Part 1: Analysis of Context

1. What do we know about our learners?

SCHOOL CONTEXT

Crescent Park Elementary is the oldest school in south Surrey, with many long-standing traditions and an experienced, but inquisitive staff. Many parents and some staff attended Crescent Park Elementary as a child. In addition, some staff live in the area and their children also attend the school. We have experienced some change in the last few years, with the arrival of a new principal in 2013 and some new staff that bring a fresh perspective from working in inner city, fine arts and schools with high English Language Learner population. Historically, the Crescent Park population has remained stable but this is rapidly changing and the area has seen significant population increase over the last few years as well as an increase in  diversity. This increasing diversity is providing opportunities for expansion of rich cultural knowledge. 

Crescent Park Elementary currently has a multitude of curricular programs. We are a dual track school with late French Immersion (gr. 6 and 7) and a Multi-Aged Cluster Class for gifted students (gr. 5, 6 and 7). We also have an Annex located down the road, which is a one-room schoolhouse that offers a unique opportunity for gifted learners from across the district and houses other Early Learning programs for 3 & 4 year olds.

Crescent Park has an array of extra-curricular programs as well. Administration has worked in collaboration with Community Schools, parents and teachers to offer a variety of programs such as Drama club, Art club, Games club,  Maker Club, Coding Club, Environmental Club (Eco Patrol), Knitting Club and a Mat Making Club. Currently, our Mat Making Club highlights the creativity and generosity of our students. Students in the Mat Making Club cut recycled plastic shopping bags into strips, roll it into “plarn” and then stitch them into 3 x 6 ft mats that are donated to homeless shelters. Recently, our Mat Making students received a district recognition by the Surrey School Board and their work has inspired other schools to begin a similar club/project in their schools. You can see more of their story titled, Weaving Possibilities here.

Sports are also an integral part of the history of the school. We have well over a quarter of our student population that participates in cross-country and track and field. Our volleyball, basketball, badminton and ultimate teams are also all well represented by our grade 6 and 7 students.

We continue to implement a program we have personalized as C.A.R.E. (contribution/cooperation, accountability, respect, excel) and a W.I.T.S. anti-bullying program. In addition, we have developed a Friendship club for our primary students and we have a school leadership program for grades 4-7. Grade 4 students learn leadership skills and practice those skills in a real-life setting. Grades 5-7 students take ownership of a variety of school, local and global community projects.

Parents are an integral part of our school community and work hard to build a strong school community with special community events and fundraisers, formal support with PAC and assistance with coaching. 

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

The students of Crescent Park Elementary come from a variety of backgrounds and have an incredible amount of diverse strengths and needs. The students:

  •  Are proud of their school community and the traditions of the school.
  • Have high expectations of themselves.
  • Are athletic with sportsmanship always first and foremost.
  • Caring, contributing to several charities, including a Christmas Hamper Drive.
  • Are heavily involved in extra-curricular programs, which include a variety of sports and fine arts. 
  • Have strong parent support.

As we continue to focus on fostering the student’s strengths, we strive to meet the various needs of the students, which include:

  • Challenges in reading
  • Developing a self-awareness regarding positive choices that result in positive outcomes
  • Developing student ownership of their learning, including goal setting
  • Communicating student learning more effectively.

Part 2: Focus and Planning

3. What focus emerges as a question to pursue?

Over the last few years, staff have engaged in a general discussion about what challenges have we faced with our previous goal? Through these discussions, we identified that the intention of the previous goal was to bring the staff together around one goal. However, staff commented that Crescent Park students have a variety of skills, talents and needs and therefore require a variety of support rather than just one curricular strand. In addition, there was a general consensus amongst staff, that while having one goal was not necessarily working, there were aspects of the goal that the staff valued. For example, teacher collaboration time and a deeper focus on formative assessment. Subsequent discussions followed at staff meetings as to how the school goal could be revised with two objectives:

1. To meet the academic and social/emotional needs of our increasingly diverse student population

2. To provide opportunities for teachers to collaborate and professional grow through a lens of collaborative inquiry.

What is Collaborative Inquiry?

Crescent Park Elementary has a multitude of Collaborative Inquiry happening and is all included in one overarching question: How does teacher inquiry impact student learning? The overarching question is broken down into five inquiries/groups.

Collective Inquiry (all teaching staff)

Inquiry Question #1 – How will school-wide reading assessment impact reading performance?

Inquiry Question #2 – How will infusing Social-Emotional Learning into daily classroom practice impact student learning?

Small Groups Inquiry

Inquiry Question #3 – How can we as facilitators help build capacity in teachers in relation to Social Emotional Learning?

Inquiry Question #4 – How does portfolio organization impact our ability to show student growth over time and students’ abilities to self assess? How can we best highlight formative assessment in Fresh Grade for students and parents to more actively engage them in the learning conversations?

Inquiry Question #5 – How does the physical set up of a classroom and more student choice in that space impact students’ sense of self-awareness?

4. What professional learning do we need?

Each group has created a learning plan to help guide their inquiry. This learning plan addresses 4 key factors:

A.     Big Idea

1.     What do we believe our students need?

2.     What do we believe will help our students learn?

B.     Our Learning

1.     What do we need to get there? i.e. resources, professional development.

C.     Activities/Timeline

1.     Pre-assessment 

2.     What evidence supports what we know? i.e. Ongoing quantitative and qualitative assessment.

D.    Assessment

1.     How will we know when we get there? i.e. Final Assessments.

2.     Does our inquiry require adjustment? Do we have new questions?

5. What is our plan?

Due to the variety of inquiries and the differing levels of engagement in the inquiries (whole staff vs small groups of staff), the focus of this report is on the two whole-school inquiry questions – School-Wide Reading Assessment and Self-Regulation.

Inquiry Question #1 – How will school-wide reading assessment impact reading performance?

This inquiry question was chosen as one area to focus by all teaching staff.

Evidence from baseline Diagnostic Reading assessments (DRA), collected in January 2015 (see Table I) showed that, generally, students are strong at decoding text, but require support with reading comprehension and interpretation of text. The Diagnostic Reading Assessment data results are consistent with the Foundational Skills Reading Assessment data results for this current school year. Since the initial Diagnostic Reading Assessment, a second assessment was completed in June 2015 (see Table II) to monitor growth after the teacher addressed a variety of reading needs within the classroom. In both grade samples, there was a decrease of the students approaching grade level expectations in reading and an increase of the students meeting grade level expectations.

Teachers are interested in learning how to reach learners at their current reading level to improve student reading engagement and reading comprehension and overall reading data. The inquiry focuses on a collaborative approach between classroom teachers and LST.

Classroom
  • Diagnostic Reading Assessment (DRA) for every student in their classroom.
  • Identify specific areas for targeted, explicit instruction.
  •  Group students according to instructional levels and needs and create book clubs.
  • Collaborate with LST team by setting goals at term meetings.
LST
  • Work with targeted groups of readers 3-5 times/week.
  • Document specific reading behaviours and provide appropriate supports.
  • Ongoing dialogue with classroom teacher to set goals. Resources and Professional Development
  • Literacy Place/Scholastic Book Clubs
  • Literature Circle Guides Assessment
  • Reading Performance Standards
  •  I Can Statements
  •  Year-End Diagnostic Reading Assessment
Inquiry Question #2 – How will infusing Social-Emotional Learning into daily classroom practice impact student learning?

Last school year, the school staff participated in a book club and read the book, The Zones of Regulation – A Curriculum Designed to Foster Self-Regulation and Emotional Control by Leah Kuypers. Staff discussed the book monthly in our staff meetings and staff shared various strategies from the book that they were using in their classes. One of our Professional Development days also focused on the topic of Self-Regulation, with support from a District Helping Teacher. Many learning resources were purchased to support the starting points of this inquiry.   This process resulted in various levels of engagement in Self-Regulation; from fully immersed to dipping the toe in the water. The central theme that emerged from our inquiry last year for staff was that there is more to this inquiry than just Self-Regulation and that the tyranny of the urgent often gets in the way of good intention. As a result, changes were made with the inquiry process. For this school year, Self-Regulation inquiry shifted to Social Emotional Learning (SEL) inquiry. A SEL committee was formed with the goal of developing an action plan for the year to guide the whole staff in this inquiry with the overall intention of developing common language around Social-Emotional Learning.

What is Social-Emotional Learning?

Students at all grade levels need additional support in managing their emotions and reacting to situations in appropriate ways. Teachers feel that students are generally able to “talk the talk,” especially when it comes to our CARE and WITS program, but lack the skills to act appropriately at a time of heightened emotion or when not being supervised by adults. Teachers at both the intermediate and primary levels are very curious at how student learning is impacted by teaching students how to be consciously aware of their actions. A classroom is a busy place and it is important for students to learn Social Emotional strategies to assist their learning in the classroom and understand their role as a classmate and as a member of a group/team.

Social-Emotional Learning is not only Surrey School’s District Priorities, it is also an integral part of BC’s Redesigned New-Curriculum and is seen by top employers as a critical 21st century skill.

 

Part 3: Reflect, Adjust, Celebrate

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

Inquiry Question #1 – How will school-wide reading assessment impact reading performance?

Table I listed below demonstrates the efforts of staff collaborative inquiry and student growth since baseline assessments completed in June 2015. The pre-assessment data represent reading levels at the beginning of the school year. The post-assessment data, collected June 2016, represent reading levels at the end of the school year.

By having a common language for reading assessment in the school, it has allowed staff to meaningfully identify which students require reading intervention by Learning Support Teachers and also allows us to use reading data to not only meaningfully organize classes but also organize reading groups/clubs within each class. A District Literacy Helping Teacher has worked with staff to discuss the impact of book clubs and to add to our reading resources. PAC has supported our reading inquiry by purchasing the intervention and reading club materials.

The data clearly shows an improvement across all grades with a decrease in students not yet meeting and minimally meeting expectations. It is important to note that the Diagnostic Reading Assessment data collected was based on fiction reading only. Staff are questioning student need in regards to non-fiction/informational text. Current discussion is to complete our annual school-wide assessment for grades 4-7 students using non-fiction/information text.

Inquiry Question #2 – How will infusing Social-Emotional Learning into daily classroom practice impact student learning?

As mentioned previously, the SEL committee developed a plan for staff this year. So far this plan has included staff discussions on:

  1. What are the Social Emotional needs of students in your classroom? What are some instructional practices, related to SEL, that are happening in our classrooms/school that we can build on and promote?
  2. What are resources and websites that we can use to support SEL classroom instruction?
  3. How will we identify student growth?
  4. How can we involve parents in our inquiry?

 The resource that our SEL committee has been looking at more in depth is CASEL. CASEL’s SEL framework focuses on five core competencies:

The SEL committee has facilitated staff meeting  discussions, discussing SEL resources we currently have, such as The Zones of Self-Regulation and Mind Up and another comprehensive resource called Second Step. Each of these resources can be used for individual or whole class use. However, it was important that we also use a resource that will help us demonstrate student growth.

In order to measure student growth in relation to Social Emotional Learning, the staff agreed upon using the DESSA assessment (Devereux Students Strengths Assessment – Second Step), which is a 36 item norm-referenced behaviour rating scale that assesses each child’s social and emotional competence. The assessment is completed by teachers and only focuses on positive behaviours – skills for learning, empathy, emotion management and problem solving.  School staff will complete the baseline assessment in mid-June 2017 and the data will not only help school staff identify and support school-wide SEL initiatives but will also help school staff provide targeted support for specific students. The next assessment will be completed in mid-June 2018 to identify student growth.

The school has been involving parents in our inquiry this year by focusing on Self-Regulation. 

We will continue to offer more opportunities for parent engagement next year via our school website, information sessions and at assemblies.

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

Moving Forward through Collective Learning

The overall intention of the collaborative inquiry process is to not only impact student learning, but to also strengthen our professional collective. Through the various team inquiry questions, staff members knowledge becomes comprehensive in particular areas of inquiry they are engaged in, which allows team members to share their knowledge with all school staff. Professional Development strengthens from within the school and has a direct impact on student learning, ultimately moving the community of learners forward. More will be added to this site as our collective learning grows.