Research – Middle School Style

I would like to invite parents, teachers and students of Middle School age to join Pippa Davies and me on March 13th at 3:00 p.m. to learn about using HCOS subscriptions for research.  Our main focus will be on using BrainPOP, Discovery Education, Learn360, World Book Student and Explora.  We will briefly touch on RightNow Media for Bible, and for Social Studies: KnowBC and “What in the World?” (Level I for Middle School).

Where?  Zoom classroom

 Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android:

Or iPhone one-tap :

Canada: +16475580588,,337380724#

Or Telephone:

Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):

Canada: +1 647 558 0588

Meeting ID: 337 380 724 International numbers available:


Fake News – What???

Did you know that in the last US election, “fake news” outperformed mainstream news?  I was shocked to learn that by going to the right sites and “messing” with the true news, I can 1.  fill a candidate’s mouth with totally different words; 2. change his facial expressions; and 3. totally change a piece of media making it almost indecipherable from the original.  People spread false reports for commercial or malicious reasons, or even just for fun.  So how are we to know that the articles we are viewing are the truth?  And even more, how are we to encourage our students to care about finding the truth?

First, what is fake news?  It can include such things as:

  1.  False information posted on a website to mimic real news.
  2.  Satirical websites being taken seriously.
  3.  Native advertising, which is advertising disguised as “news” articles.
  4.  Slanted or biased news.  It could speak truth, but omit critical information.

How can we check to find out whether our news is accurate or not?

As was mentioned in the embedded video, check the source sites.  People will often believe sites even though they state clearly that they are fake news.

  1. Read the “about us” in a site.
  2. Note the domain name.
  3. Consult the experts.

Learn to do a “Reverse Google Image Search”–this is a basic skill for all students.  Just right click on an image, hit “copy image address”, then go to the original site where the image was found.

“Satirical websites” and memes are often forwarded as truth.  It is so important to check the source.

“Native advertising” camouflages ads by making them look like real news.  This allows them to misrepresent scientific studies, for example.  Students can actually phone the organization to ask for their scientific results!

We need to realize, also, that our interests will drive what media content we will see on the internet.  You may have noticed this in a Facebook site, for example.  The Wall Street Journal created Blue Feed, Red Feed to illustrate how Facebook specifically shows what viewers want to see and engage with.

There is a great site to use in response to the problems of satirical or slanted news media:  “Media Bias/Fact Check“.  This site will list media sources and rate them for you according to their bias:  left bias, left-centre bias, least biased, right-centre bias, right bias, pro-science, conspiracy-pseudoscience, questionable sources, and satire.  It will show where the media involved would fall on a scale of extreme left to extreme right,  expresses whether the reporting tends to be factual or not, and gives a link to the “about page”.  Unfortunately, it is an American site and did not include the “The Beaverton” in its listing of satirical sites.

A fun way to teach students about spotting real or fake news is to use the “Fact-itious” website .  If you are working with several students together, you can use “Two Truths and a Lie”–finding 3 stories and then getting the group to assess which two are true and which one isn’t.  This gives opportunity to encourage students to read articles beyond the headlines.

Resources for teaching students to evaluate media:

Contents and resources for this article were inspired by the Cinematheque workshop ‘Dissecting Fake News’ ( ), delivered by Liz Schulze at the 2017 PSA Superconference.

 Presentation Summary of the workshop presentation “Dissecting Fake News: Media Literacy in the Post-Truth Era”  







Career Education Page

Let’s assume you’re working away on making sure you have the curriculum you need for your students… when you suddenly come to a component that says, “Career Education” and your brain stops working.  What in the world do they want for Career Education?  What do they MEAN by Career Education?  How can you manage to find material that will meet that requirement?

I am here to tell you about a new resource that will answer your needs!  We have created a Career Education page in the Learning Commons.  This page gives you an introduction, goals, and an overview of the areas that Career Education should cover.  Like this, for example:

Career Education diagram 2016-08-16

Looking at a chart like that will not answer all your questions. so you will need to scroll down the page to find the links to “Resources for Career Education” for Grades K-3, 4-5, 6-7 or 8-9.  On those pages you will find more explanations of the “Big Ideas” and “Curricular Competencies” that are expected.  Better yet, you will find all kinds of Resources from OverDrive (the digital or eBook collection), from L4U (the campus library) and, below that, from the subscriptions HCOS offers.

If Career Education is the area in which you need help, go to Career Education Resources and you will find the help you need.  BUT…  if you are looking for help related more to a particular grade, you need to go to this icon on the right side of all the Learning Commons pages:Resources for BC's New Curriculum

It will take you to BC’s New Curriculum: Resources for Each Grade.  This is the most amazing resource we offer to help you with meeting your students’ learning needs year by year.  (And it has Career Education information, as well.)

Hour of Code Ideas

What is “Hour of Code”?

At we read, “The Hour of Code is a global movement reaching tens of millions of students in 180+ countries. Anyone, anywhere can organize an Hour of Code event.”  Hour of Code happens during the week of December 4-10th this year.

Avid Larizadeh, head of the Hour of Code UK campaign explains it this way, “The Hour of Code is an attempt to teach people the basics of computer programming in 60 minutes in a fun, simple way. It is part of a campaign that, a non-profit organisation, launched in the US with the goal of introducing coding into the US curriculum and raising awareness around what coding is.  The idea was to show that it’s not just about the geek in the basement or the super-tech-savvy person but that it actually plays a role in everything we do and everybody should have access to it. And 20 million kids signed up to it.”


Ideas for a Successful “Hour of Code”

  1. Make it student-directed
  2. Create opportunities for differentiation
  3. Allow them to “fail forward”
  4. Encourage them to MAKE with code!
  5. Try a one hour tutorial with hour of Code ideas here.

If you want to set up an “Hour of Code” using Tynker, here is a quick video with ideas:

Are there webinars that we can attend that will help us with this?

Register for a Tynker “Hour of Code” webinar  (Nov 29 or 30, Dec 6 or 7–various times)  20 minutes long

Register for a BrainPOP “Hour of Code” webinar  Nov 29 at 12:30 p.m.  45 minutes long

Follow up with lots of great coding books on Overdrive here under the Creative Thinking core competency!

To discover more about some amazing ADST materials check out our Making Sense of ADST article.

Learn How to Use Reading Eggs

Parents, teachers and students, please join us on Tuesday, November 7 at 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. to learn about our exciting Reading Eggs subscription.

Please register for Heritage Christian School – Reading Eggs Training on Tuesday, November 7, 2017 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM PST at:

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the training.

Reading Eggs site


Remembering on November 11th

We are blessed to live in a country with so many freedoms.  As we are preparing for the “International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church”, we are reminded of the freedoms that are so important to us as Christians: the freedom of religion and of peaceful assembly.  Remembrance Day gives us opportunity to remember those who fought and died so that Canada could have these freedoms.

Remembrance Day Resources

  •  From the Learning Commons:

Remembrance Day Resources:  (A document with multiple resources listed for you to use in studying Remembrance Day topics)

  • From OverDrive:

On Remembrance Day”  by Eleanor Creasey

 “Remembrance Day” by Molly Aloian

By searching the topic “war”, I found many results, including a number of books relating to various wars in which Canada has participated.  For example:  “World War I:  Canada & the Great War” and “World War II:  Total War“, both by Doug Sylvester.

  • From Historica Canada:

  • From the Government of Canada:

This Veterans’ Week, #CanadaRemembers:

10 Quick Facts about Remembrance Day:

For educators – Resources:

  • From  (find the link, username and password on your parent home page in Encom under “Curriculum Resources)

Remembrance Day:  In Memory of the Men and Women Who Have Served”  This collection features a selection of 29 stories marking this special day, in which we acknowledge the courage and sacrifice of those who served their country.  About half for ages 9-12 and half for ages 13-14, one for age 15-17.

Canada 150:  War and Peacekeeping”  This collection features 28 titles which look at the experiences of Canadian soldiers during the wars in which Canada has participated. It also examines the legacy of these wars, as well as Canadian participation in United Nations-led peacekeeping missions.  Mostly age 13-14, a few for 9-12 and 15-17.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch, be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

Techie Tuesday: Be a Savvy Subber

Hi, HCOS families and especially elementary students:

Here is the link to see the video of “Be a Savvy Subber”: 

The focus was on teaching your students how they could use the sites that were highlighted:

  • PebbleGo for K-3
  • PebbleGo Next for Grades 3-6
  • BrainPOP Jr for K-3
  • BrainPOP for Grades 3 to 8
  • EBSCO Explora Primary for Grades K-7
  • World Book Kids  for Grades K-5

We also touched briefly on navigation in RightNow Media, Discovery Education Streaming and Learn360.

Subscriptions Logo


Using Tynker – Demo

Tynker - coding for kids

Tynker Demo will be at:

Thursday, October 26, 2017 11:00 AM(US/Pacific)

Note that this demo will be on Thursday morning, not Tuesday afternoon!! Please try to log in a little before 11:00 a.m.

Duration: 30-45 minutes

Please join this meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.

You can also dial in using your phone.
United States: +1 (571) 317-3122

Access Code: 827-562-717

First GoToMeeting? Try a test session:

Subscriptions News – Fall 2017

Hooray!  All the HCOS subscriptions are now available to our students!

You may have been waiting to sign up for some of them; here are the links:

As your students are learning, don’t forget all the wealth of subscriptions that is available to you. To find them, log in to your parent home page in Encom, choose “Curriculum Resources” and scroll down the page to find the links, usernames and passwords for the subscriptions of your choice. To find the ones which are appropriate for your grade and learning, go to Resources for each grade

2017-18 Subscriptions

I remember this time of year!  It was always so exciting to start planning for the new year… purchasing new curriculum… watching boxes of new books arrive… setting up schedules (so I wouldn’t have to work on it later)… enjoying not having to do schoolwork any more during the summer…  having more time to read…   Yes, those are good memories of my 11 years of homeschooling.

Perhaps you are in that same frame of mind right now, yourself.  As you plan, you are wondering, “Can I use the HCOS subscriptions through the summer?”  “When will the links for subscription renewals be open?”  “My child is going to be in kindergarten this fall–can I start him (or her) using subscriptions right now?”  “When will the 2017-18 usernames and passwords be available?”

Which question shall I answer first?

  1. YES, you can use all the HCOS subscriptions through the summer if you are re-enrolling.  If you are not re-enrolling with HCOS for the fall, you will be able to use our subscriptions until the end of July.
  2. For subscriptions that needed billings to your curriculum budget, the links for renewals (or for new registrations) are available right now.  Scroll down to the bottom of this article to find those 2017-18 links and sign up for subscriptions through July 2018.
  3. YES, if your child is enrolled with HCOS for kindergarten this fall, you may start using HCOS subscriptions for him (or her) right now.  And yes, your teacher may start your kindergarten-to-be child in Reading Eggs right now.
  4. For the rest of the subscriptions, those that are free to you, just keep using the logins that you will find on your parent homepage in Encom under “curriculum resources”.  When these logins stop working, just go back to your parent homepage in Encom to find the new ones (probably in August).

Curriculum Resources Link in Encom

As always, if you have questions I’m happy to help you!  Beth Johnson


You can go to these links to find out more about the various subscriptions, to renew your previous subscription, or to start your new subscription:

Please have patience with me if it takes a while to get these registrations completed for you.  Lots is happening these days, and summer is coming…

Amazing Resources for Social Studies

To find the amazing extra resources available in the LesPlan site, when you log in to download the latest issues of these subscriptions (What in the World? and The Canadian Reader), you will look for the “Student Resource Links” located just above the issues.  You will not need passwords to access this information.

LesPlan Student Resources button

  1. Click on that button to find many more links and suggestions for teaching each of the topics introduced in the various articles of The Canadian Reader. (E.g. “Before Reading” suggestions, “Extension” for added teaching ideas, “Internet Connections” for more information about the same story and related topics, “After Reading”)
  1. Scroll down the page to find sites and links to videos that will enlarge your student’s understanding of the articles in What in the World?
  1. At the top right-hand side of the page, you will also find links to previous issues.

Teacher Resources

For the extra teacher resources that are available in LesPlan, please go to  There you will find:

  • Activities  (“Find someone who…”  to familiarize students with key people in Canada)
  • Assessment Rubrics  (Criteria and marking rubric for assessing assignments of maps and paragraphs)
  • Assignments  (Assignments to familiarize students with different aspects of Canada and current events)
  • Graphic Organizers  (blank graphic organizers:  everything from Big Ideas to Venn Diagrams)
  • Templates  (e.g. “Find Someone Who…” template)


Using LesPlan with the New BC Curriculum

From LesPlan we learn:  “The new system provides teachers with more time and flexibility to explore topics in depth with students.” Our resource spends 1000 words on a topic, but the critical thinking questions, extended learning questions, and multiple links to additional resources allow for deep exploration. Many teachers allow their students to choose one of the four stories (or three for the elementary Canadian Reader) and go deep from there. To become mini experts who then teach the class.

“All 6 of the core competencies (communication, creative thinking, critical thinking, positive personal and cultural identity, personal awareness and responsibility, and social responsibility) are well served by current events resources–especially ones that often feature social justice stories.”

Note:  The Canadian Reader is aimed at a Grade 3 to 5 level; What in the World? Level 1 is for a Grade 5 to 7 level; What in the World? Level 2 is at a Grade 8 to 10 level.  For passwords to these issues, please contact your support teacher or Beth Johnson.

WITW and TCR picture

They’re READY!

You may not have known that you were waiting for these, but you were!

The Learning Commons team has been working to create the ultimate resource for parents and teachers wanting to meet the requirements of the new BC Education Plan.  These pages for Kindergarten through Grade 9 are now ready for you to use.  Wait till you see what’s available to help you plan for your students’ schooling!  Look for this icon on the right-hand side of the Learning Commons website or click on the icon below:


For more information, go to BC Ed Plan New Curriculum


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