Favourite Language Arts Links

Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Resolutions: Strengthfinders 2.0

Pippa GraceImage by AKMA via Flikr

This year I have been so thankful and proud of my learning commons team, who have risen above the ordinary in moving towards a twenty-first century library.   We have worked with common purpose to fulfill some strategic short and long term goals.  But without understanding our common purpose and strengths in life, how do we support each other in mutual growth?

As we anticipate how information and technology have impacted our lives sometimes we hear the exclamation that it takes too long to learn things, and why should I have to if I don't need to?  After all aren't we all working too hard, just to keep the ever increasing information overload at bay:)

Having just completed reading Strengthfinders Web 2.0 by Tom Rath I was amazed at how my gifts in library science and teaching lined up with the half hour online survey, which I needed to complete at the end of the book.   I really loved the way this book focused on the top innate gifts in your life, and encouraged you not to stress your weaknesses.

I learned from a young age that numbers were not my 'thing',  after a terrible year in marketing actuaries.  Instead God encouraged me to follow my gifts of "Learner, Input, Connectedness, Intellection and Strategic".  Libraries, teaching and leading in these fields have been a joy and passion to pursue. Of course there are other skills that I thought maybe should have been on the list,  but these were the top 5:)  When I break down the skills I see;

Life long Learner =teacher.
Input = collector of information/librarian.
Connectedness= collaboration and social networking/book club moderator.
Intellection= literary analyst and story maker.
Strategic = Intuition and leading in learning commons. 

After reading this little gem, I have come to realize that  maybe one of the reasons we gel with certain people is because they bring out our gifts:)  When we understand each others' strengths we learn how to partner and empower each other.  If we fail to do this and instead focus on their weaknesses we really lose sight of God's encouraging influence.  I am learning to rely on my teams' strengths and empower them to follow their gifts. 

So if you are reading this and say to yourself "hmm this is why Pippa loves sending out information on a regular basis", you will start to understand what makes me tick:)  Likewise I cannot wait to hear what makes you tick so we can learn from each other?

Have a wonderful New Year with God's richest blessings!!

Pippa and the Learning Commons Team

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Are you CRAZZZZY about Apps? Appitic!

If you or your sweeties have an appetite for using app's on your iPad, then look no further,  as this amazing library of iPad apps will do more than whet your "app" etite!  Divided by category into Bloom's taxonomy and multiple intelligences,  you will find something for your student, based on their learning needs and age.  Do you have a favourite app that you would like to share with us?  Please let us know how you are using in your homeschooling or online classroom?  We are learning with you:)

Bloom's Revised TaxonomyImage by dkuropatwa via Flickr

English: Multiple IntelligencesImage via Wikipedia   

Friday, December 16, 2011

Website Evaluation High School

High school students here is a great way for you to understand inherent bias, lack of validity, and reliability, in articles on the web. See if you can find some articles and then share the bias by changing the wording:) You will need to download the following XRay Goggles application to change wording on websites.  Have fun!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Learning to be a 21 century teacher

TeacherImage by tim ellis via FlickrMany of our teachers and parents are wondering what it means to be a 21 century teacher, and how do they go about starting?  It is hard to even conjure up a place,  or space in our brains to know where to begin.  The beauty of it all is that our students often know where to begin.  Why? Because they know the online sources, tools and resources more than we do. 

So as a flipped home school parent or teacher how do I start a project/research essay with my student?  How do I guide them to incorporate excellent resources, while using Godly discernment.

Here are some ideas which I think fit beautifully into creating the most perfect setting for 21 century learning, and may help you to fulfill learning outcomes:

The first thing I do is let my son start the research.  I give him ideas where to find his materials, using all the amazing databases, and search engines that are on our learning commons website.  I check them over to see if he has understood the validity, reliability and authority of his sources.  This may take a week or two as he delves into reading and researching.

As he reads he starts to formulate questions in his mind.  We start tackling the essential questions,  and Christian worldview starts to percolate, along with a possible thesis statement.  We have used An Elegant Essay to establish a good starting place for formulating the written structure of an essay. 

Matthew is using virtual worlds this year with his teacher Gord Holden to critique his Grade 10 history period by writing, building and connecting with other students.  He is  loving the whole project based learning approach, and can't wait to dive creatively into history.

He explores Discovery Streaming for images, videos on the Metis, along with Ebscohost for secondary resources and the amazing DVD series Canada A People's History.   History is now multi-sensory and learning is exciting.  Along the way he might decide to add some of his own resources, change the thesis statement and start again.  But he is motivated, and inspired!

As an English teacher I need to make sure that Matthew is covering the 5 essential parts of the curriculum, reading, writing, viewing & representing, listening and speaking.  He also needs to incorporate critical thinking into all his work. 

The first thing Matt does as he starts to take notes is open his  Symbaloo account (site that houses all his favourite tools), or Folder in Ebscohost where he can save all his URL's and find the correct MLA citations, ready to be copied and pasted for his bibliography.  He then goes to his blog or Google Docs where he starts his writing process. 

My role is to sit and listen, and help him make decisions and guide him with lots of where, why, how and when questions to see God in the story. His teacher Gord directs him in his building and collaborates, shares, marks and encourages.   Thank you Gord!!  You are an amazing 21 century teacher.

During this term Matt has learned the  Physics of how to make a train move, the physical geography of Canada and the history of  Confederation.  He has had to study the cultural period of that time, including the architecture, clothes, crimes, and artifacts found in the Library Archives of Canada. 

In my book club we are using Collaborize Classroom as a closed social networking system to bring our novels to life.  I find a movie trailer to start our discussions on the books, get the students hooked on reading and then they continue with their own amazing topics for discussion.  In our recent Blackboard discussion all students prepared their own questions and led the event.  My role is to moderate, listen and guide.  They are deconstructing the novels in their own way, and they love the leadership opportunities.

In our new Ning I can foresee an amazing social and educational learning space transforming students and families,  as we share what is happening in our own communities in a fenced environment.  Teachers start to form their own groups based on book clubs, computer or sports groups.  Students start to communicate and share their images, or videos in their particular niche.  Some of our teen geek squad may share their own videos and teach us how to be computer savvy.  As we share our ideas and collaborate we are giving rise to our students' voice and emotional well being.  They are being heard,  and prayerfully God is involved in this transformation. 

As Matt builds in his virtual world,  other students might make videos and share their learning. I am hoping that some of my book club students might make  movie trailers to share their book reviews  for their next novel.   Common Craft have some easy to use ideas for students making simple videos, or IMovie has generic trailers to authenticate, along with  Animoto

So if you have a student who is stuck in textbook land and traditional style classrooms, ask them if there is another way they might enjoy learning?  If you are unsure how to go about doing this ask your Support Teacher for ideas.  Let us take our students to the next level of learning so that they can become leaders in the 21 century and teach us to be listeners, encouragers, coaches, and facilitators as we dance in this new era of learning.  Let us help our students become digital writers using Google Docs, blogs, and social networks.  We can guide and point them in the right direction to learn how to navigate the web wisely and with discernment.  

I welcome your thoughts:)


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Monday, December 12, 2011

Ning Release!

As many of you have probably heard from your teachers,  we are sending out invites to parents, staff and teens in our community to join our HCS Learning Commons Ning.  A Ning you may ask is what?  I like the dictionary meaning: To bring together like minded people who share the same passion! Our goal is to create a space for discipleship based education and collaboration. You can form your own group, join another group, share in the chat room or chat individually with another friend or you can add an event, share media and generally get acquainted. 

If you teacher has not sent you the invite,  please email one of the following people to get your invite:

Natalie Sing, and Pippa Davies at HCOS or
Paul Kelly at HCS

We ask that you read some of the social networking guidelines on our ning or learning commons interface,  so that you can help your teenagers (13 and up) if they decide to join.  Be aware that like all social networks you need to decide with your students how much time a day should be spent online, regardless of the fact that the ning is moderated. 

Please note there are several Ning tutorials on our ning site already for those of you who need extra help.  I look forward to running a webinar on Monday 22nd of October 2012 to help you figure out how the ning can work for you.  Please join me at this Blackboard Collaborate Classroom webinar using the following sign in link between 1.15 and 1.30pm.


We pray that you will be blessed by our HCS Ning,  and we look forward to collaborating with you there:) Please let me know if you have any concerns.

Pippa and the LC team.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

December Treats from our Learning Commons

English: Nativity sceneImage via Wikipedia
Greetings fellow learning commons folks,

This month to celebrate the birth of Jesus,  Natalie and I  share some great Christmas finds, along with getting ready for Winter celebrations and SNOW.  If you have a wonderful link that celebrates Advent or Christmas please drop us a note!

From our linking library here are some holiday links on Christmas.

Winter traditions and seasons.

Bible links to learn more about Jesus.

From our physical campus here are the links to Christmas books.  

What am I reading right now:  The Reason for God by Tim Keller.

Our book club is reading:  Where the Red Fern Grows. 

This is still my favourite Youtube video!!  Charlie Brown and The Reason for Christmas!

Blessings to you and your families, for a Peaceful, and  Joyful Christmas in His Namesake.
From the learning commons team!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Teen Geek Squad Tutorials

HCS Learning Commons has started our TEEN GEEK SQUAD this fall, and we are very excited about sharing their tutorials, and advice they may have for our learning commons.  This page will give credit to our group!

Marcus Miller heads up our first video tutorial on creating avatars.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Avatar Tutorial. Marcus starts Teen Geek Squad

Hi everyone,

Marcus Miller, HCOS student has started our Teen Geek Squad with his first Avatar tutorial.  Thanks Marcus for sharing your talents.  If you have a talent that you would like to share on our teen geek squad please let me know?

In January Dave Robertson will share his gifts in making video tutorials! Stay tuned:)

Pippa and the learning commons team!

Livebinders- Techie Site of the Week

Livebinders is a cool way for students or teachers to collect their resources in a 3 ring binder and share them neatly and quickly on the web.  You can add as many tabs as you like!  I am So excited to find another way to share!!    So I am starting my new Livebinder today on Learning Commons Monthly Treats. It is really easy to start a Livebinder, just watch the tutorial and away you GO! 

Here are a few of my favourites!

12 Ways to ELearning
Welcome to Livebinders 4 Teachers is a compilation of livebinders with lots of great resources.
Apps for Teachers and Students.
Digital Curation for School Librarians and Tech-Types.
Evaluating a Web Site
iPads in Schools.
Research Skills for History and Science Fair Projects
Using DropboxintheClassroom

Blessings to you as you share on the web.  I would love to know if you or your students are using Livebinders please, and how they are helping you learn more?  Drop me a line:)

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Reading from our corner!

iPhone 4S and iPad OrnamentsImage by Photo Giddy via FlickrGreetings from the Learning Commons Team,

This year I have really opened up to reading on my iPad.  I never thought that reading could be so easy and effective electronically, BUT I am sold!!  Maybe it does not squish in my hands, but I love the large font, the bookmarks and the illuminating light which highlight the words.  I actually find that my speed reading has improved a ton.  Well okay.... I was always a fast reader, but now I am  a SPEEDMONSTER!:)  Thank you God for eReaders!  I have not had time to play with all the apps but I am learning!

To get you excited about all the happenings in the learning commons in the new year,  here is a little to whet your appetite.

1.  We will be launching Overdrive to all our students, staff and families in the new year, God willing.  So with that in mind please keep those eReaders as a possibility on the wish list for Christmas?  We do have some eReaders in our learning commons, that may be borrowed but not enough for everyone.  There are some great deals on readers like the Kobo (with wifi) right now, and this will bring you the closest to having an iPad without the expense.  Please be patient as we start off slowly with our collection development.  It will take some time to build on this collection.

2.  Our Readathon will be sure to INSPIRE some of our readers with some great prizes in the third week of January.  Clues are hinted at in the previous paragraph?:)  This year we will be open to both schools and all students K-12.

3.  Flat Stanley is set to launch in January and involves both our campus school and home school students.  We have ordered quite a few copies of the books to get you excited about all the literacy and writing possibilities Flat Stanley will inspire in your grade K-3 students.  All the Flat Stanley learning and sharing will take place on a wiki which will be launched on our library interface to coincide with the theme.  We are VERY excited about sharing how Flat Stanley can contribute to our warm and inviting community.

4.  Physical campus learning commons renovations are happening slowly but surely.  After completing a big weed and freeing up some more space, we are working at providing electronic access for Ereaders, netbooks and iPads in our learning commons, as well as a digital presenter.  The next step will be to provide some more innovative and comfortable furnishings to boost space and comfort.  We hope to see high school students, teachers and parents  in our learning commons to share, collaborate and build.   Possibly practice music, play music???  Shari would love to sing with you! 

A BIG thanks to all our learning commons team for working SO hard to make our learning commons dreams come true!  We pray your students will be blessed!

Christmas blessings to you



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Saturday, December 3, 2011

10 Christmas Blessings!

As Christmas comes and Christ's light shines brightly, I am reminded of the most amazing blessings He has given me this year!

1.  God's continued faithfulness, mercy and love!
2. My family who support  me and love me unconditionally.  Especially my hubby who loves me through thick and thin.
3.  My learning commons team who show initiative, support and an amazing work ethic!  I am so proud of them!
4.  My HCS families who have taken on some form of 21 century learning, and the results show in their kids.  I am so proud of them!
5.  Janet Rainbow, Greg Bitgood,  directors and other staff who pray for me.
6.  Travelling mercies this year, and there were some scary flights.
7.  Technology and the many blessings IT has served with my students, and my own personal learning network.
8.  My book club and their keen initiative to collaborate with love and support.
9.  My book club moderators who give of their time and energy to raise a next generation of book worms.  Book worms UNITE!
10.  My friends who love me warts and all!

Christmas blessings to you and your families,