Part 1: Analysis of Context

1. What do we know about our learners?

The Pacific Heights learning community understands the importance of social emotional learning.  We have a multicultural and multilingual  population from diverse social and economic backgrounds. Our staff values and works hard to provide a safe and positive learning environment.  From kindergarten to grade 7 our students become increasingly more self-aware, self-regulated, and are able to make responsible decisions that help with relationship skills.

Our learners enjoy diverse learning activities where they actively participate to problem solve and share ideas. The students at Pacific Heights are curious, observant, great storytellers and risk takers. Our observations and student feedback confirm our students are more focussed and enthusiastic when they are provided with open-ended inquiry/problems and/or provided with tasks that allow for more than one way of solving the problem.

Our school is part of the maker movement and thus students are makers.  They prefer to make things that matter to them.  Students make to become entrepreneurs or to solve problems.  Lunch hour clubs hosting STEM challenges and coding clubs are met with enthusiasm and many student participants.  

The students at Pacific Heights  are adept at using technology to create, research, and share information.  Our students take the initiative to use a variety of tech tools  to support their learning.  Our students like to  express themselves in a variety of ways and we empower them to do so. Many of our students use a variety of tech tools to create their own games

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

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

Our teachers continue to focus on SEL and use the zones of regulation.  The zone where optimal learning happens is the green zone. Our students understand being in the green zone allows them to be ready to learn;  the green zone is when students are able to pay attention, communicate effectively,  and ignore distractions. Students refer to our zones of regulation charts in the classroom when they are feeling off balance
 Students use strategies like taking a run or a walk to calm down and burn off some energy so they can focus
When teachers ask students what zone they are in , students are able to identify how they are feeling and therefore identify their zone (red, yellow, or green).
Our students in grades 3 – 7 have at one point or another participated in either Roots of Empathy or Friends for Life. These programs allow our students to learn and apply relationship skills, responsible decision making, and social awareness.   Teachers have observed the improvement over time.
Evidence of our students experiencing optimal learning from collaborative work  with open-ended problems demonstrating engaged and focussed learning are listed below:

STEM challenges done in groups (primary classes)
Maker Faire for the last 4 years (whole school),    Gravity Car Challenges from Grade 1 to 7,        PowerPlay Young Entrepreneurs (intermediate classes)
Genius Hour (intermediate classes)
Inquiry Days and Guided Inquiry (whole school)
Kindergarten students creating their own play activities
The students at Pacific Heights  are adept at using technology to create, research, and share information.  Our students take the initiative to use a variety of tech tools  to support their learning.  In particular our teachers provide a variety of tech tools for students to create their own games and code as this fosters problem solving and computational thinking skills.

Me to WE Team uses iMovie to share their messages during school assemblies
3D printing to create
Book Creator is used by all grades to share information
Maker Faire allows for students to use a variety of tools to create anything the students chooses to (from woodworking to cardboard challenge to science experiments to coding)
Playing games using the Osmo to help with Math, reading, spelling, and coding
Creating fun games with technology like the Makey Makey
Coding programs used on the iPad to tell a story in a game form
Coding used to design games with the following technology: Sphero, Ozobot,and Dash

Part 2: Focus and Planning

3. What focus emerges as a question to pursue?

Teachers: A and B

Pillar: Learning Intention and Feedback

Questions: How do WALT and Exit Slips impact student learning and focus teacher instruction in Math? (Laura Beale)

What impact do exist slips have on student learning in the subject area of Math? (Sally Song)

Do exist slips allow students to be more accurate in their self assessment and reflection of learning?

 

Teacher: A

Pillar: Learning Intention and Self Assessment

Questions: What impact do “WALT” (We are Learning to) statements have on student self reflection and assessment?  Making statements more visible to students.

·       Are students more aware if they do or do not understand a concept?

·       More aware of their understanding?

·       More focused?

·       More reflective?

 

Teacher: B

Pillar: Criteria, Self&Peer Assessment

Questions: How does the consistent use of criteria (writing performance standards) affect self and peer assessment in the area of Writing?

·       Are student more engaged

·       Are students more reflective

 

Teacher: C

Pillar: Criteria

Criteria: How does class generated criteria affect student self assessment in the area of Writing?

 

Teacher: D

Pillar: Learning Intention

Question: How do open ended questions used in student reflection journals or in conversations impact student learning?

 

Teacher: E

Pillar: Criteria, Self Assessment

Question: How does the consistent use of individualize writing goals/criteria impact student learning?

·       Increase student self assessment

·       Realistic goal setting by students

 

4. What professional learning do we need?

Resources:Adrienne Gear: Reading and Writing Power, assessment websites, assessment resource books

Release time to collaborate with colleagues working on the same inquiry question.  Release time to visit other classrooms and observe lessons

Professional Learning workshops/sessions on assessment

5. What is our plan?

Our plan is to meet as a primary team and intermediate team once every 2 months to share our learning.  During this time each teacher will share instructional strategies and  activities students have been doing related to the inquiry question. Teachers will share student work, reflections, and observations as evidence of learning.  Our colleagues will provide feedback and from there we will tweak/adjust our inquiry as we move forward.

In June we will share our learning stories supported by student work samples.

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

Please read reflections below:

Ms. Beale: Inquiry Reflection: Exit Slips

Our grade three math block is abuzz with movement and sound. Drawing models on whiteboards, rearranging counters, puzzling over base ten blocks; students use their math tools to practice the different addition and subtraction strategies we are learning. Using tools and erasable whiteboard works well in my classroom to explore strategies and new concepts without the intimidating task of committing it to pencil paper and possibly having to erase everything from everywhere. I love the way my math block works, but sometimes I realize that it’s been two lessons without any documentation or worksheets. Enter exit slips!

This is not a new idea, to be sure, but it is new in my classroom. An exit slip is a small paper with a question that reflects the learning intention of that lesson, which students then complete and hand in on their way out the door. It is very simple to include at the end of a period. Dear students: show your work, use this strategy, let me see what you can do.

Any new thing comes with challenges, and exit slip challenges include considerate friends helping others but not telling me, where do I store them, and having to be prepared ahead of time by printing them all out and photocopying them. (Colleagues problem-solved this for me with a suggestion – write the question on the whiteboard and have the students copy it down. Much more time and paper efficient.)

Any new thing also comes with successes! Exit slip successes include extremely timely and efficient assessment – should I reteach this strategy, spend more time on practice to help solidify the concept, or shall we move on? I was instantly given a very clear picture of student ability and understanding of particular strategy.

The next exit slip step for me is to include student self-assessment. I will have baskets labeled “PROFICIENT – I can understand this concept and can do it by myself,” and “DEVELOPING – I still need help with this concept.” Students will put their exit slips in whichever basket they feel matches their level of understanding, which gives me further insight into their learning.   

Ms. Dhadda Inquiry Reflection: Criteria and Self & Peer Assessment 

Inquiry Question: How does the consistent use of criteria (writing performance standards) and self and peer assessment improve students writing?

I noticed my students were not striving to improve in writing. I would mark my students writing each week but they continued making the same mistakes! I would also do mini-lessons with worksheets (capitalization, conclusion, etc.) but I noticed it didn’t make very much of an impact on students writing.

In January, Sundeep shared strategies I could use to improve my students writing practices during my paragraph unit.

Here are some of the changes I made:

·      Using a criteria for 1 writing performance standard (meaning).

·      Using self and peer assessment.

What I noticed…

As I used these assessment practices on a consistent basis I noticed my students were much more reflective and engaged in the writing process. Students were making improvements in their paragraph writing each week! They also were super clear on what a strong paragraph looked like. I have included examples of 2 students before and after. You will notice both of the students writing is much more structured and aligns with the criteria and self/peer assessment sheet we thoroughly explored and used during writing time.

What I would do differently next time…

·      Include the criteria (writing performance standard) in the self/peer assessment sheet. I would do this so students are reminded to reflect on the writing performance standard. I can use a simple statement for meaning: “Topic is clear” and “Includes details and explanations.”

·      Allow a few students at the end of each week to share their paragraph. I think the consistent use of examples provides students more opportunities to identify what makes a good paragraph!

·      Conferencing with a group of students each week. It can be a short and meaningful conference where we focus on 1 aspect of their writing (conclusion, topic sentence, etc.)  For example, the students in the group can read their conclusion and I can provide each student a compliment/suggestion.

Ms. Chamberlayne Inquiry Reflection: How does student generated criteria in writing effect student learning outcomes?

I believe when students are held accountable for their learning they strive to be better, so why not put all the ownership on them? Sounds simple enough, however I ran into some problems when rolling out this initiative. I felt that during the criteria process in writing activities I was having to guide students a lot more than I would have liked. I was having to come up with more appropriate criteria. This could be because my students are still relatively young and they are still learning the different skills of what makes a good writer. I had to come up with a better way for my students to use criteria that would facilitate their growth in writing.

So instead, I started a writing program in my class called “Paragraph of the Week.” Students are given a topic to write about. The writing process is done in a series of steps. For example, on Monday students are asked to brainstorm about their given topic. Tuesday they need to provide a topic sentence, detailed with explanations and a closing sentence. On Wednesday, students need to choose two sentences from their draft that they feel could be enhanced and then make revisions to those sentences. Also provided for the students on this day is a criteria checklist of what should be included in their revised sentences. On Thursday students are asked to write their good copy and then I have them self-evaluate their paragraph based on the criteria I’ve provided. When students have completed their own self evaluations, I have them pair up with someone else in class to read each other’s paragraphs. On Friday I have the students read their paragraph aloud to the class. After reading their paragraph, students give feedback using “Stars” and “Wishes.”  

 

On the first day of starting “Paragraph of the Week” I went over the criteria and how I would be grading them. I wanted students to have a clear understanding of what this would look like, so I went over the language and gave them examples. The scale that I used to grade them is out of four and in each scale, there is a list of writing conventions and expectations for each grade scale. The writing criteria helps students double check their writing to make sure they haven’t forgotten anything in their paragraph.

Some things I noticed since we’ve started this writing program are students are using the language from their criteria as they go through the writing process. Also, during the paragraph read aloud I’m noticing students are really listening to see if students have included strong topic sentences, details with descriptive explanations, and closing sentences. Knowing that they will have to read their paragraph in front of the class makes students take more ownership and pride in their work. I have noticed an improvement in most of my students writing since we’ve started “Paragraph of the Week,” I believe this is due to the structured steps and clear criteria in this writing program.   

Ms. Atwal Inquiry Reflection:

With this being my first year as a grade one teacher, I wanted my students to know that it is okay to take risks when it comes to learning. They should not be afraid to be vocal or engage in academic conversations. Using social and emotional learning (SEL), my students began to trust me as their educator. I created a safe place for my students by being empathic, kind, and most importantly listening to them. But, I needed them to be comfortable with sharing their learning intentions. I thought to myself, how do we get there? What does that look like for grade one? Luckily, I was introduced to WALT (We are learning to) statements by my admin. It is a perfect way to get students involved by communicating and providing evidence to their learning. This led me to my inquiry question: What impact do WALT statements have on student’s self-reflection and assessment?

I focused my inquiry in the field of mathematics. For example, I used WALT statements during Math period. I would start off by stating to the class that we are learning to add by using different strategies. Not only was I verbally teaching them, but I also provided visuals to illustrate for those who learn better with imagery. This would naturally lead the lesson to talk about the importance of numbers and how they can work together.

 After making the transition to WALT statements, I immediately recognized that majority of my students were able to make connections with the lesson.

Overall, delivering WALT statement in my grade 1 classroom was successful. Not only were majority of my class became effective learners they were able to explain the algorithm to another peer.  As a first year teacher, this was a perfect inquiry to improve my assessment practices as an educator.

Ms. Luck and Ms. McIntyre Inquiry Reflection:

What we did:

·      This school year, we decided to focus on student goal setting in grades 1 and 2.

·      We made a progression of writing goals (see attached) that fit into the categories of spelling, neat, conventions, and meaning/detail.

·      Students had pockets in the back of their journals to keep their goal sheets.

·      Each time they write, they take the goal sheet out, read their goals, and then write with their goals in mind.

·      At the beginning of the year, I set students goals.

·      Goals are specialized for the child.

·      Then I had a writing conference with each child so they understood what they would be working on with their specific goal.

·      Writing goals are identified on their list, by highlighter. The same highlighter is put on the back of their goal sheet and is dated.  

·      Students additionally write out their goals on a separate recording sheet that is attached at the back of their journal (see attached). Students self-record goals there and can track when they have completed them in conference. This is really nice for taking to parents.

·      Each time students make new goals, we highlighted on their list their new ones (in a new colour) and checked off the ones they had accomplished.

·      After the first goal setting meeting, goals are determined together in the conference. We read the current goals together and then read over their last few journal entries to see if we have been doing them consistently or not. If we have, then we check them off and record it on the recording sheet. Then we look to see what might be a good goal for them for next. For some students, it is helpful to suggest or direct them towards goals, but for others they are very aware of what they are to work on next and will come to the table to tell you which ones need to be highlighted next. Some will even go ahead to further goals, before writing conferences, if they feel like they have accomplished theirs. The important thing is the ownership process.

·      Students have between 1 and 3 goals at a time, depending on the student, time of year, and the goals selected.

 

How it went:

·      So well!

·      The students took ownership of their goal setting and of their growth in writing.

·      The results were that students made much faster progress in their goals then I would have expected.

·      Students made such fast progress it was hard to keep up with the writing conferences.

·      Regular conferencing is key or some get lazy and are not diligent about working on their goals.

 

Moving Forward:

·      I will start it a little bit earlier in the year.

·      I will change my goals depending on the grade level taught/ the competency of my students in writing.

·      I will try to have more writing conferences through the school year.

 

 

 

 

 

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