Favourite Language Arts Links

Monday, October 31, 2011

Remembrance Day and Fall activities

November brings wonderful pumpkin, harvest activities along with Remembrance Day in Canada.


New in the learning commons this month:


From the physical commons Eirena shared the books, DVD's and kits on Remembrance Day and War related resources.

From our weblinking library Pippa and Natalie share some new resources on Remembrance Day, and Fall activities. 

Other websites to explore:


Junie B Jones thematic related activities. 

Geronimo Stilton.  Based on chapter books.

Story Jumper- Children's Publishing. This online tool helps parents and students create their own story and publish it to the web.  Please note you do have to purchase the final product.

ImpressKids.  Bible memory games.  


Kidipede.  History for Kids studying in the middle grades with ancient civilisations.

Canada Grade 10:
Plains of Abraham site.

Batoche Youtube video.  Virtual Sasketchewan website on the history of Batoche.


Research Visual Map

Digital Citizenship. and Social Networking lessons from BrainPop.


Don't forget the Adapted Curriculum webinar happening this week!

Adaptive Curriculum Webinar
November 3, 11:30 am – 12:00 noon

To join the meeting from your computer or mobile device, click or copy and paste this URL into your browser:

To join the audio portion of this meeting, choose your dial in method:
Dial-in Number: +17759963560
U.S. toll free: +18007414032
Skype: fuzemeeting

When prompted enter the room number:
Room #: 507465 and press the # key.

Blessings from the learning commons team, Natalie, Pippa, Shandra and Eriena.
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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Embeditin- Techie Site of the Week

Embeditin is a neat tool for including documents on your website in their unique format, without understanding HTML.  This makes it accessible for viewers to see and interact with content in their own browser, ie no downloads. 

You can also annotate on any page specific portions of the document you would like to highlight, or stress, for example a due date on a project.  Analytics allows you to gain information about who is viewing your documents online.This is a free application for now and I will hopefully share more with you as I use it down the road:)

Reviews on Embeditin:
Web 2.0 Tool Review- Embeditin

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Bringing 21 century education into God's Creation This Fall

How do we begin to get innovative and respect God's creation at the same time?  How do we get our students off the couch and encourage them outdoors?  We take the technology with us!

Study of a Figure OutdoorsImage via Wikipedia
Here are some ideas to get your students playing outdoors and indoors with their gadgets:)

1.  Beautiful fall days are on us so grab your camera, Iphone, video camera, IPAD and head for the hills, plains and forests.  Encourage your students to start taking pictures of different environments, plants, local features in the landscape, interesting buildings and people in their daily lives.  Then bring those tired but technically complete students home to load their images and start exploring.  Discover the beauty of God's creation through your student's lens, and share with the world on your blog, or Picasso Albums!

2.  Do you have a student that hates writing? Ask them what events he/she would like to attend in the community.  Then as a family head to the event armed with IPAD, or other gadgets and launch your student into being a JUNIOR JOURNALIST.  With applications like EVERNOTE for taking notes, and WORDLE for making your essay pretty, and STORYBIRD for inspired stories, your student will be encouraged to write passionately about their interest.  Interview your favourite athlete using your Iphone to record the interview.

3.  High school students who are studying CANADA, yes that boring subject that we LOVE to teach to DEATH, find a unique alternative and study one aspect of your learning outcomes by doing a comparison with WIKIPEDIA and your textbook to see who has the most current information.  Yes check out those links at the bottom of the page, and correlate to see who has the depth of information.  Following these links will help students find accurate information, and help them evaluate the type of sources using website evaluation tools.

Blessings to you as you prepare your students for 21 century education this fall.  What ideas do you have using technology this fall?  I would love to hear.


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Monday, October 24, 2011

Moving to a Learning Commons

This last week our learning commons team was blessed to attend the BCTLA conference.  We were also excited to visit the John Oliver Learning Commons in Vancouver, which had recently experienced the transition to a learning commons space.  Part of this trip was to inspire our staff to dream big on how the blended learning commons(physical and virtual) could resonate in all of our hearts.

Although John Oliver is an older school on the east side of Vancouver, we were amazed to hear the story of how their learning commons had developed.  We paused, imbibed, queried, complimented, and took photographs of the different spaces that inhabited their new library. After an extensive book weeding the books were now housed in more lower modern shelving, the lighting was lower and less intrusive,  the space was sub divided into rooms that invited collaboration.  Students could produce in  a video production room,  research in a computer room, while charging their a laptop,  recline in a a lounge and bar area, collaborate in conference rooms with digital presenters and whiteboards, be entertained with movies, and listen to music! YES music was playing in the background... and the students were according to their librarian Moira Ekdahl really enjoying the vibe!  After some serious note taking, and meeting their visionary leader Gino Bondi, who passionately shared how their digital immersions had transformed the whole school with their techie abilities, we ventured off to Burnaby for some serious desert delights and the start of a great conference.

It appears that many school libraries are looking closely into the feasibility of becoming learning commons now that UBC, and some other university campus libraries have made such successful transitions.   We learned how elementary libraries are also trying to make the changes to keep up with the trend towards learning commons, even though the money is not in the system.  Librarians are having to be innovative, administrators are coming alongside their library staff and supporting them with ways to make libraries a HUGE entrepreneurial adventure!

The big talk at the conference was of course how our net generation of students are "plugged in".  We looked at the stats presented by Doug Johnson and we were not surprised:

"As a distinct demographic
1. Born 1982-2000 - AKA Millenials
2. 36% of population/31% minority
3. Racially and ethnically diverse (20% have one immigrant parent)
4. Eventually larger group than Baby Boomers
5. Valued (Play dates, NCLB, SAT prep) and Sheltered (Helmets, Metal Detectors, V-Chips and NetNanny) Sheltered

Relationship with Technology
1. Fascinated by new technologies
2. Grown up with tech - immersed
3. 96% have gone online
4. Spend more time with digital media than TV (3.1 hours vs 3.5 hours)
5. Access primarily through home and amount varies by race and economic level

Relationship with Information
1. Ubiquitous - mobile
2. 94% have used the web for school research
3. Taggers/folksonomy users
4. Satisfice - snip-its
5. Information = conversation = authority?

Learning Styles
1. Teachers are vital - computers can't replace humans
2. Building social skills is a part of school
3. Social learners / informal learners
4. Re-mixers - Share - 57% content creators
5. Minds shaped by technology and media
Hypertext minds
Read visual images
Inductive discovery (games?)
Learn by doing
Shift attention Expect fast responses
Text literacy less well developed
Tech understanding shallow

Values and Views
1. Achievement oriented - Want rules, schedules and agendas - Believe it is cool to be smart - Focused on grades
2. Work on "things that matter”
3. Identify with parents' values
4. Busy with extra curricular activities
5. Unaware of consequences of their tech use"

So some suggestions that Doug proffered to help us educate our net generation included the following:

1. Media specialists could be on the forefront of helping our students find an "inductive style of learning", one that moves students towards critical thinking, by exposing them to primary sources that  will help students learn to interview, survey, experiment, and source documents.
2.  Information could be presented in images as opposed to text, enhancing photographs, creating video content, and many other formats of the media.
3.  Meaningful experiences could also be experienced as students meet practical and life forming/ or spirit led relationships in the library.  Students could collaborate with each other and the librarian to make sense of their new world and find practical life skills in the learning commons.
4.  Students could work in groups and collaboration was encouraged in the learning commons.  Students could play, build and research together!
5.  Learning commons are a wonderful inviting, warm, Godly place where all students can come to play, learn and engage.

We are blessed to have such an amazing staff who support libraries, student learning and books, both physical and electronic.  Our ebook collection is happening soon in the next few months, and we are very excited about what they will offer to our plugged in generation.  We also look forward to hearing from our teen geek squad.  If you are a "techie geek" please let me know, and I will welcome you to our geek wiki, where you can chat, suggest geek activities, and make video tutorials, or other amazing techie celebrations.  We are so passionate about your students finding their element and sharing on our learning commons.  Please let us know how we can add their gifts to our virtual and physical learning commons?

So as we dream anon about libraries, learning commons, and the blend of the physical and virtual, here are some great spaces happening in Calgary! 

What are YOUR dreams for our blended learning commons?  I would love to hear your comments please and thanks!

Blessings to you!
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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Safe Sites for the Youngun's

Back to school brings lots of fun surfing the net, but for younger students we want to create some safe places to play, network and research.  Here are my pick of the month!

PRIMARY STUDENTS Learn nursery rhymes, sing along and play games at the same time with Duck's Alphabet.  Safe and fun!


Bible Islands a Virtual Adventure.  Build your own island, create your own avatar, earn gold coins playing games and invest wisely, all while learning the Bible.  Send messages and learn how to communicate.

KungFu Panda World  Set for the age group  7 and up,  this fun site is educational and safe.  KungFu Panda movie lovers will play with swords and develop martial arts skills. 

Scuttlepad  "Parents need to know that this simple social networking website was designed with the young user in mind and is intended to create a safe online space for kids aged 6-11. The site is a pared-down place for kids to learn the basics of social networking and, unlike other social networks geared to kids, doesn’t have any of the extraneous games, puzzles, activities, or ads (at least yet) to occupy them. All content is closely monitored and controlled: Uploaded photos are manually reviewed and status updates and comments are created only through a pre-approved list of words." Commonsense Media.

Kidipede is a research site for middle grade students with lots on ancient worlds, and math and science.

MEDIA LITERACY Admongo is a safe government site which teaches students, 8 and up the importance of media literacy and how advertising works. 

Blessings to you,

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Media Literacy and Christian Worldview

A few weeks back I was asked to share my vision on how our learning commons could impact our student's lives with 21 century learning.  As a librarian I have always been of the opinion that it is better to educate, than to censor or shelter our youth.  Protecting our kids for too long is bad for them, and really bad for us.  Because when our kids leave home they will be consumed by the wolves.

Here is why? Students today are being assaulted by the media from all directions, and many do not know how to deflect some of these barbs, nor do they understand how to critically evaluate them.

Media literacy is  the ability to sift through and analyze the messages that bring critical thinking skills to bear on all media.

If we censor we risk losing our kids, because down the road they will rebel in a big way.  So how do we go about training up our youngsters to think on their feet?

We call into action Christian worldview!  We start by asking questions and lots of them like; where, why, and how God is not in the story of a young woman who poses inappropriately in a magazine.  We analyze photographs and compare illustrations, art work and poetry to gain an insight into God's creation.  We come alongside our students and ask the following:

Whose idea is this?  Is this message true?  What are the consequences of this message?  Do you believe in the same thing.  Is this a secular or a Christian worldview,  a naturalist or creationist view?

Once our kids are questioning their every viewing, reading, and listening you will be amazed at how they start to resonate with God, and tune out the negative.  We need to attend to their needs while we can still help with their doubting minds, and instead of preaching, start encouraging them to bring their critical thinking to the fore.  My son Matthew and I are reading Thinking Like a Christian and for the first time he is understanding the forces that are so eminent in the culture which shape him so implicitly.  Part of his course means reading and sifting through the media to understand the different worldviews that are so inherent in journalism today.

I am so proud of my son when he shares with me how a song is inappropriate or a movie has bad language.   I am encouraged that God is testing him, to nurture him into a stronger faith.  I encourage you to bring media literacy into your home.

Blessings to you

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Collaborize Classroom- Techie Site of the Week

Are  you looking for a way to connect with your students outside of a blog?  Then Collaborize Classroom might be a starting point. Teachers can upload any teaching materials, and then hold online discussions in their own time frame.  Teachers can choose from a variety of question types including; multiple choice, yes, no and voting answers.  This is one other tool to encourage student participation, and help increase learning.  

To register simply fill out the registration form presented on the homepage with name and email address.  Click on "Create My Free site".  Complete the additional information and then sign in to add settings for your classroom and students.  

Benefits of this site!
1.  It is free!
2.  It scans discussion overviews to see which students are participating.
3.  Asks questions and surveys.
4.  Encourages another form of communication with your students, which helps with grading.

If you sign up for Collaborize before November 15, 2010, the product is being offered at no-cost (read FREE) for the 2010-2011 school year!  In partnership with Democrasoft, The Kids in Need Foundation made this free year possible…take advantage of it before the 15th!

Please let me know what you think of this site if you are using?


Another similar tool being used for the same purpose is Wiggio.  
Image representing Wiggio as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBase
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Monday, October 10, 2011

Pippa's Homeschool and Library Blog: Scoop It and Curation!

Pippa's Homeschool and Library Blog: Scoop It and Curation!: You know you are a researcher, when you are curating your own Scoop. it Topics, and then sharing via Facebook, and Twitter. Scoop.it allows...

Open Learning Commons

Hello fellow Heritage family!

This past week was a huge 25th celebration for our school, and all that makes Heritage a wonderful place to work and play in God's educational playground!  It is so amazing to see how so many gifted leaders, and some unbelievably good teachers with Godly vision have brought HCS to where it is today!  Not forgetting our amazing community of students and parents who support us in this vision.  We are blessed.

During our Open Learning Commons meeting,  we shared some ideas for collaboration amongst students, parents and teachers.  Ideas that flowed from our discussion included: using Moodle for both online and individualized students;  creating a wikipedia for all learning commons collaboration, including our present learning commons interface, and the community's creations;  creating a virtual collaboration world where we could meet and greet each other in cyberspace.  Of course we are excited about all these options- because we just love collaboration!

Now I would love to hear your ideas?  Are you excited about sharing using different technologies?  Of course technology does not lead our school,  but we want to support your voice in a way that is immediate, educational, inviting and encouraging!




Comment Here. please:)

Blessings to you,

 Pippa and the Open Learning Commons team.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011