Nakusp Elementary School SD#10 Arrow Lakes

I. General Information

School Name: Nakusp Elementary School

School District: SD#10 Arrow Lakes

Inquiry Team Members: Anita Vibe:, Andrea Volansky:

Inquiry Team Contact Name/Email: Anita Vibe/

II. Inquiry Project Information

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE

Grade Levels Addressed Through Inquiry: Intermediate (4-7)

Curricular Areas Addressed:

  • Language Arts – Literacy
  • Language Arts – Reading
  • Mathematics / Numeracy
  • Science

Focus Addressed:

  • Differentiated instruction
  • Experiential learning
  • Inclusion and inclusive instructional strategies
  • Social and emotional learning
  • Universal design for learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? How can we meet diverse learning needs in two grade 5 / 6 classrooms through co-teaching, co-planning, and co-creating?

III. Spirals of Inquiry Details

Click Here to view a PowerPoint that summarizes the stages of our Spirals of Inquiry project. 

Scanning: With 2 classes similarly split with grade 5, 6, 7, we wondered how we could work together to meet the diverse needs though co-teaching, co-planning, and co-creating. We have 14 students out of 44 on IEP’s, 7 being low incidence students with complex learning needs. Both cohorts were a tight knit group who needed more connection than they were getting being split into two split grade classes. Our low incidence students needed more time together to learn social skills.

Focus: Both teachers have experienced the challenges and difficulties of delivering a thorough year of science curriculum for both grades in the past, and working on a way to co-teach, co-plan and co-create our science units for the year. We also noticed that perhaps from dividing our students into these new split classes, students showed some social emotional learning stresses. We are working towards our own understanding of combining the same big ideas, and wondering what the outcomes of teaching this way will be? We want our students to have social connections with their peer group, build another strong adult relationship, and increase science learning.

Hunch: We thought that by working single grade specific, and without our low incidence students, students will be able to be more focused in their learning – math, science, and reading. We also thought that our low incidence students would be able to make more progress on social and life skills with each other in a small group setting. Overall, we also thought students would feel more confident to make more connections with each other in more ways than the regular classroom.

New Professional Learning:

  • We expanded our resources in grade specific science areas (book sets, hands on materials, worksheets, video collection…). For our math workshops, we expanded our resources for math games (dice, cards, video, or other), math worksheets, and acquiring math manipulatives. We used a lot of resources from Shelley Gray for our math worksheets. We used running records by Nicki Newton, as well as Carol Fullerton and Jo Boaler’s research to guide our math workshop design.
  • Our science resources became grade specific with a lot of teacher created resources. We also collaborated and co-planned unit projects between the 2 classes as well.
  • Finally, our book club was created to run along the theme of water. We used the novels: Dry, A Long Walk to Water, The Boy who Harnessed the Wind, and I Survived Hurricane Katrina. Again, teachers used collaboration time to create unique resources that suited our book club.

Taking Action: We started a Tuesday and Thursday afternoon group to support IEP social and life skills goals for low incidence students. They called their time together: FRIENDS group. During these blocks of time, the 2 grade 5/6 classes taught science. It also coincided with our ADST support time, which allowed for some blocks of time with smaller groups of students. The grade 5’s learned with one teacher and the grade 6’s learned with the other teacher. The EA’s supported the low incidence student groups.

Both grade 5/6 teachers planned their language arts and math during the same time. This was helpful for creating our math workshop on Friday’s. We gathered our student data on math fluency using running records and organized our groups based on fluency results. Our students were assessed for reading using DRA, and novels were selected to meet students at their reading level and interest.

Checking: Our students demonstrated good growth in confidence and fluency in math. We noticed through their engagement with our math workshop, that students enjoyed practicing their math fluency. Our math running records showed growth in fluency and strategies for solving multiplication and division.

In language arts, students were comfortable reading aloud with their small book club groups. Their fluency improved because of this. With reinforcing mini lessons on summarizing, inferencing, connections, as well as focusing on setting and characters, comprehension strategies were reinforced. At the end of our book club unit, most students were successful in writing descriptive essays including the elements we focused on.

Reflections/Advice: Both teachers felt the project was successful in so many ways. Students’ learning was rich and deep. Through our collaborative approach, we as teachers felt more accountable for our various roles (science, math workshop, novel study). We both felt that we were able to complete more through working together than separately. The more collaboration we did, the more we wanted to do. We planned some year end field trips together, fun days and even co created our final self reflection of core competencies together. Collaboration is very fulfilling when done with another teacher who is on the same team.

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