I. General Information
School Name: Columbia Park Elementary School
School District: SD#19 Revelstoke
Inquiry Team Members: Sarah Lenzi: email@example.com, Lucie Perusse: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tracey Hill: email@example.com, Hailey Lacroix: firstname.lastname@example.org, Jillian Russell: email@example.com
Inquiry Team Contact Name/Email: Sarah Lenzifirstname.lastname@example.org
II. Inquiry Project Information
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE
Grade Levels Addressed Through Inquiry: Primary (K-3)
Curricular Areas Addressed:
- Applied Design, skills & Technology
- Arts Education
- Language Arts – Literacy
- Physical & Health Education
- Social Studies
- Indigenous understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation)
- Community-based learning
- Differentiated instruction
- Experiential learning
- Growth mindset
- Inclusion and inclusive instructional strategies
- Inquiry-based learning
- Land, Nature or Place-based learning
- STEM / STEAM
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Student and teacher connectedness and engagement through collaboration, exploration, inquiry and play.
III. Spirals of Inquiry Details
Scanning: Each classroom teacher involved in this inquiry completed a scanning questionnaire with their students for a total of three times. These questionnaires were asked on a one-to-one basis.
We adapted the questions from the Spiral to focus on their experience during explorations specifically. We made sure to include the question about their connection to at least two adults in the school. The FPPL “Learning is holistic, reflexive, reflective, experiential, and relational (focused on connectedness, on reciprocal relationships, and a sense of place),” as well as the OECD principles of learning “learners at the centre, the social nature of learning and building horizontal connections,” were the main principals that drove our scanning process. After each scan we reflected and adjusted how we approached our exploration groups to ensure their recognition of the purpose and process of the explorations.
We noticed that students were engaged during exploration, and students who struggled to participate during regular class time had higher engagement. Students were excited to attend their exploration, and they would voluntarily share their learning and experiences with their peers, teachers and parents. By the third scan, most students were able to name two adults in the school they felt believed in them, as well as name peers outside of their regular classroom they felt connected to.
Focus: We noticed a school wide lack of connectedness amongst staff and students because of COVID protocols and a major school renovation. Teachers expressed feeling isolated from each other and from other students in the school. We noticed a change in our students’ engagement, behaviour, and mental health.
Hunch: Due to COVID, students and staff were isolated in their learning and home environments. We noticed relationships were not being formed. There were not enough opportunities for students to mix with peers because of cohorts, no large group gatherings and lack of extra curricular activities.
New Professional Learning: Our meetings and reflections on the whole process throughout the year was the best professional development for each other. Due to working with multi-age groups, we really had to delve deeper into the curriculum outside of our regular assigned grade.
- Open and transparent communication with colleagues participating in the explorations was the most important strategy.
- Logistics – organizing space, scheduling, visuals for students, EA support, supplies, technology, budget, etc.
- Finding time to meet for reflections and adaptations.
- Dedicated team committed to the success of the inquiry and our students’ connectedness.
Checking: Students were more engaged during the explorations and there was an obvious increase in connection between teachers and students who did not know each other previously. Not only were students engaged, but they were excited and looked forward to each session. Explorations allowed students’ individual strengths to be showcased. It also allowed for students who may not readily seek leadership opportunities in the classroom to explore their leadership potential. Yes, we were satisfied with the richness of the students’ responses – in their ability to articulate their experiences – by the final round of scanning questions.
Reflections/Advice: We learned that student choice is important for engagement and that student benefit is connected to teacher commitment to innovative learning experiences. We learned that multi-age groupings and collaborative hands-on learning contributed to school connectedness.
This project and it’s success motivated us to continue this next year and hopefully years to come.
Our advice would be to communicate frequently with colleagues ensuring reflections and to be open to adjust as needed throughout the process.