School Name: Nakusp Elementary School
School District: SD#10 Arrow Lakes
Inquiry Team Members:Marsha Roberts: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jenna Arnold: email@example.com
Megan Martin: firstname.lastname@example.org
Robin Barrow: email@example.com
Keith Greenhalf: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sheri Boswell: email@example.com
Inquiry Team Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Type of Inquiry: NOII (focus on core competencies, OECD learning principles, etc.)
Grade Levels: Primary (K-3)
Curricular Area(s): Language Arts – Literacy, Language Arts – Oral Language, Language Arts – Reading, Language Arts – Writing
Focus Addressed: Differentiated instruction, Formative assessment, Universal design for learning
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? We combined two early literacy screeners to administer with our k-2 students in order to have a tool to identify specific early emergent foundation skills (phonemic and phonological awareness – as identified in the revised curriculum) in order to use the data to identify students that need early instruction, in order for all students to become successful readers by the end of grade 3.
Scanning: During conferencing, the four questions lead the discussion around student’s abilities as readers and writers and how they view themselves. At a primary age, most young students can recognize an adult in the school or at home that believe they will have success in life. For those students that struggle with reading, even at a young age, they are noticing their lack of progress compared to their peers. Students were able to work with their peers and construct their learning through active exploration having a variety of choices and levels in which they can practice and learn certain skills they were lacking. Students enjoy working together in smaller groups on activities that further their learning. They play games (from bins developed by teacher(s)) with each other targeted towards their areas of weakness and they feel very happy when they develop a missing skill through practice and extending their knowledge to their reading abilities (e.g. such as being able to rhyme). As always, a focus on growth mindset is pivotal to student success and the First People’s Principles of Learning is also weaved into our classroom cultures, so that students learn that school contributes to their own wellbeing and that they have a chance to explore and be responsible for their own actions and learning, and that they can be and show patience as they learn new skills.
Focus: Through the use of early assessment and intervention tools such as the Early Literacy Intervention Screener and the Early Success Screener and PM Benchmarks, in addition to our Fall EPRA scan, we have identified and isolated specific strengths and stretches in individual students. In addition to the above assessments, we have identified the needs/gaps that have been identified through our class review, learning activities, and observations. We then developed plans with our team including our Learning Support Teacher(s) and Teacher Librarian, for targeted instruction in order to see growth in those areas of need. We are hoping that with these targeted instruction plans for students, that with meaningful practice, student would see growth and develop the skills that were missing leading to success not only with skills, but social emotionally.
Hunch: • In past years, our school had focused on early intervention in primary classes so every student would be reading with success by Grade 3. This was also supported at the district level. In the last four years, we have moved away from this focus that had helped to determine extra instruction and support for students in early phonological skills. Such data that used to be collected and shared among teachers, informed how to put supports in place to help students’ growth and inform our practice. We wish to re-focus on this area and re-visit and build on previous processes to address our students with stretches in early emergent literacy skills.
• We were concerned that this data that was no longer being collected made it more difficult for us as teachers to identify and help those that were struggling with discrete early literacy skills. We were also concerned of consistency and continuity of progress from year to year. Where was the next year’s teacher supposed to direct their practice with their new group of learners?
New Professional Learning: • As a primary teaching team, we re-familiarized ourselves with the Early Literacy Intervention Screener from SD #23 used before, and other early emergent literacy screening tools available such as the Early Success Screen: Kindergarten to Grade 3 from SD #79 and their match with curricular competencies in the K-3 primary program. We then combined the two that were needed and created our own spreadsheet to keep track of results. We had some collaboration time together in the afternoon, usually once or twice a month for 45 minutes, where we could meet together and work on our inquiry. We also had to develop resources to match with the specific needs that arose as to discrete skills that were targeted during the assessment (eg. Rhyming skills, blends). All team members attended a POPEI (newly renamed POPEY) workshop in May regarding assessment, CORE competencies and reading instruction. We hope to continue using them as a resource and their site is very helpful https://popei.sd38.bc.ca/.
Taking Action: • First we had to administer the screener after we combined the two together. February and May for Kindergarten, Grade 1 & 2- Fall and Spring. We also attempted to collect PM Benchmarks for all students in grade 1 – 2 at least twice in the year. The EPRA was administered by all of us in the spring and Grade 1 and Grade 2 also did an EPRA in the fall too. The District Writing sample was also collected for Grade 2 in the spring. We then put all the data on a large spread sheet after the activities were completed and we highlighted concerns according to the performance standard keys. We looked at the data and identified areas of stretches and areas of growth, over time. We looked at the data collected in consultation with the classroom support teacher (LRT). We used the extra resource tools devised to target and help those students that were at risk. This information was also shared with families with ideas for families to do at home together. With the screener being administered twice in a year, you can see the growth and those that are still struggling, allowing teachers to further investigate with LRT or other people on the team. Note: This data will be passed on to next year’s teachers to utilize.
Checking: We all found that the data collected showed us the stretches that needed to be addressed as a team and when those extra supports took place, student growth was evident and measurable according to the screener data. There was a noticeable improvement with most students that received discrete skills practice. In Grade 2, teacher noted that all her “red flagged” students are showing weakness throughout most curriculum areas not only the screener, which was an unexpected link. Kindergarten also shows that there is a link between a student’s weak speech articulation skills and with phonological skills. Data/results was shared with parents via Fresh Grade and other means of communication, so parents could also support learning at home. We were satisfied in the actions taken if there was enough time, resources and personnel to make a difference with extra support and practice.
Reflections/Advice: We started this project because phonological awareness and PM Benchmarks were no longer a focus for assessment of early literacy. This missing information was affecting our student’s growth and development. We were feeling “cloudy” because we didn’t know how to help our students. We knew they were struggling, but not why? The screener provides those discrete skills that other assessments do not. It takes up to 25 minutes to administer for a student who has never taken the screener before and if they have, the time is lessened. We also found it very difficult to administer the screener without release time for the teacher to do it. We found there is not enough school resources to support this release time and we may need support at the district level. We also made a point to pass on the data to next year’s teacher and the use of the screener will be included in our school growth plan as an important literacy tool for teachers. Not all students need to have the screener administered. Only if they are still struggling in a particular area. So when a skill is achieved, e.g. a student can rhyme and discriminate between two words that rhyme that part of the screener does not need to be repeated. We will continue to build our resources to support our students who need further instruction in areas of weakness identified. We hope to share this also with other schools in our district as they may be feeling the same way as us. They may also be looking for an effective, simple, clear tool that will direct their instruction so all students can work towards being confident readers by the end of Grade 3.