Bayview Elementary SD#68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith

I. General Information

School Name: Bayview Elementary

School District: SD#68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith

Inquiry Team Members: Courtney Hill:, Stephanie Stephens:, Sarah Pike:, Lisa Blachuras:, Sterling Jamont:

Inquiry Team Contact Name/Email: Courtney Hill/

II. Inquiry Project Information

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE

Grade Levels Addressed Through Inquiry: Intermediate (4-7)

Curricular Areas Addressed: Language Arts – Reading

Focus Addressed: Phonemic Awareness

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year?  To select age appropriate decodable books that would benefit the growth of our intermediate students.

III. Spirals of Inquiry Details

Scanning: We used the four key questions in conjunction with our fall assessments to determine the goals of our students, both holistically as they relate to community and self, and also specifically as they related to literacy. Our team noticed that intermediate students had a limited sense of identity when it came to their reading personas. Students could not connect with the books they were reading. Honouring this information, we used three selected questions from the Seven Learning Principles:

  1. To what extent are stories part of their experience at school?
  2. Are they developing patience?
  3. Are they exploring their own identity?

We used these questions to collect baseline data, as guiding reflections, and then as summative data to close out our inquiry for the 2021/2022 school year.

Focus: Bayview is an inner-city school with a population of students who are at risk. Often times our focus is on self-regulation and social emotional wellness. It is through our fall assessments that we discovered that our early intermediate students are demonstrating how the Covid-19 pandemic has left gaps in their literacy learning. Without a proper grasp on phonological awareness, students are struggling to move fluidly along the continuum of reading.

Hunch: Teachers who accept teaching positions with intermediate grades are often under the impression that students have mastered the skills necessary to read successfully and confidently. There is an old saying “primary students learn to read, while intermediate students read to learn” that is proving to no longer be valid, and thus intermediate teachers need the training, resources and support, to plan and instruct their students in new ways.

New Professional Learning: Among the intermediate team, we explored different resources such as the Reading Rev Program, which focuses on age appropriate lessons that are: “explicitly and directly taught, systematic and structured, sequential and cumulative, multi-sensory, individualized, diagnostic and prescriptive, and repetitive” (reading rev website). Additionally, intermediate teachers were given professional development on the PM Benchmarking program, and how to use decodable books in their classroom.

Taking Action: After determining reading levels, which were used as a teacher tool not as a readers’ identity, and attitudes towards reading, we had students explore our current decodable book selection. Students contributed their ideas to a list of what they liked and didn’t like about our collection of resources. Students then helped teachers research different age appropriate decodable texts that they saw as benefiting their individual reading goals. When the books arrived, students took ownership and engaged in a variety of classroom activities (small group instruction, buddy reading, independent reading, book inquiries, literacy games, etc.) to enhance their areas of growth.

Checking: With the use of age-appropriate decodable texts, students have begun to engage with new books and apply their knowledge to attach meaning to their reading. Teachers are excited to explore the multiple instructional strategies decodable texts bring to their classroom, with next steps offering: collaborative partner reading, small group instruction, independent success tracking, etc. Furthermore, teachers are excited to see the growth in confidence and shift in attitude as students have begun to identify as readers. As students took ownership of their learning, their confidence became evident and their answers to the four questions provided a deeper look into their blossoming reading identity.

Reflections/Advice: I learned that offering students choice, and having them invest their time, efforts, and emotions into the selection process was key. I will share this knowledge moving forward in any and all decision-making that benefits student learning.

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