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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Lets do Inquiry!

Are you excited about teaching your students from an inquiry standpoint with the new BC curriculum?  Or are you feeling a tad nervous?  Do you enjoy being the sage on the stage giving all the questions and answers via textbook, or do you love the curious questions inspired from a delightful conversation?  As we ponder these new changes I would like to encourage you to try one new thing in the coming months before summer.  I hope that we can learn together as a community sharing resources and discovering AWESOME learning that ties into our students passions and beliefs.

Here are a few resources and tips that we have discovered along the way with Inquiry and digital resources.  If you would like an introduction to Inquiry catch up on the different types of inquiry here. Here are some tips for inquiry learning.

  • Help your students learn how to break down information with visual aids such as graphic organizers, webbing, mind maps or storyboards.
  • Communicate clear expectations and rubrics.
  • Create a timeline for a project which allows for deeper learning but is also practical.
  • Build in time to fail and start again, or add to an idea.
  • Provide ongoing feedback.
  • Help your student design an essential question by brainstorming why, how and what.
  • Share about primary and secondary sources, worldview or purpose in writing. 
  • Encourage your student to evaluate articles for bias.
  • Encourage your student's work ethic and applaud their final product.

Subscription Databases with an Inquiry base.

Science Power  (World Book) which is now part of our ERAC digital bundle brings you science with an a la carte menu!
Science Power uses extensive multimedia—including interactive animations, videos, illustrations, and photos—to teach upper elementary-age children core science concepts. Each lesson in the site is paired with an experiment, extension activity, critical thinking questions, quizzes, and websites to amplify the content of the lesson and promote learning. Pre and post assessments help students and teachers work in collaboration.
BrainPop and Inquiry
Many of you may love BrainPop and will be pleased to know that it ties in very nicely with the inquiry correlations.  Take a look at this page which Natalie did earlier this year and see how the alignments work for the new curriculum.  You will see lots of terms like science projects and scientific process! Mind mapping comes alive with the Make a Map. This is a great way to start your project using 21st century skills.  Game based learning comes alive in BrainPop with awesome quizzes and assessment tools to help your students move safely into the future, and have fun at the same time!  Read more about the research findings in regards to games and learning here.

Teaching students to understand bias is no problem if you use resources like What in the World and The Canadian Reader.  Both of these resources teach current Canadian and international events from a critical thinking base at lower lexile levels.
 The Canadian Reader / Nos Nouvelles is a classroom-ready current events resource for students in grades 3 and up. This publication, available in English and in French, combines current Canadian events and issues with geography to expand students' knowledge of Canada while enhancing their ability to read and understand informational text.  Here is an example of a reading strategy worksheet with an inquiry approach.
What in the World? / Le Monde en Marche (Level 1) is a photocopiable current events resource, published in English and French, for Canadian students in grades 5 through 7. Designed to enhance students' understanding of and interest in current Canadian and international events and issues, this publication addresses numerous curriculum outcomes while saving teachers valuable time.

Explora Elementary and High School which are the old Ebscohost sites teach your student about choosing the right keywords in searching, filtering their search using different criteria, how to access websites that are current, reliable and relevant and all articles, images and videos come with citation and copyright free for projects. 

Learn 360 comes aligned to the new First Peoples content relevant to British Columbia.  It also ties in nicely to Inquiry learning with  K-12 core curriculum videos, video clips, newsreels, images, speeches and other primary and secondary sources.

This wonderful tool will soon be aligned to all Canadian curriculum and boasts an easy breakdown of all subjects with lesson plans, STEM learning, health and more!  Students can find great ideas for STEM learning with projects and also build boards, and find writing prompts for that elusive essay.

Pebble Go is a unique grades K-4 database which covers awesome project ideas using lovely inquiry based Capstone books!
PebbleGo is a kid-friendly, searchable database that covers a variety of topics. Animals, earth and space, biographies, and social studies -- each sold separately -- are further divided into topics and subtopics. For example, the weather topic contains an investigation called "What are Clouds?" Every subtopic presents a five-part report with text, photos, videos, links to similar topics, printable assessment sheets, and a correct citation.
Kids can read on their own, or choose have text read to them. Each database also includes some simple games, an article of the day, a search field, and a poll related to article topics. For example, in the biographies database, there's a poll titled, "Which artist do you like best?" The teacher resource section/administrative account has comprehensive lesson plans, printable activity sheets, and some basic overall usage statistics (log-in frequency and popular articles).

Tynker is our most recent purchase in the learning commons, and we are very excited to see how our students in grades K-8 benefit from learning how to code!  This new subscription ties in very nicely with project based learning and critical thinking.  Students are encouraged to share their projects in an ongoing format.  Beth blogged about this new subscription here.

We have many books in our Overdrive and L4U with an inquiry base.  Natalie shared about some of our recent inquiry based picture books in this article here.

For our subscriptions please contact your teacher or Beth Johnson our subscription co-ordinator who will help you get going with links to passwords and tutorials.

Blessings to you and your families over the Easter season!

Pippa and the learning commons team.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Reconciliation and Trust

Today in church we started on a new chapter of understanding the meaning of Revelations with the first letter 11:4.  We are examining the seven letters which John shared to the seven churches during that time period as a means of prophecy or voice.  Our pastor is leading us through the suffering that John experienced in his last years of what must have felt like horrible persecution, and his tribute to the life and saving grace of Jesus.  In all John could see Jesus working in Him through the suffering around him.

For me the passage was very meaningful.  Change is always difficult and this year in education and even in my personal life the Lord is taking myself and many of us on a new journey. One that acknowledges pain and suffering which has been experienced by many during a dark part of our BC history; the injustice towards Aboriginal peoples. 

Although I was not born in British Columbia I know first hand how the Lord had to move me towards a new understanding of grace.  I lived a privileged life in Apartheid South Africa because of the colour of my skin. But at an early age I could see the manifestations of injustice all around me, in the way people spoke to and shut out different groups.  Many groups of people lived on the fringes of society looking in, and in education there was definitely a sense of haves and have nots.  I was often called out in school for my outlandish ideas and refusal to accept the status quo and lack of human rights.  As a so called 'European' teacher I spent my first few years working in an impoverished area of Cape Town where political revolution was in the minds of many.  Students were taught from a biased and Eurocentric version of history, one which made them doubt themselves and their own identity.  I found it frustrating working within the confines of the system, and in my naive ways thought I could change the world with my 'Shakespearean' dialogues in high school.  The Lord had me in this place for a while to help me understand the universal rights of all our children.  I came away thinking that much change was needed before a new culture could be reborn in South Africa, one which embraced voice for all. 

Under the leadership of leaders like ArchBishop Tutu and Nelson Mandela South African people came to realize that out of forgiveness, truth and reconciliation a new understanding would emerge. A place where all people could give voice to the hurt and disappointment that had plagued the majority of its people.  The new term was called Ubuntu and it meant community,  "I am because of who we are" joined by a call to humanity.

As we look to the changes in our new BC Curriculum which finally calls for social injustice to be heard, along with the abuses in residential schools, new voices to our history may bring confusion and questions. The injustice to Acadians, Japanese and the Chinese should also be heard!  As God's community of believers it is important for us to understand and love all peoples of Canada, and that we would be known and stand apart for that kind of LOVE.  I would like to encourage you all to look to Jesus for all of our answers and may we rest in His final resolution of justice, peace, forgiveness and LOVE.  

"Grace and peace to you from Him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before the throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.  To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father- to him be glory and power for ever and ever!"  Amen.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

One Word

As we gear up for a new year this week maybe you are despondent to create goals and targets for 2016 only to see them fail dismally.  I have been there before and know only too well how they can be a set up, if you have not had time to pray and reflect on what you think needs to change within.

I started reading One Word that will change your Life by Jon Gordon (available on HCS e library) or here on Amazon,  and was immediately inspired by the simple concept.  This video encapsulates the vision behind one word.

My intention this week is to pray and ask God for my one word which reflects my vision for this year.  Already the word "Fearless" comes to mind.  With all the changes that have happened in education this year in BC I know I need to focus on being free from fear of change.  So I am going to ask my team to remind me and coach me with that prayer.

What is your one word?  I would love to hear how the Lord has inspired you to grow this year.

To find out more about the one word philosophy go to this website.

Blessings for a happy, healthy and spirit led new year in 2016.

Friday, October 30, 2015

More than Ten Books to make your student WONDER

This past week I have been poring over some amazing books that we purchased for our physical commons!  These books, many of them Canadian will invite wonder, encourage imagination and allow your students to start making and creating, and learning more about God's diverse world.  They will also work really well to fit into our new learning outcomes 2016.

Elementary school

An Inuksuk means Welcome by Mary Wallace.  A central image in the Inuit culture is the inuksuk which frames this lovely book in an acrostic.  Readers will learn seven words from the Inuktiat language as they spell out Inuksuk.  The richly textured paintings will have you in awe! K-3

Good Morning Canada by Andrea Lynn Beck.This book invites students to reflect on their beautiful country with gorgeous illustrations and multicultural symbolism. Gr 1-3

Journey by Aaron Becker.  This luminous colourful book brings flights of fancy to any young reader.  As students journey through this book they will encounter their own amazing adventure as the book does not have any text.   Gr K-4.

The Legend of the Beavers Tail by Stephanie Shaw.  This lovely story encompasses the message "pride goeth before the fall" as Beaver learns that bragging does not beget friends. Gr 1-3

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires.  This beautifully illustrated book is a wonderful story about the art of making, the process of project based learning and how growth mindset is so integral in the early years.  I read this one with my reading buddies and they were all happy to go and MAKE something. Gr 1-5

Rosie Revere Engineer by Andrea Beatty.  This engaging picture book tells the story of Rosie who dreams of being an engineer.  Rosie constructs inventions from odds and ends and afraid of failure hides them away.  But a visit from a great aunt shows Rosie that she does not need to fear failure.  K-4

The Elders are Watching by David Bouchard and Roy Henry Vickers.  This beautiful book created to enhance the natural beauty of our land and waters, brings a plea to respect the natural treasures we have been blessed with in British Columbia.  Gr 5-7 and High school.

Pirate, Viking and Scientist by Jared Chapman.  This inter-disciplinary picture book teaches science concepts in an engaging story as Pirate learns some fun terminology, creates a hypothesis and observes his experiment. Gr K-2.

Middle School

Fatty Legs and sequel A Stranger at Home  by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton.  These chapter books deal sensitively with the topic of residential schools and social justice.  Both of these books inspire great conversation in the classroom, and are based on true life. Gr 4-9.

Hiawatha and the Peacemaker by Robbie Robertson and David Shannon.  The story of Hiawatha with enclosed CD sharing music by Robbie Robertson.  This journey of Hiawatha as he moves towards peace is brought to life with stunning oil paintings and lots of details.  With Hiawatha and the Peacemaker young people can as Robertson said learn about the real Hiawatha.  And given that Robertson includes the fact the Peacemaker had a speech impediment, I think people within the special needs community will find this book an invaluable addition to their shelves.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Inspiring the next generation!

Recently I was tapped via Twitter to find my writing, presenting groove again. It's not that I have lost my interest in sharing the love of all things learning commons. It is just that I have a new love, my grandchild, Isabelle Grace.

 At two months old she is cuteness personified, and yes I am in love again just like a new mommy. But it is different. It is a love which is imbued with pride for how my daughter is raising our little munchkin. When I look at the unconditional outpouring of love I am reminded of how much how our Heavenly Father loves us! I am so encouraged by the bond that is developing and so excited to see how the next generation develops.

 So what are the future ideas which this new generation will seek to discover and learn in the 21st century?  With our new learning outcomes changing in the next year in British Columbia, and moving towards inquiry based learning, the learning commons is once again at the forefront of inspiring educational principles. How do we move ahead under the Lord's leadership?

 1. The learning commons continues to draw students towards discipleship, and collaboration with its MakerEd theme meeting all project based needs, and multi-sensory learning in a fun, engaging way. Character and true grit/perseverance, collaboration and curiosity make learning so much more inviting. Virtual book clubs encourage students from Grades K-12 to find their literary voice!  Students mentor younger students on the Ning, and in forums, helping prepare them for future digital leadership.

 2. Our students need to be prepared for a new "techie" society in Canada, that requires not only great multi tasking ability, but also a scientific approach to innovation and change.  Bring back the HYPOTHESIS! Lets make math and science exciting, and use apps, and concrete tools like Lego Mindstorms, Knex,  video, MakeyMakey, LittleBits, 3D printing and Keva Planks! Lets design our own curriculum with the student in mind, so that we can meet many literacies and learning styles.  We are blessed to do this in distance education!

3. The learning commons has always been a place of safety and peace, where students are allowed to find themselves. Free of assessment the teacher librarian may help students find the gifts, passions of their heart.  Too often tests have been the focus in education, and have not served the best interest of our students. Lets get involved in making assessment more creative and innovative by setting new standards which encourage creating, evaluating and analyzing, so facts get remembered for the right reasons.  Really the learning commons has always been a catalyst for Makerspaces.


4. Lets make learning equal in the digital divide. Lets provide open access to our learning commons so that all students will benefit from digital access. But also let us find ways to bring out humanity and the inner beauty of our students, by encouraging the different literacies, enhancing student voice and letting go of the need for speed via digital devices. Use technology when it helps a student overcome the barriers of distance, or serves a greater purpose.  Overdrive E library has been a revolutionary innovation in the learning commons for removing digital inequalities.  As textbooks, movies and audiobooks become streamed we can capture all learners with engaging resources. Subscription databases such as Ebscohost, Discovery Streaming, Learn 360, Reading Eggs, MathSeeds, Dimension U all allow students in remote parts of BC and the world to find information that is accurate, engaging, fun and digitally relevant.

 5. The learning commons gives purpose to students need's, and finds ways of matching up student interest and ability, with the talents of a nurturing and inspiring librarian. Lets find materials that enhance the classics and literacy again, including ways to read Shakespeare, Dickens and Plato! From graphic novels, read aloud days, reading buddies, poetry slams, writing workshops, drama and film making, video games, and scavenger hunts to find that special book, lets make learning FUN!

How can we help prepare your students for the future?  Please comment as I love to glean from you.

Pippa and the learning commons team.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

whats Love got to do with IT?

This past month we have been exploring the Love of Jesus Christ at church (Peace Portal Alliance in South Surrey).  I was struck this week with our pastor Scott Dickie's passion for the demonstration of LOVE in our community.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16 Int.  

If we truly believe that Jesus died for us and his love and mercy endures forever why do we become so stagnant in our personal lives.  Why do we hold onto our idols and fail to turn to Him when we need Him MOST?  I think we hold on to the lie that we cannot do more than what we are doing because we are too busy, too tired, have too many of our own problems, or we are just one person and cannot initiate change. We leave the missionaries to do the job of helping others.  Yet our own community is failing to see the need for church and Jesus in their life.  Is it because we have left this to others to serve in our own community.  How can we hack our own community to see what needs matter most?

 I know that the message this morning at church impacted my own sin of holding onto my future financial plans instead of TRUSTING how God could use me to further HIS goals.  I always find at this time of year with taxes, and financial planning it is so easy to put one's owns needs ahead of God's plans.  God is gracious to clean my slate as soon as I run to HIM.

God has called us to serve one another in LOVE and disciple our next generation.  We are called to work things out for His Glory.

Our school's vision is to raise disciples and spread the Gospel into the homes and lives of our young people.  Are we working towards that end in our learning commons?

 How do walk alongside broken people in our work, in our community centres, in our 'makered' workshops, book clubs etc.  Are we serving a LIVING GOD, one who can produce CHANGE?  I think it is only when God changes our hearts that we can truly repent of our sin, give glory to HIM and start afresh in our community sharing our stories.

I know God wants my whole heart.   Going to give that extra piece I was holding back to Him!