Coal Tyee Elementary SD#68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith

School Name: Coal Tyee Elementary

School District: SD#68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith

Inquiry Team Members: Tracy Savage:,
Sarah Armstrong:,
Sue Miron:,
Karen James:,
Danielle Chaisson:,
Shannon Jones:,
Brittany Jahelka:,
Leslie Wallis:,
Kristin Singbeil:,
Sylvana Sproule:,
Debbie Taylor:,
Jennifer Lehtovaara:,
Jennifer Lupichuk:,
Diane Charles:,

Inquiry Team Contact Email:

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE

Grade Levels: Primary (K-3)

Curricular Area(s): Language Arts – Literacy, Language Arts – Reading

Focus Addressed: Other: Literacy Skill Development

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Our team determined that there was a greater need than ever before, since COVID-19, to provide special interventions to build/rebuild reading and writing literacy skills that were possibly ‘lost’ during the months away from the school setting.

Scanning: During the return to “in-person” school this Fall 2020, our team came together with the literacy skill development assessment data. We could see from the results that there was a need to collaborate as professionals to find the best, most efficient, and effective ways to program for our students to become stronger readers.

Focus: We were wondering what program or intervention would provide the biggest impact for our students. We wondered if the continuity of each primary teacher at our school using the Heggerty in daily practice over a one school year term would provide literacy skill development necessary to strengthen reading skills.

Our Question: How can the use of “Phonemic Awareness Curriculum – Primary” (Heggerty, 2020) in primary programming impact our students’ acquisition of skills for reading?

Hunch: Our team felt that due to the lack of instruction during home learning, the auditory, repetition, and phonological face-to-face from the classroom, was missed. Starting off this year, looking at our assessments, we felt we needed an intervention to review and reinforce the skills needed for students learning to read. The teachers believed that with ‘in person’ daily intervention, we could bring students back up to where they need to be.

New Professional Learning: We, as the teachers, needed to learn how to use the Heggerty and how to effectively deliver it at a quick speed to keep the kids engaged. Building Heggerty routines into the day was a discovery process. We tried it at what would be snack time and it didn’t work, so we blocked out a specific time each day with no other distractions. We committed to trying it everyday, and only 15 minutes per day made it manageable and fast-paced. We made sure each teacher had the materials and access. We made sure to have regular meetings as a group, and we all participated in the scientifically backed-up, evidence-informed online training courses during a PRO-D day. We needed to be sure everyone on our Primary team had the resources they needed. Each teacher now has their own copy, or a borrowed copy, of the Heggerty for daily use.

Taking Action: We committed to a daily 15 minute practice, cross grade and primary team, for continuity of learning. We made sure to share our ideas, discuss how to use the book, and make sure we are doing the same things.

Many of our team members have begun integrating the use of the Heggerty program into our whole group/whole class routines and daily practice. We will continue this; some teachers, since meeting to discuss how it is going, have reflected about the time of day and environment that best suits the use of the program. Some adjustments are being made and others will continue with what they are doing. We would like to explore an additional (short) assessment, possibly the Phonemic Awareness Baseline (Heggerty), and begin targeted intervention (small groups), as well as increase our visual cues with flash cards to go along with the actions or exercises.

When we reassess our data, we can look at our reflections about how the daily practice of oral phonemic awareness has improved reading and writing. We can note whether students are using strategies and actions from our daily practice.

Checking: Teachers have made a great impact and a big difference following a strange year. The students are picking it up quickly, building connections, and can be seen using it throughout the day. Teachers are now referencing the Heggerty program throughout the day in other parts of their language art program.

Reflections/Advice: We are excited to synchronize our actions/hand signals and build common language that we can use now with our students and continue into the years to come with our next classes. We feel that the familiarity from year to year for the students will reinforce necessary skills. In addition, we feel excited about the possibilities of cross-curricular teaching (i.e. music teacher applying the skills and exercises in musical form, to engage as well as extend learning opportunities).

Our music teacher used phonemic awareness songs in music class as a start to each class. Students were very engaged, and started to come to class prepared with rhymes in preparation for our songs. This will be something that is continued in music moving forward! On top of that, tunes were put to the various Heggerty routines (specifically grade ½) and were used as a way to do the exercises. This was successful, and was found to keep the students more engaged with the exercises.

Concerns: There were some students who regularly did not engage. Some would not do the hand actions, some with special needs may not understand, and those who chose not to follow along or participate in any way. Another concern we had was students calling out answers before others have time to think or try. Some students regularly called out wrong answers, which was confusing for the other students.

Positives: The majority of the students are getting it! We are amazed at how quickly they have learned the routines, picked up the patterns and were able to communicate the answers orally. It blows us away when kindergartens are manipulating complicated oral language. Playing with nonsense words has been a lost skill and teachers are impressed by how much the kids enjoy it. It is safe for students to participate in the lessons, as they are all taught to the whole group. It is also easy for teachers to manipulate the lessons, right at the moment, if they want to make it more challenging or feel their students need more practice. We plan to teach the Heggerty Program again next year starting in September and are confident this will make a huge impact on our students’ learning. The seeds have been planted and the impact is yet to come.

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