Don’t Miss This Techie Tuesday Webinar: Blogging, Digital Writing, and Personal Learning Networks

Blogging, Digital Writing, and Personal Learning Networks

with Cynthia, Pippa, and Beth

When: Feb 20, 2017, 3:00 p.m

What:  Join HCOS Curriculum Consultant Cynthia Duncalfe, as she gives an overview of how blogging using platforms like our HCOS KidBlog subscription can enrich learning experiences and even serve as a portfolio of learning for your students.  Beth Johnson, our Subscriptions Facilitator will walk us through how to set up a KidBlog account.  Pippa Davies, teacher-librarian and Director of our Learning Commons will share the importance of digital writing and how simple it is to develop your own personal/professional learning network.

Who:  Students, parents, teachers

Where:  Zoom classroom: Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: UPDATED LINK:

Big Changes on OverDrive!

Good News! We now have the capacity for many more menus on OverDrive, and we’ve made some major changes, investing significant time making improvements to the way you search our collections.

First of all, take a look at our all-new “Curriculum” tab…




New Curriculum Tab

All the subject lists by grade reside here!  So, instead of searching through all the titles in our former “Grades 2/3 Titles for BC’s New Curriculum” curation, for example, you’ll now see a screen that looks like this:




New Collections Lists

New to our “Collections” tab are CORE COMPETENCIES curations and much more!  Take a look at some of the new collections we’ve been working on.



The new capacity for multiple lists in this “Collections” tab opens up many new opportunities to share curated lists with you to meet your needs.

We’re incredibly excited to be launching these improvements to serve you better!  There are still a few tweaks and additions that we’ll be making over the next few weeks, and so if you have any suggestions for us, or if you are having trouble finding what you’re looking for, your Learning Commons Team is here to support you!



New Year New Goals!


Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Happy New Year!

January and Winter are here, and the research, reading, and learning are happening!  January is traditionally one of the busiest times of year for reading and research!  Let us know if we can help you with any of your research or project queries.  We love to find the very best bibliographic resources to help your student shine!

We look forward to hosting our Mystery Read-a-Thon later this month, as well as two webinars on Intermediate resources on Overdrive and a STEAM session! If you have a request for a webinar on some new learning please let us know and we will look into finding an expert to share!


Thank you for participating our new physical commons survey.  Here are some of the results.


  • 92 % Believe the learning commons should be a place to borrow a variety of materials
  • 83% believe that the learning commons serves as a place of research and reading.
  • 63% believe that the physical commons serves as a place for Maker ed learning.


  • Natural Light
  • Open Plan Layout with a few traditional office/collaboration/reading rooms.
  • Innovative Out of the Box style architecture


  • 88% Books
  • 76% Electronic access and wireless support
  • 72% Library staff
  • 61% Robotics and Maker Kits!



The learning commons has purchased a set of Dash robots for our younger K-Gr 5 students.  Our STEAM mentors and teachers are excited to launch these this year at community centres near you.  We also have one set available for usage from L4U.  See this post for more.



Mystery Read-A-Thon

Jan 22- Feb 9th.  Register by reading the post above.




Overdrive and L4U Intermediate Resources


WhatDiscover how to use Overdrive and L4U to find Intermediate Resources.  Pippa and Cynthia will walk you through the joys of reading using audio and eBooks including some of the amazing digital kits we have on Overdrive.

When?  January 16th at 3 pm

Where?  Zoom classroom

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

Or iPhone one-tap :
Canada: +16475580588,,794363237#
Or Telephone:
Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
Canada: +1 647 558 0588
Meeting ID: 794 363 237
International numbers available:

Register at this poll here.


Coding and Tynker:  Discovering the Design Process


What?  Not sure what ADST is?  Curious about the Design Process?  Wondering how to help your students learn these skills?  Join us today as we take a look at ADST, the Design Process, how it relates to various skills, coding, and more.  Mark Lamden (one of our HCOS STEAM Mentors) will walk us through these topics, and introduce us to some of his own courses which have been created to help families tackle ADST successfully.

Who?All individualized students and online students/parents or staff are welcome. There will be a time for Q and A after the session. 

When?  Jan 30th @ 3 pm  

Where:  Zoom classroom

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

Or iPhone one-tap :
Canada: +16475580588,,185297414#
Or Telephone
Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location)
Canada: +1 647 558 0588
Meeting ID: 185 297 414
International numbers available:

Please register at this poll here.

Blessings for a healthy, happy and peaceful New year!

From the Learning Commons Team!

Making Sense of ADST – It CAN be fun … REALLY!


Did you know that Applied Design, Skills, and Technologies (ADST) is all about tapping into students’ natural curiosity, and desire to design and create?  It may be easy to think of ADST as just another box to check off, but what if we instead saw the process of designing and creating as central to our student’s educational experience?  


From BC’s New Curriculum Website:  

The Applied Design, Skills, and Technologies curriculum builds on students’ natural curiosity, inventiveness, and desire to create and work in practical ways … the ability to design and make, acquire skills as needed, and apply technologies is important in the world today and a key aspect of educating citizens for the future.”



In Kindergarten through Grade 5, the Applied Design, Skills, and Technologies competencies are meant to be addressed in combination with grade-level content from other areas of learning.  That means that spending time on that project and letting your student design, make, and share something is very much part of addressing these competencies.  

In Grade 6 and 7, students should experience a minimum of three of the following: Computational Thinking; Computers and Communications Devices; Digital Literacy; Drafting; Entrepreneurship and Marketing; Food Studies; Media Arts; Metalwork; Power Technology; Robotics; Textiles; Woodwork.

In Grades 8 and 9, students complete the equivalent of a full-year “course”, which can be made up of one or more of the areas introduced in grade 6 and 7 (Computational Thinking; Computers and Communications Devices; Digital Literacy; Drafting; Entrepreneurship and Marketing; Food Studies; Media Arts; Metalwork; Power Technology; Robotics; Textiles; Woodwork).


For more information, I invite you to visit our NEW! HCOS Learning Commons ADST Resources pages:


Resources for ADST Grades K–3

Resources for ADST Grades 4/5

Resources for ADST Grades 6/7

Resources for ADST Grades 8/9


New Overdrive eBooks for ADST and the Core Competencies


New Applied Design Skill and Technologies (ADST) eBooks!


ADST came into effect with BC’s New Curriculum in 2016 and in grades K – 5 is meant to be addressed “in combination with grade-level content from other areas of learning in cross-curricular activities to develop foundational mindsets and skills in design thinking and making” (BC’s New Curriculum).   

ADST Big Ideas for Grades K – 3:
  • Designs grow out of natural curiosity;
  • Skills can be developed through play; and
  • Technologies are tools that extend human capabilities.
ADST Big Ideas for Grades 4 – 5:
  • Designs can be improved with prototyping and testing;
  • Skills are developed through practice, effort, and action; and

The Maker Education, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math), and Project-Based Learning models offer excellent avenues for integrating the required ADST skills into our grades K – 5 teaching and learning.

To find relevant K – 5 ADST resources on OverDrive, select “Teacher Resources” from the Collections menu on the main page …

Teacher's Lounge from main page

… then select, Creative Thinking Competency; MakerEd/STEAM Education:

Creative Thinking Competency.jpg

From here, you can filter your results to only see juvenile titles, which will weed out some of the books for older students for you.


ADST Resources for Grade 6 – 9 on OverDrive

Did you know we have over 120 books in our ADST collection on OverDrive?

In Grade 6 and 7, students can choose a minimum of 3 specific disciplines such as Computational Thinking, Computers and Communications Devices, Digital Literacy, Drafting, Entrepreneurship and Marketing, Food Studies, Media Arts, Metalwork, Power Technology, Robotics, Textiles, and Woodwork. 

In Grades 8 and 9, students have the option to focus on one or more of the aforementioned areas of learning, provided that the culmination of the learning in these areas equates to a full year course.

To find ADST Resources on OverDrive, select “More Collections” from the main menu …

More Collections

… and then scroll down the page until you find, ADST – Applied Design, Skills, and Technology:



For more information about ADST and resources available to you through our Learning Commons, please refer to this page.


New! eBook Collections to Address the Core Competencies of BC’s New Curriculum

We are very pleased to announce all new Core Competencies Collections on OverDrive!

What are the Core Competencies all about?  Here is a brief description:

Communication -The communication competency encompasses the set of abilities that students use to impart and exchange information, experiences, and ideas, to explore the world around them, and to understand and effectively engage in the use of digital media.  View the Communication Profiles and Illustrations »

Thinking – The thinking competency encompasses the knowledge, skills, and processes we associate with intellectual development. It is through their competency as thinkers that students take subject-specific concepts and content and transform them into a new understanding. Thinking competence includes specific thinking skills as well as habits of mind, and metacognitive awareness.


Personal and Social – Personal and social competency is the set of abilities that relate to students’ identity in the world, both as individuals and as members of their community and society. Personal and social competency encompasses the abilities students need to thrive as individuals, to understand and care about themselves and others, and to find and achieve their purposes in the world.

To view our Core Competencies Collection on OverDrive, first select “Teacher’s Lounge from the main menu …

Teacher's Lounge from main page

Then, select the Core Competency of your choice:

Core Competencies

From here, you will be able to sort and filter your results from the options on the left of the page.


Drum Roll, Please! Our Next “Techie Tuesday Webinar” is October 3rd at 3:00 pm!

“Unit Study Kits:  What They Are and How to Use Them” with Pippa and Cynthia

Webinars are a quick and easy way to receive a lot of valuable information in a short amount of time – in a live, virtual setting where you can also get all of your questions answered.  During this “Techie Tuesday” webinar, Pippa and Cynthia will walk you through Unit Study Kits:  What They Are, and How to Use Them.


What:  Pippa and Cynthia will share about our  HCOS Unit Study Kits – Digital & Physical curriculum to help your students learn from an inquiry base.

Who may attend:  Students K-12 and parents, staff

Where:  Zoom classroom


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

Or iPhone one-tap :
Canada: +16475580588,,249449622#
Or Telephone:
Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
Canada: +1 647 558 0588
Meeting ID: 249 449 622
International numbers available:


List of Kits (Both Unit Study and Supplemental Kits) Available in L4U

Unit Study Kit Description:  These kits are available in digital format (using OverDrive eBooks, etc.), or in physical format (Heritage Christian Online School couriers these kits to your home and will arrange for courier pick up as well – all free of charge for HCOS students).  These resource kits, created by our staff, outline lesson plans and activities for your students.  Significant effort has been made on your behalf to include quality resources and hard-to-find supplies, in order to address learning standards efficiently and effectively.


Kits include all or some of the following:

Several informative books on the unit study topic

Hard-to-locate reusable resources such as prepared slides, battery holders, and spring scales

A game, activity or DVD to make learning fun

Related websites to extend learning

A parent activity guide which breaks the content into a variety of lesson plans. The guide can also be accessed on the website and has live links to other websites


October ThankFALL!

September flew by with a great start to a new school year!   We hope you are enjoying the crisp Autumn air, after the hot and fiery summer!  We pray your students have settled into a good school routine with their learning, and we look forward to connecting with you this year.  As you start the school year, we want you to know that we are here to help and guide you in your school choices for curriculum.  We pray that your students will feel encouraged, inspired and confident as they seek to find new challenges that suit their purpose and gifts.  We also pray you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families!

There are numerous ways to get in touch with us!

  • Instead of Lunch ‘n Learn workshops, we now have Techie Tuesdays.  Check out our fall lineup of virtual workshops on Zoom.
  • Let us know if you have a special unique gift you would like to share with our families.  We will host you in a workshop or you can share an article to our blog.


Hello, My Name is JD Robot!  Check out our newest friend in the learning commons!


There are new eBooks in OverDrive, and check out this article on “Read an eBook Day

Have you checked out our OverDrive Grade Level Lists recently?  These resources link directly into Overdrive if you are already signed in:  KindergartenGrade 1Grade 2Grade 3Grade 4Grade 5Grade 6Grade 7Grade 8Grade 9.

If your student is struggling to find his or her passion, check out our thematic lists to find project ideas!

New professional development in The Innovator’s Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity by George Couros.

Books about Thanksgiving on Overdrive!


Many of you have been patiently awaiting our Grade 8 Unit Study Kits.  Good News!  The first of our Science Kits is available now!  Check out our Gr. 8 Cells Digital Unit Study Kit.  Our Plate Tectonic kit is almost here.  Check the website this week!


Help, I Still Need Curriculum!  by Cynthia Duncalfe



See our updated newsletter on the latest web links in our Learning Commons, including STEAM, Maker ideas and farming, plus harvest lesson plans.


Click on this page for some ideas for integrating Indigenous Peoples content into your curriculum.  Your teacher now has a spreadsheet of all the correlations to resources in our learning commons.  Contact your teacher for this spreadsheet.


Wanting ideas for getting your students to start writing?  Try Kidblog, a subscription which allows you (as teachers or as parents) to set up a roster for your students to write and, if you wish, to interact with other students.

A great way to teach science:  Mystery Science!!  Contact your support teacher to be assigned the mysteries, and enjoy a great family-friendly site for K-5 science.


It’s been a busy time in the learning commons – we can tell by the bare shelves that homeschoolers everywhere are hard at work!  Many new families have joined us – Welcome!  We are happy to help you navigate the websites and learn the ropes!  And YES, we still have lot of unit study kits available to book throughout the year.

Read More!

Blessings from the Learning Commons team!



Read an eBook Day is Monday, September 18th

Tell your story


Share your #eBookLove on social media for a chance to win a Kobo Aura ONE thanks to our friends at Kobo.  Simply share a post, picture and/or videos showing off your #eBookLove for a chance to win this incredible device. OverDrive will notify the winners and share their posts throughout the week of the 18th.

RAEBD flyer 2

Read an eBook Day was created to promote the joy of digital reading and modern storytelling.  Visit Read an eBook Day website to get book recommendations, hear interviews with authors by our Professional Book Nerds podcast, and post comments about their eBook experiences. We hope you’ll join the conversation by sharing what you’re reading, stories about why you love eBooks, and by using the hashtag #eBookLove on social media for a chance to win content credit and devices!


New eBooks on OverDrive for STEAM and MakerED

Need some inspiration?  We have lots of new eBooks on Overdrive for STEAM and MakerEd.  To find these excellent resources, first log-in to your Overdrive account, and then click this link.  To see our new titles first, sort by “added to site”.





Adventures in Coding
Hello Ruby Series, Book 1

Cover of Adventures in Codingby Linda Liukas

Meet Ruby—a small girl with a huge imagination, and the determination to solve any puzzle. As Ruby stomps around her world making new friends, including the Wise Snow Leopard, the Friendly Foxes, and the Messy Robots, kids will be introduced to the fundamentals of computational thinking, like how to break big problems into small ones, create step-by-step plans, look for patterns and think outside the box through storytelling. Then, these basic concepts at the core of coding and programming will be reinforced through fun playful exercises and activities that encourage exploration and creativity.

In Ruby’s world, anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

Cover of The Marvelous Thing That Came from a Spring

The Marvelous Thing That Came from a Spring: The Accidental Invention of the Toy That Swept the Nation

(With Audio Recording) by Gilbert Ford

With magnificent dioramic illustrations, Gilbert Ford captures the joy, creativity, and determination behind the invention of an iconic, one-of-a-kind toy: the Slinky!  One day, a spring fell from the desk of Richard James, an engineer, and a dreamer. Its coils took a walk…and so did Richard’s imagination. He knew right away that he had stumbled onto something marvelous.

With the help of his wife, Betty, Richard took this ordinary spring and turned it into a plaything. But it wasn’t just any old trinket—it was a Slinky, and it would become one of the most popular toys in American history.

Cover of Rosie Revere's Big Project Book for Bold Engineers

by Andrea Beaty
Embark on an adventure of personal creativity and invention with fan favorite Rosie Revere! This activity book features art from the picture book Rosie Revere, Engineer and will inspire young readers with activities of all kinds. Kids will have the chance to design a better bicycle, build a simple catapult, construct a solar oven, and more! This empowering activity book will teach problem-solving and creative-thinking skills crucial to STEM fields while also providing opportunities for its readers to try new things and, sometimes, to fail. As the picture book so brilliantly showed hundreds of thousands of young readers, flops are an inevitable part of success and something to be celebrated rather than feared. Created by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts, the same New York Times bestselling team who brought us Rosie Revere, Iggy Peck, and Ada Twist, this activity book will be perfect for old and new fans alike!

A cool idea with a big splash   You know the Super Soaker. It’s one of top twenty toys of all time. And it was invented entirely by accident. Trying to create a new cooling system for rockets, impressive inventor Lonnie Johnson instead created the mechanics for the iconic toy.   A love for rockets, robots, inventions, and a mind for creativity began early in Lonnie Johnson’s life. Growing up in a house full of brothers and sisters, persistence and a passion for problem-solving became the cornerstone for a career as an engineer and his work with NASA. But it is his invention of the Super Soaker water gun that has made his most memorable splash with kids and adults.

Cover of Design Thinking

Design Thinking
Series: 21st Century Skills Innovation Library: Makers as Innovators

by Kristin Fontichiaro

Learn how to think critically about the design of things you want to make. Readers will learn to analyze the efficiency of their plans, while still feeling encouraged to push forward with new ideas. Photos, sidebars, and callouts help readers draw connections between new concepts in this book and other makers-related concepts they may already know. Additional text features and search tools, including a glossary and an index, help students locate information and learn new words.



Help, I Still Need Curriculum! TIPS From our Curriculum Consultant

help-153094_1280The new school year is nearly upon us, and if you’re like me, there may still be a subject or two that you have yet to decide on curriculum for.  I’ve enjoyed the phone conversations and email dialogue I’ve had with many of you, and for the rest of you, I thought I’d share some tips to help you find the best curriculum options for your child(ren).

TIP #1:  Explore the HCOS Learning Commons


  • Discover our Grade Level Pages – a comprehensive collection of what the Learning Commons has to offer, including subscriptions, free of charge to HCOS families, and organized by grade


  • Consider these Unit Study Kits – using your choice of eBooks OR books from our L4U physical library, these kits for Social Studies and Science are fully aligned to BC’s standards and are adaptable to all learning styles


  • Check out this comprehensive Newbie Training document – tap into all the resources, programs, and events the HCOS Learning Commons has to offer


TIP #2:  Narrow Down the Options for Print Curriculum


  • Check out these Curriculum Picks from our BC vendors, chosen to address BC’s standards


  • Explore HCOS Recommended Resources (note that some of these options may require supplementation to fully address BC’s standards)


  • For a broader range of options, explore all the vendors who accept HCOS PO#s.  (Note that some of these options may require supplementation to fully address BC’s standards)


Questions?  Contact Cynthia Duncalfe, Curriculum Consultant:

New Gr. 7 Digital and Physical Unit Study Kits Available Now!

Looking for a way to finish up that last Science and/or Socials Unit in this last semester? These Unit Study Kits provide tons of content and lots of options for interacting with the material in fun and engaging ways.  Unit Studies are available in both physical format through L4U, or in digital format using Overdrive e-books.

Grade 7 Socials

Ancient Egypt Civilization Digital Unit Study Kit

Ancient Greece Civilization Digital Unit Study Kit

Stay tuned:  More Grade 7 Socials Kits coming soon!



Grade 7 Science Digital Unit Study Kits

Creation and Evolution Digital Unit Study

Matter and Elements Digital Unit Study

Fossil Record and Climate Change Digital Unit Study

Energy and Electromagnetism Digital Unit Study Kit


Grade 7 Science Physical Unit Study Kits

Available from L4U Library

Fossil Record and Climate Change Physical Unit Study Kit

Creation and Evolution Physical Unit Study Kit COMING SOON!

Matter and Elements Physical Unit Study Kit COMING SOON!

Energy and Electromagnetism Physical Unit Study Kit COMING SOON!









New Grade 7 Digital Unit Study Kits for Science – Available Now!

Term 3 is well under way.  Does your Grade 7 student need to finish up that final unit in science?  Our newest Grade 7 Digital Unit Study Kits may be just what you are looking for!

Each kit focuses on one of the Big Ideas in BC’s New Curriculum, so for each grade and subject, you’ll notice that we provide a variety of kits.  Complete some, complete them all … they’re designed to fit seamlessly into your overall student learning plan.

In each of our Digital Unit Study kits, you will be provided with suggested books from the HCS Overdrive E-Library, (you’ll need your login information to access), videos to watch, and activities to share with your child.  These kits are all about student choice and enabling your student to focus on areas where they have the most interest.  Therefore, you will not be required to complete all activities listed under each key question, instead, you will be able to choose activities which most appeal to you and your child.

Each key question featured in the unit will include recommendations on how many activities to complete in order to fully address the curriculum content and competencies. Finally, each activity will have icons showing which competencies of BC’s new curriculum the activity addresses.

If you prefer to use physical books, you’ll need to find the kit you are looking for and reserve it in our L4U Physical Library.  Again, you’ll need your login information, and once logged in, go to advanced search by author “Rachael Freed” to find and reserve the Unit Study Kit of your choice.

L4U find by author


All the K – 9 Unit Study Kits can be found here.

Tips for Tuning-Up Your Grammar Skills

Annual Grammar Day is March 4th




1.  Try Out a New Tool

Grammarly:  This online proofreading tool checks your text for grammar, punctuation, and style, and features a contextual spelling checker and plagiarism detector.  It is available as an add-on for Office, for Windows, and as a Chrome Extension.

2.  Follow a Facebook Page With a Little Humour

  • Grammar Girl:  This page is a good mix of light-hearted fun, and short, friendly tips to improve your writing. Grammar Girl makes complex grammar concepts simple with memory tricks to help you recall and apply those troublesome grammar rules.
  • The Grammar Police:  Because sometimes we need a bit of humour to engage our minds with grammar.  And yes, I just began and sentence with “because”.  Oh, and there again with “and”…


3.  Check Out Some Books in Overdrive


overdrive-bookSkin Like Milk, Hair of Silk:  What Are Similes and Metaphors? by Brian P. Cleary.    

Overdrive description:  Are you as clever as a fox? Or perhaps you’re as sharp as any spike? If so, this book will be a piece of cake! Clever rhymes from Brian P. Cleary and humorous illustrations from Brian Gable present similes and metaphors. When it comes to grammar, this team is not as slow as thick molasses. Oh no, they’re as bright as polished pennies! Each simile and metaphor is printed in colour for easy identification in this gem of a book. Read it aloud and share in the delight of the sense – and nonsense – of words. 


the-grammar-teachers-activity-a-dayThe Grammar Teacher’s Activity-a-Day180 Ready-to-Use Lessons to Teach Grammar and Usage by Jack Umstatter

Overdrive description:  This must-have resource features 180 practical, ready-to-use grammar and usage lessons and activities–one for each day of the school year. The activities included help students in grades 5-12 to acquire, improve, and expand their grammar skills, and become more adept and confident writers.


4.  Have Some Fun with Apps, Videos, and BrainPop

  • Grammar Wonderland Apps available on iTunes and Google Play
%d bloggers like this: