediately come to mind. Michee Mee is a pioneer for sure but Eternia has been bringing fire to the microphone for over ten years. I think she is absolutely amazing and it’s a crime that she isn’t on this list.

9. D-Sisive: Started as a battler. Still battling.

I think D-sisive deserves to bit a bit higher up on this list.

8. Buck 65: He raps about baseball. Enough said.

Not mad at this entry at all.

7. Saukrates / Maestro: It’s a tie at number seven. These two are old school but Saukrates is killing it with his new song about Emily Haines. And without Maestro, there’s no list.

Okay, hold up. There wouldn’t be a Canadian hip-hop scene without Maestro. How can you possibly not give him his own ranking here?

Saukrates is a legend and I think he deserves to hold down this spot. Maestro should be higher.

6. Classified: Actually one of our truest hip-hoppers, Class has personality and rugged lyrics. If Canadian rappers were American, Classified would be from Brooklyn or the Bronx (instead of Nova Scotia)

Love Classified. Nice analogy here too.

5. K’naan: He’s colourful, charismatic, and a terrific writer blessed with a golden voice. His next move could be anything. Here’s hoping he decides to stay rap.

K’naan is incredibly hot right now and he’s got mad talent. No doubt about that.

4. Drake: Singlehandedly keeping Lil Wayne alive while he’s in prison, Drake is not only the most popular Canadian rapper of all-time, he’s also the smoothest, and nearly the best.

I hate to say it, but I think Drake is over-rated. His rhymes are quite simple (cat – hat, kind of stuff) I know that he’s got legions of fans worldwide though. I admit to enjoying some of his stuff. I just find that he can be hit and miss.

3. k-os: Gotta love his rock star approach and his lyrics. Who else drinks white wine in the morning when he must meet the press?

Loved this cat when he first came out. Love hearing him on the radio too.

2. Kardinal Offishall: The big boss of the Canadian hip-hop game, Kardi’s been number one for so long that it’s only his recent pop moves with Akon that found him losing ground to Shad. Kardinal is still a serious MC, though. There’s nothing we’d like more than rocking to him retake his crown.

Truly unique artist. Kardi deserves to be high on this list.

1. Shad: He had us convinced with his first Polaris-nominated record,The Old Prince last year, and blew us away. TSOL just dropped in the U.S., where he’s currently touring with k-os. Kanye – get ahold of this man, before you’re opening for him.

I completely agree with placing Shad at Number 1. Nice job National Post!

I’d like to rewrite this list a little. I don’t know what criteria was used for them but here is mine; lyrics, influence, and longevity.

10. K’naan
9. Buck 65
8. K-os
7. Saukrates
6. Kardinal Offishall
5. D-sisive
4. Classified
3. Eternia
2. Maestro
1. Shad

I’d love to hear your opinions,

Do you agree with The National Post’s list?

Would you rearrange the artists?

Who would you add?

Who would you leave out?

Know Your History: Episode 5 – Rap is Born (Part 2)

This is the conclusion of the transcript for Episode 5 of Know Your History. If you missed reading Part 1 you can go back and read it now. You can also download the radio show for free or stream it with the player below. 

In 1978, the term “rap music” came into existence. Most people didn’t mind the new term and actually started calling themselves “rappers.” So now, not only did we have a new term that helped shift the focus to the emcees, we also had rappers stepping up their game with the lyrical content and delivery. This kind of relegated the DJ to the back.

Also shortly around this time, rap radio was born. The first show was Mr. Magic’s Rap Attack on WHBI. This also helped signal the shift because it was no longer about a DJ heading up a party. It was now about the song and what the MC was saying.

Another interesting thing happened in 1982. There was a battle between Busy Bee and Kool Moe Dee. Busy Bee was one of those old-school party rappers who didn’t really say much in his lyrics, and Kool Moe Dee was more like the Furious Five there. Kool Moe Dee’s delivery was harder and he said more things in his lyrics. Anyway, he actually crushed Busy Bee in this battle. He just knocked him right out. Since then, battling has become part of the culture as well.

I will be producing an upcoming show that focuses entirely on battles and this particular battle will definitely be highlighted in it because it is one of the most famous of all rap battles.

One year later, Run-DMC did their own take on the same issues that were reflected in “The Message” with their song “It’s Like That.” Much like Kurtis Blow’s “The Breaks” it talks about poverty but it’s much harder and has more of a street sound that the flashy Kurtis Blow. I would even argue that it’s a little harder than Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five’s take as well.

It’s even more evident on the B-side, “Sucker MCs.” which was quite literally a battle song where Run rips through any would be MC. It’s a great song with an edge to it unlike anything else at the time.

The interesting thing, too, was that Run-DMC knew that this shift was happening. You can hear it in their lyrics. They say, “All brand new. Never, ever, old school!” Run-DMC is basically saying, “Look out for us. This is brand new. We’re not doing to old stuff that you’re used to. This is for the street. This is hard. This is the voice for the people. Rap has something to offer.”

So we started with hip-hop culture just being about the DJ trying to get the crowd to dance, figuring out that the crowd like to dance to the breaks, and looping up that break part. DJs then tried to outdo themselves by using the turntable as an instrument so much so that they were too busy to get on the mic anymore to hype up the crowd. They then employed MCs to do it. The MCs hyped up the crowd and introduced the deejays. MCs quickly started to take it a little bit further and started telling stories, making their raps longer and formatting them into actual songs. This was quite a shift in hip-hop culture.

In this next episode, we will explore how rap became popular because at this point in time, rap was pretty much relegated to New York City. But with radio and video, that was all about to change.

I hope you enjoyed the program today. Remember to tune into DOPEfm each and every Saturday overnight for all the best in underground hip-hop, dope mix sets, artist interviews, and history segments. Listen live at http://cfmu.msumcmaster.ca/ and subscribe to the podcasts at http://dopefm.mypodcast.com/ Thanks!

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Know Your History: Episode 5 – Rap is Born

Welcome to Know Your History, your monthly dose of hip-hop knowledge. This is the transcript of the fifth installment of the show. If you haven’t been with us for the previous four, you can download each episode for free or stream them with the player at the bottom of the posts. You can also read the transcripts as you listen to each episode.

So, without further ado, let’s move on to the topic for today.
Today rap is born. 
Actually, it wasn’t born today. Who knows when it was born? We cannot pinpoint the date exactly and say. “This is rap. This is when it started” but we can with hip-hop. We need to remember that there is a subtle difference between rap and hip-hop. Rap is the music, hip-hop is the culture based around the music. For today, we are just going to focus on rap music.
In the mid 1970’s, deejays still owned the parties and were held in reverence. Emcees or rappers really weren’t around at this point. DJs such as Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, and Grandmaster Flash quickly became legends by playing street parties and getting everyone hyped up and dancing to the music they played.
The DJs were naturally competitive with each other and as such, strove to improve their deejay skills. Up until that point, it was a one-man show. The DJ ruled the party. They played the songs. They got on the mic and did what was called toasting, where they would use short, pithy rhymes to introduce themselves and hype up the crowd.
With the event of the scratch by Grand Wizard Theodore and the new techniques that allowed the turntable to be used as an instrument, the deejays really needed to focus just on the music. So they started to employ MCs. MC meaning “master of ceremonies.” Now, the master of ceremonies started adapting the toasting style made popular by Kool Herc in The Bronx. They introduced the DJs. It was still all about the DJ. The MC was only there to back up the deejay.
MCs weren’t rapping verses at that time. At this point, raps weren’t songs. They were short rhymes and that’s all. So rap wasn’t really even around in the mid 1970s. That’s one key detail we need to realize. MCs weren’t ruling; DJs were. It was all about the deejay. The emcee was secondary at this point.
The first rap song ever recorded was by a group called The Fatback Band and it featured an emcee called Kim Tim III in 1979. Shortly after that, The Sugarhill Gang released “Rappers Delight,” which really reflected the block party vibe. There wasn’t much substance to the rhymes. It was just about having fun and hyping up the crowd so people could dance. That’s the foundation of hip-hop right there.
How did rap actually become involved in the culture then? Because the culture was about playing music live, having a party, and dancing to it. It wasn’t about rhymes. Really, it wasn’t. 
I played the Sugarhill Gang song in the first episode. Once again, the rhymes were quite simple but they were basically telling a story in that song. Songwriting took a step-up in the 1980s with a kid named Kurtis Blow. In his song “The Breaks” he spoke about poverty but it still sounded like something that you would hear at a hip-hop block party. It was still about having fun at this time. As such, Kurtis Blow doesn’t really dive too deeply into the socioeconomic problems of the day. However, it is important to note that he started something there.
You gotta give it up to Kurtis Blow for stepping the game up for emcees. He tried to talk about issues affecting the poor neighbourhoods in New York where hip-hop originated from. Of course, he just has fun with it. The song is about a bunch of bummers like your woman cheating on you. So he’s having fun with it and not getting down and dirty with the issues that he touches upon. 
This next song came out two years later. It’s from Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five. Notice how the deejay’s name comes first because the DJ is the centre of hip-hop culture. The DJ is what birthed hip-hop culture. Grandmaster Flash was one of the original deejays as well.
The song is called “The Message.” This song takes it to the street and really explores the socioeconomic realities of the poor, black neighbourhoods. This song actually convinced people about the power of rap and what it had to offer. So listen to the lyrics here and compare it to what you just heard.
That song touches on a lot of issues. One of the lyrics says, “living in the ghetto is like second-rate living.” It talks about jail and drugs, Another line mentions a crazy lady from the garbage can. They mention bill collectors, inflations, and strikes. The people living there have headaches, migraines, cancer, and of course, the classic line, “It’s like a jungle sometimes. It makes me wonder, how I keep from going under.”
There’s a section where a child is talking to his father about all the drugs the kids are doing at school, how everything is about money, and how it’s crazy after dark and he can’t go to the park. This group is exposing some real issues in this song and covering a lot of ground in their subject matter.
You can see that the art of rap got elevated there. It’s not simple party rhymes anymore. The rhymes are more intricate, they are telling a story, and dealing with some real issues of every day life.
This sparked a shift in the art form. The focus had, up to this point, been on the DJ but was now starting to move towards the MC and what he was saying.

Come back tomorrow to read the conclusion of this transcript.

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Teaching Tip – Capitalize on Those Moments

I am a very organized teacher. I have an extensive long range plan that breaks down what I am doing in the classroom term by term and week by week. I write detailed day plans for each and every single day of the year as well.

This sounds like a lot of work, but I assure you, it really isn’t. In fact, it even saves me time as I always have a road map there for me.

Of course, in teaching there is always something that pops up to derail even the best laid plans. Sometimes you just want to tear your hair out because it is almost impossible to fit everything that you would like to into your week.

That being said, some of the things that might seem like unwanted diversions can be teachable moments.

I believe that as teachers, we have a responsibility to teach more than what is laid out in the curriculum. We need to teach children about health and safety concerns, life and social skills, and cooperation strategies.

Sometimes the best way to teach these things is in moments that pop up without any warning at all.

So today’s tip is to

1) Recognize the moment.
2) Take the time to go out on a tangent.
3) And capitalize on that teachable moment.

Some of my best lessons have been the impromptu ones that I never planned. They just happened spontaneously based on a simple question a student has asked or an activity that we have been doing. These lessons are priceless and the students get a lot out of them.

I know that I have covered why we need to wear helmets and seat belts just this way. I don’t think that lesson is anywhere in the curriculum. Yet, I loved the impromptu lesson I came up with on the spot, the drawing I did on the board, and the story I told about an embarrassing skateboard wipe-out. The students got a lot out of it too. We covered science topics in this short lesson as well.

After that going off on that tangent, we got back to the actual planned lesson for the day and I think we were all better off for the detour.

Have you had any great impromptu teaching moments?

I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below or write an entire post for a future installment of Teaching Tip Tuesdays. Teachers helping teachers is what it is all about.

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Meadowlilly Woods Visual Tour

Meadowlily Woods is only one of several natural jewels that exists in what is known as The Forest City, London, Ontario.

I hit the trails this past weekend for a run and took my camera along to share the beautiful views with all of you. I hope you enjoy this visual tour of my run.

The 44 ha site contains marshes and floodplain woods along the Thames River, old fields, shrub thickets and mature woodlands on higher, rolling land, and some active and retired agricultural fields.*

I started my run from the entrance point right on Meadowlilly Road. There are several different ways to access the four kilometres of trails here.

I ended up running a lot more than four kilometres. I got a little turned around on my run and needed the map to find my way back to entry point 3 where I started.

The scenery was just beautiful so I really didn’t mind getting a little lost in these woods. After all, it was a beautiful day for a run.

This is Eagle Bridge and it cuts across a steep valley.

I loved running along the trail and catching glimpses of the Thames River. I had to hike down to the bank to take this shot.

At this point in my run, I am actually outside of the trail system. I looked at the trail map and figured out that I was at access point number 4.

I love a trail that has hills sprinkled throughout it. This one had its fair share of them. I really enjoyed dipping down the trail across this bridge and then back up an incline on the other side.

This bent tree that tries to block the path was quite interesting.

All in all I think I ran six kilometres as I tried to find my way back to my starting point. It was a gorgeous run and I would recommend this trail for anyone who wants to take nice leisurely stroll or a tranquil trail run.

Here is some more information about the wildlife in the area.

Over 110 species of migratory and breeding birds have been observed in the Meadowlily Woods area. Due to its large size and location along the river, the forest supports forest interior and area sensitive species such as Pileated Woodpecker and Ovenbird. Other nesting species include Red-tailed Hawk, Great Horned Owl, Belted Kingfisher, four species of woodpeckers, Rose-breasted Grosbeak and American Goldfinch.

The animal life is typical of the London area with Raccoon, Coyote, Eastern Chipmunk, Red Fox, White-tailed Deer, Grey Squirrel, Woodchuck and Beaver.

The many wet habitats are home to Green, Wood and Leopard Frogs, Spring Peeper, Eastern Redback Salamander, Painted Turtle, and Eastern Garter and Northern Brown Snakes.

The meadows provide nectar-producing flowers for butterflies and moths. Giant and Tiger Swallowtails, Hickory Hairstreak, Clouded Sulphur and Spring Azure are among the species recorded in the area. Dragonflies, damselflies and many other species of insects can be found by the river.

*information taken from http://www.thamesriver.on.ca/wetlands_and_natural_areas/meadowlily.htm

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How?

How could I have possibly have forgotten my lunch today?

There’s my lunch bag.

Right beside my water bottles (I never leave the house without one of them.)

Yet this morning, I somehow managed to open the fridge and grab three of my water bottles and leave my lunch behind.

I didn’t notice until I got to work. It was a good thing that I had some money in my pocket and enough time to jet to Tim Horton’s during one of the breaks or it would have been a really long day.

Language is Fascinating (and hip-hop uses it well)

My brother handed this book to me a few months back and suggested that it would be right up my alley since I am a writer, an English major, and fascinated with words and language. He was right!

The Language Instinct by Steven Pinker is a great read.

For instance, did you know that “virtually every sentence that a person utters or understands is a brand-new combination of words, appearing for the first time in the history of the universe.”

Here’s another thought…

“We have all had the experience of uttering or writing a sentence, then stopping and realizing that it wasn’t exactly what we meant to say. To have that feeling, there has to be a ‘what we meant to say’ that is different from what we said.”

I’ve collected quite a few passages from this book that I will be adding to my commonplace book. Sorry that I haven’t been updating that site much lately. I plan on getting back to it real soon.

I need to add this book to my Recommended Reads list. Pinker does such a great job of explaining how language works and how it change throughout time. He believes that language is a human instinct and by the end of the book, you probably will too.

I also love how he gives credit to rappers for helping evolve language.

“When given a glimpse into one of these lexicons, no true language-lover can fail to be dazzled by the brilliant wordplay and wit: 

from medical students (Zorro-belly, crispy critter, prune) 
rappers (jaw-jacking, dissing)
college students (studmuffin, veg out, blow off)
surfers (gnarlacious, geeklifed)
and hackers (to flame, core-dump, crufty)”

He then further adds, “I don’t know how I ever did without… to dis (express disrespect for)”

A language expert that acknowledges hip-hop and its vast influence. How could I not love this book?



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Teaching Tip – Transformational Geometry

I hate when I create a teaching resource and then when I need to find it, I can’t locate it.

I spent an hour this morning trying to find a worksheet I created about seven years ago. I couldn’t find it in my binders, on my hard drive, or on any of my thumbdrives. I even searched the Internet to see if I could find the original source that adapted all those years ago. I came up empty though.

However, during my exhaustive search, I came across another great resource I created several years ago for my Grade 6 class. I know I saved this two-page worksheet but I couldn’t find a digital file of it either. I think it may be on a floppy disk somewhere but it probably will stayed trapped inside that piece of ancient technology.

I scanned the worksheet into the computer in six different sections because it wasn’t coming out clear enough in one scan.

This worksheet deals with Transformational Geometry. The symbols above show that the object needs to be rotated on a grid. The first shape should be rotated 1/4 turn in a clockwise direction. The second figure needs to be redrawn after a 1/4 turn in a counterclockwise direction. The last two red direction symbols indicate that a half turn is needed.

The red line above is the translation line. The figure needs to be redrawn by following the direction of the line. You count the lines of the grid from the bottom of the arrow to the point. Therefore the first arrow indicates that the figure will be translated 3 spaces to the right and 3 spaces down. This could also be written as (R3, D3)

The line with an arrow on both ends indicates a reflection line. The figure needs to be redrawn on the other side of the line.

The second page of the worksheet allows the students to get extra practice using the three transformations of geometry. Number 1, translation (meaning that the shape is slid) Students will sometimes refer to this action as a slide.

Number 2 is a reflection, meaning that the shape is literally flipped over a line. Sometimes this action is simply called a flip.

Number 3 is a rotation. sometimes this is referred to as a turn.

However, I believe it is important to give our students the correct mathematical terminology.

I hope that you have found this series of posts useful in your teaching practice. Remember to come back each and every week as I present a new tip for you to use. If you have a tip you’d like to share, I’d love to hear from you. Consider writing a guest post and contributing to this series. Teachers helping teachers is what this is all about.


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Happy Thanksgiving! A Fresh New Start


I hit a rough patch in my life just prior to Thanksgiving last year. I wrote about it quite extensively and then decided that certain things in my life did not have to be broadcast to the Internet and Blogosphere. That is why you might be a little surprised when I tell you that this year (Thanksgiving to Thanksgiving) was the worst year of my entire life.

As this long weekend approached, I wasn’t feeling very thankful. I wanted to stave off the celebrations this year. I wanted Thanksgiving to just go away.

It took me a while to realize that I actually have quite a lot to be thankful for. Sure, things didn’t quite work out the way I had wanted them to this last year. But that doesn’t really mean much in the grand scheme of things. I truly believe that things happen for a reason and that things will work out eventually.

Here is what I am thankful for this year,

A New Year

I feel like this holiday heralds the start of something great. I can finally put the worst year of my life behind me and move onto better things.

Teachers

My Teaching Tip Tuesday series has become quite popular. I am glad that so many teachers are finding my tips useful. I realize that teachers are busy and don’t often leave comments but I am thankful for every hit I get and the very nice emails I have received.

Running

I love the tranquility of running down a nature trail. I enjoy bringing a camera with me, snapping a picture every few minutes, weaving those pictures into a narrative and then presenting them to you on this blog. My Visual Running Tours have become one of my favourite features here too.

My Health

I am a pretty energetic guy. I’m glad I have the ability to run around, chase after kids on the playground, skateboard, and do the various other things that I am able to do on a daily basis.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I really do have a lot to be thankful for. I am happy that this holiday came around now. It feels like I have a fresh start. Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Down With Webster Interview Concludes

Chase: “So, Down With Webster, what’s behind that? Where did the name come from?”
Cam: “ A bunch of twelve year-olds-”
Pat: “Trying to make a name at the end of band class. We were at Tyler’s house after our first rehearsal, if you want to call it that. I guess we took a break to eat some lunch and the 80’s show Webster was on TV and we were watching it and thought it was funny. We thought, “That guy’s cool. How can you not like that guy, that little Wesbter kid?’ So we were like, ‘We’re down with that guy – Down With Webster.’ And we never really thought about it again. And by the time we ever even considered the name, it was just so embedded and everyone knew it.”
Cam: “It was too late. By the time we realized it, it was too late.”
Chase: “Well, that was where my brain went when I first heard Webster, was the old TV show.”
Cam: “Yeah, some people think we want to burn dictionaries or that we hate Emanuel Lewis. Nah, it’s nothing that intense.”
Pat: “It was quick, it was easy.”
Cam: “It’s got a certain ring to it. That’s all that matters.”
Pat: “Once people remember it. I’ve heard all kinds of variations. Up With Winston was a good one.”
Cam: “Yeah, my dad called us Up With Winston for about a year.”
Pat: “So what’s the name of that band? Down With Webster. Once people started remembering it and started calling it D-dub. By that point, it was over.”
Chase: “Yeah, and youve got your nice little DWW logo that kind of looks like the Volkswagon logo.”
Cam: “It totally looks like the Volkswagon logo. It’s awesome.”
Pat: “No it doesn’t! What are you talking about.”
Cam: “We’ve never even seen the Volkswagon logo?”
Chase: “Anyway, we’ve been talking for a while. We should spin one of your songs. I want to spin “Your Man”
Cam: “Alright do it up. For all the girls out there, the ladies.”
Chase: “Alright, Daddy J spin that track and we’ll be back to talk some more with members of Down With Webster.”
Chase: “Alright, that was ‘Your Man’ from Down With Webster. I was just watching that video the other day with my girlfriend, and I laughed, ‘I love that line right there.’  The one, ‘I had a crush like an empty soda can.’ That’s a cool verse.”

Cam: “Aw, thanks man. I like that verse a lot too. I was wondering if it was too sugary. Ya know, it’s a love song. It was written for a girl. I had made the beat and come up with the rough chorus before I played it for anybody in the band. I was like, ‘I can’t even play this in front of the guys. They’re gonna make fun of me. And then people liked it. I feel that my verse was really good and anyone who’s into rap or what I’m into, is gonna get it.”

Chase: “Yeah, ‘cause I like to focus on lyrics and quite often in pop songs, it’s like nothing.”
Pat: “It’s pointless, like, ‘I’m going to the club.”

Cam: “Like just filling up space. Filling up 16 bars without saying anything, which is never cool.”

Chase; “I agree. Later in that song, one of the other guys says, ‘2 days ago, 2 weeks ago, 2 months ago’ and then he goes forward ‘2 days from now, 2 weeks from now, 2 months from now.’ I thought that was a great little formula there.”

Cam: “We do put a fair amount of time into our lyrics, which I think is strange for a group that a lot of people label as pop. It’s not something a top 40 act often does. So, it’s cool. I’m glad people are liking it.”

Chase: “Another lyric you have, in a different song, that is very hip-hop is ‘I’m trying to get paid for what I say on stage.’ That’s hip-hop right there.”

Pat: “I mean lyrically, that’s all we listened to growing up. That’s where we learned how to write records. Even when I sing, a lot of what I end up writing, calling my verse, you can take the melody out of it and rap it.”

Cam: “You’re like a white Nelly with a little deeper content.”

Pat: “Lyrics were all we did for a long time. I think the fact that we combined other elements of music when we started playing in clubs-’

Cam: “Yeah, ‘cause lyrics are cool but sometimes it’s good to just shut up and-’

Pat: “Put your hand ups. Go! … But I think a lot of people we were originally shopping our record to didn’t A) Get the fact that it was not one genre, and B) Didn’t necessarily get that we were trying to be lyrical. We wanted to have something that you could listen to ten years later and say, ‘Wow, that was really well-written’ and not just going along with the hype of the day.”

Chase: “That’s awesome!”

Cam: “We try.”

Chase: “From word of mouth and Twitter, I hear you guys have a really energetic, awesome live show. I can’t wait to see that. We’ll be in the crowd bouncing along. Definitely. I know you guys gotta go. I wish I could talk to you longer. But we’ll spin a couple more of your songs now. It’s been great meeting you.”

Cam: “Yeah, man. Same!”

Pat: “Thanks for having us.” Thanks for listening. Remember that you can download this interview too. Subscribe to our podcast as well, for all the best in artist interviews, dope mix sets, hip-hop history segments. Best of all, it’s totally free.  DOPEfm and Silent Cacophony always come correct. Ya know it!

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Still Down With Webster

We’re continuing our coverage of the Down With Webster interview we did for DOPEfm at The CNE. Listen to it with the player at the bottom of the post, download it for free, or read it below. Enjoy!

Chase: “My first exposure to Down With Webster was the ‘Rich Girl$’ video on the Much Music Countdown. “

Chase: “When I was watching it, I thought, ‘Woah, these guys are hip-hop’ even though it was a pop band I was watching. I mean, there’s a break in the song and you do this little handclap dance thing, sparse choreography.”

Pat: “Choreography?”

Chase: “You know, this thing that rappers will do because you don’t wanna dance but you’ll do this little move.”

Cam: “I’ll dance the only way I know how to dance. I’ll hear the music and start moving. I can’t dance. I’ve never tried to say that I could dance. I do what I do. My body just does things.”

Pat: “We started making music in the first place because we weren’t on the dance floor per se.”

Chase: “But what do you say to my comment that you guys are hip-hop because a lot of people would say you’re not?”

Pat: “What’s hip-hop nowadays? I grew up listening to lots of hip-hop and it’s certainly not what it was when I was a kid. And so, define hip-hop.”

Cam: “All the genres are beginning to break down. Like, what’s considered pop music now? I mean hip-hop and pop music have largely somehow become fused together and urban music has made it into rock and vice versa. It’s like this big mesh of stuff and I sort of think that we’re a good example of that way of where music is going where you’re able to incorporate all your favourite elements. You can have electronic and acoustic and all these different genres and instruments in one thing and have it be cool.

My iPod is full of really different stuff. I’ll listen to completely electronic based music for a week, and then I’ll listen to nothing but hip-hop for two months, and then I’ll get into rock because of this guy. I’m around Pat, I’m around people that listen to that type of music.

I think it would suck to be stuck in one genre and if you ever felt like doing something, you’d be like, ‘Well, I can’t do that because I’m hip-hop and I have to follow these rules.’ I think that would suck.”

Pat: “That’s the death of any form of good music, the purist factor. Don’t put rules on it. Get out of here. Be original.”

Chase: “I know for our listeners, because we’re an underground hip-hop show and we’re gonna play your stuff and they’re probably gonna go-”

Cam: “Why’s it so poppy? Why’s it so-”

Pat: “We have plenty of stuff that sounds like underground hip-hop, maybe not what they play on the radio though.”

Chase: “Yeah. I was even thinking when I was listening to the album, ‘Well if I isolate these twenty seconds and play it and mix it, people aren’t gonna know it’s a pop group.”

Cam: “Totally. You can take whole verses and it doesn’t sound super-poppy.”

Chase: “But at the same time, I like your music so I don’t want to chop it up just so it will be presentable to our audience.”

Cam: “We’ve thought of it before too. We’ve opened for tons of different bands, everyone from Fergie, to Snoop Dogg, and certain songs are gonna fly when you’re opening for pop groups that aren’t necessarily gonna fly when you’re opening for hardcore rappers. Which turns out not to be true.
We used to try and tailor our sets, like, ‘This is a super hip-hop crowd so we’re gonna play some stuff that’s more in that vein.’ And we quickly realized that we just need to do what we do and if people like it, they like it. People respond well. The last time we opened for Snoop Dogg-”

Pat: “It was out of control.”

Cam: “People were right into it. It was awesome!”

Pat: “And you’d be surprised, you think you’re gonna open for one genre of music and you’ve gotta fit right in that vein. I mean some groups that open for Snoop Dogg might be purist hip-hop, but is it good? And people, at the end of the day, come to be entertained and they want to see something entertaining, and Snoop Dogg is just that. But there’s also many entertaining dance groups, or rock groups, or any other genre.

If you are good at what you’re doing, I think people are at least gonna tip their hat to you. Even if it’s not their thing, they’ll look at you and say, ‘You’ve worked hard at what you do.’ It’s the same reason why my dad is now listening to Eminem ‘cause he’s finally like, ‘Wow! This guys is good.’

Chase: “I think you need to be open-minded with your music and there are so many people who are closed-minded.”

Cam: “That’s alright. I understand where they’re coming from. I used to be super-closed-minded when I was a kid. I was like, ‘F-this! I’m only about this and that,’ ya know? And then as you grow up, especially as you start making music you realize that all your favourite artists are influenced by this crazy music you’ve never listened to.

Hip-hop essentially comes from a number of different genres being mashed together over a beat. That’s what sampling is. Some of the biggest named samples are from artists that hip-hop heads who considered themselves hip-hop heads that only listen to the hardest stuff. I mean, M.O.P’s ‘Cold as Ice’ is a Foreigner sample. They would never listen to Foreigner, but the guy making the beat did. And chances are M.O.P. are.”

Pat: “I remember when sampling was really big and I had a set of turntables and a sampler. I still make beats. I remember getting together with my friends who made beats and being that I was a guitar player, being able to pull samples from a Genesis record or something, and they’d be like, ‘Where would you hear that?’

And I’d be like, ‘Well, this is what I listen to. What do you mean? I always thought this would make a good hip-hop beat.’ I bob my head to the music the same way I would to a hip-hop record so why not put some drums behind it? That’s what all; the best hip-hop was. It was people that had the mind to sift through records they wouldn’t normally listen to and discover that there’s a break here. something I can really rock a party to.”

Chase: “That all kind of started with Run-DMC bringing in rock sounds and all kinds of different sounds as well.

Cam, you’ve got some great rhymes and I was wondering if you’d ever consider doing a straight underground hip-hop song?”

Cam: “I’ve been thinking about making a mixtape for a while now. I’m just going over some beats that I make or guys in the band make, just as an alternative outlet. When you’ve got a band with this many people in it and actively taking part in the music, you’re gonna get one verse a song, maybe. So yeah. I write a lot of rap. I have all this surplus stuff. So you never know.”

Chase: “That’s cool. You guys also have a DJ as part of your band.”

Cam: “Diggy the DJ. Follow him on Twitter.”

Pat: “Everyone’s on Twitter.”

Cam: “I’m big on Twitter. It’s like my news outlet now.”

Pat: “Sometimes it’s how I find out what city we’re in the next day. ‘I’m so excited to see you tomorrow.’

Cam: “Oh! that’s where I am. Great!”

Well that ends Part 2 of the interview. Come back tomorrow for the conclusion. And don’t forget to subscribe to the DOPEfm podcast. It’s free! We always deliver great content, dope mix sets, underground hip-hop, interviews, and much, much more. 

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Down With Webster Interview

Last month, I had the honour and privilege to sit down with a few of the members of Down With Webster before they rocked the bandshell at the CNE.

This is the transcript of that interview. Hopefully you listened to it on DOPEfm this weekend, but just in case you missed the show, you can download the podcast of it for free, or listen to it with the player below.

Without further ado, here is the interview.

Chase: “Alright everybody this is Chase March and I am down with Down With Webster.”

Cam: “Nice! Glad to hear it.”

Pat: “What’s going on?”

Chase: “We’re at The CNE right now. What does the CNE mean to you guys?”

Cam: “I used to come down here a lot when I was a kid, just ride the rides, try to win the electric scooters, and ride the bike backwards. It’s cool. It’s definitely been part of my life for a long time, having grown up in Toronto.”

Pat: “I used to come, eat too many corndogs, get on the rides, get dizzy, and hopefully go home with a prize or two.”

Cam: “Yeah, it’s good times! And now we’re here rapping and signing in a bandshell. Still having fun at the CNE.”

Chase: “The CNE always, for me, signals the end of the summer. Once you hear the CNE is here, it’s like, ‘Uh-oh, the summer’s gone.’”

Cam: “It’s bitter sweet because the CNE’s here, that’s good, and the summer’s ending, which is bad. It’s still fun anyway, an excuse to party.”

Chase: “Down with Webster has been making a lot of noise lately. You’re all over the place, getting lots of radio play and lots of video play on Much Music. So how did you guys form? How did this all come about?”

Pat: “It dates back to junior high days. Me and Tyler, who is our bass / keyboard player, and Marty, who is the drummer, kind of started playing music together around early high school / junior high. Originally, it was for a talent show. A lot of it was just getting together after school and learning how to play our instruments together. Then we started writing songs and then people from around the neighbourhood-”

Cam: “Yeah, a neighbourhood friendships. That’s definitely how it started out.”

Pat: “Very organic. Yeah, we were just like, ‘Come over after school. Show us what you got. Let’s jam and come up with something. What was that thing you were playing the other day,’ that kind of thing. Eventually we started writing better and better songs and it became what it is now.”

Chase: “It seems to me like you came out of nowhere this year because I hadn’t heard of you prior to that. But you guys have been working together for a long time and building a nice, loyal following.”

Cam: “Here in Toronto, it’s the place where we built, where we grew up, so a lot of people here had already heard of us. We were building in this one market but now I’m sure everyone feels like we came up overnight. If you’re in the media like that it’s like, ‘They weren’t on TV and now all of a sudden they are.” So that’s really new and super cool. But as far as the live show and stuff, we’ve been at it forever.”

Pat: “If you were in Toronto and you were going out to see live music, you knew who we were. If you were going out to any sort of 500 person-cap club, we were there playing. I think that is part of why we are the unit we are now because we built solid friendships going to every gig, ya know, a couple nights a week, waking up late for school, ‘cause we were playing in clubs.”

Chase: “So, you won a talent show that got you started and then you also won the Rogers Mobile / Universal Best Unsigned Act in 2008.”

Pat: “Yeah, that was really flattering.”

Cam: “That was really cool.”
Chase: “And now you’re on the Universal label with your EP Time To Win Vol. 1. It’s a 7-track EP but I understand you plan to release a second volume which is going to be another EP.”
Cam: “I think the original thought was instead of making a full-length, classic style record and touring it for two or three years, how people do. We didn’t really want to do that. We wanted to be able to release music more frequently. So, we put out the seven songs and then were planning on releasing another one. We are all for putting as many songs on as we can on each installment because it would be great to get a record out every year.
Constantly new stuff. You get to play new stuff. It’s always fun. We’re writing a lot. We record a lot too, so there’s a big volume of material we want to get out.”
Chase: “That’s cool because it seems that the way people consume music these days, I mean I’m an album head, I love albums, but there are a lot of casual listeners that are all for the singles.”
Cam: “People aren’t really buying albums anymore. It’s like, ‘Try and make an album, all of singles.’ Usually a single is just what people perceive to be your best song. So if you make a bunch of what you consider to be your best songs, you can’t lose.”
Chase: “Well, it’s interesting because even with the traditional album, people put out one or two singles and you’ve already got three or four off a seven track E.P. that are bumping and making lots of noise.”
Cam: “It’s going well which is awesome.”

Chase: “This is the latest single, ”Whoa is Me!” from Down With Webster. Check it out and come back tomorrow for Part 2 of the interview or go download the whole show right now. Peace!”

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Teaching Tip – Don’t Throw That Out

There are many household objects that you may simply throw away or recycle without thinking too much about it. Today’s teaching tip – Don’t throw that out!

Empty Fruit Cup Containers
These containers have lots of uses in the classroom. You can put paint in them to distribute to the students during art class. They can also be used to hold water for cleaning paint brushes right at the students’ desks. 
I like to use these containers to hand out candies or gumballs as well. I’ll write a future teaching tip on how you can use food effectively in math class. In the meantime, save and collect these containers.

Margarine containers – they can be used to store beads, popsicle sticks, buttons, etc.
Paper towel tubes – can be used for lots of crafts and art projects

Another good reason not to throw them out 

It teaches students the importance of reducing, resuing, and recycling.

Lots of our students bring in pudding, fruit cups, or apple sauce in these disposable plastic containers. Quite often the kids will just throw them out. However, we can ask the students to wash them in the sink and stress the importance to reusing items.

Have any ideas?

What sort of things do you collect to use in your classroom?
Do you have your students bring in items you can resuse? 

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Femininity in Hip-Hop is Here!

This video is really cool.

I love how Mala Reignz breaks a lot of the stereotypes of female emcees. She is feminine in this video without having to be seductively dressed or suggestive. That is quite refreshing to see.

Many female rappers are presented in such a way as to be merely eye candy for the male hip-hop fans. Other female rappers go in the complete opposite direction. Instead of being openly feminine, they dress in a masculine way to help shift the focus away from their appearance to their lyrics.

It’s seems that women have to try so hard to be noticed and embraced by hip-hop fans. Female emcees rarely get the recognition and fame of their male counterparts. It really is a shame too because there are so many talented female rappers out there.

I love how Mala Reignz is comfortable enough in who she is to present us with the images she does in this video. She is wearing a nice dress inside an auto shop. She doesn’t drape herself over the cars at all. She doesn’t fall into either of the two categories female rappers often get defined by.

This is such a refreshing video in so many ways. I like that it is a period piece. You don’t often see that  in hip-hop videos. The sample is brilliant, Mala’s flow is great, and the chorus has been stuck in my head for days.

I’m glad that I have been digging through the Internet to discover the great female talent that is abundant in hip-hop. I can’t wait to share what I have found with all of you. We will be presenting you with our Ladies Night Spectacular really soon.  Until then, stay tuned to this blog as I have quite a few more artists I’d love to highlight here.

If you have any requests, suggestions, or would like to submit your music, please contact me or leave a comment below. Thanks!

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Chasing Content – October 2009

CFL logo from 1958–1970Image via Wikipedia

October is such a great month, isn’t it?

The leaves are changing colour and it’s a beautiful month to get a few more trail runs in before winter closes the season.

Thanksgiving, Halloween, and the CFL playoffs all happen this month too.

October really is a great month. So, while we look forward to all of the great things that October 2010 has in store, let’s also take a moment to look back at last year in a little feature I like to Chasing Content.

You can read all of the posts from last October, or you can read these few favourites of mine. There really isn’t any reason these jewels should be buried in the archives. And while you are perusing through these jems, please drop a comment. It’s always great to hear from you.

Bubble Bobble – My all-time favourite video game. I still have it on my Commodore 64 too. Wanna come over and play it with me?

Teaching Tip Tuesday: EQAO –  Don’t wait for a standardized test to loom over you and the students. Prepare your class for the test all year long in what you would normally do with them anyway.

We Don’t Buy Those – I love this post and the story of what happened when I bought cookies at the grocery store. It still gets a chuckle out of me.

Love Story Meets Viva La Vida – An absolutely beautiful rendition of these two great songs.

Best Movie Ever – When Harry Met Sally – What more needs to be said? Really.

My Prized Autograph – Claire Danes – I so love her! This autograph is very special to me.

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