Monthly Archives: April 2011

Another Victorious Script Frenzy

I did it!
I completed my screenplay “Global Code Green”
100 pages in 28 Days
I’m a Script Frenzy winner 
for a second consecutive year
and it feels really good!
I typed “Fade to Black: Roll Credits” last night just before midnight. I didn’t stay up to celebrate because I wanted to wake up bright and early to catch the Royal Wedding today. 
The wedding was perfect and beautiful. 
The energy and excitement of this Royal Event was absolutely contagious. My students were enthralled by the coverage. We watched it all morning at school today. They got to experience some history in the making. 
It was a great way to start of the day. 
As far as my script, I am going to put it away for a week or two, go back to revise and polish it a bit, and then I will share the entire work with you, just like I did last year. Please stay tuned to this blog to read it and give me some feedback. I’d appreciate it. 

Chasing Content – May 2009

Helsinki Stadium track and fieldImage via Wikipedia

Last June I started a new feature on this blog entitled Chasing Content.

It’s a great feature that gives us a chance to dig through my old posts and unearth some gems that might otherwise get buried in the archives.

This is how it works, at the start of each month, I look back at the blog entries I posted the previous year in that month and highlight some of my favourites.

I really would like to do this for each and every month of my entire archive.

Today, let’s look at the month before I started the Chasing Content feature. Maybe I will continue to work backwards until I have covered my entire history here at Silent Cacophony.

Let’s take a run around the track and see what May 2009 had to offer.

You can read all of the posts from back then or just these few favourites.

Classified Interview – Classified is one of Canada’s most prolific rappers. He just released his 14th studio album. There aren’t many rappers that can match his longevity and relevance. I had the honour to interview him for the radio show. I was a bit nervous for this interviews because I was (and continue to be) a huge fan.

Be Careful What You Wish For – I had an accident at the school’s track and field day. I really thought I had permanently injured myself. It was really scary.

Classroom Banners – I really like these banners I made for my classroom. I teach off of them frequently and I think they have a lot of value in character education.

What are the Kids Watching These Days – I think movie rating systems should be taken more seriously by parents. I am often disturbed by what the kids at my school actually watch.

My Autograph Collection – I started displaying my autograph collection online. There are now 11 of them posted up here and I have quite a few more to share with you as well. This first one is from one of my favourite rappers, Kyprios.

Classroom Scrabble – I took me some time to make this large Scrabble Board but it has been so worth it. It’s my favourite board game and my students enjoy playing it in small groups.

My Self-Referential Introduction Post – A great guest post from a first time blogger (and an ex-girlfriend.) I really like the topic, the flow of her writing, and the quirky title based on a song we blasted all summer long that year.

Thanks for Chasing Content with me. Please leave a comment on any of these posts as well. I’d love to hear from you!

Teaching Tip – 5 Reasons Not to Print That

A small, much used Xerox photocopier in the li...Image via Wikipedia

I made a conscious decision to cut down on the amount of material that I photocopy for my classroom. It was just way too easy to take advantage of the shiny hi-tech device completely at my beck and call. I made so many copies the first few years of my career that I am sure the papers could have lined up along the entire length of the 401.*

It’s not uncommon for teachers to use hundreds or even thousands of photocopies a week. If you have a class of 25 students and do a daily math drill, you are already making 125 copies a week and that is for only one 5 minute task. That being said, I think math drills are very important and I wouldn’t suggest cutting out this practice.
Instead, find other ways you can cut down your printing.
1) Use the Board
You can write the questions from a worksheet on the board for the students to copy down and solve. This isn’t merely a cost-cutting strategy but an educational one as well, since the students will need this skill later on in high school or college.
2) Scan in Documents
If you have a SmartBoard or a computer projector you can scan a document into the computer to share with the class.

Remember overhead projectors where you had to photocopy a document onto a clear plastic sheet? Well this is so much easier and requires no clean up afterwards. Yay!

3) Document Camera
A document camera is a bit expensive but it is worth the price just in the amount of saved time it will give you. You no longer need to scan in documents, format them, and save them. You can take an entire book, or manipulative and have it projected.
One of the best things to do with a document camera is to use it to read a picture book to your class. You no longer have to assemble the class on the carpet to sit close to you as you read. This practice is often problematic since some students never can get close enough to the action and complain that they can’t see the pictures. Either that, or they constantly distract other students. All of these things are eliminated with a document camera since the students can stay at their desks and see the pictures magnified on the screen or SmartBoard.
4) Use Hands-On
Not every activity in school needs to involve a paper and pencil. There are plenty of other ways to assess a student’s work. You can provide them with hands-on activities and either observe their progress or ask them to explain to you what they are doing. These activities often help students learn concepts more readily than boring worksheets. For example, you can use snap cubes when teaching patterning in math.
5) Online books
There are plenty of reading materials that we can expose our students to without having to print them off. Certain websites such as Reading A to Z even have projectable books to save you from printing and assembling.
You can pull up a reading for any website to use for a lesson and read it to the class. You can highlight or underline key points, and take jot notes for the students to copy down. It’s a great way to lead a discussion about a key topic and to have the kids take notes.
Save paper.

These are just a few ideas on how to cut back on the amount of paper being used in the classroom. I think it also shows the students an important lesson about conservation and using the materials we have on hand to their fullest potential.
Even More Tips! 

Thanks for reading. Check out the Teaching Tip Tuesday Archive for more great ideas. Teachers helping teachers is what this is all about. Leave a comment below or send me an email or a tweet. I’d love to hear your ideas and teaching tips too.
*a highway in Southern Ontario, Canada. 
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Recommended Reads – Black Noise

Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America is a great read about hip-hop culture.

It is written by Tricia Rose, who is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Africana Studies at Brown University.

In fact, any of the people who tried to argue with me that Rap Isn’t Music, should read this book. I guarantee that if they do, they will eat their words.

One important thing to note is that rap music didn’t originally begin as a recorded music genre. Instead, it was a part of a community event and was deeply embeded in hip-hop culture. Rap music was not a fad or a quick way to make money. Rose explicitly states that the music cannot be understood outside of the culture of hip-hop and I completely agree.

This book was refreshing to read. It’s an intelligent exploration of rap music and hip-hop culture and I’m glad to add it to my Recommended Reads.

Here is a review of the book that appears on her website.

Rose thoroughly analyzes several facets of the musical genre and provides an effective antidote to the severely flawed hip-hop coverage in mainstream media. She accurately traces rap’s sonic history (proving thereby that music does not require conventional melody or harmony) and gives substantial information about the innovative rhythmic manipulations made possible by the techniques of sampling. She also makes clear the connections between rap’s beginnings and the political turmoils that afflicted black and Latino urban neighborhoods throughout the 1970s and 1980s. In discussing what is probably rap’s most controversial aspect–lyrics supposedly advocating “cop killing”–Rose vividly delineates the social conditions that bring about such fierce responses to real-life police brutality. Finally, she examines the often neglected role of women in rap in rewarding depth. Fans, scholars, and detractors alike stand to learn a great deal by studying Rose’s commendable treatise. (Aaron Cohen, Booklist)

Teaching Tip Rerun

Hosemann-4Image via Wikipedia

Today I am going to recycle an old tip for you. I simply don’t have the energy to write a new one for you this week. I’m kind of tied up with the screenplay I am writing for this month’s Script Frenzy Challenge.

So today I’d like to share with you an excellent resource that I have used time and time again. It is called “Fairy Tale Friends and Foes.” It was originally meant for Grade 2 classes in Catholic school but I have adapted it over the years to use in public schools for several different grades. I like how you can teach the genre of fairy tales and at the same time have some great character education lessons.

The students learn about these values while reading different fairy tales.

Respect – Goldilocks Learns Respect
Love – Cinderella Loves and is Loved
Responsibility – Hansel and Gretel Depend on Each Other
Cooperation – Three Pigs Work Together
Courage – Jack Is Brave
Honesty – A Promise is a Promise for Rumpelstiltskin
Tolerance – Beauty Accepts the Beast
Peace and Unity – Fairy Tale Friends

Here is my first lesson plan that I put together using the above unit.

– Brainstorm sentence endings to the phrase, “A good person/friend is someone who…. “
– Record these headings beside the sentence starter, “Character Trait”, “Why is this a good trait?”
– Explore positive character traits from the ideas generated by students (kind, helpful, generous, share, etc)
– Review the list of positive behavioural traits and think of the negative behavioural traits that are opposite to them
– Discus how people make choices to change and people learn to be positive when they feel good about them
– Discuss the concept of family, including adoption, foster parents, single parents, siblings, stepfamilies, etc and list examples on the board under the heading, “Many Kinds of Families.”
– As the list is being built, the class discusses the loving relationships within each example and how the children are shown love and protection
– Brainstorm and discusses fairy tale characters, and list them on the board
– Students decide if the characters on the list exhibit positive or negative behaviours.
– Discuss the possibility of a character exhibiting both types of behaviour based on their intentions, e.g., Goldilocks may not have intended to ruin the Bears’ belongings and she may have learned a good lesson
– Model this paragraph.  “My cousin is very generous.  When I was away at summer camp, she sent me all sorts of surprises in the mail.  She sent me a birthday present as well, even though we don’t normally buy each other things for our birthdays.  She also sends me emails and links to things that she knows I like.  I love my cousin Stephanie.”
– Students work independently writing paragraphs about a good character trait of someone in their lives

Here is the full text of my Fairy Tale unit plan. I hope you will find it useful. If not, please go to the original document and modify it so it works for you. That is what I do every time I come across a new resource. I take what I like and I make it fit with my teaching style and with the needs of my students.

This is an amazing resource that starts off the year on a positive note. The values in these fairy tales are the same ones that I try to build in my classroom. By starting off the year with this unit, we have a focus and a vocabulary that will sustain us as a group throughout the year. So try it out.

Email me or leave a comment if you have any trouble accessing the PDF file or my modified unit plan. If you would like to contribute a guest post for Teaching Tip Tuesdays, I would love to hear from you as well.  Teachers helping teachers is what this is all about.

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My Growing Daredevil Collection

I saw these Marvel Beans at the dollar store last weekend. I already have a Daredevil bean from the first series that was released quite a few years ago. But I am always looking for Daredevil toys to add to my collection.

I bought two packs hoping that the three hidden beans might have been Daredevil related. I got some cool characters including a rare Red Phoenix, Skrull Captain America, Wolverine, Skrull Wolverine, Green Goblin, Invisible Woman, Cyclops, and Red Hulk. No Daredevil characters at all. Boo!

This weekend I went back to that store and bought one more pack. I opened it up to find Daredevil Yellow! Yay!

After that, I found myself at a grand reopening of a discount store. I wandered around the aisles trying to find anything of interest. You never really know what you will come across in these stores. I was really surprised to find this.

This is a solar-powered bobble-head. The head continuously bobs up and down due to the solar panel on the base. I’m not a big fan of the bobble-heads but this is a Daredevil one and it was only $4.99. It rang through as $2.50 though because they were having a 50% off sale.

Last but not least, I ordered a book from Amazon on writing and added a hardcover comic collection to get the free shipping.

I’m a bit behind in my reading of the comic but I prefer to wait to get the collections rather than the single issues.

My collection is coming along quite nicely.

Want to see more?

Script Frenzy: The Midway Point

Tomorrow marks the halfway point for this year’s Script Frenzy challenge.

With proper formatting, one page of script equates to roughly one minute of screen time. A theatrical release is typically 100 minutes long so the challenge is to write 100 pages in the month of April. 
I have been keeping you updated as to my progress via Twitter, but just in case you missed it, here are the highlights. 
As you can see, I took some time aside from writing to join the Script Chat. That was a pleasant distraction.

If I were keeping a steady pace, I’d be up to page 50 of my screenplay now. As it stands I am only a quarter of the way through the project as it stands at a solid 26 pages.

My time is more limited than it was last year, but I am not worried. I am dedicated to finishing this challenge on time. I am hoping to write a few more pages tonight when I get home from work.

I appreciate all the support you have shown me in the way of tweets and comments on the blog. That really helps.

Thanks! 

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9 Tips for a Greener, Eco-Friendly Classroom (Guest Post)

Devils Punchbowl Waterfall at Arthurs Pass in ...Image via Wikipedia
Having an environmentally-friendly classroom will not only help your school save money on electricity costs, it will also help your students adopt a greener lifestyle. By educating young children or even teenagers on the importance of living “green,” they will hopefully pass on these lifelong skills to someone else as they grow older.
Here are 9 easy ways you can help make your classroom more eco-friendly:
  1. Recycling bins – Put a recycling bin in your classroom to help set a positive example for your students, and maybe spend an afternoon educating your students on how to properly organize different materials in the separate bins.

  2. Turn off the lights – Try turning off your lights during recess and lunch hour to save money on electricity costs.

  3. Cut down on the handouts – Ask your students to write out assignments from their textbooks, or get them to type out their assignments and send them to you via e-mail. You could also send them electronic copies of their assignments so they can print them out at home if they absolutely need to.

  4. Have waste-free lunch or snack time – Ask your students to only pack their lunch or snack in a reusable food container to cut down on the amount of trash accumulated in your classroom each day.

  5. Automatic computer shutdown – Try to set your computers to automatically shut down every day (for instance, if school gets out at 3 p.m. have all the computers shut down at 3:10 p.m.) However, try not to restart the computers too much during the day as this is a huge-energy drainer as well.
  6. Have a recyclable art day – Ask your students to bring recyclable materials from their homes to re-use them for classroom arts and crafts projects.

  7. Grow a classroom garden – Ask your school/district if you can start an outdoor classroom garden, compost bin, or even worm bin to put somewhere on your school property. You could even put a fern or flower in your classroom, and then set aside some class time to discuss the importance of plants and trees and how they help the environment.

  8. Educate your students on environmentally-friendly school supplies – Spend some time researching some eco-friendly school products so you can recommend them to unprepared students on the first day of school.

  9. Start a “green” team – Encourage the students in your class to form a small “green” team, and help them organize various fundraising events, recycling projects, car pools, and much more.
Bio: Alexis Bonari is currently a resident blogger at College Scholarships, where recently she’s been researching scholarships for students with epilepsy as well as scholarships for students with cancer. Whenever this WAHM gets some free time she enjoys doing yoga, cooking with the freshest organic in-season fare, and practicing the art of coupon clipping.
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