Walnut Park Elementary School SD#54 Bulkley Valley

By August 28, 20182017-18 Case Study

School Name: Walnut Park Elementary School

School District: SD#54 Bulkley Valley

Inquiry Team Members:Mary Neto Mary.Neto@sd54.bc.ca
Nicole Davey ndavey@sd54.bc.ca

Inquiry Team Contact Email: Mary.Neto@sd54.bc.ca

Type of Inquiry: NOII (focus on core competencies, OECD learning principles, etc.)

Grade Levels: Primary (K-3)

Curricular Area(s): Language Arts – Reading, Language Arts – Writing, Mathematics / Numeracy, Physical & Health Education

Focus Addressed: Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving), Flexible learning, Formative assessment, Growth mindset, Inclusion and inclusive instructional strategies, Self-regulation, Social and emotional learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? In what way will creating a safe learning environment in which students are able to learn deeply through self-determination and self-regulation impact learning?

Scanning: When first meeting the class, it was clear that some students were determined to do their best and though young learners, saw themselves as students capable of learning. Other students where guarded and did not want to connect to the adults in the classroom or learning tasks. When orally asked The Four Key Questions, most students could tell at least one adult to believed in their success, but not each student. Students did not know how they were doing or where they were going with their learning. It was also noted that many students showed highly emotional responses to difficult situations (crying, giving up, becoming angry, shutting down,etc.).

Focus: Self-determination and self-regulation are two areas of the Core Competencies, so it was our hope to directly teach the social-emotional skills connected to the competencies.

Hunch: It is often simply expected that students know how to learn and sometimes students are looked down upon when they do not naturally have self-determination.

New Professional Learning: Developing Self-Regulating Learners *This is an incredible resource with practical, usable ideas, and importantly, it is based on research.*

Taking Action: We focused our work based on:
*direct teaching of Growth Mindset and using the language daily (self-determination)
~The hope was to instill in students the integral belief that they can improve, that they can keep trying to reach their personal best, that each person’s best is different.
~We read G.M. picture books, discussed, and wrote about the ideas around G.M. Also, each month, students wrote a personal goal of something they wanted to improve that did not have to be school related. We used language such as yet, persevere, positive mental attitude, can, etc.

*goal setting using formative assessment; student and teaching conferencing (self-determination/self-regulation)
~Using goals specific to each student’s individual needs, students clearly knew what was expected of them if they were to improve their work.
~Later in the year, students began to set their own goals based on what they knew they needed to work on.
~Though it takes a great deal of time, conferencing with the students helped them to create specific goals.

*flexible seating (self-regulation)
~The classroom learning environment is for the students, so it was our wish to create a space in which students knew what type of space and seating best helped them to focus on their work.
~Students were able to choose where in classroom they would sit. For example, students could sit at tables, long build-in desk space, empty shelves, or on the floor with a whiteboard.
~Students were also able to decide if they wanted to use a chair or a beanbag, wobble stool, or a lap-desk.

Checking: Changes:
*Most students in the class showed an integration of a Growth Mindset in their daily school work and in our other activities. They persevered when the assignments were hard, did not shut down or become sad or angry if they were struggling. On one of our class outings to go cross country skiing, a student was nervous about skiing down a hill. The other students encouraged her by saying, “You can do this! We believe in you! Remember your GM [Growth Mindset] and a PMA [Positive Mental Attitude]!” It was a moment to remember! They had fully embodied the concept. The ski instructor asked what this was all about and was so thrilled so see such self-determination in students.

*Students were able to independently set goals for their work. We saw improvements in their writing that were directly related to the goals that they had set. In my classrooms over the years, Formative Assessment proves to be key in helping students improve their work. They come to regulate their learning through knowing exactly what their work should look like and setting personal goals to achieve this. Learning and improving is not a mystery, and I have seen students, whether they are in grade three or grade twelve, develop the social-emotional skills of self-determination and self-regulation.

*Through seating choices, students were able to be self-regulating learners as they knew where they were most comfortable sitting and what they needed to be able to focus. Students were able to articulate where they needed to sit on any given day, and what type of seating they needed. Students were more connected to their assignments and did not ask to get up and move around.

When asked the Four Key Questions, students knew at least three adults who believed in their success. Through the goal-setting in Formative Assessment, were able to say what they were learning, where they were going and were self-determined to reach the next goal. Importantly, each student had autonomy and was in control of where they were going. They were self-regulating their learning through setting a personal goal for their work.

Reflections/Advice: It is important to note that we spent a great deal of time creating the culture in which students knew what it meant to be a learner in our classroom and where students knew that each learner was at the centre of everything in our classroom. Through direct teaching and using the language at all times, we created trust and an environment where students felt that they could safely show a Growth Mindset, keep trying when it was difficult, where they knew what they needed to be physically comfortable in their environment, what it meant to set-goals and how to behave in a responsible manner with the seating and other choices.

Through this important work, I have put into practice much of what I learned through CIEL and Masters research. Social emotional skills are key to success in students’ current lives and in their futures. My goal is to continue to directly teach theses skills, and next year as I will teach a number of the same students,this inquiry while looking at if students retained their views of themselves as self-regulated and self-determined learners.

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