Monthly Archives: March 2013

The Sweathearts of the Galaxy Need Your Help

Tallest Silver and Kit Quinn are the Sweathearts of the Galaxy.

If you’ve followed me on the blog or on Tumblr, you already know that I am a big fan of their cosplay. I especially love Tallest Silver as Power Girl.

They are trying to finance a web series and they need your help. Watch the video below and you’ll be sold on the project.

Support Sweathearts of the Galaxy!

Go to their Kickstarter page and make a pledge to get this series off the ground. I’ve already backed the project.

As I type this, they are at 89% of their goal. The time is counting down as well. In 32 hours the pledge drive will be over. So head over to the site today and lend your support. They have all sorts of incentives.

Check out my Tallest Silver posts here on Silent Cacophony!

James Bond in Space and A Super-Hero Family

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

Star Wars, comic book, graphic novel

Star Wars: Agent of the Empire – Iron Eclipse

James Bond in space, that’s basically what this story is, but it goes a little deeper than that.

Jahan Cross is the secret agent in this series and he works for the Empire. He truly believes in King and Country, even if it is run by the evil forces of The Emperor and Darth Vader.

The coolest thing about this story is that Han Solo appears in it. It takes place just before the events in Episode IV: A New Hope and it works quite well.

I would like to read more of this series, especially to see if Jahan ever realizes the corruption of the Empire. It would be cool to see him join the Rebel Alliance and fight the good fight from inside a position of power in the Empire.

Animal Man, graphic novel, new 52, comic book

Animal Man – The Hunt

Animal Man is a super-hero who is able to channel the abilities and strength of any animal he calls upon.

One of the most interesting things about this story is that he is able to hold down a regular domestic life. He has a wife and two children. The story starts out with a slice of life that gave me high hopes that a super-hero comic could be centred around a family.

The sweet story gets a little horrific early on. You can tell from the cover art that this might be the case. I don’t normally go for horror as genre, but this story has enough hope and real-life characters that it pulled me in and kept me reading.

The story actually centres around his young daughter. It seems that she has inherited some of his powers but the way she exhibits them is quite scary. And it attracts attention from an evil force that begins to hunt them.

I really want to see where the story goes from here. It was an interesting read.

Writing Rap Songs With Students

This is the fourth lesson in my unit on Rap Music.

In this lesson, I set the parameters of the rap songwriting assignment, I share a few examples of rap songs, and then I put the students into groups and have them start writing.

You can download the Smartboard file of this lesson for free to use in your classroom.

rap songwriting assignment

In the last lesson, I shared a song from Run-DMC so the students could see how the two rappers in that group took turns saying rhymes and lines of their songs.

I have another example of this to share with them today.

Rap Songwriting Assessment Criteria

Right up front, I let the students know the five elements I will be focusing on when I mark their performances. I want them to speak clearly, to have creative lyrics, to adhere to the four bar structure of rap, to stay on beat with their lyrical delivery, and to be a good audience member for all of the performances.

Audience etiquette is something that we should teach and reinforce in class. Making it part of the mark stresses its importance.

A Simple Diagram of Rap Song Structure

This slide was part of the last lesson but I included it here again to help students remember to stay on beat.

To show them a good way to find and keep the beat, have them use both hands to tap their lap on beat 1, to clap on beat 2, and then repeat these two steps for beat 3 and beat 4.

The rhyming words should fall on the claps.

Mission 5 Write About Now

I then share with them one of the songs I did with my rap group Mission 5.

Mission 5 band members

I used to go by the name of DJ Unconventional and I shortened it down to Uncon. I was the lead rapper in the group.

Abomination was our DJ.

Rime-On is my younger brother and he and I trade rhymes back and forth in this song. My lyrics are in red and his are in blue.

Mission 5 Lyrics Explained

I display the lyrics to the first verse as the students listen to the song. I then stop the MP3 and break down what those lyrics mean.

When I say “Kill that noise,” I really am telling people to stop all of the negative talk and to just listen to the music.

We then see that the 5 in our group name doesn’t refer to the number of group members. It shows that we were trying our best to get a 5-star rating in magazines.

We all like football and include that interest in our rhyme.

When Rime-On says “You see me you say, ‘Uh-oh!'” It shows that we are tough to compete against.

We then compare ourselves to the Wright Brothers. The line is even more effective since we are actually brothers.

Our tracks are so explosive you get hit with debris. This is an effective image since we can shorten down our deejays name to A-bomb so we are talking about a bomb or an atomic bomb.

What Rappers Do in Their Rhymes

As you can see, we did a lot in that short rhyme. We traded lines back and forth. We used multi-syllable rhymes.

We used slant rhyme by rhyming “afternoon” and “game or two.” This works because of the ‘er’ and ‘oo’ sounds in both rhyming words .

We used internal rhyme. “gusto” and “trio” were said in the middle of the line. “uh-oh” was said in an end rhyme but all these rhymes fell on the snares.

We use simile – “taking off like the brothers from Ohio”

And we use metaphor by suggesting our tracks fly like airplanes.

In the chorus, we repeat the title of the song on every snare. It’s a catchy hook that is memorable and helps set the mood for the piece. It helped us write the lyrics for the entire song.

Some rappers start with the chorus just for that reason.

Ngajuana Writing A Chorus

I love the chorus to this song. It really sounds like the words are falling down. It’s brilliant!

This song also starts out with the chorus.

How to Write a Rap Chorus

NGA is a friend of mine and a very talented musician. I was also to share some of his creative process with my students.

Inspiration for the song "Time is the Fire"

I have rapped my song “Time is the Fire” to the class a few different times this year. Now, I get to share with them the inspiration behind it.

Song Ideas (Write Your Own Rap)

Of course, some students will have no idea where to start writing so I gave them a few basic themes here and ideas on how they could write something about those themes.

Have Fun and Write Something

I close with this doctored Calvin and Hobbes comic. I can just imagine Hobbes being the beatboxer and Calvin kicking some rhymes.

This almost makes we want to write a rhyme about comic strip characters becoming rappers. Hmmmm! Maybe I’ll do just that.

Inspiration can come from anywhere after all.

GROUP WORK

I wanted this to be a group assignment because I know some students will be too shy or nervous to perform raps by themselves.

I decided to partner up students instead of letting them choose their own groups. This way I was certain everyone would end up in a group.

I did give them a little bit of choice with the groups though because I then let them join with another partner group to make a group of 4.

For the most part, this strategy worked well.

Download the Smartboard file of this lesson for free.

Little Women and Me – My New Favourite Book

novel, Little Women, Little Women and Me

I was at the library and this book called to me.

It was sitting on the top of a bookcase, proudly on display. It seemed to be saying, “Hey, Chase! This is just the book you want to read.”

Who am I to argue with a book?

I really loved the story of Little Women and especially the 1994 film version starring Winona Ryder, Trini Alvarado, Kirsten Dunce, and Claire Danes as the March sisters.

The 1994 movie and this 2012 book are based on the original novel by Lousia May Alcott of the same name. It was a great story and I really enjoyed reading it and its sequels after seeing the Hollywood version.

I think that is the reason why I gravitated to this book. It is about a middle sister named Emily March. She just happens to have the same name as the fictional family in Little Women.

Her teacher give her an assignment in which she is to chose any book and talk about something she would have changed in the story. She immediately thinks of two things in Little Women that never sat right with her.

She picks up the book and somehow gets sucked into the story. She has become the middle sister of the fictional March family. Everyone treats her as if she has always been part of the family.

Emily thought that she was merely dreaming, but when she doesn’t wake up and return to 2012, she realizes that she is indeed trapped in the novel. She then remembers the two things she wanted to change in the original story and tries to make things right.

The story follows the plot of the original novel very well with the only change being that Emily is along for the ride. She is able to change a few things here and there but she can’t figure out  how to leave the fictional world and rejoin her regular life.

She wonders what will happen to her when she runs out of story and the novel ends. She tries her best to exist in the fictional world and to change the two things she didn’t think were right with the story.

I won’t tell you anymore about the story because I don’t want to spoil it for you. Suffice it to say that I didn’t want to put this book down. It was an amazing read and I highly recommend it. Although, it might be best to watch the movie or read the original book first.

Still Collecting Daredevil Toys

Daredevil is my favourite superhero and I’ve managed to build up a pretty nice collection of merchandise.

Here are my latest additions to the collection.

Daredevil, comics, toys, Marvel super-hero

It’s hard to see the newest piece here. It is small and my camera doesn’t have a macro focus.

Daredevil, comics, toys, Marvel super-hero

This toy is called a Bonkazonk and it is quite similar to a Mighty Bean. To me, it looks like half a bean. It is weighted just like those toys and you can flick it around and play all sorts of games with them too.

It came in a pack with three other figures. I got a Spiderman, Ghost Rider, and Deathlok.

Daredevil, comics, toys, Marvel super-hero

I also got this mini hauler. It’s a really nice looking car-carrier truck.

Explore More of My Collection

Making Rap Beats with Students

This is the third lesson in my unit on rap music.

Today, we are looking at creating a drum beat using a simple and free drum machine that can be easily downloaded.

There are several of these programs that you can use. I used Hammerhead simply because it was already installed on our school computers.

This drum machine is really easy to use.

All you need to do is select an instrument from the drop down panel in Channel 1. Then, you colour in the beats you want that instrument to sound. The yellow buttons are for Beat 1.

Here is a handy trick for making a nice backing track for you to rap to.

  1. Set the tempo as low as it will go – 50 bpm
  2. In Channel 1, select a closed hi-hat cymbal and set it to sound on every beat.
  3. In Channel 2, select a bass drum (BD) and have it sound on every yellow button (Beat 1)
  4. In Channel 2, select a snare drum and have it sound on Beat 3. 
That gives you a typical drum pattern that is easy to rap to. 
You can switch the pattern up a little by having the kick drum sound on Beat 1 and Beat 2. This will give you a nice double kick sound. 
You can do the same thing with the snare at one point in your pattern by having it sound on Beat 3 and Beat 4. 
You can also change some of the hi-hat sounds to an open hi-hat or a crash cymbal. 
If the students don’t like the tempo, they can speed it up. In the above picture, it is set to 135 bpm. 
I prepared an instruction sheet that you can give to your students. 
Rap Instrumental Assignment MS Word (you can edit this one however you like)
I had every student create two different beats and then save their creations in Audacity. 
In the first lesson of the rap unit. we simply looked at a television show and analyzed a song.
In the second lesson, we looked at the structure of rap songs and started writing a four bar lyric.
In this lesson, we are creating instrumental tracks that we could rap to. 
In the next lesson, the students will form into small groups and begin writing a song that they will perform in front of the class. When the groups come together, they will already have a few beats to chose from for their final project. 
I did give the students one more time to go back to the computer lab after they had written some rhymes in their groups. 
SAVE PAPER
I didn’t photocopy the instructions for this assignment either. Since the students would be working in the computer lab, I uploaded the instructions to my website and had them all open the file right away. It was a nice way to save paper and still have the instructions readily available.

NEXT UP 

Writing lyrics and forming rap groups.

See you next week for another hip-hop edition of Teaching Tip Tuesday!

London was a Buzz with Skaters

world figure skating london

The World Figure Skating Championships were held in London, Ontario, Canada this past week. The whole city was abuzz with energy. The downtown core was certainly the place to be, even if you didn’t have tickets.

tree of light

Every night, there was a special light show projected right onto the side of the Budweiser Gardens.

tree of light london 2013

The show focused on a fictional skater made up of light. She glided through different scenes with beauty and grace.

World Figure Skating Championships

At times during the show, the building seemed to transform. It was an impressive illusion. I almost forgot that it was merely a projected light show and that the building itself was not moving.

London put on a good show. There was an outdoor bar tent displaying footage from inside the arena and plenty of things to do for those of us not fortunate enough to get tickets.

It would have been perfect if our hometown heroes of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir had managed to capture the world title.

Silver championship ice dancing pair Tessa and Scott

Even though they had to settle for the silver, this image says it all. They certainly are the champions of our hearts!

Chasing Content – March 2009

It’s time for another edition of Chasing Content.

Let’s glide through the clouds and find some of the great posts of the past.

Read all of the posts from March 2009 . . . 

or just these extra special ones.

The Internet Should Be Free

“I think the Internet is to this generation what the library and downtown core was to the previous. Times are changing. People shop and get their information in different ways now. The Internet has changed everything. It is time we embrace it and use it more productively in our city.”

I Joined the Darkside

It’s hard to believe that I held out for so long. It wasn’t until three years ago that I actually got Internet service at home. It costs too much money though (right?)

Growing Character

This is one of my favourite teaching-related books I’ve ever read. It’s hard to find a copy of it. I got it from the professional library our school board keeps. If you can’t find it online, go check yours.

Running Season Starts

The first run of the year is always tough. Here is some advice for first time runners or those of us who are just getting back into it after a seasonal break.

What Teacher’s Make

This is a great video from Slam Poet and teacher, Taylor Mali. One of the teachers at my school showed this to me today. I knew right away that I had to share it with you.

Thanks for Chasing Content with me.

Visit the Chasing Content Archive for monthly “Best of” posts just like this one.

Shad Autograph

Shad, autograph, rapper, underground

Shad is an incredible rapper. In fact, I think he’s one of the best that Canada has ever seen.

I had the chance to interview him a few years back and he gave me this autograph.

You can listen to the hour-long interview with the player below, download the podcast for free, or read the transcript now.

And make sure you check for his awesome albums and EPs. He is a talented lyricist and makes great music. I love having this autograph in my collection.

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