Learning Services SD#60 Peace River North

By September 17, 20192018-2019 Case Study

School Name: Learning Services

School District: SD#60 Peace River North

Inquiry Team Members:Anna Cullen: acullen@prn.bc.ca – North Peace Secondary School
Navenda Wright (nwright@prn.bc.ca) – Bert Bowes Middle School
Kelsey Zabolotniuk: kzabolotniuk@prn.bc.ca – Dr. Kearney Middle School
Heather MacGillivray: hmacgillivray@prn.bc.ca – Learning Services, ELL Resource Teacher

Inquiry Team Contact Email: hmacgillivray@prn.bc.ca

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE

Grade Levels: Secondary (8-12)

Curricular Area(s): Language Arts – Literacy, Language Arts – Oral Language, Language Arts – Reading, Language Arts – Writing

Focus Addressed: Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving), Transitions, Universal design for learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? As a team our focus area was on improving the 4 language strands (speaking, listening, reading and writing) in academics for English Language learners in middle and high-school across content areas.

Scanning: We surveyed 65 English language learners from grades 7 – 12 about their experiences with learning English using a google form. We used the 4 key questions, though some we adapted some to make them more specific to language learning specifically to the 4 strands of language (speaking, listening, reading and writing.) ELL coaches/teachers at the school sites used the ELL Standards to create a profile interview for students to learn more about each student as well as having discussions about learning and what they need to be more successful. What stood out to us was the diversity of what students identified as what would be the best way to support them in their journey of learning English and that more than half of our students wanted support with learning English.
When looking at the journey of English language learning it fits into the First Peoples Principles of Learning and we wanted to know our learners to the best of our ability. Having our coaches interview ELL learners and learn about who they are and where they come from builds relationships and allows for risk taking to occur. Most of all, the First Peoples Principle of Learning that “Learning involves patience and time” connects to the belief that each of our ELL students have their own lived experience and history which enriches the journey for those around them.

Focus: We selected this area as we wanted to improve the academic language of our English language learners. Through collaboration and discussion there was a growing need to look at strategies that would meet not only the student needs but support the teacher as well. Looking into academic strategies and resources that would meet the needs of ELL students and teachers. We wanted our learners to build their confidence in all four language, and we wanted to support our colleagues in building their knowledge in teaching across all content areas within the four language strands.

Hunch: The biggest hunch was around the growth in the number of English learners in our middle and high schools. We have seen a significant growth and demographic change in our schools and the diversity of language groups with in our schools. We also wanted to look at what was common in all of our schools and what experiences were occurring in all of our school environments. We often discuss the need for educators to use UDL planning and strategies in the classroom, but the need for strategies and resources to be modelled for teachers is just important. There is a need to build relationships between ourselves as ELL teachers and our students but also build relationships with our colleagues.

New Professional Learning: – Group Collaboration (4 times over the school year)
– Reading Book Study:
Dove, M & Honigsfeld (2018). Co-Teaching and collaboration for english learners: A guide to collaborative planning, instruction,
assessment, and reflection. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin A Sage Publishing Company
– Webinars/Videos:
Dove, M & Honigsfeld (2018). Co-Teaching and collaboration for english learners: A guide to collaborative planning, instruction,
assessment, and reflection. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin A Sage Publishing Company
– Collaborating with content teachers on school sites
– Took part in ELL Teachers sessions at a district level

Taking Action: 1. As a result of our first year we were able to get funding from board to give our middle and high school ELL teachers coaching time. This enabled them to be able to spend quality time working with students in classrooms and to support classroom teachers in content areas with adaptations and strategies including – Co-Teaching.
2. ELL Coaches were able to share at some staff meetings strategies that would support ELL learners
3. Collaboration time was asked for and given for ELL Coaches to meet and discuss opportunities for learning, resources and strategies to meet the ELL needs in our schools.
4. Co-Teaching between a grade 8 English teacher and ELL Coach for a Literature Circles unit.
5. To build relationships between the schools, we were able to plan and have a transition activity for our ELL students from both middle schools and second campus of the high school to meet for an afternoon at the highschool and have lunch, a group activity (a “Breakout Box”) and a tour given by current ELL students from the high school.

Checking: As our second year focussing on English language learners in middle and high school we have grown from interviewing 16 students (2017/18) to 65 students this year. We have also moved from an inquiry in a single building to four buildings. Our survey of all 65 students served as our baseline for students voice and understanding their needs, and the diversity of those needs. We have all observed that students are sharing their concerns about transitions with us more openly after the transition activity and that students want support in being successful as they move into the grad program. One of the biggest growths though is in the interest of our colleagues in the school sites around co-teaching and collaborative practices around building understanding of English language learners.

Reflections/Advice: This year has been wonderful learning year with all of us growing in our understanding of collaboration and co-teaching. Next it would be great to survey our colleagues to get a better picture of their understanding of ELL students and strategies that support. We also would like to be more involved in sharing our learning with our staff at monthly meetings. This could take place through: building pamphlets, take away points, a quick video.
Advice to others: Start with knowing your students and grow with your strengths, it takes time.

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