Stay at Home Watch List: Week 2

Week 2

Well, it’s Wednesday but I suppose it’s never too late to share a great catalogue of weekly movies. With the reality of COVID-19 becoming more pressing each day, it almost seems that staying at home will never end. Regardless, being at home is the way we can all serve the common good and these films can help pass the time.

Last week’s collection of films were for hours spent after the kids were in bed. This week’s title are more family friendly (although my sensibilities are a bit liberal) and I have already enjoyed and look forward to viewing.

Monday March 23: The Invisible Man ($19.99 for Rent on Google Play)

Yes, I watched the this R-rated Blumhouse picture with my 9 and 6 year old kiddos. Thus, please do feel free to judge. However, since horror is my guilty pleasure, they’ve been raised on an assortment of horror classics. From Night of the Living Dead (1968) to Scream (1996), my wife has not been too pleased with my liberal screening sensibilities. With all of this, The Invisible Man (fresh from theatres) is not to be missed. The official launch to Blumhouse’s re-telling of Universal Classics is how horror should be done. So, forget the disaster of The Mummy from a couple of years ago and enjoy this frightful tale.

Tuesday March 24: Crawl (Amazon Prime)

A sleeper thriller from producer Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead, Spider-Man), Crawl, was released in theatres to critical praise last Spring. Masterfully produced, this “Anaconda at home” thriller provides for a great time with a bowl of popcorn.

Wednesday March 25: Deep Impact (Amazon Prime)

Released in the summer of the asteroid (along with Armageddon), Deep Impact is arguably the stronger of the two pictures. Perhaps a bit unsettling to watch during a pandemic, this tale of the world coming to an end due to an catastrophic asteroid makes for great conversation about the importance of family and what is truly important in life. In 90s fashion, it’s cheesy as hell but makes for a fun night at home with the family.

Thursday March 26: Onward ($24.99 for rent on Google Play)

Fresh from theatres in response to the Covid-19 crisis, this Pixar film has been yearning for an audience. With solid critical response, anything Pixar provides for a great night at the movies for children and adults alike. For those who subscribe to Disney +, Onward will be on the platform on April 3.

Friday March 27: A Jumanji Marathon (Jumanji and Welcome to the Jungle, Netflix & The Next Level for rent on Google Play)

The Jumanji franchise most certainly provides for a wonderful binge. Combining the Robin Williams 90s gem with the new rendition of the franchise with Dwayne Johnson, all three Jumanji films are for adults and children alike. Must watch pandemic titles.

 

 

 

 

 

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Reading Night of the Living Dead

NOTL

As we all bunker down for a long stay at home during this new era of social distancing, it’s the perfect time to indulge in simple pleasures. Perhaps it’s reading a great book, drawing, mastering a new recipe or diving into a pool of board games. For folks like me, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Shudder, Disney + and my own DVD/BluRay collection are being put to good use.

Speaking to the world of cinema, the teacher in me couldn’t remain silent during this time of isolation. Thinking about folks who may be looking for a bit of mental stimuli, the goal is to present  two movies a week that speak to film genre is compelling and transformative ways. This week is: Night of the Living Dead and Us.

So, as much as watching movies during the the day is to pass the time, there is a great opportunity to think critically and to “read” popular film as cultural text.

Here is an critical reflection I attempted to livestream on Night of the Living Dead. Unfortunately, it seemed as if  the YouTube streaming live studio function was zombified itself. So, after experiencing technical difficulties with little resolve, I’ll be recording short video provocations for interested viewers.

Here’s my brief cultural exploration of George A. Romero’s 1968 classic – Night of the Living Dead.

 

 

 

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Stay at Home Watch List: Week One

watch list

If you’re like me, then most likely your brain is hurting from world reality being consumed on social media. From your typical Twitter hysterics to the pressing realities being shared by actual experts in the medical field, the time of today is to listen and truly be cognizant of our shared responsibility for one another. This means, staying in and sacrificing a bit of one’s liberty and freedom to ensure that our communities are safe.

I know I say this from a place of privilege as I’m fortunate to be an Ontario educator as is my wife. As such, being home with our two elementary school aged children comes with little sacrifice. We’re getting paid, we don’t need child care and we’re able to navigate the next weeks without extra anxieties.

Yes, we’re terribly worried about our kids, our elderly parents, nieces, nephews, siblings, friends and colleagues. We’re worried about those we see each weekend working in our local grocery store and neighbours who are ill. It’s with this worry, that we’re committed to scarfing our wants to be “out and about” with social distancing. Going to the local mall or movie theatre at this time isn’t responsible. It’s potentially putting those who work in those places of business at risk and so many others.

So, as we all await next steps from our government leaders, thankfully, streaming can help us stay at home with a bit more calm and distraction from the twenty-four hour news cycles and trending social media feeds about the apocalypse.

So, with an overt awareness that bigger issues are shaping our urgent collective reality, the following “the kids are in bed” watch list is an attempt to find solace in the time indoors. The malls will still be there as will the movie theatres when the crisis over.

Let’s do our part to keep our communities safe. Take care of yourself, families and others.

Monday March 16: Booksmart (Amazon Prime)

Tuesday March 17: Jo Jo Rabbit (Google Play Movies)

Wednesday March 18: Rocketman (Amazon Prime)

Thursday March 19: The Farewell (Amazon Prime)

Friday March 20: Joker (Google Play Movies) and Child’s Play (Amazon Prime)

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Two Suns: A Call to Serve

TWO SUNS

Over the course of the past four weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to settle into my new role as Vice Principal. As a very active classroom teacher, the journey from the classroom to the main office was one with intentional and meaningful discernment that has proven to be critical in my work thus far.

With a focus on culture building and serving all community stakeholders, the last four weeks have provided me with an opportunity to reflect on the complexity of leadership and build reimagined relationships with staff and students who I’ve known for a number of years. These relationships are so very important in my goal to help my school continue to thrive as a safe place that empowers all learners to become what God intends them to be. This is to say that as I continue to learn about my new role, I thrive to be a Servant Leader who is responsive to community and one who enables others to see and harness their potential.

Speaking to Servant Leadership, I was recently visited by a student who looked perplexed to see a poster for the original Star Wars on my office wall.  As the student stood in the doorway, he asked “Sir, what’s with the Star Wars poster?” I suppose he was expecting the decor to be a bit more formal. Nonetheless, I asked the student to sit down, invited him to take a chocolate from my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles candy jar and promptly began to give him an unsolicited disposition on Luke Skywalker and leadership. The poor soul was most certainly looking for a quick exit but I suppose he took pity on me.

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As I shared with him, the original Star Wars provides a master class in leadership education. As Luke travels upon Joseph Conrad’s hero’s journey, he is faced with the leadership provocation: Who are you called to be? He is challenged to look into this soul and embrace his sense of self, while looking to his past and the potential of his future. This is very much echoed in the scene of Luke looking at the two suns of Tatooine.

tatooine

So much more than a feat of special effects wizardry, the suns represent Luke’s discernment and his reflection on who is and who he wants to become. As such, the moon’s rest as a symbol of dual fates as Luke reflects on where he is and where he yearns to be. As he looks onto the sunset his stands in discernment about who he is called to be.

Now even more perplexed and truly looking for his quick exit, the student continued to humour me as I shared that the poster really resonates with me and who I am working to be as his Vice Principal.  Like Luke, I was looking for a new beginning and an opportunity to answer a call of action. Like Luke who wanted to serve the Rebellion in the epic battle against the Empire, I too was looking to serve – called to serve.

In this new journey of leadership, my hope is to learn immensely, serve and like Luke, help others to be empowered, autonomous leaders themselves. Like Luke who helped Hans Solo see himself as a hero, I look to the two moons of leadership with continued contemplation and positive outlook.

 

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From Strike Captain to VP: We’re all in this Together.

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Dear OECTA and Education Colleagues,

Over the course of the past week, I’ve had much to reflect on. From standing with my colleagues as their Strike Captain just days ago to my work with the OECTA PD network over the course of the past six years, it has been an overwhelming past few days of looking back and looking forward.   

It’s in looking forward that I share these reflective notes and thanks:

Earlier this week, I was honoured to be appointed as the new Vice Principal of Chaminade College School at the Toronto Catholic District School Board.  I’ve had the distinct honour to call Chaminade my home for the past six years and in this time, have learnt so much from my colleagues and have been inspired by the staff’s collective commitment to excellence in Catholic all-boys education. Prior to teaching at Chaminade, I had never taught in a single gender school and thus arrived wondering what the experience would be like. Nonetheless, I quickly found it to be a truly transformational one and an experience I yearn for my own school-aged children when looking ahead to their high school years. 

My journey to Chaminade in 2014, began after three years as a Resource teacher with 21C and Academic Information Communication Technology at the system level.  From the expansion of tech-integration across the board, to all aspects of eLearning and the focus of competency-based education, being a resource teacher gave me so many new tools that I was yearning to use myself as a classroom teacher. The role provided me with incredible professional learning and is one that truly transformed how I see teaching and learning.  As such, I ventured to Chaminade, declining a resource position renewal, with the goal o see if I could put into action the learning I shared with teachers as a trainer. 

I wanted to see if I could actually implement what I was preaching to colleagues. I wanted to ensure I wasn’t a “pseudo expert” who was able to “sell” but not “build.” As I was already discerning about formal leadership, I truly felt that I needed to spend more time in the classroom not only to hone my craft but to learn from others.  Nonetheless, humbly, I think that “experiment” was a success and I leave my teaching role as the Department Head of Business and Technology with pride and appreciation in all of the great work accomplished with fellow teachers and students alike. This is important to note that the success experienced is not in isolation. It’s a result of my dynamic administrators, teacher colleagues and students who journeyed with me and many others who supported new ideas. From senior staff to community partners, the support was real. Needless to say, education is a shared reality and success for our students comes as a collective. 

In regards to OECTA, as I began my journey at Chaminade, I also grew more invested in the association’s mission to provide members with enriched professional learning opportunities. As an active member of OECTA’s PD network and AQ program, all of the learning and wonderful relationships I formed will most definitely serve me well in my new role as a VP. For this, I will remember my roots. Although this new chapter will come with unique realities,  different perspectives, successes and challenges, my deep admiration for the classroom teacher and belief in the potential of students will guide me in my administrative practice. 

With all of this, I feel truly blessed and privileged to start this new chapter at Chaminade. It’s a testament to the school community and the positive relationships that all stakeholders have. I extend my thanks to the school’s past and current administrators, all staff, students, parents and board senior staff for their confidence and trust. 

Importantly, as we all look ahead to an Ontario educational future that is still unknown and defined by critical issues that matter to all stakeholders, I deeply value the great work OECTA teachers do to enrich the lives of their students and advocate for a better tomorrow. It was a true privilege to be an OECTA teacher for 15 years. Life changing.

To all OECTA teachers, know that you are valued and that you matter. I am so proud to be a parent of two elementary children who are flourishing because of the publicly funded Catholic education they receive. Their love of learning is a testament to their  teachers and an entire school community that works together for the students. I trust my kids’ teachers with the two things I love most in the world. As such, I stand with them in every capacity and deeply appreciate all of their hard work and sacrifice. 

In closing,  I look forward to an incredible new learning journey and doing my part to ensure that Ontario publicly funded Catholic education continues to flourish, that teachers feel actively supported, stakeholders have confidence and that all students feel empowered to become what God intends them to be. 

We’re all in this together. You are not alone.  

God Bless. 

Anthony

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Demanding More: Stephen Lecce Must Resign

LECCE2

Dear Mr. Lecce,

This is now my second open letter to you as a concerned Vaughan-King constituent. 

As today marks OECTA’s first province wide withdrawal of service since 1997, I wanted to share my thoughts with you as a taxpayer, parent, dedicated teacher and someone exhausted by your pseudo-expertise. 

As a proud Ontario Catholic teacher, this is the first time in my 15 year years of teaching that I am part of a strike action.  As I prepare to stand in solidarity with my colleagues today on the picket line, I wanted to provide you with some context as to why I stand in strict opposition to this government’s education plan (or lack thereof) and your disconcerting handling of the education portfolio. 

Contrary to your political spin and that of your Conservative colleagues, teacher strikes are not a normal every three year occurrence. Although, all bargaining has moments of significant problem-solving, this is the very first time that many teachers like me, have left the classrooms to stand as a collective one in the face of an ideology that looks to strip publicly funded education of its potential and promise. 

Trust, not being in the classroom as a result of this governments’ disdain for publicly funded education and disrespect for all stakeholders (parents and their children), is not why I completed a Bachelors of Education way back in 2004 – 2005 at Brock University. In fact, it was because of Ontario’s reimagined education philosophy and framework under Dalton McGinity’s Ontario Liberals, that I found myself to be called to the world of teaching. 

Fullan

As someone who began his post-secondary studies in 1999 as a film production student, my journey to teaching was not accidental. It was not because of summer vacations (unpaid and which unemployment is not attainable), a pension (which all teachers contribute to) or benefits (which teachers also pay into), but rather the renewed passion the Ontario Liberals ignited their education portfolio with after the years of Mike Harris and Ernie Eves. In fact, I was a high school student during the Harris’ years and stood for and with my teachers then like I stand for my profession, colleagues, students and my own children today. 

This is to say that today’s Conservative government is consistent in one thing: destruction. Whether it is stripping meaningful support for Autism programming, actively fighting climate change or investing in a world-class publicly funded education system, this government is a master dismantler. This government is not for the people, but rather for the select elites who can financially afford to navigate the dark aftermath of deep system cuts and lack of forwarding thinking vision.

Specifically in regards to education, you must take ownership of the chaos you are creating. With your cuts, lack of investment and overall vision:

  • Elementary and High School students will find themselves in classrooms that are oversized and depersonalized;
  • Fewer teachers will be working to enrich the lives of Ontario’s young people;
  • Increased class sizes, will impact the safety or students and teachers;
  • High School Students will continue to lose the opportunity to take much needed elective courses, thus impacting their readiness for post-secondary;
  • Full Day Kindergarten will no longer serve the potential of early learners as it won’t exist or be taught by a team of Teacher and ECE;
  • The lack of support for vulnerable and at-risk students will cause these young people to lose hope and belief in their potential;
  • Mandatory eLearning will displace learners in need of face-to-face instruction and who are still growing in their cognitive ability;
  • Special-Education programming will continue to severely under-serve students and their families;

If this government is for the people, where will the average Ontarian go when these cuts hit home?

Are you expecting parents to go bankrupt to provide their children with access to quality education by highly educated professionals? 

It’s because of all of this that I stand in solidarity with my OECTA colleagues and all Ontario educators and stakeholders. I will not be out in the cold today away from the  classroom that I love just because of compensation and benefits alone. It’s so much more – you know this but choose to create a facade in public. You continue to spin the truth. 

This is about the educational future of my own school-aged children who you have met and for all young people who call Ontario home. I stand against the privatization of our world-class education system. You are not just attacking me as a teacher but as a parent. I will not be bribed. 

I encourage you to look at this issue through a non-partisan lens. I encourage you to think of all children and their families who comprise our wonderful educational communities at elementary and high schools across the province. Paying parents today out of the money not paid to striking teachers is not paying them tomorrow with the promise of a world-class education system that is protected. 

I encourage you to be a true leader. This means, for you to be reflective, courageous, in the pursuit of knowledge, empathetic and selfless. 

If you consider yourself a leader, then I encourage you to speak to your cabinet colleagues and be autonomous from Premier Ford. Stand up for children and families across the province. 

If you consider yourself a leader, I ask you to immediately resign from the position of Minister of Education and admit that your lack of expertise in all aspects of education and bargaining, does not make you effective in your current portfolio. 

No one will fault you. In fact, many will applaud you. 

A true leader knows what is right and just. Do you you?

A an MPP, you must serve in the public trust. You no longer have that trust. 

Your constituent, 

Anthony

Sign and share the resignation petition: Demand More: Stephen Lecce Must Resign

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Whatcha Gonna Do? Reading “Bad Boys”

bad boys header

As a Communications Technology teacher there are a number of great pleasures found in my day-to-day. From observing the student joy of production or the laughter of collaboration gone right, it’s truly a unique classroom where all learners readily show what they know within the context of media and the power of voice.

As students progress in their critical and creative prowess, all learning is grounded in the deep study of genre. It’s through genre that the study of media becomes transformative. Genre provides students with a rich cultural window and enriched opportunities to share their own sensibilities about who they are and their perspectives on the world.

This is not a new stance I take but one that I have readily addressed on this very site. With this, the more students watch critically, the more engaged they will become. This doesn’t mean that the study has to be “high brow” but can be one that entertains and provokes. So, as a new semester soon begins in many high schools across Ontario, ignite genre studies with some good old 90s infused theatrical antics.

With Will Smith and Martin Lawrence now in theatres with Bad Boys for Life, there’s a great opportunity to explore the politics of the action genre. At a time where capes and superpowers have shaped the consciousness of action cinema in the mind of young audiences, the idea of what I call the “exuberance of everyday” has been lost. This is the idea that the 80s and 90s action hero, achieved heroics, without superpowers but rather an “exuberant” extroverted signification of self.

Whether it be John McClean in Die Hard (1988) or Ethan Hunt in Mission Impossible (1996), the movies and their heroes provide for hyper escape from self. It’s within this framework that 80s and 90s action movies (the most popular of the two decades), can provide ample opportunity to explore culture and individual selves.

Looking to Bad Boys (1995) specifically, the buddy-cop movie is more important that it’s often given credit for.

Let’s explore through the following lesson plan:

Rflect

As a whole group, shape an opportunity for students to reflect on genre and what they know.

Guiding questions can include:

  • What type of movie or television show is your favourite to watch and why?
  • What type of movies are the most popular today? Why do you think this is?

Within the context of these questions, the goal is to shape an in-class conversation about film genre within the framework of time and space. It’s important for students to know that genre is more than a category of film, television or music. Importantly, genre is a window into history and culture. As such, to study genre is to understand culture at a particular time. This is to say that genres do evolve or change over time as culture changes and evolves. Also, although genre is shaped by culture, genre can also shape culture. As such the study of genre is layered.

Once you have a conversation about genre with your students, screen the following film in class:  Big Guns – Bigger Heroes

After watching the film, have students in small groups share their ideas.

Distribute chart paper and markers to the students. Have them discuss and document three critical takeaways from the film screened above.

The goal is to cultivate knowledge construction within the context of 80s action films.

Action

Now that students have had an opportunity to meaningfully engage with the concept that genre is shaped by and shapes culture, watch the film Bad Boys in class or take your class to a theatrical screening of Bad Boys for Life.

Before watching the film, share the following excerpt with students:

Bad Boys

With this excerpt from the text A Companion to the Action Film by James Kendrick, the buddy-cop sub-genre is defined. In the writing, respective films’ race pairing is noted. In regards to Bad Boys, the coupling of two African American leads is pressing. Evolving from the 80s templates such as Lethal Weapon (1987) where blackness is white-washed, Bad Boys featuring of two black police officers is very much a rejection of traditional genre norms. Marcus, a family man and Mike a wealthy bachelor, are both officers that yearn to serve and protect. In doing so, they both exist outside of the institutional norms as “Bad Boys.” They’re aware of their racial identity and find humour in their narrative existence.

Consol

With the goal to have students show what they know, encourage learners to dive deep into their understanding of genre and provide a critique of either Bad Boys or Bad Boys for Life in the form of a pod-cast.

Co-construct of the specifications of the pod-cast with your class. Think about length, key outcomes etc. Like a three part essay, the pod-cast should have a: beginning, middle and end.

Suggestions:

Beginning: In the beginning, students should define genre and why it is important to study. From genre, students introduce the either film.

Middle: Students provide a summary of the film and key critical points as a genre piece. What did they find compelling? How is race represented in either film? How is either film “meta” in it’s approach?

End: Bring forward a conclusion that reinforces the relevance of either film within a genre context.

In regards to technology, students can record their audio using their smartphones. This can be very low tech. A free program, Audacity can be used to import MP3 files and edit the recording.

Encourage students to brand the pod-cast; make it sound like an “authentic” audio show. Perhaps, including audio excerpts from either film and an formal branded introduction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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