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!
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.*
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!
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)
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.
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?
Tomorrow marks the halfway point for this year’s Script Frenzy challenge.
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.
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.
Turn off the lights – Try turning off your lights during recess and lunch hour to save money on electricity costs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Welcome to this special edition of Know Your History.
That is why today we will be focusing on the Women in Hip-Hop.
You can stream this show with the player below or download the podcast for free. Enjoy!
I was approached by to write an article for Word is Bond over a month ago. The staff over there thought I would be a good choice to write about race relations in hip-hop as a guest contributor.
We thought it would be a good idea to contrast the large white audience hip-hop has to the lack of successful white artists in the genre. This is what I came up with.
Please click on through to read the entire article entitled, Hip-Hop in Black and White.
Please welcome a special guest post from Bobbie Walker for today’s Teaching Tip Tuesday.
Be prepared: Don’t wait until the first day of school to start your journey as a teacher – prepare for your new profession well in advance. Visit the school and familiarize yourself with the place, especially your classroom and other places where you have to interact with your students. If you’re familiar with the room, it’s easier to establish a comfort zone in which to get to know your students. Know what materials you will need to bring and what the school will provide, and formulate a rough idea as to how you will handle your first class.
Reach out: If you’re going to teach very young children, introduce yourself to the parents before term starts by emailing or calling them. You can obtain their contact details from the school office; encourage the parents to keep in touch with you throughout the year and to call you if they have any anxieties about their child. This will alleviate their fears of leaving their children in your care.
Know your stuff: The first step to achieving success as a teacher is to know your subject comprehensively – when you’re knowledgeable and don’t have to keep looking at your notes or the textbook to teach a class, you gain in confidence, and this boosts your status as a figure of authority. You have more control over your class and are able to gain the respect of your students.
Get to know your students: It’s important to break the ice with them as a person first before you start out as their teacher. So spend a few minutes of your first lesson with introductions and general chitchat. This helps you gain an overall perspective of your class before you begin teaching them.
- Enforce discipline: It’s probably the hardest thing a teacher has to do, but if you want the respect of your students, you must know how to enforce discipline in your classroom. Students tend to haze or tease a new teacher, and you mustn’t give them the chance to gain the upper hand by ignoring their misbehavior during your first few days in an attempt to get them to like you. Ask what’s appropriate by way of disciplinary action at your school, and be stern about enforcing them or admonishing students who are bent on creating trouble. Once you gain a reputation as a no-nonsense teacher, it’s easier to be in control of your class.
Each day that you teach gives you a new insight into this world of schools, books and students; so don’t worry about initial hiccups or random incidents of trouble – just keep doing what you’re supposed to do and you’ll be just fine.
Script Frenzy is a friendly writing challenge where the goal is simple – write an original feature-length film in one month.
I participated in the event last year for the very first time. You can read that screenplay right now if you want. It was a lot of fun writing it and I am proud of how it turned out.
I decided it would be fun to sign up for another go ’round.
This year it will be a bit tougher though for a few reasons. Number one, my commute has grown quite a bit since last year. Since I spend so much time on the road every day, it will be hard squeezing in all the writing time I will need. Secondly, I am going to try and tackle a genre I haven’t really worked in before. And last but not least, I haven’t had a lot of time to cook this idea.
I usually think about a story for a long time before I write. This one, I’ve been kicking around for about a week. I’ve designed a nice world for the story in my head. I hope I can get it out on to the page. I have a rough idea for the starting but the middle and ending are still waiting for me to find them, which of course is half the fun.
So wish me luck. I will be tweeting my daily page counts and keeping you up to date with my progress. If you are writing or have had any aspirations to do so, why not join me. No experience is needed. It is fun, there are community events you can attend, and best of all, it is free!
So as their slogan suggests, “stop watching and start writing.”
As we look forward to all that April has in store for us this year, let’s look back at some of the great moments from last April.
It’s time for “Chasing Content,” that monthly feature where we dig through the archives like the little miner from the Dig-Dug video game franchise. Remember that game?
You can read all of the posts from last April or just these gems.
Brother Ali Interview – I was honoured to meet Brother Ali last year. Not only is he an amazing songwriter and artist, but he is also one of the most coolest, down-to-earth rappers you could ever wish to meet. We had a two hour radio interview with him and his DJ, BK-One.
Everyone is a Resource – I went to a workshop on the music business and really enjoyed this pearl of wisdom from Nik Duncan, the Communications Coordinator for Norris-Whitney Communications. I think you will too.
We’re all in a Book – I think of life as a story that is developing as we go along. We are all characters with the ability to act and shape our own stories.
Could’ve Been My Wedding Song – I so love this song. I had it picked out to be my wedding song (but unfortunately, it was not meant to be) Now that I’ve had some time, I think I could realistically put it back on the proverbial playlist. It’s such a perfect wedding song.
A Song That Should Get Radio Play – This is just one example of a positive hip-hop song with a great message. These kinds of songs and artists rarely make it to commercial radio and that is something we truly need to change.
Thanks for digging through the archives with me.
Please leave comments on any of my posts. I’d love to hear from you!