Erma Stephenson Elementary SD#36 Surrey

By September 17, 20192018-2019 Case Study

School Name: Erma Stephenson Elementary

School District: SD#36 Surrey

Inquiry Team Members:Shelley Stark;, Selina Harradine;, Nancy Chalmers;, Patricia Watson;, Kim Sturn;, Irina Trifanova;, Kim Bearisto;

Inquiry Team Contact Email:

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

Focus Addressed: Indigenous understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), First Peoples Principles of Learning, Land, Nature or Place-based learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? It has been our inquiry work for the past two years to develop an outdoor learning space in which students and educators can explore a hands on approach to storytelling and sharing that engages all learners.

Scanning: We noticed that a lot of learners struggle with written output, and with ongoing pressure they can develop a very negative attitude towards writing in general, and creative writing specifically. We also noticed that many learners are more calm and attentive in an outdoor learning environment. We decided to address these two concerns by creating an inviting outdoor learning space and using an oral language approach to storytelling. We used manipulatives to help students explore and generate ideas, and encouraged them to share with others. Our ideas were based on the Aboriginal Principals of Learning and benefit students across all grades and ability levels. This also encourages buddy learning/sharing as students expand their audience.

Focus: We were hoping to develop a greater appreciation of, and enjoyment in, storytelling and literacy in general. We wanted to see participation and positive attitudes from the majority of students across grade levels, use of the outdoor learning space, and increased sharing between classes and grade level students.

Hunch: We noticed and wondered about the use and focus on “traditional” pen and paper writing and how it impacted student learning, in addition that there was very little use and access to outdoor learning spaces other than in Physical Education.

New Professional Learning: – Book study, “Loose Parts 3”
– Website for Richmond School District “The Hive”
– Cross-Pollination Event at DEC – Storytelling with manipulatives
– Research on designing outdoor learning spaces
– Exploration of existing outdoor learning spaces
– Discussion around design and cost to meet the needs of our school specifically
– Discussion with neighbouring high school trades teacher to obtain support for the build in terms of manpower, supplies, and expertise.
– Research on outdoor mini-libraries to add to our learning space

Taking Action: – We have a plan, design, and support for the outdoor learning space, but the funding is not cumulative as we had thought. We are now pursuing special funding and the project may have to be pushed into the next school year as a result.
– Teachers have acquired manipulatives for use in story development and students are experiencing success in using them.
– Success is measured in an observed level of enjoyment and participation around the task.
– All students participating, are experiencing success in the desired learning task of story development and sharing.

Checking: – If we increased a perceived level of success and enjoyment for students in the area of literacy, we are happy with our results.
– Developing and maintaining a love of stories and storytelling is high prority, as it leads to increased participation in class and the likelihood of reading for pleasure during non-school hours.
– We were unable to get our outdoor learning space built, but we still take our students outdoors more than we used to for learning opportunities. We still hope to get the outdoor learning space completed in time.

Reflections/Advice: – We learned the power of motivation in changing the “delivery model” of a desired task.
– We gained knowledge of what is already being done in other schools/districts, and developed a plan for our own school community.
– We plan to continue pursuing the funding for our outdoor learning space.
– We are letting go of older pen and paper writing activities in exchange for a more hands-on and active approach to learning
– We are getting out of the confines of our buildings to work in a more natural setting with natural distractions.

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