Gilmore Elementary School SD#38 Richmond

School Name: Gilmore Elementary School

School District: SD#38 Richmond

Inquiry Team Members: Brooke Douglas:
*Whole school staff
Margaret Hill:
Peter Johnsen:
Shane Kumar:
Geri Trewin:
Wendy Molnar:
Melanie Silverson:
Kat Porter:
Quentin DiNota:
Kristine Canas:
Chelsey Scott:
Rebecca Kargut:
Alexandra Danahy:
Colby Leigh:
Victoria D’Urso:
Lynn Tyacke:
Haley Borthwick:
Natalie Ingham:
Joan Tolman:
Robert Walton:
Andrea Hunter-Mogg:

Inquiry Team Contact Email:

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE

Grade Levels: Primary (K-3), Intermediate (4-7)

Curricular Area(s): Other: integrated curricular areas were addressed

Focus Addressed: Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving), Differentiated instruction, Flexible learning, Formative assessment, Inclusion and inclusive instructional strategies, Inquiry-based learning, Land, Nature or Place-based learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? How can a focus on connections and core competencies help students better communicate their thinking and understand themselves as learners?

Scanning: In the scanning phase in Spring 2020, we asked students the 4 key questions from the Spiral of Inquiry playbook. The data showed us that students were able to share brief explanations of what they’re learning and why it’s important, and that their next steps were to deepen their capacity and articulation of their thinking.

While we feel that all of the OECD principles and First Peoples Principles of Learning were embedded into our inquiry, worth specific mention are:

  • Learners at the centre
  • Recognizing individual differences
  • Stretching all learners
  • Assessment for learning
  • Learning is holistic, reflexive, reflective, experiential, and relational (focused on connectedness on reciprocal relationships and a sense of place).

Focus: This fall, we reviewed the data and invited staff to make observations of their learners about their ability to make connections and articulate their thinking. After meaningful conversations as a team, we solidified our focus and determined that the next steps for student learning are to deepen their connections to curriculum, to place, and to land, and to grow their capacity to articulate thinking.

Hunch: Students need modelling and explicit instruction of the language used in communicating thinking. Through thinking routines and think-alouds, students can practice using and sharing thinking strategies. Using strategic questions as formative assessment can also provide students with an opportunity to reflect and share their learning and thinking. We sense that when we explicitly make learning and thinking visible, students can begin to draw connections between different learning experiences.

New Professional Learning: Through our School Story, we will continue to explore ways to support students in deepening and articulating their connections to learning, to place, and to land. On our most recent Pro-D day, we took initial steps in gaining a shared understanding of how to plan with big ideas (for indoor and outdoor learning) and how to weave through the core competencies through thinking routines that can be adapted across curricular areas. Staff attended district assessment workshops led by Katie White, and engaged in the exploration of assessment practices in communicating student learning. We have also grown our pedagogy through collaborative conversations about planning, teaching and assessing, as well as an in depth co-teaching structure with individual teachers and the admin.

Here is a link to the documentation reflecting our professional learning:

Taking Action: We used innovation grant monies to do a prep-payback style release time for classroom teachers. Given the extreme shortage of TTOCs, we met as collaborative groups after school on Zoom. Teachers then signed up for individual blocks during the day for time-in-lieu when TTOCs were available.
Here is a document that highlights our collaborative efforts:

The below link shows actions taken by teachers:

Checking: Prior to Spring Break, all teachers submitted documentation of how they have scanned to see if there had been growth in students’ capacity to talk about what they were learning and why it was important. We were specifically looking for depth and breadth of responses, rather than a simple “topic” answer. What we found was that students made progress in their capacity to communicate their learning, but the biggest shift has been in teachers’ ownership of learning and teaching.
Here is the Spring scanning documentation:

Reflections/Advice: The staff have grown considerably in their pedagogy and, at the same time, there were many limitations that impacted collaboration and growth due to COVID. There is an interest and a willingness to learn and grow professionally and a need for continued opportunity for staff to engage in a continuous input of new learning, as well as a reflective process of how their learning is impacting students. These conversations and new learning will happen in our staff meeting process, professional development days, and other innovation grant opportunities that allow for collaboration time.

The biggest shift has definitely been the change in ownership and agency on the part of the staff. In having them do the scanning and sharing back and finding of evidence to support the work they are doing with students, staff are increasingly in tune with where students are in their learning and what’s needed to further grow.

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