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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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UBC-CHS Spanish Language Encounters

Experiential Learning in Second Language Acquisition

By Nicole Page-Newman, Senior School Spanish Teacher

In Spanish 11, we had the opportunity to work collaboratively with UBC undergraduate Spanish learners and Professor Samuel Navarro-Ortega from the Department of French, Hispanic and Italian Studies. The aim was to create language encounters (LE) that enrich exposure to the Spanish language, culture, and teaching experiences beyond the classroom. To practice and learn within the framework of “Cognitive Linguistics and language learning and teaching (Holme, 2009; Littlemore, 2009; Tyler, 2012), we used rich visual cues, movement, and hands-on activities that engaged students in oral interactions, and that stressed the usage-based nature of language (Tyler, 2012). Also, we used cultural contents that were fully integrated into presentations (from Hispanic professionals), activities, songs, and games with an emphasis on play. The aim was to help the students become acculturated into the Hispanic community. 

These language encounters have enabled our Spanish students to approach their learning through inquiry and focus as an individual process. Five key themes came to the fore with this approach:


  • Language Encounters are real life situations which make them exciting, energetic, and different from a classroom setting.
  • LE allow the students to feel in one's body the process one goes through, both physically and emotionally, to speak a new language.
  • LE offer personalized learning both post and pre-experience.
  • LE created shared learning experiences by building a relationship with CHS and the UBC undergraduates and learning from each other.
  • LE facilitated meeting professionals of Hispanic descent that work and live in Vancouver. 

Academic Rigor

  • Applied what students have learned as well as an opportunity to expand and build on what they know.
  • Improved language skills: listening, speaking, pronunciation, spontaneous language production, and inference.
  • "Moments of growth" through the process of experiencing the language instantly, observed by students and teachers.
  • Acquired strategies, skills, and opportunities to provide meaningful feedback to their peers.

Assessment sponsors deep learning and improved instruction. 

  • Students acquired strategies, skills, and opportunities to assess their learning through reflection, rubrics, and the re-telling of activities by video recording, including regularly reviewing and improved summative and formative assessment.
  • Communicated about assessment regularly and clearly through one-on-one feedback.
  • Students set goals and next steps, or develop strategies, to improve learning and understanding. 

Adds value beyond the school

  • Students were exposed to different cultural perspectives that they then carry with them wherever they go. It allows students to reach out to the community. 
  • Students transferred knowledge when traveling and meeting people of Hispanic descent.
  • Student increased their ability to take risks, be vulnerable, increase confidence, and step out of their comfort zone.

Students engage in active exploration

  • Through reflection of the language encounters, students had the opportunity to take charge of their learning.
  • Through activities and tasks, students developed knowledge of the formal and informal aspects of Spanish by doing field work, interviews, and working with complex problems. 

As one can see, these language encounters have been invaluable to the enrichment of our Spanish learners. However, it is only one example of the many authentic experiences our students are involved in at CHS. The best way to truly understand the impact language encounters have on the students is by reading their own reflections: 

"I found that I was able to truly use the language in ways that I had not used before. ... the UBC volunteers made it possible for me to learn about Spanish culture and talk about it using the vocabulary that we had learned. …[this] gave me the confidence to speak ...the whole point of learning a language is to not only read and write, but to speak and have conversations." 

"The sessions made me think about Spanish as not only a useful language but also a language that is fun and exciting. ... [it] made me enthusiastic about learning more about Spanish culture and going to visit those countries. ... I plan to travel to Spain, Buenos Aires, and Mexico." 

As a teacher, the Language Encounters have enriched me. I have witnessed the pleasure of learning Spanish in this setting. 


  • Holmes, R. (2009). Cognitive linguistics and language teaching. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Tyler, A. (2012). Cognitive linguistics and second language learning. New York: Routledge.
Posted by Stephanie Chow on Monday January 16
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Season of Joy

Posted by Stephanie Chow on Friday December 9, 2016 at 02:46PM
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Storytelling in the French Language Classroom

By Jessica Birch, Jacqueline Hiebert, and Josie Wolfson, French Teachers, Junior School

For two wonderful days in December, the Crofton House Junior School had the privilege of hosting Anne Glover, a world renown storyteller and recipient of the 2016 Storytellers of Canada Award. Anne was with us December 1 and 2 when she presented her unique workshops to our Senior Kindergarten to grade 7 students.

What makes this all the more special is that Anne conducts her workshops in both English and French. As members of the CHS French department, we promptly requested that Anne conducts her workshops in French as an extension and application of the language the girls have been acquiring since grade 1.

String figures are always a component of Anne’s presentation. They add a visual, low-tech, and creative dimension which is appealing to all ages and learning styles. Anne learned a few basic string figures as a child, but it wasn’t until her late teens that she realized there are string figures all over the world, and they have been an important part of many indigenous cultures for thousands of years.

Anne has observed the power of string figures to teach, create community, improve reading, inspire all ages and on occasion drive teachers and parents crazy. Anne frequently sees an enthusiastic, cooperative, tangle of strings after her programs.

Why storytelling?
As brilliantly explained in the article, “Storytelling in the Classroom,” over and above the language experience and extensions, educators have long known that the arts can contribute to a student’s academic success and emotional well-being.

An accessible art form
The ancient art of storytelling is especially well-suited for student exploration. As a folk art, storytelling is accessible to all ages and abilities. No special equipment beyond the imagination and the power of listening and speaking is needed to create artistic images.

Develops daily life skill of communication

  • As a learning tool, storytelling can encourage students to explore their unique expressiveness and can improve a student's ability to communicate thoughts and feelings in an articulate, lucid manner. These benefits transcend the art experience to support daily life skills.
  • In our fast-paced, media-driven world, storytelling can be a nurturing way to remind children that their spoken words are powerful, that listening is important, and that clear communication between people is an art.
  • Becoming verbally proficient can contribute to a student's ability to resolve interpersonal conflict nonviolently. Negotiation, discussion, and tact are peacemaking skills. Being able to lucidly express one's thoughts and feelings is important for a child's safety. Clear communication is the first step to being able to ask for help when it is needed.

Develops Imagination
Both telling a story and listening to a well-told tale encourages students to use their imaginations. Developing the imagination can empower students to consider new and inventive ideas. Expanding the imagination can contribute to self-confidence, and personal motivation as students envision themselves competent and able to accomplish their hopes and dreams.

Passes On Wisdom
By presenting imaginative situations demonstrating the outcome of both wise and unwise actions and decisions, storytelling, as based on traditional folktales, is a gentle way to guide young people toward constructive values.

As Jane Yolen, editor of Favorite Folktales from Around the World explains: “Storytelling, the oldest of arts, has always been both an entertainment and a cultural necessity... storytellers breathed life into human cultures.”  


  • Storytelling in the Classroom. (2000) Retrieved from
  • Fitzgibbon, Heidi Bordine, Wilhelm, Kim Hughes, (1998) Storytelling in the ESL/EFL Classrooms, TESL Reporter 31,2, p. 21-31


Posted by Stephanie Chow on Friday December 9, 2016 at 02:45PM
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Barriers on the Path that Connects The Learner with the Learning

By Lois Rowe, Deputy Head

Of the many complexities facing schools in 2016, the topic of wellness or well-being is one that educators look to governments, clinicians, researchers or outside agencies to provide direction on how to support students through difficult times while not straying beyond what is appropriate within the scope of a school. Laws, standards, practices and guidelines, while useful in defining roles and responsibilities in broad contexts, are not prescriptive and, therefore, when it comes down to case-by-case considerations, it is the teachers and administrator in a school who must interpret these documents and make decisions that weigh what is in the best interests of the student as well as the school community. Without a framework to guide the decision, the way forward can seem cloudy. Is there a lens through which a school might see its way to know when the right support for a student is within the walls of a school and when it is time to direct the student and her family to outside resources?

In its simplest form, the role of a school is to connect the ‘learner’ with the ‘learning’. From time to time, a barrier may present that impedes or blocks the path between the learner and the learning. These barriers take on different forms; however, they generally fall into one of the domains of well-being: cognitive (i.e., learning disability), physical (i.e., illness or injury), social (i.e., friendship challenges), emotional (i.e., adjusting to a change in family structure or dynamics), and mental (i.e., anxiety or depression). Challenges in any one or combination of these domains accompany some students to school each day and it is, therefore, in the school’s best interest to proactively be prepared through a comprehensive strategy.

The first tier of a support strategy is a knowledgeable faculty. Educators in 2016 must stay current on how stressors in any of the domains of well-being reveal themselves in a school setting. Including topics related to well-being as a regular feature of yearly professional development, as a standing item on the agendas for staff meetings, or through the sharing of current articles results in teachers having an increased skill to recognize the early signs of a struggle and greater confidence in supporting students through proven intervention strategies. In addition, because it is the teachers who spend time with students on a regular basis, they are most likely to be the ones who, once knowledgeable, are alert to the warning signs.

The strategy to address barriers between the learner and the learning begins with the educated professionals and extends to systems. Deliberate tracking of attendance patterns, changes in behaviour or habits, (dis)engagement in curricular or co-curricular experiences, strained peer relationships, and/or declining academic success will identify students who might otherwise slip between the cracks. Through scheduled times for data review combined with ‘student focused meetings’ attended by all teachers, concerns are revealed. At this tier of support, identification is key so that students can be gently invited to seek assistance. The second tier of support is therefore a securely strung and finely woven safety net.

An important consideration for a school to address is whether or not the barrier between the learner and the learning can be knocked down or is firmly in place and needs to be navigated by going over or around this impediment. Determining the answer to this distinction forms the third tier of a support strategy. Having some expertise within the school to advise on strategies (cognitive), counsel (social, emotional), or craft a ‘return to play/learn’ plan (physical, social, emotional, mental) are the first line of barrier removers. This tier is one of triage where a short term solution knocks down the barrier, thus connecting the learner with the learning.

The community of qualified experts beyond a school community but within reach forms the fourth and final tier of support. This support is where a strategy would turn when the barrier requires more than triage. These trained individuals are out there and a school with a strategy will cultivate a relationship whereby the school can access directly the support it requires or, more often is the case, be the conduit for students or parents to arrange the support required to find a way around or over the barrier. Working in sync, resources within the school and those beyond can ensure the strategies or therapies being developed by the outside experts are being supported when the student is in school. With a cooperative relationship in place, barriers become named, recognized at a distance and, through accommodation, navigated.

In summary, in every school, there are learners facing barriers to learning. These barriers take on many forms and can be either removed or managed; however, the efficiency with which a challenge is addressed depends on a school having a support strategy in place. Through four tiers of support from increasing knowledge, to structured safety net check-ins, triaged support and connections with a network of outside resources, schools have a framework upon which the unique needs of all learners will be supported as they travel down the path that connects the learner with the learning.

Posted by Stephanie Chow on Friday December 9, 2016 at 02:44PM
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An Extraordinary Community

Posted by Stephanie Chow on Friday November 25, 2016 at 03:43PM
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Parenting as Leading

By Susan Hutchison, Director of the Junior School

Leadership is a sensitive balance between vision and management. Effective leaders are able to appreciate the larger context in which they operate. In particular, school leaders balance a vision of societal development and individual student achievement. The management details (timetables, pencils, technology, lists, charts, meetings) are the necessary operations which create the platform for the vision to unfold and engage the commitment of others. Leadership is all about inspiring a shared vision, collaborative teamwork, and encouraging the strengths of each individual to contribute to the success of the whole. A leader’s attitude is everything – the joy and enthusiasm, the diligence and dedication to the work of education and the success of children.

Is it possible that parenting is really all about leadership? Can the family be viewed through the lens of a balance of leadership and management? Parenting children is a complex dance between inspiring a vision for their personal future while managing the details of daily life.

From my perspective as Director of the Junior School, I notice that there seems to be a focus on the day-to-day management tasks of a child’s life – after school activities, homework, lessons, parties, meals, appointments. After all, these details make us feel very satisfied and organized. Moreover, they are the necessary stuff of organizing family members. However, are they the most crucial aspect of being a parent? As a child matures, the detailed management should evolve also. Reflect back on the micromanagement required in the early days of your child’s life. It seemed to be nothing but routines around feeding, sleeping, washing, comforting. It should be possible, by now, to reflect on the big picture of her life and offset some of these management details with a deeper vision.  

Ask yourself about the big picture of being a parent. Think of yourself as contributing to the  beautiful masterpiece – your child. However, only she will create the finished piece and it will take a lifetime! What do I really value for my child? What is the vision for her as she unfolds into young adulthood? It’s more than skills and accomplishments. What hopes and dreams are possible? What kind of person do I hope she will become? Moreover, am I that kind of person? At this moment, let me suggest that the role of modelling is the most powerful parenting tool of all. Your daughter will observe and absorb your core beliefs and attitudes. What messages are you providing?

Lead your daughter into her future with a strong vision; resist the urge to make micromanaging and organizing the essential focus. Build her capacity to journey into adulthood with strong core values and attitudes.

  • Have a vision
  • Reflect on your deeper messages
  • Develop competence in all pursuits
  • Build and affirm shared values
  • Model joy and hope for the future
  • Set an example
Posted by Stephanie Chow on Friday November 25, 2016 at 03:43PM
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Biodiversity Poem

By Grade 6 Students


It began with green.
Without green, there is nothing.
From minuscule grains in the ocean
To powerful trees
Whispering over the landscape.

Seeds blowing in the wind,
Carried on water,
In the mouths of animals.
Always moving.
Green is contagious.
In amongst the branches, twigs, trunks,
Knots, leaves, and fronds.

Insects. Natural magicians.
Changing from creeping and crawling
To flying and fluttering
Soaring through shadow and light
Nibbling and chomping in the dark,
Sipping sweetness and carrying pollen.

Waiting is the game.
A pale white egg cracks open,
Hatches wings, beaks, and claws
Pecking, hunting
Nesting, singing
All the colours of the rainbow, and more.

Now claws climb, paws dig
Soft furry coats turn to the frost
Tails balance prancing from branch to branch
Hidden in silence,
Small, strong teeth grind and grind.

Inside, bones are remnants of history
Shaped to adapt,
Supporting backs,
Protecting lungs,
Allowing, running, jumping, swimming.

In the ocean, zig-zag scallops
Like a dying sunset
And swirled snails like galaxies
And life cycles.
Like DNA,
Which was where it really all began.

Posted by Stephanie Chow on Friday November 25, 2016 at 03:42PM
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Learning and Celebrations

Posted by on Thursday November 10, 2016 at 04:11PM
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Benefits of Workplace Experience

By Nicole Page-Newman, teacher, languages, Senior School

The Work Experience program at Crofton House School supports our students in gaining experience and exposure to areas of employment in which they have expressed an interest.

The program’s aim is twofold:

  • to support the girls’ academic pathways and personal aspirations
  • to fulfill the BC Ministry of Education’s requirement for 30 hours of work experience before the completion of grade 12

In addition to achieving the above goals, our school is committed to educating the whole girl and this includes planned, guided, and quality workplace experience.

At CHS the Optional Career Placement program goes beyond the mandated Ministry of Education's 30-hour requirement. Each placement is a combination of task oriented and job shadowing for approximately a week but can be extended, if it is a good fit, by arrangement between the student and employer. The program focus is on the enrichment and experience of the students. Placements allow the girls to combine an interest in a career sector with an optional work experience component, allowing students to discover the skills they will need to succeed in the workplace. Students receive valuable one-on-one advice on resume writing, interview skills, and professional work conduct in preparation of their placements. Staff members are dedicated to the success of the program and work individually with each student to ensure an appropriate and safe fit. It is important that the experience is beneficial to the employers, that the placement provides in-depth real-life experience, and that it is a win-win situation for both parties.

Meaningful work experience:

  1. Supports real-life experience of a student’s chosen career or industry by witnessing the everyday workings of a business, organization, or institute;

  2. Demonstrates the student’s passion, interest, and motivation to be part of an identified industry or follow a particular career;

  3. Prepares students for some of the professional and personal challenges of the working world;

  4. Helps students become more self-aware by learning about personal and professional strengths and abilities that they might want to expand or enhance;

  5. Increases the student’s professional network;

  6. Nurtures self-esteem and cultivates strong and effective communication skills; and

  7. Promotes opportunity for girls to sample different career options and have conversations with employees while on-the-job.

Join the Work Experience Program
The Work Experience program is currently looking for employers who are interested in hosting a grade 10, 11, or 12 student in their workplace for five days over one of our holiday breaks. Consider inviting a CHS girl into your organization, providing in-depth real-life experience. If interested, contact Nicole Page-Newman at

Posted by Stephanie Chow on Thursday November 10, 2016 at 04:10PM
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Understanding Vocal Development in Children

What we as adults must know to ensure that our students and children become confident, lifelong singers


By Michelle Hartley, teacher, music, Junior School

A major contributor to a students perceived inability and lack of motivation to sing at an older age is the development of vocal insecurities in young singers. This is generally caused by the student attempting songs that are too difficult for their stage of development, or by peers and adults labeling them as being tone-deaf or un-musical. Just as the stages of reading and speech development vary from student to student and stage to stage, the singing voice must be treated in a similar light; with proper support, encouragement, and a consideration for the level of appropriateness in the assigned tasks. Once we begin to consider singing as a learned behaviour, we can begin to provide students with proper supports and environments that will ensure vocal development and a lifetime of confident, joyous singing.

Stages of Vocal Development:


  • Babies are extremely sensitive to changes in pitch levels, pitch ranges, and intonation; all of which are definitive musical properties.
  • Development of cooing and vowel-like sounds.
  • 'Musical blabbing’, where babies use extreme pitch and rhythmic variations.
  • By 4-6 months, babies are usually capable of more vocal control, and by 1-2 years, they are able to repeat and mimic small, repetitive musical phrases.

Early Childhood and Pre-School

  • From 1-5 years, the singing culture of the child begins to determine their future vocal development and interests in singing. If surrounded by an encouraging and rich singing culture, they will imitate songs, vocalize and sing during play, and begin to imitate fragments of known songs.
  • Young children begin to improvise their own tunes based on known melodic fragments.
  • Development rates are not determined by a specific age, but rather by individual readiness, culture, and sociocultural contexts.

First Years of School

  • Children begin to differentiate between singing and speaking.
  • Children begin to express more emotion during singing.
  • There is increased speaking and singing with increased socialization.
  • Their ability to invent songs based on known melodies is increased.
  • Children begin to have more control over pitch consistency and vocal range.
  • The voice is light, with a flute-like quality.
  • The soprano range extends to an average of [D4-D5], sometimes extending as far as [Bb3-F5].  

Adolescence to Adulthood

  • Pre-adolescents begin to experience vocal changes as early as 11 and 12. During this change, the voice can have increased breathiness due to inadequate closing of the vocal folds during growth.
  • During the change, the vocal range begins to extend downward.  
  • After growth, girls and boys can experience vocal discomfort with limited range, and distinctive vocal qualities in particular vocal ranges. This is, of course, more pronounced in boys than in girls.
  • Once the voice begins to settle after growth, the adult voice develops with a much more expanded range, less breathiness, improved tone-quality and consistency, and vocal agility.

Considerations for Teachers and Parents

  • The development of a strong singing culture in the early years is crucial for singing and vocal development later on.
  • Avoid labelling students as un-musical or tone-deaf as this can be detrimental to their willingness to sing. Remember that students are in various stages of development, and vocal struggles can often be a result of lack of appropriate vocal imitation, play, exposure, and exploration.
  • Present quality vocal examples frequently to students at young age that are simple, in an appropriate vocal range, playful, and that encourage vocal participation and imitation.
  • Encourage vocal play through increased social interaction.
  • If a student is showing vocal hesitation, remember that it could be a result of insecurity, experience, or social/environmental pressures. Work with the student and create simple vocal tasks that will allow them to feel successful and confident. Be sure to create safe and accepting singing environments at home and in school where singing is the norm.
  • The ability to sing is not innate. Tone-deafness is a learned behaviour that can be avoided and un-learned with proper support through developmentally and age appropriate tasks.
  • Although popular music is a great way to get students interested and motivated to sing, their voices are not ready for these vocal ranges, qualities, and techniques. Allow students to sing with music that is age and skill appropriate. For young children, this means simpler, repetitive tunes that are in a higher range using a light, un-forced vocal mechanism.
  • Make singing a definitive part of their everyday culture. The more they hear and sing at a young age in a safe and encouraging environment, the more likely they will become confident adult singers.
  • Allow ample opportunity for vocal exploration and vocal play at a young age. Imitate everyday sounds, characters in books, animals, people, and noises.
  • For boys, avoid creating a culture that only sees singing as a girl's activity. This has unfortunately become a social norm that deprives boys and adult men of a lifetime of joyous singing. Encouraging boys to continue singing during and after vocal change is particularly important.
  • Singing is a learned skill that can greatly enhance one's quality of life. Singing releases tension, reduces stress, forces us to breathe deeply, provides opportunities for friendships and community, and is an effective emotional outlet. If we as adults place significant value on singing, the more likely it will become an active and important part of a child’s life.
  • If you can talk, you can sing.
Posted by on Thursday November 10, 2016 at 04:10PM
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