Monthly Archives: May 2011

Unscramble, Write, and Draw

It is important to have a few Goldilocks tasks in your teaching reservoir. These are quick assignments that your students should find neither too hard nor too easy. These are just right tasks.
Here is one that I have found to be particularly useful for students still mastering sentence writing.
The task involves reading the words on the page and putting them in order to form a proper sentence. With just the scrambled sentence, this could be a difficult assignment. However, there are a few hints that will help your students be successful.
Here is an example.

The student need to write the sentence in the correct order, “The tree has lots of leaves.”

As you can see, the capital letter is a great starting point. If we constantly reinforce that sentences must begin with a capital letter, the students automatically know which word to start out with. They can then use the picture to help them figure out what the sentence should be.
Once they have printed the sentence, they will need to complete the picture to show that they have understood what they have written. For the above picture, the students need to draw leaves on the branches. 
This is a great activity for so many reasons. It is a perfect Goldilocks task that my students have never complained having to do.
In fact, I ran out of worksheets to hand out. I tried to find a similar book to keep this task on the daily agenda but I couldn’t find one.
That was when I challenged my students to create some of their own. Here are some of the ones we came up with.
“Look out for that huge wave!”
“The race care is number five.”
“I am skateboarding on a ramp.”
I plan on creating an entire year’s worth of these Unscramble and Draw worksheets. My students are excited about helping me create them as well.
Try creating some of these for your classroom. If you do, please send them my way. I’d love to see what you come up.
If you have a great tip, resource, lesson plan, brilliant classroom idea, or anything else you’d like to share, I invite you to write a guest post. It’s quick, easy, and painless. It will also give you a great place to show potential or future employers what you do in the classroom. Teachers helping teachers is what this is all about.  
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My Love of Running and No I Didn’t Take That Photo (aka Giving Credit Where It is Due)

I love running. I think I always have.

I remember being on a soccer team when I was very young. This was a non-competitive house league team. We wanted to win, of course, but the coaches always imparted on us the lesson of playing our best game, having fun, and showing sportmanship.
I don’t know if you have ever been to a youth soccer match, but it is kind of an undisciplined game. The kids tend to crowd around the ball and have a hard time playing in their assigned positions.
I know that I couldn’t be contained simply being a forward. I always wanted to run back and play defence as well. I wanted to be where the action was.
The coaches noticed that I had energy to spare and could actually manage to keep up with the ball no matter what side of the field it was on. They created a new position just for me. I became the team’s “floater.”
I remember being so proud of that title and made-up position. I ran my heart out every game and in some ways I have never stopped running.
A few years ago, I had the crazy idea to run with a camera. I thought it would be neat to stop every couple of minutes and take a picture. This was I could document my run and share my love of running here on this blog. Thus started the Visual Running Tour series on this blog.
So far, I have posted 18 of those tours. If you look at the last entry though, you might notice something a little different. The photos are sharper, more vibrant, and the composition is more varied and unique than my usual shots. There is a good reason for that. I didn’t take those pictures.
I did run that very route though. I just happened to walk it the next day with my girlfriend. She took the pictures. She loves exploring new trails and taking photographs. We plan on doing a lot of hiking this summer. And after our hikes, I plan on running each and every trail we find.
As such, it is only fitting that she get photography credit here on Silent Cacophony. You have already seen some of her work. We wrote the Snowmaggedon post together, she took pictures of my last run and one other, as well as her photo-essay about Toronto Freedom Fest.
I will continue to post Visual Running Tours and weave a narrative of the route throughout the photos. I may not take the photos on every run any more though. But I will give credit where credit is due.
I so love those photos in the the last post. They look way better than mine. Thank you Dana Kathryn, Silent Cacophony’s newest team member and now its official photographer.

Photography by Dana Kathryn

JC Poppe Interview Wraps Up

We’re back with JC Poppe. If you missed Part 1 of the interview you can go back and read it now, download the whole show to listen to, or stream it with the player below.

Chase: “We just played ‘Foundation of a Moment’ by JC Poppe. I really like that track. It speaks to some realities in your life and in music. I know that you went through a bit of a tough time recently. One of the lyrics there says, ‘I could be worse off.’ I like focusing on lyrics. There’s another one that says, ‘It’s so hard to listen to both our heart and our head, so this moment I’m in, I’m just gonna vibe.’ Nice!”

JC Poppe: “Thank you.”
Chase: “I also like how you talk about the art of hip-hop in there, and you say the art is something beautiful but ‘people listen to the radio, where rap is at its worst, and they cut out half the words. They get a steady message of careless life and sex and believe the underground should get lumped in with the rest.’
I’m a teacher and my students listen to that kind of stuff and I listen to more positive, underground stuff, and there is quite a distinction there with the lyrical content.”
JC Poppe: “Oh, I absolutely agree. There really is. I grew up in a household where my parents were completely against hip-hop and rap music. All they heard was vulgarity and they heard these messages of drug dealings, violence, murder, and whatnot. Now, at that time, that was what I was listening to and that was what I was into, a lot of the westcoast gangstas.
If you go back and look at the time period, that wasn’t the only stuff that was around. If you go back and look at all of hip-hop, the stuff that makes it to the radio by and large, that makes it into pop culture, is really vulgar stuff to children’s ears, to a lot of people’s ears.
But, there is always a movement in hip-hop where it isn’t all about vulgarity, or offensive ideas, or manipulating people to accept criminal counter-culture.
I’m a mild-mannered emcee. I live my life and do my thing and when people ask me, ‘What do you do?’ – ‘Well, I’m a stay-at-home father and I rap.’ And they give me this look, like, ‘Oh… you rap,’ and I always have to qualify everything I say with, ‘No, no, no. I don’t rap like that.’
It’s sad that there are so many people in the world that look at rap music as just being this ignorant method of communication, when it is not. It’s a beautiful art that takes a lot of intelligence to put together and just because some people do it in a simple way doesn’t mean that that is par across the board,
When Jay Electronica starts rattling off those complex rhyme schemes, that is not easy. But people think rock music takes more talent because they have to play guitars and sing. Okay, well, show me a rock musician that can rap their butts off and do it well and do it with a message, and if they can just pick it up and do it no problems, then maybe your point I somewhat valid. But I don’t see many people doing it and doing it well.”
Chase: “Exactly, and I think one of the key things that people outside of hip-hop culture fail to realize is that hip-hop didn’t start out as recorded music. It was a culture and we can’t just look at rap music outside of hip-hop culture and understand it. So, I find, like you, I am constantly having to argue and defend my choice of being in this culture and why hip-hop is such an amazing and important thing. People just don’t seem to understand that.”
JC Poppe: “Right. It is a cultural thing. It was born as something that you experience. Back in the late 1970s when the deejays were out in the parks battling over New York and they had the MCs get up there to brag about how dope that DJ was and why that DJ was better than the other DJ. That was an experience. You went out to hear that music that those DJs were spinning to feel a party and feel a rhythm.
Whatever people want to believe, there is so much more. It’s a cultural experience and that is one of the big things we deal with in America – the acceptance of the White rapper with the Black rapper, the Latino rapper, and how can everybody play together and be one movement.
There are some Black rappers that don’t look at white rappers as being valid or they feel that they are stealing art. There are white people that know nothing about the culture of hip-hop or its roots, but they see that it is popular and they like 50 Cent or Lil Wayne, they all of a sudden decide that they are gonna be thug rappers.
There is so much that people are still figuring out in the third decade of hip-hop and it is going to take a little while for it to really all come together, Hopefully one day it will be one united front.”
Chase: “I think it is starting to come together, just because of its age. We can actually now talk about our history and where we have come in these thirty years. There are reunion shows for hip-hop groups now. House of Pain is playing tonight – a 20th anniversary reunion show, and Onyx is coming around again. We have a rich, cultural history in hip-hop and we are starting to celebrate it and get more acceptance, I think anyway.”
JC Poppe: “Yes there is. Slick Rick, Salt N Pepa, Young MC, and a couple others are doing a tour around the country too. We have people that can go out and reminisce about the old days and celebrate. But there is still a struggle going on based on race and cultural perception and why people believe they have to follow certain rules.
For me, who is so into hip-hop, culturally, people still ask me, ‘Why aren’t you into rock music or country or whatever?’ The same thing happens for black people who listen to rock music and not rap music. It is looked at as being different, odd, or weird. And that is what we need to get away from.
Music is just a way to express emotion and ideas, no matter what genre it is under. If we can appreciate it, regardless of skin colour and just focus on the message and the art of it, I think we’d be in a lot better place.”
Chase: “Yeah, me too. I just wrote a very long piece for Word is Bond about that very issue where I contrasted the large white audience and consumer base for hip-hop with the lack of a large white artist base. If you think of successful white rappers, you can only think of a handful of them, if that. You think of Eminem, Vanilla Ice, 3rd Bass, and Beastie Boys and those are the few that have been able to make any kind of noise. Conversely, rock started out with a lot of black musicians and then Elvis came along and it seemed to blanche rock.
I don’t think music should be defined by colour. I think it is ignorant if you go up to a black guy and just assume he listens to rap. I see a lot of people who do that.”
JC Poppe: “It’s exactly what you said. It is ignorant. It is based on the cultural bias that was have towards skin colour that we are brought up with. We are told by media and by a lot of different people who believe that because of out background, we should only fall into these categories. And if you don’t, you are wrong or different.”
Chase: “What I think it hilarious is that I’m an elementary school teacher and as soon as the kids find out that I’m a rapper, they’re like, ‘You don’t look like a rapper. You don’t dress like a rapper.’ And I respond, ‘Well, how’s a rapper dress?’ I mean, it’s just all these stereotypes and I think it is really cool to see you breaking them in your music and in your use of social media.”
JC Poppe: “It’s all a conversation. Some people get it but some people don’t. What it is, is just an active conversation that we are having with people. Cultural beliefs, and ideas, and news travel through places like Twitter and that is how you stay up on things, that’s how you branch out to learn about new things, bounce ideas off of people, talk some smack, and have some fun.
It’s very interesting to see what this social media craze is going to do with communication over the next couple of years based on what it has already done. Some of it may potentially be pretty grim. People are going to get more and more used to talking to people through devices instead of face to face. But at the same time, the world is a lot smaller and communication travels much quicker. So, there are a lot of pluses and negatives.”
Chase: “Definitely. It’s time to spin another track.”
JC Poppe: “We brought up ‘Audio’ before so let’s drop that one”
Chase: “Daddy J will drop that track. This is JC Poppe. The track is called ‘Audio.’ This is Chase March on the interview tip. And we’ll be right back!”
Chase: “That was ‘Audio’ by JC Poppe and we’ve got JC Poppe on the phone. Nice track, man.”
JC Poppe: “Thank you. That was one of my more fun tracks. You gotta throw down a little fun sometimes.”
Chase: “Well, that one reminds me a lot of L.L. Cool J’s ‘Radio.’”
JC Poppe: “Okay.”
Chase: “I guess you haven’t had that comparison before.”
JC Poppe: “I have not heard that. I think ‘Radio’ has what? 5 verses? It’s an extremely long song as far as verse structure, I know that.”
Chase: “Yeah, but he’s like, ‘I gotta have my radio. I’m not going anywhere without my radio,’ that kind of old-school vibe where everyone is walking around with these great big radios. You’re new school because we don’t have the radios anymore, I don’t listen to the radio. I listen to mostly podcasts. I listen to community radio, sometimes, when it is actually on. But nowadays I need my audio more than radio. So that song is kind of a more modern take on it.”
JC Poppe: “Not that everyone has an iPod or an MP3 player but so many people do and that’s what they prefer to use for their audio consumption, I know that I find myself always scrambling to update my iPod with everything. Ya know, I gotta have my audio. And also, the funny thing is, I only where Audio Shoes, the skate brand, so it kind of works 2 in 1. I always gotta have my audio to listen to and I always got to have my Audio Shoes on.”
Chase: “Oh, hey, Daddy J is wearing Audio too right now.”
JC Poppe: “There you go!”
Chase: “How about that? The weird thing is, I am wearing New Balance and I actually skate. Do you skate?”
JC Poppe: “No I don’t. I have absolutely terrible knees. I had reconstructive surgery on one knee a couple years back. I would crumble. I would absolutely just crumble.”
Chase: “Too bad. I love skating. Although I’ve fallen down a few too many times on that thing, I tell ya.”
JC Poppe: “Yeah, well now that I have a kid and I do all this kind of stuff, I’m just trying to keep my body together. No more pins and joints holding my body together, I don’t need any more of that.”
Chase: “You do a lot of things. You’ve started up a blog ‘Milwaukee Up.’ I think you changed the name of it recently?”
JC Poppe: “No, it’s still ‘Milwaukee Up.’ Originally it was a WordPress account and then, which is Milwaukee’s premiere daily web magazine, contacted me about bringing my blog over. So, I decided the stature they have, the backing that they have, and the consumers would be a great way to expose Milwaukee hip-hop to Milwaukee. Because that’s the funny thing, a lot of people from Milwaukee don’t know anything about their local scene. So I took the blog over there and it’s been doing pretty good over there.”
Chase: “Yeah, I remember I put out a call for guest contributors or something like that and you thought about writing a guest post for mine. And you were having a hard time cutting it down or writing it, and then it never happened, and then you started your own and you put up a lot of interviews on there too. It’s really cool to see, you moving from ‘I’m might write a guest post for you’ to having a solid base of writing on your own site now.”
JC Poppe: “When I wanted to do that for your site, I was fumbling around trying to figure out what to write about. I had no idea. I started writing some stuff down and I didn’t like what I was writing, Some time passed, I dropped the ball on that, but after a couple people encouraged me to speak up about Milwaukee hip-hop, it kind of clicked. I wanted to write about that and give back and get it going. I did and it’s been a pretty good success.
It’s still a local thing. Some people check it out nationally but it’s pretty local and that’s fine. I’m not trying to be some internationally famous blogger. I’m just passing the word on.”
Chase: “Your mission is good and it is tied in to the essence of hip-hop – rep your hood, talk about where you’re from, celebrate, and build a community. It hearkens back to old school DJ parties and it’s cool to see that taken up online now. It is very similar.”
JC Poppe: “I love Milwaukee. I unfortunately don’t live in Milwaukee right now but that area of the world is where my heart and soul is, it’s where I grew up, and I will always consider that my home base and the place I want to get back to. I am so plugged in there anyway, it’s like I never left. So, I gotta represent for that city there because they deserve to be heard. There is so much talent there. It’s crazy that nobody has got on and that nobody has blown up yet.”
Chase: “Well, if you keep putting in the work, I’m sure that it will soon.”
JC Poppe: “My fingers are crossed. I think everybody’s got their fingers crossed.”
Chase: “Definitely. Well, thanks so much for being on the show. And just for people out there that want to find out more, how can they find out more about JC Poppe?”
JC Poppe: “Just go to and all my music is there. All the artists that I manage which are AUTOMatic, Raze, The Hollowz are there. And if you are looking for dope hip-hop, those guys are fantastic. Everything you need to know about me is there. And they can hit me up on Twitter. It’s just that simple.”
Chase: “Definitely, you can hit me up on Twitter as well. Let’s have a conversation. Well, anyway, I think we are gonna spin some more of your tracks now. And it’s been a pleasure talking to you.”
JC Poppe: “Thanks so much.”
Chase: “All right. Peace!”
JC Poppe: “Peace!”

Music Playlist at

JC Poppe Interview

Chase: “All right everybody, this is Chase March. Daddy J is on the boards, and we have JC Poppe on the telephone all the way from Milwaukee. You can download this interview for free, stream it with the player below, or continue reading. Welcome to DOPEfm.”
JC Poppe: “What’s up? How you guys doing?”
Chase: “We’re doing good pretty good. It’s nice to finally get you on the show. I know we’ve been trying to make this pop for a little while and talk about your two albums that just came out recently, Tea Party and Shadowlands. How are those doing for you?”
JC Poppe: “Well, they’re doing all right. The people have been receiving the music pretty well. The thing I’ve noticed about these records is the fact that people really, really love them or they really, really don’t like them at all. It’s been a very interesting process after I came out with my first record in 2009, to people say either, ‘Yeah, you got a lot better,’ or, ‘These are the most horrible things that I’ve ever heard, never rap again.’
It’s been a very interesting process to see how people react. The people who do like them, I get tweets about it, facebook messages, emails, or texts, especially the tracks on Shadowlands, they say, ‘Hey, this track really touched me. This track really helped me get through something.’ That is fantastic.
It’s great to hear as a songwriter that the music that I am letting go from myself, even though it’s personal, somebody can still find something in it to hold on to. With Tea Party, which is much more a thought and belief album, rather than personal experience, some people really do gravitate to that as well.
So , yeah, it’s been a mixed bag of reactions from people.”
Chase: “Well, I know I was a little confused when I first got it, like, ‘Why do you have two albums?’ and ‘What’s the deal there?’ Perhaps you can explain why you split them up into two shorter albums instead of one longer one.”
JC Poppe: “When I was writing the records or the music, I found that my thought patterns were going to two very specific places. One, either being very personal to who I am and my life story. And the other, based on the thoughts I have on politics or things of that nature.
When I started weaving those tracks in and out of each other, trying to find a proper balance and sequence, I found that it wasn’t working. It wasn’t coming to life the way that I wanted it to. I figured the best way to bring it to life and convey the message that I wanted to, was to split them up and make two different albums.
That is what you get with Shadowlands and Tea Party. They are two completely different albums but they’re, I would say, equally as intense, just in different ways.”
Chase: “Yeah, ’cause you tend to get really personal with your lyrics. I know a lot of rappers do that, while others put on a total persona. We can see that you don’t have a manufactured persona. You are being pretty open and raw in a lot of your lyrics here.”
JC Poppe: “I’ve always been a fan of just hip-hop and well-written music. Two of the most influential emcees for me are Chuck D and Black Thought. While Black Thought doesn’t get super-emotional, he leaks out tinges of emotion into his lyrics about the personal struggle that they’ve all gone through, that he’s gone through, to give it that personal flavour. And Chuck D has so much power in his message and his voice. And so, those are two guys who are very influential on what I do and who I want to be as an MC. I’m not as gifted as either of them, but those are the people I aspire to be like.
Chase: “Good influences right there. Definitely. I know in one of your other songs, Audio, you say, ‘If you don’t know Eric B and Rakim, but you love Young Money, your light’s a little too dim.”
JC Poppe: “That’s kind of how I feel. I’m out here making conceptual music that is extremely personal and if you just want that facade of sex, money, drugs, alcohol, that kind of stuff, that’s not what I’m going to deliver to you. I’m going to give you ‘the real.’ I’m going to give you who I am and what’s going on in my world and in my head.
Sometimes I have fun, like in ‘Audio’ or the song ‘Mess Around.’ So, yeah, life is not all this party and BS that people are portraying out there. It’s just not that. And that’s a vicious cycle, people get caught up into believing that it is and they wonder why their lives are terrible, why are they so unhappy. Well, maybe, it’s because they bought into these lies that all you need for happiness is to get out get drunk and have random sex with all sorts of people, or taking drugs or whatever, and that;s not it.”
Chase: “One of the things that I admire about you is that you break the stereotypes of a rapper. I remember probably a year ago, you tweeted something to the effect, ‘Yeah I’m a rapper and I got a wife and I love her and I’d never cheat on her,’ and you had a couple tweets like that in a row. ‘Yeah, I’m a rapper, but . . .’ and just breaking what many people have as an image of a rapper. I thought that was really cool to see.”
JC Poppe: “That’s the thing. So many people out there don’t want you to know that they have an education. I think that was one of them that I put out there, like, ‘Yes, I have a college degree.’ Why is that so bad to put out there that you’re an educated person?
A lot of rappers do have a higher education, so why be ashamed of that? A lot of rappers do have wives and children, so why can’t they talk about that and say, ‘I love my wife. I love my children. I’m a family man.’
Chase: “That’s really cool. I definitely like that message that you’re sending out. It’s about time we play one of your tracks right now so people can hear what you are about. I want to play ‘Foundation of a Moment’ which is a really nice track. It’s got a really nice beat and there’s also a video to it which I will embed below.
So this is ‘Foundation of a Moment’ from the album ‘Shadowlands’ by JC Poppe. Daddy J is gonna drop that track and we’ll be back tomorrow to wrap up this interview. If you don’t want to wait, you can download the entire show to listen to right now, or keep listening with the streaming player below.
Thanks for tuning it. See you tomorrow for the conclusion of this interview!

Read Part 2!

Music Playlist at

How A Gluestick Works

ChapStick. Released under GFDL.Image via Wikipedia

As a teacher, it is important to capitalize on teachable moments. A small discussion, comment, or even an action from a student can lead to a brilliant impromptu lesson.

Case in point, last week I noticed that a student in my class was applying chapstick to her lips every few minutes. Her chapstick was becoming a distraction to her work. Not only that, but she was wasting a resource that should have lasted her a few weeks.

I immediately saw a connection to the glue sticks we have in the classroom. Quite often the students don’t roll down the glue and affix the cap properly when they have finished using it. Other students roll the glue all the way up to the top, or apply too much (like my student was doing with her chapstick)

I found a glue stick that was just about empty and held it up for the class.

“How does this work?” I asked.

One student replied, “You take off the cap and then put it on the paper.”

I did what she said and placed the glue stick cap on a piece of paper.

I said, “Come on, you should be able to explain how something as easy as a glue stick works?”

This is actually a good exercise in using precise language. And it is not as easy as it sounds. I was trying to challenge my students.

It took a while but they were finally able to direct me to use a glue stick correctly to glue two pieces of paper together.

After that, I held up the glue stick and asked the students, “How many parts do you think a gluestick has?”

Most of the students yelled out “4” but one said “5”

I took apart the gluestick and we examined each piece. I drew each piece on the Smartboard as well.

We could now see that a gluestick is a simple machine consisting of 5 parts. “Great answer!”

Glue sticks and Chapstick are built the same way.

Here are the component parts;

1) The handle that you turn is actually a screw. You can see it once you take off the top part that holds the glue.

2) The piece that screws on to this is a platform but we used the term “nut” for this exercise. The screw mechanism is like a bolt and the nut attaches to it.

3) Next we have the glue itself. This is the part of the glue stick that gets used up.

4) The casing or plastic shell is the next piece.

5) And finally, we have the cap or lid.

I was then able to talk about why we should be “Wise in the use of our resources” – an old Scouts Canada motto that has really stuck with me.

We only have so much resources in the world and in the classroom. We need to use the things we do have in a responsible manner.

Sure, this impromptu lesson took 20 minutes of my day that I had planned to teach something else, but this lesson was


We compared our lip balm and looked at the volume of ointment in each container.

Mine won.

We talked about natural resources and how they should be managed, taken care of, and not wasted needlessly. 
A glue stick is a simple machine made up of 5 component parts.


Being able to communicate clearly and give instructions is a great skill. 

Figuring out how a glue stick works and how to instruct someone to literally follow your directions takes critical thinking skills.

This was one of the best lessons I delivered all year long and it was sparked by what was happening in my classroom at the time. I didn’t plan this lesson. In fact, it was actually a disruption to my day but good teachers can recognize these teachable moments and cash in on them.

I hope you have found this post useful. It is part of the Teaching Tip Tuesday series that I run here on this blog. As of now, there are over 100 useful tips, tricks, lessons, and ideas for you to peruse. 

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Medway Valley Visual Tour

It’s time for the very first Visual Running Tour of 2011!

Medway Valley Heritage Forest is located in London, Ontario and covers 95 hectares. There are 9 kilometers of trails that hook up to a few other short trail systems in the northern part of the city. For my run today, I covered about five kilometers in this forest.

There is the entrance trail that leads to the forest.

The nature trail officially starts here.

This hill was a little bit muddy to run up.

The trail ran alongside the creek for the most part. There is nothing better than running through a beautiful forest with only the sounds of nature including the sound of a slow moving creek.

Which way to go?
I also like a trail that has several hills to run up and down.

I was glad to see these logs strategically placed to help me over a particularly muddy section in the middle of a hill. My foot went for a bit of a slide just a bit further down but I managed to stay upright and keep running.
A small waterfall beside the trail. Lovely!

I love this shot. The trees are so straight and tall.

I hope you enjoyed this visual tour of Medway Valley Heritage Trail. I have already run a few of my favourite spots this year and you can go check those visual tours out right now if you want. I’ll see you here next time I find a brand new trail to run.
Photography by Dana Kathryn
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My Take on Toronto Freedom Festival (Guest Post)

This year, I attended my first Toronto Freedom Festival and Global Marijuana March at Queen’s Park in Toronto. The event boasts a peaceful history with no arrests and an estimated 3.5 million dollar impact on the city’s economy.

The official festival website states: “In 2007, TFF was developed to offer the necessary infrastructure for the 9th Global Marijuana March (GMM) that launches just north of the park. Toronto’s march is largest of over 200 participating cities, attracting over 20,000 people each year and garnering international media attention”

This year, for the first time in the festival’s history, the organizers had a difficult time obtaining a license from the city of Toronto, succeeding only weeks before the event date. The permit allowed for the renting of port-a-potties, building fences, hiring security, building stages and hiring food and product vendors.

What affected the event was the amount of entertainers and speakers available on short notice. As a consequence, there was only one stage as opposed to several. The organizers were also very clear about the politics of the event; decriminalization of marijuana, regulating the growing selling and consumption of cannabis, and freeing the “Prince of Pot” Marc Emery from US prison.

However, I felt there was some question as to whether or not this message was being heard by the extremely young attendees of the event. Regardless, with a record turnout the event is making an impact about the issues, even if their participants did not all go out and vote on May 2nd.

Arriving at 11am, there were already approximately 20 thousand people in the park, camping out on the grass and surrounding areas. Everyone was incredibly friendly and laid back. What I found particularly striking was the noise level. For a crowd of such significant size, it was not necessary to raise your voice in conversation. Everyone was there to have a good time. What I did notice was the lack of political signs in the crowd. There were several volunteers collecting donations and giving out information, interacting with the crowd.

There were also a handful of street vendors and goods for sale, among booths giving out information about cannabis laws and selling marijuana paraphernalia such as bongs and rolling papers. We looked for a hacky sack at one point, but were disappointed.

Everyone was in good spirits. In fact some of the people in the crowd were dressed in elaborate costume; the most exaggerated of these was “Bong Man”

In the Media tent, I had the opportunity to talk to several event organizers and performers. Because of the last minute permit there was only one stage at the event, where in previous years there have been several. However, this did not seem to derail the enthusiasm of the crowd, growing to over 40 thousand people for 4:20, after which many of whom left the park to participate in the Global Marijuana March.

Most striking to me were the two incredibly strong women leading the crowd, the politicians, and activists. Jody Emery, whose husband has been incarcerated for selling marijuana seeds, and Alison Myrden, a political cannabis activist as well as Canada’s first medical marijuana patient. As a feminist activist, I really appreciated the power and presence of these women at this event.

Jody Emery is member of the Green Party and a cannabis activist. She spoke on behalf of the magazine Cannabis Culture where she is CEO. She also speaks on behalf of the company’s former CEO and her husband, Marc Emery, in a bid to return him to Canada to carry out his jail sentence.

Alison Myrden, a former Canada Corrections Officer and lifelong MS patient spoke about the need to both decriminalize the drug for medical use as well as regulate it through governmental dispensaries in order to ensure safe and effective medicine for patients.

Stay tuned to this blog for an exclusive interview she did with Chase March for DOPEfm.

Both women had such a presence it was hard not to listen to them. Laughing, smiling, smoking, and in such incredible spirits in the face of a four-year conservative government and already having dealt with issues threatening the safety of the event.

Here is a video of Alison Myrden speaking at the Toronto Freedom Festival in 2007, the first year of this large event centered around The GMM.

Every year the event has grown, and it shows no intention of slowing down.

This is a cause that affects so many people, yet one that is not represented in the popular media that often. For instance, did you know that over half of all drug arrests in the US are for cannabis related charges? (

We are led to believe that this is a harmful plant as well as to fear those who sell it, use it, or promote it. Perhaps we should make up our minds for ourselves? Below is a list of links to take you to further information about Jody and Alison as well as the causes they are fighting for.

Further information:!/jodieemery

Photography and Words by Dana Kathryn

How To Fit Small Group Instruction Into Your Routine

Welcome to Teaching Tip Tuesday!

Before we get started today, if you haven’t already, please take a moment to complete this survey. Thanks!

And now for today’s tip,

How to Fit Small Group Instruction into Your Routine.

1) Remove Timelines

Instead of having a specific time and duration for tasks, allow your students to have some autonomy over when and how they need to complete those activities.

For example. I used to expect my students to write a journal every morning by 9:30. Promptly at that time, I would instruct my students to clear off their desks and get ready for a spelling lesson. I would then deliver my lesson to the entire class, and expect my students to complete the worksheet or activity by 10:00.

I don’t do this anymore and believe it or not, this tiny change has worked miracles.

2) Clearly Define the Goals

Each morning I put a list of tasks on the board that I expect to be completed. The students know they have the freedom to work on these tasks in any order they want.

Besides a journal, I also have my students complete a DLR. This Daily Language Review is a 5 question activity that takes most students only five or ten minutes to complete. It helps reinforce grammar, phonics, sentence structure, onset and rime, analytical skills, punctuation, spelling, and more.

I will give you more details about this bellwork activity in an upcoming teaching tip.

3) Add more tasks

I also give the students a math worksheet each morning.

Sometimes, it will be strictly computational. I truly believe students should be doing math drills each and every day to improve their speed and accuracy.

Once again, this activity takes students anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes to complete.

4) Target Teach

Here’s is where the small group instruction comes in.

I don’t teach a spelling lesson to the whole class anymore. Instead, I teach the lesson to one small group of students. I group these students by learning style and target the instruction accordingly.

I have the students assemble around a conference table that I sit at as well. This table is close to the board so I can turn around and use the board without having to get up.

We focus on the spelling pattern of the week and I have the students spelling out words according to the sounds. I can see how each student is using the letter pattern

5) Repeat

Once the students go back to their desks, I call the next group over to the table and repeat this entire lesson. I have found that a whole class lesson that takes 30 minutes can be done with a group of five students in about 10.

Sure, I end up teaching the same lesson, more or less, five times in a row. This takes 50 minutes of my time but the students get targeted instruction that truly enhances their learning.

6) Do it Daily

On Mondays, I use this routine to teach each small group a spelling lesson. On Tuesdays, I do a mini-lesson on writing. Wednesdays, we do Grammar. Thursdays, it’s word study. And Friday, I have the students use this time to catch up on any work they have fallen behind on. If they are all finished, they get some extra free time.

7) Free Time

Many students get free time every morning now because the get their work done. Even with the extra writing and math task I have thrown into the mix, the work gets done.

The students are happy because they get to choose which task to do first, second, third, and fourth, and they are motivated to do them knowing that free time awaits them after completion.

More Teaching Tips

I hope you have found this 3 Part Series on Small Group Instruction useful. If you use this or a similar strategy, I would love to hear from you. Perhaps, you have a tip you’d like to share. Please leave a comment below, send me and email, or you could even write a guest post for next week’s tip.

Here are some past Teaching Tip Tuesday posts you might find useful.

Photo Credit –

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A.P.E. Strategy Survey (Guest Post)

Greetings Chase readers,

I was very happy to come across the Teaching Tip Tuesday post which talked about using the A.P.E. strategy for teaching kids how to properly answer a question.

I am a recent teacher graduate doing an inquiry about A.P.E. and having a very hard time finding research and literature on the effectiveness of this strategy. So, when I saw the post, I thought I would put it out to the greater teaching community and ask all you teachers out there to please take a few moments to complete the following survey.

Your contribution is greatly appreciated.

A.P.E. Strategy (Answer, Prove and Extend)

Anonymous Teacher Survey

1. What grade do you teach?

2. Have you ever used A.P.E. strategy as a format for both oral and written responses?

3. Are you currently using A.P.E. strategy in your classroom? – If not please state why?

4. Please briefly describe how you introduced the A.P.E. strategy to your class.

5. Please describe any benefits to your students’ performance that you may have noticed since employing the A.P.E. strategy, such as whether students are beginning their answers by re-wording the question, and if they are more consistently proving their answers with material taken from an oral or written text, and lastly, if they are extending their answers by making connections that are either text-to text, text-to-self, or text-to-world.

6. Please state whether or not you would continue to use, or would use this strategy in the future.

Please respond with this quick and easy online form!

Or you can also respond by leaving a comment below.


– Laura Martindale

Love to Hear Mandy Siegfried "Speak"

The public library is a great resource for audio books. I go there often to find stuff to listen to in the car.
It’s great being able to immerse yourself in a story while driving. If often makes the commute seem shorter and gives you something to look forward to as you want to know what will happen next in the story.
I like going to the teen section of the library. There you can find some great YA fiction.
When I saw this audio book, I was immediately intrigued.
It wasn’t the author, the title, or even the cover art that got my attention though. It was the narrator.
My favourite audio book of all time is Heartbeat and it is also performed by Mandy Siegfried. I absolutely loved that sound of that book and thought it would be nice to hear something else done by the same narrator.
I listened to Mandy read the story from the first person perspective of a young girl in high school. I imagined that this was the same girl from Heartbeat, who at the time of that story had been in middle school.
Just like that earlier book, the girl in this story recounts her time in art class. She has a long term project to do in that class.
There were a few other comparisons that I made that other readers / listeners probably wouldn’t. After all, this is not a sequel to Heartbeat, as much as I wanted it to be.
That being said, I really enjoyed this novel. (spoiler alert)
The story revolves around a girl who has become an outcast at her high school. For the first part of the novel, we don’t know what exactly happened that made people turn on her.

Later on in the story, we find out that she was raped during a house party. She was only thirteen and didn’t know what to do, so she called 911. The party was then broken up by the police but she didn’t stay to talk to the authorities. She didn’t even report the crime. She didn’t tell anyone, She didn’t speak about it at all.

The story is about the struggle to find her voice and speak.

I hope people speak out and against rape. I hate the fact that it even exists. I don’t understand how anyone could possibly commit such a heinous act. I hate how the victim will sometimes get blamed. I hate everything about it.

I hated that this character that I came to really like over the course of the novel, had to go so such a horrible affair. I am glad that she made it through okay though and that I got to hear her story, that I got to hear her speak. 

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