Part 1: Analysis of Context
1. What do we know about our learners?
At Newton Elementary, our students “are a community of lifelong learners who: celebrate diversity, strive for our personal best, while respecting others and ourselves. According to one of our grade six students, “the fusion dance was a combination of Bhangra and Highland dance moves.” ‘I felt proud learning the dance and celebrating during our multicultural assembly.”
Our observations and student feedback confirm our students are more curious, enthusiastic and inquisitive when they are provided with open – ended inquiry. Learning In Depth is in second year at Newton Elementary. Learning in Depth (LID) is designed to foster the love of learning in students of all ages and provide students with the opportunity for open ended inquiry. The students are paired with a buddy and assigned a random topic to learn in depth.
Our students, staff and parents are engaged in the learning that take place at Newton Elementary. There is a sense of pride in working together as a community to support our learners. Our students are empathetic and hands on learners. Students at Newton Elementary enjoy listening to stories.
IM_0085 Once a month a Super Star Assembly is held to share, to celebrate and to honour our students. This brings a sense of pride within our school community. At Newton Elementary, our goal is ” providing experiences for all children for life-long learning.”
2. What evidence supports what we know about our learners?
The staff at Newton Elementary work together to learn and to grow so that we support and move student learning forward. We believe and value working together with taking risks in our own learning to support one another and our students. We are preparing our students for jobs that do not currently exit and with the significant curriculum changes we are noticing that students need to develop skills that are transferable and will allow them to have success in our changing world. These competencies are critical for developing the educated citizen, in a world of change. Through classroom observations, conversations with staff, parents and students it is evident that students need support with articulating their learning. During a student survey, the following question was asked: “How can you be involved in the learning process?” The response was “by telling me what I did wrong.” With teacher reflections on digital portfolios, it was evident to our team that formative assessment was a valuable area for our staff to focus on in order to improve student learning. Our learners should have the language, knowledge and skills to be able to identify the learning intention, areas of strength, areas of further growth, and be able to generate a plan to move their learning forward. During the current school year, fifteen out of nineteen divisions are actively using digital portfolios to communicate student learning to our parents. At the current moment, teachers are uploading posts and sharing student’s learning. The goal is to see student’s taking ownership of their learning journey. This may be done with student’s documenting their own learning with self reflections. Hence, making learning visible and communicating student learning with authentic evidence, learning intentions, self reflections, descriptive teacher feedback and voice from our parent community.
Part 2: Focus and Planning
3. What focus emerges as a question to pursue?
We would like our students to be able to develop a growth mindset and view learning as a process. This learning journey is a place where mistakes are viewed as opportunities for growth. Our staff is working in teams to explore a number of collaborative inquires. These inquires connect to the overall inquiry question.
Big Idea: Question
If we use formative assessment practices with kindergarten to grade seven students to what extent does it help communicate their learning?
If we use formative assessment practices with kindergarten to grade seven student to what extent does it help students communicate their learning through digital portfolios?
If we use formative assessment practices with our exceptional learners to what extent does it help students communicate/share their learning? (How do we adapt/modify the portfolios to accurately create a window that portrays learning for our exceptional learners?)
4. What professional learning do we need?
This year, staff at Newton Elementary will:
- engage actively within a book club (focus on formative assessment)
- a team of teachers will participate with district changing results for math with district math helping teacher
- develop our learning during formal and informal collaboration times
- share digital samples of documentation via staff folder
- share and explore digital tools that will support students with communicate their learning
- a team will attend the Learning By Design dinner series
- release time for teachers to examine, to explore, to learn and to share their learning with one of the inquiry questions
5. What is our plan?
Our plan is to meet by weekly to facilitate a formative book club that will help staff develop an understanding of formative assessment practices that may be embedded in their practice. During Lunch and Learn, teachers will share instructional strategies and activities students have been doing related to one of the inquiry questions. It will also be a time to explore, to share , to questions and to reflect upon the four elements of communicating student learning. During staff meetings, collaboration time, teachers have the opportunity to share student work, reflections, and observations as evidence of learning.
Our school will host a Maker Construction Day and afternoon to display the student projects. The intent will be to give students the opportunity to communicate their learning with their peers, parents and staff. We will host two Learning In Depth school wide event to build and develop core competencies. An afternoon will be devoted for students to communicate their learning in multi age groups. During our Super Star Assemblies, our students will be celebrated and formative assessment practices may be embedded. For instance, providing descriptive feedback to why a student received a Super Star award.
Moving forward in our learning journey, we will keep the end in mind and strive to:
- share and create clear and concise learning intentions with students
- assess where our students are in the learning process
- provide descriptive feedback that supports moving learning forward
- activate ownership of learning from teachers to students
Forshadowing what a sample may look like..
Part 3: Reflect, Adjust, Celebrate
6. How will we know our plan is making a difference? (evidence / success criteria)
We will know our plan is making a difference from the following:
- student work samples
- student reflections
- teacher observations
- teacher reflection
- conversation with staff, parents and students
- the four elements of communicating student learning will be seen through out the digital portfolios and eventually with most posts using the digital portfolio
- samples and reflection will be posted on Newton Elementary School’s Learning Blog https://www.surreyschools.ca/people/me/dhaliwal_jagdee/Blog/default.aspx
7. Based on the evidence, does our inquiry require adjustment?
This process will be ongoing and it will involve the collection of qualitative artifacts. This will be collected through interactions with students, teachers and parents.
Jodi Kennett, Principal Jagdeep Dhaliwal Vice Principal