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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.