Water Week, March 18-24: Fun Lessons and Activities


Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

What is something that every living thing needs to survive? Water! It is an important natural resource that too often we take for granted. In Canada, we have about 20% of the worlds fresh water supply in our country, however, this is a resource that we need to take care of so that everyone will have it for years to come. March 22 is World Water Day.

BC Hydro has planned some fun and educational free lessons and activities to help us learn and appreciate the water around us.

Guess the Mystery Water Animal Game Play a game with Grades K-3 to guess the names of animals who live in water habitats by looking at clues about the animals.

Every Drop Counts – Group Project Grades 4-7 take a look at how water is used. How much of the world’s water is wasted? What can we personally do to conserve water and make a difference?

How Big is your Water Footprint? – Group Project Grades 8-12 Will look at their personal water footprint. How much water do you use? (Hint* it is more than just what your drink, shower and wash with.) How much water was used in the making of your clothes? How much did it take to make all of the food you eat? How much water was used to make the electricity in your house? What can we do to responsibly use water?

Don’t forget to drink a large refreshing glass of water and be thankful for the blessings that we have in the water around us! On that note, I think it is time to put on some rubber boots and go and play in a spring puddle. Have a great water week!


Erin Duncan


Photo by Oscar Blair on Unsplash






New Growth Mindset Books

As we teach from a Growth Mindset perspective, our students benefit from great story book role models, who present a positive and authentic voice about learning from failure or taking risks.

These new picture e books may be found on Overdrive under Collections-> Growth Mindset. 

Hopefully they will inspire your students to think outside of the box, and have courage to try something different.

Brave Irene by William Steig

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Brave Irene is Irene Bobbin, the dressmaker’s daughter. Her mother, Mrs. Bobbin, isn’t feeling so well and can’t possibly deliver the beautiful ball gown she’s made for the duchess to wear that very evening. So plucky Irene volunteers to get the gown to the palace on time, in spite of the fierce snowstorm that’s brewing— quite an errand for a little girl.
But where there’s a will, there’s a way, as Irene proves in the danger-fraught adventure that follows. She must defy the wiles of the wicked wind, her most formidable opponent, and overcome many obstacles before she completes her mission. Surely, this winning heroine will inspire every child to cheer her on.
William Steig’s Brave Irene is a 1986 New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year.

Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle by Chris Raschka

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“[Raschka’s] marvelous sequences, fluid style, and emotional intelligence capture all of the momentum and exhilaration of this glorious accomplishment,” raves School Library Journal in a starred review.
Learning to ride a bike is one of the most important milestones of childhood, and no one captures the emotional ups and downs of the experience better than Chris Raschka, who won the 2012 Caldecott Medal for A Ball for Daisy. In this simple yet emotionally rich “guide,” a father takes his daughter through all the steps in the process—from choosing the perfect bicycle to that triumphant first successful ride. Using very few words and lots of expressive pictures, here is a picture book that not only shows kids how to learn to ride, but captures what it feels like to fall . . . get up . . . fall again . . . and finally “by luck, grace, and determination” ride a bicycle!
This Read & Listen edition contains audio narration.

Thanks for the Feedback I Think! By Julia Cook

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It doesn’t matter is RJ hears compliments or constructive feedback, he is never sure how to respond. With guidance from his family, RJ learns why feedback, even when it’s difficult to accept, is information he can use to become a better person.

After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back up Again) by Dan Santat

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From the New York Times–bestselling creator of The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend comes the inspiring epilogue to the beloved classic nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty. Everyone knows that when Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. But what happened after?

Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat’s poignant tale follows Humpty Dumpty, an avid bird watcher whose favourite place to be is high up on the city wall—that is, until after his famous fall. Now terrified of heights, Humpty can longer do many of the things he loves most.

Will he summon the courage to face his fear?

After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) is a masterful picture book that will remind readers of all ages that Life begins when you get back up.

Dare the Wind;  The Record-Breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud) by Tracey Fern

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Ellen Prentiss’s papa said she was born with saltwater in her veins, so he gave her sailing lessons and taught her how to navigate. As soon as she met a man who loved sailing like she did, she married him. When her husband was given command of a clipper ship custom-made to travel quickly, she knew that they would need every bit of its speed for their maiden voyage: out of New York City, down around the tip of Cape Horn, and into San Francisco, where the Gold Rush was well under way. In a time when few women even accompanied their husbands onboard, Ellen Prentiss navigated their ship to set the world record for speed along that route.

I am not Little Red Riding Hood.  By Alessandro Lecis

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A little girl enters the snowy forest wearing a vibrant red scarf and holding a basket in hand. But don’t be fooled—this is not a story about Little Red Riding Hood! The little girl soon meets, not an incredulous wolf, but rather a courteous, white bear. When asked what is in the basket she replies, “Nothing. I’m collecting snow, soft snow.” The bear then leads her to the very best snow, which can only be found where the moon sleeps.
Once they arrive, the little girl and bear dance among the snowflakes. He informs her that she can’t keep the snow; it will inevitably melt. Regardless, the girl fills her basket with snow and the bear brings her home. After parting ways, she realizes the bear was right—the snow has disappeared, just as the bear has. With endearing characters and a simple, poetic style, Alessandro Lecis and Linda Wolfsgruber have successfully created a mystical tale about enjoying the here and now and the magic of the winter season.


March Winds and April Showers Bring Forth Flowers!

Photo by Andyone on Unsplash

We are in all need of spring flowers after a long winter.  As we look ahead we can enjoy longer days, and more sunshine and flowers. Yippee!  Here are a few spring ideas for you to check out on your March schedule.

March 8 is International Women’s Day!  Celebrate with books on Overdrive that promote the amazing qualities of the females in our lives.

Easter is almost here!  A time for Holy reflection and appreciation of our sovereign Lord.  Celebrate with our digital library on Easter books!


Techie Tuesday Webinars!  Mark your calendars!

Brain Olympics Workshop with STEAM mentor Sara Zuidhof.  Find out more in this article

Research -Middle School Style with Beth (Subscriptions Facilitator) and Pippa (Learning Commons Director) .  Find out more in this article.


Extra news!

Our digital unit studies are now all housed conveniently for you on Overdrive.  Check them out here.

March Good Read selections on Overdrive for all ages.  Check them out in this article here.

March Special Ed/Learning resources in our physical commons.  Check out this article here.


Blessings from the learning commons!  Enjoy your spring break!

Pippa Davies

Exciting Changes Ahead!



EPhoto by Sam Bark on Unsplash

Dear Learning Commons patrons,

The Learning Commons team is making changes to our Learning Commons website after surveys revealed you had problems finding materials.   In mid June we hope to release a simpler information portal, and a more visually pleasing layout.  We have purchased a new resource manager via Insignia, and are in process of upgrading our WordPress website, hcslearningcommons.org.  Over the next few months, we will transfer some existing data, and have the new circulation system installed.

What does this mean to you as a patron?

  • Your search and booking process will be easier, and more authentic.
  • Sign up will be faster via Encom authentication, or for our campus patrons Google Suite. One set of passwords will be applicable for all systems.
  • The Learning Commons hub will allow you to search seamlessly in one place for web links, digital and non-digital books, and some of our research subscriptions.
  • Booking for next year’s physical resources will begin in late May, or earlier if we get the go-ahead from our vendor.  We will alert you if that is the case.
  • Our other subscriptions will be included on a password-protected page on the WordPress site.  This may only begin in the fall. For now, please continue to use Encom for passwords under the “Curriculum Resources” tab.
  • Once the new site is live we will expect some glitches.  Please be patient as we update any of these issues. Prayer is appreciated 🙂  The long-term result should be worth the wait.

Thank you for your continued patronage!


Blessings from the Learning Commons team.

Pippa Davies, Learning Commons Director.


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:  https://onlineschool.zoom.us/j/337380724

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:  https://onlineschool.zoom.us/zoomconference?m=WGxM9a_azkFS0blBUvXizrNB2ieUiEdp


CHEC Registration Open!

BC Christian Home Educators’ Convention
April 27th & 28th, 2018
Embracing Change!
#Create #Innovate #Transform

Yes, it’s that time again! The CHEC team has been busy planning a wonderful convention for you!

Our theme for 2018 is Embracing Change! In the education world, there have been a lot of changes: BC’s new curriculum, the new Graduation program and the move toward project-based and inquiry based learning, to name a few! Home educators have been leading the way in education for years, using many of these “new” ideas daily! Flexibility with curriculum and teaching methods is one of the hallmarks of Home Education. Change is Biblical! As Christians, God calls us to change, to become more like him:  Romans 12:2 — Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Our Keynote speakers, Zan and Joe Tyler, have been through a lot of changes during their home educating years. Come and be inspired!
We are also hosting a High School Fair on Friday where you can learn about the new Graduation program!

Please share the BC CHEC website with friends who are interested in homeschooling, as we have New to Homeschooling workshops just for them!

This is a DO NOT MISS event!
Registration  is now open!


Special Ed/Learning Resources

Special Education highlighted in the Learning Commons

The Learning Commons offers some wonderful books and kits for children with special needs.  Check out a few of our titles:


5 Is Against the Law! Social Boundaries: Straight Up! Pack

An honest guide for teens

Author(s)      Buron, Kari Dunn

1 book, 1 card game with 101 cards, instruction sheet.

Building on Kari Dunn Buron s popular The Incredible 5-Point Scale, this book takes a narrower look at challenging behavior with a particular focus on behaviors that can spell trouble for adolescents and young adults who have difficulty understanding and maintaining social boundaries. Using a direct and simple style with lots of examples and hands-on activities, A 5 Is Against the Law! speaks directly to adolescents and young adults. A section of the book is devoted to how to cope with anxiety before it begins to escalate, often leading to impulsive and unacceptable behavior. Throughout the book, the reader is encouraged to think about and create his own behavior on an anxiety scale that applies to his particular emotions and situations.

The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children
Author(s)      Greene, Ross W.
Screaming, swearing, crying, hitting, kicking, spitting, biting…these are some of the challenging behaviors we see in kids who are having difficulty meeting our expectations. These behaviors often leave parents feeling frustrated, angry, overwhelmed, and desperate for answers. In this fully revised and updated book, Dr. Ross Greene helps you understand why and when your child does these things and how to respond in ways that are nonpunitive, nonadversarial, humane, and effective. Dr. Greene describes how best to: Understand the factors that contribute to challenging episodes. Identify the specific situations in which challenging episodes are likely to occur. Reduce or eliminate challenging episodes by solving the problems that cause them. Solve problems collaboratively (rather than unilaterally) and proactively (rather than reactively). Help your child develop the skills to be more flexible, solve problems, and handle frustration more adaptively. Reduce hostility and antagonism between you and your child. With Dr. Greene’s practical, expert guidance, you and your child will forge a new relationship based on communication and mutual respect.
Also contains a card game: Bully Free Zone
101 Cards and Instructions.

Helping your anxious child: a step-by-step guide for parents /
Author(s)      Rapee, Ronald M.
Most children are afraid of the dark. Some fear monsters under the bed. But at least ten percent of children have excessive fears and worries – phobias, separation anxiety, panic attacks, social anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder – that can hold them back and keep them from fully enjoying childhood. If your child suffers from any of these forms of anxiety, the program in this book offers practical, scientifically proven tools that can help. Now in its second edition, Helping Your Anxious Child has been expanded and updated to include the latest research and techniques for managing child anxiety. The book offers proven effective skills based in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to aid you in helping your child overcome intense fears and worries. You’ll also find out how to relieve your child’s anxious feelings while parenting with compassion. Inside, you will learn to: – Help your child practice detective thinking” to recognize irrational worries – What to do when your child becomes frightened – How to gently and gradually expose your child to challenging situations – Help your child learn important social skills This book has been awarded The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies Self-Help Seal of Merit – an award bestowed on outstanding self-help books that are consistent with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) principles and that incorporate scientifically tested strategies for overcoming mental health difficulties. Used alone or in conjunction with therapy, our books offer powerful tools readers can use to jump-start changes in their lives. “

How to Make & Keep Friends Pack
Tips for Kids to Overcome 50 Common Social Challenges

Author(s)      Briggs, Nadine
1 book, 2 card games
How to Make & Keep Friends: Tips for Kids to Overcome 50 Common Social Challenges by Nadine Briggs and Donna Shea offers social skills and friendship advice presented in an easy to read, reference guide format. While geared toward elementary school kids, many teens and adults report they are finding these tips to be a helpful resource. Included are simple and immediately actionable tips to navigate common social situations that can be challenging, such as: • How to Join a Group • How to Safely Handle Angry Feelings • Handling Rejection and Exclusion • Working Things Out & Sharing Fairly • Being a Good Guest and Host • Playground Success • … and much more!

Model Me Kids Series includes Airplane, Job Skills, Tips and Tricks:
Model Me: Movement
Ages 9-17
Local Call Num.  302.12 MOD
1 DVD, 60 min.
What do gross motor and movement skills have to do with social skills? Studies show that children with Autism who have better motor skills show greater ability in socializing. Synergies article. A study at Indiana University also found a strong correlation between hand-eye coordination and social communication skills. Psychology Today article.
Model Me Movement™: Balance, Core, & Calming is a video of short, easy-to-follow movement activities developed by Occupational Therapist Dr. Fabiane Curro. The video is designed to improve balance, increase core strength, and promote self-calming. The DVD contains six 8-11 minute movement segments each modeled by a child and guided by an adult. The activities are designed to target skills that help with coordination, body awareness, self-regulation, and promote an overall feeling of physical well-being.

SuperFlex Series:
Superflex : a superhero social thinking curriculum kit
Superflex takes on Rock Brain and the Team of Unthinkables
Author(s)      Madrigal, Stephanie.
1 CD-ROM (4 1/2 in.)
Provides educators and parents with fun and motivating ways to teach elementary school students with Asperger Syndrome and high-functioning autism how to build social skills. Superflex combines a book, comic book and CD to create a curriculum that develops in the students’ brains a superhero who overcomes the social thinking challenges that arise in different social contexts.

Why does Izzy cover her ears?:dealing with sensory overload /
Author(s)      Veenendall, Jennifer.
Includes discussion questions.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 35-39).
Illustrated children’s book dealing with the challenges at home and at school of sensory overload– symptoms and tools for mitigating them and enabling children to function and learn more successfully.
Why Does Izzy Cover Her Ears? Dealing with Sensory Overload is the picture book story of Izzy, an intelligent young girl just starting the first grade. Izzy has sensory processing disorder, which makes her over-responsive to environmental stimuli, including sounds, accidental bumps from other kids, and visual distractions. Her reflexive tendencies to cry, lash out, or cover her ears have caused other kids to accuse her of being mean, or deride her as a “crybaby”. But with help from her parents, her teachers, and an occupational therapist, she is learning how to adjust. She feels calmer and ready to learn, and she’s made a lot of friends! The story is told from Izzy’s point of view, but does not talk down to the reader. A highly recommended and educational book for parents and children to share, especially if the child has sensory processing disorder or knows relatives or friends with it.

The Out-of-sync child has fun :
activities for kids with sensory processing disorder

Author(s)      Kranowitz, Carol Stock.
This revised edition of the companion volume to The Out-of-Sync Child includes new activities that parents of kids with Sensory Processing Disorder can do at home with their child, along with updated information on which activities are most appropriate for children with coexisting conditions such as Asperger’s, autism, and more.

So, where do you find all of these amazing resources?  In our L4U library catalogue! Just log in, go to Topic Search, scroll to 003 Special Education and scroll through the lists!


Digital Unit Study Kit Guides Now on OverDrive

BIG NEWS.  We’ve made some more changes on OverDrive, making our HCOS Digital Unit Study Kit Guides by Rachael Freed (now Rennie), even easier to access.

To quickly find all of these digital kits on OverDrive, visit this link


To navigate to the Unit Study Kits from the main page, click our “Curriculum” Menu:

Unit Study Kits from Curriculum Menu

You will see all of the curated lists here that align with BC’s standards.

From there, SCROLL DOWN, and you’ll see all of our Unit Study Kits, LIKE THIS:

Unit Study Kits


If you want a quick view of what’s in each collection, click the + sign on the right of each list.  To see all the Unit Study Kits for a particular grade, click, “view more“:


We’re continually making improvements to serve you better, and are open to your comments and suggestions anytime.  Please feel free to send me an email, cynthia.duncalfe@onlineschool.ca


Good Reads on Overdrive!

High School

Overdrive by Eric Walters.  Gr 9-12

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Jake has finally got his driver’s license, and tonight he has his brother’s car as well. He and his friend Mickey take the car out and cruise the strip. When they challenge another driver to a street race, a disastrous chain reaction causes an accident. Jake and Mickey leave the scene, trying to convince themselves they were not involved. Jake finds he cannot pretend it didn’t happen and struggles with the right thing to do. Should he pretend he was not involved? Or should he go to the police?

The Curse of the Viking Grave by Farley Mowat.   High School

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The popular sequel to his award-winning Lost in the Barrens, this is Farley Mowat’s suspense-filled story of how Awasin, Jamie and Peetryuk, three adventure-prone boys, stumble upon a cache of Viking relics in an ancient tomb somewhere in the north of Canada. Packed with excitement and with little-known information about the customs of Viking explorers, this story of survival portrays the bond of youthful friendship and the wonders of a virtually unexplored land.

The Yearling by Marjorie Rawlings (readers guide included)

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No novel better epitomizes the love between a child and a pet than The Yearling. Young Jody adopts an orphaned fawn he calls Flag and makes it a part of his family and his best friend. But life in the Florida backwoods is harsh, and so, as his family fights off wolves, bears, and even alligators, and faces failure in their tenuous subsistence farming, Jody must finally part with his dear animal friend. There has been a film and even a musical based on this moving story, a fine work of great American literature.

Elementary School


A Butterfly is Patient by Sylvia Long

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The creators of the award-winning An Egg Is Quiet and A Seed Is Sleepy have teamed up again to create this gorgeous and informative introduction to the world of butterflies. From iridescent blue swallowtails and brilliant orange monarchs to the worlds tiniest butterfly (Western Pygmy Blue) and the largest (Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing), an incredible variety of butterflies are celebrated here in all of their beauty and wonder. Perfect for a child’s bedroom bookshelf or for a classroom reading circle! Plus, this is the fixed format version, which looks almost identical to the print edition.

The Doll People by Ann.M Martin.  Audiobook. Middle grades.

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The 100-year-old Doll family—beautifully crafted china dolls passed down through four generations of girls in one American family—meet their new neighbours, the Funcrafts, a doll family made completely of plastic and delivered straight from the factory shelves.
Annabelle Doll is eight years old—she has been for over a hundred years. Not a lot has happened to her, cooped up in the dollhouse, with the same doll people, day after day, year after year…until the Funcrafts move in. Now Annabelle has a friend. Sure she’s made entirely of plastic and she’s living in the scariest room in the house, but she’s an adventurer, and after a hundred years of boredom, that’s just what Annabelle needs.

Why Do Rabbits Hop? Penguin Young Readers by Joan Holub.  Read Aloud Format

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Gr 2-3-Using a question-and-answer format, Rabbits discusses the different traits and behaviors of rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, and gerbils. While all are rodents, each one has its own peculiarities. Horses does the same for horses and ponies. Charming, full-color photographs and drawings, especially those depicting the animals interacting with humans, mostly children, enhance the large-type texts. A winning combination of tightly written narrative, age-appropriate vocabulary, and worthy illustrations guarantees that independent readers will enjoy these titles.-Pamela K. Bomboy, Chesterfield County Public Schools, VA

The Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing by Helen Lester.  Read Aloud.

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Ewetopia is not comfortable in her own wool, and every attempt she makes to impress the other sheep falls flat. So when an invitation to the Woolyones’ Costume Ball arives, Ewetopia knows her chance to shine has come at last. After trying on fifty-eight different costumes, she finally finds the perfect one—or so she thinks. But her wolf ensemble turns out to be none too popular with Rambunctious, Ramshackle, and Ramplestiltskin, so Ewetopia finds herself standing all alone again when a stranger enters the room. He is dressed simply as a sheep, but he is so handsome, none of the other sheep notice anything peculiar about his costume choice. Ewecalyptus, Ewetensil, and Heyeywe all look on as the newcomer chooses to dance with none other than Ewetopia. But as they dance across the floor, Ewetopia begins to wonder about her mysterious partner: Why is his growl so deep? Why does he have such long, sharp claws? And why does he keep calling her Mother?!!!

Swimmy by Leo Leonni .  Read and Listen.

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In this charming Read & Listen edition, kids can dive deep in the sea to discover a happy school of little fish. Their watery world is full of wonders, but there is also danger, and the little fish are afraid to come out of hiding . . . until Swimmy comes along. Swimmy shows his friends how—with ingenuity and team work—they can overcome any danger. With its graceful text and stunning artwork, this Caldecott Honor Book deserves a place in every family’s ebook collection.
This ebook includes Read & Listen audio narration.

Adult Professional Development

In the Name of Jesus by Henri Louwen

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Henri Nouwen was a spiritual thinker with an unusual capacity to write about the life of Jesus and the love of God in ways that have inspired countless people to trust life more fully. Most widely read among the over 40 books Father Nouwen wrote is In the Name of Jesus. For a society that measures successful leadership in terms of the effectiveness of the individual, Father Nouwen offers a counter definition that is witnessed by a “communal and mutual experience.” For Nouwen, leadership cannot function apart from the community. His wisdom is grounded in the foundation that we are a people “called.” This beautiful guide to Christian Leadership is the rich fruit of Henri Nouwen’s own journey as one of the most influential spirtiual leaders of the 20th century.

Brain Olympics Workshop! Save the date!

March 6th   3:00 p.m.

Brain Olympics:  Pumping Up Growth Mindsets and Design Thinking in Your Home



What:  Join HCOS teacher, Sarah Zuidhof, as she discusses how to exercise and train for a gold-medal Growth Mindset in your kids.  Sarah will share helpful book titles, activities and project ideas that she has tried with her own five kids that could motivate you for new Applied Design projects in your family.

Who:  Parents, teachers

Where:  Zoom classroom

 Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android:  https://onlineschool.zoom.us/j/337380724

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:  https://onlineschool.zoom.us/zoomconference?m=WGxM9a_azkFS0blBUvXizrNB2ieUiEdp

Learning Commons Team

Read-a-thon Winners!

We are so proud of the students, all 165 of them!, who took part in the read-a-thon!  What an accomplishment:  279,315 minutes read combined!  That’s 193.97 full (24 hour) days of reading!

And now, here are the winners:


Honorable mention goes to:



  • Winners cannot win for both top reader of class and highest overall score
  • Winners from previous year are not eligible to win Grand Prize/top class prize two years in a row, but are still eligible for the Random prize draw.

All students will receive a Read-A-Thon Certificate from their teacher after completion or you can download it here:  Certificate2018

Great work everyone!!


Read a thon coming to an end!

The Read a thon ends this Friday!  Be sure to enter your student’s minutes in this tally form. Deadline to enter minutes is Feb. 15, 2018.  Winner will be announced on February 19th, 2018.

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