Monthly Archives: September 2012

Undervalued, Unappreciated, and Misunderstood

via http://www.simplycyfair.com/great-gift-ideas-for-teachers.aspx

I am very dedicated to what I do. I put so much of myself into my job. I don’t clock in or clock out. I am always a teacher. And I don’t complain about it.

My family, friends, and even neighbours know how much work and effort I put into my job. It seems to me, however, that the general public does not.

I feel undervalued, unappreciated, and misunderstood.

I’m not sure why elementary school teachers are viewed with such disdain. High school teachers and university professors seem to get a lot more respect. In my humble opinion, we are equals. We all educators and not one should be placed above or beneath another.

Normally, I wouldn’t care about any of this. I wouldn’t feel that I had to prove myself to anyone other than my students. I would just continue working as hard as I always do. But to be honest, my profession is under attack and I feel that I need to stand up and say something.

The government and the media reporting on this issue seem to make it all about money. They want teachers to take a two year pay-freeze. That sounds reasonable enough and I’d be willing to take the hit if we were in such dire need of saving money. But, it’s not that simple. So much money is wasted in the education system and I’d like to suggest that none of it is on teachers’ salaries.

We are professionals. We are well educated in ways to best  reach our students and we constantly upgrade our skills through the use of additional courses (which we pay for out of our own pocket.) We attend workshops to help sharpen our craft. We read the latest research and articles and apply that knowledge in our classroom.

I keep seeing that full-day-kindergarten commercial on TV. It’s a great program and I am thankful that it has been added, but it does cost a lot of money. The constant advertising for the program also needs to be considered.

There are some great ways we can save money when it comes to public education. There are levels and levels of middle management that could be cut out. I’m not sure that every city needs to have its own school board. We could probably twin cities up and streamline how things are done at the office and bureaucratic level.

Teachers are worth every penny we pay them. Don’t we want to attract the best of the best to care for our children on a daily basis? We shouldn’t treat them like second class citizens. It’s about time we show them some appreciation, show them that they are valued, and do our best to understand all that they do for our children.

Know Your History 29 – Hip-Hop United for a Cause (Part 2)

On January 12th, 2010 Haiti was hit with a devastating earthquake. The natural disaster left the already poor and impoverished country in an even more dire state. One month later, wheels were set in motion to mobilize some of Canada’s most popular musicians to help record a benefit track for the cause. As such, Young Artists for Haiti was born with over 50 musicians collaborating on one song.
The song was inspirational to begin with but the star-studded remake seemed to make it sparkle even more. There’s just something about that chorus of voices that is breathtakingly beautiful. That’s the power of music. Not only can it unite artists for a project, it can captivate an entire country and make the world a little smaller. The single debuted at number one and went on to raise a lot of money to help the citizens of Haiti in their time of need.
That song originally appeared on K’naan’s album “Troubadour” and the positive message behind the lyrics combined with an incredible catchy chorus made “Waving Flag” an instant hit and an obvious choice for a star-studded remake for charity.
Gathering artists together to create super-posse cuts wasn’t something new. It had its birth in 1984 with “Do They Know It’s Christmas” in the U.K. That track was recorded to help raise awareness about famine in Ethiopia while raising money at the same time, to hopefully alleviate the problem. That was the goal of Bob Geldof and he continued to raise money and support for the cause not only through the release of the charity single but through the formation of Live Aid and huge concerts. While K’naan showed us that rappers could also unite for a cause, this wasn’t the first rap track to do so.
Welcome to Know Your History, your monthly dose of hip-hop knowledge. If you missed our episode last month, we focused our show on songs that have brought rappers together, united for specific causes. We looked at songs such as Self-Destruction, We’re All in the Same Gang, and Heal Yourself.

If you missed it, go to TheWordIsBond.com and download the podcast for free and don’t forget to check the transcripts at ChaseMarch.com. You can also catch us each and every week on the radio at DOPEfm.ca. That’s where it all began. Much props to Daddy J, the founder of the program, a great deejay and a close, personal friend.

Without further ado, let’s continue our coverage of Hip-Hop United for a Cause. This is Know Your History: Episode 29. You can download the podcast for free, stream it with the player at the bottom of this post, or just keep reading.

I want to look at three specific songs today, starting with this one. This song is from “Hip-Hop for Respect” and it features Talib Kweli, Kool G. Rap, Rah Digga, Sporty Thieves, Mos Def, Common, Pharaohe Monch, and Posdnous of De La Soul. It’s called “One Four Love.”

That was “One Four Love Part 1” from the album “Hip-Hop For Respect.” It was released on Rawkus Records in the year 2000 and every single artist on the project donated their time, voices, and name to the cause.
The liner-notes in the CD package, unfold to display a painting by Evan Bishop and Kofi Taha. The image shows the face of a young, black male amongst the backdrop of an American flag. There are two police officers with their guns drawn in the middle of the picture. Two more officers at the bottom of the frame also have their guns trained on the youth, one has a rather sinister look on his face as well.
A closer examination of the flag shows the stars in the corner of the flag are, in fact, bullet holes, and the stripes are trails of blood. It is a very powerful image that speaks just as powerfully as the music we just heard. Underneath the image, Talib Kweli is quoted as saying, “Police Brutailiy is not a black issue, it is a violation of the rights of human beings everywhere.”
On the inside cover, he explains the musical project in more detail, “It seemed as if our elders had some sort of training in how to respond to injustice, and they already took action. What was the hip-hop generation going to do? We were going to make a record that demanded respect, hip-hop style.”
Kweli continues, “When we talk about defending ourselves and direct our energy towards the real enemy, not each other, then there is always a hesitation on the part of these corporations that get rich off our culture to put out positive music. Everyone wants to stay away, it’s too political. Not only do they help create a climate that shows artists to have no responsibility to their communities, but they make a concerted effort to shut down anything that promotes self-knowledge over self-destruction.”
We talked about that topic a lot in the last episode and specifically the Krs-One led track “Self Destruction” for the Stop the Violence Movement. But what about when nature unleashes its wrath and causes horrible destruction? What can rappers do to help that situation?
We found out in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In August 2005, the storm slammed into New Orleans, Louisiana. The levees that were supposed to keep the water back failed and the flooding that ensued wiped out entire neighbourhoods, left many people without a home, and caused almost two-thousand deaths.
Tons of people responded to the relief efforts in any way that they could. The situation was tragic and touched the entire nation. Several musicians held fundraising concerts and got together to release charity singles. Warren G, Ice Cube, B-Real, and Snoop Dogg, got together to make this song, a remix of “Get U Down” to help raise money for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
That was the “Get You Down” remix from a group of West Coast rap artists who got together to raise money for the relief efforts and the rebuilding of New Orleans after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The track featured Warren G, Ice Cube, B-Real, and Snoop Dogg and it was only one of such songs. Many musicians lent their star power and talents to record charity singles and albums. There were numerous fundraising concerts as well.

I love what Snoop Dogg has to say in this track. He talks about some of the programs that rappers have started in their own communities including the football league he started. He created The Snoop Youth FootballLeague, a non-profit organization to provide the opportunity for inner-city children to participate in youth football. The league is open to any children between the ages of 5 and 12 and stresses the importance of teamwork, good sportsmanship, discipline, and self-respect. It’s been going strong ever since it’s 2005 debut and it is amazing to see such a great organization started by a rapper.
There are all sorts of great things that rappers and musicians do for their communities. We don’t always hear about all of these great programs in the general public or on the news, but they are there. I think giving back is a natural inclination that when given the time, money, and opportunity, many people would jump at.  
It really is amazing how many projects and fundraising efforts are made by schools, organizations, church groups, and individuals following a natural disaster. I was impressed with the sheer amount of projects and the outpouring of support that had many people stepping up to contribute to the relief efforts in Louisiana.
You’re listening to Know Your History: Episode 29 – Hip-Hop United for a Cause. We needed two episodes to cover this topic and we still can’t get to every single project that had rappers coming together, united for a cause. A lot of people assume that hip-hop can’t do any good. They assume it is vile, violent, and of little value. I hope those people have been listening to these last two shows. 
It doesn’t even matter what language you speak. We are human and when we see tragedy or injustice we are often compelled to do something to help. We can write about it, make songs about it, and record radio shows on whatever topic has touched our hearts.
When I was doing my research for this show, I came across a track called “The Conspiracy for Peace.” At least, that is the English translation. I don’t understand any of the words in this song but I really don’t need to. The title pretty much speaks for itself. That, plus over two-dozen artists from Medellin and the surrounding areas of Columbia, South America.
It’s not often that foreign hip-hop gets played over here. We try our best at DOPEfm to highlight global hip-hop and The Word is Bond is all about Uniting Hip-Hop’s Underground, so it’s only fitting that we play this track tonight. This is “The Conspiracy for Peace” on today’s edition of Know Your History: Hip-Hop United For a Cause. And we’ll be right back to talk more about the track. Stay tuned.
That song professes a message of peace, unity, harmony, respect and good energy. The English translation for it is “The Conspiracy for Peace” and it was done by a group of artists from Columbia. I don’t think I’ve listened to any hip-hop from South America prior to discovering this track during my research for this show. It’s clear that they have a burgeoning hip-hop scene over there. The music video for that track is very well done. It was produced with the assistance of the local television station, Telemedellin.
Listening to hip-hop in a different language is an interesting experience. We can hear how similar the songs are to what we listen to. We can hear the energy and enthusiasm in the rappers’ voices and sometimes we can even hear the message behind the lyrics we might not even understand.
Here are a few of those lyrics right now, thanks to Google Translate, “Please do not ask for war / ask me for peace / I do not want to go to the cemetery / to visit many more / Everything we have seen g / has consequences.” But by far, my favourite lyric of the song is,
“This is the conspiracy / Rappers united in one mission that is the conspiracy / The proposal of hip hop / Nationwide honesty and respect for peace in concrete / All rappers together on the street”
That’s what it is all about right there. Rappers coming together in a community to affect real change, whether it is financially through the use of charity singles and fundraising concerts, or through the power of the message in the music. Hip-Hop has power. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Hip-hop has the power to unite listeners, artists, and communities.
You’ve been listening to Know Your History on DOPEfm and TheWord is Bond. I hope you’ve enjoyed the show. Drop a line and let us know what you think of our programming.

I’ll see you next week here on the podcast and next month for another edition of Know Your History. This is Chase March signing off, saying, “You Better Know Your History.”

Download Know Your History: Episode 29 – Hip-Hop United for a Cause (Part 2)

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Teaching Tip – Differentiated Instruction

Welcome to Teaching Tip Tuesday!

Every week I share with you a tip that I hope you will find useful in your teaching.

You can visit the Teaching Tips Archive to see all of the tips in the order I have posted them over the years. Please check that page as I will continue to update it every week with the latest Teaching Tip.

This page is all about differentiated instruction. It will include tips about how to reach each and every child in our classrooms, how to tailor our instruction to meet the very different needs of our individual students.

Please bookmark this page and come back often. I will update it with any new tip I publish that has to do with differentiated instruction.

You might also want to check my Pinterest page and, specifically, my Differentiated Instruction Board for more great ideas.

I hope you enjoy these Teaching Tips.

Guided Reading
How To Fit In Small Group Instruction
Small Group Instruction
The Write Start: Nurturing Writing at Every Stage
Throw Out Your Rigid Classroom Schedule and Your Students Will Work Harder

Life Unexpected (Great Television)

I always borrow DVDs from the library and I’d seen this one on the shelf several times. I had no idea what the show was about, simply because of the way the library had packaged the DVD set, but something about it called to me. I just didn’t have the time to watch it until this summer. But I am so glad I did.

Life Unexpected was a pleasant surprise for me. It was brilliantly written and I fell in love with the characters, especially the main character, Lux Cassidy.

Britt Robertson plays 15 year old Lux, and she unexpectedly shows up at her father’s one day. He had no idea that he even had a daughter. Of course, she wasn’t planning on sticking around. She just wanted his signature so she could apply for emancipation and move out of foster care.

Things didn’t go as expected for Lux either. She ended up getting released into the care of her birth parents. One of whom was a hopeless bachelor, and the other a career-driven loner of sorts. They hadn’t seen each other since the winter formal in high school when Lux was accidentally conceived. Her mother gave her up for adoption but due to a lot of different circumstances, she never did find a good home. The writing makes this all come alive, even though it may sound a little complicated.

It’s a great series, with wonderful writing and brilliant chemistry between the actors. I really was quite invested in the show and am sad now that I’ve worked my way through all 26 episodes and the bonus features as well.

As I watched the DVD, I didn’t realize that this six disc set encompassed the entire series. Life Unexpected originally aired in 2010 and ran for two seasons on the CW Network and I am so thankful that the series finale was able to wrap up the major story lines and give a sense of closure to the whole show. It makes this DVD collection all the more valuable to me. I want to buy it now.

Angus McKenzie Trail (St. Thomas, Ontario)

I collect trail runs. I’m always looking for a nice place to go for a jog. Sometimes I have no idea what the trial is going to be like, how long it is, or where exactly it leads.

Today, I laced up my shoes, strapped my camera to my wrist, and decided to explore this brand new trail. It’s called the Angus McKenzie Trail in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada.

It starts with a narrow trail into a small forested area.

A small river runs along this short trail,

and it makes its way around this marsh. At first, I thought this was all the trail had to offer and I was a bit disappointed. I was hoping to run at least 5 kilometers.

I decided to follow this trail even though it seemed to just lead to the road and another suburb. . .

but I was surprised when the trail continued on the other side of the street and followed along the edge of Lake Margaret.

It’s pretty cool to see that this is a protected natural area.

This run was more in the open than I was expecting but it was really nice to be able to run along a small creek, a bog, and a lake.

I could have kept running along the trail. I had a feeling that it might even connect up to Pinafore Park. It was a hot day and after running for 17 minutes, I had to turn around and make my way back to the car.

More Photographic Tours

Springbank Skatepark (London, Ontario)

I’ve been collecting trails for a while now on this blog. Whenever I run a new one, I take a few pictures and write about it. I’ve decided to do the same thing with my favourite skateboarding spots.

Today we are going to explore the latest skatepark to be built in London, Ontario, Canada. It’s located at Springbank Park in the small township of Byron.

There is a nicely shaped quarter pipe. A lot of parks I go to, the quarter pipe is too steep or shallow. This one is perfect.

There is also a flat elevated ramp on the other side of this small park.

This pyramid is close enough to the flat I showed you in the picture above and the concrete here is so smooth that my board felt like it was gliding effortlessly between then ramps. I didn’t even have to pump.

There is a stair obstacle, a rail, and several grinds in the park.

It’s a small park, primarily designed for single runs. But it’s nicely built. The concrete is super-smooth and it’s a fun place to hang out with friends.

Want to see more skateparks?

The Write Start: Nurture Writing at Every Stage

I don’t often take my own advice of taking the summer off from teaching. I usually find something to read at the very least. I think it’s important to develop professionally and books are a great way to do so.

I found this book over the summer at the library. I wasn’t looking for a teaching resource, but it kind of jumped out at me.

The Write Start: A Guide to Nurturing Writing at Every Stage, from Scribbling to Forming Letters and Writing Stories by Jennifer Hallissy.

There are some great ideas here that will get children writing. The book is aimed at both teachers and parents with ideas that would work equally well at home or in the classroom.

Hallissy also differentiates each activity to include preschool children all the way up to elementary school students. I like her four stages of development that make each activity accessible to all. She calls them “Scribblers” , “Spellers” , “Storytellers”, and “Scholars.”

One strategy she proposes is called “Treasure Hunt.” This activity takes a bit of pre-planning from the teacher or parent. It involves setting up a small scavenger hunt of sorts. To do so, start at the point that you want the students to end up at and then write a clue to help them get there. Continue doing this until you have a good sized hunt for the kids.

The best part about this activity is how Hallissy differentiates it for learners of all stages. For the scribblers, you can use picture clues. For the spellers, you can use one word clues. For the storytellers, you can write sentence clues. And for the scholars, you can write the clues in riddles.

Once the students are familiar with the activity, they can then create their own “Treasure Hunt” for the parent, teacher, or other students to solve. I so love this idea.

I also like how her strategies get students working with writing in unique ways. The activities are laid out simply and are quite easy to implement.

More Good Reads

Avid Reader . . . Still Collecting Book Experiences

I’ve never kept a reading log before. I always thought that it missed the point. I read because I enjoy it, because it’s a great way to experience stories, because I love the written word, and because I am a writer and appreciate the craft.

This year, I decided to at least keep track of everything I read and so far I have blogged about every single title.

I have read 42 books already in 2012 and I am not slowing down. You can find the complete list here with links to each particular book. I will continue to update it as well.

Here are the latest titles I’ve had the pleasure of reading.

The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta

This book tells the story of a sex-ed teacher who is faced with a big dilemma. She believes that the kids in her high school deserve to know about sex in a real, open, and honest way. She’s been teaching the program for several years but is faced with a new curriculum that stresses abstinence only. She stays on as the health teacher despite her objections to the new program.

I liked the idea for the novel and I enjoyed most of it, but it just petered out at the end. The main issues for the characters never got resolved and I felt kind of cheated because of it. I hate when a novel doesn’t have a powerful ending that ties things all together.

That being said, I understand that in real-life, our stories rarely get wrapped up in neat ways. This story felt real and I could identify with some of the characters, but I still want my literature to end nicely. Or to at least have something more poetic at the end.

Green Lantern Corp – The Weaponer by Tony Bedard, Tyler Kirkam, Batt

The Weaponer forged the first yellow power ring for Sinestro but now he has developed an even greater weapon and is bent on revenge. Meanwhile, the truce between the Green Lantern Corp and the Sinestro Corp is about to be put to the test. If the yellow and green ring-wielders fight each other without rings, the truce still holds, right?

Lanterns without their rings? A huge battle against an opponent with a very powerful weapon. The excitement keeps building in the Green Lantern books. This is the ninth trade paperback I’ve read this years and I must say that I am really enjoying the series.

Batman: A Death in the Family by Jim Starlin, Jim Aparo, and Mike DeCarlo

I hadn’t read this book since it came out in 1988. It was really cool to take it out of the plastic cover. It had the unmistakable comic book smell. The newsprint pages and the lightly coloured pages are a stark contrast to today’s comics.

In this story, Robin actually dies at the hands of The Joker. The scene was quite brutal for the time and it still is. There have been several Robins over the course of the comic, but this second lad to take on the role wasn’t universally liked by all of the readers. DC Comics actually had readers vote on whether or not Jason Todd should live or die in this story.

2012 Reads – My Ever-Growing List

There are over three dozen books in this list so far and I keep adding to it all the time. I wonder how many titles I will have read by the end of the year?

Make Mistakes and Roll With Them

“Weren’t you worried you would make a mistake?” I ask.


“Made two of ‘em. No one seemed to notice.”


I nearly choke on my carrot stick. “What? You made two mistakes?”

“Acting’s like real life, Mon. You make a mistake, you keep going. Everyone adapts. It’s no big deal.” He hurries to say hello to Mr. Jurzek while I stand in the wake of his words.

He made a mistake in front of hundreds of people and he doesn’t care? Better yet, no one even noticed? How is it possible that Dad got to me more as a fictional character that he ever has as a father? Maybe he should concentrate on what he loves to do rather than orchestrating lame heart-to-heart talks in pet stores. I smile across the room at him and he gives a goofy wave back. I guess he’s just muddling through like the rest of us.”
– from Janet Tashjian’s novel “Multiple Choice” pg 164-165

What an inspirational passage!

Making mistakes is a part of life. You can’t be worried about making one. And if you do make a mistake, you need to just keep going. You can let a small error stop you in your tracks. Obsessing over your past mistakes also doesn’t erase them, doesn’t fix them, and just expends needless energy.

I try to encourage my students to make mistakes and to learn from them. There is no way to do something perfect the first time. Everything we do is a learning experience. And sometimes the mistakes themselves can fade away into the performance as long as you keep rolling with it. That is one of the messages I got from this book.

I love how you can learn things through fiction. I hope you have found this passage as inspiring as I have. 

Too Many Things, a Doom, and Finally a Daredevil

I saw these gumball superhero figures that looked really cool.

I put my two-dollar coin into the machine and hoped that I would get a Daredevil to add to my collection. 

I got Thing from the Fantastic Four instead. I thought I’d try again. I put another twoonie in the machine and got another Thing.

On three separate occasions, I put more money into one of these machines just hoping to get a Daredevil.

As you can see from this picture, all in all I got five Things, one Hulk, one Dr. Doom, and finally, yes finally a Daredevil.

I also found this cool eraser at the comic book store and just had to pick it up.

Want to see more of my Daredevil collection?