Monthly Archives: June 2014

Artists Don’t Have a Never-Ending Well

Artistic WellProducing art is taxing. It is a process that needs to be rewarded. Yet many people think artists don’t need to be compensated for their work. They erroneously believe that there is an infinite well from which we draw. Art isn’t valued the way it should be in this day and age.

Tina Welling sums it up beautifully in her book Writing Wild . . .

“. . . as if artists can keep producing more and more art as cows produce milk – it’s assumed at no cost to them – and therefore don’t need reimbursement for their efforts.”

This musician does so in a smart response to an ad for free musicians.

musician-ad

So let’s remember this and make sure we compensate our artists. What they do is valuable and doesn’t come at no cost.

Access Interviews – Live Hip-Hop Radio Archive

Access Title Card

Access is a special segment of Our Show on 91.5 WPRK in Winterpark, Florida.

It’s live and interactive radio where we interview all sorts of hip-hop artists and interesting people in the music business.

And through the power of the Internet, I am able to be on the show quite regularly without ever having to leave the country. I’m repping Canada on the American radio waves when Conshus and I tag team interviews. It’s always a lot of fun.

This page will serve as the archive of the shows we do this year. Please bookmark it and come back often.

We run live video before we actually get started on the radio waves so the start of the videos may seem a little disorganized, but stick with them and you will hear real conversations based around hip-hip music and culture.

Amerigo Gazaway
Asheru
Bishop Nehru
Dessa
Devine Carama
DJ Z of DJ Booth
Guy (W.A.R. Media)
Has-Lo
Homeboy Sandman
J57
Louis Logic
Marco Polo
Rakaa Iriscience of Dilated Peoples
Random aka Mega Ran
Pharoahe Monch
Soul Khan
88 HIP HOP

A Mixtape to Celebrate 3 Months

 

Stacy 3

I met the love of my life 3 months ago and time has flown by. Yet, at the same time, it seems like it can’t have only been three months. It seems like I have know her much longer. And it’s a great feeling.

Her favourite song right now is All of Me by John Legend so I had to kick off the tape with it. I did play with the three month theme though with a creative intro. I won’t give it away, just press play and enjoy!

Help us celebrate by downloading or streaming this mixtape! 

01. John Legend – All of Me
02. American Authors – Best Day of My Life
03. Blake Shelton – Ten Times Crazier
04. Imagine Dragons – Demons
05. Dem Atlas – All We Got
06. Atmosphere – The World Might Not Live Through the Night
07. Avril / Evan – Best Years of Our Lives
08. Robyn – Show Me Love
09. Kriss Kross – Jump
10. Ina Kamozi – Hotstepper
11. Brad Paisley – Then
12. Tim McGraw – Just to See You Smile
13. Belly – Red
14. superGARAGE – Away
15. Bif Naked – Moment of Weakness
16. Goldfinger – Superman
17. Might Mighty Bosstones – The Impression That I Get
18. Reverie and LC Collective – Calm Before the Storm
19. Angel Haze – Battle Cry
20. The Flan – Don’t Tell Me

Download the album version (with skippable tracks)

or stream it with the player below!

Classrooms are Irrelevant (But Schools Aren’t)

ApexOn April 10, 2008, the Economist ran an article entitled “The New Oases: Nomadism Changes Buildings, Cities and Traffic”

I only discovered it because of the book I am currently reading, Six Pixels of Separation by Mitch Joel.

I couldn’t help but see how this passage could be applied to our schools and classrooms. I think it is something we need to look closely at.  We are at an apex in our daily lives where we could continue on the way we always have, or make a sharp turn and end up in a better, more logical place.

Read this quotation and think of how it could be applied to our schools.

“The fact that people are no longer tied to specific places for functions such as studying or learning, says Mr. Mitchell, means that there is a ‘huge drop in demand for traditional, private, enclosed spaces’ such as offices or classrooms, and simultaneously a huge rise in demand for semi-public spaces that can be informally appropriated to ad-hoc workspaces. This shift, he thinks, amounts to the biggest change in architecture in this century.”

I want to run with this quotation because if we truly are no longer tied to specific places, does our current way of managing schools still make sense?

Here are my thoughts . . .

1) Don’t Assign Students to Specific Classrooms

Students should feel free to work where they want to in the school environment.

2) Develop a plan with a Specific Teacher and Be Held Accountable

I think students could soar to new heights academically if given more freedom in school. Now I know that there are detractors out there who believe that kids are lazy and wouldn’t do anything if we given them freedom in school.

The truth is, there are a great number of students completely unengaged in their current school work. It doesn’t speak to them and seems useless and trivial. I know that I don’t want to do busy-work. Why would my students?

3) Let’s Try Something New

Can we redesign school spaces and throw the current operating and organizational practices out the window?

Schools should be a place of learning that engages students and makes them want to strive to accomplish great things academically. Our schools, for the most part, don’t do that.

I know I want change. I think our students do too. It’s time to have this discussion.

Any thoughts?  

Please share them with a comment below or on Twitter with the hashtag #RedefineSchool

It’s time to turn a corner and to do so smartly!

Brock’s Route Rail Trail

Let’s explore The Hamilton Conservation Authority’s Rail Trail today.

This trail runs for 32 kilometers and links downtown Hamilton to Brantford.

I started my journey today in Copetown, Ontario on Hwy 52, just North of Highway 403. It turns out that this portion of the trail follows the route that Major General Isaac Brock took between Hamilton and Port Dover through Brantford during the War of 1812.

I love how every kilometer of this trail is marked so it makes it really easy to track how far you’ve run.

I actually ran this trail last fall, as you can see from this picture. I just hadn’t gotten around to posting it yet. I really should go back and run another portion of the rail trail this summer too.

The trail is very flat and only runs in a straight line, for the most part. That is because this used to be a railroad at one point on time. I’m glad it was re-purposed as a nature trail.

The trail continues on the other side of Highway 52. I ran a kilometer or so down it and it is pretty much the same. I should start there next time I am in the neighbourhood.

There are a few farms alongside either side of the rail trail. I was glad to see the plaque about the importance of farms.

Explore More Trails 

Photographic Tour Archive (over 4 dozen trails and counting)

It’s Go Skateboarding Day!

go-skateboarding-day-logo-whiteToday is National Go Skateboarding Day!

There are all sorts of events, competitions, demonstrations, and fun for the entire family to be had today at skateparks all over the world.

Search for an event near you and go to a local event. Here are some of the great events you can attend in Southern, Ontario.

And if none of those tickle your fancy, a quick Google search will help you find one closer.

Enter to Win a Skateboard Prize Pack . . .

Take a photo at any West 49 Go Skateboarding Day Event, or between June 21st and June 26th, share it to Instagram or Twitter with hashtag #W49GoSkate to be instantly entered to win a Pro Skate Package, a $100 West 49 Gift Card, and a Dine Alone Records CD & Merchandise package!

Some Music to Celebrate! 

Download Music for Skaters: A Mixtape (free album version with skippable tracks) Or stream it with the player below.

The Fault in Our Stars

The_Fault_in_Our_Stars

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I’ve wanted to read this book for quite a long time. I’d heard about the author from a few of my blogging buddies who simple rave about his work. Yet, I’d never gotten around to reading anything from him prior to now.

I was finally motivated to read it, because I knew that several of my students were excited about the film version being released this summer. I managed to finish reading it the night before the film was released too. Whew, I avoided any possible spoilers.

The book was well-written and I enjoyed the story. I also liked the twist on the convention of “sick-people-stories.” It wasn’t about what the sick could teach the other characters. The other characters were almost inconsequential. This was a story about how teenagers with terminal illnesses live and interact.

One of the characters was concerned that he wouldn’t have a heroic death. People tend to romanticize death from illness, saying things like, “he fought the good fight, right till the end, and never complained.” But the characters make fun of that sentiment too.

It’s a great story that seems to say, “We all matter.”

I never felt sorry for the characters. John Green did a great job of making them feel real. I didn’t pity them for being sick, I just wanted to see them live and enjoy life while they could. They seemed to understand that all of our days are numbered. They were trying to figure it out just like we all are.

Now, I’m ready to go see the movie. Hope it lives up to the book!

My 2014 Reading Log – Have you read any of these titles? Let me know!

Gibbons Park – Trails Open London

Trails Open

Trails Open London was a great event that happened this past weekend. I got to explore a few trails that I didn’t even know about. That was the point of this inaugural event.

Gibbons Park

Gibbons Park was the second site that I visited for Trails Open. It is located only a few kilometers from downtown London, Ontario.

London Pacers

The London Pacers hosted the festivities that included trail runs, kids’ races, and a race-walking lesson.

Mulit-Use Trail

I was glad that the London Pacers were there to serve as tour guides. Otherwise, I might not have know that the paved multi-use trail branched off into a cross-country trail.

Entrance to Nature Trail

It doesn’t look like the main trail but this one continues along the waterfront for kilometers.

Gibbons Park Nature Trail

It was a really nice run.

Group Trail Run

This is one of the very few times that you will actually see fellow runners in my photographic tours. I normally run alone. But it was nice having company today.

White Trail

The trail is clearly marked as well, which is a bonus!

Find Out More

4 Ideal Apps for Creative Writers

Ideal AppsAccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the US, the employment opportunities for writers and authors is projected to grow 3 percent from by 2022, slower than the average for all occupations. Despite this fact, strong competition is expected for full-time jobs because of the attraction of the occupation.

Writers and authors provide written content for advertisements, books, magazines, movie and television scripts, songs, and online publications. Although it sounds fun, creative writing is one of the most challenging jobs out there. Even the most professional writers still struggle to think of story ideas to put down on paper.

Thanks to the rise of digital technology, various apps have been developed to make everyone’s jobs easier even that of a creative writer’s. This article will give you a roundup of some of the most amazing creative writing apps on the market.

Some of them are being used by teachers to support and enhance creative writing lessons for their students.  Teachers can also use them to stay organized in all aspects of their career and personal life as well.

Here are 4 Ideal Apps you can try . . .

EVERNOTE (Android, iOS, Windows)

Evernote is the perfect app for storing research. It syncs audio recordings, photos, scans, and text notes between devices making them searchable. Evernote is the ideal for your on-the-go needs. The free app has many features but if you want to keep a history of your notes, it is best to purchase the premium account.

INDEX CARD (iOS)

Index Card is for writers who believe in outlining and jotting down notes. You can also quickly shuffle them around a virtual corkboard to fix structural problems.

GOODREADER (iOS)

This editing app puts an end to the traditional way of editing a manuscript that involves massive amounts of paper. Through GoodReader, all you have to do is save a PDF and mark up the document with a stylus. It lets you interact with the text as if it were a printed page.

BRAINSTORMER (iOS)

The Brainstormer is an app that spins a wheel to randomly combine plots, subjects and styles. For fun, you can even add your own scenarios, if you don’t like the included wheel options.

QUICK TIP

When using these apps, it is important to make sure to check your battery life to avoid losing essential data. According to experts from mobile gaming app pocketfruity.com, it is ideal to adjust the brightness of your screen to a more suitable level, to lessen the energy consumption. This way you can prolong your mobile device’s battery power.

If you have other writing app suggestions, feel free to leave a comment below.

GUEST BLOGGER TODAY – Evie Barton

TEACHING TIP TUESDAYArchive

Nothing Better than a Good Street Fest

This past weekend, the main street in Downtown London was closed to traffic and the Forest City threw an amazing Street Party!

Trails Open Gainsborough 022

My campus radio station was highlighting local talent on two different stages along the two kilometers of Dundas Street.

Trails Open Gainsborough 023

There were plenty of vendors to visit and activities to do.

Trails Open Gainsborough 021

I’ve been to plenty of street parties and invariably, there are usually a few skateboarders there, but I’d never seen a make-shift skatepark as part of the celebration.

They had three quarter-pipes, a box, and a rail. They organizers gave away prizes randomly for great tricks too. There were quite a few skaters and an enthusiastic audience. It was definitely one of the highlights of Dundas Street Fest!

What an awesome weekend!

Trails Open London – Hyde Park Rotary Trail

Trails Open Ontario

Trails Open London promotes trail use, education, natural heritage conservation and stewardship, physical activity and a healthy lifestyle. In its inaugural year, Trails Open London will consist of trails, parks, Environmentally Significant Areas (ESAs), and private-sector sites and organizations that are environmentally focused.

Trails Open London, brought to you by London Heritage Council will provide an opportunity for all Londoners and visitors to access, discover, celebrate and learn to protect and steward the remarkable parks, ESAs and trails that exist in and around London. These significant green spaces and private-sector organizations/sites will be animated and will offer enhanced programming that will include, but not be limited to, hiking, environmental and natural heritage education, art walks, biking tours, bird watching, guided/self-guided tours, planting activities and geocaching.

Gainsborough Entrance

Yesterday, I announced that I was going to Gibbons Park for this event.

Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that Trails Open was a two-day event and that particular attraction was actually scheduled for Sunday. So, pleaseJoin Me at Gibbons Park Today for a nice trail run!

So with my plans seemingly thwarted, I heade over to the Dundas Street Festival downtown. It was a lot of fun and I will blog about that next week.

Trails Open is such a great concept though, I just had to hit up one of the spots today.

The above picture shows the entrance way to The Hyde Park Rotary Trail on Gainsborough Drive.

Gainsborough Pond

I was happy to see this body of water. It’s always nice to run along some kind of waterfront.

Hyde Park Trail Bridge

I crossed this bridge instead of taking the path on the other side of the pond.

Shaded trail

I love this shaded section of the trail.

The only problem was that the trail came to an end at Hyde Park Road after about 2 kilometers.

Something told me when I started off on this run that I should have explored the trail on the other side of the road.

Trails Open Hyde Park Trail

I didn’t know it at the time, but the trail continues much further if you head in the other direction.

Either way, it was a nice run and I discovered a new trail thanks to Trails Open London.

IF YOU GO

– there is a geocaching activity you can try here tomorrow

– or you can meet me a Gibbons Park and go for a run

– Find out more from London’s Heritage Council

Trails Open London THIS WEEKEND

Trails OpenI will be attending Trails Open London today and tomorrow. It is the inaugural event to celebrate The Forest City’s Natural Heritage.

I have already explored several of the trails in the area that are featured in today’s special event such as Warbler Woods, Sifton Bog, Meadowlilly Woods, and Kains Woods.

Please click on the links above to see a detailed tour of what each trail has to offer. Hopefully, you’ll find one you like and go check it out today.

Today, I am going to check out London Hyde Park Rotary Link. They have a geo-caching activity that sounds fun but I am just going to run the trail and see where it goes.

Tomorrow, I plan on discovering a brand new area and enjoying a trail run with a few fellow enthusiasts at Gibbon’s Park.

There is a cross-country run scheduled for 1:00 and another at 3:00. There is also a Kids Race at 2:00. And if running is not your thing, there are guided tours of the route and even a race-walking lesson. Sounds like a great afternoon. I plan on attending the 1:00 trail run at Gibbons Park.

I hope to see you there. Trails Open London – The official website with maps and details of the 16 different sites in London, Ontario, Canada this weekend.

Get It Done – It Only Takes 15 Minutes. Seriously!

Get it Done book
Get It Done: From Procrastination to Creative Genius in 15 Minutes a Day by Sam Bennett

We always complain that there are never enough hours in the day. The good news, is that you don’t need an hour to do something important. You can break it down into 15 minute chunks.

These small moments can add up to something great. So stop making excuses and get something done. That’s Sam Bennett’s motive for writing this book. She delivers some great advice in this book aimed specifically at creative people who think they might not have the time to be creative.

But we all can make the time. We can carve out 15 minutes. Bennett gives us some great advice on how to make that happen.

Here are some of my favourite parts of this book and a few thoughts / connections I made while reading it.

on The Isolation of an Artist . . .

“Part of the problem is that you’re weird and you know it. Whatever made you talented as a kid also served to make you a bit odd. Since, as my friend Sam Christensen has observed, you live in a world that constantly send you conflicting messages – “Stand out! Fit in! Stand Out! Fit in!” –it’s hard to know how to behave. And no matter how many movies and sitcoms conclude with the simple, heartfelt message that you should “just be yourself,” you walk around feeling lost, judged, and different—and not in a good way. “Among them but not of them,” as Lord Byron said.”

on Catching Ideas . . .

“Use a coupon-carrier type envelope in which you can file your little scraps of paper.”

“I suggest creating a file, folder, or envelop, and labeling it “Genius.” At the end of each day, put your ideas in there. They will nest and grow and, eventually, turn into something fabulous.” 

on Daydreaming . . .

Allot Fifteen Minutes a Day for Deliberate Daydreaming – “You want your hands to be busy so your mind can wander.”

“Do some simple, repetitive motion for fifteen minutes a day, every day. But this is not to get fit or lose weight or to lower your blood pressure – it’s to enhance your creativity and turn up the volume on your intuition.”

“And sometimes artists endure extended periods during which it seems as if nothing’s happening. It’s called acedia, meaning “spiritual torpor and apathy; ennui”

on Over-Thinking and Over-Complicating Things . . .

“The trick to defeating Getting-Ready-to-Get-Ready syndrome is doing fifteen minutes of research. . . If you assume that you need to do something before you can do the thing you really want to do, please check that assumption . . . Chances are that you’re overcomplicating things.”

“The idea that more studying leads to better answers is at best erroneous and at worst project-destroying.”

“So here’s my offer; you are allowed to do up to eight hours of research. That’s fifteen minutes a day for a month, or one straight day, or a little bit more than an hour a day for a week. Eight hours should give you plenty of information.”

The Verdict

This is a great book that can help you get started on any creative project. Bennett motivates us with great ideas for organizing our ideas, time, and money. She helps us fight the evil forces of procrastination that forever threaten to derail our creative endeavors. And she outlines a plan to get even the biggest projects done in small steps. All it takes is 15 minutes a day.

So let’s get started!

My 2014 Reading Log – continually updated all year long

Music And Movement Activity Props For Children

Music and Movement PropsThe experts put much stock in the early years. Supposedly, it is a period rife with rapid and crucial development, from the intellectual to the kinesthetic, from the social to the emotional, etc.

Parents and early childhood care professionals have been eagerly putting together programs to make the most out of this stage of development.

If such early learning institutions as Kindermusik and Gymboree are to be believed, integrating music and movement is a great way to optimize this fleeting window of opportunity to significantly boost both IQ and EQ, which in turn will get them onto the path to a happy and productive life.

If you’re the parent of a little one, you’ll probably consider enrolling your child in a music and movement class, but if you can’t quite afford it, you can learn what you can from various books and online sources to adopt the pertinent activities and carry them out with your own child. You may have to invest in some music and movement activity props for children, but they’re so much more worth it than the usual commercial toys.

If you’re wondering what items to buy, the following are some of the most popular props parents and teachers use:

  • Creative Movement Streamers – They’re quite enchanting to follow with the eye, are fun to manipulate, and are sure to fascinate the young and eager learner. You can hang them from the wrist or simply hold them up with your hand.
  • Balloon Balls – These are great for little ones learning to catch and throw. They’re tough enough to protect the balloon insert and yet light and soft enough not to hurt the players.
  • Bean Bags– These are helpful for teaching so many things from throwing and catching to color recognition to texture exploration. They can come in an assortment of colors and shapes.
  • Stretchy Bands – These latex tubing and fabric combos offer a wide array of interactive learning activities. Teachers and parents can use them to teach anything from shapes and rhythm to boundaries.

These items usually come with drawstring and tote bags for organizing. Such a setup allows for good storage and convenient mobility. The bags certainly make them very portable and easier to keep track of so that you can conduct music and movement activities at home and elsewhere.

Children learn so much in the early years. Through your commitment to let yours enjoy music and movement, you can be certain that you are offering them the right stimulation for their age.

About the author: Bob Josward is an IT specialist by profession and a content creator by passion. He is a tech savvy with a soft heart for children. Aside from his interest on topics about gadgets, he likewise reads and shares parenting advice and tips. He visits http://bearpawcreek.com/movement-props/ to know more about activities and props that can enhance the learning of children.

Writers – Catch Ideas and Be Receptive to Chance

Writers Catch IdeasAs writers, we need to be open to new ideas, even when we feel like all of our focus should be on our work in process. There is an easy way to do this without getting distracted.

I know that there are times when a new idea takes hold and it’s tempting to abandon our current project and start working on it right away. That is never a good idea. Jumping from idea to idea isn’t a productive strategy. Having multiple ideas and letting some of them marinate though is.

Here is what author Tina Welling has to say about . . .

Catching Ideas

“Most birds lay between two and six eggs; that’s a good range of writing ideas to incubate at a time . . . Jot down ideas for writing projects, put each one in a folder, and allow the ideas to become magnets for related material . . . Those ideas that continue to engender interest and passion will gather enough material in the folder for us to begin a writing project.”

I know that I need to get better at this. Being organized is paramount for any writer. The problem is that I like to do a lot of work in my head. I also don’t get back to ideas unless they really take root. The folder idea is a great way to store ideas and to revisit them. I’m going to try it out.

On Downtime . . .

I take a long time off between writing projects. I feel bad about that too. I know I should stop procrastinating, stop worrying about the process, the myth of the muse, and just start writing. I was never quite sure why I needed this downtime before. But Welling writes . . .

“Writers need long, deep periods of stillness and awareness in order to express themselves in language that captures the pulsing truth.”

She also helps illuminate the reason why we all need downtime and explains that we shouldn’t feel guilty about it . . .

“Our culture doesn’t honor the times of rest and restoration in a person’s life, which is the earth’s autumn and winter seasons, as much as it does the productive periods. But we must have these periods for growing deep roots and restoration energy in order to sustain flow.”

On Being Receptive to Chance . . .

“Chance is a wonderful force in our lives. Yet how chance works is a mystery to us. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the author of Creativity and Flow, states that the definition of chance events is ‘ favorable convergences in time and place open to a brief window of opportunity for the person who, having the proper qualifications, happens to be in the right place and right time.’

So chance involves the convergence of three parts: the right time, the right place, and the right person. We don’t usually have control over the first two – time and place – but we can learn to be more often the right person, thereby giving chance a more open invitation to enter and create a favorable event. As writers this helps us at every level of our creative process.

So how can we be the right person for chance to find?

Three Ways of Being Receptive 

I break the process down into three ways of being in the world: receptive, intentional, and actively engaged:

Receptive: . . . set aside opinions, expectations, even hopes and, as much as possible, fears.

Intentional: . . . . have a goal in mind

Actively Engaged: We must be actively engaged in pursuing dreams. And we must make this engagement an exchange with life around us.”

That is simply brilliant!

Good things come to those who are able to seize opportunity and follow through. Maybe chance isn’t as random as most of us think.

Quotes and Inspiration for this post come from . . . 

Writing Wild - Tina Welling

Writing Wild: Forming a Creative Partnership with Nature by Tina Welling

The Rap Guide to Evolution (Know Your History: Episode 52)

Baba BrinkmanWelcome to Know Your History, your monthly dose of hip-hop knowledge. I’m your host Chase March and we have a great show for you today.

Normally, what I do on this program is build the show around a specific theme that is important to hip-hop culture. I do a lot of research, find songs that fit the topic, and combine all of that into a thirty minute documentary.

Today’s show is going to be a little different. We are going to combine science and hip-hop. Now, I know that doesn’t sound novel. Rappers often claim to drop science on their records, which of course is just slang meaning that they are going to try to educate you with their rhyme. When rappers drop science, they aren’t always discussing scientific principles.

Today, I am going to hand the reigns over to Baba Brinkman and he is going to be dropping actual science for the rest of the program. I will be airing his TED talk entitled, The Rap Guide to Evolution.

If you are not familiar with TED talks, you are in for a treat. TED started out as a conference back in 1984 where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, hence the name TED. Since then, it has grown to become a global phenomenon.

Basically the idea is that speakers are given less than 20 minutes to deliver a presentation on a topic. The goal is simply to educate and entertain.

On their website, they say, “We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world. On TED.com, we’re building a clearinghouse of free knowledge from the world’s most inspired thinkers — and a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.”

That’s very similar to my goal for this monthly documentary series.

Creative Commons licensing allows us to air this talk on the program today as long as it isn’t edited or altered. So, without further ado, here is The Rap Guide to Evolution by Baba Brinkman from TEDxSMU.

Stream the show with the player below or download the podcast for free.

Enjoy!

The Wild Mystique of The Writing Process

Writing Wild - Tina Welling

Writing Wild: Forming a Creative Partnership with Nature by Tina Welling

This is one of my favourite quotes from this book . . .

“Few of us have role models in our lives for writing, so naturally, few of us are completely convinced that we should spend time and energy doing it.”

We are never really privy to the writing process. Writing tends to happen behind closed doors. But the process of it is so naturally rewarding.

Tina Welling focuses on nature in the book and how it can inform our writing. She thinks we can all be a little more connected to the natural world. I agree. That’s one of the reasons I love trail running. I never bring headphones along either. It’s just me, my thoughts, and beautiful surroundings.

I took quite a few notes as I read the book. These are a few of my personal highlights.

The Mystery and Mystique of Writing . . .

“Because we don’t understand creative energy – where it comes from, how it rises into consciousness, how it’s accessed or restored – we gather myths around it.”

There are quite a few myths surrounding the act of writing. One of the most damaging is that of the muse. If we always wait for inspiration, we will never write.

“Often, we treat our own creative energy as if it were a fearsome and fascinating wild animal. We cage it in a certain place and time in our life. We find it unpredictable, capable of making sudden leaps or slithering into hiding and other times capable of camouflaging itself in the background altogether. We feel a lack of oneness with our instinctive and creative selves; we are motherless this way, in that we have few role models. Sometimes, we consider our creative selves just plain scary, like Bigfoot or the yeti, and sometimes, like those two mysterious legends, we don’t believe that our creative selves really exist.”

We have a creative life that dwells within us. It is mystical and magic. I’ll admit to that. But it is real and there. It will present itself to us if we acknowledge it and just write.

“We are often seeking a source of authority. We think it’s out there somewhere, when all along it’s within us. Even when we do discover our inner authority, we often judge it by outer standards—and usually find it lacking.”

So write and don’t compare yourself to others. There is value in your work because you are an authority.

On Writing What You Know . . .

I have written characters that are very much me. I have written stories that are loosely based upon my own experiences. But I have also written about characters and situations so far removed from me. Welling explains how writing about what we don’t know is just as valuable, if not more so, than writing what we do know . . .

“We don’t have to know something to write; we write to know something. We write to bring into our consciousness the inner authority that so often remains in the unconscious.”

“Instead of following the old rule about writing what we know, I propose writing about what we want to know. That draws us into following our curiosity. Curiosity is a powerful motivator.”

On Our Senses . . .

Sometimes, our bodies can tell us a lot more than our minds. And that can help inform our writing.

“We all have the same body and the same senses and live on the same planet with brown dirt and blue sky. But each one of us perceives this world through our own body and senses. Each one of us, therefore, produces entirely original stores stemming from each of our own particular lives.

We write to discover these gifts, and we write to offer these gifts to others through our own authentic voices. .

When we are open to imagination, we are, in effect, asking a question. We are creating those new channels of inflowing data with the expression of our curiosity. We come alive when we ask ourselves, ‘What would that feel like? How did that happen? Why did I do this? And we track the answer through our sensory experience and bodies as well as our minds . . . Scientifically, that’s how it works: senses trigger memory held in the body. None of this would have been noticed or captured in my consciousness if I hadn’t written it down.”

A Good Read for Writers

I have a few more quotes I want to share in an up-coming blog post. I enjoyed this read, even though the author hit us over the head with some tree-hugging sentiment. That being said, it’s a good read and Welling offers some nice insight for all of us writers.

My 2014 Reading Log – constantly updated all year-long

Exclusive Atmosphere Interview TONIGHT

Atmosphere Poster

I was very humbled to be the only person to get an interview with hip-hop group, Atmosphere last week when they came to London, Ontario.

They put on an amazing concert and I was able to hang out backstage with them to record an exclusive interview. I talked to Slug about his writing process, the lack of love in hip-hop, Maya Angelou’s legacy, and the key to longevity in hip-hop.

It was inspiring spending an hour talking to Slug and playing some of his great music from his lengthy career. We feature music from the brand-new Atmosphere album, Southsiders as well as a few old favourites. 

Word is Bond Rap Radio – bringing you the best in real hip-hop music and talk every week.

Don’t miss tonight’s show! 

Listen Live tonight from 12:00 midnight to 2:00 a.m.  EST.

  • Tune your radio dial to 94.9 CHRW in London, Ontario
  • Stream the show from the CHRW website
  • Use the Tune In App on your phone
  • Also available on Digital Cable on your TV

And stay tuned to The Word is Bond next week to catch the podcast!

Students often say, “What’s the Point of All This?”

right-brained-children-in-left-brained-world

Right-Brained Children in a Left-Brained World: Unlocking the Potential of Your ADD Child by Jeffrey Freed and Laurie Parsons.

It’s tough being a teacher these days. I see so many students who don’t seem to care about anything. I have no idea how to reach some of them.

The past two years have been tough. I have been teaching rotary music at two different schools. I know that there are some students who will never buy into music. They don’t seem to want to even try to learn an instrument. The problem is that the course is compulsory. Every student has to take Music and French.

Do you know where most behaviour problems and office referrals come from?

That’s right, Music and French.

I thought that this problem of cynicism I’d been seeing lately was due to a flaw in my teaching, but then I read this book and came across this passage.

“There was a time, perhaps a generation ago, when it was possible and even probable to find middle and high school students who had teachers they admired and respected. This is, sadly, a rare occurrence nowadays. I’m observing a rising tide of students who say they cannot relate to their teachers. This isn’t just the case for underachievers and dropouts, it’s true of pupils who are on the honor roll . . .

I have rarely . . . heard a child or adolescent state that his education was useful, inspirational, or joyful. Quite a shift from one generation to another.

That our educational system is now perceived as worthless by the very students who are excelling in it is the ultimate indictment.”

I guess that it isn’t just me. Our students are more cynical these days.

I remember when I was in school, I hated some of my teachers too, but I didn’t hate all of them. And I didn’t think that school was a complete waste of time. There were things in it that I did enjoy. Mostly band, track and field, cross country, and intramurals. And I had some wonderful teachers who truly made a difference in my life.

I wonder how we can turn this around. I want students to be able to identify with me. They don’t need to love my class, but I would like them to see the passion I have for it, how it could be useful, and to be inspired by my lessons.

This book has some great ideas in it but most of them are for working one-on-one with special needs students. I made a bunch of notes and plan on incorporating some of the techniques but the above passage has been haunting me since I read it.

What can we do about students who regularly cry, “What’s the point of all this?”

If you have any ideas, I’m open to suggestions.

My 2014 Reading Log – continually updated all year

Teaching Tip Tuesday Archive – Great resources for teachers every week!

Chasing Content – June 2013

Chasing ContentIt’s time for another edition of Chasing Content!

Read all of the posts from last June . . . 

or just these favs . . .

Daredevil Reboots

Comic creators love to recreate origin stories. We’ve seen the origin of Daredevil retold four times so far, once from the legendary writer Frank Miller. But I much prefer Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s take in Daredevil: Yellow.

Reflect Now to Improve Your Teaching Next Year

I know that I am already thinking about the first day of school in September. This is the perfect time to stop and take count of the things that worked well this year and the things that didn’t. As teachers, we should always strive to improve our own practice and student learning.

Legendary Writers Working With Pictures

We live in a society that is becoming more and more visual. It makes sense to combine words and pictures in this day and age. I’m glad to see there are some brilliant writers working with pictures, either in comic book form or in picture books. I love this medium!

Exams, Grades, and Marks Miss the Point

It’s time to do away with arbitrary ways of assigning worth to school work. The worth is in the work itself and not a letter grade or percentage. I wish I could throw away marks entirely and provide descriptive feedback to my students instead. That would be so much better.

Running the Devil’s Creek Trail 

I dared to run this trail. See what I did there?

You can see my entire route with some beautiful pictures.

Thanks for Chasing Content with me! 

We do this at the start of every month to highlight the best of Silent Cacophony from last year at this time. This way, great posts don’t get buried in the archive.

Make sure you click the link above to see these “Best Of” posts for every single month of this blog.