June 12

‘Only One You’ and ‘Everybody Needs a Rock’ Make a Perfect Pair

Students in Grade 4/5 shared Only One You by Linda Kranz and Everybody Needs a Rock by Byrd Baylor. Students sketched a draft picture of how they would like to show a part of their identity on a painted rock. During the next period, the rocks were painted and sprayed with lacquer.

Category: Book Recommendations, Each one of us is a Work of Art | Comments Off on ‘Only One You’ and ‘Everybody Needs a Rock’ Make a Perfect Pair
June 8

Cataloging Indigenous Resources: Alternatives to Dewey

Dewey unveiled his cataloguing system in 1876 and although it has seen many modifications over the years it still reflects the influences of it’s designer in a number of areas.

The ‘correct’ placement of resources that support the weaving of Aboriginal content in our new B.C. curriculum appeared limiting and somewhat divisive. In short, I would struggle to direct an Aboriginal student, curious about their living culture, to the 971 history section, sandwiched and segregated, somewhere between World War II and the Aztecs. Optics matter.

Despite my efforts at sorting and labelling, placing Indigenous Creation Stories next to Little Red Riding Hood in 398.2 Folklore and Fairytales seemed equally as jarring.

After consultation with Surrey colleagues Kim Perry; Teacher, Lynne Powell; Helping Teacher, Lise Tilden; Aboriginal Education, and helpful direction from Heidi Wood; Aboriginal Helping Teacher, I rearranged and re-catalogued to reflect what seems to be more respectful placements whilst still preserving the integrity of a workable comprehensive library.

Here are the highlights:

Creation Stories

These are considered to be non-fiction. When I am asked for a Space unit, I am pulling How the Raven Stole the Sun as well, so 523.7 is a logical choice. Similarly, How The Robin got it’s Red Breast goes in the bird section, Cloudwalker on the environment shelf, Mayuk with the bears.

Elder Stories

Includes stories that reflect true events or story of an Elder or the author. I have included here traditional stories as well as more contemporary works. The contemporary First Nations titles pictured below were designated Dewey 970 History of North America. I have placed them in Courage 179 and Wisdom 170.


Stories that are for entertainment or a teaching have been placed in Fiction. Some of the Txamsen Stories for example. However, some of these were not in a format or reading level that would work at our school in the picture book section. They are now in 813 Fiction.

 The labels are not ideal but they are easily identifiable. Titles that are not First Nations but are Metis or Inuit have a solid red label. Students are able to find these at a glance. Eventually,  I will have these labels only on authentic Aboriginal texts. I am still working through these.

The 970s

The biggest shift was the exodus out of the history section and involved moving all the non-fiction two shelves over. It seemed to me that even a book delineated as describing past traditions was, in fact, describing current traditions. It wasn’t history. I evaluated every book, weeded a few, and placed the rest in 305.897.

The 305s  – my favourite section – ‘Groups of People’ – the section we all fit in, in one way or another.

I am sure as we use this system, it will morph and evolve, resulting in an organization that perhaps more accurately reflects the community the collection serves.

Category: First Nations themes and Resources | Comments Off on Cataloging Indigenous Resources: Alternatives to Dewey
June 5

Aboriginal Resources to Support Personal and Social Core Competencies

The following Aboriginal resources may be useful when exploring Social Emotional Learning in the classroom. Over 60 picture books were recently shared with staff at Georges Vanier Elementary and we explored how these books might support the Core Competencies in B.C.’s new curriculum. Focus was on Personal Awareness and Responsibility and Social Responsibility.

This list reflects picture books we currently have in our collection or titles that will be added in September ’17. They were selected as authentic Indigenous sources or are titles held and shared by the District Aboriginal Department. It is not intended to be exhaustive but rather to provide a window into how Aboriginal titles may be used to reach school-wide SEL goals.

Each book has been placed within the context of a core competency with specific details outlining how that title might be utilized. Many books are listed in multiple sections. Titles are linked to webpages with further details. Aboriginal perspectives have also been outlined as well as a final section on further supportive digital resources on numerous titles.

Click below for the entire list in one document

Category: Book Recommendations, Social Emotional Learning | Comments Off on Aboriginal Resources to Support Personal and Social Core Competencies
May 31

How to create digital I Spy puzzles

Students in Grade 3 created their own I Spy pages. The items were gathered from yard sales, usually by the bag full, for a few dollars, and put through the dishwasher. The first class was spent exploring ‘I Spy’ books and arranging the items onto colourful card. I had 9 baskets of items so small groups or pairs each photographed the same designs but did their own clues.

During the second class period, students cropped their photos and used PicCollage App to add clues. Image quality is an issue with closeups with our iPad 2s. Other classes will try to find the items in the images and they were included in a school assembly video.  Continue reading to see more examples.

Continue reading

Category: Digital Makers, Makers and Makerspaces | Comments Off on How to create digital I Spy puzzles
May 24

Celebrating a Student Art Gallery using Superimpose App

Students in Grade 4 created digital images that celebrate the work of younger students in the school. Each student used a background, art work from the iPad photos, a frame and their own photo to create a four layer image. This was tricky as each layer had to be exported and re-imported into the Superimpose App. Students are developing techniques in masking, editing and photography. Our goal is to help create pride and community by displaying the Kindergarten and Grade 1 work that was left on the iPads. Read more for the ‘how to’.

Continue reading

Category: Digital Makers, Makers and Makerspaces | Comments Off on Celebrating a Student Art Gallery using Superimpose App
May 20

How to Paint with a Sphero

As our annual Parent Thank You Tea was approaching I decided to try using the Sphero robots to create some artwork for the tabletops and walls. Here are a few ideas that worked for us. The lesson incorporated art in the style of Jackson Pollock, programming and using the Lightening Lab App and big ideas around showing appreciation, and learning and creating cooperatively. Read more for some tips we learned as we worked through this project.

Continue reading

Category: Makers and Makerspaces | Comments Off on How to Paint with a Sphero
May 13

The Importance of Tinkering: Robotics and Coding

Spheros, Snap Circuits and Ozobots

We have been exploring a variety of robotics and coding tools in the Learning Commons. Students are highly interested and motivated to ‘play’ with technology that they have not used before. I introduced the tools with only loose guidelines so that the students would have the opportunity to figure them out independently or in their small groups.

The 5/6 class needed to explore the items for two 50 minute blocks before they were ready to start to create programs. By the end of the second block they began to have a better understanding of the potential of the robots and this would not have been possible if they had not had the opportunity to tinker and play before beginning the programming.

Dash, Ozobots, Cubelets


Category: Makers and Makerspaces | Comments Off on The Importance of Tinkering: Robotics and Coding
May 13

Making ‘I Am a Maker’ letters

This was a fun and easy to prepare lesson on co-operative learning, pre-plannning and time management. In pairs, students were given a small basket of manipulatives and tasked with making the assigned letter from our Maker message. Students had to decide how to best use both the materials and the allotted time.

I had 9 baskets of manipulatives, mostly picked up by the bagful from yard sales, although any small math counting items would also work. The letters were photographed and placed in Pic Collage App. We will soon be using these same items to build and label our own ‘I Spy’ creations.

Continue reading

Category: Makers and Makerspaces | Comments Off on Making ‘I Am a Maker’ letters
May 13

Binary Coding with Beads

Students were excited to learn more about binary code. After discussing the numbered data language and looking at examples we blended in our ‘I Am a Maker’ theme and created stands of beads with our message in binary code. The activity was completed during one Grade 4/5, 40 minute learning commons prep class. The strands are hanging on display in the LC with a chart and informational sign.

I found an easy to read chart and we used perler beads as they are inexpensive and have large holes. I chose plastic craft string for ease of threading but any slightly stiff thread would work. Students tied a black bead at the beginning. This holds the beads on but also delineates the start of the message so it can be read correctly.


Category: Makers and Makerspaces | Comments Off on Binary Coding with Beads