Monthly Archives: August 2014

Hidden Empire

Hidden Empire

Hidden Empire by Orson Scott Card

I read the first book of this series, Empire, a few years back.

I didn’t even realize that there was more to it. I found this hardcover book at the dollar store and couldn’t believe it. Orson Scott Card is one of my favourite authors. I just had to pick it up.

The first book was really good and I enjoyed it. I’m not much of a gamer but apparently, there is an X-box game that stands between these two narratives. It’s called Shadow Complex. 

shadow complex

The second novel revolves around an epidemic that breaks out in Africa. The president of the United States effectively uses the tragedy to affect change on a world-wide scale.

Certain members of Special Forces start to think that there might be more behind the president’s actions. He could be working towards building an empire and effectively destroying democracy. Or is it merely coincidental?

This is a political thriller that circles around one family. It is well-written and fast-paced but not quite as good as the original, in my humble opinion.

My List of 2014 Reads – My Reading Log for the Year

Grade 2/3 Long Range Plan

I’m teaching a split class this year. That means I have to tailor my instruction to cover two different curriculums. That is a bit of a challenge.

I’ve been working hard on my long range plan so I will know exactly what I have to teach on a week by week basis throughout the entire school year.

Of course, this very detailed document is just a framework. A long range plan should be a living document. It should be adapted throughout the year as needed.

That being said, here is my first draft of my Grade 2/3 Long Range Plan. 

2-3 Long Range Plan

The first section lists all of the curriculum expectations for each grade. Many of the expectations are similar in nature. I have placed them side-by-side for every subject area.

side-by-side

This is a great resource for planning lessons. I can look at both curriculums at the same time and plan my lesson accordingly. It is so much easier than having to look at the large curriculum document and flipping back and forth from the Grade 2 to the Grade 3 expectations.

I also break down the units of study on a week-by-week basis. We operated on a 10-day cycle in my school board. That means that there are only 19 weeks in the year. That is not a lot of time if you don’t plan the entire year out in advance. Trust me!

2-3 week plan

I know that I might not be able to cover everything that I have planned for. There are always things that pop up and disrupt even the best of plans. But this gives me a framework of where I want to be each week.

If we run behind or get side-tracked throughout the year, I will adjust accordingly. That is why an annual teaching plan is really just a framework.

Download my Grade 2/3 Long Range Plan as a PDF file 

Download my Grade 2/3 Long Range Plan as a MS Word .doc

More Teaching Tips – Check right back here for every Tuesday for great tips, tricks, lessons, and free resources.

D-sisive Shout-Out!

I have been following D-sisive’s career since I first discovered him in the 1990s.

I regularly play his music on my radio show. And before I landed on radio, I wrote about him in the university newspaper. 

A few weeks back. I played a fairly old D-sisive track that wasn’t released on an album. It was part of a few tracks he released to get people hyped about his new project.

As such, “Let the Buzz Begin” is quite an appropriate title and a banging track that I wanted to feature on The Word is Bond Rap Radio. 

I like to live tweet my playlist whenever possible. I sent this message on Instagram and Twitter when I spun the track live on 94.9 CHRW. 

Instagram

D-sisive left a comment asking me to send him the track. At first, I thought it was strange. Why wouldn’t he have his own track? But in this digital age, it is easy enough to lose a file, so I sent it to him via Twitter.

twitter

And then a week later, he posted the song on his Instagram account.

Instagram1

with these very kind words about me . . .

D-sisive full

And it seems that I might even have inspired him to write a new song!

How cool is that?

Doctor Who – In Theatres Again!!!

So, the new season of Doctor Who starts today but I won’t be watching it.

Instead, I will be waiting to see in on the big screen on Monday!

Doctor Who_Deep Breath-Poster

I saw the 50th Anniversary special at the theatre and it was a magical experience. I can’t wait to watch the start of the 12th Doctor’s reign in a theatre of super-fans like myself.

I already bought my ticket. If you haven’t done so and would like to see it, go to Cineplex now to order yours.

Let’s Make This a Tradition

I think they should do this every two weeks. I would pay to watch two episodes on the big screen with an energetic and excited crowd all season long.  It doesn’t have to be a big event for this to happen. Let’s make it a regular thing.

And with two episodes being shown at a time, even if they aren’t related, it is a feature-length event.

Come on, let’s make this happen people!

I hope to see you on Monday!

Transform Any Surface into a Touchscreen with TouchPico

I have a Smartboard in my classroom. It is basically a computer interface that lets you write, manipulate, and control things with a simple touch. It is rather limiting though because it is a rather small rectangle and it is fixed in one place.

I would love to have a second Smartboard in my classroom but they are expensive and need to be mounted professionally.

This product would allow me to have an interactive wall whenever I need it. It would be great for a digital centre that students could operate in their own small learning groups.

Isn’t that amazing?

Please visit the Indiegogo Page to learn more, support the campaign, and get your own TouchPico.

*Disclosure Notice – I have been offered a TouchPico for my classroom by writing this post and encouraging 7 people to contribute to the campaign. Please do me a favour and click though. Thanks*

Coyotes and Deer, Oh My!

I wanted to go for a trail run but I stopped short when I saw this sign at the entrance.

Coyotes

It was hours away from dusk but it was overcast and eerily quiet.

I decided to go for my run anyway. I took my phone with me. I figured I could play some music to scare away the coyote if I saw him.

I ran at a fast past, over the very hilly course and I was almost out of breath when I heard something off in the bush ahead of me.

I typed my password in to unlock my phone . . .

And that’s when I saw . . .

Deer in the woods

Deer!

There were three of them in fact.

They were off to the side of the trail. I had to zoom in to get a good shot. My hands were shaky because this was a tough route and I had been pushing myself.

It was hard to hold my little phone steady when the zoom was employed. I got several blurry shots and this fairly decent one.

I have seen deer on about 1/3 of my trail runs this year. Some of them were remarkably close too. I just never had my camera with me to document it.

I’m glad I got that above shot.

Warble Boardwalk

I continued my run, half expecting to come across some more wild life.

But other than squirrels and chipmunks, I didn’t see anything else.

Warbler Woods

This boardwalk is nice though.

I have a more in-depth review with lots of photos if you’d like to learn more about Warbler Woods! 

And you can always check out my Photographic Tour Archive for lots of great trails to run, walk, or stroll.

Classroom Management for Dummies

Welcome back to Teaching Tip Tuesdays!

School starts in two weeks and this video is something you might want to watch before you step back into the classroom. It is full of great ideas on managing behaviour and the challenges that come with being a teacher.

1. Focus on Creating Authentic Learning Experiences

Have a product-based classroom. Something that is based on composition and not just consumption of knowledge. It makes the classroom experience meaningful for all.

2. Only 3 Rules

Build your rules around these three concepts . . .

Lateness and preparation
Respect
Caring for Other

3. Model the Cray Cray

I want to make sure my students know that I have an objective and that it will not be tolerated for the students disrupt that. Model how you might react with a loud yell. This way, the students have heard it and you won’t have to do it again. Ideally, this will be the only time you raise your voice to that level all year.

4. Have a few delivery lines in your toolbox.

Be ready to use simple lines to acknowledge bad behaviour so it doesn’t disrupt your lesson at all.

5. Avoid Punitive Humiliation

When you put a student on the spot, you are essentially elevating the situation to where the student gets some classroom credibility. Take the student to the side and do your best to empower the child.

6. Don’t Interrupt Your Lesson

Bring in the bad behaviour to your lecture. It helps let students understand that your lesson is important and that we are not going to stop because of a small incident.

7. Engage Immediately

You need to have a very specific opening activity. Give them something important to do right away so as to avoid any time for them to be distracted or engage

8. Don’t Be a Tattle-Tale

Whenever possible, try to deal with that kid as a human being and deal with it inside the classroom.

9. Connect with Each Student

Find a way to connect with that specific student.

10. Never Take it Personally

You won’t win the argument. You will lose that battle and it will negatively affect your reputation.

Play the game smart, play to win, and never take it personally.

Please come back next week for another great tip you can use in your teaching practice this year.

The Sometimes Game

“If your work is going to have an impact on the world, that means some people are really going to like it. And some people won’t.”

And in this day and age, certain people feel that they need to express their negative opinions publicly through blog comments, Facebook rants, and other such avenues.

Why just last month, I received this rather negative comment here on Silent Cacophony.

blog comment

Now, I know that people read my work, listen to my radio show, and follow my podcast. I have numbers to back that up as well. But, that comment did bother me for a moment or two.

I considered deleting it. If a comment doesn’t add to the discussion and was just meant to be cruel. I see no reason to keep it on my site. I have the control over that. At least I do here on my personal blog.

Instead, I replied in kind.

blog comment reply

I decided not to be negative and thanked this anonymous reader for not only reading my blog, but for taking the time to leave a reply.

I didn’t let one negative comment ruin my day.

Here’s a tip you can use to help you channel any similar negativity away from you. It’s called . . .

The Sometimes Game. 

“Use the Sometimes Game every time someone says something that pushes your buttons, and you will find yourself becoming a calmer and more gracious person.

To play the Sometimes Game you need to write done something, right off the top of your head, that someone might say about your work that would really, truly hurt your feelings. Maybe it’s something like ‘You are such a fraud’ or ‘Your work is boring.’

Now go back and, rewrite each sentence in the first person (‘I am…’ instead of ‘you are…,’ etc) and add the magic word sometimes to the end of each one:

So now you can read your first sentence as, ‘I am such a fraud . . . sometimes.’

. . .

Now—this is the fun part—we’re going to do the same thing with compliments.”

It’s a simple exercise that I discovered in the book Get It Done: From Procrastination to Creative Genius in 15 Minutes a Day. 

Get it Done book

It’s worth the read and definitely worth your time to try this simple game. Don’t let one negative comment ruin your day or take up any more than a small moment of your time. Reflect, move on, and continue to put it the work. Because some people will appreciate it. That’s who you want to create for!

A Quality of Light – A Great Read

Quality of Light
A Quality of Light by Richard Wagamese

I really enjoyed this book. It tells the story of a First Nations boy, Joshua, who was adopted by a white family. He lives on a farm, completely isolated from his cultural roots. When his friend, Johnny, starts to tell him of his warrior heritage, he doesn’t quite understand.

Johnny becomes slightly obsessed with Indians and does a lot of research on what it means to be an aboriginal. Joshua isn’t really interested in any of that. He’s happy in his adopted family and his life as it is. When he goes to high school, this all changes. He gets bullied just because he is different. He experiences racism for the first time.

Here is a great passage about how he decided to remain quiet after a horrible event that left him humiliated, battered, and bruised.

Johnny: “I’d charge them. . .  I’d get revenge.”

Joshua: “I already got it.”

“Yeah? How?”

“By not saying anything.”

“You’re crazy.”

“Maybe. Maybe not. See, I haven’t had a said a thing about anything. And it’s driving them crazy! They know that I know the truth but I’m not saying anything. They’re wondering why, they’re asking themselves what happened. What would they do if they were me? They’re facing the truth.”

“That doesn’t do any good. Not unless they own up to it.”

“They have owned up to it — to themselves. See, if I had charged them, they’d deny everything, right?”

“Right.”

“They’d be angry, threatened, and they’d deny it all. They’d find some way to convince themselves that their story was the truth. But because I didn’t, there are big questions in their minds — questions that are making them look at the real truth. Maybe if they see the truth on their own, they can change. Maybe not all of them. Maybe just one, but that’s enough.”

“Yeah, but maybe not.”

“Maybe not.”

“You’re  willing to risk letting them off the hook hoping they’ll start feeling guilty.”

“They already are guilty . . . Know the truth and the truth shall set you free . . . but first it’ll make you miserable.”

We laughed.

“So, they’re miserable, right?” Johnny said, grinning at me and sitting down again.

“Yeah, that’s what my revenge is.” 

Joshua was right. Someone did finally stand up and acknowledge their part in the bullying incident.

I’m not sure I could have this kind of courage. Not speaking the truth in hopes that it will come out any way. That would be a really hard thing for me to do. I know that I talk a lot. Probably too much, some times.

This book deals with First Nation issues and tells a great story along the way. It is uniquely Canadian and a great read.

My 2014 Reading Log – two dozen titles and counting

Chesney Wilderness Area Trail

Chesney Trail

Let’s explore Chesney Conservation Area, also known as Chesney Wilderness Area Trail.

Chesney Trail Map

You can access the trail quite easily off of Highway 401. Take exit 250 and pass the truck stop. The trail is only a kilometer or so down the road on the right hand side.

Chesney Trail Start

There were quite a few mosquitoes out when I ran this route, but I always find that if I keep moving, they can’t keep up with me and it really isn’t a problem.

Chesney Trail Hill

I love that the trail was clearly marked and had a few small hills.

Chesney Trail Marking

This trail marker looks like it has seen better days though.

Chesney Trail obstacle

I wasn’t sure but it looked like this portion of the trial was closed. It had brush completely blocking it. But I made my way around it and kept running.

About a kilometer or so further down the trail, it got quite narrow and overgrown, so I turned around and finished my route by running back and connecting to the rest of the loop.

The trail is only 2 kilometers long so I added a run out towards the main road and back.

Want to Explore More? 

Photographic Tour Archive (great trails to run, hike, or bike)
Coldstream Concervation Area
Carolinian Trail