Cilaire Elementary School SD#68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith

I. General Information

School Name: Cilaire Elementary School

School District: SD#68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith

Inquiry Team Members: Elisa Orton:, Cassidy Sanford:,, Hailey Balle:, Currin Windecker:, Lisa Frey:, Lauren Baetz:

Inquiry Team Contact Email:

II. Inquiry Project Information

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE Case Study

Grade Levels Addressed Through Inquiry: Primary (K-3)

Curricular Areas Addressed: Language Arts – Literacy

Focus Addressed: Differentiated instruction, Universal design for learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Learn about new tools and concepts in literacy instruction; determine how these tools and concepts are working for our primary learners.

III. Spirals of Inquiry Details

Scanning: We used a visual tool (photos of staff) to help early learners describe whom they thought helped them learn or who cared about them and what they were learning. All students were able to identify at least two caring adults in the building. Most of the students were able to describe why learning to read was important. When asked if they enjoyed reading or if they felt like reading was going okay, the majority responded in the positive. A few stated that they did not feel like they were good readers, but they wanted to get better. Two students said that they did not like reading.

Focus: Our school underwent a large staff turnover this year. Our goal as teachers was to come together to choose language, programming, and tools that were consistent across the grades. We wanted to delve into the Science of Reading and to draw out those things that we felt would be most relevant to our learners and our school community. We used a book by a local author, Heather Willms, This Is How We Teach Reading…And It’s Working!.

Hunch: Some students did not demonstrate a love of learning to read. The students who don’t love reading are those that find it most difficult. Our hunch was that there are ways that we can scaffold learning to better reach those having the most difficulty and to support them in their learning through inclusive practices.

New Professional Learning: We explored Science of Reading practices: explicit, systematic phonics instruction (Willms and Jolly Phonics); sound wall use; phonemic awareness (Heggerty, Chipperchat, UFLI); Words Their Way; UFLI Foundations Manual; strategies for teaching reading. We attended three workshops with Heather Willms, as well as others through LATA and POPPEY. The most helpful resources were the UFLI Foundations Manual and Heather Willms instruction. Specifically, structured and systematic programming with strategies such as additive blending, teaching functional vocabulary. This process was useful in determining which tools we want to continue using, by accessing resources through the SD#71 Print Shop to use for next year.

Taking Action: This year we used some tools that were new to our staff that worked for our students: Heggerty instruction across the grades; Words Their Way instruction/practice in grades 2-4; Jolly Phonics in grades K-1; and Science of Reading literacy centres – blending boards, word ladders, alphabet arcs, magnet letters, Elkonin boxes + orthographic mapping (tap it, map it, say it, write it).

Checking: We used our NLPS Literacy Screener at the beginning, middle and end of the school year, to track growth in literacy skills. Many of our non-readers and early learners are now feeling confident in their reading, where before they were unsure or appeared uninterested. The gamification of science of reading literacy tasks was fun for them.

Reflections/Advice: Our team has come together this year. Unfortunately, we will be having two people leave and two new people coming to join our team again next year. Hopefully, our new staff will join us in meaningful conversations and combine their ideas with ours in a way that supports the momentum that we started this year. Our students seem to enjoy the programming that we offered this year. We will continue to adapt our program to our students’ needs through pre-assessment and formative assessments throughout the year. We would recommend the UFLI Foundations Manual and the resources and workshops offered by, or recommended by, Heather Willms.