Part 1: Analysis of Context

1. What do we know about our learners?

What do we know about our learners?

  • Our students are well cared for by their families – they are healthy and physically active
  • They have busy after-school lives
  • They are friendly, helpful, respectful, and creative
  • Our students do well on provincial-wide assessments and generally do well academically
  • For the past six years, our learners have been learning French in a single-track French Immersion school
  • Some students find it difficult to always use French as the language of communication.  Most teachers use a motivation system to encourage students to speak French in class.
  • As most students who are learning French in an immersion setting, our students have difficulty correcting/unlearning fossilized errors typical to the French Immersion setting
  • Some students find it difficult to explain their math reasoning which is compounded by the fact that they are doing so in a second language.
  • Some students, and their families, have very high expectations for student achievement
  • Based on teacher observations and student self-reporting, an increasing number of students experience anxiety or anxiety-like symptoms at school i.e. are very nervous before a test, require frequent teacher reassurance to complete class work, etc.

2. What evidence supports what we know about our learners?

We collected information from:

  • Teachers through staff conversations at staff meetings
  • Conversations with parents
  • Conversations with students

Part 2: Focus and Planning

3. What focus emerges as a question to pursue?

We have observed that many FI students lack the communication tools and strategies to comprehend and communicate in Math, as well as explain and justify their math reasoning. We hope that by implementing specific strategies to target necessary language, students will be better equipped to be successful in communicating in Math. More specifically our question is:

  • How will linking oral language development with Numeracy competencies in the French Immersion classroom increase students’ ability to communicate and represent their Mathematical thinking?

At the same time, we want to explore the possibilities that digital portfolios offer to support students in their learning. More specifically, our question is:

  • How will the use of digital portfolios deepen and encourage meaningful self-reflection and learning for our students? How will descriptive feedback help increase student engagement and learning?

It is our hope that through a more reflective approach to their learning, students will have a deeper connection to the learning process and an increased understanding of how to move their learning forward.

4. What professional learning do we need?

We need to deepen our understanding of:

  • Effective oral language learning strategies
  • Scaffolding
  • Math competencies as per the revised curriculum
  • Formative assessment
  • Effective student reflection

5. What is our plan?

For our Math / Language focus, our inquiry group will:

  • Identify a Math unit to teach
  • Identify necessary vocabulary for students to learn
  • Brainstorm a bank of language learning strategies to use with students in class
  • Plan the math unit with a focus on language acquisition
  • Assess students’ ability to explain their math thinking with a pre and post activity
  • Assess impact of this approach on students learning
  • Share findings with staff

For our digital portfolio focus, our inquiry group will:

  • Discuss approaches to student reflection
  • Discuss effective teacher feedback that moves learning forward
  • Explore a variety of rubrics and assessment tools
  • Make use of the digital portfolio to provide descriptive feedback to students
  • Allow students opportunities to reflect on and respond to the feedback
  • Track nature of feedback
  • Explore ways to determine how and to what degree the feedback to students makes a difference on student engagement
  • Invite all team members to each other’s portfolio to facilitate sharing amongst the team
  • Share findings with staff
  • Use release time to collaborate

Part 3: Reflect, Adjust, Celebrate

6. How will we know our plan is making a difference? (evidence / success criteria)

In math, we would like to see our students demonstrate an increased ability to effectively explain their math reasoning with increased confidence using taught French math terminology. In relation to digital portfolios and student reflection, we would like to see our students demonstrate positive response to feedback. This may include:

  • Students voluntarily redoing learning tasks to apply the feedback and thereby increasing their learning
  • Students applying the feedback on subsequent learning tasks
  • Students voluntarily extending their learning based on feedback received
  • Students and parents conversing more often about student learning
  • Students setting their own learning goals to be attained during the term or on the next learning task
  • Students self-evaluating to reinforce their strengths and needs
  • Students readily making videos to demonstrate their comprehension and ability to communicate their mathematical thinking

7. Based on the evidence, does our inquiry require adjustment?

Currently, the group focusing on the use of digital technology to increase student learning through self-reflection and feedback seems to making good progress.  This group has met several times this year to support each other and to discuss best practices for increasing student feedback, self-reflection and improved learning.

All teachers have been focusing on increasing mathematical language acquisition and verbal reasoning during math lessons. Students are learning specific mathematical vocabulary related to each unit. Students are sharing their thinking through the use of videos which are then posted online. Making and posting videos demonstrating students’ mathematical thinking seems to encourage them to focus on using the proper terms and further developing their oral language skills.

At this time, we will need to find ways to better support staff members with visuals to support the mathematical language and terms needed to fluently share their thinking/reasoning. Teachers will also be sharing with each other how each class is learning about math language and how students are using it to explain their mathematical thinking. We will set up a few meeting times to look at what is working and how we can further encourage students to communicate their mathematical thinking.