Part 1: Analysis of Context
1. What do we know about our learners?
Located in the Central area of Surrey, adjacent to Brookside Park, the Brookside Community is a predominantly middle class neighbourhood. Initially, the community was comprised entirely of single family homes, but the demographics began changing in the late 90’s when the school boundaries were altered. More and more homes have basement suites with multiple families residing in a single family home. There are over 20 languages spoken in the homes of our students other than English. More than one third (36%) of our learners are designated as English Language Learners. With the addition of the district program Surrey Academy of Innovative Learning in 2015, Brookside enrols 422 students. We have 34 students with a special education designation, approximately 8% of the school population. We have 23 aboriginal students.
The Surrey Academy of innovative Learning (SAIL) is in its third year at Brookside. The program started small with 2 multi-age classes k to 3 and 4 to 7. SAIL is a blended learning program with an emphasis on Inquiry based learning and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art-design, Mathematics). Students come from all over the lower mainland to attend the program. This year we enrol 72 students in our SAIL program. There is great interest in the program and we currently have a waiting list of over 80 families.
Brookside has a staff of 47 professionals and para-professionals who work to support the development of the whole child. The students benefit from the strong assessment for learning, and differentiated instruction practices utilized by teachers. Brookside teachers work in teams on year long collaborative inquiry projects to address the learning needs of their students. The majority of Brookside staff continue to use Freshgrade as a tool to document and communicate student learning.
The school benefits from a very involved, supportive parent advisory council. They work diligently planning many school events throughout the year to build strong community connections. Fall BBQ, Halloween Howl, Santa’s breakfast, Scholastic Book Fair, Movie Nights and monthly hot lunches are just a few of the events our PAC host and volunteer their time for. The school also benefits from active student service leadership teams. They provide service to the school, the local community and global aid organizations.
2. What evidence supports what we know about our learners?
- School-wide use of Fountas and Pinnell Reading assessment and intervention
- RAD Reading Assessment Pre and Post
- IXL Math
- Island.net Numeracy assessment grades3-8
- School Wide writes in October and May
- Freshgrade Digital Portfolios
- Teacher Observations
- Student Self assessment and reflection
Part 2: Focus and Planning
3. What focus emerges as a question to pursue?
At our September Planning day teachers identified common areas of need in their classrooms through a scanning process. As a guide for planning we used the Spirals of Inquiry framework to develop inquiry questions, hunches and plans of action. The following collaborative Inquiries are currently in progress:
- To what extent will explicit instruction of cognitive processes and embedding technology into daily learning activities improve students’ 21st Century skills- inquiry, problem solving, critical and design thinking, and collaboration? (whole school) Plan of Action: Students and teachers need a structure/framework for reflecting and evaluating their performance (strengths and areas requiring further development). Use Freshgrade to strengthen, develop and encourage students’ reflection (metacognitive awareness. Use video footage and explicit feedback on Freshgrade to help educate parents on how their child is doing. Working on using a variety of tools to differentiate learning for students(IXL, creating project frameworks that can be applied over and over, to build research skills and knowledge base of tools). We will investigate more tools for differentiating learning (khan Academy). We will model self-assessment and goal setting. We will develop and practice peer and self assessment. Use the technology available at the school embed technology into curricular areas. Identify and use technology item for a 2 month period. Possible schedule: September/October- Osmos. November/December – Bloxels. January/February- Spheres March/April-Mbots May/June – Ozobots. Have a technology sharing time that focuses on one of the new technologies once every 2 months. Utilize student leaders be trained in the use of each technology to build capacity with in the school.
- To what extent does the use of numeracy centre’s affect a child’s attitude/view of math and the learning of mathematical concepts? We believe students will enjoy math more and develop confidence as they explore numeracy concepts in a variety of ways. When students feel confident they are more likely to take risks in their learning and we believe this type of open ended exploration will develop critical thinking and problem solving skills. Plan of Action: We will develop 3 to 4 numeracy stations around a particular number concept. We will teach the strategy associated with slick development with the number concept and the station work will reinforce and provide the guided practice and exploration necessary to develop student skills. Numeracy stations are done 3 times per week for 40 minutes. Our findings so far: all students have been engaged an on task. Students skill development in specific numeracy concepts is improving. We have changed the stations from reinforcement of a skill (guided practice) to “Thinking Stations”, where students have to identify multiple approaches to solving a problem to develop this critical thinking core competency. We also observed that students struggle with thinking of their own ideas and explaining their thinking. We are modelling our thinking for students to help them develop this skill. We are contacting Jen Barker, numeracy helping teacher to come and help us develop math stations with a greater emphasis on inquiry learning.
- How can we develop self-regulation coping strategies to help foster empathy in our students?Plan of Action: We would like to move from just having access to “tools” (wiggle seats, head phones, worry beads, fidgets) to having students develop and use strategies independently and with purpose in our classrooms. We want to embed self-regulation strategies as a critical component to developing set-aware-regulated individuals. We will create a teacher resource library that is accessible to the whole school (Titles to include: Toolkit For Promoting Empathy in Schools: www.startempathy.org, Calm, Alert, and Learning by Stuart Shankar, Mind Up resources, The Orange Shoes by Trinka Hayes Noble, Carla’s Sandwich by Debbie Herman, The invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig, Each Kindness by Jaqueline Woodson, A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Phillip C. Stead, Mama Panya’s Pancake, by Mary and Rich Chamberlin, The Summer My Father Was Ten by Pat Brisson, Mouse was Mad by Linda Urban, Hooray for Hat by Brian Won). We will use the common areas in the school as an additional space for students to practice self-regulation strategies they are learning. Students will be given opportunities to practice certain kinds of friendly actions, for example: the teacher has students go outside at recess and practice friendly greetings to 3 children they do not know and then come back to class and share the results of their actions. Bucket filling is another strategy we are using. It is a visual chart and part of our daily routine. Students give compliments to each other. Students look forward to this routine and they insist upon it. School wide initiative from January to end of March promoting random acts of kindness. Students are recognized for extraordinary acts of kindness. Not just how we expect them to behave but above and beyond our expectations. Teachers model what this looks like and students that perform these extraordinary acts of kindness are give a Choose kind ticket. Their names are read over the announcements and their Choose kind ticket is displayed on our fill our walls with kindness bulletin board at the front of the school.
- How can we change our writing instruction to engage reluctant writers and develop students’ core competencies of critical thinking, creative thinking and communication? Plan of Action: Use the following tools to see what works best with reluctant writers: online graphic organizers, Dragon Dictation, Kurzweil and laptop dictation feature, foursquare method to scaffold writing, explore purpose of writing and intended audiences and styles of writing.
4. What professional learning do we need?
Teachers will share their understanding and resources of best practice at our monthly learning lunches. A speaker from Options will provide professional development on health education on the November Curriculum Implementation day. Adrienne Gear will provide professional development on improving student writing on February 16th. Staff will use the strategies from her Writing Power book to develop students writing skills.
Jen Barker, numeracy helping teacher is supporting numeracy inquiry team. Primary teachers attending after school workshops on developing and inquiry focused numeracy program,
5. What is our plan?
Plans are included in part 1 of Focus and Planning. We are using the structure set out in The Spiral’s of Inquiry, and the Spiral Playbook, by Judy Halpert and Linda Kaiser. We also have monthly learning lunches where we examine where we are in our learning and where we need to go next. Teachers also have a book club on Embedded Formative Assessment, by Dylan William.
Part 3: Reflect, Adjust, Celebrate
6. How will we know our plan is making a difference? (evidence / success criteria)
- Criteria for success is improved student learning. Students’ ability to reflect on their learning, identify where they are on a continuum and set goals for future learning. Student self assessments on core competencies. Teacher observations, Fresh grade digital portfolios and student work will be used as our source for evidence.
- Teach parents and students what quality feedback looks like. Provide parents with sample questions to guide their conversations at home with their child. The questions will align with our curriculum priority practices and core competencies. Teach students to reflect and be descriptive in their own self assessment in a positive way, to support goal setting and action plans. Student self assessments and goals will be the primary sources of evidence. Parent comments on Freshgrade will also provide a source for evidence. Student work will be the primary source for evidence.
- For our SEL inquiry, students actively implementing self regulation strategies they are taught to help them be calm, ready and alert to learn. Improved understanding and empathy toward others. More frequent acts of kindness. Teacher observations and student self assessments will be the primary source of evidence. Student surveys will also provide evidence.
- Our writing inquiry – school wide write 2x per year. Teacher and student self assessment using the performance standards. Student self assessment on communication and critical thinking core competencies. Students comparing 2 of the same to describe their growth.
7. Based on the evidence, does our inquiry require adjustment?
We will review in June 2018 and plan adjustments in September 2018.