I. General Information
School Name: Delta Secondary School
School District: SD#37 Delta
Inquiry Team Members: Pam Mann: email@example.com
Megan Ellis: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nikita Avdic: email@example.com
Angie Choy: firstname.lastname@example.org
Breanne Rogers: email@example.com
Alicia Tobin: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ria Singh: email@example.com
Heather Loiselle: firstname.lastname@example.org
Inquiry Team Contact Email: email@example.com
II. Inquiry Project Information
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE
Grade Levels Addressed Through Inquiry: Secondary (8-12)
Curricular Areas Addressed: Language Arts – Literacy, Language Arts – Reading
Focus Addressed: Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving), Differentiated instruction
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? How can we improve literacy and literacy engagement for Grade 8s and 9s?
III. Spirals of Inquiry Details
Scanning: Before the pandemic, some of the English teachers were noticing an increase in reluctant readers and we overheard students saying how much they hated reading. Parents were also saying that their kids didn’t read or that they hated reading. The librarian said that she was concerned about low readership. This created some concern amongst teachers as reading is still a necessary way to gather and process information, so we had to do something to ensure that reading didn’t become out of reach for our learners. We spoke to the librarian to ask if she’d be willing to join our inquiry into literacy and engagement. We also had to expand our English book room to include more diversity. According to First Peoples’ Principles of Learning, books don’t need to be restricted to a grade level or group. Students should be free to read what interests them, when it interests them. There should also be audio texts available if that is what a student chooses or needs.
Focus: The pandemic exasperated gaps in learning for some of our most vulnerable students. We didn’t want them to internalize their struggles which could lead to them creating a negative academic self-concept. Increasing literacy levels for students will impact all of their future educational pursuits in all subject areas, so we knew we had to do something.
Hunch: Many students don’t like to read because they don’t see value in it and there are too many other competing priorities on their time. Being a reader is not celebrated and encouraged like it used to be.
New Professional Learning:
- Student Diversity by Faye Brownlie, Catherine Feniak, and Leyton Schellert: It gave us tools to diagnose and assessment comprehension.
- 180 Days by Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle: It gave us clear practical ways to increase student engagement. This book encourages the teacher to join the students in the learning journey, making their learning and curiosity obvious and overt at every stage. Daily conferences are embedded in this model as well.
Taking Action: First Semester, Grade 8 & 9 teachers surveyed their classes about their interest in reading and their identity as readers. We asked about genres, interests, books read, etc. We were shocked when the surveys revealed that very few students disliked reading. The majority loved reading, especially when they had choice in their reading. So, we started giving daily time for reading and making requests of the librarian. Students became comfortable with the daily reading time and at times, they didn’t want to stop reading. They wanted more reading time! Then, I had the school psychologist approach me about literacy and comprehension and her findings from the elementary schools. She wanted to work with us on being more responsive to student literacy needs and to differentiate our instruction based on what regular assessments would show.
Checking: The teachers would meet during lunch to collaboratively assess their assessment findings. This would reveal where collective weaknesses were appearing. Then, teachers would use their individual expertise to guide colleagues in areas that they requested. For example, the drama teacher had great ideas for how to specially and carefully teach “inferences” to teachers. The socials teacher helped explain how to teach summarizing.
We didn’t have enough time to work on next steps. We were supposed to meet with students individually and share their progress and strengths with them, and ask them to explain what they were learning and what they wanted to focus more time on. These individual conferences are the key to personalizing learning and making students feel connected and cared for.
Reflections/Advice: The best way to show that you care about someone or something is to give it/them time. If we, as educators, care about our students, as whole people, then we need to help them holistically, get to know them and work with them starting where they are. Reading needs to be modelled and it needs to be given time and importance. Classes should start with teachers reading little excerpts from books that might interest their students, especially if we take the time to find out what interests our students.