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

New Unit Study Kits and More!


New Grade 8 Socials Digital Unit Study Kits


We have three new Socials Unit Study Kits for Grade 8:

Coming Soon! Crusades Digital Mini-Unit Study Kit

To cover content and curricular competencies for Gr. 8 Socials, students are required to complete the Middle Ages kit AND the Renaissance kit, and EITHER the Reformation Mini Kit or the Crusades Mini Kit (coming soon).


More Learning Commons News

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 special request for a new webinar topic, please let us know and we will look into finding an expert to share!

Our 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 centers near you. We also have one set available for usage from L4U. See this post for more.




Overdrive and L4U Intermediate Resources


What? Discover 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.


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!

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!

Back to School Greetings!

Greetings and welcome back to a new school year with Heritage Christian Schools Blended Learning Commons 😀

We hope your first week back is going well, and you have enjoyed opening that new curriculum!  Or maybe you have not hit the books yet,  but are enjoying the last few rays of sunshine, or celebrating not back to school with a WOW day!  Whatever you are doing we pray the Lord will bring great learning this year, and blessings in your online environment!

We thought we would introduce our learning commons team, and point you in the right direction to get you started in the learning commons this fall.  Shandra Wiebe is our online librarian and she works from Kelowna!  She is your go to lady for all things related to how L4U works and reference retrieval from the catalogue.  Kelly Wiebe is back on track with shipping and she does an awesome job of getting all things shipped to you in fine shape .  Natalie Sing is our curriculum consultant who loves helping families find curriculum to suit their needs, whether it be e books, websites or digital databases.  Jessie Davis is our campus co-ordinator and she is available for campus reference queries and events in the physical commons.  Sherri Funk is our campus reading specialist and she loves teaching music and reading skills.  Erin Duncan is our Forum and Ning moderator, and she keeps the peace in all things social networking.   New this year to our team we have Rachael Freed former HCOS alumni returning as a teacher and kit writer for the learning commons.  Welcome Rachael!  Then of course there is me, Pippa Davies who does a bit of everything in the cloud, but loves helping students, staff and parents find the right information at the right time!.  We all runs webinars related to websites, subscriptions, and research, and we love to co-teach anything in the literacy realm.

  • Learning commons passwords to use both the E library on Overdrive and the campus physical commons catalogue L4U are emailed to you when you enrol with the school, or when you email Shandra Wiebe our online Librarian.
  • Please check your junk mail folder for passwords.  We have found in the past that when you enrol your  L4U generated passwords may often get sent to junk.  We are working on fixing this.  This is only for new enrolling families.  If you are unsure at all please email Shandra
  • Watch the Getting Started video on our website.  Just five minutes long it will point you in the right direction!
  • Our blended commons has a large variety of digital databases and subscriptions and we want you to know about all of them!:D  Please scroll through the alphabetical listing of our subscriptions to find learning resources to meet 21st century learning.  New this year we have Pebble Go and Nallenart L’art De Lire French curriculum.  Your teacher will help you get started by sharing the list of usernames and passwords.  Please make sure you do not share these with other school students.  We are only paying for HCS blended commons families.  Beth Johnson is in charge of signing up patrons for the different databases.
  • If you missed our Training session on using the Learning Commons please feel free to listen to the recording here:
  • Ning is back in the swing! if you have not seen the green icon on our website, and you have a student aged 13 and older please send them my way to join our private social network,  moderated by both Erin Duncan, Natalie Sing and Pippa Davies.  Students, parents and staff meet to share music, photographs, websites, learning experiences and more! All events planned on the Ning encourage discipleship and community, along with competitions and prizes.  If you would like an invite please email Pippa Davies New this month we have a mentoring program for new grade 8/9 students and our older senior students.  For more information check out this group page here.  There are also icebreaker games for you to check out on the events tab!
  • Our summer reading challenge is still open to all our avid readers from K-12 who would like to share their book reviews.  For more information go here or to share your book review go here.
  • Please follow our blog by signing up on the learning commons website.
  • Information on all book clubs will be updated shortly.  But in the meantime here is a sneak peek!

Natalie shares more on the latest in the way of curriculum with her article on Canadian Historical Fiction.  What a great way to meet social studies learning outcomes than by reading great non – fiction books!

Shandra shares some important booking information for kits on L4U.

Lis Johnston, HCOS learning services consultant shares about learning styles in her book review on The Big What Now Book of Learning Styles.

Current awareness newsletter on Scoopit.

From all of us to all of you, cyberhugs and blessings!

The learning commons team!

May News!

Welcome to May and sunshine reading!

As the school year winds down,  and our students head outdoors, it may be a challenge to keep them interested in doing “school” work. You may have that panicky feeling that you need to be assessing your students with all kinds of tools. Your curriculum may not be covered up to 75%??  ANDDD now you have to find curriculum for next year:)  Put away your filing!  Relax and enjoy some new stories, web links and curriculum plans for this year or next.  Next year you can complete your curriculum goals by 100% 😉

This month our learning commons team would like to share curriculum resources on Flowers and Nature, Music and Composers, Weather , Light and Biographies.  We celebrate the wonderful layers  of the reading process and biographies on Overdrive, as well as a book review on the book “I am Daring Greatly”.

Reading stats show that engagement of younger students will happen regardless of whether you are reading with traditional paper book or e-book. So long as the parent child attachment is happening during the reading process all is golden.  To encourage easy access to picture books we have purchased lots of wonderful picture book material to invite great reading opportunities.  To search for picture books on our e library please go to this tab under Collections called Picture books.  One of my favourite picture books in our collection is  “My Dog is Smelly as Dirty Socks” by Hannoch Piven.  I love this story about family and differences, with unique and colourful illustrations. The questions at the end will encourage reading attachment time!

Web tools re lesson plans and educational resources!

Plants and Flowers

Music and Composers 

Weather and Climate


NEW!  Overdrive E kits click on this link here.

NING News and activities  (PS Ning is being upgraded to web 3.0)

Our poetry challenge is underway on the Ning and we welcome all budding poets from grades 3- grade 12 to join in this creative writing competition.  If you are not a member of the Ning please email me and I will share an invite or I can share your poetry myself.

Scoopit Newsletter for current trends on all things distance learning!


We ask that all staff and patrons please complete our user survey, so that we know how to serve you best in the coming year!  Thank you!

Blessings from the learning commons team!

January News!

English: .. Dansk: Naturhistorisk Privatunderv...

Welcome to Winter in the learning commons;)

 This month we are focusing on some of the wonderful curriculum we have in our blended learning commons.  As research beckons, book reports get published and science experiments presented,  we thought we would invite you to try some amazing curriculum and learning resources.
Shandra Wiebe shares more about some of our science curriculum  found in the physical learning commons.  Click here.  To check out science non-fiction on the E Library  click here.  Feel free to add your suggestions, as we want to grow this area?

Are you interested in science lab reports?  Find some rubrics here.  General science websites are found here.

For information on assessment from a Christian worldview go here, and here.

New in social studies on the E Library we have activity guides, and books on ancient Egypt and Rome.  Grade 7 students we appreciate your opinion on these items and if you want us to order more?

Reading Promotions

Missions Read-A-thon starts this February and if you have a student in grades K-9 you might want to encourage them to take part in this exciting literary/missions event.  Please contact Shandra Wiebe if you have any queries in this regard.

Events happening on the E Library include the Device Raffle.  To learn more how to take part read this article. The only requirement to win an e reader is to read something on HCS E Library.  Contact Pippa if you need help setting up your device.

Social MediaNatalie shares more about using Google Plus for our community,  and how social media can work for you here.

Events on the Ning!  Currently we have The HCS Schools Innovator of the Year Awards.  Check out more about this new and interesting challenge for all students grade 4 and up here.

Current Awareness  Newsletter.  To learn more about upcoming Olympics fun, coding lessons, homeschooling goals and Valentine’s Day check out our latest newsletter.Blessings from all in the Learning Commons!

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Deep Listening – Your Next Christmas Gift?

I enjoy spending time in our campus high school classes.  I swing through as often as I can.  At first, students look at me like, “Ok, who is in trouble?”  But,

I am rarely there for discipline.  I am there for encouragement and support.

I enjoy knowing what is happening in classrooms from the perspective of our students and from the perspective of our staff.

I love seeing how Mr. Goodman brings out a student’s inner-artist; how Miss. Maxwell prepares her grade 8s for the Medieval Feast; how Mr. Dorie runs a class discussion; how Mr. Hayden pushes his students to consider the example of Daniel – a scholar dedicated to God, profound in knowledge among his culture.  I could go on for all our staff – highlighting the meaningful skills and attributes they bring to our Heritage team.

But I would like to take time now to highlight an activity that Mrs. Dyck, our new high school Humanities teacher, is doing in her classes.

The activity is called Socratic Circles.  In a nutshell, the Socratic Circle is a tool used to facilitate group discussion and to develop deep listening skills.  The group prepares for dialogue on a specific topic.  The participants arrange themselves into one of two groups: the inner circle for discussion, or the outer circle for listening and feedback.

Socratic Circles in action

Socratic Circles in action

For more information, I’ve written a blog post on Socratic Circles here.  It was written mostly by Mrs. Dyck and it explains this process in greater detail.  Or, ask a grade 9 or 10 student for their feedback.  Also, here is a nice .pdf I found on google that outlines a Socratic Circle.

So, why am I highlighting Socratic Circles?  I wonder if in our Social Media culture – full of connectedness, instant information, text-communication, and digital popularity, might we be losing our ability to listen?  Students in Mrs. Dyck’s classes are learning to truly listen, reflect, and respond.

I know they are learning because (no offence to our grade 9 & 10 students) they are not doing the Socratic Circles very well.  I have observed 4 class discussions using this tool and I have yet to see a true discussion.  It appears to be a discussion…because students are speaking one-at-a-time…and because they are all politely waiting their turn to speak.  But, when they do speak, instead of reflecting and building on the previous statement, they offer a new idea to consider.  Although this contains the mechanics of dialogue, this is not true dialogue.

Socratic Circles are very difficult.  Our students are finding them difficult because they must listen, reflect, and respond to move the original topic further.  They cannot simply jump in with a new direction.  They must listen deeply to be able to build clarity and understanding.  It is called a Socratic Circle because the underlying tool moving the dialogue forward is simply this:

Asking Questions

I am reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words in Philippians 3:12, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”  I know this verse speaks to Paul fulfilling Christ’s call in his life.  But I can relate the first words, “Not that I have already obtained all this,” relating to my own listening.  I have so much to learn.  I am so selfish in my time with others – wanting to get my points across.

To test your listening awareness, consider these questions:

  • Do you notice when someone jumps into a conversation and takes it over?

  • Do you notice when someone cuts someone else off mid-sentence, or finishes their sentence for them?

  • Do you notice others waiting for someone to finish what they are saying so they can say what they’ve been waiting to say?

  • …now try with the questions above with ‘you’ as the subject…

I’ve got a few people in my life that, when I finish a conversation with them, I realize I have not found out anything more about them.  Without knowing it, I’ve done all the talking…because they have asked all the questions.  Hmm, it’s no surprise why I enjoy talking with them…

This Christmas season, will we take time to truly listen to those around us?  Could we ask God to open up one conversation for us – to give us one chance to listen deeply?  Could we commit to listening deeply to one person?  I believe this deep listening could be a wonderful gift to someone this Christmas.

In closing, I am reminded of a timeless quote from Stephen Covey.  It so effortlessly captures why relationships and listening are so hard to develop.

“(With people) if you want to save time, don’t be efficient.  With people, slow is fast and fast is slow.”

May we give the gift of deep listening to someone this Christmas season.

Learning Commons News November

Hello learning common friends,

Wreaths of artificial poppies used as a symbol...

Wreaths of artificial poppies used as a symbol of remembrance (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We are back to fall, and learning with great delight!   Routine is the name of the game, books are filling your bookshelves, and you are enjoying researching your favourite topics based on your students passions and learning style!  We hope;)

This month we would like to highlight some awesome themes, and resources  in our learning commons:

Audio booksHistorical FictionRemembrance Day, and Research.  As we gear up for some research projects we thought we would share some of our favourite sites and subscriptions with you as you help your students learn how to research, and share online!


Pippa shares more about the joys of reading in her article Increasing Literacy with your E or Audio book.  To access our audio books in our e library you will need a library account.  Please contact swiebe@onlineschool to get your username and password for both physical and virtual learning commons.

Remembrance Day Virtual Resources

Natalie shares on the joys of reading historical fiction to commemorate Remembrance day, in her article, Canadian Historical fiction First and Second World Wars

Remembrance Day Websites which may help in discussion or with presentations in your learning community.

Remembrance Day Resources Physical Resources

If you are looking for books and resources to teach your children about Remembrance Day, the Learning Commons has a lot to offer!  We have books for all ages such as In Flanders Fields and A Poppy is to Remember.  We also have several resources kits for higher grades such as Canada Remembers the Korean War 1950- 1953.  And of course, we have some good reading in the fiction section!  What a great way to learn about those who sacrificed for Freedom!

We have 95 items listed in our Topic Search for Remembrance Day.  To find them, Click on Topic Search, then scroll to the left and click on 001 Resources and you will find the Remembrance Day icon.



Subscriptions webinar: On November 19th @ 11 am join Pippa and Natalie as they share the awesome learning tools  found in some of our subscriptions such as Discovery Streaming, World Book OnlineEbscohost and new this year from Scholastic: Expert Space.  This session will be a very informative full hour! Please click on this link to join in on the session.   Please sign in 15 minutes early to get your sound working and make sure you have a headset please?  If you have a Mac computer you will need to download the launcher.

 Learning Commons How to use the Library webinar:  On November 6th @1 pm Shandra and Pippa will share how to use the E library and L4U to sign out books, e books and kits.  Please access this session here with this link.  Please sign in 15 minutes before the session starts to check your sound.

 Learning Commons How to use the Library: Campus workshop in Kelowna: On November 14th @ 4pm Shandra will share how to use the new L4U system to place advanced bookings on kits and books, how to search the site and how to use e-books. Please sign up by emailing Shandra at .

Research Skills!

Here is the recent PowerPoint shared with our grade 8/9 GPP students, for you to help guide your students in the research process.

Research Skills 2014 Student version v2

Ning events!  Entries for our photographic competition are pouring in and we have some awesome creations for you to go and “like” please?  The more likes our contestants receive the more chance they will have to go on to the next level for judging in the “So you Think you can Photography Competition” .  Here is the link to sign into and make your choice.  Thanks for encouraging our contestants!  If you are not on the Ning please contact Pippa for your invite.  Students need to be 13 and over to join, but parents can join on their behalf if underage.

Chapel has started and all session links may be found over here.  Chapel is happening weekly with chaplain James Nelson.  Please share with all your students!

Current Awareness Scoopit updates on all things learning commons are found here.

We pray that you will enjoy many wonderful learning and literary adventures this month.  Please let us know what you are reading, send us your favourite links, book reviews and blog posts.  We love to share what you are doing in your world and collaborate with you!


From the Learning commons team!

John 14:27

New International Version (NIV)

27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

April Newsletter!

Hello Learning Commons friends!

With convention almost here, flowers popping up, and spring sunshine, April feels like May!  Time to roll out those deck chairs, take poetry and learning onto the grassy verge,  and enjoy nature at its finest.

This month we celebrate spring, and animals, give thanks to God for His amazing creation and celebrate on Earth Day.  Share in poetry as the poetry competition gets into swing on the ning!  We love to celebrate your students’ writing!

To follow up on themes on the ning for poetry go here!

To find some new lesson plans on spring go here.

To explore animals and  insects go here.  Discover all the amazing animals we have in our subscription Discovery Education.


We are very excited to share some new virtual kits in our Learning Commons this month.  Marion Busfield has completed a kit on grade 8 science learning outcomes on Biology and the cell.  Her kit can be found under grade 8 resource kits over here.  Student Hanneke Voute produced a novel study guide for grade nine students wanting a humanities approach.  Find that in Literature Guides and Unit Studies.  Thank you Marion and Hanneke!  We look forward to more Kits in the coming months:)


Need to cover Fairytales in the early grades in language arts?  Natalie shares her unit study here.

Learning Commons Survey

If you have not had a chance to complete our Learning Commons survey this month we would greatly appreciate your input for planning the coming year.  Thank you in advance:)

New sites:

Catch up on current awareness, regarding new competitions, programs etc.  on our Scoopit Newsletter where all the latest links come to your home if you sign up with Scoopit and follow us!

Jessie shares on the Poetry Slam in the Campus learning commons, which was also thoroughly enjoyed in the e classroom, and encouraged our students to share  their poetry creations.  Big thanks to Nygel Metcalfe!

On April 5th, the Learning Commons had the privilege of having Nygel Metcalfe for our second round of Slam Poetry!  It was an interactive event with student participation, expert advice and an encouraging go at Slam Poetry.  Watch out for our next event in the HCS Learning Commons.

Flat Stanley:

Don’t forget to share your Flat Stanley adventures with us on the Flat Stanley wiki.

Natalie shares in her Birthday Author of the Month!

One of the joys I have in serving with the Learning Commons is remembering many great books that I have read over the years with my four children.

There are two authors with their birthdays in May,  that our family have really enjoyed! Scott O’Dell (May 23rd) and Gary Paulsen (May 17th).

Gary Paulsen, the American author of Hatchet, ...

Gary Paulsen, the American author of Hatchet, as well as many other stories for young adults. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We enjoy Scott O’Dell for his great historical fiction novels,  and Gary Paulsen for his survival stories.. Both of these authors bring back many memories. I asked my 31 year old daughter if she remembers these authors and she most definitely does. She said that recently she had even reread Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, just for fun! That spoke volumes to me!

Scott O’Dell has written many books including Island of the Blue Dolphins, The King’s Fifth, The Hawk that Dare not Hunt by Day and the list goes on. We have had these on our shelves along with The Black Pearl, Sing down the Moon, Sara Bishop and Streams to the River, River to the Sea.

Here is a biography on Scott O’Dell. Here is a complete list of books written by him. Scott O’Dell has won a variety of literary awards. You can find a list here.

Island of the Blue Dolphins

Island of the Blue Dolphins (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Island of the Blue Dolphins is a fascinating story of a girl left alone on an island for 18 years. It is based on a true story,  and has been made into a movie as well. You can find it here, or if looking for a formal novel study go  here. In our Overdrive library we have this book both in e-Book and audiobook formats. If you need help signing up for the e Library ,contact Pippa Davies,  and she will walk you through the technical aspects.  In our HCS Campus Library we have many Scott O’Dell books and resources for you to borrow.

Now, onto Gary PaulsenHatchet and The Brian’s Saga series. These are wonderful survival books for all students looking for adventure. They are great books to read if you enjoyed the My Side of the Mountain series by Jean Craighead George, and you are looking for more. As well as these books, Gary Paulsen has written a wide range of books that may interest your student. For the Brian’s Saga books there are Teacher’s Guides available here. In our HCS Campus Library we have 12 titles of Gary Paulsen’s and we have 2 titles in our Overdrive library.

If I can encourage you to read these books maybe one of your students will be able to go back many years later,  and find an old friend waiting!


Natalie, Pippa, Jessie and the learning commons team!

February Musings!

Children's Valentine, 1940–1950

Children’s Valentine, 1940–1950 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

February is here along with cold Winter days, warm Valentine hearts and I LOVE MY LIBRARY MONTH!!

  In the virtual commons we are enjoying our Read-A-Thon, with 120 students registered  to meet great literacy goals.  We commend all readers and parents who take the time out of their days to promote literacy with their students.  Your children will thank you one day for mentoring them in the love of READING, encouraging the beauty of words, and the joyful sound of poetry!

We also celebrate Black History this month and you can check out lots of links in our weblinking library here, or find some books in our physical commons here.

To find some ideas for sharing Valentines Day go here.

Winter lesson plans can be found here.

Discover Canada’s North with and some great lesson plans!

On the Ning discover more of your gifts with our Photographic competition or join in the Design your Own logo competition. Come and share in the collaboration, and start your own forum, or share your favourite project you have worked on?  If you don’t have an invite and are 13 years or older be sure to contact or

On the E library discover some of our  latest reads including Eric Wilson and Sigmund Brouwer who team up to capture middle school students with the Seven Bundle!

“When David McLean, well-loved grandfather and avid adventurer, dies, he leaves behind an unusual will that outlines sevens tasks he has set for his seven grandsons. Eric Walters, John Wilson, Ted Staunton, Richard Scrimger, Norah McClintock, Sigmund Brouwer and Shane Peacock bring their signature writing styles to a series of adventures that take readers from the top of Kilimanjaro to the bottom of the Mediterranean.”   

Note you need to have your username and password to get access to the e library.  Contact or to get your access started;)

PS Watch out for new e books coming to our e library this week!!  We are taking your requests and adding them so please let us know if there is a book, fiction or non fiction that you would like to read?  We are also adding to our adult non-fiction area.

Catch up on the latest weblinks and techie sharing on our HCS Scoopit Newsletter!

Natalie Sing our Curriculum consultant shares our February Birthday Author, Charles Dickens for this month!  Thank you Natalie!

English: Detail from photographic portrait of ...

English: Detail from photographic portrait of Charles Dickens (Photo credit: Wikipedia)This month we are celebrating the anniversary of the birthday of Charles Dickens who was born February 7, 1812 and who died on June 9, 1870.

This month we are celebrating the anniversary of the birthday of Charles Dickens who was born February 7, 1812 and who died on June 9, 1870.

Charles Dickens was one of the greatest novelists in the Victorian era.  As a child he was forced to leave school to work in a factory, when his father was thrown into debtor’s prison. He managed to return to school, after his father’s release and complete his education. Over his lifetime, despite his circumstances he managed to write 15 novels and 5 novella’s, edit a weekly journal for 20 years, and write hundreds of short stories and articles.

Here are just a few in many free digital and audio forms:

Pickwick Papers – originally published as a monthly serial – 1836-37 on audio

Oliver Twist – originally published as a monthly serial 1837-1839 on audio

David Copperfield – originally published as a monthly serial 1849-1850 on audio

A Christmas Carol – 1843 on audio

Hard Times – originally published as a monthly serial in 1854 on audio

The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby – originally published as a monthly serial 1838-1839 on audio

Little Dorrit – originally published as a monthly serial 1855-1857 on audio

A Tale of Two Cities – originally published as a monthly serial 1859 on audio

Great Expectations –  originally published as a monthly serial 1860-1861 on audio

The characters in a Dickens novel draw me into the story. Rich in descriptive vocabulary, it becomes too easy to imagine these characters as both friends and enemies. Another thing I enjoy about Dickens novels is the elaborate twists and turns in the plots. You are never quite sure how the story will end. Many of Dickens novels are set in tough times in England; places like poor houses, factories, debtor’s prison, boarding houses, far from our experience, yet Dickens brings them alive for us. He has been there and experienced them. Here is an article about Dickens Christian beliefs.

Tale of Two Cities, set during the French Revolution is a great novel for a Grade 9 humanities student. Many of the other novels also bring the early Industrial Revolution alive for us. But studying one of these novels any time, is well worth the time and reading pleasure!

Charles Dickens, 1858

Charles Dickens, 1858 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Because of the rich characters, the challenging settings and the very skilful plots there is always much to talk about after reading a Dickens novel. I urge you to read one soon!! “God Bless us, Every One” (from A Christmas Carol)

images from Wikipedia

Christmas Newsletter is Out

HI Everyone,

Here is our Christmas newsletter with some ideas for sharing the good news with your families!

From all of us at HCS Learning Commons to all of you we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Peaceful New Year!

See you in 2013!

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