Monthly Archives: November 2012

(All I Really Want) A Mixtape for Chirstmas

All I Really Want is A Mixtape for Christmas

This is the fourth and final mix for The Social Playlist Challenge by My Music Cloud. It’s been a lot of fun putting together a mixtape every week this month.

This week’s challenge was to put together a playlist of songs that could be played at a holiday party. I already made a really cool Christmas-themed mixtape last year and I didn’t want to repeat myself. That being said, Run-DMC’s “Christmas is Hollis” just had to show up again.

This mix is perfect for your holiday party. It starts out light and comical, gets a bit funky, slows down just as it should near the middle, and then picks up the pace again to end with a bang.

01. Barenaked Ladies – Green Christmas
02. Bill Nighy – Christmas is All Around
03. Straight No Chaser – 12 Days of Christmas
04. Boney M – Feliz Navidad
05. Mega Ran – Snow Business
06. Run-DMC – Christmas is Hollis
07. Chuck Berry – Run Rudolph Run
08. Chris Rea – Driving Home for Christmas
09. Billy Squier – Christmas is the Time to Say I Love You
10. Alvin & The Chipmunks – Chipmunk Song
11. Elmo & Patsy – Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer
12. Dragonette- Merry Xmas (Says Your Text Message)
13. The Kinks – Father Christmas
14. The Ravonettes – The Christmas Song
15. Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Wizards in Winter

Download the album version

Download this mix as one long MP3 file

Or stream it with the player below.

And please vote for me with a Facebook like or a Retweet on Twitter.

Enjoy the tunes!

photo credit: andywon via photopin cc

If you cannot see the audio controls, listen/download the audio file here

Nothing Lasts (not even audio players)

Why doesn’t anything seem to last these days?

Last year, our podcast host shut down operations and I had to find a new home for all of my audio files. In the process, some shows were lost.

Today, I logged on to my favourite media player for blog posts and found this message.

So, the players on the bottom of all of my posts no longer work. It’s going to take me some time to fix all of those broken links.

I don’t understand why Mixpod has ceased operations but still seems to have an app. I don’t have an iPhone, tablet computer, or anything that will let me run apps. I just have a blog. A blog with broken audio players. I better get to fixing those.

Two Down, Two More to Go (Keep Voting Please)

I have been having a lot of fun with this contest.

I never even expected to win but I’ve managed to win two week’s in a row now.

There are two more weeks of the contest and voting for this week’s mix ends tomorrow at midnight. Please click through and like this Facebook status to vote for me in Week 3.

Or log on to Twitter and Retweet this post to vote for me.

Or you can do both :)

Download this week’s mixtape “November Leaves, Love, and Longing” or stream it with the player below.

Thanks!

If you cannot see the audio controls, listen/download the audio file here

The Power of Education (And a Great Film)

The First Grader is an amazing film about the power of education. It’s based on a true story about a primary school in Kenya.

This small school is opened because of the government’s promise of free education for all. They are completely overwhelmed with students who want to learn and as such have over 200 students enroll.

Kimani N’gan’ga Maruge, an 84 year old man, shows up to the school because he believed in the promise of free education for all. He is given several reasons as to why he can’t attend the school. He walks away disappointed but comes back the very next day to try again. After a few days of this, the teacher decides to take him in.

It was amazing to see the children and this old man learning together side-by-side in an over-crowded classroom. There were five or six students sharing each desk and several having to sit on the floor.

Many people are upset that an old man is attending the children’s school, and the both the teacher and Maruge are constantly threatened and intimidated.

The story is set against a political backdrop and we learn of the tough times Maruge has gone through in his life. We also see how the kids learn from having an elder in the classroom and how much they can learn from each other.

The teacher ends up being transferred out of the school. The students are really upset about losing their beloved teacher and stand up against the injustice of it. It’s a great scene that can remind us the power that students, when united, can have. What they do is inspiring.

I want my students to realize that they have a voice, that all students are important and have something to offer, and that education itself is something that should be cherished as much as the characters in this film cherish it.

We can learn a lot from a good movie. I would love to show this to my classes. It’s rated PG-13 though because of a few disturbing flashback scenes.

There is a lot of history that could be taught through the use of this movie, as well as notions of tolerance, acceptance, and how thankful we should be for our schools and public education system. That’s not to say that things are perfect but we do have clean water, lots of resources, and the ideal of free education for all. That is not something that we should take for granted.

More Great Teaching Ideas 

Twilight Fans Win a Free eBook

A few weeks back I had the chance to interview the author of Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner: In Their Own Words.

The eBook People gave me three copies of the book to give away here and those copies are still up for grabs.

If you would like to get this ebook for free, please send me an email and I will send you the download link and instructions. It’s as simple as that.

If you are a Twilight fan and love the movies, you will love this eBook.

I have three copies to give away and they will go to the first three people who send an email to chasemarch (at) gmail (dot) com

Just remove the spaces and replace (at) with “@” and (dot) with “.”

Good luck!

If you cannot see the audio controls, listen/download the audio file here

Autumn in Kains Woods (Photographic Tour)

It’s a cool morning for a run but I just discovered a new trail and I’m excited about exploring it.

Welcome to Kains Woods in London, Ontario. This is the entrance to the trail just off of Westdel Bourne and Oxford Street.

It’s starts out as a paved multi-use trail that is part of the much larger Thames Valley Trailway.

The paved trail continues alongside this small pond but I curved around it and found the nature trail.

It has this wooden gate to deter bicycles, snowmobiles, and ATVs from accessing this Environmentally Significant Area.

The trail is very well marked and easy to follow.

There are several bridges throughout the 5 kilometer trail

I love that the trail follows alongside the Thames River as well.

How about this cool stepping stone bridge?

This trail has a few hills to it but, you know me, I love a good hill.

This was a really nice run. I’m going to have to go back and explore the entire thing one day.

More Running Trails

November Leaves, Love, and Longing (Mixtape)

Here is the mixtape I made for the third week of The Social Playlist Challenge. It’s called “November Leaves, Love, and Longing”

I wanted this mix to have melancholy, yearning, and romance from a wide variety of acts and genres.

The theme this week was “Fall Romance” and I really wanted to set it in the here and now. That is why it has some songs about November.

The songs and audio clips from a television series come together to tell a story. Throughout this mix, we can hear two characters coming together and, over time, realizing that they are indeed soulmates.

I really like the way this mix turned out. I was a little reluctant to do this theme. But I think I managed to portray a “Fall Romance” in perfect Chase March style.

Enjoy the tunes!

01. Emerson Drive – November
02. Ed Sheeran – Autumn Leaves
03. Fitzgerald and Armstrong – Autumn in NY
04. Wyclef – Gone Till November
05. D-sisive – I Love a Girl
06. Coldplay – Don’t Let It Break Your Heart
07. White Stripes – Dead Leaves and The Dirty Ground
08. Billy Talent – Fallen Leaves
09. Johnny Cash – Seasons of My Heart
10. Harry Connick Jr. – It Had to Be You
11. Kanye West – All Falls Down
12. Lost Boyz – Renee
13. Oasis – Wonderwall
14. Garth Brooks – Unanswered Prayers
15. Sugarland – Stuck Like Glue

Download the album version

Download the mix as one long MP3 file

or stream it with the player below. . .

and please vote for me on Facebook by liking a post that MyMusicCloud will put up tomorrow about this mix

or on Twitter by a Retweet.

Thanks!

If you cannot see the audio controls, listen/download the audio file here

One Vote Made the Difference (Thanks!)

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I can’t believe that I won the first week of the Social Playlist Challenge, and by one vote no less.

Thank you for supporting me by “liking” the facebook status or retweeting a post. I really appreciate it.

Please click on both those links to vote for me this week too. 

You can also stream or download this week’s mix here.

Right now, I’m busily working on Week 3’s mix which will be posted here tomorrow.

Cheers!

How I’ve Been Using Facebook in My Teaching

As an experiment this year, I decided to embrace social media to help open the lines of communication with students and parents.

It’s only three months into the school year, but I thought I’d share with you my progress thus far.
I started up a professional Facebook account this summer. This account was meant to be strictly for my teaching practice. I wasn’t going to post anything that wasn’t related to my classroom instruction or program. 
I don’t use Facebook personally, so it was easy to set up this new account and not mix my personal and professional life online. 
And it worked . . . up to a point.
I became Facebook friends with 41 students. It was interesting to see the things they talked about on their pages. I didn’t see a lot on my dashboard stream though. I think many of the students adjusted their privacy settings to prevent  me from seeing everything they posted, which was fine. Other students didn’t want to have a teacher as a friend whatsoever. 
The solution . . . 
I started a Facebook Page. This way students and parents can “like” my page instead of friending me. This allows them to see all of my updates, interact with the posts, and leave comments. 
To that end, I asked my students to “like” my new page and then I started removing them as friends. I sometimes miss that I cannot see all of their posts anymore but I think this is a much safer environment for teachers to still use the social media site. 
Almost everyone uses Facebook. Why not use it to help open up the lines of communication between school and home. 
Office Hours
Students or parents can’t expect to find me online all of the time. I told them that I will do my best to be online from 8:30 to 9:00 p.m. every night. That way any questions they might have will be answered before they go to bed. 

Twitter

I also started a professional Twitter page that is secondary to my current one. This is only used for educational purposes as well. 

Teachers Should be Online
I have always had an open-door policy, but I have found that very few parents call or come in to the school. Some students are reluctant to stay after class or come in before school starts. Having a social media presence makes my door even more accessible. In this day and age, connecting online is quick and easy. It only makes sense to use these tools in an educational setting.
How about you? 
Are you using social media, websites, text messages, etc in your teaching practice? If so, please leave a comment below and let us know how it’s working for you. Thanks! 

Sifton Bog Trail Run

I went to Sifton Bog once before and only found a short boardwalk with no running trails on it. This week, however, I found that there is a second entrance to the bog with plenty of nature trails.

It’s a little difficult to see where the nature trail begins but behind this sign there is an alley.

There is also a parking lot at the end of it, but I parked at a nearby soccer field park.

The entrance to the nature trail has the usual sign of warnings and conditions for trail use.

The trail is clearly marked and runs for about two and a half kilometers.

Here is some interesting information about the bog from Wikipedia. 

The bog was previously used as a commercial source of sphagnum moss, an alternative to cotton gauze. It was mined during the First World War to support the war effort and the needs of local hospitals. The Alder Buckthorn, a plant native to the bog, was harvested and used during the Second World War to produce gunpowder.

The Sifton Bog is one of the most southerly acidic bogs in Canada. It contains a number of rare species including four types of carnivorous plants. Among the latter are the sundews, Drosera intermedia, Drosera rotundifolia, and the purple pitcher plant. The central bog vegetation is dominated by Sphagnum and Chamaedaphne calyculata (leatherleaf), with a few short larches (Larix laricina) and black spruce (Picea mariana)

I ran the entire length of trail and kept following the side trails to adjacent neighbourhoods. All in all I ran just over 5 kilometers in total and it was a nice run with a few gentle hills.

More Nature Trails

Chasing Content – November 2007

Last light of November 2007
Last light of November 2007 (Photo credit: trekkyandy)

Chasing Content is a monthly feature on this blog that gives us a chance to take a stroll through the archives.

I am working my way through every single month to make these “Best-of” posts.

Today, let’s explore what was happening right here on Silent Cacophony five years ago.

Read all of the posts from November 2007 . . .

or just these cool ones . . .

The Power of 3 – Here are three choices that you always have, in any situation. It’s a handy model to teach to students about choice and consequence.

Why Is It All About Marks – I think report cards sometimes miss the point. Not everything in education needs to be graded and scrutinized.

Small But Significant – Remember when I used to write poetry and post it here? I barely do. I should write something new soon. It’s been a long time.

It’s Gotta be the Shoes – This is where my love of running began. I’m sure of it. It had to be the shoes.

Whatever Happened to Commitment? – This was one of my most popular posts. It was in response to a television commercial I saw.

Pop Art – This Halloween costume was so cool. It took a lot of work but it was worth it.

Thanks for Chasing Content with me!

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More Daredevil Swag

Here’s my latest Daredevil figure to add to the collection.

This box is really big and the figure looks so cool. I like the numb chucks on this one as well. They can stay in the air and don’t just hang straight down.

I really want to take this one out of the packaging. . .

But it looks so cool at the top of my display cabinet.

I think I’ll keep it in the box for now. I’m not sure how long that will last though.

Here’s another interesting addition to my collection.

I love this one because it was made especially for me.

It was crafted out of plastercine by one of my students and it has some nice detail to it. Daredevil has the mask complete with horns. It has the DD logo on his chest and he’s holding numb-chucks. Very cool!

More Daredevil Swag

Never Give Up on the Good Times

Here is my second mixtape of the month as part of the Social Playlist Challenge.

This week’s theme was “Never Give Up on the Good Times” and we were asked to play songs from our childhood.

Of course, I had to start off with some old-school hip-hop. That was a given. The mix then moves on to some pop music and includes a song from Back to the Future, my favourite movie as a child.

Tiffany was my first celebrity crush and I absolutely love her. I think she has a very sexy voice and I still listen to her music.

The title of this challenge led me to play the Rick Astley song. I had both of his cassette tapes back in the day.

My mom was always listening to country music in the house. As such, I had to include some of my favourites in this mix. I wanted to include the Statler Brothers, Oak Ridge Boys, and Conway Twitty, but I couldn’t fit them all in. I decided to go with The Judds and George Jones.

The George Jones song really captures how I feel about music. A great song is a great song and I love these tunes, and will continue to, until the day I die.

I had to close off the mix with my favourite song from my favourite group of all time, Run-DMC.

Hope you enjoy the tunes.

01. Most Wanted – Good Old Days
02. Das Efx – They Want Efx
03. The Goats – Do The Digs Dug?
04. A Tribe Called Quest – Can I Kick It?
05. Huey Lewis & The News – Power of Love
06. Eddy Grant – Electric Avenue
07. Beastie Boys – B-Boy Bouillabaisse
08. Pharcyde – Passing Me By
09. Tiffany – I Think We’re Alone Now
10. Rick Astley – Never Gonna Give You Up
11. Culture Club – Karma Chameleon
12. Cutting Crew – I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight
13.The Judds – Grandpa
14. George Jones – He Stopped Loving Her Today
15. Run-DMC – It’s Tricky

Download this mix as one long MP3 file

Stream it with the player below

or

Download the album version

And please vote for me on Facebook and Twitter.

If you cannot see the audio controls, listen/download the audio file here

Why Teachers Should Use Facebook

Pretty much everybody is on Facebook these days. It only makes sense for teachers to use this platform in an educational setting.

It helps us to connect with parents in a way that we never have been able to before. It shows that we are open and approachable. It can be a pain for a parent to try and reach us at the school. They will often have to take a break from work to give us a call, and more often that not, we won’t be available when they do call.

Some parents simply can’t come to the school during regular hours to discuss any concerns they might have. There are other roadblocks as well that pretty much stifle the communication between home and school.

Quite often, information only flows one way. We can send home notes in the planners. We can send home newsletters and notices. But we can’t really foster much of a conversation with these methods.

Many of our students and parents are already using Facebook. They are comfortable using the platform to communicate with family and friends. And I think, they’d be more comfortable to use it to communicate with teachers than they would in any of the more traditional ways.

To that end, I have started using Facebook in an educational setting this year and it is working. There are discussions happening on there that are benefiting students. I am able to put out reminders about my program at school and everyone is getting the messages in a timely manner.

I like how I can model appropriate online behaviour as well. It gives us a chance to talk about Netiquette and practise using communication skills online. We can teach our students about digital citizenship, collaboration, and the power of social media.

The benefits of using Facebook professionally outweigh any of the fears many educators seem to have about it. I think it’s time we embrace this widely used communication tool to enhance our program at school. It’s almost a no brainer.

Next week, I will give you some tips about how to start using Facebook in your teaching capacity. There are a few things I’ve learned over the past two months of experimenting with this new tool, and I’m still learning.

If you have any tips, or stories you’d like to share about using social media in the classroom, please leave a comment below. Thanks!

Teaching Tip Tuesday Archive (over 150 great posts to peruse)

Latest Graphic Novels

Here are the latest graphic novels that I have read this year.

Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, and Nathan Hale

A student of mine was reading this and she was so utterly captivated by it, I knew I had to give it a read as well. It’s a nice tale that puts some famous characters from children’s literature into some new adventures.

Rapunzel uses her hair like a multi-purpose tool and even as a weapon in the old west setting. She meets Jack and they become an unlikely duo to set some wrongs right.

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne by Grant Morrison

Bruce Wayne, the one and only Batman died. It was a big event in the comics and I was hoping the latest movie would have done something similar. I really think they dropped the ball on that one.

In the comics, death isn’t always permanent. It turned out that Bruce Wayne merely was lost in time and not dead. He needed to figure out a few things and work his way through different eras to come back to life in the present. Each era has him playing some fantastic characters as he slowly tries to piece together who he is and where he truly belongs.

More Reads

Please Vote for Me (And Cool Music)

I need your help.

I am participating in a Social Playlist Challenge this month. I will be making a 15 song playlist every week for the month of November. I am competing against four other music connoisseurs in this challenge and really need your support if I am to win.

The first challenge this month was to make a 15 song playlist based around the theme “Uplift Me.”

I wasn’t merely content with drafting a playlist, so I crafted a mixtape. You can download it or stream it here.  I hope you enjoy listening to it. But I really do need your vote. It’s quick and painless. Honest!

Please vote for me by Retweeting the above Twitter post . . .

or by clicking “like” on this Facebook status . . .

or you can do both :)

I don’t often ask much of you dear reader. Please take a moment to vote for me. I’d really appreciate it.

Thanks a lot!

DOPEfm – Hip-Hop Radio at Its Finest

DOPEfm is an overnight hip-hop radio show that can be heard on 93.3 fm each and every Saturday night.

If you don’t live in the Hamilton, Ontario, Canada area and can’t tune in the signal, you can stream us live on the station website.

If you can’t stay up to listen to us live, you can catch the past four episodes any time you like.

First click on “programming” at the top of the page, find “Dope FM” in the grey area on Saturday, and click on it.

Your screen should now look like this one. You’ll see a description of our show and a list of past episodes. If you click on one of them, you will hear a stream of our programming.

This system is completely automated and we can’t control the starting time of it at all. So if you start listening and you hear the metal show before us, or some commercials, just be patient and hip-hop will start shortly.

So listen live tonight and enjoy the show! Or check it out tomorrow through the archive.

You can also check our podcast page, my artist interview page, and dopefm.ca to hear more.

Thanks for tuning in.

Through the Clouds: The Mixtape

I’m participating in The Social Playlist Challenge this month.

Every week, I will be given a theme and it’s my job to create a 15 song playlist around that theme. I wanted to take it a step further and make a mix each time.

I was only told of this week’s theme this morning so it was tough but I managed to pull it together.

“To show our respect for those who were effected by Hurricane Sandy, the first theme will be ‘Uplift Me.’ The playlist must consist of 15 songs that will uplift spirits, promote happiness or turn a tragic frown upside down”

Here’s the mix I made for first week of the contest. I hope you enjoy it!

Through the Clouds: The Mixtape

01) Andy Grammar – Keep Your Head Up
02) KT Tunstall – Suddenly I See
03) Organized Rhyme – The Happy Song
04) Bill Withers – Lovely Day
05) De La Soul – Trying People
06) Sweatshop Union – Try
07) The Procussions – J.O.B.
08) Smashing Pumpkins – Today
09) My Chemical Romance – Sing
10) Colbie Caillat – Brighter Than the Sun
11) Talib Kweli – Get By
12) Bush Babees – S.O.S.
13) Brother Ali – Fresh Air
14) Ice Cube – It Was A Good Day
15) Fun – We Are Young

Download this mix as one long MP3 file

Download the album version

Or Stream it with the player below.

Enjoy the music!

and . . .

Please vote for me on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks!

If you cannot see the audio controls, listen/download the audio file here

Kiwanis Skateboard Plaza (Visual Tour)

Kiwanis Skateboard Plaza is an incredible skateboard park in London, Ontario, Canada.

I love an early morning skate.

It gives me a chance to get a little bit of workout first thing in the morning. And most of the time, the skateparks are empty at this time so I can have the entire run completely to myself.

This is one of the few skateparks I’ve come across that caters to vert skaters. It has street obstacles but also halfpipe ramps complete with coping rails. Beautiful!

I like the size of this park as well. It’s often busy with skaters but there’s usually enough room for all of us.

I didn’t have a big wipe-out this morning like I did last time I skated here. So glad to have this blog to remind me. Oh bother!

I’m glad you could join me on this visual tour. It’s probably the last one of the season. Pretty soon, we’ll have snow and my board will have to hibernate. Boo!

More skateparks

Solve the Messy Desk Problem

Welcome to Teaching Tip Tuesday!

Each and every week, I share with you a tip that I hope you will find useful in your teaching practice. 
Messy student desks bug me for some reason. I don’t like how disorganized some of my students are. I don’t like how they can just reach into their desk and be distracted by all sorts of things. Here is a great solution to this problem.

Kitty litter boxes fit perfectly into student desks.

It’s a great organization tool. Students can pull out their boxes like they were drawers, or take them out and place them on their desktop.

The above photo shows one of the other advantages to using this system. The students can’t just leave stuff at the edge of their desks to play with. They can’t hide cell phones in there and they can’t fish through their desks during a lesson.
Also, if you have to teach another class at times and they need to sit at someone else’s desk, this will stop them from going through someone else’s stuff. You’ll be able to see if anyone slides out the boxes quite easily. 
Here are the advantages to this system
  • Organization! Kids can’t throw stuff into their desks.
  • When desks need to be cleaned out, just pull out the bucket.
  • They can’t reach in and play with things in their desks. If they try, I can easily tell.
  • When I move a student’s desk, I can just move his or her bucket.
  • Students like them because when someone else sits at teir desk, they can’t take anything. 
What an awesome idea to solve the messy desk problem!
More Teaching Tips