School Name: Chalmers Elementary
School District: SD#37 Delta
Inquiry Team Members: Kelly Reeve: email@example.com, Tina Doukas: firstname.lastname@example.org, Jeff McCallum: email@example.com
Inquiry Team Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE
Grade Levels: Primary (K-3), Intermediate (4-7)
Curricular Area(s): Language Arts – Reading
Focus Addressed: Differentiated instruction, Inclusion and inclusive instructional strategies, Inquiry-based learning, Universal design for learning
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Creating a reading program based on UDL, and its impact on the level of joy in reading as well as student progress.
Scanning: During the scanning phase, we looked at data and focused on how literacy/reading is going in our school community. We found that there was a significant number of students that were either partially meeting, or not yet meeting, the grade level expectations for reading, and wondered how we could support our students in their learning.
Focus: Based on hard data and “street” or anecdotal data from teachers, a change needed to happen in reading. We wanted to create an environment for life-long readers and spark some joy in reading.
Hunch: In the past, the home reading program at Chalmers was not successful as there were few student participants, and little follow up at home. The majority of staff feel the need to shift the focus from home to school, and create a culture of readers.
New Professional Learning: Teachers requested that they meet with same grade groups, and be scheduled with release time about once a month for 35 minute sessions. During the meeting time, I helped facilitate the conversations with guided questions based on the Big 3, and latest information learned from district COI and LST meetings. Teachers decided what the focus of their sprint would look like with guidance, if needed. Also when needed, I brought in an outside teacher such as a Literacy Coordinator to assist. I planned Lunch & Learns for groups of teachers (Next Steps Guided Reading Assessment, Open Access Websites, Words Their Way, etc.). There was some natural interest, or areas of need, that were addressed with all the teachers that have evolved from the COI meetings. I was able to develop some of these into school-wide activities to help promote our reading community.
Our administrators have also organized collaboration time amongst teachers during BEES assembly once a month. Teachers could choose to use this time to collaborate on their inquiry focus. We also have a Pineapple chart to further elicit collaboration amongst the teachers.
Taking Action: We implemented a school wide reading challenge with both students and staff. This was emphasized by every teacher and in monthly school assemblies. We offered Chapters gift cards as a reward in a draw for primary, and then for intermediate students. A free prep or Starbucks gift card was offered as a reward for the staff member with the most books read. Every two weeks we had new “Staff Picks” posted on a bulletin displaying various books, with a book write up, and staff photos. In the intermediate washrooms, “Toilet Papers” were posted advertising a new book every month. Before Spring Break we had a school-wide activity involving the book, “The Word Collector”. Various classes shared their learning experiences with the book in an assembly. Many classes paired up (big buddies) and created poems, songs and images with collected words. Each student and staff member brought their collected word to the assembly. Every group of same-grade teachers focused on areas of reading specific to the needs of their students. Kindergarten teachers focused on 3 at-risk students per term and collaborated with their LST teachers to boost their students’ letter and sound acquisition. Grade 1 teachers focused on short vowel identification through various centres. Grade 2 focused on building background knowledge with the key goal of building vocabulary. Grade 3/4 teachers focused on reading comprehension strategies using, “Reading Power”, by Adrienne Gear. Grade 4/5 teachers used “Book Talks” to enhance joy of reading and exploring books. Grade 6/7 LFI teachers also used “Book Talks” to introduce and expose students to French books. They then moved into student creation of pattern books and movie trailers to further enhance their reading. Grade 6/7 teachers used “Book Talks” and reading strategies based on Reciprocal teaching in literature circles with high interest books. They planned on exploring Socials connected literature to assist in transferring the reading strategies.
Checking: We began the year with a primary and intermediate student reading survey to gauge their level of joy in reading. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to determine if this data had changed by the end of the year. We had other plans to involve the school in reading activities and felt that we were just getting started. After the discussions during the COI collaboration times, many teachers explored new book options for implementing reading strategies as well as for Literature circle groups. These newly purchased books will be waiting for next school year to be used in class. During the school wide reading challenge, we saw an increase in student participation based on the number of Stinger Reading Challenge Tickets placed in the basket before each assembly. We also had an increase in staff participation in the challenge based on the “Number of Books Read” sign outside classroom doors. After the “Toilet Papers” in the intermediate washrooms advertised a new book each month, all or most copies of the book were borrowed from the library. We were keeping a record of the number of books taken out of the library approximately every two months to determine if there was an increase and found that we were on an upward trend.
Reflections/Advice: I learned how integral it was to have school wide collaboration to help shape a reading community. Staff participation and buy-in was pivotal in making our activities and inquiry successful. Therefore, it was important in making sure that staff voices were heard and choices were given. I also learned that transparency was important. In order for staff to participate willingly, planning and decision-making needed to be clearly explained.