Part 1: Analysis of Context
1. What do we know about our learners?
Chantrell Creek is a K-7 elementary school currently enrolling 351 students. It is a hidden gem in the South Surrey area of British Columbia that opened its doors in 1993. Chantrell Creek is a culturally rich and vibrant multicultural community and we have so many wonderful things to celebrate! Our students, staff and parents are truly engaged in the learning that takes place at Chantrell. We believe and value working together as a community to support our learners. Our students are creative, musical, energetic, and empathetic. They take risks in their learning and work collaboratively to support each other. We have a rich fine arts program that supports music and drama for students from K-6 and band for all students in grade 7. Our students are also very active in a variety of extra-curricular activities. We have an inviting and engaging Learning Commons where students take part in STEAM and Maker Space activities.
The staff at Chantrell truly care about the academic and social-emotional growth of our students. We work together to learn and grow so that we can continually improve student learning. We are actively engaged in BC’s Redesigned Curriculum and Assessment practices. We are following an Inquiry Model to analyze and focus our planning so that we develop a learning plan that meets the needs of our students. Over the last two years, teachers have worked together to focus on quality Formative Assessment practices. By communicating clear learning intentions and I can…statements using the redesigned curriculum, teachers have empowered our students to take a more active role in their own learning, leading to more student ownership of learning. We celebrate our learning together and invite our parent community to come visit often and learn with our students through such activities as Noisy Reading, Digital Portfolios, and student led conferences to name a few. The PAC and parents at Chantrell work tirelessly to help build a positive school community through fundraising and social activities. We have a very active and dedicated PAC Executive that meets on a regular basis to support the wonderful initiatives at our school. Also, many parents volunteer on a very regular basis both in classrooms and on field trips. We truly appreciate the time, effort, and support our parents share with us at Chantrell!
2. What evidence supports what we know about our learners?
The Ministry of Education has made significant changes to BC’s curriculum (http://curriculum.gov.bc.ca/). We are preparing students for jobs that do not currently exist. Students need to develop skills that are transferable and will allow them to be successful in our ever-changing global community. These core competencies are essential for our future educated citizens. With this in mind, one of our main goals at Chantrell is to actively engage our students in their own learning through Formative Assessment. Our learners should be able to identify areas of strength, areas for further growth, as well as a plan to move forward in their learning. In exploring and using various formative assessment strategies over the past year, we have seen students become more reflective and able to self-assess their learning. By communicating clear learning intentions and I can…statements, teachers guide instruction and help set students set learning goals. Our learners have become much more capable of using the Traffic Light strategy to monitor their own understanding and set learning goals, providing valuable feedback to teachers to guide their instruction.
Through classroom observations, conversations with students and parents, and reflections on digital portfolios, it is evident to us as a team that formative assessment is a valuable area for us to focus on in order to improve student learning. Teachers are collaborating on a regular basis to share what is happening in our classrooms, providing valuable evidence to support what we know about our learners. During the 2015-2016 school year, all our teachers transitioned over to using Digital Portfolios (FreshGrade) to make learning visible and to communicate student learning to parents. We believe in the importance of involving our students in the assessment process. As you move through the hallways and classrooms at Chantrell, it is quickly evident that our students are taking ownership of their learning journey. It is common to see students documenting their learning using a variety of tools such as FreshGrade, iMovie, self-reflections etc. We wanted our parents to be part of the learning journey with us as well. We held a variety of community forums throughout the year to discuss BC’s Redesigned Curriculum and Assessment practices. The response from our community last year was overwhelmingly positive! Parents appreciated seeing their child’s learning in action, along with being part of the conversations. We continuously acknowledge that the changes in education have come with a steep learning curve for teachers and for our parents. We appreciate how we are all supporting each other in our learning. This year, teachers continue to collaborate and explore quality assessment practices to support our efforts in effectively communicating student learning. All divisions at Chantrell are using Digital Portfolios (FreshGrade) this year. We hold Talk Tuesday and Formative Friday sessions twice a month, giving us an opportunity to share, question, and support each other in our learning. We held a community forum on November 22nd, 2016 which was very well attended. Many of our teachers were on hand to help share with our parents. We spent most of the evening learning about the variety of formative assessment practices taking place in our school. We use our weekly newsletter home, The Friday Flash, to continue sharing information about curriculum and assessment practices with our community. One of our goals this year is to conduct a survey with our parents, eliciting even more feedback on how things are going with Digital Portfolios (FreshGrade).
Part 2: Focus and Planning
3. What focus emerges as a question to pursue?
We are following an inquiry model to help support student learning at our school. We want our students to develop a growth mindset and look at learning as a journey, where mistakes are seen as opportunities for growth. Our staff is working together in teams to explore a number of questions, including:
- How does providing descriptive feedback through parent/student/teacher reflections & comments impact student learning?
- How will developing and utilizing relevant, growth-mindset based learning intentions (“I can..” statements) from the transformed curriculum effectively improve the self-awareness of students, thereby promoting and directing active learning?
Moving forward in our learning journey, we will continue to work with the end in mind. We will strive to:
- share clear learning intentions with students
- find out where our students currently are in their learning
- give feedback that moves learning forward
- have students helping each other in their learning
- activate students as owners of their learning
4. What professional learning do we need?
This year, staff at Chantrell Creek will continue to:
- explore effective assessment practices in order to best communicate student learning using Digital Portfolios
- encourage our parents and learners to take an active role within the Digital Portfolios/FreshGrade portfolios
- explore different strategies to activate core competencies in all areas of learning
- make explicit connections between core competencies and curricular competencies
- engage professionally in the areas of formative assessment, social-emotional learning, the redesigned curriculum, and CSL
- attend district provided professional learning sessions and dinner series (Priority Practices and Sparking Today’s Learner during the 2017-2018 school year)
5. What is our plan?
We will continue to work together as a staff to develop our learning during formal and informal collaboration times, staff meeting, Talk Tuesdays, Formative Fridays, and district provided professional development (Priority Practices Dinner Series
We will engage in ongoing discussions (primary/intermediate meetings, staff meetings, grade group meetings, admin/teacher Professional Learning Conversations, etc.). All these opportunities will allow us to focus on our learning goals and initiatives for our learners.
During the 2017-2018 school year, we instituted collaboration time on a regular basis. This release time takes place during the school day and gives staff an opportunity to meet, discuss, and plan for enhancing student learning.
Part 3: Reflect, Adjust, Celebrate
6. How will we know our plan is making a difference? (evidence / success criteria)
This process will be ongoing. Data will be qualitative in nature and will be collected through conversations with students, teachers, and parents, along with videos, work samples, and reflections.
We will know our plan is making a difference for staff because:
• staff will shift from “reporting” to communicating student learning by providing ongoing, meaningful communication between teachers, parents, and learners (through FreshGrade and conferencing)
• evidence of teacher planning, implementation, and communication of formative assessment practices will be visible in classrooms and around the school.
• FreshGrade portfolios will be more than “glorified scrapbooks.” These portfolios will show growth of student learning over time and will include the voice of teachers, students, and parents.
We will know our plan is making a difference for students and parents because:
• students will be able to discuss their learning in more authentic and meaningful ways. Our learners will move from “what they are doing” to “what they are learning.”
• students will engage in creating and meeting criteria for deep and thoughtful reflections around self & learning (especially in the area of core competencies).
• our learners will use feedback provided by their peers, teachers, and parents to set goals for their learning and work towards these goals. They will be able to reflect on their growth and set further goals.
• our parents will be active participants in the learning process by sharing their voice in FreshGrade and communicating their understanding as well as areas for growth.
What we have already noticed since we formulated our inquiry questions :
• students are becoming more reflective and are able to self-assess their learning.
• through clear learning intentions and I can…statements, teachers are guiding instruction and helping set students set learning goals.
• our learners have become much more capable of using the Traffic Light strategy to monitor their own understanding and set learning goals, providing valuable feedback to teachers to guide their instruction.
• our hallways and classrooms indicate an increased level of student ownership in their learning. They are active in the documentation and assessment process.
• the use of formative assessment strategies and principles (learning intentions, criteria, descriptive feedback, self and peer assessment) has significantly increased
• we are no longer using letter grades and/or percentages to assess and communicate student learning. We are using FreshGrade and descriptive feedback to move student learning forward
7. Based on the evidence, does our inquiry require adjustment?
As our learning journey continues, we will continue to:
• focus on Curriculum and Assessment transformation.
• work hard as a community to develop our students as reflective learners.
• engage is some analysis and comparison of our digital portfolios from last year and the current year. We will look at the quality of artifacts, descriptive feedback, and parent and student “voice”.
• encourage our parent community to provide feedback and input regarding their experiences around how the school communicates student learning, and staff can further develop their formative assessment practices.
As our learning is ongoing, we have the following video evidence of our learning journey from a random sampling of students and staff.