Vancouver-based author inspires Chinese students to learn English through fantasy
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.
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)
Surrey’s Sullivan Heights Secondary opens new expansion for incoming students
Students at Sullivan Heights Secondary will be learning in 28 new classrooms this school year. Construction on a four-storey, $34.3-million expansion has finished and is ready to welcome students for the fall semester.
“Our board is so excited to welcome Sullivan Heights students into this new addition,” said Laurie Larsen, chair of the Surrey Board of Education, in a press release. “Students and families in the community have been waiting patiently for this additional space, which will allow staff and students to move out of a portable and into a bright, open, and engaging learning space.”
The expansion includes a new outdoor basketball court alongside a gym and a connector to the existing building, so there is a shared main entry and admin workplace. There are also additions to align with 21st-century learning objectives like breakout spaces, education preparation areas, lifestyle labs, a science super lab, large multi-purpose spaces that can be used by the community after hours, and a group of computer labs organized to maximize collaboration and innovation.
This new space brings the total number of classrooms at Sullivan up to 68, the most of any school in the district, and will provide seating for up to 1,700 students.
The expansion has been needed for a while—the school had a capacity of 1,000 students but enrolled 1,646 students in October 2021.
The high school was using 14 portables to accommodate all the students, but those will now be removed.
This expansion will also allow Sullivan to move away from the staggered scheduling system it was forced to adopt to accommodate the growing number of students.
In the same press release, principal David Baldasso said, “This 700-seat addition means that we are no longer on an extended day, students and staff will more easily be able to collaborate, and extracurricular activities are no longer impacted by the length of the day. These new modern learning spaces such as the tech lab, maker spaces and foods labs will also allow us to offer more choice and opportunities to students for years to come.”
Surrey Libraries Offers Access to O’Reilly eBooks and Videos
Surrey Libraries is excited to announce the addition of O’Reilly eBooks to its list of online resources. This platform offers over 35,000 eBooks and 30,000 hours of video courses on technology, business, design, science, engineering, travel, hobbies, health and more, all free with a Surrey Libraries card!
O’Reilly has books and videos for makers, gamers and tinkerers. There are more than 100 hobbyist titles including a STEAM Lab for Kids and The Lego Build-It Book, Volumes 1 & 2. More than 900 books from the “For Dummies” series are included, as well as over 150 titles on job-seeking and career development.
The resource also has technology learning paths like SQL Fundamentals – SQL for Data Analysis and Database Design, case studies like “Pinterest’s Journey to the Cloud,” and countless hours of video instruction on topics like Microsoft Azure Fundamentals, Linux Fundamentals, or Amazon Web Services.
O’Reilly is one of many online resources Surrey Libraries offers its members. No library card? No problem! Sign up for a card online or visit any one of ten branch locations.
We’re excited to welcome you back to our branches! Check our website for information on hours and available services and what we’re doing to keep everyone safe.
Canada’s Top Digital Marketing School Partners with MNBC to Launch Scholarships
Métis Nation BC and Jelly Academy collaborated in order to provide growth within New Collar Employment for Indigenous people and together provided 20 scholarships to Jelly Academy’s digital marketing course. Thanks to this partnership, there will be more Indigenous people with the skills and know-how when it comes to online and digital marketing.
The Indigenous skills training that have previously been available have typically focused on great blue collar jobs such as construction and trades, but this collaboration provides a chance to diversify the available training for Indigenous people with a new focus within varying industries.
Increased demand for digital marketing
Online marketing has had a huge rise in demand especially since COVID-19 and the increased job opportunities opening up in Canada. Indeed reports that by February 2021, jobs in media, marketing, and communications jobs had clicks higher than the economy average per posting, which is why having the necessary skills and training will give job seekers an advantage. Additionally, Indeed reported 28.9% job growth for digital advertising during a forecast period of 2019-2024.
Jelly Academy has been operating for 5 years with over 600 grads with a successful hiring rate. Over 82% of grads who come with an existing employment get a raise or promotion within 6 months of graduating the course and over 94% of grads who are students or without employment get a job within 4 months of graduation. This is due to in-depth training within the course as well as the additional skill-enhancing certifications provided through Jelly Academy.
The program focuses on equipping students with the certificates that hiring managers from agencies and individual brands are looking for. Jelly Academy grads will leave the course with evergreen Hootsuite, Google, SEMRush and Facebook certifications that each have transferable skills.
While these additional certifications can be taken online through providers such as Udemy; data shows about 96% of Udemy students don’t finish a course whereas an official curriculum from Jelly Academy will aid students in completing relevant courses.
By providing these new scholarships for a course that has a successful hiring rate, it allows for further career opportunities for Indigenous members of Métis Nation BC.
Jelly Academy was created by industry expert, Darian Kovacs, in order to have a course that provided the foundation in digital marketing. The course is taught by other industry professionals who provide clear understanding in online marketing topics such as social media, PR, SEO, Google Ads, Google Analytics, and Facebook Ads. Learn more about Jelly Academy here.
Surrey Students Awarded Scholarships, New Scholarship Created By Cloverdale Rodeo Youth Initiative Foundation.
CLOVERDALE, BC: In June 2020, while the world came to a halt due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the Cloverdale Rodeo & Country Fair postponed, one of the things that didn’t stop was the Cloverdale Rodeo Youth Initiative Foundation annual scholarship. Seven grade 12 students from across the city of Surrey were awarded $1000.00 scholarships for post-secondary education by the Cloverdale Rodeo Youth Initiative Foundation.
“As a Board we collectively agreed to proceed with awarding scholarships during the pandemic, whether there was a rodeo or not, because people are in a time of financial need more than ever, and this is not a time to hold back, but to give and lend a helping hand”, says Foundation Chair Nicole Reader.”
The recipients, all of whom were part of the graduating class of 2020, will use their $1000.00 scholarships for a variety of post secondary institutions across British Columbia.
The 2020 Cloverdale Rodeo Youth Foundation recipients:
- Vincent Labador – Johnston Heights Secondary
- Nisha Niijar – Fleetwood Park Secondary
- Aashna Thapar – North Surrey Secondary
- Natasha Kalinic – Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary
- Alexander Thornton – Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary
- Taya Suttill – Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary
- Skye Graham – Clayton Heights Secondary
“Each of these graduates are incredibly deserving of these awards,” says Foundation Chair Nicole Reader. “The entire community should be proud of these young people.”
The foundation adjusted its scholarship criteria, so applicants did not require having previous volunteer experience at the Cloverdale Rodeo in order to be eligible, as long as they had volunteer experience with another organization.
The Cloverdale Rodeo Youth Initiative Foundation will also be awarding scholarships this year under its new criteria. The application deadline for the 2021 scholarships is Friday, May 21st, 2021.
Scholarship applications can be found here.
Not only has the Cloverdale Rodeo Youth Initiative Foundation continued to support the youth community throughout the pandemic, but the organization has also been provided the opportunity to establish an additional scholarship through its organization called The Isabella Olson Scholarship Award “Rising Above”.
The “Rising Above” scholarship was established in loving memory of a Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary student, Isabella Olson, on behalf of her loving family. Isabella was an extraordinary and inspirational young individual who strived to ‘Rise Above’ the various obstacles she faced while always remaining determined to succeed.
To honour Isabella’s legacy a $2,000.00 scholarship has been created to recognize an inspiring Lord Tweedsmuir grade 12 student who is “Rising Above” obstacles, whether personal, mental health, bullying, or family related complications.
A student who has the determination to continue doing well in school, who may participate in school activities community services and/or may have work experience.
“Isabella’s inspiring spirit was a source of strength to all who knew her, and it is our esteemed honour to be able to present this award and assisting inspiring students in achieving their dreams, says Foundation Chair Reader.”
The application deadline for the 2021 Isabella Olson Scholarship Award “Rising Above” is Friday, May 21st, 2021.
Scholarship application can be found here.
Fossil Discovery Deepens Snakefly Mystery
Fossil discoveries often help answer long-standing questions about how our modern world came to be. However, sometimes they only deepen the mystery—as a recent discovery of four new species of ancient insects in British Columbia and Washington state is proving.
The fossil species, recently discovered by paleontologists Bruce Archibald of Simon Fraser University and Vladimir Makarkin of the Russian Academy of Sciences, are from a group of insects known as snakeflies, now shown to have lived in the region some 50 million years ago.
The findings, published in Zootaxa, raise more questions about the evolutionary history of the distinctly elongated insects and why they live where they do today.
Snakeflies are slender, predatory insects that are native to the Northern Hemisphere and noticeably absent from tropical regions. Scientists have traditionally believed that they require cold winters to trigger development into adults, restricting them almost exclusively to regions that experience winter frost days or colder. However, the fossil sites where the ancient species were found experienced a climate that doesn’t fit with this explanation.
“The average yearly climate was moderate like Vancouver or Seattle today, but importantly, with very mild winters of few or no frost days,” says Archibald. “We can see this by the presence of frost intolerant plants like palms living in these forests along with more northerly plants like spruce.”
The fossil sites where the ancient species were discovered span 1,000 kilometers of an ancient upland from Driftwood Canyon in northwest B.C. to the McAbee fossil site in southern B.C., and all the way to the city of Republic in northern Washington.
According to Archibald, the paleontologists found species of two families of snakeflies in these fossil sites, both of which had previously been thought to require cold winters to survive. Each family appears to have independently adapted to cold winters after these fossil species lived.
“Now we know that earlier in their evolutionary history, snakeflies were living in climates with very mild winters and so the question becomes why didn’t they keep their ability to live in such regions? Why aren’t snakeflies found in the tropics today?”
Pervious fossil insect discoveries in these sites have shown connections with Europe, Pacific coastal Russia, and even Australia.
Archibald emphasizes that understanding how life adapts to climate by looking deep into the past helps explain why species are distributed across the globe today, and can perhaps help foresee how further change in climate may affect that pattern.
“Such discoveries are coming out of these fossil sites all the time,” says Archibald. “They’re an important part of our heritage.”
About Simon Fraser University
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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 37,000 students. The university now boasts more than 165,000 alumni residing in 143 countries.
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