Crofton House School
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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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Winter Fun

Posted by Stephanie Chow on Friday February 17 at 03:27PM
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Embracing the New BC Curriculum’s Focus on Personalized and Student-Centred Learning

By Gail Robinson, Department Head, English, Senior School

According to Dr. Bruce Bearisto, Adjunct Professor in the Department of Education at Simon Fraser University, the most important innovation the new BC curriculum offers is its focus on personalization. An aspect of student-centred learning, personalized learning strives to address each student’s needs, preferences, strengths, interests, and aspirations as part of a movement designed to promote greater student accountability and engagement in the classroom. Bearisto maintains that student-centred learning will have a profound impact on British Columbia’s schools for years to come.

The English Department at Crofton House School consists of a dedicated team of passionate and experienced teachers who are actively involved in the challenging process of aligning our curriculum with the Ministry’s new guidelines. This year, we are implementing our new English 8 and 9 courses, while we re-design our English 10 to 12 courses in preparation for the 2018-2019 academic year.  Throughout this process, we have made a concerted effort to protect the academic rigour of our program, while striving to adapt new and promising approaches to teaching and learning. As we near the midway point of the current academic year, I am particularly impressed by the impact that our implementation of personalized learning strategies has had on our English 8 and 9 students.  

Since September, our English 8 teachers have participated in regular meetings to review our course planning and to share stories about what is happening in our classrooms. Without exception, I have walked away from all of these meetings feeling inspired by my colleagues and by the stories that we share.

During the first reporting period, for example, our English 8 students completed a unit that used carefully selected poems and short stories to explore the beauty and the power of nature. As an extension of this work, students considered the First Peoples Principle of Learning that states, “Learning ultimately supports the well-being of the self, the family, the community, the land, the spirits, and the ancestors.” They researched ancestors, who had overcome personal challenges, and they wrote short stories from their ancestor’s points of view. Reflecting on this experience, one of my students observed that “Working on this project made me realize that determination runs through my family. A lot of my ancestors never stopped until they did something great.” Another student wrote:

"Although now I live in a safe country where there is little discrimination, I know that my ancestors had to work very hard to make a better life for themselves and their families….  I know as a Caucasian person I will rarely be discriminated against, but I think about the fact that I have even a little bit of African, Chinese and Spanish blood and this motivates me to campaign for equal rights and that no one should be discriminated against for the way they look. Especially, the way my family was discriminated against in South Africa."

Using personalized learning strategies in English 8 and 9, it is our expectation that our students will be able to participate in our English 10, 11 and 12 courses with a clearer sense of who they are and where they come from.

Another personalized learning opportunity that we have initiated this year, which has impacted our curriculum from English 8 to 12, is the implementation of Crofton Reads.  As English teachers, we know the importance of reading as a means of developing stronger thinking and writing skills so we have decided to demonstrate our commitment to this principle by dedicating 30 minutes of each cycle to reading. Throughout the year, students will be expected to select books to read that are aligned with their own interests, as long as the books that they choose to read possess literary merit. They will also be required to share their reading experiences with their peers by giving book talks twice a year.

Moving forward, the English Department intends to build on these successes by extending our use of student-centred learning strategies to include discussion-based approaches to teaching and learning in our senior courses.
Posted by Stephanie Chow on Friday February 17 at 03:27PM
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Traditional Indigenous Knowledge in a Modern-day Classroom

By Sophia Hunter, Teacher, Librarian, Junior School

This past week, the Junior School was fortunate to host a storyteller and performer from the Squamish and Musqueam Nations. Rebecca Duncan presented engaging Coast Salish stories, songs and dances to grades 1 to 7. We arranged this visit through The Talking Stick Festival. This annual event promotes Indigenous culture through the arts. In addition to school workshops, like the one presented by Rebecca, there are plays, musical shows and other opportunities to connect with local Aboriginal artists.

Hosting an Indigenous artist is an important component of the objectives of British Columbia’s new curriculum. In the past, Aboriginal knowledge was often presented in the past tense, if at all. This type of presentation inadvertently played into stereotypes of Indigenous peoples as unevolving. One of the goals of the new curriculum is to highlight the contributions of Aboriginal philosophies to contemporary society. For example, many Indigenous groups are leaders of the environmental movements dominating headlines today, from Standing Rock to the Whanganui River in New Zealand, which has gained legal personhood status due to the efforts of the local Maori population. To understand how a river gains personhood, all citizens need to know how Indigenous populations use, value and share natural resources. Approaches based on statements such as “Coast Salish people used to live in longhouses” are inadequate to prepare students to engage and thrive in a city, like Vancouver, that is debating new pipelines with strong objections from some local Indigenous communities.

While maintaining a focus on contemporary Indigenous contributions to society, it is important to remember the historical role of the education system in residential schools. Although we view education positively, and wouldn’t be teachers if we did not, we must remember that education was the tool of oppression used to enable cultural genocide in government-funded, church-run schools. Acknowledging the power of education, both to harm and heal, is foundational to reconciliation.

Providing our students with the opportunity to hear directly from Aboriginal community members is essential. Rebecca Duncan’s visit helps our students understand that the Squamish and Musqueam nations are vibrant communities. Her voice brings the authenticity and connections we strive to nurture as part of the new curriculum. We are learning from First Nations, not about them.

One grade seven student asked Rebecca after her performance if her nation adds new stories over time, or do they always share old ones? This astute question captures the issue of dynamic communities. Aboriginal cultures are changing, are contemporarily relevant, while maintaining their own ways of being. Rebecca responded to the student that the adventure of being one of the host nations for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics has become a favourite story for her children and is often retold and shared.

The Talking Stick Festival is a wonderful resource that allows us to bring Aboriginal voices and perspectives into our classrooms. The opportunity to bring the stories and lessons of Musqueam and Squamish cultures to life is one we look forward to fostering every year.

Posted by Stephanie Chow on Friday February 17 at 03:26PM
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Welcoming the Year of the Rooster

Posted by Stephanie Chow on Friday February 3 at 03:00PM
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Why Home Economics is More Relevant Than Ever


By Sarah Kenny, Caroline Sykes, and Kelly Poole

As Home Economics teachers, we are often faced with many stereotypes that question the legitimacy of our subject. The all too common historic lens on our classrooms is outdated, however in 2017, our students are thriving in an enriching learning environment. They are offered the space to test recipes, patterns, techniques, and acquire skills that they typically no longer learn in the home. As our society shifts to dual working parents, there is less time for life skills to be passed down the generations.  It is important to teach future generations to consume consciously, prepare healthy food, and make sustainable life choices, all essential skills (Hira, 2013).

Although the home economics curriculum has changed since its early days of teaching housekeeping skills, the core philosophy continues to promote the health and wellness of individuals, families, and communities. The curriculum has evolved to satisfy a variety of essential outcomes; critical and creative thinking skills are the building blocks within these subjects (Smith, 1991). The classroom is a space where students explore essential life skills and negotiate problem-solving and time management on an ongoing basis.  

Home economics begins with the student and connects them in meaningful ways to other disciplines. Although there are fundamental skills that underlie a home economics program, it is a subject that is rich with choice for students. Placed in control of their learning, students own their work and put their best effort forward. Further, the practical, hands-on nature of the learning provides real-life connections to other subject disciplines thus enriching education across subjects. There are numerous examples of the cross-curricular applications of home economics. Mathematics is required for both measuring ingredients and manipulating patterns. Baking requires an understanding of science to appreciate how ingredients react. Cultures and history are reflected in food and fashion. When students are able to connect knowledge from different classes, they are able to enhance their learning.

The new BC curriculum has recently highlighted the importance of an applied skills based education and now requires that students take a full year of Applied Design, Skills & Technologies courses in both grades 8 and 9. This new category encompasses both Foods & Nutrition, and Textiles, which are both offered at Crofton House School. When asked why home economics education is valuable, a grade 8 student answered: “I believe that home economics is a course everybody should be required to take because we need to learn how to cook and sew to live independently. Furthermore, this course has tested our teamwork abilities through the numerous recipes in Foods, and our ability to help one another in Textiles. It has also deepened my appreciation for the complicated task of making clothes”. By giving them a taste of both subjects in their grades 8 and 9 years, students are then able to elect Foods & Nutrition and/or Textiles for one semester in grades 9 and 10 and a full year in grades 11 and 12.

Home economics was introduced into secondary schools at the beginning of the 20th century with the purpose of improving the health and wellness of families and individuals (Peterat, 1995) and to educate students about economic, environmental, and ethical issues. Throughout its history, home economics has adapted to help students navigate and thrive in modern society. It is that adaptability that makes it a subject that is relevant today, and will continue to be a vital part of our student’s education in the future.


Hira, T. (2013). Home economics literacy: investing in our future. Journal of the Asian Regional Association for Home Economics, 20(3), 113-118.

Peterat, L. (1995). Family studies: Transforming curriculum, transforming families. In J.S. Gaskell & J. Willinsky (Eds.) Gender in/forms curriculum: From enrichment to transformation (p. 174 - 190). Ontario: OISE Press.

Smith, G. (1991). Home economics as a practical art: preparing students for family in a global society. THESA Newsletter 32(1). 13-15.


Posted by Stephanie Chow on Friday February 3 at 03:00PM
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Happy New Year

Posted by Stephanie Chow on Friday January 20 at 02:51PM
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Fostering Effective Effort in the Classroom

By Nicole Watson and Philippa Kedgley

Our children live in a world that is filled daily with opportunities for instant gratification. Whether it is when looking for something to do or trying to find the answer to a question that has stumped them. With technology at our fingertips, we find ourselves as educators and parents saying "why don’t you just google it or maybe find an idea on Pinterest?" However, are we doing a disservice to our girls by providing instant resolve? How do we provide our students and children with the means and drive to reach their full potential? The answer may not be found on our Ipads.

As teachers, we embrace meaningful opportunities for effective technological integration while simultaneously trying to provide our students with what we lovingly call "the effective effort tool box." You may hear your daughter’s talk about the writing toolbox and the math strategy toolbox. Now more than ever, we need to teach our students what "effective effort" looks and feels like so that they can thrive.

We often ask our students ‘did you give your best effort?’; however, have we ever taught our students why effort matters and what it actually entails. The basic definition of effort is at the very least trying and at its highest level metacognition is most definitely involved. High-level effort is often referred to as effective effort. Some students believe that effort looks like completing 20 math questions instead of ten, yet, in reality, research shows that purposeful, targeted engagement in an activity allows for the most growth. Targeted engagement may look like making mistakes, pausing to think, revising, guessing and checking, and wading through an unsolved task.

Each student's toolboxes may look different. Some of the features are familiar and obvious like dressing for success and showing up on time for the job. Another example may look like a student engaged in a trial and error process during a math challenge. Students who become comfortable with making mistakes and continue to plod through an activity will surely grow and learn. Lastly, some effort tools are individualized like student's advocating for specific learning environments or specific instructional tools. A student asking for noise cancelling headphones during an independent activity is accessing her effort tools. She understands how she learns, and she knows that this will allow her to focus and dig deeply into a task.  

Imagine the possibilities when a young learner maintains confidence while making a series of mistakes to eventually arrive at a satisfying result. Having exerted this maximal effort is much more fulfilling than being given an answer through a quick google search or from an adult. Of course, that’s not to say that our students who put forth "effective effort" always receive the highest marks, or produce the neatest products. What it means is that these children have a set of skills that allow them to comfortably take risks and enter into uncharted territories to access possibilities, yet imagined. Creating a classroom that affords the time for direct instruction around what "effective effort" looks and feels like will allow our students to reach their true potential.

Posted by Stephanie Chow on Friday January 20 at 02:50PM
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Jastina's Story

Posted by Stephanie Chow on Friday January 20 at 02:50PM
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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:

Authenticity

  • 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. 

References:

  • 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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