Monthly Archives: November 2014

Marvel Knights – Dark Reign – Shadowland


Marvel Knights # 1 – 15 (2000)

I am counting this one as a graphic novel when it comes to my reading log even though it was never collected as such.

In fact, much like this title, these heroes were probably not meant to come together either. They certainly aren’t the X-men, Avengers, or Justice League. They are an unlikely combination but they manage to make the team work. For a little while anyway.

The Marvel Knights team consists of my favourite super-hero, Daredevil, along with Dagger, Black Widow, Shang Chi, and the Punisher.

They are several story arcs in this collection. Some are better than others. But there is something about this team that has me yearning for more. I was disappointed when I came to the end of this limited series.

Dark Reign Elektra

Dark Reign: Elektra

Elektra returns after the Secret Invasion and people aren’t too happy to have her back. There is a price or her head even though she is innocent of the wrong-doings committed in her name and image by the Skrulls.

This was a great book and I enjoyed it more so than any of the other titles in the Marvel Event. Elektra is a really interesting character. I haven’t read much of her journeys outside of the Daredevil title, however. Maybe I should rectify that.


It’s always great to see female super-heroes. I especially love the idea of an all-female team. Even though I knew very little about these characters, I really enjoyed this read. It ties into the Shadowland story but it also manages to stand on its own.

At three single comic issues however, the story comes to an end too quickly. I would love to see more from these ladies.

My 2014 Reading Log – I’m smashing records this year!

Learning Skills

I just wrote my Progress Reports and I had a hard time coming up with personalized comments for each student in my class.

I looked at what I had written in the past and I searched online for comments I could use. I then began writing, but I was pretty much making it up as I went along. I don’t know why but I seem to do the same thing every year. I decided that there had to be a better way.

I spent an hour today, making these tracking sheets that should make the job of writing learning skills comments a lot easier for the Term 1 reports later in the year.

Learning Skills

There are six learning skill categories; Responsibility, Organization, Independent Work, Collaboration, Initiative, and Self-Regulation. Each one of these heading has anywhere from three to five look-fors.

I made these charts that I plan on attaching to a clipboard in the classroom. There will be one set of these per student in my class. I will make sure to take a few notes every week for the rest of the year. That way, when it comes time to writing report cards again, I will have very specific things to say and I will only have to look in this one spot.

Download the PDF for free or the editable MS Word document

Here are some of the comments I wrote in the Progress Reports this year. I wrote these for my Grade 2 / 3 students, I hope you will find them useful. Of course, the names have been changed.

Learning Skills Comments . . .

Brian follows the classroom expectations and school rules without needing reminders. He demonstrates responsibility by coming into the classroom after recess and going directly to his desk, ready for the next lesson. He organizes his workspace and materials to keep track of academic work. He shares his thoughts, and respectfully listens to the opinions of others when trying to solve problems in groups. Brian establishes positive relationships with peers and adults. He accepts responsibility for his own behaviour. He often takes an active role when problem solving in a group setting, and works well with his peers. He is beginning to take risks in his learning, but should continue to make this a goal for himself. He needs to continue to work on his willingness to seek out necessary teacher assistance so that he better understands the concepts under study. He is a respectful student who demonstrates tolerance and consideration for others. He usually listens attentively and follows instructions throughout the school day. Brian is a trustworthy and reliable student who demonstrates honesty in our classroom. Brian treats his peers fairly and equally in his interactions with others. He is encouraged to use classroom resources to help him during his work, such as dictionaries, textbooks, and classroom charts. Brian is also encouraged to set short-term goals (daily and weekly) and strive to achieve them consistently.

Olivia demonstrates responsibility by fulfilling classroom obligations on a daily basis. She comes to class appropriately prepared with her learning materials and agenda. She frequently completes and submits class work according to agreed upon timelines. Olivia keeps her desk neat and tidy and has no trouble locating and accessing any of the tools she needs to complete her work. She takes great care in her tasks and assignments and works well without supervision. Olivia is able to accurately keep track of assignments and is prepared for class each morning and ready to be dismissed at the end of each school day. She is encouraged to make use of the daily agenda board to stay organized on the tasks that are planned for the day. Olivia regularly collaborates with classmates by providing and accepting new roles, while usually taking on an equitable share of work in a group setting. She enjoys working in small group activities. Olivia often encourages those in her colour house to do their work and to listen attentively. She participates in class by asking and responding to questions during the lessons. She is usually the first one in class to raise her hand and always has something relevant to add to the discussion. Olivia demonstrates initiative in class when studying all subjects by showing a positive interest in the activities presented. She has a natural curiosity when presented with new learning material that is refreshing to see. She frequently monitors her learning and regularly asks questions for clarification and to deepen her understanding. Olivia is encouraged to set short-term goals while striving daily to achieve them.

Joan routinely fulfills responsibilities and commitments within the learning environment. She regularly takes on the responsibility of cleaning up the classroom by sweeping the floor and tidying up around the room. She actively participates in class by asking and responding to questions. She is encouraged to raise her hand and wait to be called upon before speaking out. She has some difficulty resolving conflicts in socially acceptable ways. She is encouraged to develop strategies for resolving conflicts appropriately with her peers. Joan generally keeps a neat workspace and organizes her academic resources throughout the day and across subjects. She works consistently throughout the school day on all academic tasks. She contributes meaningfully to the group work and collaborative tasks that we complete in class. She is usually very interested in taking academic risks in her learning pursuits. She regularly seeks assistance when needed so that she fully understands challenging curriculum concepts. Joan is encouraged to work on cooperating with her peers and demonstrating a more respectful tone while interacting with others, especially during recess and unstructured times. She should continue working on being more empathetic towards her peers in social situations and cooperative activities as well. She should continue using classroom resources to help her during her work, such as dictionaries, textbooks, and classroom charts. Joan is encouraged to set short-term goals (daily and weekly) and strive to achieve them consistently.

Teaching Tip Tuesday Archive – Over 200 great, free resources for teachers

The Car Thief

The Car Thief

The Car Thief by Theodore Weesner

Publishers offer to send me books every single week since I have this great platform in which to share them with you. This story sounded like it would be right up my alley. I love literary fiction and I like classics. This one seemed like it combined both of those.

I have to admit that I trudged my way through this one. It simply didn’t work for me on a few different levels. I didn’t identify the main character and the story moved a little too slowly for me.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact it was written forty years ago. It came out before I was born and apparently was quite popular. I’ve read heaps of praise for Weesner’s debut novel, but it looks like I won’t be adding to that pile.

It’s not that it’s a bad story or that it’s poorly written. It just didn’t grab my attention the way I wanted it to. I put it down and never felt like picking it back up. I managed to finish it, however, but it was a chore.

I’ve been told by several people that it’s okay to abandon a book. I pretty much never do that. I like to see things through to their conclusion. Maybe that’s a character fault.

If you’ve ever wanted to read this book, if you’d like to have it on your bookshelf, please email me, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment below and I will gladly send you my copy for free. 

Happy Reading! 

My 2014 Reading Log – it’s getting down to the wire. I wonder what the final total will be.

Spider-Woman: Origin

Spider-Woman Origin

Spider-Woman: Origin

I came into this story knowing nothing about this character. I had heard her name before and even seen her in some of The Avenger books I have read, but I didn’t have a grasp on who she was prior to picking up this book.

Brian Michael Bendis is one of my all-time favourite authors. He has penned another great tale, and along with the help of Brian Reed and Luna Brothers, they have created a great book.

It even ties into what is happened in Marvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. right now as it shows a family within the Hydra organization. Jessica Drew’s father was very committed to the terrorist group. He was so committed to it that even his family wasn’t safe from his experiments.

The book follows Jessica Drew’s tragic childhood through to her brainwashing by Hydra to her joining S.H.I.E.L.D. and then eventually becoming an Avenger.

I have a new respect and admiration for the character after reading this. I am looking forward to the Netflix television series that will be focusing on her as well. We are in a golden-age of comic book film, television, and books. I’m glad to experience great stories in all three mediums.

My 2014 Reading Log – 70 books and counting!

How Successful Teachers Lead


How Successful People Lead by John C. Maxwell

Teachers are a special kind of leader. We have to lead a classroom full of students who have very diverse needs and attitudes.

I thought reading this book might help me develop further as a leader in education. While it wasn’t written with teachers in mind, I think we can still learn a lot from the wisdom of leaders in business settings too.

Maxwell believes that there are 5 levels of leadership and that successful leaders work their way up to the top echelon.

5 Levels of Leadership

First Level – Position

Every leader starts in a position that relies solely on their job title. Every time, we start over in a new school, we start all over again on this bottom rung.

Second Level – Permission

After you have proved yourself somewhat, people will follow you because they like who you are and what you do. You have gained respect and earned their permission to lead.

Third Level – Production

People follow you because of what you have been able to accomplish at your school. This is a great one for coaches, music teachers, and anyone who runs an extra-curricular club. These accomplishments are quite visible in the school and people take notice.

Fourth Level – People Development

People follow you because of what you have done for them. Teaching is all about building relationships with students and parents. It is a tough job to get to this level as it takes time and personal attention to the student body (and not just the kids in your own class)

Fifth Level – The Pinnacle

According to the author, some people never reach this level. You can fall down at any level because of poor decisions, moving locations, and small failures. It is a constant building process to make your way up this ladder.

Assessment, Feedback, and Communication

Here’s a quote from the book about relates to feedback and purposeful assessment in the classroom. I have paraphrased it slightly to fit educational purposes.

“Our students should understand their mission. Good teacher never assume that their students understand the mission. Don’t take for granted that they know what you know or believe what you believe. Don’t assume they understand how their talents and efforts are supposed to contribute to the mission of the class and their own learning. Communicate it often.

Students, and their parents, should receive feedback about their performance. People always want to know how they are doing. If they are not succeeding, most of the time, they want to know how to make adjustments to improve and are willing to change if they are convinced it will help them win.”

I love the wording “win” here. Students of all ages want to win. What a great way to think about learning!

Learn All the Time

I constantly learn how to improve my own teaching by trying new methods, reading professional books, and even from books outside of education practice. I hope you have found this post useful. Come back next Tuesday for another dose of inspiration.

Teaching Tip Tuesday Archive – Over 200 great idea, tips, tricks, lessons, and inspiration for classroom teachers.

Warwick Conservation Area

Warwick Conservation Area

I found myself near Warwick, Ontario so I decided to see what the conservation area had to offer.

Blue Flag Trail

I started my run on The Blue Flag trail, not knowing exactly what to expect. But that is half of the fun!

Blue Trail

It wasn’t long before this trail reached the perimeter fence.

Perimeter Trail

There is camping at this park as well. It’s way out of season though. It definitely was a cold day to be running.

Warwick Road

I didn’t want my run to be over so I continued to run down the main road.

Viewing Deck 1

There were two nice viewing platforms by the lake.

Viewing Platform

This would be a great place for a picnic (on a much warmer day, of course)

White Pine Trail

The White Pine Trail was more of what I was expecting when I decided to come visit this place. But unfortunately, it was less than a kilometer in length as well.

Warwick 062

I had to go back and run the first trail again today to get my 5 kilometers in today. But when you explore trails at random like this, you never know what you are going to get.

Want more trails? 

Explore my collection here! (70 trails and counting)

The Taylor Swift – Tiffany Connection

I posted this to Facebook last week

TS - Tiffany Facebook


because I truly was excited about the new Taylor Swift album dropping.

I am not ashamed to admit that I love music of all different sorts of genres. I know that certain people know me as a hip-hop DJ and radio personality and would be surprised to learn that I also love some country and pop music.

I used to be a huge Tiffany fan back in the day and I have loved Taylor Swift since the first time I heard her. But until right now, I never really saw the connection between them.

Taylor Swift CD

When I opened the album, I was immediately struck by the packaging and presentation. It is an absolutely beautiful release.

But I thought back to Jeff’s comment on my post, “It’s Tiffany all over again”

And it really is. Tiffany was already a popular singer in 1989, the very year that Taylor Swift was born. In fact, in the liner notes to this album, Taylor writes . . .

“I listened to a lot of music from the decade in which I was born and I listened to my intuition that it was a good thing to follow this gut feeling.”

So, Taylor Swift was influenced by Tiffany. It makes sense!

I’m really enjoying this new album that is a throwback to the original debut album by my favourite pop princess from the late 1980s. It’s the best of both worlds.

I don’t know if I could have done what Taylor has done here. Channeling the music of the year you were born, and doing it in an authentic way that doesn’t detract from the current body of work. ‘

Taylor Swift truly is amazing!

Northern Lights Art Project

Northern Lights KW
Photo credit – David Bebee, Kitchener Record

Ten years ago this week, I had to get some gas on the way to work. As I went in the store to pay, I noticed this brilliant photo on the front page of the newspaper. I was immediately inspired by this gorgeous image.

First, we don’t normally get to see the Northern Lights in my part of South Western Ontario, Canada. Secondly, I was scheduled to teach visual arts that day and thought this would be a great a timely piece to recreate.

Since then, I have done this lesson several times with many different classes in different cities. And it has always been a hit.

I even purchased an 8×10 photo of the image and have it framed in my living room. Did you know that newspapers provide that service?

no white space

Here is how we recreate the photo in my visual arts classes.

1) We use pencil crayons to create ribbons of colour across the entire page.

colour the whole page

2) Make sure that there is absolutely no white space. Once the entire background is drawn to show the colourful night-time sky, you are ready to colour the foreground.

student examples

3) Use a black crayon to draw a hill, tree, and any other thing you might want to add.

I never want to simply recreate an image in art class. I want my students to use their own imagination and create however they see fit (that is the point of art after all)

The key here is to press down on the black crayon to so that the foreground is solid and dark. The bottom right image above did the best job.

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

Fanshawe Park – Lake Trail

Fanshawe Lake Trail Sign

Fanshawe Conservation Area is located in London, Ontario and it is a great place to come for a picnic, to visit a working Pioneer Village, and to experience all that natural beauty of the area.

Fanshawe Lake Trail

Today, we will be exploring The Lake Trail.

fanshawe trail

The Lake Trail runs through several types of terrain. It goes through the bush a few times, but keeps coming back to the shore line.

Hill ahead

There are a few hills along the route but there is fair warning for cyclists to slow down as they approach them.


I absolutely loved running this trail on the weekend.

Rowing Tower

The Doug Wells Control Tower is used to watch rowers as they train and compete on the water. This is one of the main training grounds in the area and has produced quite a few athletes.

Fanshawe Lake

The Lake Trail is 21 kilometers long. I only ran 3 kilometers of it today before turning around. There is a lot more to explore and I hope to go back soon.

Photographic Tour Archive – over 5 dozen trails to explore

Daredevil – One Shots

Dardevil x Captain America

This one-off story was originally published in Italy and has never been presented to North American audiences until now.

DD x Cap

The villain in this one is Death Stalker, who first appeared in Frank Miller’s legendary run on the Daredevil title. The story was translated into English for this edition but it seems to work just fine. It’s standard super-hero team-up fair but a nice read nonetheless.

DD Black and White

Matt Murdock was blinded as a young boy. The rest of his senses became so acute that he can function perfectly fine without sight. He has a radar sense that basically allows him to see in 360 degrees. He uses these powers for good and fights crime as Daredevil.

So, when given the chance to actually see with real eyes again, will it change his life for the better, or is it better to remain as he is. It’s a tough decision considering that Bullseye is back in town and a gang war seems to be wreaking havoc in the city as well.

This one-shot title is in black and white and tells a great story!

DD Blood of Tarantula

Carlos LaMuerto is the Black Tarantula and he has gone through a lot in his lifetime. He is trying to do the right thing by fighting crime with the powers that have been en-gifted to him. His cousin tries to steal this power. Daredevil helps foil the plans but doesn’t like Tarantula’s methods that often go a tad overboard.

I didn’t know much about this character but did enjoy this short tale featuring my favourite super-hero, Daredevil.

DD Cage Match

This is an origin story of the relationship between Luke Cage and Daredevil. Typical guys who are not above knocking each other around to prove something to themselves and one another.

DD Cage Match descrip

I don’t often seek out these one-offs to read but couldn’t help myself since I had the Marvel Unlimited App on my phone for a trial subscription. I really enjoyed reading all of the comics I have been posting about for the past two months. This app is a great tool to have. It’s so nice being able to carry around digital comic books that live in my phone. I can read whenever I get a spare moment. It’s awesome!

My 2014 Reading Log – pretty impressive list so far too!