Watch the Video from the Original Post in Sept 2015

Gr. 7 Learning Commons Orientation Video!!! Weclome to St. Joseph H.S. LC!!!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Eric Walters Author Visit

On Nov. 26th, Eric Walters visited our Learning Commons to speak to over 200 students in gr. 7-10.  They were spellbound!  He is a superstar presenter and highly motivating for reluctant readers.   See the photostory of the event above this post!

Check out the display of some of his 75 titles in the L.C.

Make change with your CHANGE!  Give your pennies, nickels and dimes to the L.C. charity fundraiser for the Creation of Hope Project sponsored by Eric Walters.

Check out the details @

Option One - Those requiring tax receipts are asked to make out cheques to Africa Inland Mission and add “Creation of Hope” on the memo line and mail them to 4082 Powderhorn Crescent, Mississauga, ON, L5L 3B9. The cheques will then be forwarded to AIM.  Africa Inland Mission (AIM) is a registered charity which is affliated with the project on the ground in Kenya.  AIM takes an 7% administrative fee and the remaining 93% is sent to our program for direct use.
Option Two -  Those who do not require tax receipts are asked to make cheques out to Creation of Hope and mail them to the address listed above.  100% of the money is sent to staff in Kenya for direct use.
A commitment has been made that 100% of money that comes from schools or children will always go to service.  Some schools have needed to use the first option – donating through AIM – and we have undertaken to ‘pay’ the 7% administrative cost so that the project still receives 100% – 100 cents on the dollar – going directly to service.
Often people will ask for money to be directed to specific projects or goals (goats, blankets, tools etc) and we work to honour those requests.  Here are the costs for some items:
Planting a sapling – $.23       Blanket – $6.00          Chicken – $8.00
School Uniform – $14.00  Farm Tools for a Family – $20.00 Goat – $40.00

Fund the entire Rolling Hills orphanage – one day or week at a time; There are 34 children at Rolling Hills Residence. To fund the costs of the orphanage (food, clothing, school fees, school supplies, medical care, electricity, water, sanitation and salary for the matron, tutor and night watchman) for one day is $50, or for one week is $350.00  Fund the program for a week . . . or two . . . or more.  You will get back a thank you from the children indicating the exact week you supported them, and a picture like the one above.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Kindness Week: Read All About It!

Check out the display of great books to celebrate Kindness Week in the Learning Commons!

Celebrate Kindness by reading these brand new books:

Read Ellen Hopkins poetic novelization "Tilt".  Follow the lives of  three teens who find the strength they need to hold on when their world's been tilted completely off its axis.  

Read  Everybody SEES the ants.  Lucky Linderman doesn't want to wake up...he has a secret that helps him wade through the daily mundane torture of his life.  In his dreams he escapes to the war-ridden jungles of Laos, and the prison his grandfather couldn't escape, where he can be a real man, an adventurer and a hero.  But how long can Lucky keep hiding in his dreams before reality forces its way through?            

Read The Pregnancy Project, a memoir.  A girl pretends to be pregnant in high school and learns the meaning of family, friends and living beyond stereotypes. 

Read The Letter Q:  Queer Writer's Notes to their younger selves.  In this anthology 64 award winning authors and illustrators such as Michael Cunningham, Amy Bloom, Jacqueline Woodson, Terrence McNally, Gregory Maguire, David Levithan and Armistead Maupin make imaginative journeys into their pasts, telling their younger selves what they would have liked to have known then about their lives as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered people.  With bracing honesty, these are words of love, messages of understanding, reasons to hold on for the better future ahead. 

Read The Relectant Journal of Henry k. Larsen.  Thirteen year old Henry's happy ordinary life comes to an abrupt hald when his older brother, Jesse, picks up their father's hunting rifle and leave the house one morning.  What follows, shatters his family, who are forced to resume their lives in a new city, where no one knows their past

Check out these titles and more @ your Learning Commons!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Lest We Forget....Read to Remember!

Check out the display of books about War and Peace in the Learning Commons!

Watch the War themed Book Trailers on the SJH Learning Commons Youtube Channel by clicking on the link below: 

Friday, October 26, 2012

WP and RM Books are now in! Come read 'em!

Check out the list of titles @

Students speak about what the Forest of Reading means to them:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Instagrok Learning Tool @

Check out this excellent research tool but use with CAUTION! @

It allows students to enter searches for key concepts. The results are displayed in the form of an interactive web graph.  The right side bar displays key terms with links to websites, a list of websites, videos and images related to the concept queried.  It also creates a multiple choice quiz and glossary of terms using the search results.

CAUTION:  Some of the results are in congruent and therefore lead to some red-herrings in the resources list and quiz!  This could be used as a meta cognition teaching opportunity in that students could explain which results are excellent and which results are erroneous!  

In a perfect world, the user would be able to manipulate the results list and customize the graphs but's a FREE resource which means it is not free of FRUSTRATION!


Monday, September 17, 2012

Welcome Back Friends of the Learning Commons!

Celebrate returning to school, meeting old friends and making new ones by creating a Friendship bracelet in the Learning Commons at lunch.

We will supply the thread, charms and clipboards...
You bring your friends!

Check out all the crazy patterns you can create @!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Poetry Contest: Read or Listen @ Vote @

Poem 1: The Laugh
A Sestina

From miles away it could be heard: a laugh.
It bubbled from her throat, surrounded the room and bounced out the window.
Only one person in the world could provoke it: her husband.
To him her laugh was the most melodious music.
There was only one creature whose tune could compare, the song of a bird.
But, if you looked beneath the laughter, another sound could be heard: crying.
He thought that she showed weakness by crying,
So instead she covered the pain with a laugh.
She often longed to be as free as a bird.
Day by day, she watched him fly, through the window.
When the pain was too much and the bruises began to show she turned to music.
It was all because of one man: her husband.

She couldn’t leave him, he was, as he put it, “her husband”.
He became more violent when he heard her crying.
He took away the only thing that gave her comfort: her music.
So all she could do was laugh.
She was trapped; she watched her life pass her by through the window.
Oh, how she envied him so, absolute freedom, the life of a bird.
She wished with all her heart that she could fly away. If only she was a bird.

The man that was supposed to love her caused her pain: her husband.
He hated to see her looking out of the window.
He hated to see her crying.
He hated to hear her laugh.
He hated to hear her music.

So she told the world of her pain, she did it in music.
She wrote songs, many about the bird.
She pretended to be happy, covered the bruises and replaced the tears with a laugh.
It was all a fa├žade, a show for his friends; her husband.
But when she was alone, she spent half of her time crying.
And the other half looking out of the window.

It was what trapped her from the outside; a single glass window.
This too she wrote in her music.
Then the treatment got worse and she couldn’t seem to stop crying.
She no longer watched the bird.
Because he boarded up the window: her husband.
The pain was now too much to bear; she couldn’t cover it with a laugh.

Now she’s free to watch the bird all day long. But she watches him from a different window.
One that looks down from up above. She’s in a place where music plays all day long; sweet harmonies. Her husband? He’s the reason she’s not here crying on earth anymore. Her trace still remains, it can be heard from the heavens: a laugh.

                                                           Poem 2:  Loneliness

Loud crowd

Shadow of a nobody


surrounded within.

Ghosts of memory SCREAMING for love

nobody acknowledges

whispered misery of a quiet, secret shadow.

Divided and lost

hates their detachment

worlds away, never closer

fragile, scared, needing company

despises the closed world that

deserts the eccentric

never loved, ever


From: “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

Poem 3:  The Cry of a Child
That sound,
The sound of a whimper,
A cry,
Can you hear it?
Can you see it?

The cry,
Of a child.
Can you hear it?
Can you see it?

The fear,
The fear of a child,
Lingering alone in the darkness.
Can you hear it?
Can you see it?

The putrid smell,
Ridding the child of its childhood,
The child that is alone,
The child that knows fear,
The child that lingers in the darkness,
Can you hear it?
Can you see it?

That sound,
The sound of nothing at all,
The wind still,
The moonlight hidden,
A putrid smell where flies gather,
A horrid place no person should live.
The child,
The child that is alone,
The child that knows fear,
The child that lingers in the darkness of this place,
The child that see’s death,
The child that has its childhood,
Its home,
and Life,
Taken away.
Can you hear it?
Can you see it?
Can you?
Hear its final whimper?
Its final heart beat,
Lost forever in the darkness of the night
Can you hear it?
Did you hear it?
Can you see it?
Did you see it?

You know why,
You know how,
You know so much,
You sit back,
and watch the child,
The child that is alone,
The child that knows fear,
The child that lingers in the darkness,

What are you going to do about it?

Poem 4:  Rain (Love)
I used to believe that the fresh smell
(I used to believe that the certain look
That came into the air at the start of a summer thunderstorm
That came over your face when our eyes met
Was magic.
Was love).
I was so naive then.

Someone had to tell me
(You had to tell me
That it was only the smell
That it was only the look
Of dust getting wet.
Of you feeling sorry for me).
Ignorance is bliss.

Poem 5:  “Real Eyes. Realize. Real Lies”
       In life
We learn to close our eyes and hold our tongue
      To disregard
Bloodshed that has begun
      They’re too predictable for surprises
Mass murders, they don’t know where to hide it
      Hearts as heavy as lead
Tears too dry to shed
      If your mouths had tongues
And your ears could hear
     Screams on the other side
Would be quite near
     Money and power and control
Then you wanted freedom
But you already sold them your soul
     Living under the command of suppressors
Never happy unless they suppress us
     Our people are like
A ship with no captain
A car with no driver
     With no one to blame
We went against each other
     A face without expression
A conversation with no words
No sense of direction
     ‘Cause that’s what they prefer
We’ll know a definition
Only if the television
     Tells us it.
They dictated our lives
     What we should eat
Dictated our schedules
     Right down to our sleep
At the end, money can buy power
     But it can’t buy respect.
And if God says Justice
     Hopeful prayers He will accept

*Real eyes will realize real lies.

Poem 6:  Silhouette of a Hope
teeth flashing white
        from mahogany faces
                   scent of sun-warmed hair
                              dusty and sweet
hands clasped, tugged, guided.
remind me, I can't recall
who is the giver, and who is being taught?

        wisely innocent                                             caught in limbo
simultaneously rooted through                  rejected by the country of their blood
        dust-worn feet by the burden                       denied by the country of their birth
of what life has dealt them                        they don't exist
        and buoyed up by the                                 and yet they do
strength of their smiles
                                                                      I wonder
have they ever dreamed of
who has decided that they must pay the price
for a debt they've never owed?

Tiny hand on my arm
outlined, dark on light
like the silhouette
of a bird, a hope,
dark against the rising sun

Poem 7:  Untitled
Look at me, love

Would I lie to you?
It’s gone too far, now
Give up the fight

When the lights go out
And the only sound is your own heartbeat
Is it then that you crumble?

Your foes are gone
You’re battling yourself, now

Your life is waiting
Why can’t you live it?

Poem 8:  Cruise
In my car
In my car
For miles
I want to drive far
In my car

The windows down low
I don't drive slow
The music up loud
Feel the wind blow
I see a farmer in his field he mow

I have an open road
The weather is not cold
The sun is up high
I drive bold
I have no load

I feel free
No one to stop me
As I come to the corner
Another car I see
I wave to thee

I have a passion
No it's not fashion
It's to drive fast
I hit the stretch and start dashing
I have this passion

In my car
In my car
For miles
I want to drive far
In my car

Poem 9:  Trapped Inside
This world can be a hurtful place
Makes you put a mask on your face
They make you hide who you are
And the truth feels so far

They tell you who to be
They have you on your knees
If they make you pretend
They are not your true friend

Don't be who they want you too
Be who you want, be you
Let your true self out
It will help your tears drought

You think people don't care
But saying that isn't fair
You wont be liked by everyone
But to certain people you shine like the sun

So I'll end my poem here
Hopefully my truth is near
Don't keep it all inside
There is nothing you should hide

Poem 10:  The One We Once Knew
We stare across this bridge,
searching for the person we once knew.

We see this familiar face,
maybe it's you?

same eyes,
same hair,
same skin,
same feel,

but it isn't you.

We frantically search,
for each other.

Only to find,
an odd outsider.

The one we once recongnized,
is now this outsider in disgrace.

We now stand side by side.

No longer do we speak,
No longer do we laugh.

All we do is beg for our past.

All the fears soon return,
the tears continue to burn.

Now nothing but a memory,
You don't know how much this pains me.

I no longer know you.
You no longer know me.

What does that make us be?

Poem 11:  The World
Some people think the world is dangerous and unsafe
but to others they think it has yet to be discovered
Its still holding every memory and secret that many people could want to know
and have been working to know.
The world is an amazing and exisiting place
and its also one of a kind just like the amazing people that explore it.

Poem 12:  Parents
Parents are angels sent from above.
That keep us smiling and alos love,
When I'm sad I know God's watching,
But with parents, their hearts do the talking.

Without us knowing, they do so much,
They give us the feeling of care with touch,
When it's pouring rain and feeling sad,
It's parents that cheer you up, my mom and dad.

For all the times they tried so hard,
To love, to protect, to be our guard,
We, as the children, should try to give back,
The sweetness of life, that parents impact.

Everytime we don't trust a person,
All situations just seem to worsen.
For God created a mother and a father,
So our life would be perfect, with no bother.

It takes care to love a family,
Even when life, isn't so dandy,
We should try to notice little more,
That it's parents that make life worth counting for.

Poem 13:  The  COURAGEOUS Voice
Strong Heart
Speaks to mind
Fists down
Head held high
Sacrificing fights
Confronting fearful words
Defending truth
It's real courage

From "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee

Poem 14:  Traitor
Secretly            ashamed
Sinking              pathetically
Masked betrayer.
                    ruining individual.

Sharp knife
against countries.

From:  "Cue for Treason" by Geoffrey Trease

Poem 15:  Treason
Sneering, Dark
Devil, enemy, revenge
Rattled, rough, broken, tough
Destroying, dumbfounded, mighty, serious
Sickening, torture, convicted, mischief, fool
Unearthy, tranquil, incriminating, conspiracy
Bad, trouble, unfortuate
Bottomless, unpleasant

From: "Cue for Treason" by Geoffrey Trease

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Here are the latest video clips of the Careers Human Library Event from March 7th...
Please read the original post below for the details of the event and student responses.

Eavesdrop on conversations with the 'living books' by clicking on the videos below:

Dave Rooney, the Mechanic of Rooney's Automotive Repairs

Gina, Culinary Arts expert from Zola's Restaurant

Kevin Coady, Real Estate Agent

Roger, business owner of Living at One

Jen Beard, CBC news producer

Rabia of Cornerstone Montessori

Police Detective Gibbons of the Ottawa Police Force

Dr. Watkins of the Canadian Medical Association

Friday, April 13, 2012

Poetry Contest in the Commons!

To celebrate Poetry Month the L.C. is inviting poets to submit their work to be judged by a panel of experts and for the popular vote of their peers.

We will endeavour to use technology to reach voters.  Stay tuned for more details about how to use your cellphone to call in to hear the poems and vote for your favorite poet.

We are excited to have Spoken Work Artist Nathanael Larochette conduct  workshops with the Writer's Craft class and Ms. Fedorowicz gr. 9 English class and giving a Spoken Word performance to a group of gr. 7/8 students!  Listen to his Beautiful poem for a taste!

Nathanael will be the masters of ceremony at Ontario Library Association's Ottawa Festival of Trees at Carelton University Field House on May 17th.  All Silver Birch and Red Maple Reading Clubs in the Ottawa area will attend...over 1000 students!

Check out the poetry display of books @ the Learning Commons and the display of student poetry in our display case!

Hold Onto Your Kids Parent-Teacher Book Club

Dear Parents and Teachers,

To celebrate Education Week and to develop stronger partnerships with parents in our community, Tracy Murray (Student Success Teacher) and I, Sarah Murray (Teacher-Librarian) are proposing a bookclub for both parent and teacher readers.  We will read Dr. Mate and Dr. Neufeld's book, "Hold Onto Your Kids".  Their thesis is that many children are no longer attached to their parents as the emergence of a new and omnipotent peer culture is luring them away from adult influence.  Children are so strongly and deeply peer-orientated that we as educators have difficulty creating relationships with them in order to influence students to learn.  As parents, we may not realize that the change in the behaviour of our teen is not always due to hormones or teen angst but may be due to the alienating effect of peer-orientation.  This books speaks to the obstacles that prevent or seriously hinder student engagement in our classrooms.  These parenting experts argue that many of the behaviours teens exhibit:  aggression, violence, anxiety, depression, suicidal tendancies etc. are the result of extreme peer-orientation and are relationship problems and not behaviour problems.

WHY READ?  The hopeful message is that children naturally want to be attached to adults and that recreating the village of adult leadership is possible.  The book offers positive support for adults to encourage them to trust in their natural instincts to parent/lead children.  It is not another handbook of tips or tricks to control children and make parents feel bad about themselves.  The next step will be to organize workshops with the authors on specific topics for parents and also one for teachers.   The long term goal is to provide support to teachers with promoting student engagement, and creating a sense of belonging for students in classrooms.

THE PLAN:  We will launch the bookclub at Open House with a meet and greet informational session with parents.  We will read the book from May to September and meet socially at various times to discuss certain chapters.  To show on-going communication between parent and teacher readers, we will contribute to a group blog to offer and respond to observations that arise from our reading.  The next step will be to organize workshops with the authors on specific topics.   The long term goal is to provide support to teachers with promoting student engagement, and creating a sense of belonging for students in classrooms and to also provide workshops to help parents re-establish relationships with their children who are becoming too peer-orientated.

RSVP:  to Sarah Murray if you are interested in joining this book club.

Hunger Games @ the L.C.

On Thursday March 22, Ross Fitzgerald, a reporter with the Ottawa Citizen joined us in the Learning Commons to interview St. Joseph fans of the novel, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
Over twenty students showed up with their books and shared their enthusiasum and excitement for the book and the upcoming movie.  While waiting for the reporter, students quizzed each other on noteable quotations from the three books.  Gr. 12 student Ariana Mortimer and Gr. 8 student Samantha Palmero were both quoted in the newspaper.

Ariana Mortimer modelled her homemade Katniss Everndeen costume which she created for the movie opening.

Check out The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay from the L.C. today!
Stay tuned for more Hunger Games fun for fans coming during Education Week...

"May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor."

Here is the full Ottawa Citizen Article for your Reading Pleasure!

Careers Human Library

On March 7th, the Learning Commons and Guidance department organized a Careers Human Library event for all 190 Gr. 10 Careers students to attend.  Students were polled early in the year to select careers that were meaningful to them.  Then we asked family, friends and members of our school community to volunteer their time to speak to students.

A Special Thank You to our 'living' books!

30 'living books' attend the event to speak with small groups 5-7 students at a time.  Students were able to meet with four career experts during the event.

The following careers were represented:
Interior Designer
Substance Abuse Counsellor
Registered Nurse
Computer Security Consultant
Child Educator
Culinary Arts
Personal Trainer
Tax Lawyer
Family Lawyer
Massage Therapist
Research Scientist
Police Detective
Military Communications Officer
Real Estate Agent
Veterinarian Technician
Electrician Station Maintenance
Funeral Director
Hair Stylist/Salon Owner

Here are a collection of student responses:

-"It was a journey."

-"I had no idea of what job I wanted to do because I really had no information about each occupation. I felt that the human library really helped me understand and decide for me which jobs are for me and not for me. I loved it."

-"The workers had alot of enthusiasum."

-"I learned about careers I normally wouldn't have considered for myself."

-"The most meaningful was learning about why people loved their careers so much that made them want to live their lives doing that certain career everyday."

-"I learned alot actually.  I asked every question and have the gist of what I want to become."

-"I learned that those jobs were not for me."

-"Talking to adults who were passionate about their careers was the most meaningful part."

-"It was great to have all the gr. 10's to be together in the gym."

-"I learned that you have to work hard for what you want."

-"I learned that life is awful and that I never want to start working."

-"The most meaningful thing was the honesty the people showed."

-"To be happy in your career is the most important part."

-"Seeing how many jobs there are and how each job reflects the rest of the world."

-"Do what you really want to do.  No regrets, just go with it and work hard!"

-"The most meaningful part of the day was that these people took time out of their busy days to talk to us."

-"Even if you are well-trained, it doesn't necessarily mean you're going to get hired right away and you have to keep trying and training."

-"I got to ask lots of questions about careers that I had doubts about."

-"Not only was my career, hilarious, he taught me to reach for my dreams and to start as soon as I can."

-"I learnt how and what kind of stress comes with a certain employment and which high school courses would be mandatory for this career."

-"The human library can help you find your dream career."

-"It was really fun and I learned alot about my career pathway."

-"I will strongly value speaking to others who will help me reach my goals."

-"I learned to take advantage of my education because without it I won't be successful."

-"It was great that we were able to hear about how the books got to where they ar.  It opened my eyes that in order for me to get where I want to be, I must work harder."

-"I learned about how to handle stress in a healthy way."

-"Having people come in an explain what they do in their jobs gives a better insight than reading about it in a book."

-"These people helped me think more about my future."

-"Meeting all of those amazing people was the most meaningful part of the experience."

-"I learned that you need to start early for jobs.  You can't wait till the last minute because alot of jobs take alot of preparation."

-"Getting an intimate discussion with the person about their career and life was most meaningful."

-"I learned that education is important but people skills are important too."

-"That you need determination and dedication for a career."

-"Even though it was a short time, the one on one conversations were the most meaningful."

-"I learned about things I wouldn't be able to find out through research."

-"I learned that it is best to make connections with people now, so that it is easier to get into the job industry you want."

-"I learned that to become any career, it takes alot of effort."

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

New Blogs for Reading Clubs!!!

Check out the St. Joseph Red Maple Reading Club Blog @!

and Check out the St. Joseph White Pine Reading Club Blog @!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Canspell St. Joseph Verbal Bee Results!

Above, all 25 Contestants in the 2012 Verbal Bee.
Below, The top speller, Lena Morin of 7-02!
View the last crucial moments of the Verbal Bee with contestants, Jeffrey Canisius and Namcao Nguyen duking it out for second place!
Special Thanks to Gr. 11 student, Keelia Lafreniere for her perfect pronounciation as our pronouncer!  Thank You to Mr. Kelly and Ms. Gillier-Symes for judging and Donna Hughes, our chaplain for the last minute prayer!

Christmas In the Commons

Check out our Facebook page to see the videos and photos of our week long Christmas celebrations:

The MarioKart Wii Competition
Glee Singalong Wii Competition
Rianna's S.O.S. Let's Dance Wii Competition
and the Button Making and Christmas Cookie Decorating craft!

Stay tuned for monthly Gaming Competitions to be held on the last Friday of every month @ your Learning Commons!