Monthly Archives: April 2013

Teaching Tip – Math

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 Math. It will include tips, tricks, and lessons you can use in your mathematics instruction.

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

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

I hope you enjoy these Teaching Tips.

Don’t Pass on the Fear
How a Glue Stick Works
Math Drills
Smarties Math 
Transformational Geometry
Using Cards in Math Class
Using Math Resources
The What-If Activity

Putting the Roof on My TARDIS

I’ve been building a TARDIS in my basement.

I started with a frame, added plastic sheeting for the walls, and then fashioned wooden trim to simulate the panelling effect of the time machine.

The next step is the roof.

I drilled a hole in the middle of a board. This is where the top lamp will be affixed.

I then notched either side of the panel so that it would sit on the top roof frame.

This roofing frame slides onto the top of the TARDIS and fits quite snugly.

I then added corrugated plastic to cover the entire roofing area.

I got this lamp from a dollar store and it sits perfectly in the hole that I drilled. I hollowed out the lamp though because it originally worked by pushing down on the top.

I wanted to be able to control the light from inside the TARDIS. I will be adding a flexible lamp so this top light will actually work.

I also plan to add another light on the inside so the translucent plastic windows will be able to glow.

The next step is painting and adding little details here and there.

It should end up looking something like this. My roof is a little bit shorter and I don’t have the footboard however.

I needed to be able to make the entire build small enough that I could store it in the basement when I am not using it outside. That extra top panel is not really needed. I’m sure the completed model will look amazing when it is painted and illuminated.

Stay tuned for one more update on my homemade TARDIS build.

Get Professional Sound on Your Recordings in Audacity

Audacity is a free audio recording and mixing program. I use it to make all of my podcasts, radio shows, and mixtapes. It’s an easy to use program and I thought I’d been getting the most out of it. I was wrong.

There are quite a few tutorial videos online from very diverse sources. I’ve watched a lot of them and even made a couple myself. But these videos, mine included, haven’t offered the best advice.

I’ve noticed that my recordings seem to be a little quiet in comparison to other files I listen to online. I didn’t know why this was happening and wasn’t sure what I could do about it.

Daddy J suggested I try using another program to hopefully get a more professional sound. I downloaded the one he suggested and I played around with it. But I didn’t like the layout of the screen and it wasn’t as intuitive as I had hoped.

The tips Daddy J gave me couldn’t be just for that harder to use program. There had to be some way for me to do what he was suggesting using the program that I already have and know how to use.

So, I once again took to YouTube and found this very helpful video from an experienced DJ.

I used his tips and my recordings sound some much better now.

Part of the problem was that when I started podcasting four years ago, our hosting service would only accept small MP3 files. Plus I just used Audacity the way it appeared when I first opened the program. As such, I wasn’t getting the most of out of program.

Here are the new tips I learned. . .

1) Float the meter toolbar and extend it. Keep it on the bottom of the screen and pay attention to it. (see above video)

2) Try to make the recording a consistent level. Use your ears when layering tracks on top of each other.

3) Export the draft version of the recording as a wave file.

4) Open a new Audacity project and import that draft wave file into it.

5) Next, play the quietest part of the recording and see where it peaks on the meter. (see above video)

6) Go to “effect,” select “hard limiter,” and set it to whatever that level was (i.e. -8.0 db)

7) Next, select the entire track. Go to “effect,” and “amplify” the track to -0.1 db

8) Now export the file as a wave for the best sound or as an MP3 to share it online.

9) Make sure you go to “options” set it to 320 kbps and set the “channel mode” to stereo. Don’t use “joint stereo” because the sound quality won’t be as good.

I never did all of the above steps before. My recordings now sound so much better. Listen to my older recordings and then listen to the stuff I released this year. Let me know if you notice a difference.

If you have any tips, tricks, or techniques you’d like to share, please leave a comment below.

Batman Year One and a Fables Spin-Off

Batman: Year One by Frank Miller, David Mazzucchelli, and Richmond Lewis

This is a retelling of Batman’s origin story. It was originally published in 1986, shortly after Frank Miller told the final Batman story in The Dark Knight Returns. That book is an undisputed classic. This one seems like it is chasing that but can never really catch up. That’s not to say it’s a bad read, it’s just such familiar territory.

The interesting thing here is that we also get an origin of Commissioner Gordon as well. One thing I did like about the story was that Batman has some pretty horrible failures as he starts his super-hero career. It seems quite real. It’s a dark story much like the recent Hollywood trilogy and pretty much what you’d expect from Frank Miller’s amazingly creative work.

Fairest: Wide Awake by Bill Willingham, Phil Jimenez, Andy Lanning, Matthew Sturges, and Shawn McManus.

The Fables comics are some of the best I have ever read. I have also enjoyed the spin-off series Jack of Fables. So when I saw this newest title, I knew I had to give it at chance.

Sleeping Beauty is awoken by an unlikely suitor, Ali Baba. Unfortunately, he also managed to awaken an evil force that begins to hunt them down.

I was immediately captivated by the characters in this one. I’m not sure why. The art is amazing and the story is well told. I can see how this would make for a good series. That being said, I will keep an eye out for the second volume.

My list of 2013 Reads

Lessons We Can All Learn From Skateboarding (and how to apply it to school)

I love skateboarding and I am passionate about teaching.

As such, I found this video quite captivating.

I really agree with what Dr. Tae has to say, especially . . .


“In skateboarding, failure is normal.

Failure is expected. . .

It took me 58 tries to get that trick . . . There’s no sugar coating it. You don’t get a C+ on one of the attempts because you made it halfway.

The failure isn’t stigmatized. It’s normal. It’s expected.”


“The goal in skateboarding is to learn the trick.

The reward in skateboarding is landing the trick.

Layering grades on top of this adds nothing to the experience at all.”

I like the idea of having students learn without assigning grades. I wish school wasn’t about grades whatsoever. I’ve been saying this for some time now, but I’d have a really hard time convincing parents, administration, and the school board that my program at school will not be graded.

“When learning is the goal and learning is the reward, there is no point in cheating. This is just how it works.”


“Nobody knows ahead of time how long it takes anyone to learn anything.”

We have time constraints at school we simply have to live with. We have a certain number of math  units and topics to cover. As such, we often spend three weeks on a unit, we assess it, and then we move on.

Some students can whip through topics and gain an understanding very quickly.


“Work you ass off until you figure it out.

That’s all there is to skateboarding.

If I was only given 50 tries . . . I’m not gonna get it. I’m never gonna learn . . . That’s a shame because I might have been kind of good at it.”


Getting rid of grades would be a good start. Especially in the arts. I teach instrumental music and I think it parallels skateboarding quite well. We can hear it. We can feel the vibe.

“We get real-time meaningful feedback”

We can get rid of artificial timelines.

We can allow students to work at their own pace and let them know failure won’t be written down on a report card. That each failure can be a learning experience.

If school were truly like this, maybe students would enjoy it more too.

More Teaching Tips? 

Visit the archive for great tips, tricks, and lesson plans. And remember to come back here every week for a new edition of Teaching Tip Tuesday!

Homemade TARDIS Build – Part 3

I’ve been building a TARDIS in my spare time.

The first step was building the frame.

Doctor Who build

Then I added some detail. I used corrugated plastic for the walls. It’s a lightweight material so the completed model will be somewhat portable. I then added wood trim to create the panel effect.

Doctor Who build

The next step was creating the windows and doors.

Doctor Who build

I tried using a staple gun to attach the wooden trim to the plastic sheet but it didn’t work so well. The plastic had a bit of a bounce to it that I couldn’t seem to overcome.

Doctor Who build

It was even more problematic for the doors. The top staples would go in just fine but as I moved my way down the panel, the force of putting in new staples would bounce the others ones out.

I really struggled with this problem before coming upon a solution. I decided to “glue it and screw it.”

Doctor Who build

I used carpenter glue to affix the trim to the wall. I knew this glue wouldn’t be completely secure so I decided that I needed to screw the paneling into place as well.

The other problem was that the screws were just a tiny bit too long. I wasn’t sure what to do so I took a small piece of paneling into the hardware store along with a scrap piece of the plastic sheet. The associate suggested I use metal washers to take up some of that space. I also screwed them from the inside out so that the screws will not be seen in the completed build. It worked perfectly.

Doctor Who build

I wanted the doors to swing in just like the real TARDIS but I also knew that it might not be so practical. They might just need to swing open. So I positioned the hinges so that the doors could swing either way.

Doctor Who build

This project has been a lot of fun. There is still a little bit of work to do on it. Hopefully it will look like this soon.

Doctor Who time machine

Come back next week for another update.

Chasing Content – April 2009

It’s time for a bonus edition of Chasing Content this month as we explore the archives from four years ago.

Read all of the posts from April 2009 . . . 

or just these fantastic ones.

Novel Study Takes to the Track 

I love how this book got us running together as a class. I never would have thought the novel study on Sharon Creech’s Heartbeat would naturally take us to the track. But it did and it was an amazing day.

I Thought It Wasn’t For Me

I can’t believe that I was reluctant to join Twitter.

It is one of my favourite online tools. It is so much easier and quicker than email. It helps you build an audience. It drives traffic to your website. It helps you interact with all sorts of interesting people. It really is an amazing communication tool. And I am glad I signed on.

It Was Bad For Me, So It Always Will Be

I had to rant about this topic. Too many people try to derail what I do in the classroom before they even try to take a moment to understand it, to work with me, or to make the experience better for my students.

I understand that some people have had a negative school experience but that doesn’t mean school doesn’t have value and that it will forever be a negative experience for everyone. Let’s work together to make it the best experience it can be for your child. That’s what we both want. I can guarantee you that.

A Rap Group Got Me Reading a Classic

My best friend introduced me to a rap group by the name of Animal Farm. I had the chance to interview them for the radio show and had a lot of fun hanging out with them on the air. Afterwards, I went and read George Orwell’s Animal Farm. That’s right, a rap group got me reading a classic piece of literature.

It’s happened again since then. I read The Book Thief after discovering the excellent “In Spite of Everything” EP by The Book Thieves.

Thanks for Chasing Content with me.

Click on all the links and explore the posts of the past. No sense letting them all get buried in the archives never to be experienced again.

My List of 2013 Reads

I love reading. I always have a book or two on the go. And I love sharing great titles here on the blog.

That’s why I’ve decided to keep track of everything I read over the course of this year.

I had a lot of fun with my reading log last year. It’s definitely a tradition I want to keep up. Perhaps I can even have a friendly competition with myself. Can I read more than 65 books this year?

Without further ado, here is my reading list of 2013.

I will continue to update this post with each new title I read this year.

So here goes,


Dear Zoe
Doctor Who – Death Riders / Heart of Stone
If I Stay
Little Women and Me
Look Again
My Name is Memory
Star Trek: Gods of Night
Star Trek: Mere Mortals
Star Trek: Lost Souls
The Accideyntal Genius of Weasel High
The Gate Thief
The Great Gatsby


Animal Man– 1 title (The Hunt)
Batman – 2 title (Year One, Knightfall)
Captain America – 1 title (The Chosen)
Daredevil – 8 titles (Lady Bullseye, Return of the King, The Devil’s Hand, Shadowland Vol 1 and 2, Season One, Volume One, Reborn, End of Days)
Doctor Who / Star Trek – 2 Titles (Assimilation2 Volume 1 and 2)
Fables – 1 title (Inherit the Wind)
Fairest – 1 title (Wide Awake)
Flash – 1 title (Death of the Rogues)
Jack of Fables – 4 titles (Bad PrinceAmericana, Fulminate Blade, The End)
Jinn Warriors – 1 title (The Devil’s War)
Sandman – 1 title (Preludes and Nocturnes)
Spiderman – 1 title (Fantastic Spiderman)
Star Trek – 2 titles (Countdown, Volume 1)
Star Wars – 2 titles (Agent of the Empire, Darth Vader and The Ghost Prison)
The Unwritten – 1 title (Leviathan)
The Talisman – 1 title (The Road of Trials)
The Walking Dead – 4 titles (The Heart’s Desire, The Best Defense, This Sorrowful Life, The Calm Before)
Will and Whit – 1 title (Will and Whit)
Transformers – 2 titles (International Incident, Revenge of Decepticons)


Choir: Tears, Triumphs and Transformations
How Did I Get Here: The Ascent of an Unlikely CEO


Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives
Nurture Shock


Bully in the Mirror
Classroom Management: A Thinking & Caring Approach
Musical Futures: An Approach to Teaching and Learning
Polarity Bear Tours the Zoo
School Struggles
What Every Middle School Teacher Should Know

Running Total of Books Read This Year:  61

Teaching Tip – Games

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.

It’s handy to have some games in your teacher toolkit for those days when you have some extra time or when your students have earned a little reward.

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

You might also want to check my Pinterest page for more great ideas.

I hope you enjoy these Teaching Tips.

Classroom Deal or No Deal
Halloween Vowel Sounds
Musical Corners
Play and Learn with Lego

Homemade TARDIS update

I’m building my own TARDIS, and it’s definitely a learning process.

Doctor Who build

I started with the frame you see above.

Doctor Who build

I then added corrugated plastic panels for the walls. I used this material because it is lightweight and I wanted to be able to easily pick up the completed TARDIS and carry it around to different locations.

Doctor Who DIY

I then added corner trim so the plastic won’t get damaged along the edges.

Doctor Who Do It Yourself

I attached a hinge near the top and the bottom of the open front. This will be for the two doors. I then lined a small portion of plastic sheet on top of it.

top part of Doctor Who frame

My next step was to use a thicker panel of wood for the top of the TARDIS. This is where the “Police Public Call Box” sign will go.

Doctor Who build

I then added trim to form the panels you see in the TARDIS.

So far this build has gone better than I could have imagined. Especially since I really don’t have any experience in wood work or building projects.

Stay tuned to this blog for further updates of this TARDIS build.

Hopefully, it will look like this soon.

Doctor Who time machine

I Accidentally Read This

YA novel Accidental Genius

The Accidental Genius of Weasel High by Rick DeTorie

This book was sitting on top of the young adult section at the public library and it called to me.

There was something about the style of it that attracted my attention. First off, it was written in Internet-like blocking, meaning that the paragraphs were not indented and there were spaces between each one. Just like this blog post. Secondly, the narrative of the book was reinforced with cartoon illustrations.

I enjoyed the book and whipped through it rather quickly, but I have to admit that I am not overly impressed with it. I have no idea what the title refers to. The main character seems a little oblivious. If there is a genius in this book, it’s not him.

I like the fact that he is an aspiring filmmaker. He has his eye set on a rather expensive video camera and is determined to get it. His best friend is a girl that he has known forever, he has an annoying sister, and pretty much lives an average life.

The two things that attracted me to the book didn’t pay off in the story whatsoever. There really wasn’t a practical purpose to the block paragraphs. The cartoons didn’t need to be there. And as such, these things just seem to be gimmicks. They didn’t enhance the story or my enjoyment of it.

I wish I could recommend this one, but I can’t. I feel like I accidentally read this.

We Need to Teach Online Safety and Etiquette

This is a great infographic that I plan on sharing with my students this week.

I like how it encourages parents and teachers to join Facebook. I really think we need to be using the same sites and teaching responsible posting and netiquette. It’s pretty hard to do that if we don’t partake in social media.

I tried to create a professional presence on Facebook this year to keep in touch with parents and students. Unfortunately, I learned about the pitfalls of social media and had to cancel my account. It is something that I would like to try again. I am sure it can work with a better foundation, support from the school’s administration, and proper education all around. That being said, I think I am going to wait a year or so to try again.

I like how the graphic encourages us to speak up and do something when bullying happens. Tell – Unfriend – Block – Report. Good advice.

Even further, I think we need to teach our students the dangers of sharing too much online. Certain things are better left untyped.

More Teaching Tips?

Visit the Teaching Tip Tuesday Archive and remember to check back here every week for great tips, tricks, and lessons.

Building a TARDIS

So I had this strange idea to build my own TARDIS.

And this isn’t it. I’m not sure how mine is going to turn out. I really don’t know what I am doing when it comes to building projects. But I think I’m off to a good start.

I built one side of the police call box using 2 x 2s.

I metered the corners and used a nail gun to fasten them together. I then add L-brackets to stabilize and strengthen each corner joint.

The basic frame is a little bit shorter than the actual TARDIS. I wanted to make sure that I could store it in the basement so it stands at 57 inches.

It doesn’t look like much now, but it will soon. I hope.

I bought corrugated plastic that I will be using for the walls. I wanted a material that would be light so that I would be able to pick up the completed TARDIS and move it to different locations.

When this project is complete, I am thinking about shooting a Doctor Who fan film. It should be a lot of fun. I just hope the final project looks close enough to the actual TARDIS while being lightweight enough that it is portable.

The History of Women in Hip-Hop

Women have been involved in rap music before hip-hop even had a name, before it was a recorded music phenomenon, and before we had superstars such as Queen Latifah crossover from musician to actor to author to model. She is one of hip-hop’s biggest success stories and she’s a woman.

Welcome back to DOPEfm’s 3rd Annual Women in Hip-Hop Spectacular. We are taking a close look at the history of women in hip-hop today. Yesterday, we covered the years from 1912 all the way up to 1985. Today, we will continue right where we left off.

You can download this hip-hop history podcast for free, stream it with the player at the bottom of the post, continue reading, or do all three. However you take in the program, we are happy to have you here.

So far, the artists that we have looked at are not quite household names. Those outside of hip-hop culture might not be able to call up these names when talking about the important milestones of the music. But nonetheless, they are important names. We looked at The Mercedes Ladies, Lady B, Sha Rock, and Roxanne Shante,

This brings us up to 1985. The year we first heard of the trio Salt N Pepa. Their debut album dropped in 1986 and was called Hot, Cool, and Vicious. They were the female rap group of their time and they had quite the string of success. They received four Grammy nominations and finally won one in 1995.

This was one of their most popular songs that year and it’s notable because they flip the script on what’s become a popular trope in commercial rap music.

successful female rap group

That was Salt N Pepa “Whatta Man” and those three ladies took the hip-hop world by storm when they hit the scene in 1985. Rap music was just starting to get popular and their single “Push It” literally helped push it to new heights. They released five albums, went on very successful tours, and received quite a few awards.

Two years ago, Salt N Pepa received the I Am Hip-Hop Award from BET. They were also part of the Legends of Hip-Hop tour with such artists as Whodini, Kurtis Blow, Doug E Fresh, Biz Markie, Naughty By Nature, Big Daddy Kane, Kool Moe Dee, Slick Rick and Chubb Rock.

There was another famous lady on that bill, MC Lyte. It’s hard to believe that her album “Lyte as a Rock” was the first full length album released by a female MC. Why did it take nearly ten years for a female rapper to head up her own album? I don’t know.

All I know is that it is a classic. The album is called “Lyte as a Rock” by MC Lyte. And just in case you didn’t know, light is spelled “Lyte.” This is her song “Paper Thin” that came out in 1988. And this is Chase March celebrated the Women in Hip-Hop as we observe International Women’s Day here on DOPEfm. Stay tuned as we explore the pivotal moments in the history of female hip-hop this hour and all night long as we shine a spotlight on the women in hip-hop with mixsets, artist interviews, and a special roundtable discussion.

female rapper

That was “Paper Thin” by MC Lyte from her classic album “Lyte as a Rock.” It came out in 1988 to a wide range of critical appeal and underground success. She continued to make great music and her fourth album was certified gold. That record also gave us “Ruffneck,” a Top 40 hit.

All in all, she has released seven studio albums and shows no signs of slowing down. She just released new material with her group Almost September. And like many other rappers, she ventured out into acting. I really liked seeing her on Ice T’s Rap School, a television show that had her mentoring young girls in the art of emceeing.

MC Lyte is even featured in Smithsonian Institute. Her turntables, diary, and records are part of a collection entitled “Hip-Hop Won’t Stop: The Beat, the Rhymes, the Life.” That exhibit highlights how important hip-hop is and shows that it is a valid part of our history.

It’s really cool to see that women in hip-hop are represented at the Smithsonian. I am a hip-hop historian and love to see our history being recognized by those outside of the culture. Of course MC Lyte deserves to be there. She was the first successful female rapper to go solo and her lengthy career is a testament to her skills on the mic.

She also inspired a whole new generation of women to get started in hip-hop. Up until this point, men had been ruling the show. Women didn’t take over by any means but we finally heard a voice that had been lacking for many years.

The next important female voice in hip-hop we need to look at emerged from Canada in the mid 1980s. Her debut album came out in 1991 and was entitled “Jamaican Funk – Canadian Style.” This was the first Canadian hip-hop release. She was the first rapper from the country to get signed by a major label. Her name is Michie Mee and here is the title track from her debut album.

Canada's First Rapper

That record proved that Canada had talent and it paved the way for artists such as Maestro Fresh Wes, Drake, Classified, and everyone else who came after her. That was Michie Mee and LA Luv ‘Jamaican Funk – Canadian Style.”

Welcome back to Hip-Hop’s Better Half. This is Chase March and we’re focusing on the important moments in the history of female hip-hop in this special edition of Know Your History.

Ya know, Michie Mee really had to hustle to be heard in an industry that was pretty much dominated by men. She got started well before MC Lyte showed that a solo female rap artist could be marketable. Starting in 1984, she regularly visited the hottest hip-hop spots in New York to make herself seen and heard. And it worked.

She caught the ear of DJ Scott La Rock of BDP. Her reggae style was something that impressed Krs-One and you can hear her influence in his records. Of course, BDP did more that just borrow her style. They supported her, put out her music on a compilation album in 1987, and even came up on Canada to share the bill with her. This was a cosign that helped spark her career and get her signed to a major American label.

Many people falsely think Maestro was Canada’s first rapper but it in fact was a woman. Michie Mee wasn’t merely the first lady of Canadian rap. She was the first Canadian rapper. Period.

Very cool history here as we celebrate International Women’s Day on DOPEfm. All seven hours of our programming tonight are dedicated to the women in hip-hop. This is our third annual radio special and we’re so glad that you’ve tuned in. That’s right, we’re putting ladies first.

Ladies First rap

That was “Ladies First” by Queen Latifah from her album “All Hail the Queen” It came out in 1989 and that song features fellow emcee Monie Love.

That is an important record to talk about when looking at the history of women in hip-hop. Queen Latifah showed us a strong, intelligent woman with a no nonsense attitude.

Here are some of her lyrics from that song . . .

“I break into a lyrical freestyle
Grab the mic, look into the crowd and see smiles
Cause they see a woman standing up on her own two
Sloppy slouching is something I won’t do
Some think that we can’t flow
Stereotypes, they got to go
I’m a mess around and flip the scene into reverse
(With what?) With a little touch of ‘Ladies First’”

Great lyrics from a great emcee.

Queen Latifah has achieved more than any other female artist in the history of this hip-hop. She has starred in movies, a few television series, has written books, earned a Golden Globe, two SAG awards, a Grammy award, and several other nominations for a variety of award shows. She continues to act, sing, and rap as well. Very few rappers ever achieve the level of fame and list of accomplishments that Queen Latifah has.

As popular as Queen Latifah was, she wasn’t the first female rapper to earn a platinum record. Can you guess who that was?

I’ll give you a hint. The record came out in 1994. It was entitled Funkdafied and this is the title track.

This is Chase March and we’ll be back to celebrate more of the achievements of women in hip-hop right after we hear from Da Brat. Stay tuned!


That was the title track from Da Brat’s debut album, “Funkdafied.” She was the first solo female rap artist to earn a platinum record. It’s hard to believe that that hadn’t happened sooner. I can’t understand why hip-hop became a male dominated art form. Some of my favourite emcees are woman and I must admit that I had this album on cassette and I bumped it like crazy back in the day. Her next album was good too but it didn’t manage to pull in such impressive numbers.

Although another female rapper who would smash even more records made her debut that very same year. I was immediately drawn to her vocals and really liked “Blunted on Reality,” the debut album from a group called The Fugees.

That was one of my favourite records from 1994 but it didn’t bring them immediate success. It was their sophomore album that made people sit up and take notice. The female emcee of the group started to receive a lot of attention. She could sing, she could rap circles around the best rappers at the time, and she was quite the looker as well.

There was no doubt that Lauryn Hill would become a huge star. She released her solo record in 1998 and it is one of the most popular rap albums ever released. It has sold close to 20 million copies and won five Grammy Awards. Lauryn Hill took home Album of the Year and Best New Artist, the latter I didn’t quite understand because I’d already been jamming to her music for close to five years.

She is still celebrated as one of the best voices hip-hop has ever been graced with. Many people name her as top female rap artist of all time. And with good reason. There is just something magical about her music. There is no denying it.

So, let’s listen to one of her songs right now from that record breaking album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” Stay tuned as we continue to look at the history of women in hip-hop as we celebrate International Women’s Day all night long here on DOPEfm

Hip-Hop royalty

That was “Lost Ones” by Lauryn Hill from her debut solo record “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” That album smashed so many records. She was the first female act in the history of the Grammy Awards to be nominated for 10 awards. She took home five trophies in the 1999 Grammies. A pretty impressive feat for a rapper.

Her debut album stands as a classic. It blended genres and forms. She rapped and she sang and her talent just couldn’t be ignored or denied.

But then she disappeared from the music scene. We were left with this incredible debut record and two albums from her rap group The Fugees. And that was it.

There was a void in mainstream hip-hop when Lauryn Hill decided to focus on family instead of her music career.

But we didn’t have to wait long for another innovative artist to come to the forefront and represent the ladies on the mic.

This is Chase March and if you are just joining us, make sure you keep that dial on lock. This is our third annual spotlight on the Women in Hip-Hop as we celebrate International Women’s Day. This is a day where we recognize and celebrate the achievements of women across the globe.

We’re gonna be doing that all night long here on the program. This hour we’ve been looking at the important moments for women in the history of hip-hop. Later, we’ll have mixsets where every single track we play will be from female rap artists. We will also have special interviews and a roundtable discussion. Stay tuned for all of that. We have seven hours of programming to celebrate this important day.

It’s International Women’s Day on DOPEfm.

We’ve been working our way through the entire history of hip-hop and the important role women have played throughout. We’ve looked at some of the biggest artists to ever work in this genre and we’ve made out way up to the late 1990s.

The next artist we are going to look at is the only female rap artist to stack up six platinum records. I’m talking about Missy Elliot. Her debut album “Supa Dupa Fly” came out in 1997 and she continued to drop highly successful records every couple of years. In fact, she is even slated to release a new one later this year.

successful female rapper

That was Missy Elliot, one of the most successful female rap artists of all time.

In the late 1990s, female fronted hip-hop was all the rage. Missy Elliot was just one of a handful of popular artists. I’m slowly running out of time though. I couldn’t expect to bring us completely up to date with the accomplishments of the women in hip-hop in a one hour special.

An hour ago, we started with the first women deejay, who began broadcasting a hundred years ago. We then looked at the first rap record most people ever heard and saw how that project and label was masterminded by a woman. We looked at the first rap group to ever appear on national television and how a female rapper was at the forefront of that. We then looked at the success female rappers have had since hip-hop’s very inception all the way up to the 1990s.

Stay tuned later tonight for another spotlight on the history of women in hip-hop. We’ll pick up where we left off here and look at the female artists of the late 1990s all the way up to the present day.

I’ve been focusing on the commercial appeal of hip-hop in this special but it’s important to note that women have been quite active in the hip-hop game. There are countless female rappers who have released albums on independent labels. We’ve played many of them on the show here over the past eight years and will continue to champion great music.

It’s been a lot of fun celebrating the women in hip-hop in this special hour-long edition of Know Your History.

Remember International Women’s Day is celebrated every year on March 8th. Here on DOPEfm, we dedicate the entire overnight programming to the Women in Hip-Hop every year. This is our third annual special and we have lots more great content to share with you.

We still have some dope mixsets, artist interviews, and a roundtable discussion. Stay tuned for all of that and remember to go to to find out more about me, for some great hip-hop articles and home of my podcast, and to get more content from the radio show right here on 93.3 CFMU.

Download Hip-Hop’s Better Half for free, or stream it with the player below.


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

Hip-Hop’s Better Half

Welcome to our third annual Women in Hip-Hop Spectacular on DOPEfm. We’re an overnight hip-hop radio show and every year at this time, we dedicate all seven hours of our programming to the Women in Hip-Hop.

We do this to celebrate International Women’s Day and to shine a spotlight on the achievements of women in this culture that we hold so dear.

Download this hip-hop history show for free, stream it with the player below, continue reading, or do all three.

We have a lot of great content for you tonight including some dope mixsets, a roundtable discussion with some very special guests, artist interviews, an episode of Know Your History, and some special surprises.

But to get it all started, we are going to look at some notable women in hip-hop. Hi, my name is Chase March and welcome to Hip-Hop’s Better Half. For the next hour, we are going to explore the history of women in hip-hop culture.

And what better place to start than with what is genuinely acknowledged as the first event in hip-hop history. The historic concert at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in The Bronx. This was the groundbreaking event that introduced the world to Kool Herc, that brought forth the era of the deejay and the block party. This changed everything and sparked the culture of hip-hop.

But did you know, this was all started by a woman. It was Kool Herc’s sister, Cindy Campbell, that threw this party. She organized everything, including the music. Hip-hop historian and journalist Davey D interviewed her and you can hear what she had to say by pressing play. Just scroll down and find the media player at the bottom of this post.

Women in Hip-Hop

Kool Herc is heralded as the godfather of hip-hop culture. This is undisputed, but it’s really interesting to see that it was indeed his sister, Cindy Campbell who got the whole ball rolling back in 1973. In fact, she even continued to support his career after this historic concert.

They do say that behind every great man is a great woman. It’s a phrase that I’m not particularly fond of, as much as it speaks truth. Women are important and need to be celebrated for their achievements alone. That’s one of the reasons we do this show each and every International Women’s Day.

I like to celebrate the women’s voices that often get over-shadowed in this culture that we call hip-hop. Some of my favourite emcees are women and we’ll be hearing from them very shortly.

Ya know, hip-hop started with the deejay. It didn’t start with rappers. It started with deejays playing records. And we can trace that all the way back to 1912. That was the year that “The Little Hams Radio Program” got its start. It was the first regularly scheduled radio program and it became popular because of the world’s first female deejay, Sybil Herrold.

Radio's first female deejay

That is so cool to see that one of radio’s first on-air personalities was a woman. And this was just over one hundred years ago. Hip-hop, as a culture, is not that old, but like those first radio programs it was not recorded and distributed. Back when this culture got its start in 1973, it wasn’t part of the music business. You had to experience the music live.

A few recordings are available of those early days of hip-hop culture. They were done with portable cassette recorders so the quality isn’t that great, but it does give you an idea of what those live shows were like back in the day. I want to play a portion of one of those recordings for you in a moment by the first all female rap group, The Mercedes Ladies. They formed in 1976 and they were more than a just music group. They were a crew with deejays, breakdancers. emcees, and graffiti artists. They put on shows and played with some of the biggest acts of the day such as Afrika Bambaataa, Red Alert, Kool Herc, Busy B, Kevy Kev, The Cold Crush Brothers, The Furious Five, and more.

Here’s an old school tape from a performance they did in 1979. This is the Mercedes Ladies and we’ll be right back to continue celebrating International Women’s Day right here on DOPEfm.

all female hip-hop crew

That was an all female group called The Mercedes Ladies and pretty typical of what you’d hear at the live venues in the mid to late 1970s.

That was what hip-hop sounded like prior to the first commercial rap recordings. Back then, you had to experience the music live. Although, that would soon be changing. Several people saw that rap could in fact be recorded and distributed on record, just like any genre of music.

One of the most successful records of all time is also what many people consider to be the first rap record ever released. There’s a little bit of debate about that but there is no debating the popularity of this record. I’m talking about “Rapper’s Delight”

first commercially successful rap record

That record wouldn’t have seen the light of day without a woman. It’s true. Sylvia Robinson saw the power that hip-hop could have and took a bit of a gamble in assembling a rap group, recording, and distributing a single.

Here is a rare clip of her talking about it.

female hip-hop mogul

There is a lot of controversy about Sugar Hill Records and what Sylvia Robinson did with that label. Some people criticize her for manufacturing a rap group instead of signing one of the established groups of the time. It would have been nice to see the Mercedes Ladies get a deal. It would have been awesome for The Cold Crush Brothers to have recorded “Rapper’s Delight” instead of the Sugar Hill Gang. After all, some of the rhymes on that record were stolen from one of the pioneers of this culture, Grandmaster Caz. You can find out more about that in an episode of Know Your History. Go to, click on Hip-Hop History and you can download the podcast and read the transcript of that show.

I don’t want to get into that controversial stuff today. I cover that often enough on the program, because it is important, but so is today.

We’re celebrating International Women’s Day all night long here on DOPEfm, focusing on the achievements of Women in Hip-Hop.

And if we think about it. Sylvia Robinson was the person who brought rap music to the masses. Rapper’s Delight was a huge success. At the peak of its popularity, it was selling 50,000 copies a day. That is an impressive number even in today’s market, thirty years later.

Sylvia Robinson even signed one of the founding fathers of the culture, Grand Master Flash. However, she wasn’t the only woman working behind the scenes in the earliest commercial rap recordings.

Monica Lynch was the president of Tommy Boy Records and she signed Afrika Bambaataa to the label in 1982. It’s great to see that two of the founding fathers of hip-hop were able to land spots on major labels and achieve some success there. And it truly is a crime that Kool Herc did not get a recording contract or reap the benefits of starting this culture of hip-hop.

Def Jam, one of the most successful hip-hop labels ever also had a woman at the helm, Carmen Ashurst-Watson was the president of the company.

So far, we’ve seen that women have been actively involved in hip-hop since its very inception. We might not know all of their names since many of them were working behind the scenes. And some of those early female rappers, breakdancers, deejays, and crews were doing their thing before rap music became part of the record business.

Some of the earliest hip-hop records were by female artists. The first rap releases came out in 1979 and this is one of them. This is Lady B “To the Beat Y’all”

First female solo rapper

Welcome back to Hip-Hop’s Better Half. My name is Chase March and we are exploring the history of women in hip-hop to celebrate International Women’s Day. We just heard the very first solo female rap artist to release a record. That was Lady B ‘To The Beat Y’all”

She is still actively involved in hip-hop. She did a radio show on Power 99 called “The Street Beat” for many years and she can now be heard on Sirrius Satellite Radio and WRNB in Philadelphia.

Do you know who the first rap group to perform on a national television show was? It’s probably not who you’d expect it to be. But it is notable for several reasons. First, it happened back in 1981 on season six of Saturday Night Live. Secondly the group had a female member as its undisputed star. The group was called The Funky Four Plus One More and the one more was Sha Rock.

This is one of their best songs, “That’s the Joint.” Village Voice even rated it as the best song of the 1980s.

That was The Funky Four Plus One. It’s interesting that this group decided to highlight the female member of their group with their name. It was calling attention to something that really didn’t need attention called to it. Women had been rocking mics since hip-hop’s very humble beginnings and they would continue to put out great music for many years.

But for some reason, hip-hop became a male-dominated genre of music over the years. Women have had to fight to be heard in a genre of music that often demeans them through obscene lyrics, and objectification through imagery on album covers and music videos.

That’s never stopped women from being involved in this culture, whether it is behind the scenes at record labels, behind the turntables as deejays, or on the mic as emcees.

We just heard Sha Rock on that last record and she was one of the most talented and respected emcees in the early days of hip-hop culture. She started as a breakdancer in 1976 and one year later she was part of the legendary group The Funky 4 + 1. They got signed in 1979 and were one of the first groups to have a record deal. They were the first group to appear on national television. And Sha Rock was in the classic cult hip-hop film “Beat Street” in 1984.

She’s widely celebrated as the pioneer of female hip-hop, just with the level of attention she was able to command. Her appeal was something else, on camera and on stage. And we have quite a few records in which to play and celebrate this important voice in hip-hop music and culture.

This is Hip-Hop’s Better Half, part of our annual celebration of Women in Hip-Hop here on DOPEfm. We’re celebrating International Women’s Day, which happens every March 8th. We do so by focusing all seven hours of our programming to the women in hip-hop.

In this hour of the show, we are looking at hip-hop brightest moments with women at the helm. We’ve already discussed how women have been actively involved in hip-hop since it’s very humble beginnings, how they’ve helped propel it to the mainstream audience, and how they continue to champion for the culture to this day.

So far, we’ve worked our way from the first female radio deejay ever back in 1912 all the way up to the first rap records being released in 1979.

The next biggest moment in the history of female hip-hop happened almost by accident. It was 1984 and a hip-hop group cancelled a show. This might not seem like an impetus for a huge record that pretty much redefined what hip-hop was all about. A record that birthed the culture of response records. A record that propelled another fierce emcee to stardom. But it was.

Here’s a quick run down of the story. UTFO was a huge group in early 1980s and Marley Marl was one of the promoters bringing them to town. He was talking about how disappointed he was about them canceling the show. A young lady overheard his conversation and being the quick thinker and battle rhymer that she was, she offered to help the promoter get a little revenge.

You see, U.T.F.O’s biggest hit was a song called “Roxanne, Roxanne” and it was about a lady refusing their advances. It really had nothing to do with Roxanne Shante but she adopted the persona and spit fire on the mic. This is a powerful record and it sparked what is known as the Roxanne Wars.

This is Roxanne Shante “Roxanne’s Revenge”

That record made Roxanne Shanté a bonafide hip-hop star and also established the tradition of the answer record. Tons of people tried to follow in her footsteps by releasing their own response songs to the original U.T.F.O record. It got so convoluted that there were over one hundred such songs. I haven’t heard them all, and quite frankly, I don’t have any desire to. Roxanne Shanté did it first and she made a memorable record, and made her mark on the industry.

We started out hip-hop history lesson today in 1912 and have made our way up to 1984.

Please come back on Saturday as we will cover the important moments in the history of hip-hop where women were at the forefront.

Download Hip-Hop’s Better Half for free or stream it with the player below. Celebrating the female voices within hip-hop for our 3rd Annual Women in Hip-Hop radio special.

Thanks for listening.

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

How Music Can Inspire and Increase Ambition in the Classroom

The power of music can inspire anyone to do great things, or easily draw emotions to create despair. Music can alter the frame of mind in nearly any individual regardless of how they may feel at that particular time. It is the reason that Hollywood includes sound tracks into movies and television. It is a way to enhance a specific experience beyond what is being demonstrated. This same process can help increase attention and instill a sense of victory in students.


Music that has a commanding beat can create motivation in a classroom. Booming the bass so that the chairs vibrate is not the same as a commanding beat, however. The faster the pace, the quicker students will react to it. However, too fast could become more of a disruption than anything. Finding the right music that will affect the majority if not all of the students may take a bit of trial and error, but will have a positive impact in student performance.


When choosing a style of music you want to play in the background of your classroom, stay away from depressing medleys. Remember, music has the ability to draw on emotions and playing a depressing song or two could have detrimental effects on a student. The last thing you need is half of your class crying as they go on to see the next teacher. It could be a terrible way to start the day if a first period teacher played a heart wrenching song during class.

No Slow

Some teachers are prone to play soft music in the background as students read or study to themselves. Music that is too slow or melancholy could cause some of your students to find solace in sleeping. You should concentrate on providing music that has a faster beat in order to keep sleepy students from being too comfortable. For instance, “Moonlight Sonata” may be a terrible composition to play if the students are taking a test or a quiz. If classical music is more to your liking, “Mars: Bringer of War” is a powerful composition that can instill the warriors heart and provide some of your students with tenacious behaviors.

Lyrics or Not

Many parents and teachers will put blind faith into instrumental music over that which has lyrics by singers. Although there is some science behind the method, a student could be compelled just as easy with a song sung by his or her favorite artist. However, not every student will have the same taste in music. The teacher should pick a collection that has possibilities to be absorbed by all. Classical compositions have a way of inspiring an individual without them realizing it, which is why many teachers choose these tracks.

Personal Music

In a few of the high school classrooms around the country, teachers will allow personal musical devices such as MP3 players to be used while the student is studying or working. Many of these teachers have found it to improve productivity in the classroom. As long as the volume is not so loud as to disrupt others, music can help influence a student’s work in a positive way.

Music can instill a great amount of emotion and has the ability to energize the listener. This is evident as people will play fast paced music in order to accomplish various tasks such as house cleaning or other physical work. Although tastes may differ from one individual to another, there is always a constant. Music can soothe or invigorate the savage beast that is the student.

Author Bio:

Jason Miner, an expert freelance writer, loves writing articles on different categories. He is approaching different bloggers to recognize each other’s efforts through “”. He can be contacted through e-mail at jasonminer8(at)gmail(dot)com.

Chasing Content – April 2012

It’s the first of the month. Time to flip through the archives and uncover all of the great gems that were posted here last year at this time.

Read all of the posts from last April . . .

or just these sparkly ones.

Why Would Anyone Buy a Book? 

If I had to buy every book that I read, I would be completely and utterly broke. Thank goodness for the public library. I always have material out from the library whether it be books, comics, DVDs, or audiobooks. If I had an e-reader, I would want to borrow books for it as well. It’s much harder to do that right now than it should be.

DOPEfm Old School Mixtape

I made this mix for the radio show and then formatted it to fit on a CD with skippable tracks. Enjoy the old school hip-hop tunes!

A to Z Classroom Game

I made this game to play in the classroom on the Smartboard. It involves brainstorming and creative thinking. The object of the game is to come up with an item for every single letter of the alphabet according to a specific category. For instance, “Things that are Red,” a = apple, b = barn, c = car, etc. It’s a fun game and a free download.

What an Angry Father Taught His Daughter

I love talk radio. One of my favourite hosts is Jim Richards. I love what he had to say about this news item of the day a year ago. Brilliant stuff!

DOPEfm’s Women in Hip-Hop Roundtable

This was an incredible night of radio. We got three female emcees and a hip-hop promoter together in the studio to talk about issues surrounding women in hip-hop music and culture. It was such a success that we have now made it an annual tradition on International Women’s Day. Stay tuned to this blog for this year’s panel.

How To Make a Clean Version of Any Song

Some songs have objectionable content that you might like to edit out. Now you can do that quickly and for free. You can censor any bad language, cut the track short, or isolate just the part that you want. This is a handy tip for teachers.

Thanks for Chasing Content With Me

You can find these “Best Of” posts at the start of every month. It gives us a chance to relive some of the best posts of last year at this time. No sense letting these gems get lost in the archive.