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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Poets on board!

The Art & Poetry Tree is Lidia Chiarelli's ins...
The Art & Poetry Tree is Lidia Chiarelli's installation for IMMAGINE&POESIA project: both poems and art works on cards can be hung on the tree (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This month with our poetry excitement on the ning, I thought I would see some inspiration from our older students.  Instead my primary students are encouraging the older ones.  So with that in mind our poetry competition is now open to all students irrespective of age.  I will still showcase the poetry on our ning:)

Here are some of my younger students' amazing creations:

 How about some amazing alliteration from Bekah!

1 The snapping, steel scissors
-2 The slippery, slimy swamp
-3 The plump, plush pillow
-4 The big, bountifully, blossoming bush
-5 The appealing, appetizing apple
-6 The silky, sparkling spider’s specialty.

Or some soothing thoughts from Matt.
Terrific steaming teapot.
Teapot on a pile of books,
Teeming with warm tea to come home to.

Calling all poets to express their love of poetry and writing by sharing on the ning or sending me your poetry to share on the ning, and enter the competition for a Chapters gift card.  Send me your word creations!

Blessings to you

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Thursday, April 19, 2012


Image representing Rethink Books as depicted i...
Image via CrunchBase
Rethink Books has revolutionized the book club and reading industry with a unique new app called Bookshout.  Book club or bible study groups can read digital books together and share the love!

Not only is this a highlighting and bookmarking tool, but also a community driven project to draw like minded individuals to share the same books.  It draws on the fact that people like to read each others' comments, notes and highlights, and encourages readers to dialogue around certain areas.  We were meant to share our perfect bible study or book that we are reading, and here is an amazing opportunity to do so.  Thoughts and quotes can be shared to social networks like Facebook and Twitter. 

Right now this app is only available on iPads, but will shortly be available on iPhones, and Android devices. 

"Every major Christian publisher is participating in the BookShout! launch, with a number of free ebooks being offered during launch week, including works such as “Jesus + Nothing” and “Loving the Way Jesus Loves” from Crossway; “The Fitting Room” and “Godspeed” from David C. Cook; and “Code Triage” and “Promise Me This” from Tyndale."Faith That Inspires Action

Blessings to you
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Monday, April 16, 2012

Duck Duck Go

Duck Duck go is a child friendly web search engine much like Ask Jeeves, with quick answers to questions.   The first thing you need to do is add it to your search bar.  Here is how to do that?
I use Chrome as my browser and so it is easy to add, but if you are using Safari here is how you add it.

Now hopefully you won't need Google search so much.  Searching the web should be pure and friendly.  Right?

Blessings to you

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Friday, April 13, 2012

The Hunger Games a Library Conundrum?

Cover of "The Hunger Games"
Cover of The Hunger Games
 The past month in the learning commons we have read, debated, researched, and endlessly discussed the challenge that is The Hunger Games.  My son read the trilogy in grade 7, loved all three books and would have read more if Suzanne Collins wrote another edition.  I read the first book with reluctance,  because I have a sensitive stomach and don't tolerate violence well.  But with all our teens wanting to read this book because of the media focus, I thought it necessary.   Needless to say I was absorbed by the author's excellent style of establishing pace and tension, until the violence took a nosedive...

So why does the violence offend me?  I understand that Suzanne is trying to convey the message that violence in society needs to be highlighted.  Our kids are so desensitized to violence on a daily basis; they are assaulted on every level from computer games, digital media, movies, cartoons and books.  Having witnessed students as young as 9 years old reading this book, I doubt they would understand the critique on violence that Collin's is conveying? 

Collins highlights graphic violence as a means to an end.   Survival justifies killing in this story.  By participating in the Games, even the heroes allow themselves to be infected with its kill-or-be-killed ethos.  It is hard to envisage children killing children with knives, hatchets, swords, bombs and then very scary insects and animals.

The protagonist Katniss does not support any kind of redemptive qualities in the first book, although I have heard that she improves in the second novel.  Time and time again she allows her feelings to guide her as to what is right and wrong.  People are used in the plot as a means for manipulation,  to further her intent.

Cover of "Lord of the Flies, Educational ...
Cover of Lord of the Flies, Educational Edition

Cover of
Cover of The Giver
I would set this book at about a grade 10 or 11 novel study along the dystopian lines of Lord of the Flies and The Giver, for students to truly understand the implicit message.  Our learning commons recommended age limit for this book is 14 and over.  If you see your student reading please take the time to read yourself, so you can discuss some of the themes and prepare them for the message behind the violence.

Let me know what you think about this book?  In terms of controversy this book is on the ALA most challenged books for 2012.  

Pippa and the learning commons team.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

E Books April

Our learning commons has been humming so much with the acquisition of E books and E readers this past while,  that we have not been able to catch our breath to let you know about some of our recent additions:)

Here are a couple of NEW books from the HCS E book shelf:

No Compromise;  The True story of Keith Green by Melody Green.  "He was only twenty–eight when he died in a plane crash with two of his small children, but singer/songwriter Keith Green had already created a legacy of music and inspiration that would outlive him. A spiritual revolutionary, he found freedom through Jesus, not religion, and spent his last years convincing others to refuse to accept the status quo and instead to bring compassion and honesty back to the church. He touched people through vibrant lyrics in songs like "Your Love Broke Through," "You Put This Love In My Heart," and "Asleep In The Light." Last Days Ministries, which he and his wife Melody founded, went on to challenge thousands of people to take to the mission fields of the world. Now, on the 25th anniversary of his death, Melody has updated her husband's biography with new photos, essays from current musicians who were influenced by Keith, selections from Keith's private journal, and stories about what it was like raising their two remaining children on her own."

Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce by John Piper .  "John Piper's biography of William Wilberforce takes readers beyond Wilberforce's battle against slavery and explores the beliefs and motivations of this influential evangelical politician."

The Chamber of Lies;  The Elijah Project series.  " In book four, Chamber of Lies, Zach, Piper, and Elijah are reunited with their parents. But when Elijah is lured into the Chamber, he must face the Shadow Man in a battle for his soul. Only heaven can help him now."

LarryBoy versus the Volcano by Doug Peterson. "When LarryBoy and his superhero buddies are invited to Superhero Island, they are in for a surprise of volcanic proportions. Trouble erupts when LarryBoy discovers he's a second-class citizen, because he doesn't have 'super' powers like his buddies. Bumblyburg's newest supervillain, Chili Pepper and his henchman Coconut, are cooking up a plot for disaster to destroy all superheroes. Will Larryboy help after his vacation is ruined and his friends treat him poorly? Kids will enjoy the adventure of finding out as Larryboy tumbles into a secret hideaway and uncovers Chili Pepper's tourist trap. But is it too late when the volcano explodes? Will LarryBoy save himself or will he save the day before the island is covered in hot, molten chili? How will Larryboy learn that everyone is important in God's eyes, even after being excluded from his friends?

The Last Martin by Johnathon Friesen.  "Thirteen year-old Martin Boyle, the most fearful hypochondriac born into a family of worriers, doesn't want to visit the family cemetery. Truth is, none of the Boyles are thrilled about the annual trip to visit their war dead. It shames Mr. Boyle to think of his once courageous family line, and Mrs. Boyle is certain the greenish moss growing on the headstones carries disease. But after strict no-touch warnings from Mrs. Boyle (and an anti-bacterial scrub down), Martin ventures into the private cemetery for a grim remembrance. He's surrounded by stones that bear his name. Martin, the Boyle family name, has been given to the firstborn male in each Boyle household for centuries. While his father offers a speech honoring Martins who have gone before, Martin wanders among his ancestors. Writing on the old headstones is hardly legible, and he scratches at birth and death dates with a stick. His analytical mind gravitates toward the numbers, and his stomach sinks. The pattern is clear: Martin 1770-1819. Martin 1819-1835. Martin 1835-1899. Martin 1899-1956. Martin 1956-1996. There's always a Martin. Only one Martin. Martin panics. Not because he was born in 1996 ---that only fits ---but because his uncle and aunt are expecting their first child, a boy, in three months. Tradition dictates they will name him Martin. He's seen the graveyard. He has proof of the curse. When the next Martin is born, he'll die. Martin's parents believe the cemetery pattern is a coincidence, and a sign that their son needs professional help. It's a belief that's about to get stronger because their son, with the help of a homeless boy named Poole, is about to make his first decision of consequence: with twelve weeks until the baby's arrival and no time to waste, Martin chooses to live. Little does he know that the key to his survival ---the cornerstone of the curse ---lies embedded"

Check out more at our HCS E library.

Pippa and the learning commons team!
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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Poetry a la 21 century!

Villa Emo. From the room of arts. Poetry. Fres...
Villa Emo. From the room of arts. Poetry. Frescoes by Giovanni Battista Zelotti. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
April is POETRY month!  Word mechanics, word play,  songs, and word images all conjure up dreams, stories, and lyrical beauty.  
So take out the classics if you have younger kids; read to them, and get your chicklets moving and clapping to the sounds!  From nursery rhymes, to nonsense poetry, classical and contemporary poetry, let your muse/s be the guide as you share in God's creative inspirations!

Some of my favorite poets for younger students include:
Dr Seuss (my personal best for K-3)

How do our middle and high school students share their poetry a la 21 century learning?  Where does technology complement their presentation methods?

Before you get started, watch this video on the Challenges of Teaching Poetry from poet Billy Collins.

Then get your students excited with the great classics with Famous Classical Poets and their Poems.

Some interesting technology resources:

1.  Teachers get inspired with ways to teach poetry with Poetry for Teachers, from Ted Scheu.

1.   Poetry Idea Engine!  Get your poetry juices flowing with the Poetry Idea Engine, from Scholastic. Created with GoCyberCamp, this activity will allow you to write haikus, free verse, limericks, and more!

2.  Make a Glogster and share your poetry as a visual poster.  

3.  Do you have a visual learner?  They might enjoy Piclits, which encourages students to drag and drop images and words to the page to create a poem!

4.  If you have an Ipod, Iphone or Ipad use the Songify app to bring speech to lyrics!  Songify works by recording your speech/poetry and the app will;
  • analyze the speech, segment it into chorus and verses, map it to a melody, align it with the beat and add pitch correction.
  • Songify then plays back what the user said in musical form.

5.  Teaching and Writing Australasian Poetry in the 21 century offers many wonderful options like sharing poetry as songs, video and Glogsters.

6.  Poets.org has lots of great ideas for sharing poetry in different formats!

For more great ideas on poetry check out our HCS website and submerge your loved ones with the joys of word and play!

Happy poetry writing!  Please share your poetry compilations with me to share on our ning or here on the blog!  Share your favourite poets with me too!  I would love to hear from you:)

Blessings to you
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Monday, April 2, 2012

The End of the Penny!

1974 Canadian Penny (Obverse)
1974 Canadian Penny (Obverse) (Photo credit: yaybiscuits123)
It is with sadness yet expectation that we share the news re the demise of the Canadian penny.  We understand the reasons why it needs to go, because it costs too much to make, but part of me wonders if this is the start of hyperinflation?  Having grown up in Africa where inflation is out of control, especially in places like Zimbabwe, one wonders where it will end?  What do you think?

This is an awesome time to be teaching your students about economy and inflation, and the value of your dollar.

Here are some learning resources:

The Consumer Price Index Government of Canada Statistics:  A Measure of Inflation
What causes Inflation  Econedlink learning resources
Investopedia has some interesting Financial videos which explain many financial terms.  
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