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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Learning Commons News- Straight from the Hip!

Welcome back to all of our staff, students and parents!!

I pray that your summer has been filled with tons of good reads, and lots of precious family time:)

It is good to be back in the saddle with all of you, sharing about what has been happening in our library or learning commons corner of the world.  This July along with mountain biking, beach walking, and kayaking at Hornby Island with my family,  I was blessed to read Building a Learning Commons with our team.  During the process I became really excited about how God's message of community could fit the vision for our school, and learning commons.

Some of the key words that were bandied about in the book included Open Learning Commons, Virtual and Physical Learning Commons,  Student Experiential Centres, and Teen Geek Squad.  In my head I began to draw pictures of what this looked like in a physical and in a virtual capacity.  I imagined a living room with soft comfy couches, movable round tables and chairs for collaboration, IPAD's IPOD'S, and other techie tools, while the latest EReaders and books were displayed enticingly on book shelves.  Space was open, light, airy, and aesthetically pleasing.  Here was the place where our students, teachers and parents could meet, research, refine, and PLAY in their experiential centres. Our teen geek squad would be peer mentors who could coach, and cheer other younger students on to be creative and innovative.

  In the background the open learning commons invited subject specialists, technology teachers, administrators, and library staff to form a big think tank and explore different philosophies and educational innovations.  The blended learning commons made up of our physical and virtual learning commons could as one body in Christ, emblazon the learning commons with some of the dynamic learning happening in our schools.  When the physical commons had story time maybe our virtual commons could have story time too??  Maybe we could combine efforts and truly collaborate, not only with blogs and wikis, but also with global communities like a Flat Stanley program.  Relationships and voice could start to happen physically and virtually.

  Maybe we could have a fenced social networking site, like a Ning, that would encourage all of our community to really start collaborating and sharing on a daily basis

However in my limited creativity I could never imagine what our students could conceive and create!  So part of lining up our vision for the future learning commons meant encouraging our students to dream too....

  We will have a competition in the first part of the year to "Design your own Physical or Virtual Learning Commons"  where homeschool and classroom students will be part of God's commission to bring voice to our learning commons.  There will be a prize for the most innovative and creative design which will be displayed on our learning commons page:)  More to come soon!

We hope to encourage the formation of a Teen Geek Squad who will collaborate on media production, and virtual worlds.  Read our Purposeful Play to get excited!  More to come soon!

We will also be introducing E books and E book readers as we progress to Overdrive and start a new Christian fiction and non fiction collection of EBooks.  This we hope to launch in January!


We are very excited to announce two new book clubs along with my book club this year.  Experienced language arts and techie teachers April McLeod and Kathy Strebchuk will join me this year under the auspices of the learning commons and learning camps.  April will run the grade 10 -12 and  Kathy the 9-10 book club, while I will be running the grade 7-8 club.  We will be working together as a team to provide the very best in reading suggestions, critical thinking skills and encouraging student participation in creative ways.  There will be prizes for book reviews and book presentations!
To contact April you can blog her at http://mrsmcsbookclub.wordpress.com/ or amccleod@onlineschool.ca or view her video
To contact Kathy please email her at kstrebchuck@onlineschool.ca  Her blog is coming soon.
To contact myself please blog me at http://bookclubjuniorhcos.blogspot.com/ or email me at pdavies@onlineschool.ca


Please watch for a new link on our learning commons interface called LibAnswers, which will provide archived answers to all library questions posed.  So if you have a question for any of our library staff you can simply enter your question, and we will try and respond within 24 hours.  As questions are archived the answers will start popping up immediately you start accessing the site.  We hope this will be an exciting portal for our blended learning commons. There will be four lovely ladies to respond to your queries, Eirena and Shandra from the physical commons, and Natalie and myself from the virtual commons. Watch for the link soon!

Welcome to the world of blogging Natalie Sing!  Our curriculum consultant who is an expert in lapbooking, and note booking has started her blog.  Check out more at truenorth

Please pray for our blended learning commons as we make the transition to this new vision, that God's voice and vision would come first, that we would sense His direction in everything we set out to plan for the year.   I encourage you to share your vision of how you would like to join us in making our learning commons a vibrant and heart felt space where God's image is glorified!

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. Proverbs 16;3

Blessings to you as you start planning your year with His vision.

Pippa and the Learning Commons team!

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Teaching Media Literacy.

1 08 2011 / 365Image by Wonderdawg777 via Flickr
As you start your school year with anticipation on how to meet all those 21 century educational goals, here are a few ideas to include when you are teaching.  Recently I blogged about the University of Florida's Skills for 2020, and in B.C. we are encouraged to be following the 2011 Horizon report.

In homeschooling situations we are often short of computers for every student, so having students teach each other applications is a wonderful way to facilitate learning in larger families.  Plus your students will become experts!

MEDIA LITERACY   How do we help teach students about how to use the media with critical analyses?  We can show students how to create blogs, podcasts, websites, videos, discover virtual worlds, and assess them the same way you would assess an essay.  Teaching website evaluation is a tool to get students to think critically about website integrity, accuracy, reliability, currency and authority.

APPLICATION:  Take students to the following applications and teach the tools related to the project you are doing in the classroom.  Ideas for incorporating media literacy include:
1.  Having your students sharing via wiki's,   Google docs,   Blogging. 
2.  Audacity for podcasts and discussions around video's from the very many wonderful educational  freebies on the web!  Or get hooked on Discovery Streaming, or Webspiration a new subscription in our library this year!
3.  Get your student's creativity working using applications such as  Blabberize, Bitstrips, Pixton, Xtranormal.   Designing a comic, developing Christian worldview in a cartoon, making a short movie clip, or creating an editorial are all ideas to get students using media for greater purposes.  Discover virtual worlds, and get your students learning and interacting with other students while building, designing, solving missions and researching. 
4.   Media Awareness Canada is a wonderful site for teaching tips on media awareness and critical thinking ideas.
5.  Teaching website evaluation is part and parcel of learning how to find sites that are not bogus, or popularity based.  Your student will be prepared for university research in the process.
6.  Encourage your students to review all materials from their Christian worldview, for example get them writing reviews on movies, books and other media.

While utilizing the internet we are called to be faithful stewards of digital opportunities, even as we are also called to be faithful in all our relationships. Creating time frames and accountability are all part of making sure that digital boundaries are maintained.

Next week I will look at technological literacy, and critical thinking skills to further encourage our students.

Blessings to you.

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Monday, August 8, 2011

Homeschool Launch

Do you have homeschool files that you would like to share with other homeschoolers?  Homeschool Launch might be the answer you are looking for.  Create your own profile page, and then start sharing:)  Natalie Sing (our curriculum consultant) has been sharing her notebooking files on Canadian, grade 7 learning outcomes.  Her hope is that she will find other notebooking and lapbooking documents, on different subjects for her homeschooling adventures.  If you do start sharing let us know and we can link to your pages in the library.  Please and thanks!

Blessings to you,

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Silence is wonderful!

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature -- trees, flowers, grass -- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence. We need silence to be able to touch souls. - Mother Theresa  

This last week or two I have been on holiday, and this year we chose to do our family vacation at Hornby Island with my brother's family and my dad.  Infinite sunsets, purity of sand and blissful silence, draw me closer in appreciation of where I am with God, and gently restores my soul.  Do you ever feel like you need some silence in your life to hear God speaking to you?

Too often my life becomes busy with work and distractions, and I turn away and follow the road more traveled just to get the job done.  But reflecting on what God wants for me definitely requires that I  find times to block my distractions, the humming noise of technology, work and errands.  Finding time to reflect and pray in silence,  may be hard for some, but as teachers we are called to hear God's Voice, so that we can encourage our students to do likewise.  I am learning that silence invites peace, reflection and restoration, and encourages me to appreciate all of God's provisions. 

In my teaching role I have always felt that my place was to listen and encourage rather than to lecture.  I love it when one of my student's has a "Eureka" moment, and God instills wisdom and knowledge.  But that does not come from me simply giving the answers.  Rather it springs from a period of silence where a student has to look within and then up to God as he questions his own space, to locate the puzzle pieces of God's creation.

How we establish the physical space of learning in our homes and classrooms invites the learning space to grow.  I have just finished reading "To Know as We are Known" by Parker Palmer, which invites teachers to view education as a spiritual journey,  one in which the teacher and the student are called to enter a mutual relationship of love and respect for God.  This relationship is based on the mind and heart growing together, in a safe and trusted learning environment.

So as I plan my year this week, I am asking God to give me wisdom in planning those times of silence when I can speak to God, read His word and seek His counsel, and encourage my students to find that time in devotions or prayer.  I am also praying that the space we invite into our learning commons environment will be one which invites wonder and appreciation of the Lord's work, respect and love for one another in space, and an invitation to give Glory to God. 

May He give you infinite wisdom and knowledge as you plan your student's learning space.

19 Sin is not ended by multiplying words,
   but the prudent hold their tongues. Proverbs 10:19