Friday, 21 December 2012

The Gift of Each Other

Today, as a school, we celebrated the end of 2012 at Youlearn. Not only did it remind me of the importance of family and friends–and smiles and laughter–it reminded me of the essence of a school: its relationships. To the students, parents and staff, all of whom have contributed to our community and supporting one another in their own unique ways, thank you. Where ever the next two weeks find you, may the memories you and your family build be filled with relationships and joy.
Happy learning, Youlearn

Monday, 17 December 2012

Reflections on Term 1: Workspaces

I have been meeting and working with both families and students of All have been very welcoming and the experience has been memorable. I am often impressed with the organization and structure of the learning environment; 'a good place to work' is often the key to a good transition into a productive day of learning. My own workspace over the years has been modified by the needs of my family (children). After observing the wonderful structures in many homes, I felt it was time to give my kids their own 'workspaces'. The craft and art tables were always in a constant state of recycling and could not handle any more material. So my kids and I built a new desk just for them; it now truly is their own work space. They now must organize, manage and help to keep tidy this space. I hope this adds to the lesson of responsibility and helps to establish that environment to learn. Although I do realize, building the desk will be the easiest part of their journey. Keep working hard and enjoy every turn!

~ Ernie

Monday, 10 December 2012

Crimson Tree


Canvas of any size; Red, orange, purple, and green crayons for the leaves; Paring knife or vegetable peeler; Large plate; Brown and black acrylic paint; Paintbrush; Oven; Cookie sheet; Pot holders


  1. Peel the wrappers off the crayons
  2. Hold the crayon over the plate and use the knife to carve strips of crayon onto the plate
  3. Chop little chunks out of the leftover crayon
  4. Put crayon shreds and chunks on canvas such as the top leaves of the tree, and put some at the bottom of the canvas such as the leaves falling
  5. Leave bits of crayon where they accidentally fall to resemble leaves blowing in the wind
  6. Lay the canvas on the cookie sheet when the crayon is placed where you want leaves to be
  7. Preheat the oven to 300F
  8. Have your parent/guardian put the cookie sheet in the oven (WARNING: Oven is extremely hot; make sure an adult puts the cookie sheet into the oven!)
  9. Watch very closely because the wax will melt in seconds
  10. Take the cookie sheet out of the oven when semi-melted
  11. Mix some black and brown paint together
  12. Paint the tree’s trunk and branches when crayons are dry

~ From Faith, Gr. 8

Monday, 3 December 2012

Virtual Worlds, Real Learning

This past week many of our intermediate students participated in a group activity in Penticton using Quest Atlantis. Students have been 'luminating' in their own particular area of social responsibility in the online game and spent the morning helping each other and learning about community reviews. Quest Atlantis, an online educational game that incorporates protagonist play allows students to explore curricular areas while learning about areas of social responsibility. This gathering brought the Youlearn questers together to solve problems. It was an exciting couple of hours as students had direct instruction from Heather and Ernie and worked in pairs and were introduced to curricular missions. This group is planning a session for the new year! Well Done Questers. ~ Ernie

Monday, 26 November 2012

Victory Equals Team

I've played with the Mission Lions for three years. I practice two nights a week for 1.5 hrs each, sometimes in the rain. Sometimes I like this, sometimes not so much. In three years I've learnt a great deal about the game and being part of a team. Even when I broke my arm I showed up to practices and games. (Doc said it was OK.) For the first practice, I just watched and helped the coach, but when I could, I started practicing and playing again in a cast. That's what you do when you are part of team! Playing football is not just a game it's about team, about memorizing plays and learning strategy, overcoming challenges and being a good sport at all times. Young football players have a strict code for the field and will be removed from the game after one warning. They are not allowed to gloat over touch downs for example, to swear on the field or be offensive to other players in any way. I really like football. I play tackle in the summer and flag in the winter and spring. When I am not playing football I like to watch it with my dad.
~ Xander, gr. 4/5

Monday, 19 November 2012

Work Experience

I have been working at YouLearn for the past three months in Oliver, and have really enjoyed myself. The staff is friendly, making it a great working environment. I have worked building "kits" for grades K-7, organized some of YouLearn’s resources (textbooks, DVD's, board games, miscellaneous books, etc.) and worked with Google docs. Working here is awesome, and a great experience! I would recommend this job to Work Experience students.

~ Adam

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Paint by Numbers, Not

I went to a water-colour painting class for three weeks. I made some really cool paintings and learned how to use just enough paint for water colour. This is the picture I did of a sailboat. I call it the S.S. Olivia. I also learned how to wash your page. (It makes your paint spread out so you don't have to use too much paint.) I thought it was fun to be able to paint using different styles, and I would love to go back one day.

~ Olivia, gr. 5

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Each Our Own Way

The past 3 weeks I have had the pleasure of meeting many students that are "new" to me. These students had been coming in to take our Writing and French workshops. What stood out to me the most was that the students were happy to be here, and excited to learn! Whether the student was outgoing and chatty, or quiet and observant, each one learned something new in their own unique way. This observation was a terrific reminder to me that each one of us learns differently, and there is no right or wrong way to learn. As an Education Assistant, I can help students with different learning styles. I look forward to many more interactions with students, and helping out any way that I can!

~ Sonia

Monday, 29 October 2012

Alas for those Who Do Not Sing . . .

Saturday, I participated in TEDx Penticton, hoping to run into a few new ideas to ponder and some exciting thinkers living their beliefs. I was not disappointed. Among the performers were Saige Carlson and Beamer Wigley, two of our students! As a teacher, it’s a delight when you are “out of teacher mode” and run into students who are “out of student mode”, let alone when roles are reversed. Beyond witnessing how Saige’s and Beamer’s singing–particularly their duet–captured the crowd, I was moved and reminded of something quite important: learning is as much about uncovering one’s voice as covering the curriculum! Congratulations and thank you Saige and Beamer!

~ Will

Monday, 22 October 2012

Monday, 15 October 2012

Personalize Learning and the Value of Friends

At the end of every week, I try to reflect upon the activities of the week. This past week, I was reminded of an important lesson as I had the pleasure of my brother visiting from Toronto. While he was here, my tablet computer electrical plug-in fell out of the side of the computer. It was broken --- out of battery and unable to receive a charge. I was in full panic mode. My first impulse was to take it apart, but not without my brother whose suggestion to diagram all of the pieces and screws on a separate paper was invaluable. Usually, I just arrange the pieces on the workbench. With so many delicate pieces being dismantled, I felt much anxiety. I was looking to solder it back together. Without the advice and encouragement of my brother, my anxiety would have ruined my Sunday and most of my work week. The lesson to accept other's opinions and to value and discuss options spurred me to write this post. As you are on your learning journey, your family is your biggest support structure. Use this as a resource. You will feel supported and encouraged. Keep an open mind and you will learn much. Personal learning cannot happen without others supporting it.
~ Ernie Millward

Monday, 8 October 2012

Abottsford Air Show Redux

I went to the 50th annual Abbotsford International Airshow with my dad. The trip there doesn’t need to be mentioned, but the show does. We went on Saturday, August 11th. When we got there, the first thing we did was check out the static aircraft section. There were large military cargo planes you could go inside, and fighter jets to look at. The show featured: a jet bus, a jet porta-potty, a USN F/A Superhornet, a Canadian Forces Tactical Demo and the USAF Thunderbirds.

At the show, I learned about all kinds of things about planes, such as how fighter jets do a maneuver known as the square loop. I even learned some things that are Top Secret (just kidding). The best part of the show was the Thunderbirds. They did some of the most amazing aerobatics you would ever see! Another great part of the show was the jet bus, which is the world’s fastest school bus. Speaking of jet powered stuff, I also saw
the worlds only jet powered porta-potty!

The show was great, but it’s not the kind of thing you would want to go to every year.

~ Joel, Grade 7

Monday, 1 October 2012

Nature’s Classroom

Last week my brother and I went on a canoe trip to Vaseaux Lake. I learned about the four hundred pound voyageur canoes and the five paddle strokes! I also learned about the pictographs that the Native people drew 400-600 years ago! I think this trip was around 12 km long, and it was really fun when we were paddling. It was interesting when we saw a painted turtle and held him! After this trip, I felt inspired to go on more outdoor adventures!

~ Liam, Gr. 4

Monday, 24 September 2012

Sleeping with Belugas

Last week, we went to the Vancouver Aquarium for an overnight camp with 30 other homes schoolers and their families. We slept with the Beluga Whales. Don't worry we didn't drown! We were sleeping outside the tank. After the Aquarium closed the doors for the night, we had a fun time exploring the marine labs and touching sea stars, sea urchins, crabs, anemones and snake skins. Then we were allowed to wander around the Aquarium and check out the other creatures in their habitats. When the lights went out the Belugas started to perform as if they where saying, "Watch meeeeeeeee". It was amazing to sleep listening to their sounds as they swam. We didn't get to sleep until 1 am. Next morning we met the dolphins and watched them perform tricks. Our favourite was a porpoise (his name was Jack) who came up to talk to us, only we did not understand him. Oh well! We had a great trip!
~ Jera and Sienna Nichols, yr. 7

Monday, 17 September 2012

Time Will Tell

Maintaining a DL collaborative weblog for the past year has been challenging. Unlike when I had maintained weblogs in my brick and mortar classrooms, in DL, I do not have a camera which I float between my students, nor the luxury of any incidental time with my students in which I would help them with their writing and/or remind them of the importance of sharing what we learn publicly. Most interactions between students and teachers in DL are deliberate. Last week, I asked for volunteers to come froward to help Ernie and me with this cause, and I created a NEW PROCESS. Hopefully in the next few weeks we will have more volunteer authors. Listening to Erine and I imagine can get old pretty quickly!

~ Will

Monday, 10 September 2012

Patience is a Virtue

First I would like to thank all of you who have made me feel very welcome @ DL classroom. Changing roles and responsibilities is challenging but I am excited. The first week demanded I pay attention to something my mother would often say, "Rome was not built in a day." From missing textbooks, misplaced forms and other forms I did not know existed, the first week proved to be a challenge. More often than not, I was reminding myself to slow down, focus on the small steps and be positive, regardless of the adversity. For me, patience has been and probably always will be a goal. For students, take more time to read and complete your work carefully and thoughtfully. Invest the time to learn and you will be rewarded: not just with good grades but with an excellent personality trait. I cannot always change the variables of learning but together, we will strive to learn patiently from each other.

~ Ernie

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Leave Your Harbours!

This past summer I took sailing lessons and lost my daughter. She’s not dead, but rather just off to university. The two are related in that both my daughter and I are navigating something new. We are learning. Interestingly, two other students in our school also completed White Sail 1 and 2 this summer, and I’m sure there are a number of others who already know how to adjust sails and chart waters much better than their vice-principal! Such is learning; it’s open to anyone of any age on anything. It’s boundless, not to be confused with schooling. Where ever your learning takes you this year, work with not against the winds, and may they always be at your back.

~ Will

Friday, 29 June 2012

Another Year

A community is something that’s hard to see. In DL it’s even harder. Seldom do our students, parents and staff share the same geography or pursue a common purpose. Often, our learners and those who are supporting them work to provide each of our students with unique opportunities and tailored learning experiences. Every once and a while, however, we are reminded that there is more. Every so often, schedules and locations and activities line up. Every now and again, we come to find we are not alone. For those who know when and how to look, DL communities can actually be quite easy to see. Just be sure not to blink! To everyone, may your summer be filled with family, good friends and fun.

Happy Learning,
~ Will

New Horizons

I just finished my first year with YouLearn and I had a great time with many new experiences and tasks. At first, I thought it would be just like regular school, but there were way more things to do, rather than just sitting in a classroom all day. My favourite part about it was getting to do many different new things such as: skiing, skating, curling, scuba diving and going to the symphony. I thought about going back to regular school this coming year, but then I realized that in home learning, I am free to do more things and do them in my own time. One thing that surprised me about home learning was the variety of projects I was allowed to do that counted for schoolwork. I also met a lot of new friends and have nice teachers, and in the new school year, I am looking forward to trying even more new things.

By Cole

Monday, 25 June 2012

Provincial Champs

In the fall, one of our grade 3 students, Xander, suffered a devastating loss when his football team, which was favoured to make it to provincials, lost an early qualifying playoff game and was eliminated from the provincial race. Today, I’m happy to announce that Xander’s flag team not only won the provincial title, they also made history by becoming the first ever U10 team to win a provincial flag football title. Losses of the past turn into victories of the future if we learn and grow from them. You can read about Xander’s team in the Daily Kelowna Courier. Congrats Chargers!

Monday, 18 June 2012

In it Together

This week, I joined a few of our students at the Oliver pool as we kicked-off our spring swim program. Actually, I didn’t swim, I watched and spoke about home schooling with some of our parents. Reflecting on the experience, I continue to see the benefits of having students study as part of a family while also connecting with other families, groups and organizations to build relationships and enrich their learning experiences. Distributed learning, indeed, is an effective educational option, but for many who live it, it’s simply a way of life.

~ Will

Monday, 11 June 2012

Children’s Festival

We went to the Children’s Festival in Penticton last week and we had a lot of fun! There were many things to do and see. The best part of the festival for us was seeing Erth’s Dinosaur show. We got to touch the dinosaurs. They weren’t real dinosaurs of course but they looked real! They were really puppets. They felt like rough, cold rubber. The lady presenting the show was very funny. She has a really great job. She’s from Australia and travels the world teaching kids about dinosaurs. It was really funny when she would bring kids up on stage to be part of the show. I (Emmitt) would have liked to have been picked but even though I wasn’t it was still a good show. One thing she said to us that made us laugh was to not go home and start digging our back yard up to look for dinosaur bones. That would be fun, but I don’t think Mom would appreciate that! It was a really fun show and we are glad that we got to see it. The climbing wall was really cool too and there were also a lot of different craft projects and displays in the other tents. The weather was really nice and we had a picnic lunch and Dipping Dots for dessert. Just before leaving we also bought some cotton candy. It was a really fun day. Thank you for inviting us and we are looking forward to going again next year.
Have a great summer!

~ Chris and Emmitt Shorty (grade 5)

Monday, 4 June 2012

Community Garden

We went to the country garden today. I planted cucumbers and cantaloupe. I will enjoy picking and eating the vegetables this summer.

~ Laura Harty (soon to be kindergarten)

Monday, 21 May 2012

Project Based Research

Today we researched super soldier ants. The grades 4 and 5 explored the anatomy of these large ants while grades 6 and 7 studied growth and development of the ants. We all had to work on our research skills while becoming super ant experts. I learned that with lots of heat, the right amount of hormones, and lots of food and nutrition as a baby, regular ants become super soldier ants! I thought that today was a lot of fun. We learned something and practiced are research skills, all in one.

~ Madison (grade 7)

Monday, 14 May 2012

Training and Learning

After venturing down the Google Apps for Education road a number of months ago, four new apps were made available to our students and school this week! After checking them out, each offers something impressive. Thanks for adding these to our account, Miles. However, you’ve put me in a challenging situation, which is a good thing. Now that I can see the potential these applications have to enhance my students’ learning, I need to either train or learn how to use them myself. Or do I?

~ Will

Monday, 7 May 2012

Improving Learning

I have been attending work experience at Youlearn. I have been helping build a website that is changing the way Youlearn operates and its K-9 students learn. It will help immensely by letting students always contact their teacher even when they can't make it into the classroom. I am incredibly excited to roll out the website and have students try it out. Training will begin in June.

~ Quintin (work experience student)

Monday, 30 April 2012

Hi Tech, Hi Touch

I have had a number of discussions with a number of people this week around technology and its potential pitfalls. For the record, although as of late I have become almost addicted to finding better more meaningful ways technology can be used to help our children learn, I subscribe to two overriding values. One, our children’s safety is paramount, and two, we need to proceed cautiously into how we use technology in order that we don’t estrange ourselves from one another or the idea of community. A motto we have unofficially adopted at Youlearn to support this idea is: together we learn, together we grow.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Fun at the Musical

This year I have ad the privilege of participating in Oliver Elementary School’s “Aladdin” musical. The cast has been rehearsing since January. My roles are a townsperson and Prince Dahdu Rahn Rahn. Much to my delight, as a prince I enter, brandish a sword and wave it about. I have learned a lot about what goes into a production. I think that the cast has shown great talent. My favourite song is “Prince Ali”. I am looking forward to next year’s musical. Thank you to Mr. Safek, Mrs. Martine, Mrs. Kunz and Mr. Eaton for making it possible for me to have the opportunity to be involved in this musical.

~ Kelan (grade 4)

Monday, 16 April 2012

An Epic Blog

I went straight to Blogger and created a profile followed by a blog. I'm quite excited knowing that my blog will grow and grow. I found creating a blog was quite easy, compared to lots of other things I do daily on the computer. I feel happy that now I have my own blog. I learned that making a blog is quite easy. Anyone can do it. I also learned that I have a You-Learn account for Google. My address for my blog is:

~ Johnny (grade 5)

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Connected Learning

Since October, Youlearn has continued to explore the myriad of ways in which our students and school would benefit from centralizing our services around a Google Apps for Education platform. Along the way, a number of administrators, teachers, secretaries, students and parents have been using the accounts they have been assigned and exploring the possibilities. As we move closer and closer toward reaching a critical mass and switching the manner in which our K-9 programs our offered, one thing is clear. Those who are fronting our school’s charge feel one and the same: we will more easily and meaningfully be able to connect.

~ Will

Monday, 2 April 2012

More to Do

A number of students and parents attended the school feedback meeting on March 16. At the meeting, issues such as community, technology, feedback, learning resources and our school’s structure were discussed. Most people expressed that it was good to meet, and that we should do so more often. The notes from the meeting will be kept in Oliver for those who may be interested and used from now until June to continue improving our school. We’re lucky to have such an involved, supportive group of students and parents at Youlearn. Thanks to everyone for your contributions and words of wisdom.
~ Will

Monday, 12 March 2012

Logging Learning

All DL learners and parents are responsible for documenting student learning. Often work samples are kept and shared with DL teachers throughout a term. In some courses, such as PE and Art, mandatory logs are filled out and submitted to chronicle a student’s efforts and accomplishments. Back in October I added Blogger to all student Youlearn accounts and wrote about the educational benefits of blogging. The other day while reading Cole’s learning blog and then later speaking to him about it, I was reminded of something. Logging one’s learning need not be an artificial, disconnected learning activity, it can be a part of the learning process, and an enjoyable one at that! Thanks, Cole.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Adventures in Skiing

I went skiing for the first time ever at Mt. Baldy. I learned a lot about skiing . . . and falling. If you are going too fast you pizza, if you are going down the smallest hill in history you french fry. I didn't feel so great about skiing at first. It was hard, and I didn't want to go the second time, but my mom and dad encouraged me to try it again. I went. The next time, though, I got the hang of it and found it was fun! Now I love skiing. One thing I found interesting was they don't give you poles the first time you ski. You put your hands on your knees to steer.

~ Gracie M. (Grade 3)

Monday, 27 February 2012

Morning at the Symphony

At the symphony, I learned that stories can be expressed in music. The Okanagan Symphony Orchestra collected original stories from Okanagan students and narrated them and played music that represented scenes in the stories. I learned that the xylophone was first used in an orchestra in Danse Macabre. The story of Danse Macabre is that of death dancing in the woods at midnight. The xylophone represents the bones on the skeletons clacking together. My favourite story was the one with the squirrel in the bushes, scaring two kids who had snuck out and gone into the woods in the night. Overall, I enjoyed the symphony and hope to go again next year.

~ Cole H.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Grounded Optimism

It was suggested to me this week that very often “winning” is a precursor to creating in someone the belief that they can win. In other words, as supporters of learning, we should be coaching learners toward success by grounding them in the successes of their past. We should encourage learners to remember the challenges they have faced and overcome, the stories of their resilience. I think I knew this but was happy to be reminded of it. I guess by definition that’s what grounding means. As important as some things are, we are bound to occasionally loose sight of them. My, if all of us were able to encourage one another to fly while also keeping for one another an eye on the ground!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Lego Mindstorm

I am very lucky to be in the district’s gifted program run through Oliver Elementary school. My teacher Greg is very helpful when it comes to Lego Mindstorms, a Lego brand “create your own” robot kit. I have been going every Friday for 5 weeks. I am learning how to build complex robots. The robot I designed is pictured here, but it does not exist anymore, because I took it apart to build a different robot. The new robot will be the basic one that the kit includes instructions for.

~ Joel (Grade 6)

Monday, 30 January 2012

Means to and Edit

For the last few weeks, I have been making boarding and fingerboarding films. I edit them using Sony Vegas Pro 11, which I have learned to use by trial and error and through watching videos. In total I spend between 3-5 hours editing and arranging all the footage I shoot around a song I pick for each video. Editing is challenging. Interestingly, I don't do it for the fun of it, but rather I do it because I like the outcome of my hard work. Here is one example of my work and another. Mr. Eaton's favourite is the accompanying video. (Click on the picture above.) I hope you enjoy them.

~ Zachariah

Monday, 23 January 2012


I’ve been studying BC’s K-7 core curriculum this week, and I created a graphic organizer to help me gain a broader and richer picture of what our students at YouLearn are expected to learn. For a number of years now I have found it easier to understand complex and interconnected ideas by drawing or illustrating them. In addition, I find creating such representation calming and easier to remember than just text, not to mention it appeals to my creative side! Watch our Core Curriculum Organizer evolve and feel free to use it if it helps.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Lungs Galore

I have been learning about the body in science. My lungs are like big, spongy balloons. When I breathe, the oxygen goes down my windpipe and the lungs fill up with air. It is very interesting to feel my body move when I breathe. I think that my body is very wonderful.

~ Charlotte Foster, grade 1

Monday, 9 January 2012

A Little Visitor

On Tuesday, I returned from Christmas break to find a visitor waiting for me. He had arrived in the mail. Although he and I were suppose to meet under better circumstance–he was suppose to be fresh–we made an agreement. Instead of eating him, we agreed he could stick around and help out in my office. As you can see by the big smile on his face, he much preferred this plan, as do I given the amount I ate over the holidays! To his baker, Klaya, thanks. A friend is much better than a cookie!
~ Will