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Croftonian Crumbs

Croftonian Crumbs was the title of the first edition of the spontaneous and playful school publication, started by Miss Ellen Bryan in 1954. Similar to how today's blogs offer writers a creative and casual space, Croftonian Crumbs originally provided CHS girls an opportunity to put pen to paper without the constraints of a conventional format. We are pleased to revive the spirit of Croftonian Crumbs, in its 21st century digital edition.

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Accomplishments and Joy

Posted by Stephanie Chow on Friday May 19 at 02:02PM
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Simulation or Real Life?

By Lindsey Sorensen, teacher, English, Senior School

It’s 4:30 pm on Friday, March 30, and I’m in the lobby of the Sheraton Wall Centre north tower signing girls in. It’s chaos in the lobby: there are clumps of students everywhere, trying to find their chaperone teachers, all hauling luggage, some lost, some greeting friends, some frantically doing last-minute research. They’re all in each other’s way, but they don’t care. They’re too excited, nervous, and happy to be here.

Above the din, supervisors are trying to organize the students in their charge:

“Find a washroom and change out of your uniform!”

“What’s your name again? Did you check in?”

“Is that Tiara?”

“Take your luggage down the escalator to the Pavilion room!”

“Last name please! … How do you spell that?”

“When you’re done, come back and get your registration package!”

“Wait! I know your name - don’t tell me!”

“Down one floor - Pavilion!”

“Yes, you need to change!”

“The washroom is locked? Go down one floor and try that one!”

“Down one floor and put your luggage in the Pavilion room!”

“Pavilion ... just follow all the other people!”

“What’s your name please?”

“Come back up and get your registration package!”

Chris has organized the registration packages and name tags and he and Simon are busily handing them out.

“Where’s Jessica?”

“What’s your name?”

“Take your bag to the Pavilion room!”

“That’s Jessica texting me now - she’ll be here soon - the traffic is heavy.”

“The opening ceremonies start in 5 minutes - everyone down to the Grand Ballroom please!”

Finally, the chaos subsides. We cross-check with each other - all 49 Crofton delegates have arrived, and we’ve also checked in with the Crofton girls who are staffers and secretariat. Whew.

The Canadian High Schools Model United Nations conference has begun. There are many groups in the hotel this weekend, including over 600 student delegates, plus staffers (students who run the committee sessions), secretariat (students who run the conference), and a group of adults (who put on the conference), as well as many chaperone teachers. As always, I pity any tourists who are at the hotel on vacation as it won’t be quiet and restful for them! It’s a full weekend of chatty, energetic teenagers clogging the elevators, enthusiastically debating world issues inside and outside their conference and hotel rooms, and hungrily filling up all the seats at the local restaurants.

We’ll be checking the girls out for dinner soon, but in the meantime, we can take a few minutes to note where our girls’ committee rooms are, get everyone’s hotel room keys, and figure out the chaperone teachers’ responsibilities for the evening. From here - until check-out, that is - things should be relatively smooth. We will check the girls out and back in for each meal break, check their committee rooms to see how they are doing, and do bed checks. There’s a lot of checking!

****

It’s interesting seeing the girls in this environment. The dress code is “business casual,” but few delegates are dressed casually. The boys are in dark blue business suits, and the girls are smartly dressed in skirts, or chic pants, or dresses; they almost all wear heels (by the end of the conference, a lot of girls are gingerly limping around carrying their stilettos!).

As I’ve discovered, the clothing at MUN conferences is really important. When they don their power outfits, put on their nametags, and get their country placard, they become the representative for Nigeria in the World Health Organization or the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Sweden in the Joint Crisis Committee or the the Prime Minister of Canada in the Commonwealth conference. For these students, for a weekend, the simulation that is Model UN is real.

They are amazing to watch. I remember being deeply impressed the first time I watched a Crofton girl in the UN Security Council debating key points with her ideological opponents. She was articulate, polite, assertive, and incredibly persistent. Every time the member from China made a point, I could see her steeling herself while he spoke, readying for her counterpoint. She had figured out how to begin with a few words of introduction that allowed her to gather herself before she launched into her argument: “The United States agrees with China that sanctions against North Korea could have a negative impact; however, since China is refusing to put pressure on North Korea to stop its nuclear program, the United States feels that it has no other choice …”

If I closed my eyes, and if I pretended the boy representing China didn’t have a squeak in his voice, I could be at the real Security Council.

How do they do this?

They take it seriously. They research their country’s foreign policy, they memorize the UN procedures for debate, they practice.They learn about politics and world issues; they rise to the challenge of speaking in front of others; they face their fears. They do conference after conference, beginning with the easier committees like the World Health Organization, graduating to the harder ones such as the Security Council, the JCC’s, or the historical committees.

And I get to facilitate this!

Some of my favourite moments are when I’m doing bed checks, and I get to find out more about how things went for the girls that day. They know I want to hear what happened, and that I support them, and they tell me in a huge rush what they said, and what others said in response, and how the dias never sees their placard and how annoying Russia is and how Mexico is going to win an award because she’s so smart, and how they didn’t get a chance to say what they wanted to because the moment passed. They tell me about how they were able to get other delegates to agree to their resolutions, which is a major victory as this is how the debates are resolved in MUN. They tell me about how they spoke for the first time ever (the other girls in the room smile and laugh and say, “Now she won’t stop!” and “I remember when I wouldn’t speak!”). They talk about the boy who makes silly points or who won’t stop talking or who always gets called on; they struggle with their shyness and politeness in the face of this.

Also impressive are the girls who staff or are on the secretariat. The staffers run the committee rooms: they are on the dias at the front, and their jobs involve selecting who speaks next, ensuring that the UN rules and procedures are followed, and making sure the debates don’t get off track or get too circular. This requires very good leadership skills: some of the committees have 50 or more delegates (many of whom are rambunctious boys!!). It takes a special skill to be able to keep a room full of debating teenagers engaged and focused; over and over, I see our girls handle this with poise, efficiency, and humour.  

The secretariat I only see in passing: a swirl of hair and a walk that I recognize as each girl flits from fire to fire, gracefully putting out each one with awe-inspiring efficiency. It never ceases to amaze me how well the girls do in these difficult roles, acting with a maturity beyond their years. Or maybe it’s not beyond their years, it’s just that this is a circumstance that allows them to show what they’re capable of.

At the delegate level, MUN has some obvious impact on the girls: they become more knowledgeable about the world, they learn about important current and historical issues and events, they learn to negotiate with others and resolve issues under time constraints, they develop confidence in their public speaking skills and in their ability to understand complex issues. But there are also some unpredictable effects that come from their effort and commitment.

One girl who is a keen “Munner” told me that she joined because she wanted to improve her English. Imagine having to keep up with others’ arguments about complex world issues, let alone formulate your own articulate points, and then stand up in front of a room full of people who are staring at you and deliver them, all the while not being sure if you’re being understood! In my view, this is very brave indeed.

Then there’s the girl who was so unsure of her points she didn’t know whether or not she should speak at all because she didn’t think she had much to offer. Everyone else in the NATO committee was so much smarter and well-spoken, according to her. I urged her to speak anyway; after all, she had done all the research and clearly understood her topic. We talked about how to subtly steer the conversation to the points she wants to make, even if the conversation has started to go in another direction. We talked about how it’s not necessary to speak for the entire allotted time; she could just make her point and then sit down. We talked about building off others’ comments, especially those of potential future allies. We talked about staying engaged, even when the discussion flags. We talked about not letting the brilliance of others stop her, but instead, how it could inspire her to up her game. Not only did she not give up, she went actually won an award at that conference, which was a credit to her determination and persistence.

I have many stories like this! The girls get a lot out of MUN, not necessarily because of MUN per se, but because it’s an activity that allows them to challenge themselves. In that sense, it’s not a simulation at all. OK, it’s true, world leaders don’t change their policies because of the decisions made at Model UN. But since the Munners of today may be the world leaders of tomorrow, the decisions made at CAHSMUN may change the world after all.

The rewards are plentiful for me, too. It’s my job to encourage them to keep trying in the face of all their fears. It doesn’t matter if they win awards or not, watching them really try to do well is something I find deeply satisfying.

*****

After the conference is over, everyone rushes up to the lobby and tries to leave at the same time. The chaperone teachers run some of the girls out to their parents’ cars, and some parents come into the lobby; it’s all I can do to check the girls off the list fast enough. It’s a frenzy that’s over in a few minutes.

Exhausted but satisfied, we head home.

Posted by Stephanie Chow on Friday May 19 at 02:01PM
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The Value of a Pencil in this Technology Rich World

By Wendy Macken, assistant director, Junior School

As educators, we recognize the need to continuously review and revise our practices as priorities shift in the world around us. The New BC Curriculum reflects this need for change as it highlights two main features essential for today’s learners - “a concept-based approach to learning, and a focus on the development of competencies, to foster deeper, more transferable learning” (BC’s Redesigned Curriculum).

As the future takes shape, one cannot ignore the disruptive role of technology, transforming the way we live, learn and interact with others. Access to technology is becoming commonplace in elementary classrooms across the globe. The benefits of this tool are extensive, allowing access to information and tools that enrich and enhance student learning. However, one may wonder about the place of long standing tools such as the pencil? Is there a place for such tools in today’s modernized classroom?

Clive Thompson weighs in on the place of the pencil in this technology rich world, in his talk “How the way you write changes the way you think’. Thompson, responding to an article in the New York Times “Cursive Writing Dying” wonders if handwriting is somehow more natural and suited to the brain. He sets out to find the answer to his question Typing or Writing - Which one is better? He discovered it is not a matter of one being superior, but rather depends on what type of thinking and task you want to engage in.  

Research suggests that when taking notes, handwriting is the better medium, allowing us to understand and retain more. Why is this? It is suggested that because we have to synthesize more when we handwrite notes, higher level thinking is required. We understand more, retain more and remember more as we are focus to actively engage in thinking related to the content being delivered. This is in contrast to what happens when taking notes using a device and keyboard. Within this setting, transcription tends to be the primary focus, resulting in a more complete version of the content. However, as synthesis of information is not required, we think less about the actual content and therefore come away with less thinking and understanding.  

Interestingly, when the task changes, so should the tool. When creating a piece of writing, research suggests that typing is now the superior medium. Thompson refers to something called ‘transcription fluency bottleneck’,  when you are unable to get your ideas down in actual time, ideas are lost and your ability to create suffers. To avoid this, we should put down the pencil and pick up a keyboard. Using a device, combined with the ability to type with relative speed, eliminates this evaporation of ideas, that one can often experience when using a pencil.

Thompson concludes that no one tool is best, but rather dependent on the task. As we work to develop educated citizens ready for success in life beyond school, it is important students know how to think critically and deeply about what it is they are trying to achieve.  Our hope is that they will be able to draw from a complete toolkit of strategies, to determine how best to achieve the intended outcome. And this could very possibly be a pencil!

Posted by Stephanie Chow on Friday May 19 at 02:01PM
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CHS Digital Film Communication Program Accolades and Achievements

2017 Powell River: 5-Minute Film Contest - Provincial

Best Experimental
Winner – "Lonely season" - Grade 11 - Darcy H., Taylor D.
Runner up – "A Dance For..." - Grade 11 and 12 - Emily F., Colette G., Hannah S., Sophie S.

Best PSA - Grade 10
Winner – "Connected" - Chloe C., Aishu G., Amy L., Mia K.
Runner up – "It Starts with them" - Katharine L., Taylor D., Eva B.

Best Cinematography - Grade 11 and 12
Runner up –  "Nacht" - Camille P., Katie M., Tierney S.

Best Drama - Grade 10
Winner – "If my life was a painting" - Emily C., Kayla C., Darcy H.

Best Editing -  Grade 11 and 12
Winner – "Nacht" - Camille P., Katie M., Tierney S.
Runner up – "Lonely Season" - Darcy H., Taylor D.


2017 - Real 2 Real Film Festival for Youth (Vancouver International Film Festival)
Selected to screen in the RYFF premiere at the VIFF – "A Dance For..."
 

9th Annual Youth Filmmaker's Showcase (YFS), Vancity Theatre Screening,  April 6th, 2017
The screening included films from all over the province. Three movies from CHS were screened.
Movies selected for the public screening at the Vancouver International Film Centre (Vancity Theatre):
"Connected" - Chloe C., Aishu G., Amy L., MiaK. 
"Nacht" - Camille P., Katie M., Tierney S. (and awarded for Best Camera & Lighting)
"Quotidian" – Delaney L., Emma L., Taylor P. (and awarded for Best Screenwriting)


BCSFF 2017 (Provincial)
Selected movies:

Junior - Grade 10
PSA 
"Happy Birthday" - Anya M., Ailsa S., Peyton S., Sarah L.

PSA
"In Your Face" - Lauren M., Tatum W., Sana A., Ceilidh M.

Documentary
"Through the Ice" - Megan Y.

Documentary
"Tomorrow for Today" - Kiran B., Reilly A., Maggie M., Tasha S.

Posted by Stephanie Chow on Friday May 19 at 01:59PM
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Our Values Part III

Posted by Stephanie Chow on Friday May 19
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Today for Tomorrow: Facing Challenge & Change with Courage, Citizenship & Leadership

Filming with the Heart in Mind

CHS filmmakers demonstrating courage and citizenship

  1. Imagine student film crews promoting ecological stewardship and managing to contact the Mayor of Vancouver for an interview about the importance of sustainability.

  2. Envision camera women demonstrating creativity and self-awareness with a poetic piece inspired by and nurturing their relationship with the environment.

  3. Picture filmmakers striving to complete products worthy of being selected for provincial and international student film festivals.

CHS girls cover the digital filmmaking process from idea development and scriptwriting, through camera operations, into editing and sound mixing. They use digital cameras, editing suites and studio effects to produce their short films. The focus on communication also allows our young leaders to generate well-prepared pitches, filmed in front of the green screen and presented at public screenings.

Producers challenging our views

Filmmakers learn rapid prototyping, collaborative techniques and are proud to present original and meaningful products at the end of their highly engaging experiences.

  1. A documentary promotes female athletes

  2. A public service announcement demystifies the power of social media

  3. A drama denounces stereotypes surrounding disabilities

Students enrolled in the film production program develop their artistic and technological interests while exploring wide educational and career opportunities offered in the business, communication and media industries.

Mastering the change today for a better tomorrow

The Digital Film Communication's "Filming with the Heart in Mind" philosophy embraces the perspective of a growth mindset: a belief that abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work— potential being the starting point. The film program's 21st century experiential and mastery learning models, provide ongoing feedback to students on their learning journey. These approaches create a joy of learning and a resilience essential for extraordinary accomplishments.

The 2017 CHS Student Film Festival, an event successfully scripted, directed and hosted by our film students, is the culmination of today's apprentice leaders' courageous and engaged cinematic endeavours to create a better tomorrow.


Posted by Stephanie Chow on Monday May 15 at 03:48PM
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Celebrations and Fun

Posted by Stephanie Chow on Friday May 5 at 01:19PM
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Creative Arts and Applied Skills Program

Posted by Stephanie Chow on Friday May 5 at 01:19PM
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Our Values Part II

Posted by Stephanie Chow on Friday May 5 at 01:18PM
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Place-Based Education: Exploring Urban Landscapes as Texts


Sally Z. and Yi Yi W, photo by Ms. Gibb

By Brandy Gibb, Program Coordinator, English+, Senior School

BC’s new curriculum is rich with exciting teaching and learning opportunities. In particular, the focus on place as a form of text offers teachers opportunities to create rich experiential learning activities that complement the academic skill building practiced within core classes.

Each year, English+ 8 students venture to Vancouver’s Chinatown where they are asked to read and interpret the cultural and historic significance of this urban text. This excursion is supported by their study of the novel White Jade Tiger, by Julie Lawson. Like the myriad of Chinatowns located up and down the west coast of North America, the novel focuses on two distinct geographic locations: China and British Columbia, Canada. Through both the novel and the excursion, students explore the connection between place and cultural identity and how this relates to their own identities.

In this new global-hyper-connected-world, cultural identity is becoming more and more fluid, and young people are tasked with becoming skilful “cultural navigators” (Habacon, 2009) who move between languages and cultures on a daily basis. To that end, the novel study and the excursion to Chinatown supports the English+ 8 students through an exploration of their own ever evolving personal and cultural identities. The hope is that this experience will lead students towards  “[a] positive personal and cultural identity [through their] understanding, and appreciation of all the facets that contribute to a healthy sense of oneself, . . .  [including] awareness and understanding of one’s family background, heritage(s), language(s), beliefs, and perspectives in a pluralistic society” (“Positive Personal and Cultural Identity,” B.C.’s new curriculum).


Amy X., Anne, Z., Nancy Z, photo by Ms. Gibb

In White Jade Tiger, Jasmine, the protagonist, passes through a time portal when she walks down Fan Tan alley in Victoria’s Chinatown and enters the Dragon Maker’s shop. During our recent excursion, the English+ students were treated to their own time portal when they entered Tosi’s & Company, “the oldest Italian Food Specialist and Importer in British Columbia [that] has been serving Vancouver, Burnaby, and the lower mainland since 1906” (Tosi’s). To our great delight, Mr. Angelo Tosi, the 84-year-old proprietor and son of the original owner, was just returning from his lunch: warm soup from the noodle shop around the corner. Mr. Tosi is a lovely character who loves to play with time: the day of our visit, his “Went for a Bowl of Soup” sign read “Back after 8 minutes” (notice the “8” is paper clipped onto the sign!).

Mr. Angelo Tosi’s famous “Went for a Bowl of Soup!” sign, by Ms. Gibb. The time changes daily!

Not only did Mr. Tosi explain the many products he has on offer, but he also proved to be a well versed historian of the area. From Mr. Tosi, we learned that Chinatown used to be known as Italian town and that there was an area just east of Main Street known as Japantown. He talked about the history of racism and discrimination in the area during and after WWI and WWII, all of which were themes the students had previously explored in the novel.

Inside Tosi’s & Company, photo by Yi Yi W.

Reflecting on on the experience, several students noted that meeting Mr. Tosi was a highlight of the trip. Dawn H. notes that “it was interesting to find out that Chinatown used to be Italian town because the streets are [now] decorated with Chinese symbolic colors and animals. It is hard to find even a trace of Italian culture now, [aside from Mr. Tosi].

The day also included a guided tour of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Gardens where students participated in a traditional Chinese tea ceremony. Student Ann L. noted that while “many of [them] were familiar with the tea ceremony since it is part of [their] normal life (mostly [their] parents), it is uncommon for people with no Chinese background to drink tea in this way. The tea ceremony highlights the . . . sharing of cultures.” For Ann, and other students, the tea ceremony was “a metaphor for the exchanging and blending happening [between] the [Chinese and Canadian] cultures.”


The tea-specialist, Lars, who hosted the ceremony, recognized the unique nature of performing this ritual for people familiar with the practice, and he took the time to honour the students and their culture by regularly deferring to them about both the ritual of pouring tea as well as the significance and quality of different tea blends. This inclusive approach to a Chinese ritual with a long history, only added to the overall experience.


English+ 8 students with our host and tea specialist, Lars, at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen gardens.

Working with cultural navigators calls on teachers to embrace a culturally responsive approach to their practice. It is important for us to remember that “optimal student learning is not possible if educators do not possess intercultural skills or are not equipped to facilitate intercultural relationship and learning” (“Intercultural Understanding, Equity and Inclusion Office, UBC). Now that the English+ 8 students have completed their adventure through Vancouver’s Chinatown, including a brief time traveling experience like Jasmine in White Jade Tiger, it is my hope that these students will continue the evolution of their cultural identities and that their curiosity will guide them to exploring ever more intercultural experiences.

Resources:
Habacon, A. E. (2009). Multiculturalism 2.0: More than Ethnic. TEDx Vancouver. Retrieved November, 2nd, 2015 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTy22qmK2WE
Equity and Inclusion Office UBC. “Intercultural Understanding.” Accessed on 30th April 2017.



Posted by Stephanie Chow on Friday May 5 at 01:17PM
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