School Name: Cataline Elementary
School District: SD#27 Cariboo-Chilcotin
Inquiry Team Members: Carol Anne Dikur: email@example.com
Tamara Smith: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sharon Allan: email@example.com
Janet Sandberg: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris Armstrong: email@example.com
Steve Dickens: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rae Perry: email@example.com
Corinna Knapton: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ali McKnight: email@example.com
Rebecca Johnson: firstname.lastname@example.org
Erin Scholefield: email@example.com
Tanis Stewart: firstname.lastname@example.org
Inquiry Team Contact Email: email@example.com
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE
Grade Levels: Intermediate (4-7)
Curricular Area(s): Language Arts – Literacy, Language Arts – Reading, Language Arts – Writing
Focus Addressed: Differentiated instruction, Formative assessment
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? How will having consistent, collaborative, and intentional expectations accelerate students development in literacy?
Scanning: Over the first two months of school, teachers were asked to gather any data from the students that they have in their class this year. They were scanning 3 areas: literacy needs, numeracy needs, and social emotional needs. The data gathered ranged from assessments, anecdotal notes, conversations with students and with former teachers of the students. This helped them gain a better understanding of the students strengths and areas of growth.
– Low reading levels
– Wide variety of skills of students
– 6 Grade 6 students reading at a grade 2/3 level
– Huge need for oral support
– Need ways to keep bright/capable students engaged and pushed
– Written output is low
– Stamina is short
– How do we include students with low reading levels in the regular classroom?
– How do we support these kids at the varied reading levels?
Focus: Our intermediate staff is wanting to be more consistent across all classrooms and grades and have a shared understanding of skill development in literacy. We feel that by being more consistent and intentional, and by having a better understanding of where we want our students to get to by the end of the year, we will be better able to target instruction and monitor student learning.
– Teachers may have different expectations of skill levels and target levels for their students
– Teachers may not have a clear understanding of the needs of their students and how to support them to build on their skill
– Teachers may not be using the assessments of their students to drive their instruction
– Teachers may not be intentional enough about the specific skills they are trying to teach
– Teachers may not be analyzing student work enough to know what needs to be taught
– Teachers may not be targeting instruction to the needs of the learners
– Students may not have a clear understanding of the learning targets
– Students may not understand good quality work samples compared to poor quality work samples
– Students may not be given enough practice or Guided Instruction on specific skills
– Students may be going into a new grade without the essential skills needed to be successful
New Professional Learning:
– We analyzed the BC Curriculum Guide
– We analyzed the Performance Standards
– We analyzed other school districts who have created a similar Literacy Continuum (Delta)
– Balanced Literacy approach teaching (Didn’t get to this yet)
– Need to look at different assessments that will help us gather the right type of information to help support the learning of the essential skills. (Didn’t get to this yet)
– Each teacher made a list of specific skills in Literacy — reading, writing, speaking, and listening — that they feel are important, specific to the grade that they teach for both the beginning and end of the year targets. They also used the BC Curriculum guide and the Performance Standards to help guide their decisions.
– Each teacher then worked with common grade teachers to discuss their lists of essential skills and decided on ONE common list for that grade. Then they continued to work with teachers from the grade lower and then the grade higher to make sure that their lists were the same and that they supported the target skills.
– (Please see attached chart to see list of Essential Skills!)
1) Create a list of Essential Skills of students for the beginning of the year and then the end of the year. (Where we currently are in our inquiry process)
2) Aline assessments to help us gather the information we need to support the essential skills
3) Analyze the assessments and plan for instruction to help support growth/change
4) Structure our daily/weekly/monthly plans to ensure that we are teaching towards these goals
5) Monitor and assess daily/weekly to see if what we are teaching is making an impact
6) Adjust teaching and supports if we are not seeing improvements or change
With having our Essential Skills in mind: (Questions to challenge teachers thinking)
How am I going to find out what skills my students already understand and what they need to learn next?
How will I intentionally decide what needs to be taught?
How am I going to be clear with what my target skill of learning will be?
How will I make sure I am teaching in the most effective way?
How will I involve my students in being transparent about what skills need to be taught?
How will I check and track students learning of the Essential Skills?
Listed below are areas we have not yet done:
– We are going to look at “best practice” teaching around literacy
– We are going to look at ways to use student assessment to make decisions about teaching targets
– Students would have a clear understanding of the skills needed
– Teachers would have a clear and shared understanding of students’ skill levels
– Teachers would have a clear understanding of where their students are at on the Literacy Continuum
– From teacher to teacher within the school, we would all have a common understanding of the Literacy Continuum
– Teachers would have a better understanding of if their plan of instruction was going to meet the needs, and support the learning, of the Essential Skills.
– Teachers would have a better understanding of the assessments that are needed to help give them the right information on what their students are competent in doing, and what they still need to learn
– Teachers would see the benefits in using assessments to drive their instruction and be more willing to do more assessments to see what the teacher’s impact is on student learning.
This inquiry is a long process of change over time. I feel like we are only at the beginning of this process. We have a lot still to do to see if these changes will have an impact on the outcome of student ability. This years inquiry was a process of getting ALL the intermediate teachers, as well as non-enrolling staff such as LST and PREP teachers, together to think deeply about the Essential Skills of students at different grades along a continuum. We are satisfied with our progress so far, with creating a document that meets the needs of the learners in our school. We had ALL intermediate teachers involved in creating this document, so I feel like the understanding and the buy in will be greater.
Reflections/Advice: From participating in this inquiry, we were able to work with all the intermediate teachers, as well as non-enrolling staff, to create a Literacy Continuum of skills from the beginning of grade 3 to the end of grade 6. We used multiple resources to help guide our professional decisions in choosing what essential skills are expected for each grade. I think that this process was powerful for the teachers, and helped teachers to work together to have a common understanding about different expectations to have for their students.
From going through this process, I feel like we have only just begun to change our thinking about essential skills. I feel like this process will allow us to think differently about assessment and how we can use it to drive our instruction based on the skills and abilities of our students. I believe that by focusing on the essential skills of the literacy continuum, it will cause us to reevaluate what we are teaching and why we are teaching specific things. By confirming that what we are teaching is supporting the development of these essential skills, allows us to not spend so much time on other things that may not have as much of an importance.
Our group of intermediate teachers have completed the first part of the inquiry process — creating the Literacy Continuum. We now have to move on to the next steps of aligning our literacy assessments and planning for instruction based on the assessments. We would like to continue with this inquiry next year to see the impact on teaching practices, and most importantly the impact on student achievement.
In summary, based on what we learned this year, we believe that all schools should have a literacy continuum and have a clear understanding of the essential skills of a learner at the beginning of the year and at the end of the year. When you have a clear understanding of where you want to get your students to by the end of the year, it is much easier to check along the way. This helps us to be more intentional about what we choose to teach. By doing this, it allows us to assess along the way to ensure YOU, the teacher, are doing everything you can to help support that child to improve over the school year, if not reach the targeted goals set out for them.