Monthly Archives: January 2015

January 2015 Recap

I normally do a best of list at the start of every month. I think it is a great way to highlight content from this blog that we may have forgotten about or want to revisit it. I call the feature Chasing Content and feature the best posts from the year before. I do this at the start of every month.

I have noticed that scrolling through the archive takes a little bit of time, and I know that everyone is hard pressed for time these days. I have even had a hard time finding some old posts that I’ve wanted to revisit.

I think I have found the perfect solution. I am starting a Pinterest page for every month that I blog.

Here is the January 2015 Silent Cacophony Blog Pinterest Page.

When you click the link above, you will be taken to a page that looks like this.

SC Jan 2015

You can quickly browse the pictures to find the content you like. Then by clicking on the picture, you will be redirected to the specific post on this page that you want to read.

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!


2015 Reading Challenge

2015 Reading Challenge Here is an intriguing reading challenge that I have seen floating around on social media.

I have challenged myself for the past three years to keep a detailed reading log and blog about every single title I read.

Here are my totals so far

2012 – 65
2013 – 61
2014 – 78

As you can see, reading 50 books probably wouldn’t be that much a challenge for me. But, I don’t want to be restricted and simple stick to this list.

I want to read comics, non-fiction, writing books, teaching-related books, and anything else that I find interesting.

I think after I blog about each book this year, I will look at this list and check anything that may apply.

So, I have two challenges this year.

Number 1 – Read a lot and see I can keep keep up with the average number of books I have been reading since starting a reading log.

Number 2 – See how many of these 50 I can knock off at the same time

I will start My List of 2015 Reads next week!  

Happy Reading in the New Year! 

Building an Independent Reading Culture in the Classroom

Build a Culture of ReadingIn the past, I have had a hard time getting the students in my class to read.

I could get them to pick out books and to look at them, but I couldn’t seem to motivate them to actually read the book or stay quiet during Silent Reading time.

I have finally figured out how to build a culture of reading in the classroom by modelling the behaviour I want to see, having the students practise reading, and working on building up reading stamina together.

Step 1 – Individual Book Bins

Buy some magazine holders from the dollar store and give one to every student in the class.

Step 2 – Picking Books

Teach the students how to pick books that are at an appropriate reading level. You can have them choose one book on a theme that you are working on in your curriculum. You can have them choose a picture book, a novel, a work on non-fiction, and a book of their own choice.

Step 3 – Find Your Reading Spot

I have table groups in my classroom and assign points for good behaviour. I give the winning squad, as I call them, the first choice of reading spots. Many of my students like to sit under the teacher desk that is up against the wall. Some like reading under the conference table. And some prefer the carpet.

Once everyone has found their reading spot, I let them know that we will not be moving from these spot until the time elapses. I sit down and read this first day as well. It’s important to model the behaviour you want to see.

Step 4 – Building Up Stamina

Tell the class that we will read quietly for three minutes only today. They will probably tell you that they can, and want, to read much longer. But we start off in small increments and gradually increase that in the next few weeks.

Let them know that we are working up on building up stamina to read for much longer. The goal is to get to twenty minutes or thirty minutes of quiet reading time for everyone in the classroom.

There is absolutely no talking allowed during independent reading time. Most  of the students will be able to read for three minutes.

Step 5 – Reading Journals

The students will write in their Reading Journal. The date needs to be at the top and the title of the book. Model this on the board. Then give the students 5 minutes to write a response to their book (how they felt, why they choose it, difficult words, I wonder statements)

These ideas come courtesy of

The Daily 5

The Daily 5 by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser

Teaching Tip Tuesday – free resources, tips, and lessons for classroom teachers every week

No one Can Live Without Art

ART - MONEYI have never had much in the way of money. I have more or less scraped by my entire life. However, I have never gone without. And for that I am thankful.

I know what I need most of all in life though. That is story. I need great novels, film, and television. I need to be able to tell stories in my own writing, in my radio show, and in my real life.

As such, art is greater than money. And it always will be!

“Money may be a big deal, but not as big a deal as art. You can go quite some time without spending any money, but you can’t go even a few minutes without needing to hear or tell a story. (Whatever your medium, all art tells a story.) And while some people can live totally off the grid and barter rather than ever buying a thing, no one can live without art. No one. When you are working on your art, you are managing a much more powerful force than mere money. Art is infinitely more vital than money.”

Sam Bennet goes even further into this thought in her book, Get It Done. She writes . . . 

“My performance studies professor at Northwestern, the late ethnographer Dwight Conquergood, used to say hat we should be called Homo narratus” 

We as a species need story. Our memories, our dreams, and even our daily lives get formed into story all the time. We tell stories every single day whether we are consciously creating art or not.

I don’t much like scientific terms but Homo narratus seems fitting, doesn’t it?

Do you agree, Is Art > Money? 

Please leave a comment below!


The Animal Man Series Concludes

My brother bought me the first trade paperback of Animal Man last year for Christmas and I was immediately drawn into the fictional world.

I read Volume 2 of the book as well but only just got around to reading the complete series.

Animal Man Vol 3

Animal Man – Volume 3: Rotworld – The Red Kingdom

Animal Man is the protector of The Red, the force of all animal life.

Swamp Thing is the protector of the Green, the force of all plant life.

The Rot, is death and decay.

Throughout time, the three forces have maintained a delicate balance. But when The Rot invades and starts to terrorize the earth, Animal Man and Swamp Thing must join forces to push the evil force back.

Things aren’t that easy! Animal Man’s daughter now has the power of the animal kingdom as well. She is the new avatar for The Red and The Rot will stop at nothing to have that power.

This is not a family story despite the importance of family in it. It is a horror comic, combined with a super-hero tale. It’s a compelling read and I must say that I have really enjoyed reading the entire series.

Animal Man Vol 4

Animal Man – Volume 4: Splinter Species

They won the battle in the last volume, but in the process, Animal Man’s family has been torn apart.

He is at a very low spot in his life, and wants nothing more that to be left alone. However, the papparazzi, desperate for a story, and an evil force determined to enter the Red Kingdom and possess that power, won’t leave him or his family alone.

Maxine is also trying to develop her powers further to reunite her splintered family. We get a break from the horror for a little bit in this volume and it is a nice respite, however brief.

Animal Man Vol 5

Animal Man – Volume 5: Evolve or Die!

I like when we can get closure in a story, whether it be in a novel, film, or comic book. It makes the series all the more worthwhile. And this tale didn’t disappoint.

I highly recommend all five issues of this series.

My List of 2015 Reads – Coming soon (I blog about everything I read)

First Nations Research Info for Kids

FN Info For KidsI have had a really hard time finding appropriate resources to use to for my Grade 3 Social Studies Unit.

The problem is that most of the teaching resources are written for middle or high school students. Very few texts are suitable for elementary school and our new curriculum.

I just recently discovered that my board has a First Nations, Metis, and Inuit division, and they have been extremely helpful.

Their goal is to “engage FNMI students, parents, and community members (including Elders and Cultural Teachers) in the planning and decision-making processes that affect the educational experiences of FNMI students.”

I contacted them and they were able to provide me with some great resources. One member of their staff came into my classroom and gave a great talk about her Ojibwa heritage. She brought in a hand drum and homemade moccasins. She even lent me a kit of leveled readers. It is in an invaluable resource that I am glad to have.

I wanted my students to do some research to learn more about some of the First Nations people in our community and beyond. I searched online for quite some time and finally found a worthy site.

Orrin Lewis has put together some great information about dozens First Nations groups.

He writes, “This website was written for young people seeking information for school or home-schooling reports. We encourage students and teachers to visit our main language and culture pages for in-depth information about specific tribes, but here are our answers to common questions asked by kids, with pictures and links suitable for all ages.”

Teaching Tip Tuesday – great tips, tricks, lessons, and resources every week.

Long Live the Audio Book

Audio Books in Any FormatTechnology changes so fast that it is sometimes hard to keep up.

I remember when books first appeared on cassette. They were simply called Books on Tape at that time.

A few years ago, I noticed audio books available for free at the public library. Some of the stories take anywhere from 10 to 20 CDs to tell the unabridged versions.

As such, Books on CD aren’t that practical in the new digital age. Fortunately, we can get novels on MP3 CDs where the entire program can fit on a single disc.  Or, we can download the entire story to stream on our wireless devices.

Last week, I wrote about the need we have for good stories. Audio books are just one of the formats available to us to enjoy stories when we are on the go.

I always have one in the car with me. I’ve been making some fairly long trips and they are the best for those drives. 

I toggle between talk radio, music, and audio books. It’s a nice balance.

Some Stories Need to be Heard

Some of my favourite books sound better and need to be heard rather than read. Even Orson Scott Card agrees that the audio productions of his books are the way to experience his work. Sharon Creech’s Heartbeat falls into that category as well.

Hopefully good quality audio books can continue to be produced for an online audience. When I finally release any of my fiction, I will make sure that it has a good audio book version as well.

Love Live the Audio Book!

20th Anniversary of Star Trek: Voyager

Star Trek Voyager 20th20 years ago today, Star Trek: Voyager soared onto our television screens.

I have always been an avid Trekkie. My dad and I used to watch reruns on the original series back in the 1980s.

We then watched Star Trek: The Next Generation together. It wasn’t quite the same as the original series, but we gave it a chance and it really grew on us. It became a great series over the years even though it didn’t quite start out that way.

When Deep Space Nine came along, neither of us really got it. It didn’t feel like Star Trek and even though I gave it a chance, I stopped watching it.

Voyager, however, managed to capture the essence of Star Trek and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was on the air for seven seasons and I watched it all the way through. I actually haven’t seen it in quite some time now. Hard to believe that it has been twenty years.

And next year, Star Trek as a franchise will mark it’s 50th Anniversary!

I hope Star Trek returns to television soon. I am not a fan of the reboot of the film franchise. I think we need a new series to help celebrate all that is Trek. For now though, we have reruns and DVDs.

Long live Star Trek! 

Wake – A Great Read!

Wake by Robert J Sawyer

Wake by Robert J. Sawyer

Caitlin Decter is a bright 15 year old girl. She navigates the web with ease despite being born blind. She has a braille interface for her computer but manages to remember the order of links she clicks on to quickly traverse the pages she wants to access.

One day, she gets an email from a doctor who says that he can cure her blindness. He had developed a chip that would interpret visual stimuli and send it to her brain so she could effectively see.

After the procedure, Caitlin can’t see the real world, but she can see the World Wide Web. And she finds that there is something there besides raw and discarded data.

The doctor keeps working with her and soon she is able to see the real world as well. Just as she is starting to see things, an artificial intelligence is emerging in webspace. At first, she doesn’t know that he is exists, but they start to communicate and she becomes its teacher and conduit to the real world.

Robert J. Sawyer is one of my favourite science fiction writers and he always manages to pen a captivating tale. This story stands alone and has a great ending, but it is also the first part of a trilogy.

I enjoyed this book so much, that I am going to start reading the entire trilogy. The second book is entitled, Watch and the third book is entitled Wonder. As such, this is the WWW trilogy. Very clever!

My List of 2015 Reads – a complete reading log for the year (Coming Soon)


Quitting Teaching Super Sale

Going Out of Teaching SaleI have been collecting teaching resources for the past 15 years. I have bins and bins of resources that I have grouped together by grade level. And they are ALL FOR SALE!

It’s my “Going Out of Business Teaching Sale” 

These bins are too heavy for me to ship them, so you can pick them up or I can deliver them to you. I live in London, Ontario and often visit other cities in Southern Ontario so I am sure we could work something out.

These bins have anywhere from $200 to $500 worth of great resources in them. And I am selling the bins for only $75.00 each.

Here is what you will find in each bin.

Kindergarten to Grade 2

BOOKS – Grammar Handbook 1 (Part of the Jolly Phonics Program – I love this resource) Teaching with Ezra Jack Keats Books, Crayola Imagination Book 1 and 3, Painted Words, Learn Every Day: Grammar Skills, OPHEA: Jigga Jump, Creative Reading Gr 1, Guide to Effective Instruction in Writing, Connect with Words, The Teachers Guide to Building Block, Jump Start – Outer Space Unit, Fun to Learn – Finish the Picture, The Complete Book of Science Gr 1-2, Basic Skills Helper, Brighter Child Math, Family Fun Games, Learning Land – First Words, Lightning Lessons – Graphing, Hands On Physics Experiments K – 2, Calculator Math Level A, Funtastic Frogs Measuring.

BINDERS – Come Play With Us Unit, Skills for Success for Your First Grader, NaNoWriMo – Young Writers Program, 100th Day of School, My Little Grammar Books, A Guide to Effective Instruction in Mathematics, Show Me – Teaching Information and Visual Texts, Art Ideas.

Grade 2

BOOKS – Grammar Handbook 2 (Part of the Jolly Phonics Program – I love this resource) Connect with Words, Method Math, The Complete Math Smart 2, Sunflowering, Math Skills, Phonics, Reading Comprehension, Science Courseware Pack, Reading Workbook, Writing Mini-Lessons, How to: Inventions, Owl: Funbook, Learning Activities, Teach Children to Read and Write, Daily Language Review 2, Creative Reading, Daily Word Ladders, Write Now, Total Basic Skills, Words Every 2nd Grader Needs to Know, How to Make Books, Teachers Guide to Shared Reading, Think on Your Feet

BINDERS – Reading Assessment, Working it Out, Read and Understand, Strategies that Work, Reading Package K – 10, Art Ideas, Guide to Effective Instruction in Mathematics, Apple Attitude, AND a bin of Unifix cubes

Grade 3

BOOKS – Take it to Your Seat Literacy Centres (already prepped and laminated) Method Math, Science Courseware Pack, BrainQuest 3, What the Heck is a Grape Nut? Total Reading Grade 3, Words Every 3rd Grader Needs to Know, The Inuit Thought of It, Complete MathSmart 3, Creating Reading 3, Quick and Shirt Book Reports, New Start Canada, Nurturing Growth, ArchiGames – 50 Activities to Build Creative Thinkers, Math at School 3, Basics First Vocabulary Development, Canada Curriculum Teacher Helper – Art Lessons, Year Round Activity Guide – Planting the Seeds, Home Workbook – Word Problems, Daily Language Review Grade 3, Total Basic Skills 3

BINDERS – Show Me – Teaching Information and Visual Texts, Mapping Skills, Cursive Writing, Mad Minute Math, Let’s Write, The Write Genre, Guide to Effective Instruction in Mathematics, Get Writing, Land and Sea Unit

Grade 4 – SOLD

BOOKS – Ontario Assessment Instrument Tool – Reading Passages for Assessing Language Arts and Reading on Assessing Language Arts (These are invaluable tools that I hesitate selling. They are so good) BananaGrams for Kids, How Do We Dream, More Picture Stories, Making Big Words, The Complete Active Minds Workbook, Just for the Pun of It, Complete MathSmart 4, Daily Language Review 4, Characteristics of Flight Gr 4 – 6, Comic Strip Grammar Gr 4 – 8, Multiple Intelligences Gr 4, Basics First – Capitalization and Punctuation, Basics First – Spelling Practice, Canada Social Studies HW, PowerThing – Cooperative Thinking Activities, Method Math – Step by Step Problem Solving, Daily Math Practice Gr 4, Canadian Problem Solvinng, Fun Projects for Kids, 50 Literacy Strategies

BINDERS – At the Watering Hole Unit,Courseware Pack: Mathematics, Rocks and Soils Unit, Mini-Lessons for Narrative / Descriptive / Expository / Persuasive Writing, Do Tell – Storytelling for You and Your Students, Incredible Quotations – 230 Thought Provoking Quotes with Prompts, Canada Stuff, Problem Solving, Computers, Cursive Writing, Language Skills for Gr 4

Grade 5 – SOLD

BOOKS – Daily Learning Drills Gr 5, Basics First – Capitalization and Punctuation, Basics First – Spelling Practice, Ontario Math Workbook 5, Summarizing – The Test Connection, The Complete Book of Science Gr 5, Total Reading Gr 5, Grade 5 Summer Activity Book, Complete MathSmart 5, Flags of the World, Clothing Language, Arts and Crafts, Looking at Pictures with  Rolf Harris, What Makes Popcorn Pop, Task Reading, Maps and Symbols of Canada, Amazing – Interviews and Convesations, Do Cats Really Have Nine Lives, Teaching Off the Wall – Interactive Bulletin Boards, Opening a Can of Words

BINDERS – A Guide to Better Writing, Show Me – Teaching Information and Visual Texts, Working It Out, The Writing Teachers Strategy Guide, Literature Circles, The Real Word Activity Card Centre

Grade 5-8 – SOLD

BOOKS – Shakespeare in the Classroom for Intermediate Grades, Basics First – Spelling Practice, Canadian Soccer Association Coaching Manual, Gr 6 Summer Activity Book, Picture Stoires, Capital Letters and Endmarks, Basic English, Language Power Book D, Genuine Articles – Authentic Reading Texts, Teaching Tools for the Information Age, Weather – Electricity Environment Investigations, Elementary Astronomy, Using Graphic Organizers, Paying Attention to Algebraic Reasoning, Quest 2000 Gr 6, Total Basic Skills Gr 6, Complete MathSmart 6, Armchair Puzzlers – Brain Teasers, Armchair Puzzlers – Word Problems, Lucky Book of Mad Libs, The Mishomis Book – The Voice of the Ojibway

BINDERS – A Teacher’s Guide to Planning and Programming, Aboriginal Units and Resources, Electricity Games Galore Unit, Daily Paragraph Editing Grade 6, Teaching Phonics and Words Study in the Intermediate Grades, Language Skills Preparation, Science and Technology Units Gr 6 and 7 (these are great) Canada and The World Unit, Great Artists

School Supplies

– 3 sets of 25 duotangs (red, yellow, grey)
– 32 page exercise book (50 blue, 50 yellow, 50 green, 25 pink)
– 150 loose-leaf paper packs (16 sets)

Craft Supplies Bin

80 foam sheets, 30 foam glider kits, 1000 craft sticks. 25 gingerbread necklace Christmas Craft Kits, 45 Reindeer Necklace Christmas Craft Kits, Assorted Christmas Craft Supplies Bin, Crayola Color Explosion 3D Kit, 3 Self Adhesive Vinyl Rolls, 16 Desk Magnet White Boards, 18 Plastic Clothespins, Artist Calendars (Monet, Van Gogh, DaVinci) Magnetic Calendar

Bulletin Board Bin

Lots of border trims of different themes and colours, letters of different sizes and colours, and magnetic border trim for the blackboard or whiteboard

Assorted Bin

Hanging Folders for your desk and filing cabinet, number line for the wall, various posters for the classroom.

Board Games Bin

Pattern Blocks Tub, Colour Tiles tub, 2 Colour Counters, Double 12 Dominoes Game, Princess Card Games, Math Board Game, Race to Read Board Game, Scrabble Junior, Parcheesi, Syl-la-bles Game, The Children’s Quiz Compendium, Early Discoveries Games

Mathematics Super-Kit

Good Questions: Great Ways to Differentiate Mathematics by Marion Small, Intermediate Communicating Mathematics with Colour Tiles (Bin of Tiles and Book) Introduction to Problem Solving Grades 6-8, Big Ideas from Dr. Small, Wooden Pattern Blocks bin

Professional Reading Pack

The Art of Dramatic Writing, Unplugging Power Struggles, Disrupting Class, How Children Succeed, Mindsets in the Classroom, A Place for Wonder, Shouting Won’t Grow Dendrites: 20 Techniques for Managing a Brain-Compatible Classroom, The Reading Zone, Beyond Monet: The Artful Science of Instructional Integration, Right-Brained Children in a Left-Brained World, How to Teach: The Book of Plenary, The Thinking Teacher, Tribes

Bundle Discounts

I will offer bundle discounts as well.

If you are interested in buying any of these bins, please contact me!