Favourite Language Arts Links

Monday, December 1, 2014

Reading for the Holidays!


Our learning commons has some amazing teacher/student professional development/non fiction in HCS Overdrive E library.  Just grab your passwords and come and enjoy some great thinking material.

Some of my favourite reads include:

The Conviction to Lead by Albert Mohler
Humilitas by John Dickson
Spiritual Leadership by Richard Blackaby
Start With Why by Simon Sinek
Half the Church by Carolyn Custis James
Good to Great  by Jim Collins
A Whole New Mind: Dan Pink
The Element : Ken Robinson
Daring Greatly Brene Brown
The Greatest Gift Ann Voskamp

For our teens:
Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo
The Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Stephen Covey
365 Days of Wonder J Palacio
No Compromise:  The Life Story of Keith Green
Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

Christmas materials ; from devotions, Advent books,  to fiction classics, something to read by candlelight!


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Makered in the Learning Commons

Themes come and go and this year is no different in the learning commons at Heritage Blended Commons.  Stepping into maker spaces and all things #makered has been another pivotal moment for  advocacy in the learning commons, and completes part of our vision statement for the year 2014/15.

The learning commons has purchased Makey Makey kits, a Lego Mindstorm classroom set ( for 24 students), and Knex Kits along with a 3 d printer with the Mini Makerbot as the front runner!  Our campus learning commons champion Jessie starts our first Makered club this week, and 20 excited campus students will work with Makey Makey, and Knex kits to discover Motion and Aeronautics outcomes.  They will also learn how to make a video based on their innovative findings!  As a virtual media specialist I so want to be a fly on the wall!!

So why makered and why learning commons?  The whole vision behind a learning commons is the creation of a welcoming space which encourages all literacies, and fosters relationship.  Makered allows for digital, science, and computer literacy, not to mention hands on learning in the learning commons.  Students will work in teams building collaborative working relationships.  During the process we hope they will take risks, and learn to become inventors, as they coach each other in the learning process.  Every teacher wants to empower their students and we hope this will bring new passions, leadership, discipleship and excitement around science and technology.

During the last two years we have fostered the creation of a virtual commons, using Ning as a playground for building, and in doing so created a philosophy behind the experiential building centre. We host competitions and share our students artistic, writing, and musical gifts.  Now we hope to further this into the physical realm with hands on learning.

The learning commons vision has never looked more exciting!

If you have not discovered the upside of all things #makered you might want to read the following articles:

What's the Maker Movement?

The Makey Makey Might Change the Game.

Seven Hands on Projects That use 3D Printers.

Or watch this intriguing video!

We are thankful for a new invitation to bring students into relationship via multiple literacies in the learning commons!  Now more than ever a learning commons is a place to play, read and build!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Graduation and Beyond

Today I sat down and reconfigured my blog.  Now that I have a work blog I find it hard to get back and just blog for the sake of blogging, personal blogging, sharing my vulnerabilities.  But my life has changed and my children are graduated and moving ahead with their lives.   I am feeling nostalgic and want to move ahead with them...to reach out and study something new, exciting and invigorating, to follow, and perhaps not to lead. Oh to be a student again, to listen, inspire and create!  Having adopted a learning commons vision over the past three years in our district library,  it was good to learn, inspire and lead.

Creating vision takes time, as does encouraging your team to stay inspired, motivated and working towards that vision.  At times I remember feeling that roadblocks were an important part of the process; sometimes painful, but mostly gratifying at the end.  Staying committed to the culture of building a learning commons, has required faithfulness and resilience.  Ideation is second nature to me, and so dreaming BIG for my team was, and still is, really important.  But there is that still small part of me where I long to let go, and just be a follower and not a leader.  Grace and surrender are an essential part of learning.  And then there is time to just rest, read and dream.

Sometimes I think I am an adrenaline junkie,  or maybe simply attention deficit?  I do know that staying the path is important, as is listening to the inner child.  I am trusting that one design leads to another in our learning commons, that change will keep happening for the right reasons and not because I need change for change sake.  I am excited about the next step, about learning whatever it takes to keep building, following, and leading in the learning commons!

Friday, May 23, 2014


Today I am encouraged!
Ten years ago I started working at HCS schools.
I initiated relationships and learned how to be a follower and a leader.
I discovered the joys of learning and working from home.
I homeschooled my son for 7 years and watched him grow, struggle and lean on the Lord.
I saw families united, and I watched families struggle with divisiveness.
I saw children fail, and I saw children thrive and blossom.
I saw grief, and I heard laughter, singing and joy.
I learned the value of praying as an individual, family and as an institution.
I learned the value of community.
I learned how to listen.
I am still learning how to evaluate, assess and encourage.
I still make mistakes.
I am still growing in the wisdom of the Lord.
I am still on the path towards maturity in Christ.
But I am encouraged.
I find joy, peace, love and inspiration in my daily walk with God.
I am blessed!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Reading Strategies

Students who school at home have a distinctive advantage over students who learn in brick and mortar when it comes to reading. They have the most obvious motivator: TIME! But there are other strategies and skills which need to be in place before reading can take hold. Sharing strategies implies that you have a core foundation of skills. But in order to become an effective reader all students need to acquire a sequence of skill sets before they can read.
  • Sequencing skills
  • Making judgements from images and spoken word
  • Noticing details
  • Deciphering story structure: i.e. beginning, middle and end
Open ended story telling comes from teaching children to read using: previewing/prediction skills; asking open ended questions about the story sequence and characters; details in the story and the main ideas; as well as drawing conclusions.  Story telling should be an interactive process,  with your youngster sharing the story more than yourself.

Check out these great video clips on establishing pre -reading skills from the A.L.A.  Encouraging your pre schooler to think out loud, or responding to open ended questions will help them become engaged with the words and images on the page.   Role modelling the joy of reading will enhance parent/child attachment, and he or she will be more motivated to see reading as a delightful opportunity to engage with you,  and with the written word.

Read to your younger children on a daily basis,  or share your favourite audio books from our E library if you are needing a break :) To discover the importance of why reading aloud to older children is also valuable read this great Mindshift article. 

Next encourage your student to recognize letters and print.  Once your student has learned the alphabet using supplementary aids like Reading Eggs (subscription with our school), Starfall  or reading games with ABCYA they are on the way to retain fluency and learn some reading comprehension skills.  Start them on a sequenced set of readers which will help them retain and learn basic vocabulary and simple sentences.  If your student does not develop these early sequential phonemic skills, talk to your teacher for ideas on how to help improve your student's reading skills which will lead to better strategies.

Once your student has these basic skills include lessons for your primary student to start learning the strategies required to become a good reader.  Lesson plans on this Teacher Vision page along with this Reading Rocket's page will help teach semantic mapping skills, story structure and summarizing ability.  Encourage your fourth grade student to decipher fiction from non fiction using Scholastic's BookFlix, another wonderful subscription from our school.  For all subscription usernames and passwords please check with your teacher.

Do you have a favourite reading tool which you have found to really enhance the process?  Please share with us!

God Bless

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Conviction to Lead

In the last five years my new, best reading topic is leadership or business.  I am often blessed reading how God uses His story to bring certain characters into the spotlight to serve.  These characters may have undergone several struggles or hardships in their lives, but time and time again are forced to lead from a heart of conviction.

In the book The Conviction to Lead  by Albert Mohler, twenty-five principles of leadership are shared from a Biblical perspective.  Many of these principles may have been shared in other business books, but within this book all passages are presented with Biblical evidence.

The 25 principles include:

  • Purpose
  • Belief leads to Action
  • Convictional Intelligence
  • Leadership is Narrative
  • Leaders understand all world views
  • Leaders have Passion to lead
  • Leaders are Thinkers
  • Leaders are Teachers
  • Leadership is all about Character
  • Leaders are Credible
  • Leaders are Communicators
  • Leaders are Readers (LOVE this one)
  • Leaders understand that Power is not an end to Itself
  • Leaders are Managers
  • Leaders are Speakers
  • Leaders serve and act as Stewards
  • Leaders can make Decisions
  • Leaders have Moral Virtues
  • Leaders know how to use Media to deliver a Message
  • Leaders know how to Write
  • Leaders understand the Digital World and use it for Discipleship
  • Leaders know how to use Time wisely
  • Leaders know how to Endure
  • Leaders know they will Die and need to be replaced with others of conviction
  • Leaders have a Legacy. 
Do you know leaders who personify these traits?  Whether teacher, parent, student or school principal,  God can use all of us if we stay true to our convictions.