Monthly Archives: February 2014

Insurgent (Divergent Book 2)

Insurgent Veronica Roth

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Insurgent is the second book in the Divergent series. The first book was phenomenal and I had a really hard time putting it down. This second book is a great continuation of the world that was established in Divergent.

I like that both of these books could stand alone as well. There is a story that gets resolved in both volumes. The ending of this second book was quite the shocker as well. I will be getting the third book as soon as I can secure a copy from the public library.

The story revolves around a society in the near future that is divided into different factions. Each group has a specific role to play in society but they tend to remain separate. For all intents and purposes, it should work out just fine but there are a few people who don’t fit into what society has planned for them. These people are called Divergents.

It seems like the time for this system is reaching its natural conclusion. This society is in need of a revolution. The insurgence starts in this volume.

This story does what all good science fiction does. It shines a light on our own world and some of the problems in it. Veronica Roth makes this world so believable and the story so action-packed, that it really is a page-turner.

My 2014 Reading Log (with links to every title I read this year)

A Recipe for Great Teaching

In this video, Hip Hughes suggests a recipe for teaching that includes these key ingredients.

Content Knowledge

“You need to understand the content beyond the curriculum because you are generally interested in it. It needs to be something that’s part of your life. You need to love your content, always be immersed in it, and always be a life long-learner.

Fall in love with your content and be ready to hate it a little because your students aren’t going to love it like you do.”


“You should have a very strong idea of what learning is.

I believe learning is invisible. I believe I can’t teach anybody anything. I believe that all I can do is facilitate a journey into an experience that allows that individual user to have some type of experience.

I believe in inquiry. I believe in new literacies. I believe that children should be making things, not just eating things. I believe in the power of the visual word. I believe in music. I believe in the print. I believe in movies. I believe in me.

If you believe it, be flexibility to change it, and you should be good to go.”

Be Authentic 

“You need to be a real live human being. You can’t be a phony. Kids know that the second they see it and you’ll lose them. You need to know who you are before you walk into the classroom and don’t hide it. ”

Human Relationships

“You need to know how to interact and how to understand different types of people. In order to convey to someone an idea and convince them to do something, you need to be real with them on a very personal level. You have to be interested in them.

Kids will believe in you if you believe in them. ”

I’m Inspired, time to work on my recipe!

That is a very inspirational video and I’m glad that a fellow educator hipped me to Hip Hughes. If you don’t follow Richard Byrne online and you are a teacher, you need to fix that oversight right now.

Richard ByrneFree Technology for Teachers

And remember to come here every Tuesday for great teaching tips, tricks, lessons, resources, and inspiration.

Teaching Tip Tuesday Archive – close to 200 great ideas to check out and try in your classroom.

Fast Fiction – A Guide to Novel Writing

Guide to Writing a First Draft in Thirty Days

Fast Fiction: A Guide to Writing a First-Draft Novel in Thirty Days by Denise Jaden

National Novel Writing Month is a huge event that happens every November. The challenge is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. It sound nearly impossible, but I have done it before.

Denise Jaden has written a book that is bound to have you be a successful fast-drafter and complete your novel in a month as well.

I really enjoyed reading this book and taking in all of the advice that she imparts along the way. Here is what she has to say . . .

On developing your characters . . . 

“Every character in your book should have multiple wants and desires. This will help them feel human . . . Your characters’ motivation and believably will spring from how strongly their wants and desires are and how well they are conveyed for the reader.”

On dialogue . . . 

“Dialogue should always be smarter, more interesting, wittier, or more powerful than its real-life counterpart. Great dialogue should work to reveal your characters and their motives without the help of adverbs.”

On setting . . .

“Always look for ways you can tighten the space within which your characters interact . . .

Is there one specific area that your main character could keep returning to throughout your novel? Perhaps your main character’s perception of that area could change as he or she changes, so that returning to the area will allow the reader to see that character’s growth firsthand.”

On seeing and hearing your story world . . .

Jaden suggests creating a visual collage or diagram of the various scenes or locations for your work in progress. She takes it a step further by asking us to think of sounds or songs to accompany the story.

This is one of the many “SImple Tasks” Jaden has us doing throughout the course of this very practical writing manual.

She says, “Don’t skip this step! These visual and audio tools are quick ways to help you battle brain sluggishness or writer’s block during your drafting.”

Free resources to help you along the way.

Denise even provides authors with some graphic organizers, charts, and documents that help in the drafting process.

Online help and encouragement. 

Denise Jaden runs a yearly writing challenge on her blog every March. 

She is also an active Twitter member and likes to check on the hashtag #wipmadness, which is a way to track writers who are deep into their work in progress (wip)

A Great Writing Manual.

I really enjoyed this book. I have written several novels so far and I have won the National Novel Writing Month. That was a great feeling!

I plan on using Jaden’s day-by-day approach for my next novel. Hopefully, I will be ready to start working on it in March. I will be checking with her blog at that time. I hope to see you there and on Twitter. We can encourage each other and accomplish a great deal.

My 2014 Reading Log – continually updated with every title I read this year

Jean Grae Live TODAY

This week, just ahead of International Women’s Day, we have one of the most talented rappers in the game joining us for the radio program.

Jean Grae will be our special guest and we will talk to her about her music, her books, her television series, and all things hip-hop. We will also be spinning some of her great music.

You can catch the show live in the Orlando, Florida area on your radio dial at WPRK 91.5. If you don’t live in the area, you can watch the behind the scenes footage from the Our Show website.

You can ask questions via the chat box as well. This is live and interactive radio at its finest.

Don’t miss it!

We get started at 5:30 p.m. EST on Saturday!

A Safe Community? (Not in The Walking Dead)

If you are not familiar with The Walking Dead, it is a story about a band of survivors in a zombie apocalypse. It’s horrific, scary, and at the same time, a really compelling read.

This three issue arc was really well done. It gave the survivors a brief respite from the horrors of the world.


The Walking Dead:Volume 12 – Life Among Them

The survivors are camped out in the open and things seem pretty calm. They are approached by a single man who tells them they have a community they can escape to and find some respite.  It sounds too good to be true, but the group is exhausted and take him up on his offer.

Rick is appointed to be the constable of the community, and although things seem to be on the up and up, he is leery of letting down his guard.


The Walking Dead:Volume 13 – Too Far Gone

Once again, the humans seem more dangerous than the zombies. In his new role as the community law maker, Rick confronts a man who is abusing his family.

A new group of hostile humans also attack and try to get through the fortified walls. The leader of the community is very selective of who he invites to stay with them. And both he and Rick know these guys are trouble.

Walking Dead 14 no way out

The Walking Dead:Volume 14 – No Way Out

The unthinkable happens.  A horde of undead were attracted to the gunfire that happened at the end of the last issue. They somehow manage to find a weakness in the town walls and invade the community. Things look really hopeless as they are completely overrun with the undead.

I won’t give away any more of the story, other than to say that it looks like things work out in the end. Maybe a safe community is what will keep them all alive, safe, happy, and well. A few more changes need to be made but this arc ends with a sense of hope that we haven’t seen in a while in this series.

My 2014 Reading Log (updated with each new title I read this year)

A Day Plan Template to Use for Your Lessons

This is what my day plan looks like for today.

Lesson Plan Template

I always write my lesson plans in a format that will allow anyone to come in and teach my lessons if need be.

You can see that my rotary classes have a name and a room number written right on the template. The coolest thing about having a computer template like that, is it saves a lot of time every week. I don’t have to worry about writing specific details for a supply teacher, they are there every day on my regular plan.

I print this plan tomorrow’s plan before I leave for the day, and secure it to my day plan clipboard. On this clipboard, I also have relevant information such as all of my seating plans and my weekly schedule.

I have made up a template for all 10 days of the weekly cycle. Every week, I just load up last week’s document and fill in my lessons for that day. It doesn’t take a lot of time to do and keeps me nice and organized.

I hope you have found this week’s tip useful.

You can download the PDF document

or the MS Word document

and then make them your own.

Teachers helping teachers is what this series is all about.

Teaching Tip Tuesday – your source for great ideas, lessons, resources, inspiration, and much more.

Valentine’s Day Hip-Hop Style

It’s time to celebrate Valentine’s Day hip-hop style. Last year, we brought you an hour-long mix of romantic rap songs. You can download that show and listen to it while you make your loved one a nice dinner on Friday.

This year, we turn our attention to songs that show respect, admiration, and love to hip-hop itself. This is the 50th edition of Know Your History, your monthly dose of hip-hop knowledge. We start out with a love letter to hip-hop from Canadian artist Dan-e-o and we end things off with a great track by Substantial.

Dan-e-o – Dear Hip-Hop
Jazzy Jeff – For Da Luv of da Game
MF Doom – The Mic
Naughty by Nature – Hip-Hop Hooray
Substantial – My Favourite Things

After that, I spin some great songs for the rest of the hour.

Shad – Lost
Atmosphere – Color in the Snow
Kosha Dillz / Murs – We are Different
Reverie – Locks Without Keys
JB Nimble – It’s Not You, It’s Me
Paranom and Purpose – Microphone Phenomenal
Coarse Company – Focused
Ed Rowe and Concept – Activate Thought

That last song ties up the 2nd annual Valentine’s edition of The Word is Bond Rap Radio Hour.

Ed Rowe raps, “Let’s take it back to where it was a hip-hop love and not a rap career”


Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone!

Download KYH 50 – Hip-Hop Love (right click and save as)

My List of 2014 Reads

My List of 2014 ReadsTwo years ago I decided to start blogging about every single title that I read over the course of a year. I found that I really enjoyed having this reading log. I could look back on what I have read, track the kind of things that I choose to read, and share some great titles with you.

I love having an online reading log.

This page will serve as my reading log for 2014. I will continue to update it with every single title I read over the course of the year.

When I started this tradition in 2012, I read 65 books. The next year was pretty close to that number as well. In 2013, I read 61 books. Let’s see how many I will read this year.


And Another Thing . . . (Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Part 6 of 3)
A Quality of Light
Children of the Mind
Earth Fire
Hidden Empire
Journey to Rainbow Island
The Car Thief
The Fault in Our Stars
Tomorrow Comes


Amazing Spider-Man – 1 title (Dying Wish)
Animal Man – 1 title (Animal Vs Man)
Avengers – 3 titles (Volume 1, A+X, Last Great White Event, Vol 1-5)
Battlestar Gallactica – 1 title (Season Zero)
Daredevil – 4 titles (1.50, Bullseye: Greatesy Hits, One Shots, Shadowland / Dark Reign)
Doctor Who – 2 titles (Tesseract, The Forgotten)
Ghost World – 1 title (Ghost World)
Guardians of the Galaxy – 2 titles (Cosmic Avengers, Angela)
Indestructible Hulk – 4 titles (Vol 1-4)
Jericho – 1 title (Season 3)
Marvel Knights – t title (Marvel Knights 2000)
Revival – 1 title (You’re Among Friends)
Star Wars – 1 title (Blood Ties)
Superior Spider-Man – 4 titles (Vol 1 – 4)
Superior Spider-Man: Team Up – 2 titles (Versus, Superior Six)
Superman – 1 title (Superman Beyond)
The Walking Dead – 11 titles (What We Become, Fear the Hunters, Life Among Them, Too Far Gone, No Way Out, Made to Suffer, Here We Remain, We Find Ourselves, A Larger World, What Comes Next, March to War)
Transformers – 4 titles (Heart of Darkness, Chaos Theory, Police Action, Chaos)
Ultimate Comics Spiderman – 5 titles (Vol 1 – 5)


How to Teach: The Book of Plenary
Right-Brained Children in a Left-Brained World
The Thinking Teacher


Authorpreneur in Pajamas: Building Your Author’s Platform Without Leaving Your Home
Fast Fiction: A Guide to Outlining and Writing a First Draft Novel in Thirty Days
Get It Done: From Procrastination to Creative Genius in 15 Minutes a Day
The Creative Compass
Writing Wild: Forming a Creative Partnership with Nature


Daily Zen Doodles
How Successful People Lead
Lost in Shangri-La
Neurotic Money
Seriously . . . I”m Kidding
Six Pixels of Separation
The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop
Transmedia Storytelling

Running Total of Books Read so far in 2014: 78

The Last Ten Minutes of a Lesson are Very Important

Book of Plenary

How to Teach: The Book of Plenary by Phil Beadle

I’ve read dozens of books on teaching and most of them are fairly straight-forward. It’s hard to describe, but this one is written with a sarcastic, witty, dark kind of tone. It sets it apart from other educational books, that’s for sure.

The author admits that this subject is pretty boring. He mentions another book on the topic with this rather unflattering opening, it’s “an interesting read, if your idea of an interesting read is something that is deeply and unambiguously uninteresting.”

That being said, consolidating learning at the end of a lesson is immensely helpful for students. And it’s something that we don’t regularly do in the classroom.

We need to reconsider how we spend the last ten minutes of a lesson. If we leave things hanging, or simply move on to the next subject, we are missing a key ingredient in student learning.

And all it takes is ten minutes.

You can easily “chunk down the ten minutes so that you give three minutes thinking time in groups, a couple of minutes collecting these ideas – during which the teacher collects, reframes, rephrases, and asks further questions about the learning – and then a further two minutes to go back to the groups and play with the ideas they have heard or the questions the teacher has raised.”

Phil Beadle shares with us three dozen activities we can do in the final ten minutes of a lesson to consolidate learning.

He also cautions us that sometimes new techniques don’t always work right away, but that doesn’t mean they can work or they don’t have value.

He says, “If a new teaching technique doesn’t work the first time, then you have to commit to do it another three times at least. If it doesn’t work after practice and review, then perhaps it isn’t a great idea.”

Practice and review – isn’t that the way we learn anything?

Sharing a learning goal at the start of a lesson is also very important.

“If you don’t tell students what they are going to learn, they are unable to articulate what they are learning (unless they are very bright indeed)”

I learned a few things from this book that I am eager to employ in the classroom. I will share some of the ideas with you once I have tried them out.

Stay tuned to Teaching Tip Tuesdays for great teaching ideas, tips, tricks, and lessons every week!

Jalal of The Last Poets Interview

WIB Rap Radio Hour – Jalal aka Lightnin’ Rod of The Last Poets by Thewordisbond.Com on Mixcloud

40 years ago, before the proliferation of hustler’s stories in the genre of rap music, a poet dropped an album that was definitely ahead of its time.

Chuck D calls the album, “a verbal bible to understand the streets.” Melle Mel of Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five memorized the entire record. The Wu Tang Clan, Beastie Boys, and Jungle Brothers have all paid homage to it. Yet, the record isn’t as well known as it probably should be. It helped build the foundation of rap music as we know it today.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of this historic record, a special concert is being held at The Jazz Cafe next Monday. Jalal aka Lightnin’ Rod will be performing the entire record live. The event will be filmed and a documentary will be released shortly thereafter.

Jalal is a founding member of The Last Poets. Their unique blend of poetry and music predated any recorded rap music and was hugely influential in the creation of this culture we all know and love.

That is why I was so honoured to be able to talk with Jalal for the entire hour of the program today. This is hip-hop history and I am glad I am able to help shine a light on this historic record and event.

Riverhorse, the UK company behind the film project, has followed Jalal’s story for two years, piecing together Hip-Hop’s missing links using a combination of good will and crowd funding to ensure this cultural heritage is preserved.

Filmmaker Mike Todd, whose last feature documentary was on the late Joe Frazier, explained, “This is a truly global story. Rap, as a key part of Hip Hop culture, has changed the world. It has given a voice to people across the globe. And yet, this crucial aspect of the arts origin is missing from history. We want to change that.”

Producer Lathan Hodge, who has been involved with Hip Hop for many years as a close collaborator with Public Enemy explains, “Filming this historic gig in London will be the culmination of our journey with Jalal. We’re just reaching out now to people for who this history matters, to help us preserve it.”

Here is a teaser for the film.

If you are anywhere close, go check out the live event. You won’t be disappointed.

Hustlers Convention

So without further ado, press play to be educated and entertained by a talented musician, a great rhymer, a consummate storyteller, and one of the founders of hip-hop, Jalal aka Lightnin’ Rod.

Purchase tickets here and . . .

Enjoy the show! It’s TONIGHT!

Access: Asheru (Live Radio Interview)

Asheru will be our special guest for this week’s live and interactive radio show.

This program is a partnership between Our ShowKevin Nottingham, The Word is Bond, DOPEfm, and Silent Cacophony.

Conshus runs the segment live on the radio in Florida on 91.5 WPRK and I join him via the magic of Google Hangouts. You can listen to the show online or watch the visual stream and ask questions via chat. We have a lot of fun tag-teaming these interviews for you.

One of the coolest things about how we run the program is the bonus content we deliver via the live video feed. When we play a song over the airwaves, we continue our discussion behind the scenes. And you are privy to it all. We basically hang-out and discuss hip-hop, artistry, song-writing, and anything else that comes up.

I hope to see you all there this weekend when Asheru joins us. We will be talking to him about his new album, his group Unspoken Heard, the importance of literacy and education in hip-hop, and much, much more.

We get started at 5:30 EST on Saturday February 8th.

The Walking Dead (Brief Respite)

Walking Dead Volume 10

The Walking Dead: Volume 10 – What We Become

I have been reading this series courtesy of the public library. I should have read volume 8 and 9 next but I looked at the first few pages and realized that the Governor story had been completed and a new arc had started, so I didn’t worry about skipping chapters. I will get back to them soon. I am sure.  They will probably be at the library next time anyway.

This volume of the story has the survivors in a calm place. They are camping outside and keeping guard just like the old days before they held up in a prison.

Walking Dead Volume 11

The Walking Dead: Volume 11 – Fear the Hunters

One of the scariest things in this on-going series is the humans. They are far more dangerous than than the brainless zombies.

You would think that in the zombie apocalypse people would just naturally come together to stay alive and combat the undead menace together. Instead, they are often at odds with each other and more so than not, in violent ways. I won’t give away any of the story here. The title sets up it  Just remember this is a horror comic.

A Great School Doesn’t Need a Building

A great school doesn’t need a building.

It just needs students eager to learn, dedicated teachers, and a little help from the community.

I saw this on Tumblr and was completely blown away by what these teachers have created.

They built a school under a bridge in India.

Free School India

It is an unusual school in an unusual location and is run by an unusual teacher.

Free School India2

Rajesh Kumar is a shopkeeper by profession but spends hours every morning teaching around 80 children from the poorest of the poor in India’s capital.

The 43-year-old visited the construction of the Delhi transit station a few years ago and was disturbed by the sight of many children playing at the site instead of attending school.

Free School India3

When he questioned the parents working at the sites they all said there were no schools in the vicinity and no one cared.

Consequently, his open-air class room was born – between pillars and beneath the tracks of the Delhi transit system, known as the Metro.

Free School India4

Every few minutes a train passes above, the children unperturbed by its sounds.

There are no chairs or tables and the children sit on rolls of polystyrene foam placed on the rubble.

Three rectangular patches of wall are painted black and used as a blackboard.

Anonymous donors have contributed cardigans, books, shoes and stationery for the children, as their parents cannot afford them.

One unnamed individual sends a bag full of biscuits and fruit juice for the pupils every day – another incentive for the children to turn up for their studies.

I will be sharing this post with my class today. I think we need to realize how lucky we are to have great buildings, technology, and all of the resources we have at hand in our public schools here in Canada.

Teaching Tip Tuesday – tips, tricks, lessons, and inspiration every week!

Chasing Content – February 2013

Feb CalendarChasing Content is a monthly feature here on Silent Cacophony that has us looking back at what was happening here on the blog last year at this time.

Read all of the posts from last February or just these favs . . .

Amazing Black History Month Posters

I really love these images and how inspirational they  are!

An Interview with Shanaya Fastje

Shanaya Fastje is a fascinating young woman. I really enjoyed talking to her about her book, Bully in the Mirror. You can read the transcript, stream the audio interview, or download it as a podcast. Enjoy!

Know Your History – The First Rap Record

I scour through the musical archives to trace the roots of rap music. The journey takes us all the way back to 1937. You’ll be amazed at what we unearthed.

Superman – The Mixtape

I made a mix of Superman-themed songs and then made a clean version of the same project. Superman is for everybody after all.

The PItfalls of Social Media in the Classroom

This one incident ruined the use of Facebook for me educationally. It was a shame because I enjoyed this home-school communication tool. I still haven’t found anything that replaces it.

Thanks for Chasing Content with me!

Live Interview with Dessa

Dessa will be our special guest for this week’s live and interactive radio show.

This program is a partnership between Our ShowKevin Nottingham, The Word is Bond, DOPEfm, and Silent Cacophony.

Conshus runs the segment live on the radio in Florida on 91.5 WPRK and I join him via the magic of Google Hangouts. You can listen to the show online or watch the visual stream right here on this very page. We have a lot of fun tag-teaming these interviews for you.

One of the coolest things about how we run the program is the bonus content we deliver via the live video feed. When we play a song over the airwaves, we continue our discussion behind the scenes. And you are privy to it all. We basically hang-out and discuss hip-hop, artistry, song-writing, and anything else that comes up.

I hope to see you all there this weekend when Dessa joins us.

We get started at 5:30 EST TODAY (Saturday February 1st)