Randerson Ridge Elementary SD#68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith

School Name: Randerson Ridge Elementary

School District: SD#68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith

Inquiry Team Members:Teri Hooper, Currin Windecker, Deana Uhlmann, Kira Rollheiser, Nancy Burnham, Daren Brick, Janet Kawaguchi

Inquiry Team Contact Email: currin.windecker@sd68.bc.ca

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 – Reading, Language Arts – Writing

Focus Addressed: Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving), Differentiated instruction, Inquiry-based learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Our focus was on building student’s ability to independently read and interpret non-fiction texts in order to support their learning in inquiry style Science and Social Studies units.

Scanning: During the scanning process the teachers at Randerson Ridge recognized a general weakness among our students in non-fiction reading skills. This issue was evident at all grades levels, as noted through our class observations and through our students’ performance on the NLPS screener. Children in grades 2-7 struggled to use text features to help them understand their reading, and they were unable to use text features to locate information non-sequentially.

Focus: Students’ inability to independently interpret non-fiction text is problematic when considering the inquiry focus in the new curriculum, particularly in Science and Social Studies. To conduct independent inquiries, students will need questioning and research skills, thereby requiring that they read non-fiction texts independently. As a group, the grade two and three teachers felt that early intervention with regard to these reading skills might positively impact student performance both presently and in the future in all subject areas, and in Science and Social studies in particular.

Hunch: We want to support the transition from the old curriculum to the new curriculum, which is inquiry based. Many teachers are still experimenting with student inquiry, and we realize that this pedagogy requires that our students gain a particular set of skills. Reading and interpreting non-fiction media was weakness, and yet, an important skill for inquiry.

New Professional Learning: Many of the teachers in our group attended a Pro-D with Adrienne Gear that focused on non-fiction reading skills. See list of resources used below:
Print Media
Adrienne Gear- Non Fiction Reading Power
A selection of early readers for non-fiction, see samples provided.
Digital Media
Kahoot- Teacher made quizzes that target text feature recognition
Symbaloo- Collections of relevant websites
Google Suites- Google Classroom and RW4G in particular for differentiation in the grade 3/4 class

Taking Action: The teacher librarian began introducing text feature language and modeling non-fiction reading skills during library blocks for each grade. These lessons included both digital and print media. The grade 3/4 split class was taught to access their Learn 68 accounts, use Google classroom and RW4G, and were asked to complete a mind map assignment using preselected biomes websites. The grade 2/3 and straight grade three classes were taught to conduct basic online searches, but their instruction focused mainly on non-fiction features in print media. They began their learning in the library by completing text feature hunts and venn diagrams comparing text features found in non-fiction to those found in fiction.
Teachers continued these lessons in the classroom, directly instructing non-fiction reading skills, including identifying and creating text features such as tables of contents and bolded words, and determining main ideas in unfamiliar texts.

Checking: By the end of the year the classroom teachers noted that students were better able to independently comprehend and navigate non-fiction texts, allowing them to conduct research using grade appropriate resources for Science and Social Studies curriculum. We used the NLSP Screener to identify the area of need with our students, and we checked student progress by setting independent tasks that required the skills learned for our students. The true tests for the differences we have made will happen in September 2018, when the NLPS screener is administered again, and when students begin working on inquiries in Science and Social Studies.

Reflections/Advice: We learned that it is never too early to introduce non-fiction reading skills to students, and that this learning helps them in all curricular areas, not just in Science and Social Studies. In the future we hope to expand this inquiry to examine other skills students may need for inquiry based learning, digital literacy being one key area.

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