Part 1: Analysis of Context
1. What do we know about our learners?
The Hazelgrove community is a diverse place where students bring a variety of strengths and challenges to school with them each day. Our community consists of students with families from all over the world with a total of 20 different home languages spoken in our student’s homes. We currently have 87 students that are English Language Learners and as a percentage of our total student population, this number has been increasing in recent years. Additionally, we currently have 25 students of aboriginal ancestry in our school community.
The students at Hazelgrove have a variety of strengths and challenges that they bring to school with them each day. While each student is an individual and presents an independent profile, there are some common themes that emerge when we ask the question “What do we know about our learners?”
They are busy- Students are very engaged at the school in the large number of extra curricular activities that are provided at the school. Additionally, many of our students are involved in community activities or athletics outside of school time and do not have a lot of ‘down time’ .
They are connected- Students are very tech savvy and are very advanced in how they use their devices. This provides opportunities that can be leveraged at the school level to engage students in innovative learning activities and in having them show their learning in multiple ways through the use of technology. This can at times be a challenge as well as students are often further ahead than our staff in the use of technology.
They are engaged by hands on activities- Students are more engaged by hands on, collaborative activities in flexible learning environments than traditional, paper and pencil based, independent activities.
2. What evidence supports what we know about our learners?
Each day in classrooms, teachers collect data that shapes our understanding of the students that we work with. In addition to daily interactions in the classroom, ongoing assessments and anecdotal observations as well as student fresh grade portfolios have provided valuable information through learning samples, student self reflection and parent feedback.
On the school level, there are a number of structures in place to provide information about our students. Of these, the work of our school based team to implement a netting meeting structure at the beginning and the end of each school year has been extremely valuable in providing evidence to support and shape how we see our students. Additionally, school wide reading assessments and data collected from our Learner Support Team provide feedback that shapes our instruction.
Through observations of students engaged in innovative, hands on activities we see that engagement and collaboration are much higher and students maintain attention to tasks much longer when given the opportunity to work as teams.
Part 2: Focus and Planning
3. What focus emerges as a question to pursue?
The students at Hazelgrove are very tech savvy. They respond well to hands on, experiential learning and have shown a high level of engagement, tenacity and desire to collaborate toward an end goal when given the opportunity to work in student centred, less structured learning environments. Our students are very active in classroom discussions and not interested, for the most part in traditional (pencil and paper) ways of sharing their learning, preferring other modalities of shared understanding such as multi media, creating and collaborating.
At the end of the 2015/ 2016 school year, Hazelgrove received an innovation grant from the district that has shaped much of our work over the past year and a half. Key areas of focus within the grant are:
- Links to the new curriculum including connecting to the ADST framework from K-7.
- Utilizing older peers to work and learn with younger students.
- Creative Thinking and Communication Competencies focus with flexible scheduling and structures with similar and mixed aged group peers.
- Critical Thinking Competencies utilizing ADST tools such as Coding and Robotics.
We have continued working in these areas throughout the 2016-2017 school year and have focussed our efforts around two key questions:
- How will the introduction of innovative structures focussed on ADST impact student learning in this area?
- How will the introduction of innovative structures focussed on ADST transfer to support student learning in other areas?
4. What professional learning do we need?
The staff at Hazelgrove has always been very collaborative. The staff have a number of systems and structures in place to allow for the sharing of ideas and the spreading of best practice. Many of the structures that are currently in place can continue to be leveraged to move our learning forward. When working to identify staff needs moving forward three themes emerged.
- Continued development of school based structures to allow teachers to work together in meaningful ways both during the school day and outside of instructional time. One structure that has been working incredibly well over the past few years has been the use of non-enrolling teachers to provide collaboration blocks to classroom teachers. This structure allow us to pair students and teachers strategically to reach our desired outcomes. Examples of these pairings that have been successful are older grades paired with younger grades as tech/ innovation mentors and teachers that have experience/ skills in a particular area being paired with teachers who can learn from them.
2. Opportunities for staff to visit other classrooms outside of our school to learn about innovative things happening in other classrooms around the district. Our innovation team has worked hard to provide release time through grants and through internal coverage to allow teachers to visit other classrooms and bring their learning back to the staff. The innovation team has worked with helping teachers at the district level to identify teachers in other schools who are doing innovative things that we may bring to our school to the benefit of our students.
3. Release time for teachers to do this work. We continue to refine school based structures to provide opportunities for teachers to access release time.
5. What is our plan?
A fundamental part of the work will be building on the structures already being used to support our learners. Of these, our use of non enrolling staff has been very valuable in creating learning partnerships between our students at different grades and in creating mentorship opportunities through which staff can support one another to improve their practice. Our tech team, that was formed through the innovation grant received last year, continues to work to support staff and students to improve their understandings of the tools needed to collaborate around activities such as coding and robotics.
This year we have begun to look at better ways to use our staff meetings, and other school based structures such as grade group meetings, school based team and staff committee to better model innovative, collaborative structures that teachers can use with their students. Of these, the biggest change has been to our staff meetings where staff are encouraged to share their experiences and expertise with the whole staff as part of a collaborative discussion around key discussion questions. The work in this area is still developing.
Part 3: Reflect, Adjust, Celebrate
6. How will we know our plan is making a difference? (evidence / success criteria)
A key component to judging the success of our work will be seeing the ideas that begin as part of the work of the tech team with a few teachers spreading through the school and impacting the students not just in the original classrooms that participated but throughout the school across all grade levels.
Another important marker to show that the work we are doing is making a positive impact on student will be evidenced through student fresh grade portfolios showing student growth over time. Student self reflections and teacher feedback will provide additional information.