School Name: École Millstream Elementary
School District: SD#62 Sooke
Inquiry Team Members: Amanda Culver: firstname.lastname@example.org, Catherine Lamarche: email@example.com, Jennifer Hunt: firstname.lastname@example.org, Nicole Wallace: email@example.com
Inquiry Team Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE
Grade Levels: Primary (K-3), Intermediate (4-7)
Curricular Area(s): Language Arts – Literacy, Language Arts – Oral Language, Language Arts – Reading, Language Arts – Writing, Mathematics / Numeracy
Focus Addressed: Formative assessment, Growth mindset, Self-regulation, Social and emotional learning
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? How can we bridge the explicit teaching SEL/Self-Reg strategies and regular ‘academic’ learning? Is assessment for learning/feedback techniques the bridge?
Scanning: We noticed that our learners came to us with elevated emotions and behaviours, regardless the grade or the language of instruction. We noticed that teachers seemed to be in “triage” mode, making teaching and assessment of learning goals challenging. To develop a “baseline,” we used a student survey created last year that incorporated the four key questions as a way to find out how students were managing their emotions and how they were finding their learning environment. We also kept a tally of unexpected behaviours.
We noticed that students were really struggling with their social and emotional skills and weren’t able to accurately identify where they were on their learning journey. An overarching First Peoples Principle of Learning that we observed in our scanning phase and wanted to further explore was the wondering “do learners see what they are learning in school as contributing to their own well-being?”
Focus: We selected this area because we, as educators, realized we were missing the mark with integrating assessment practices into the day-to-day curricula, but we also saw a need for explicit SEL instruction. We needed to find a way to use the two (SEL and assessment) to support students’ learning. Our goal was to see students who could better self-regulate, who were able to talk about their learning, and who were building a growth mindset.
The questions we want students to be comfortable answering are:
o What they are learning?
o How they are doing with that learning?
o What’s next to learn?
Hunch: Could it be lagging academic skills that are creating/causing behaviour/anxiety? How do we currently let kids know how they’re doing? We noticed that our feedback was lacking and this is an area we will work on.
New Professional Learning: After looking at the data collected, we then examined some SEL tools and resources (MindUp curriculum, Well Aware) as well as AFL techniques. Various AFL articles guided our assessment practices the most and we started being more explicit with learning intentions.
We read the work of Dylan Wiliam, Shirley Clarke, and other experts in the fields of AFL and SEL to develop better practices for assessment. Using the rubrics and lessons from these resources will provide us with a research-backed method of helping students become more self-aware, social, and emotional beings.
Taking Action: Our group was made up of three classroom teachers (grade 1/2 FRIMM, grade 3/4 FRIMM, grade 4/5 English) and a teacher librarian. We all worked on sharing our learning intentions with students in a visible way. We all used dry-erase poster boards to record and display learning intentions, as one might do with an anchor chart (we chose dry-erase to save paper).
In all of our classes, we led SEL-specific lessons. Older students learned about brain functioning, related it to themselves, then shared this information with others. Younger students participated in lessons about social skills, learning about expected/unexpected behaviours, emotions and self-regulation strategies. Once students were more aware of their needs as a learner (and were comfortable expressing these needs), then we introduced learning targets in other subject areas with ways for students to self-assess (thumbs up/down, using co-constructed rubrics, etc.). The behaviour needs improved tremendously and students were more confident with their learning.
Checking: We intended on revisiting the questions asked at the start of our project and were hoping to spend time tracking unexpected behaviours to compare against the first data set completed in the fall. Unfortunately, we were unable to complete this post-survey due to COVID-19. Comparing our anecdotal observations from the fall with what we noticed prior to the spring break, we were starting to see students use the learning intention language when they were talking about their work. They were making reference to the learning targets and criteria when completing self-assessments and when sharing their work. Their answers to the four questions was definitely improving. During online learning, we saw that students who were more regularly involved online were more confident with self-assessments, and the rubrics option on Google Classroom supported this significantly. Writing wasn’t as much of a hassle for the older kids. For the little learners, they were using Boom cards, which offered immediate corrections to their work, and they were able to work at their own pace.
Reflections/Advice: Overall learning: students need to develop SEL skills if we expect them to be more “present” with their learning. Including learning targets in our daily lessons helps immensely! Online learning definitely pushed us to be more creative with formative assessment, and our observations for that are included below.
Online learning has definitely given us more tools for formative assessment that we will continue to explore:
– Using Google classroom has been great – assessing writing (rubrics) and giving feedback in the editing box has really been positive and powerful
– Working towards using peer feedback through Google classroom – started by creating a collaborative slide show where students upload photos/videos and creating a platform for students to add ideas and comments to each other’s work
– Using 1 class meeting & small group meetings – very successful, almost 100% participation
– Google Classroom has allowed quieter students to be heard
– Finding ‘hidden skills’ emerging from writing and getting feedback on line – some students have never used a Word document, and so learning those processing skills too
– Students more engaged with working in an electronic document – easier to edit writing, apply feedback
Online learning also posed some interesting challenges to primary French Immersion:
– Asked: How do I make on-line learning work for young, French immersion students?
– Parents were worried the French learning would slide, so the teacher made short videos of herself giving the instructions in French
– Reading was a challenge, but was helped by using a French reader website so children could hear stories in French and follow along
– Started using small reading groups to hear students read and give instant feedback – very successful
– Created sets of slide shows of sight words, and then students made videos of themselves practicing to post to FreshGrade – students were really excited to do this!
– Using ‘Boom Learning’ – a self-correcting/instant feedback app (resources available in English and French, all subject areas!) – Dylan Wiliam had researched and posted about the positive effect size of using these kinds of apps – working at a child’s own pace, self-correcting and instant feedback
– Set clear learning goals at the beginning of the units and make those clear to kids and parents, set up targets, so there’s a sense of direction and clear expectations (helps ease families who are concerned about students “falling behind”)
– We will use more project-based/ inquiry-based learning (Found success using Fosnot’s ‘contexts for math’ and found the same success using ‘Mathology’ which is also context-based learning. Have students do little projects that lead to a big final project connected to the big idea.)
– Making use of Google classroom even when back in class – can use it for self-assessment, digital portfolios and Google also has a parent portal.
– Remember to frequently ask your students what they know, how they know it, and what their next steps are! We get so caught up in everything else that we were surprised we weren’t asking these questions more frequently. Share these goals with families! When learning targets are developed and explored with students, students are more involved in their learning. Post the learning targets in the classroom, on assignments, in journals… everywhere you can! Also remember the role of Social and Emotional Learning – these skills needed to be explicitly taught and revisited in all of our classrooms throughout the year.