Southlands Elementary SD#39 Vancouver

I. General Information

School Name: Southlands Elementary

School District: SD#39 Vancouver

Inquiry Team Members: Alexandra De Montigny:
Wendy Phung:
Sarah McKendy:

Inquiry Team Contact Email:

II. Inquiry Project Information

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE Case Study

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

Curricular Areas Addressed: Language Arts – Literacy, Language Arts – Reading

Focus Addressed: First Peoples Principles of Learning, Indigenous pedagogy, Social and emotional learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Our focus this year was on helping students, particularly Indigenous students, improve their reading skills and identity as a reader.

III. Spirals of Inquiry Details

Scanning: When we asked students if there are adults in the building who believe in them and know they will be a success in life, they consistently listed more than two. When asked what they were learning, the majority said, “Math” with a few answering “body science.” When further probing questions were asked, many could not identify the relevance of the learning or their next steps. During empathy interviews, we noticed that students who were reading below grade level, also had low self-esteem. Assessment data showed that 52% of students K – 7 were reading below grade level and 92% of Indigenous students were reading below grade level. As an inquiry team. We looked at all of the nine First Peoples Principles of Learning, but especially “Learning involves patience and time” and “Learning requires exploration of one’s identity.”

Focus: We decided to focus on individual students to see if our support and 1:1 reading coach approach would be impactful. We were hoping to help students gain confidence and see themselves as readers.

Hunch: Our hunch was that as students progressed through the grades and fundamental literacy skills were missed or left undeveloped, students’ self-awareness of their own lagging skills increased. Many of the students have strong compensatory skills, such as listening, speaking, avoiding, and “fake reading” really hefty books. We built on one team member’s experience with Changing Results For Young Readers, in which primary teachers focused their attention on one or two learners, and those students’ reading skills improved.

New Professional Learning: The professional learning we undertook was around building relationships with students. We read “From Behaving to Belonging” by Causton and Macleod, Reclaiming Youth at Risk, by Bendtro, Brokenleg and Van Bockern. We also reviewed different approaches to literacy such as Reading Power (Gear), Fluency (Rasinski) and Reading 44 (SD44).

Taking Action: Each member of the team chose a student to work with, someone not in their class. During daily independent reading time, the adult worked 1:1 with their student. Improvements were celebrated with the classroom teacher and the principal. One student even went to his grade 3 teacher to proudly read to her. Student attendance and attitude improved noticeably for some students, and for some, peer to peer aggression decreased.

Checking: The results of our actions proved to us that reading is a relationship. We also learned that just a few minutes a day of 1:1 coaching can make a big difference. The three teachers involved in this inquiry project also saw the benefit of the literacy groups structure that the primary classes were involved in and are committed to a similar approach in the fall of 2023.

Reflections/Advice: Our advice to other schools is to start small, focusing on one student at a time. Next year we plan to continue with the 1:1 coaching, but with more students if possible, and also create some Reading Buddy partnerships with peer coaches.