I. General Information
School Name: Curriculum Transformation Team
School District: SD#62 Sooke
Inquiry Team Members: Lisa Marshall: LiMarshall@sd62.bc.ca, Shelby Pollitt: firstname.lastname@example.org
Inquiry Team Contact Name/Email: Lisa Marshallemail@example.com
II. Inquiry Project Information
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE
Grade Levels Addressed Through Inquiry: Primary (K-3), Intermediate (4-7), Secondary (8-12)
Curricular Areas Addressed:
- Other: Multiple curricular areas, as determined by staffs at each school
- Other: District-wide school-based data-driven inquiry
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? How might a district-wide school-based approach to meaningful evidence gathering and responsive instruction through an inquiry lens move learning forward for students?
III. Spirals of Inquiry Details
Scanning: Using the Spirals of Inquiry framework, each school in the District was provided with access to funding and opportunities to participate in a year-long facilitated school-based collaborative inquiry that targeted school-specific approaches to improve student learning and outcomes, with an emphasis on responsive instruction and intervention. Interested staff members at each school were gathered for a full morning facilitated initial meeting. Participation varied by school, with some being a select few of interested participants, and others taking a school-wide approach.
At the initial meeting, staffs were guided through active learning, consisting of sharing on vertical surfaces, gallery walks, collaborative discussions and individual reflection to scan their learners and identify what they were noticing, what themes/aspects were in common with their colleagues, and what observations were rising to the top.
Focus: Staffs then shared, discussed, and considered what they were noticing, and what was resonating for their learners within each individual school community. We encouraged them to “have the courage to slow down and develop a deeper understanding of what is worth spending time on” (NOIIE, 2017), before choosing what they might address that would positively impact student learning. Inquiry questions varied widely and reflected the individual school communities and climates.
The following are a sampling of inquiry questions from participating schools across the district:
1) Once we’ve gathered data regarding phonics and phonological awareness, how might responsive instruction progress our students’ word-level reading and writing skills (and their confidence as readers)?
2) Within our French Immersion school, if we implement daily morning meetings (in English), how will our students’ emotional resilience be impacted? How might a school wide program foster student Social Emotional Literacy to improve engagement in learning?
3) How might we use existing supports and data to further develop students’ foundational literacy skills while continuing to foster students’ self-regulation and self-efficacy?
4) If we explicitly teach students strategies for independence in their learning, will they become more independent learners – team members have left, and no desire to continue.
5) If we focus on implementing place-based kits with a mindfulness component, does student well-being and engagement increase?
6) If we implement targeted writing strategies and explicit teaching of continuum criteria, will student achievement in writing increase?
7) How might strategic, responsive writing instruction create confident and engaged writers who use a growth mindset?
8) How might beginning our day with choice-based play and purposeful child-adult connections influence student self-regulation for the remainder of the day?
9) How might collaborative assessment and planning time, along with purposeful teaching of the six traits, improve student writing?
10) How does daily small-group reading of levelled books, both online and print, impact student growth in their reading levels and ability?
11) How might a school-based approach to meaningful evidence gathering and responsive instruction move learning forward for our students?
12) How can we create a framework across our school to support growth in student writing?
13) If we intentionally and explicitly use instructional strategies to build self-reliance and self-confidence in learning, will we see a change in academic progress?
Hunch: Once an initial inquiry question had been developed, staffs were encouraged to gather initial data to see how the results might inform their hunches, using curriculum-based measures, surveys, and anecdotal observations. More release time was provided so that they might prepare their preliminary data-gathering, and collaboratively examine and reflect on the results. Each staff determined what might best support them as they determined how they might best target what had been observed in the initial data-gathering. Professional learning and/or resources were provided to help inform and guide their practice as they moved forward.
New Professional Learning: Each staffs chose professional learning that corresponded to their particular focus of inquiry, which often we, as District Coordinators, either provided or suggested directions where the learning may be accessed.
Taking Action: Staffs then implemented the approach(es) agreed-upon by the group. Coordinators (and district specialists) checked in with groups to see how the work was proceeding, and whether they wanted any further information/resources/support to implement their plan(s).
Checking: In May, schools then prepared post-assessments (with facilitated discussions and release time), to determine whether their approaches and strategies had been successful, and in what ways. They also examined the factors that might have impeded growth or change, and looked at next steps for the coming school year.
Reflections/Advice: Facilitating a district-wide school-based inquiry was extremely impactful. Staff commented over and over what a gift it was to be able to slow down, reflect on their individual school contexts, and experiment with ways to scaffold student learning for their unique contexts.
Uptake varied from school to school. Some schools chose to take their funding and hire a semi-regular TTOC to provide support/release for teachers, or extra small-group work with students; others chose to not engage at all. Some schools began the process, but through the many setbacks dealt by COVID, opted to not continue the work.
All groups that engaged appreciated the opportunities for facilitated self- and group-reflection, as well as facilitated access to resources and district specialists (for example, meeting with the District Principal for Safe and Health Schools when tackling an SEL concern).
Of our 27 schools K-12 (including our alternate school campuses), only five chose to not engage at all. Overall, we consider this initiative to have been extremely successful. It offered dividends in ways that were not initially expected such as stronger communication and relational bonds between Coordinators, district and school staffs, and the distributed effect as information was shared laterally between colleagues in schools.