These are exciting times in education in BC!  Current discussions between the Ministry of Ed and stakeholders on curriculum changes and directions for encouraging innovation in our schools  have helped to create an awareness of and  momentum towards more student centred learning approaches in teaching and learning.

A lot of questions need to be addressed.  How are teachers to implement personalized learning?  What resources are required?  How can the learning community easily access those resources?  Why student centred learning?

Although David Jonassen was not the first nor the only educator ( see Dewey, 1938), many realize that when educators focus their instruction or instructional design on a question or problem, students:

  • Are actively engaged in their own learning
  • Are encouraged to think independently
  • Needs and interests determine course activities
  • Have choices
  • Have opportunities to investigate and discover
  • Work collaboratively  and independently
  • Are given authentic problems to solve
  • Receive active guided support and instruction
  • Monitor their own learning
  • Demonstrate understanding in a variety of ways
  • Are assessed for learning

ERAC, as a leader in supporting effective technology use, has worked with districts for the past 5 years through professional learning opportunities,  and procuring and supporting  access to quality resources.  We have given workshops on problem based learning and demonstrated how ERAC products support personalized learning.   We’ve encouraged educators to put tools in the hands of students so that they can address the question or problems and show their new knowledge.

ERAC ‘s  list of current agreements includes quality educational resources to address all 3 categories of student tools.  In addtion, we have developed some some support materials such as toolkits, videos and a BC teacher evaluated resource collection.    Check out our website for the following:

Database Bundle Tool Kit:   Look for lesson plans, subject specific resources, and more.

Current Agreements List:      Look for complete list of products

Professional Learning Support:

ERAC’s Digital Commons Initiative:


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment – Social Media and Internet Safety! (Formerly called Media Awareness Network)

A huge topic in the education world today is the safe usage of social media and in particular, how to role-model and educate students how to be safe surfers and social media mavens!

Educators cannot stay on top of every new tool, resource or development in our global and connected world and so we need to work on educating students to be safe, secure, confident and smart in how they interact with other people in the digital and social realm.

In order to help educators  understand and teach media literacy, social media skills and internet safety, ERAC has included these  popular resources as part of its Canadian Bundle:

  • Passport to the Internet
  • My World
  • Reality Check

(Product Description)

Passport to the Internet is a “game” version of learning activities and explorations, guiding your students through different examples, scenarios and role-playing to help them understand where the pitfalls, dangers and hidden traps might be on the internet!  This tool is interactive, customizing the activities to each individual student.  This tool can be used as a whole class, to explore together, or individually to cement the learning into each student’s experiences.

(Product Description)

My World is a more indepth and higher level version of Passport to the Internet and allows your secondary students to explore their learning through real-world examples that demonstrate how they can be safe, critical and aware of their reputations and behaviours online.  Through this online resource educators will find a wealth of materials and activities that will help them deliver this curriculum to their students in a personalized and meaningful way.

  • an interactive online tutorial
  • training presentations on each chapter for teachers
  • an extensive Teacher’s Guide with detailed instructions and assessment tools
  • a Classroom Activities Guide with background information, student handouts, and introductory, warm-up, follow-up and extension activities


Reality Check is a resource specifically focused on helping your students become better information managers, evaluating, critiquing and selecting only the best and most trustworthy information they find online.  Too often, students go with the first result in Google, and don’t spend anytime at all evaluating what turns up.  Reality Check breaks the information evaluation up into manageable small chunks focused on key questions: WHY, WHO, WHAT, WHEN and WHERE.  Students can easily find their way through this independant tool that addresses the many ways to evaluate and select information that is most useful to their needs.  A truly invaluable skill in today’s information saturated world.

Not to be forgotten is all the rest of the excellent resources available for educators on the website.  This newly redesigned site reflects the fresh direction and focus of this important Canadian digital resource.  Originally created by the CRTC in the early 1990s, then became the Media Awareness Network, and now, MediaSmarts, this group is providing excellent tools and digital resources for Canadian educators.  Browse their extensive collection of lesson plans, articles, guides, backgrounders, games, and tip sheets, searchable by provincial outcomes, grade levels, topics and media types.

Also worth browsing is the extensive section on Digital and Media Literacy, a portal of resources and links to specific topics like:

Overall, the tools, resources, guides and lessons available to you through, Passport to the Internet, MyWorld, and Reality Check will help you guide your students through the rich information sea, safely and with confidence.  Your students will have access to these resources on their own time, so they can reflect on their surfing habits and social media behaviour when they are using it!  You can take advantage of lesson plans, guides and helpful videos to supplment your existing units by incorporating new social media components and web evaluation skills.

Posted in Digital Resource, ERAC, Media Smarts, MyWorld, Passport to the Internet, Reality Check | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Personalized Learning using Pixton Comics & ToonBoom!

Many educators have been struggling to find ways to personalize the learning that is happening in their classes and activities.  One strategy involves getting students to focus on demonstrating their own thinking as they work through an activity or project.

Students often don’t share the ‘process’, but instead, only share the ‘product’, or end result.  By making an assignment or activity centered on the reflection and thinking that happens as students work through assignments, students

  • learn new skills
  • learn about their own thinking and learning needs
  • reveal their prior knowledge about a subject
  • provide opportunities for formative assessments on students’ thinking

Two 21st Century tools you can use today  as potential resources to engage students  in this goal are Pixton Comics and ToonBoom.  Both of these tools allow your students to get very creative, creating traditional comics, or animated videos that are entirely customizable and very personalized to your individual students.  What these two tools allow your students to do, is to give them a platform with which they can demonstrate their thinking, learning and understanding of their learning.

Pixton Comics

Pixton Comics is a BC based company that provides all the tools your students would need in order to be able to create their own customizable comic and stories, and to share them widely with anyone.  The tool they have created is very easy and simple to use and with only minor instruction, your students can be up and running quickly to create their own demonstrations of how they learn and what their inner monologue is as they struggle through an assignment or learning.  Some of the key features of their tools are:

  • fully customizable comic layouts, from how many comic “panels” to backgrounds, characters, costumes, and any kind of “prop” you might imagine.
  • easily modified and customized templates to help struggling students get started with something to get the creative juices flowing
  • simple sharing, allowing your students to share their personalized comics easily and extensively within and external to your classroom environment.
  • also able to create a small, exclusive digital space just for you and your students to share and comment on each other’s comics.

Here is an example comic from Pixton that demonstrates one kind of assignment or story you could get your own students to create.  A story about how they “learn” while figuring out what the assignment is! (click to see larger version)



ToonBoom is a much more featured and complex set of tools that takes the basic aspects of Pixton and then animates them and brings them to life using animation and 3-d environments!  Using the many products developed by ToonBoom like Flip Boom Classic for K-6, Flip Boom All-Star for Middle School 6-8, and Toon Boom Studio for Secondary Level 8-12 your students will find the right product for their abilities.  Also available is Toon Boom Storyboard, to help your students come up with a good script and storyboard before diving into the animation process.

These products, which cover all the grades from K-12, in increasing complexity and features, are a solid tool available to teachers who would like to personalize their curriculum and also allow students to tell their own story, using animation, motion, and multi-media.

Assignment examples on the ToonBoom website point to fully completed lessons on the water cycle, animating fractions, and a tour of our solar system!

As described in the beginning of this blog post, personalization is a useful strategy in helping students understand how they learn best, and to share their meta-learning with their fellow students allowing them to role-model best strategies.  Students can take one of these ToonBoom products and use these tools to tell their story about what they learned while making a animated movie.  They can also share their struggles, triumphs and “ah-ha!” moments!


Here is a helpful video demonstration on the major features of ToonBoom and how you can quickly and easily get up and running with a new animated short video!

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Where can you find these resources to use at school or at home?

Toon Boom – K-12

 – Fun, Schools, Business


Posted in ERAC, Pixton, ToonBoom | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

CPI.Q. – Canadian Periodicals Index Quarterly


When researching topics for your different teaching areas, a common problem is the lack of specific Canadian resources that are current and written at an appropriate level.  The Canadian Periodicals Index Quarterly (CPIQ) is the answer for educators across Canada, in both official languages.  This constantly updating database has full text articles from popular magazines and newspapers from across Canada.  Students from all grade levels will find something just right for their needs, including Chickadee and Wild for the elementary level all the way up to Maclean’s and the Globe and Mail for secondary students. The CPI.Q database has comprehensive collections of over 1300 publications going back 32 years.

ERAC has created some basic toolkits to help you get started with this resource right away. As well, there are helpful guides to some of the more advanced features waiting for you when you are ready.  These are part of ERAC’s helpful Toolkits series of guides, videos and suggested usage examples available on our site.

Highlights of CPIQ

What is the most useful aspect of this database? It would most definitely be its ability to search all of these magazines and newspapers for you, without you having to do anything at all!  You can set up special `search alerts`on topics and issues that are relevant and important to your classes, and have these current events emailed to you daily, weekly, or monthly!  This can be a great way to have the information come to you, allowing you to incorporate new and topical resources into your classes without all the legwork.

How does this work? Well, its quite simple and very easy to do.. All you need is an existing search or keyword, your personal login account and the many ways to share this search alert with your students and colleagues.  What’s the first step? Well, depending on your subject and grade, it would be to come up with some excellent keywords that capture what you are hoping to explore with your class.  Generating strong keywords is one of the best research skills you can teach your students.  So, let’s go through a couple of examples of possible subjects and their curriculum keywords:

  • Grade 4 Science
    • weather, climate, habitat, environment, light, sound
  • Grade 6 Social Studies
    • Canadian Identity, History, Government, Courts, Economy, Technology, Environment, Population
  • Grade 11 Social Studies
    • Democracy, human equality, citizenship, war, environment, identity, population, geography
  • Planning 10
    • Post-Secondary, Career, Employment, Health, Finances, Relationships, resumes
  • History 12
    • Canada, World War 1, World War 2, Korean War, Afghanistan, Cold War, Depression

Once you have brainstormed and collected your potential “keywords” that capture the curriculum of your subject area, you can then begin mining this current events database to see what results you will find.  When you find a particularly useful search that has many good resources for your students, then it might be useful to create a search alert, so that this search is “re-done” every week, looking for new additions, and then have CPIQ automagically email these new results to you each week!

How to create a “Search Alert”

The first step to creating your search alert, is to make sure you have created your own unique login account for the CPIQ database.  This unique login account is different from the generic school account you used to first login with.  This personalized account/password you create is only for you, and so make sure you choose a good username and password.  It is important that you put in your proper email address that you wish to receive your “search alerts” with.  This personalized account with CPIQ not only allows you to create search alerts, but also allows you to save searches, lists of articles and collections within the database for later use.

When your personalized login account is setup and you have input your required information, then it is time to do a regular search, using your pre-selected keywords. Any narrowing, or refining of your search you might want to do, like limiting your search to only “full-text” articles is a good idea as well, as once you have created your search, it is a little harder to edit it.  You can refine your search to limit the results by certain types of publications, other more specific keywords, document types, or dates.  Having a well-crafted search setup to save as your “Search Alert” will be so much more useful to you while using this database.  Please, take the time to make sure your search is setup exactly how you feel it would be most useful before moving onto the next step.

When you have your search setup exactly as you like it, with the correct parameters, keywords, related subjects, publishing date, and document types, then it is time to create your “Search Alert” using the toolbar located on the right-hand side of your search results page.  To create your “Search Alert” simply click on “Save this search” to start this easy process.

When you click to save your search, you are brought to a setup window that will outline the different options for your alert.  Your choices in saving your search are to change the frequency, either Daily, Weekly, or Monthly (my preference is weekly to keep me informed about any new resources, without getting too much email all the time).  Also, you can choose between full HTML (results with formatting and images embedded) or plain text (just the information and links).  Then all you have to do now is sit back and wait for your automagic email to arrive each week with a list of newly published resources that are immediately useful to you and your classes, as they are based on your keyword search alert!

Video Demonstration

Please, watch this short video demonstration to get a visual guide on how to setup and use your search alerts.

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Popular Articles and Searches

On the basic search page when you first login into CPI.Q. you are presented with a small selection of some of the most popular articles and searches that are happening on the site recently.  This can be serendipitous, as you might find something you would never have looked at if it was not profiled.  Teaching your students how to browse the digital environment can be another useful strategy in finding those rare gems and topics outside your traditional influences.  For example, in the image above, these were the popular articles and searches in Spring 2012.


Social Media Sharing Options

When you’ve found a great article, search, or list of resources, and you want to share it with yourself, your colleagues, and your students, you can easily share this link using dozens of different tools.  As you can see in the image, all the basics are covered with Email, Favourites and Print, and new social media options like Facebook, Twitter and Blogger, allow you to easily distribute and share this information. The only requirement for most of these tools is that you are logged into CPIQ with your own personal account, and the people you are sharing the links, searches or articles with are also logged into the database with your school account.


Where can you find these resources to use at school or at home?

Usually, your district or school will have a Database launch page, with links to all of the online databases that are available through the ERAC Bundle. You can also contact your ERAC District Contract using this page here to ensure your usernames and passwords are up to date!
ERAC is also able to provide further resources to help you and your students. We have:

Posted in CPIQ, Digital Resource, ERAC, Online Database, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Encyclopedia of British Columbia & More from


What do you know about BC’s kermode bear? History of Nat Bailey Stadium of BC? Or Canada’s longest canyon? Do you want your students to understand the rich diversity of BC’s peoples and how the natural environment has shaped BC’s history and perceptions? How the BC economy relies on primary resources and global markets? Looking for primary resources on topics on BC’s history? Then check out KnowBC’s rich collection of resources that are specific to our province.

The cornerstone of this local digital collection from is the Encyclopedia of British Columbia. However, there are many new valuable additions to its online digital collection to supplement this extensive encyclopedia. This useful, and most importantly, local information resource collection would be an excellent addition to any of our Social Studies classrooms across BC.

Encyclopedia of BC

The Encyclopedia of BC will be familiar to many, as it has been a staple of most school libraries in BC over the last decade.  Since becoming digital, and living on the web, the encyclopedia is kept up to date, expanded frequently, and offers much multi-media to browse and enjoy.  With over 4000 entries, 1500 photos, maps, charts, tables and hundreds of historical movie clips, this resource will offer something your students will not find anywhere else.  The encyclopedia is extensive in its detailed information, from 100 best places in BC, to little known facts and details that would surprise anyone.  The digital resource is coupled with curriculum links, model lessons, themes, and even a quiz to test your knowledge about BC.  It is written at a level that maintains accessibility from the intermediate grades all the way to senior secondary.  

Use this Encyclopedia with your Social Studies classroom to further explore topics like:

  • First Nations communities in BC
  • Settlement and distribution across BC
  • History of BC and its confederation with the rest of Canada
  • Early exploration of BC by European Explorers
  • All 550 Provincial Parks and their history
  • Key facts and figures about British Columbia
  • Biographies of some of our most important citizens
  • Video footage of key people, places and events around BC

On top of the multi-media, the ongoing addition of new articles, and the easy to search and browse index, the Encyclopedia of BC has many immediately useful additions such as:

  1. Teacher Resources – This section will help you design and craft engaging and insightful lessons for your students.  There are Prescribed Learning Outcomes (PLOs) organized by grade and subject level, and connected to specific topics within the database.  Also provided for teachers is a sample model lesson plan, and pre-written essay topics and themes.
  2. BC Facts – Want to become the quiz-master in your class? This section of the Encyclopedia is packed full of interesting statistics, little known facts, milestones in our history, and even “100 best things about BC”
  3. KnowBC Quiz – The ultimate way to test your students knowledge!  After exploring and using this Encyclopedia, you and your students can test your knowledge to see how well you would do with the people, places and things of BC.

Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest

The Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest is a fully searchable and photographic based digital encyclopedia of the marine ecosystems and organisms of BC. Compiled over 28 years, this extensive and definitive guide will help your students who are exploring and learning about marine life and ecosystems. There is much available, from younger early explorations in the intermediate grades to more specific and detailed examinations as part of the senior science and biology curriculum. The hierarchical organization allows your students to easily browse and search through the vast collection to zoom into only the animals or plants that they are interested in.  Coupled with amazing photographs and very detailed information, you will find your students going above and beyond their research to browse and learn on their own.

SUGGESTED USAGE:Using this graphical and information rich database of the marine organisms, your students can use this online database to:

  • Learn and share what they learned about a specific invertebrates with the rest of the class
  • Explore a different ecosystem and map out the many different types of organisms that call it home
  • Become and expert on one type of marine animal
  • Create a presentation that will expand upon what they’ve learned about the marine life around BC.
  • Create their own database entry on a marine animal that is not in this online collection.

The intensive graphical component of this database is its best feature.  For every animal, organism, plant or ‘other’ marine life, this resource has fantastic images, maps and descriptions.  Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest is a comprehensive collection that does not exist anywhere else and could be a great resource for your future marine biologist.

Encyclopedia of Raincoast Place Names

Have you ever wondered why that town has that name? Or why a bay is named after some little known person? This collection digs deep into the history of our province, examining how things got named what they did. For example, “in 1934, Foul Bay was renamed Gonzales Bay after residents complained the name was ‘disgusting’ and ‘vile.’ The original name, however, referred to the bay’s poor holding qualities as an anchorage, not to its odour (as local homeowners assumed).”  The Encyclopedia of Raincoast Place Names offers not just a story behind the place, but a glimpse into the foundations that helped build this province.  Students will be able to explore more than 4,000 entries, with pictures, links, maps and wonderful stories that will help them connect with their local region and greater province.


  • Have your students research the history of a small town in BC, presenting their learning to the rest of the class.
  • Explore a new part of BC’s coast every week, profiling and virtually travelling there through this information resource and the greater Internet
  • Have students reach out to a small town and connect with residents there to learn more about their home and history.

Similiar to the Encyclopedia of British Columbia, this online database provides extra sections that would be useful to your students.  Offering an opportunity to ‘learn what you didn’t know’, students can take the Quiz, or explore the very interesting “Did you Know” section. There are also ‘featured & selected articles’ that can be used to entice reluctant readers and students who may not be so adventurous in their explorations. This resource would be suitable for intermediate to secondary students.

Lilies and Fireweed

Lilies and Fireweed is a very specialized and unique resource that will appeal to your students who are looking for more personal stories about Women in British Columbia’s history.  Based on the seminal series, the “Raincoast Chronicles”, after 14 re-prints, this collection is now available in digital format for easy searching and browsing.  The style of this information rich resource is accessible and story based, re-telling the experiences of frontier women who helped shaped this wild province.  There are many inspirational stories of fortitude, courage and bravery that mark the experiences of women in this valuable online database.


  • Have your students browse and select one of the founding women of British Columbia, documenting their experiences, sacrifices and challenges that were faced by women of that era.
  • Students can select a chapter to explore, looking for unanswered or unknown aspects that they can follow up on, using this resource as a starting point to primary document research.
  • Students can review the history of Women’s rights and the suffragist movement in British Columbia, presenting their learning about the development of civil rights in B.C.

By far, the best aspect of this resource is the narrative style of writing that tells us the stories of these amazing women and their incredible experiences across British Columbia. The stories are instantly engaging and very accessible for your secondary humanities students. Each chapter is coupled with unique and rare images documenting life and families from British Columbia’s early history.

Far West

Did you know that British Columbia once ran wild with Camels?  You could learn a lot more about this and other fascinating aspects about B.C’s history and development.  This detailed and comprehensive history of B.C. was written to appeal to younger readers with excellent illustrations, maps, time-lines and extra features that will help any teacher bring the history of B.C. alive.  This information rich resource covers the entire history of B.C. from early First Nations civilizations to modern times, weaving a narrative of exploration and survival.  


  • Using this extensive research tool, explore the history and development of British Columbia, telling a story to the rest of your class about what you’ve learned.
  • Research your home town, finding out something that you and your class did not know before.  Share your stories online to increase awareness about your local community.
  • Plan a road-trip around the province.  Highlight where you plan on stopping and why.

Far West offers something that none of these other resources do, a comprehensive look at our shared history, experiences, and province.  Far West is a detailed and graphical exploration of where we’ve come from and how far we have travelled.  This information rich digital e-book is a glimpse into the way things were, told through the perspective of those that lived it.  An engaging and insightful resource that would help any intermediate/secondary social studies classroom.

Where Mountains Reach the Sea

Where Mountains Meet the Sea is an ongoing glimpse into the crafting of a encyclopedia.  Each week, author Daniel Francis, who also wrote the Encyclopedia of BC, will publish another section of this exploration.  The focus of this digital project is to create a comprehensive account of the history, people and places around the coastal sections of British Columbia. So far there are four chapters released for our consumption, and more on the way.  The inspiration for this digital resource is to not only tell the story of the coast for students today, but to demonstrate a new model of publishing, working in public and sharing the work online.


  • Students can use this growing resource to supplement their research on B.C.’s early history, documenting the way of life of the First Nations Communities along the coast.
  • Students can research the stories of first contact between First Nations Peoples and the early European explorers, looking for events that formed early relationships or challenges.
  • Choose a First Nations community along the Coast and research its way of life, sustance strategies and culture.
  • Create a map of the coast of B.C., highlighting early developments, large communities and early explorations of European explorers.

The most interesting aspect of this encyclopedia is its ongoing development with new chapters being released all the time.  Students can keep coming back to this resource as it expands, learning about later developments in B.C.’s history.  While this resource is primarily text-based, it would be very suitable for secondary students who would like to supplement their learning with narrative based stories and anecdotes from this award winning author.

Where can you find these resources to use at school or at home?

Usually, your district or school will have a Database launch page, with links to all of the online databases that are available through the ERAC Bundle. You can also contact your ERAC District Contract using this page here to ensure your usernames and passwords are up to date!

ERAC is also able to provide further resources to help you and your students. We have:

Posted in Encyclopedia of BC, Encyclopedia of Raincoast Place Names, ERAC, Far West, knowbc, Lilies and Fireweed, Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest, Online Database, Where Mountains Reach the Sea | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

National Film Board of Canada


ERAC members can continue to enjoy access to public performance rights for the rich NFB streamed video collection of more than 1,700 French and English films, clips and trailers at no additional charge. This ERAC/NFB agreement gives ERAC members the right to access the new Campus Screening Roomthe new upgrade to the NFB Screening Room. This includes:

  • Award-winning Canadian content, available 24/7
  • Educational browsing tools
  • Media tools to create your own playlists
  • Over 2,500 Canadian films and counting
  • Expert pedagogical evaluations
  • Create your own chapters for simple, effective classroom screenings
  • Advanced browsing for teachers
  • Useful study guides
  • Interactive productions that redefine the film experience

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The NFB has created many interesting sub-collections, based on topics, categories and suggested playlists from prominent Canadians that are experts in their subject fields.  These suggested playlists can offer you and your classroom a unique and valuable collection of resources to use when exploring new curriculum and content, using multi-media.

The NFB has also allowed anyone to login to the site and to create their own playlists, based on their own needs and curriculum.  These pre-made playlists can allow educators to save their videos for when they can find time to fit them in.  Here is a video demonstrating how to build and browse a playlist unique to your needs.

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The NFB website is your one stop shop for many different types of media to use as part of your curriculum.  The unique and expansive Canadian perspective adds a lot of value, as we do not have many “Canadian” focused resources available.  The best suggestions for how to use these resources are:

  • To explore the website as a class, using keywords relating to your topic of study.  Have students view and review different videos for possible inclusion within the unit of Study.  Students can become “film reviewers”, selecting, evaluating and sharing their best finds.
  • To teach students about digital literacy, by exploring the different types of media available on this site.  Students can watch feature films, both non-fiction and fiction.  They can watch animated shorts, digital interactive artifacts, audio clips, and thousands of photographs.
  • To allow new students to our classrooms and country to explore the “Canadian” identity, through different classic animations like “The Sweater” or “Log Driver’s Waltz”
  • To learn about important issues affecting Canadians today, through powerful documentaries and reflections about dramatic experiences.
  • To share what they’ve found by utilizing new social media tools to comment, discuss and reflect on their feelings and ideas after watching these digital resources.


Animated Films:

The Sweater 

This classic Canadian animated film will allow your class to experience how important hockey can be, while learning about self-identity and how to overcome bullying. A great intermediate level resource.

The Log Driver’s Waltz

Another classic Canadian animated film that will give your students a fun and educational exploration across Canada’s diverse landscape.  Perfect for almost any elementary classroom.

Interactive Digital Artifacts

Pine Point

 This interactive multi-media piece explores what it means to be a community, especially after it has completely disappeared.  Pine Point was a mining community in Canada’s north and this interactive website explores the memories and reflections from people who lived there. Suitable for Secondary Humanities students.


Waterlife is an engaging and innovative examination into fresh water issues impacting countries all over the world.  Students can explore the impacts of bottled water, polluted water supplies and reduced access in this truely innovative interactive digital artifact. Waterlife would be an exceptional addition to any secondary science unit.


Alter Egos –

This award winning documentary explores two animated film makers as they explore their craft and influences under the backdrop of debilitating mental illness, addictions and fame. This resource would be a useful exploration for any secondary arts program.

Atonement  - 

A classic documentary exploring Canada’s northern climates and the animals that are familiar to all Canadians.  This documentary explores how we could better manage and preserve these animals and climates.  A good resource for your intermediate elemenatary class exploring northern biomes.

Short Films

Adventures – 

This fun little short film “tells the story of little raccoon who encounters many adventures when he strays from home to explore the world.”  A great resource for your elementary classroom to explore story-telling!

Where can you find these resources to use at school or at home?

Please, visit to sign up for your free account and begin using this valuable Canadian resource today!

ERAC is also able to provide further resources to help you and your students. We have:

Posted in Digital Resource, ERAC, National Film Board of Canada, NFB | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

CBC News in Review


CBC News in Review is a news subscription service available to ERAC Members across B.C who have signed up for this useful current events teaching tool.  This product can be delivered in two ways, first, as an ongoing set of 8 DVDs (4 stories per DVD) or second, as a streaming video website.  Both formats of delivery come with an extensive amount of supplementary teaching materials to make this resource immediately useful to any classroom and subject.

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This resource is different from other current event resources in that it takes an on-going and important issue in the news, and collects all the many reports that have been made by CBC news into one detailed and comprehensive video report.  This report is narrated and presented by one of the CBC new broadcasters and provides the essential ‘bigger picture’ of the event/issue.

CBC News in Review is constantly updating and adding to their collection of news reviews and has organized them among many different subject areas.  Teachers and students can search for stories that are meaningful and engaging to themselves, their local area, or their subject they are studying.

The supplemental materials that CBC provides to Teachers as part of this package are very valuable and helpful in preparing the class with:

  • background information
  • learning strategies and activities
  • secondary sources of information to follow up on.
  • a Teacher’s guide to implementing this resource in the classroom

The News In Review resource also comes packaged with an extensive amount of student activities.  These “black line masters” are activities that can guide your students in their learning and further research.  These valuable resources have been produced with the help of Professor Peter Sexias at the Center for the Study of Historical Consciousness at UBC -

The extensive amount of teacher resources can be very helpful for your students who are struggling with capturing the essential information presented in the videos.  The teacher resources also contain excellent critical questions to quide your students in their inquiry. Coupled with the criticial questions are other helpful resources in the package, for example, here are some of the questions and activities from December 2012 News In Review package, “The Rise of the Occupy Movement

    • Pre-viewing questions

Join with a partner and discuss the following: According to the Montreal Gazette, 3.8 per cent of Canadian households control $1.78-trillion or 67 percent of Canada’s financial wealth. Does this seem fair to you? What problems arise when so few people control so much wealth? Are the wealthy just being greedy or do they have a right to control so much?

    • Viewing questions

What did billionaire Warren Buffet ask Congress to do to “the one percent”?

    • Post-viewing question

Do you think the end of the camps means the end of the movement? Explain your answer.

    • Focus for Reading

In-depth backgrounders, analysis documents, local and international viewpoints, profiles and editorials to extend your students learning.

    • Analysis

Do you believe that a protest movement like this one is the best way to
bring about change to the economic and political systems of wealthy
nations? Explain your answer.

    • Designed Activities to extend the learning

Up for Debate! For this activity you will take part in a four-corners debate, followed up with a reflective paragraph about what you learned about yourself and your opinions on these issues.

Example Usage

There is a detailed and thorough resource all about “How to use CBC News In Review” available here:

On this page, you can see example and suggested usage, an overview of the different sections, descriptions of useful features and tips for classroom use!

Some of the most recently published News in Review topics include:

Every single topic presented by CBC News in Review will engage at least some of your students.  Starting off with them watching the video, working through some of the activities and knowledge checking, and then engage them to begin working on their own “News In Review” project!  What can these projects look like?

  • A video news report about an issue at your local school or community
  • A blog expose on a controversial issue in the news, offering commentary, background information and multimedia to document.
  • A radio report of students ‘reporting from the field’
  • A summary editorial about one of the issues presented by CBC News In Review.

Overall, this resource will be a very valuable and on-going addition to your classroom toolkit. Because it is ongoing and always updated with new reviews, resources and topics, this is a resource you can keep coming back to throughout your entire year.

Where can you find these resources to use at school or at home?

This resource can be accessed in a variety of ways:

1. First check if your school district subscribes to CBC News In Review.   Contact your  ERAC District Contact using this page, to inquire about this product.


2. Look for your district or school learning resource site or center to find the launch page. If you don’t know your login, contact your district learning resource person or school librarian for assistance.

3. If your district does subscribe, you and your students can also access through LearnNowBC. All video clips are available for viewing through this site. This access is available 24/7

ERAC is also able to provide further resources to help you and your students. We have:

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Canadian Points of View: Reference Centre


Canadian Points of View Reference Center is a valuable online database that you can use with your students to explore current and controversial issues in Canada. The database is focused on exploring current events in the news, profiling controversial issues, and providing helpful and useful research guides to assist your students in learning critical research and writing skills!

ERAC has already published an informative and helpful video that you can watch to familiarize yourself with the key features and capabilities of this online resource.

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Once you have the basics down of navigating, searching and referencing the topics, articles and ‘counter-points’ within this online database, its time to move into how to use this tool with your classes!  One of the best ways to implement this tool within your subject area, is to explore current and controversial issues in Canada.

The most appropriate subjects to use this with would definitely be secondary humanities courses (English, Social Studies, History, Geography, First Nations, Social Justice, and many others).  You can easily tap into the most recent and controversial topics with your classes, guaranteeing engagement from your students on topic that they selected as their own.  Because your students will all be working within the same online database, management of the lessons and demonstrations will be easier.

Using the British Columbia Teacher-Librarians Associations recent publication, Points of Inquiry Framework, we can maximize the usefulness and value of this online database in teaching your students how to be effective 21st Century learners, with advanced information literacy skills.

While exploring the Canadian Points of View Reference Center for current and engaging topics, you can guide your Students to “Connect, Investigate, Construct, Express, and Reflect” all that they have learned.  The “Points of Inquiry“ guide that the BCTLA has produced is an excellent companion for all secondary teachers looking to utilize this online database (and others).

Example Usage:

By following the “Points of Inquiry” 5 guiding points, we can navigate our students though usage of this online resource, while at the same time learning solid 21st Century Research Skills!

    • Connect – Allowing your students to select a current event or controversial topic that relates to your subject area.
    • Investigate – Students investigate their topic by starting with this online resource, and all the extra “researching” tools that it provides.
    • Construct – Students construct a research paper based on what they’ve learned in their investigations with this topic.  They utilize the ‘Research Guides’ available in this online resource.
    • Express – Students will share and express their learning by presenting their research on this current event or controversial topic to the rest of the class.
    • Reflect – Students can reflect on their experiences throughout this process, what they’ve learned, what they struggled with, what tool they will most likely use again, and why.

Most Useful Aspects:

Some of the most interesting “topics” presented within this database deserve highlighting to demonstrate how useful and valuable this resource can be for your class to explore!

    • Blood Diamonds
    • Climate Change
    • Exporting Oil
    • Globalization
    • Public Transit
    • Year-Round Schooling

These are just some  of the hundreds of specially prepared topics for your students to select, investigate, construct, express and reflect on, further developing their information literacy and research writing skillsets!  Each topic presented has a “Point” and then “Counter-Point” to help your students understand the issue from many perspectives.  Each topic also has “Critical Analysis” coupled with “What Experts Say” in order to allow your students to dive even deeper into their research!

Once your students have selected a topic, the database also provides them with useful Research Guides to help them along the process of developing a strong research paper or persuasive essay.  The online database helps your students:

    • Choose a Topic
    • Writing a Thesis Statement
    • Judging Fact vs Opinion
    • Evaluating websites
    • Taking good notes
    • Writing topic sentences
    • Writing persuasive essays & research papers
    • Creating a Bibliography

Students will have resources available to them 24/7 in order to assist them as they work through the entire research process!

Another valuable aspect of this online database is the extra help it can provide to your struggling readers.  This database allows your students to easily identify the key thesis, summary, opinions and facts throughout the article, teaching them useful identification skills that will help them in many other areas.   Each article in this database has a linked “Table of Contents” that can quickly link students up the key information they are seeking.

Along with this, each article is scored according to its Lexile rank, allowing you direct your students to the most appropriate article for their reading level and ability.  Finally, it is especially worth mentioning that every article in this online database can be “read aloud” to your student who may struggle with reading issues.

Where can you find these resources to use at school or at home?

Usually, your district or school will have a Database launch page, with links to all of the online databases that are available through the ERAC Bundle. You can also contact your ERAC District Contract using this page here to ensure your usernames and passwords are up to date!

ERAC is also able to provide further resources to help you and your students. We have:

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World Book Online



World Book Online is the modern and web enabled version of the classic Encyclopedia set familiar to so many students and Teacher-Librarians.  Instead of one set of hardcover books, you now have access to three distinct interfaces to interact with this immense database.  Depending on the level of the students you are working with, there are three different levels of access to this resource:


“World Book Kids is the premier general reference Web site developed especially for young students. The site features simple navigation, easy-to-read articles, thousands of illustrations, videos, comparison tools, and a wealth of engaging games and activities.”  (

“Tailored for students in elementary and middle schools, World Book Student includes all the articles from the print versions of the World Book Encyclopedia, plus thousands of additional articles, learning resources, and research tools. “  (

“World Book Advanced is a powerful reference tool that includes encyclopedia, multimedia, e-book, and primary source databases, fully integrated in a single search.”  (

Suggested Usage

In this ERAC4U post, we are going to explore potential ways for you to utilize this resource with your own students!  First up, we will look at World Book Kids and the different ways you can easily embed this resource into your already existing unit plans.

World Book Kids

World book Kids is an easy to use version of this database that filters out the more complicated and advanced materials, ensuring that whatever your students are able to find, they will be able to use.

The best way to start using this database is to narrow your topics based on the subject you are studying.  For example, if using this database as part of your science curriculum, have your students explore only the Science and Mathematics subject area. By further narrowing the topic to “Life Sciences” and then into “Biology” your students can pick a topic to teach to the rest of the class.  Once students have picked a single topic to explore, such as “Eggs” seen below, they can summarize the information, collect the most important images, and create their own presentation to give to the rest of the class!

Another great way to use this Database with your students is in helping them decide on a Science Project that they can do to further expand their learning! World Book Kids has dozens of Science Projects already made up and ready to go for your students to try out.  Here is an example of the “A ‘Look’ at Sound” project:

Finally, the last great aspect of World Book Kids we can show you today is the “Games” feature, which are learning opportunities for your students to review and practice the skills and knowledge they’ve been working on through your lessons.  There are dozens of different learning opportunities for your students here to explore and review, all of while playing educational ‘games’.

World Book Student

A second interface for using this Database is the World Book Student edition, which is aimed at your intermediate to middle school level students who are able to process a bit more detailed and complex information.  This “mid-level” database takes off some of the training wheels, but still helps your students find, evaluate and reference factual information that they can use to further their own learning and understanding of your lessons.

One of the best features of this digital version of the World Book Encyclopedia is the embedded multi-media features.  Videos, audio clips, imagery, and external resources all add together to take a once 2 dimensional analog resource and bring it alive. The Student edition would be a wonderful opportunity for the intermediate and mid level students you teach to:

  • Explore a regional or nearby geographic feature and prepare a written report.
  • Research a personally interesting person using the Biography Center and re-write their history, based on what they’ve learned.
  • Prepare a speech to give the rest of the class on a current event in the news, while exploring the “Behind the Headlines” resource within World Book Student Edition.
  • Learn how to find and properly reference articles and resources in Online Databases, using the “Research Tools” and Citation builder, so that your students are skilled in research skills.

Almost every topic in this digital database includes links to the British Columbia Prescribed Learning Outcomes, based on grades, and also include links to where you can find Lesson Plans, Graphic Organizers and links to related professional resources. Don’t forget about the ERAC TOOLKIT that has all kinds of resources available to help you master and share this information rich resource with your students!

World Book Advanced

World Book advanced is aimed at your senior students, and can help them in almost all of their subject and information needs. By highlighting this resource and demonstrating how to use it, your students will be better enabled researchers, who can Research, Create, Share, and Source their work!  This interface enables direct access to the entire database, with all the documents, media, primary sources, current events, E-books and articles it contains.  There are many added on features that can help your struggling students as well, like the Dictionary, Atlas, Citation Builder, and Lexile Reading level indictation, so that you can direct students to articles with their appropriate reading level.

One way to utilize this database with your students and classes is to demonstrate how to select, evaluate, critique, reference and reflect on articles and their search strategies to develop their information literacy skills.  You can watch this simple video demonstration on how to model this for your students.

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Where can you find these resources to use at school or at home?

Usually, your district or school will have a Database launch page, with links to all of the online databases that are available through the ERAC Bundle.  You can also contact your ERAC District Contract using this page here to ensure your usernames and passwords are up to date!

ERAC is also able to provide further resources to help you and your students.  We have:

Posted in Digital Resource, ERAC, ERAC toolkit, Online Database, World Book Advanced, World Book Kids, World Book Online, World Book Student | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Global Issues in Context: An Introduction!

Global Issues In Context

One of the best online databases available to ERAC members in British Columbia is Gale Cengage Learning’s specialized database “Global Issues in Context”.  This database is a multimedia powerhouse that collects and presents thousands of digital resources to your students and educators in an accessible and easy to browse format.  The biggest strength of this rich online information resource is in the current events and themes that are explored, explained, and developed into engaging portals.  Global Issue in Context is described as:

“Not a pro and con database, Global Issues in Context is a truly non-U.S. centric resource that ties together a variety of sources to present a rich analysis of issues”


By collecting resources, articles, digital artifacts and other multimedia, Global Issues in Context presents a fuller picture of the current event or hot topic that you might explore with your classes.  It provides links, analysis, and even references to help you and your students dive further into their topics, personalizing their own learning.  Please, watch this video demonstration of some of the key features and strategies on how to use this digital resource with your own students and district.

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Useful Features to Highlight!

One of the most useful features of this Web 2.0 enabled interface is the Global Map, which geographically highlights areas around the world with developing and ongoing events. You can search the map visually, or limit it to just one country, as shown below:


This perspective can allow your students and staff to explore issues that are ‘close to home’, and more relevant to their local community, engaging them deeper into their research.  Or, if you are studying a particular region, you can explore the hot topic news items geographically, connecting with very current events unfolding in front of you and your class.

Another great way to use this tool with your students and staff is to highlight the “Portal” pages that collect a wide and varied amount of resources on on central topic, and organize this collection for easy browsing and exploring.  The image below shows the amount of up-to-date information on the “Occupy” protests around the world. We have a PBS news story to watch, we have a short overview, pod-casts, websites, editorials, reference materials and related portals.

Global Portal

Global Issues in Context also has many useful tools and tips to help your students become a better researcher!  They can seek help directly within the resource to better guide their browsing, searching, keyword selection and referencing.  You can even have the database read the article out loud to you!

Global Search Help
Another useful feature of this Web 2.0 enabled Digital Resource is the ability to share what you have found with other students and educators.  Simply clicking on the “Share” button opens access to dozens of Social Networks that allow you and your students to connect and share their new knowledge and resources with a larger community.

Global Sharing

Where can you find this resource to use at school or at home?

Usually, your district or school will have a Database launch page, with links to all of the online databases that are available through the ERAC Bundle.  You can also contact your ERAC District Contract using this page here to ensure your usernames and passwords are up to date!

ERAC is also able to provide further resources to help you and your students.  We have:

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