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Vancouver-based author inspires Chinese students to learn English through fantasy

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As students eagerly search out ways to improve their English, too many of them are misdirected by programs that focus only on memorization. As renowned Harvard professor Eric Mazur points out,

Education is basically two things. One is transfer of information; the other is assimilating that information. Just one of the two is not good enough—you need both.

Queen’s and McGill-trained educational leader Gordon Allan has seen first-hand how many students are not assimilating the information they are learning. In his new novel, Edwin and the Quest for Drow, Allan presents a fantasy story in the spirit of Harry Potter that gently assimilates parts of speech, grammar, and word play.

As a former Headmaster of an international school and a current administrator at one of Canada’s leading day and boarding schools for boys — a school that is renowned for sending its students to some of the world’s best universities, Allan believes that language is something that is living and that ongoing reading and not memorization is critical to future success.

“Many parents get misled into thinking that excessive memorizing of vocabulary and grammar rules is the magic formula needed to learn English. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth,” says Allan, who has seen students who know more grammar rules than him but who can’t even put together one clear sentence.

By instilling in language-learners a love for reading while gently assimilating elements of the writing process, Edwin and the Quest for Drow incorporates what students learn into an enjoyable fantasy. Presented in both English and Chinese, Allan’s novel immerses second-language learners in the English language while providing both English and Chinese students cross-reference pages to help them confirm what they have read and enhance their overall comprehension.

https://youtu.be/Y4MtKdrWidU

Why did you decide to write this novel?

I was an English teacher for many years at a very prestigious private school in Montréal, Canada. Part of the curriculum I was required to teach included grammar and language nuance. However, most of the students were not interested in studying the mechanics of writing. I also discovered that there was little correlation between learning grammar in isolation and improved literacy. I therefore conceived of the idea of writing a fantasy novel in which the main characters were actually parts of speech and where their interaction included lots of word play.

So what exactly is Edwin and the Quest for Drow about?

It’s the story of a young boy called Edwin who is about to start his summer holidays when he is unexpectedly whisked off to an elaborate estate owned by a mysterious Uncle who is also a collector of rare books. We also learn that this uncle was a friend of Edwin’s late father who recently passed away under mysterious circumstances. When Edwin arrives at his uncle’s mansion, he soon discovers a secret room that contains ancient leather-bound books. When Edwin opens one of these books, he is transported into the book’s story where he embarks on a series of adventures to stop an evil character called Drow from re-writing the book’s story. At the end of the adventure, Edwin learns more about his magical power and what really happened to his father. He also learns that his adventure has not ended but only just begun.

How has the novel been received?

As an educator, I used draft versions of the novel with both native-English speakers and second language learners. Their feedback has been very positive and they all want to know if there will be a sequel.

Will there be a sequel?

Yes, the novel lends itself to multiple sequels so, if all goes well, I will be doing a lot of writing over the next few years.

Join Gordon C. Allan for the launch of his new children’s novel!
Where:  The Point Grey Golf Course 
When:   Sunday, October 4, 2015  
Time:    1:00 to 4:00pm.

GORDON C. ALLAN has been an educator for over 30 years. He graduated with two undergraduate degrees from Queen’s University in Canada and pursued Master’s studies in Educational Administration at McGill University. He has worked as a teacher, administrator, and Headmaster at a variety of Canada’s most famous schools. He is currently an administrator at one of Canada’s leading university preparatory schools for boys. Gordon lives with his wife in Vancouver.

“Gordon Allan’s knowledge, talent, and passion as an educator are palpable on every page of this imaginative novel. A uniquely creative book that serves a highly practical purpose. Edwin and The Quest for Drow will entertain, educate, and energize young readers and adults alike!”  

– DR. SHIMI KANG, Harvard-trained Child Psychiatrist and Bestselling Author of The Dolphin Parent: A Guide to Raising Healthy, Happy, and Motivated Kids (Without Turning Into a Tiger)

Krystele was born and raised on the beautiful island of Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands. Although from a tiny community, she was already traveling to North America at the age of 12 to compete and champion international public speaking competitions. Her global perspective has helped her branch out to discover new opportunities when she moved to BC seven years ago. At just 21, she has received a B.A. in Communications from SFU and has already worked for numerous organizations including Metro Vancouver, Canadian Cancer Society, Special Olympics BC, and the BC Non-Profit Housing Association to name a few. She is an entrepreneur, and handles social media for reputable brands. Krystele's passion is to help others find their voice and be heard, as well as inspire others to make the world a better place.

Education

Hundreds Enjoy Surrey Libraries EXPO

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Surrey, BC – Hundreds of families joined Surrey Libraries at the inaugural Surrey Libraries EXPO on Saturday January 25th at the Guildford Town Centre to celebrate Family Literacy Day. The EXPO showcased some of the wonderful and varied programs and services offered at Surrey Libraries.

Participants got an opportunity to try their hand at stop motion animation, Dot and Dash Robotics, and have their photo turned into a vintage photo by using green screen technology. There was a mini escape room, and even a pop-up library where people could register for free library cards and borrow books, DVDs, and books on CD.

“This year’s theme for Family Literacy week is ‘Take 20!’ and encourages families to take 20 minutes and make learning together part of every day,” said Mayor Doug McCallum who was there to help kick off the EXPO. “We know literacy is an essential skill that directly impacts people’s quality of life and their ability to earn a good living. That’s why it’s so important to promote literacy and this is where Surrey Libraries plays an essential role in our community.”

Family Literacy Day is a national initiative involving annual literacy-related events and activities held at the end of January to raise awareness of the importance of literacy.

“We’re delighted that so many people came out to explore Surrey Libraries and our diverse programming,” said Surinder Bhogal, Chief Librarian. “The 21st century library offers so much more than books, and Surrey Libraries works to connect people, spark their curiosity and inspire learning.”

Surrey Libraries EXPO is one of many programs and events hosted by Surrey Libraries in support of literacy. More information on Surrey Libraries’ programs and events can be found at: https://surreylibraries.ca/events.

Children enjoying a puppet storytime at the EXPO.

Learning how snail mail worked before electronics.

A family having fun with the green screen technology.

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Education

Surrey Libraries Support Learners Obtain Google IT Support Certificate

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Graduates from the first cohort of the Google IT Support Certificate program along with the Honourable Harry Bains, MLA, Jinny Simms, MLA, and Councillor Mandeep Nagra, just after receiving their certificates on January 24.

Surrey, BC – BC’s tech industry is booming and there aren’t enough people with the skills required to fill the jobs that are available. This is what Google Canada realized and to help remedy the situation, last year they teamed up with Surrey Libraries and three other libraries across Canada to provide scholarships to hundreds of individuals to get trained in the Google IT Support Certificate Program (GISC Program).

Google’s IT Support Professional Certificate is aimed to prepare participants to become ready for an entry-level job in IT support in about eight months, with no experience required. This certificate is part of Grow with Google, an initiative focused on helping everyone across Canada access the best of Google’s training and tools to grow their skills, careers and business.

In addition to identifying students eligible to receive the Google scholarships, Surrey Libraries provided the students with online instruction and in-person learning facilitation by a dedicated Google IT Support Certificate Site Lead Librarian. Scholarships and funding for the Site Lead Librarian were supported through a generous Google.org grant.

The first cohort of 50 learners started the program in April 2019 and so far, 37 students from that group have finished the GISC Program and some have already landed jobs in the tech industry. Learners were provided wraparound supports including learning circles, opportunity to tour a local tech company, as well as presentations and workshops from the City of Surrey’s IT Department, WorkBC, and TLC Solutions.

“This program was very well run and helpful in getting my foot in the door to IT. I received amazing support from Surrey Libraries, and I enjoyed a lot of aspects of how this course was set up and how it was executed.” Said graduating student, Monica Mah “Having other learners to turn to weekly was very helpful in providing motivation, knowledge, and amusement. I feel more confident to be able to look for a job in the IT field.”

“We’re so pleased Surrey Libraries was chosen by Google to help support this program,” said Surinder Bhogal, Chief Librarian at Surrey Libraries. “Surrey is the fastest growing city in British Columbia, with a diverse and talented population. The program also aligns well with one of the library’s objectives to support digital skills development in preparation for a stronger workforce.”

A second set of learners are about to embark on their learning journey in March. People interested in the GISC Program are invited to attend an information session on Wednesday, January 29 at Surrey Libraries – City Centre Branch, Room 402 at 6:30 pm. Call 604-598-7426 to register.

About Surrey Libraries

Surrey Libraries is a valued community institution and one of the most-used community services in Surrey. The library welcomes around 2.7 million visits to our nine branches each year, and over two million visits to our online resources. Surrey Libraries runs hundreds of programs and services for children, youth, and adults to support their diverse learning needs. Serving the community since 1983, Surrey Libraries strives to connect people, spark curiosity, and inspire learning. Find out more about Surrey Libraries and our diverse programming at surreylibraries.ca.

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Education

SFU’s next president eyes “new era of potential”

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University appoints Joy Johnson as its 10th president and vice-chancellor

Simon Fraser University’s Board of Governors has appointed professor Joy Johnson as the university’s next president and vice-chancellor, following an extensive community consultation and international search process.

Johnson, SFU’s current vice-president research and international, will take office on Sept. 1 2020. She succeeds Andrew Petter, who completes his term on August 31 after a decade of distinguished service.

“Over the course of this competitive process, professor Johnson stood out from other candidates for her depth of academic and research experience, commitment to students and enthusiasm for the future of SFU,” says Fiona Robin, chair of SFU’s Board of Governors and chair of the presidential search committee. “We are thrilled to announce that professor Johnson is the successful candidate and look forward to welcoming her into this new role.”

A strong supporter of academic and research excellence, and a leader in nurturing and building community partnerships, Johnson is also committed to vibrant student learning experiences, equity, diversity and inclusion, and Aboriginal reconciliation.

“SFU is a remarkable institution at a remarkable time in its history,” says Johnson, who becomes the university’s second woman president. “We continue to attract world-class students, faculty, and staff, and we are stepping into a new era of potential.”

Johnson, who has been in her current role at SFU since 2014, is widely respected in academic and research communities. Under her leadership, SFU’s research income has grown from $103 million in 2014 to $161 million today, making it the fastest growing research income of any university in Canada.

During her tenure, the university established its innovation strategy—SFU Innovates—launched its big data initiative, secured two Canada 150 chairs and became host to Canada’s most powerful academic supercomputer. The university also became a founding partner in the City of Surrey’s burgeoning Health and Technology District and established collaborative research partnerships around the world.

“I love being part of SFU—so much is possible here as we develop new learning opportunities, enhance student support and services, expand our facilities, strengthen our research infrastructure, and forge new partnerships,” says Johnson. “It’s my great privilege to have the opportunity to serve as President and Vice-Chancellor, and I look forward to getting started.”

BACKGROUND

Johnson completed her PhD in nursing at the University of Alberta, and is a former professor in the University of British Columbia’s School of Nursing.

Before joining SFU, Johnson had an impressive academic and research career in the health sciences. Her research focused on how environments and social dynamics influence health outcomes and opportunities, particularly among youth.

Her commitment to research led to her role as scientific director with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Institute of Gender and Health, setting the institute’s strategy and building opportunities for researchers.

Johnson is an elected Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (2019).

She is the co-author of more than 180 peer-reviewed manuscripts and has led several initiatives that mobilized research insights to influence practice and policy.

Read more about Joy Johnson

About Simon Fraser University:

As Canada’s engaged university, SFU works with communities, organizations and partners to create, share and embrace knowledge that improves life and generates real change. We deliver a world-class education with lifelong value that shapes change-makers, visionaries and problem-solvers. We connect research and innovation to entrepreneurship and industry to deliver sustainable, relevant solutions to today’s problems. With campuses in British Columbia’s three largest cities – Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey – SFU has eight faculties that deliver 193 undergraduate degree programs and 127 graduate degree programs to more than 35,000 students. The university now boasts more than 160,000 alumni residing in 143 countries.

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Education

Surrey Libraries Recommends Books to Read Before the New Decade Dawns

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Fill your holiday season with literacy, light and joy!

Surrey, BC – Readers in Surrey like a good thriller as several mysteries and thrillers topped the list of adult fiction books that were the most borrowed from the library in 2019.

If you’re in the mood for a crime thriller, Surrey Libraries staff recommend David Baldacci’s Redemption or Long Road to Mercy. Surprisingly, older titles including George Orwell’s classic dystopia 1984, eerie parable Animal Farm, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, and J.D. Salinger’s classic teen angst novel Catcher in the Rye also made the most borrowed list.

Here’s the top 20 adult fiction books borrowed from Surrey Libraries in 2019:

Rank Book Title Author
1 Where the Crawdads Sing Delia Owens
2 Past Tense Lee Child
3 Dark Sacred Night Michael Connelly
4 The Reckoning John Grisham
5 1984 George Orwell
6 Kingdom of the Blind Louise Penny
7 Long Road to Mercy David Baldacci
8 Tattooist of Auschwitz Heather Morris
9 Clockmakers Daughter Kate Morton
10 Nine Perfect Strangers Liane Moriarty
11 To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee
12 Crazy Rich Asians Kevin Kwan
13 Redemption David Baldacci
14 A Spark of Light Jodi Picoult
15 Washington Black Esi Edugyan
16 The Great Alone Kristin Hannah
17 Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury
18 A Better Man Louise Penny
19 Animal Farm George Orwell
20 Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger

People interested in borrowing any of these titles can find the complete list and check for their availability online at https://bit.ly/35AmBd7.

If there isn’t something on the list of the most borrowed books in 2019 that is of interest, Surrey Libraries staff have also put together their picks of the best titles from 2019 called Fireside Reads for Winter. The list and availability of titles can be found online at https://bit.ly/2rbhcdF.

Surrey Libraries also has eBooks and eAudiobooks available for patrons to download and read on their phones or tablets. Visit www.surreylibraries.ca to find a title that interests you!

Here’s the top 15 eBooks borrowed from Surrey Libraries in 2019:

Rank eBook Title Author
1 Little Fires Everywhere Celeste Ng
2 Past tense Lee Child
3 The Reckoning John Grisham
4 Nine Perfect Strangers Liane Moriarty
5 Long Road to Mercy David Baldacci
6 Dark Sacred Night Michael Connelly
7 Becoming Michelle Obama
8 Educated Tara Westover
9 The Wife between Us Greer Hendricks
10 Where the Crawdads Sing Delia Owens
11 Tattooist of Auschwitz Heather Morris
12 The Rooster Bar John Grisham
13 Kingdom of the Blind Louise Penny
14 The Great Alone Kristin Hannah
15 The Fallen David Baldacci

About Surrey Libraries

Surrey Libraries is a valued community institution and one of the most-used community services in Surrey. The Library welcomes around 2.7 million visits to its nine branches each year, and over two million visits to its online resources. Surrey Libraries runs hundreds of programs and services for children, youth, and adults to support their diverse learning needs. Serving the community since 1983, Surrey Libraries strives to be a leader in supporting creativity, connectivity, literacy, and lifelong learning. Find out more about Surrey Libraries and our diverse programming at www.surreylibraries.ca.

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Education

Seven Hundred School Children Lead Park Beautification Event to Wrap-up Love Where you Live Campaign

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Mayor Doug McCallum and Councillor Steven Pettigrew joined Cambridge Elementary
students, school staff and parents for a clean-up and tree planting event on Thursday, October 24.

Surrey, BC – Mayor Doug McCallum joined over 700 students, parents and teachers from Cambridge Elementary School for a clean-up event today, wrapping up Surrey’s city-wide Love Where You Live Campaign. The initiative, which began in April, called on residents, business owners, schools and community groups to step up and get involved in keeping Surrey clean and welcoming.

“The key to our success boils down to the tremendous support we have received from our community,” said Mayor Doug McCallum. “Love Where You Live not only resonated with our residents, but it delivered solid results. 5,000 bags of litter have been removed from city streets and parks and more than 13,000 trees and bulbs have been planted. Without question, our collective efforts have had a huge impact and I thank everyone who participated across our community.”

In addition to the clean-up initiatives, the City focused on beautification projects to create more welcoming spaces. Across the City, 1,700 street banners were installed and over two thousand feet of decorative streetlights were added to Town Centres.

During the event, Mayor McCallum encouraged that the students and community continue to take pride in the city, making clean-up efforts part of their regular routine.

“I want to continue to challenge everyone to participate in keeping our neighborhoods cleaner, greener and healthier. Every piece of litter picked up, and every tree planted goes a long way in creating a welcoming environment for residents and visitors. Let’s keep up the good work!”

For more information about how you can participate in year-round clean-up initiatives, visit: www.surrey.ca/lovewhereyoulive

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