Crofton House School
Calendar & News

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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A Prime Year

Posted by Stephanie Chow on Friday June 16 at 02:38PM
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What To Do With a Box

The Junior School, JK – grade 6, participated in a critical and creative design challenge. Through the lens of empathy, the students brainstormed, analyzed, ideated, and created a design for a box that would help someone or something. They then reflected on their work and design, named it, and set out to share and view the empathy boxes created by other students. This is a student-made video about the process.
Posted by Stephanie Chow on Friday June 16 at 02:38PM
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On Being Canadian

This year marks two important milestones in Canadian history. In April 2017, Canada commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, the World War I battle that historians generally consider to represent Canada's "coming of age" as an independent nation state; and on the July 1, we will celebrate the nation's sesquicentennial - or the 150th Anniversary of Confederation. This milestone warrants both celebration and critical reflection. Canada's history is a history of growth, achievement and opportunity but also a history of division, exclusion and marginalization. Our understanding of what it means to be Canadian continues to evolve, and the process of building that understanding is guided as much by questions as it is by answers. 

Students at Crofton House learn about Canada, both past and present, in a variety of courses. The overall aim in Social Studies courses is that by engaging with the historical and contemporary topics and issues that have shaped, and continue to shape Canada and its role in the world, students will gain a better understanding of the nation in which they live. Students examine the social, political, economic and environmental questions that are a part of the public discourse; and they develop an awareness of what it means to become informed, engaged and active citizens. 

This year, students in Social Studies 8 and 11 used the occasion of the 150th Anniversary of Confederation to consider what it means to be Canadian by exploring two hundred "Faces of Canada".

Grade 8 students used texts and discussions to broaden their own understanding of what they value about Canada. They photographed themselves with a description of who they themselves are as Canadians.

Grade 11 students researched notable Canadians from the twentieth century and considered their respective contributions to, or impact on, Canada. All the faces of Canada were used to create a collage in the shape of the Canadian landmass. The hope is that students' engagement with the mosaic of Canadian faces will give them occasion not only to celebrate achievements and reflect on past wrongs, but also to begin to understand what it will mean to be Canadian in the next 150 years.

By Christina Cuk, Department Head, Social Studies, Senior School


 

Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation is a valuable opportunity to recognize the deep connection of diverse cultures and the long history of First Nations as well as immigrants from all over the world. To honour this occasion and to better understand what it means to be a proud Canadian, the Mandarin 10 and Mandarin 11a classes worked on their final projects this year reflecting upon their family heritage and community diversity. 

Mandarin 10: “My Family’s Journey to Vancouver”

The Mandarin 10 class worked on a project titled “My Family’s Journey to Vancouver”. Students were asked to prepare an introduction of their family history including where their ancestors came from, why they came to Canada, and what they did after arriving in Canada. They were encouraged to interview their family members and ask for photos or artefacts and items of cultural significance to display in class. They created a world map to trace their ancestors’ footpaths to Vancouver.

The inquiry-based final assignment helped students understand their family history better, and appreciate the struggles and hardships early immigrants experienced as well as their contributions to Canada. They gained a new perspective on what it means to be a proud Canadian at a time when Canada is celebrating its 150th birthday.

As one student reflected after the final assignment:
“After discovering all the reasons why my family, as well as others, have immigrated to Canada, it makes me feel proud to be a citizen of this wonderful country. I am glad my grandparents immigrated to Vancouver, or I would have never been able to experience living in one of the most beautiful countries in the world."

 

Mandarin 11a: “Our Community: Past and Present”

The Mandarin 11a class, consisting of many descendants of Chinese immigrants, focused on the history of Chinese immigration to Canada. The students visited  the Wallace B. Chung and Madeline H. Chung Collection at UBC and learned about early Chinese immigration through viewing rare and unique cultural artefacts on display. They did research on four historical periods involving milestone events such as the Fraser River Gold Rush, the Canadian Pacific railway construction, the Head Tax, and WWII. Then each student wrote a piece from the perspective of a Chinese immigrant and role-played interactively with their audience, recreating the life at that time. 

Both classes also watched an excerpt from Cedar and Bamboo, a documentary that tells the stories of interactions between Chinese immigrants and First Nations people, which adds a seldom-explored dimension of cultural hybridity to the immigrant story. 

By Ping Li, Teacher, Languages, Senior School

Posted by Stephanie Chow on Friday June 16 at 02:38PM
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The Journey Towards Citizenship

By Susan Hutchison, Director, Junior School

My grandmother established the origin of my beliefs about citizenship. She often said that “the hands and hearts of many are even more powerful than our own”! It is taking me a lifetime to really try to understand what she meant and how it can translate into citizenship. Interdependence is central to the growth of citizenship.

How many times have we heard that children must be independent to establish confidence and enjoy success in life? Educators often consider independence as the culmination of personal development.  However, we need to extend the paradigm to a state of interdependence where children begin to realize that they are a connected and significant part of the network of their family, community, and ultimately the world. My own world view inspires me to consider that through our connected relationships we can create success and wellbeing for everyone. Full citizenship is a commitment to making a difference in the world and taking responsibility for the environment. It’s all about learning to stretch beyond the self and realize that we are part of the other. Independence is the launching point from which students can begin to think of themselves as capable of decision making and being self-sufficient.  

How do we promote healthy independence which will finally lead to interdependence? Independence is a building block to interdependence. Children develop independence and a sense of personal responsibility within the context of a predictable home and school life. They count on consistent routines and caring adults to allow them to feel safe in the world around them. It takes a long time to achieve independence and children move fluidly between dependence and independence based on situations, the task, and their own emotional state. Independence is an attitude embracing courage, determination, and perseverance. It is a deep understanding of personal possibilities.

  • Expand freedom to make choices for your students
  • Exploration and curiosity about the world are markers of growing independence
  • Self-understanding is an important key to independence. Let your students be the judge of their own limits and desires
  • Develop resiliency by allowing mistakes, disappointments, and confusion
  • Resist the urge to rescue, instead, guide or coach through difficult situations
  • Most importantly, help students to establish personal competence and autonomy. Realizing one’s own ability is a powerful signpost on the road to independence
  • What do we do if we hear the phrase, “I can’t”? Provide support and ideas and break large, insurmountable tasks into small achievable steps
  • Finally, we will recognize independence! It will be accompanied by “I can do it myself”.

Interdependence is the genesis of citizenship. How do we move students beyond the insistent, “I can do it myself” stage, to the more open approach of an interconnected world which sounds more like, “I may need you, and you may need me to to accomplish this task. We can do it together”. It’s all about developing positive, respectful relationships with an overarching curiosity and empathy for others. To work towards a productive society, we must learn to connect with others to achieve shared objectives. It is extremely unlikely that one individual working in isolation will be able to accomplish or know everything necessary in the future.

  • Teach the skills of successful group interactions
  • Embrace service projects to develop a sensitivity for others
  • Identify the strengths in others which may compensate for our personal deficiencies
  • Ask for help. It is a sign of feeling connected with others. Teach the habits of productively asking for help
  • Become a superb role model for interdependence by demonstrating a willingness to access the skills and strengths of others
  • Point out how an individual decision can affect the wellbeing of the larger community
  • Take time in the school day to be outside. Interdependence with the environment is created through meaningful and memorable outdoor experiences
  • Finally, adopt an interdependent world view. Interdependence demands a deep understanding that our personal decisions affect the outcomes of the many.
Interdependence is the gateway to full citizenship. It allows us to be part of a group without being overly domineering or submitting as a follower to peer pressure. It helps people to look beyond the personality of individuals to become changemakers in their communities. We realize that our shared humanity is central to a positive future. Successful teams harness the strength of each individual in an interdependent process. In the journey toward citizenship and interdependence, students learn that reaching out their arms while being open for a mutual embrace are fundamental aspects of a future with hope and promise for all.
Posted by Stephanie Chow on Friday June 2 at 02:46PM
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A Time of Celebration

Posted by Stephanie Chow on Friday June 2 at 02:46PM
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Our Values Part IV

Posted by Stephanie Chow on Friday June 2 at 02:46PM
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E- Commentary for Skype with Dawson Strategic

 

By Randy Matheson, teacher, Social Studies, Senior School

In January 2013, I caught the CTV News and Laura Dawson was giving insight into the collapse of oil and the Canadian market. Previously, Laura served as senior advisor on Economic Affairs at the United States Embassy in Ottawa and taught International Trade and Canada-US Relations at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs. Since 2013 Laura has become Director of the Canada Institute. I sent her an email extending an invitation to speak with the students in my economic classes.

Dawson Strategic is a policy research and consulting company focusing on cross-border trade, economic and border issues. They are experts on Canada-US trade issues.

Dear Randy,

Nice to hear from you.  One of the reasons why I am showing up on news programs more often these days is because there are so few women political and economic commentators.  I admire your efforts in creating a new generation of young women with interest in economic issues.  I would love to speak to your class but seldom get to BC.  I will certainly let you know if my travels take me to your neighbourhood.  

If technology permits, perhaps I could have a conversation with your students over Skype?

Best regards,
Laura

Using Skype provides an interactive dynamic for the girls and a new venue or change of scenery facilitates the learning experience. Learning is enhanced through shared experience especially with experts, and a new voice provides different insight.

Jeff Phillips and Anna Barrera are my new contacts at Dawson Strategic. They field questions from the girls on trade issues such as the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership), CETA (Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement), and NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement). The students gain perspective on issues affecting Canadians, as well as, career paths and options experienced by Jeff and Anna who are young professionals in their early 30s. I believe this makes their story relatable to the girls who are considering options for career paths.

Economics plays a role in all of our lives. Using Skype to speak to professionals outside CHS, is just one method to enhance the girl’s understanding of economics and give them context to concepts.

Posted by Stephanie Chow on Monday May 29 at 03:39PM
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Experiential Learning in Second Language Acquisition

 

By Nicole Page-Newman, Teacher, Languages, Senior School

The grade 10 Spanish class visited the Hispanic senior group at the South Granville Senior Centre last Wednesday, May 10 - Hispanic Mother's Day. The purpose of the visit was to give my students an authentic experience in speaking Spanish. They prepared for the meeting by choosing a photo to share, and three questions to ask the seniors.

When we walked into the Centre, we were greeted by warm smiles. The girls were nervous, but they embraced the challenge to sit with a stranger and converse in a second language. Taking risks is a large part of learning a new language. Being vulnerable and allowing the process to take place takes courage. Trusting in yourself is powerful. Soon after the hesitant and shy introductions, the seniors and the students were in deep conversations. The noise level rose with excitement and the hour passed quickly! The girls and I left filled with positive energy, wanting to return. What a great gift - the sharing and laughter between seniors and girls.

Real life situations make learning exciting. It allows my students to feel the process of speaking a new language, both physically and emotionally, while sharing cultures and experiences. When all of these qualities come together they cultivate a desire to want to know more, to be engaged and to be active participants in the learning of Spanish.

Posted by Stephanie Chow on Monday May 29
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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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