Part 1: Analysis of Context

1. What do we know about our learners?


Part One
Who are we?   

Royal Heights Elementary is a K-7 school located in North West Surrey. Although small in size (population 215) we have been fortunate to attract a highly committed teaching staff with diverse skill sets (e.g., specializations in technology; graphics; coding; self-regulated learning; professional development; social-emotional learning). Through this knowledge, along with a supportive PAC, successful grant applications and the generous support of Pacific Custom Brokers, students are provided with the resources (e.g., technology; presenters; field trips) they need to engage in the 21st Century learning.

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

What do we know about our learners?

We know learners come from diverse cultural, social and economic backgrounds. From past initiatives and school projects/events we also know commonalties amongst our students serve to bridge this diversity. These commonalities include: students’ need to feel connections with others and their enjoyment of outdoor/nature-based experiences. We believe it is important to emphasis these connections and provide students with on-going opportunities to engage in outdoor, inquiry-based forms of learning. To this end we have worked closely with our local community, researchers from SFU and UBC and the District to provide students with learning opportunities that are aligned with goals (e.g. Walking Curriculum; First People’s in Residence; Salmon in the Classroom; School Garden; Farm to School; Plant a Seed Foundation, Project Wild, Project Wet and use of nature journals).

What evidence supports what we know about our learners?

Establishing school wide benchmarks:

Attendance at our community events (e.g., 3 community dinners; multiple assembles/performances; after school pumpkin carving; pancake breakfasts; monthly themed assemblies; Spirit Days; ArtStart and evening learning events) indicates that students and their families seek to expand and deepen their connections with the school. Given the known impact of family-school connections on students’ learning outcomes, we consider our focus on community connections to be an essential element in supporting student success.

Additionally, students’ positive feedback and active participation in collaborative, experiential and inquiry-based forms of learning serve as a guide to help us determine future directions for our school.  Evidence from documents pertaining to communicating student learning (e.g., Posts on Twitter, projects shared through Office 365, survey information) and Fresh Grade posts clearly indicate that students are beginning to shift their learning from the stance of “waiting for directions” to becoming directors of their learning, thereby increasing their accountability and engagement in the learning process. This shift in students’ orientations has been demonstrated by students’ active engagement in extended learning projects and by their eagerness to attend and participate in diverse, on-going learning experiences (e.g., coding workshops; cycles of inquiry). Additionally, students Fresh Grade posts demonstrated that they enjoy and value opportunities to share their learning and engage in on-going forms of self-assessment.

Building on this foundation of students’ known interests and learning needs we seek to deepen understandings of forms of assessment to monitor students’ engagement in SRL and connect our on-going focus of SRL to outdoor learning. (These initiatives are described in the next section).

Part 2: Focus and Planning

3. What focus emerges as a question to pursue?

Part Two (focus and planning)
 What focus emerges as a question to pursue
Defining Terms

Self-Regulated Learners: Students who are able to monitor direct, adapt and regulate their actions to achieve learning goals. Self-Regulated Learners possess a growth mindset and are aware of their learning strengths and needs. When needed they seek support for their learning and with time develop repertoires of general learning strategies that can be applied to diverse learning situations, and seek appropriate supports for their learning when required.  Self-regulated learners have a deep interest in learning and seek learning challenges (see: Zimmerman & Schunk 2003; Perry 2006)

Self-Regulated Learning Promoting Practices: Provide opportunities for students to develop self-regulation within learning tasks. To this end, teachers who promote SRL within their classroom design complex, extended learning activities that are accessible for all students. Embedded within learning activities are opportunities for students to: engage in choice; monitor their progress; receive peer and teacher feedback; appropriate levels of challenge; opportunities to develop new strategies.

Outdoor Learning:  includes discovery, experimentation, learning about and connecting to the natural world. Research shows us Outdoor Learning helps students develop their abilities to reflect and learn about themselves, each other and their environment.

Orientating Towards Our Goals

Several foci have emerged as central to shaping future learning directions at Royal Heights. These include our commitment to promoting self-regulated learning through outdoor education and increasing students’ sense of attachment to their school and community.

Specifically, we would like to further examine:

1.    How can we promote students’ self-regulated learning (SRL) through increasing their understandings of strategies to plan and monitor their learning?

2.     How can students’ involvement in gardening activities support their development of strategies to plan and monitor their learning?  

3.     How can we increase students’ sense of belonging and attachment to school?

         a. What events/procedures/activities support students’ attachment to school?

         b. How can we measure students’ attachment to school?


4. What professional learning do we need?

What professional learning do we do?

Learning alongside UBC and District staff

Teachers within our school are continually engaging in on-going District-Based Professional Development to ensure students have access to diverse learning opportunities and the resources they need to engage successfully within them.  Additionally, our teaching staff has participated in a series of five evening learning seminars led by Dr. Nancy Perry (UBC) over the course of this year. These seminars have allowed teachers to develop and explore their own inquiry questions about how they can promote students’ development of self-regulated learning through outdoor learning activities.

Over the past two years, teachers have opted to engage in school-wide professional development activities. Upon the request of teachers David Stritch, a PhD student in Curriculum Development at UBC has facilitated, on-going, long term professional development opportunities with our staff. To this end he has supported teachers to engage in their inquiry questions (see above) and deepen their knowledge of outdoor education.  Additionally, Dr. Gillian Judson from SFU has also supported teachers’ inquiries, visited our school and shared resources with us regarding outdoor education.

These connections with UBC and SFU have created deep links between Royal Heights and the research community. We frequently host researchers, PhD students and teacher candidates in our school. These visits create an opportunity for teachers to keep abreast of current, effective teaching practices and theory. In turn, teachers are able to give back to the research community by rooting current theory within the “language of practice”.  We look forward to further expanding these connections with UBC in the upcoming years. As in past years, next year we will open our doors to provide an embedded learning experience for Teacher Candidates and Faculty working within UBCs’ Indigenous, Self-Regulated Learning and Social Emotional Learning Cohorts. 

In addition to participating in professional development workshops, and self-regulation inquiry, several of our staff members are currently deepening their practices by participating in Masters programs related to outdoor education and ecological awareness. Our collaborative teaching team is constantly finding ways to share their learning, and to embrace outdoor education in the Royal Heights community.

5. What is our plan?

 What is our plan?

Question 1: How can we promote self-regulated learning (SRL) through outdoor education to improve learning outcomes for students?

a. How can outdoor activities support SRL?

b. How will we measure students’ self-regulated learning?

Aligned with SRL research presented in the book “Developing Self-Regulated Learners” (Deborah L. Butler, Leyton Schnellert, Nancy E. Perry), Monika Stahlstrom created a series of student questionnaires to probe students’ perceptions of their development of self-regulated learning practices. Additionally, Monika also developed several planning tools for teachers to reflect on their implementation of SRL and develop tasks that promote SRL. For example, the student assessment asks students to indicate their use of SRL strategies on a Likert scale (e.g., I ask for help if needed). Likewise, the teacher SRL planning tools poses specific questions for teachers that probe their design of SRL tasks (e.g., How will you help students engage in full cycles of strategic action [interpreting tasks; setting goals; planning; enacting strategies; monitoring; revising].

Planning, Monitoring and Adjusting

During our summer Professional Development sessions, teachers will begin to use this planning tool to examine how they can integrate SRL practices through outdoor education. Throughout the year further ProD time will be scheduled to examine teachers’ implementation of their plans and how plans need to be adjusted/revised. These opportunities will also serve as a platform for teachers to share practices in their classrooms that promote SRL through outdoor learning.

Along with examining teachers’ implementation of SRL practices, we intend to gather data about students’ perceptions of their engagement in SRL. To this end, we will ask students to complete the SRL student survey at the beginning and end of the school year. Together, these data will provide information about links between teachers’ and students’ uptake of SRL practices.

Question 2: How can students’ involvement in gardening activities support their development of strategies to plan and monitor their learning?   

Farm to School BC
Funded by the Ministry of Health and delivered by the Public Health Association of BC, F2SBC provides grants to schools across the province to implement and sustain school-based activities that reflect their needs and the capacity of the local community. F2SBC links schools to their local communities by mobilizing stakeholders and strengthening food systems. F2SBC endeavors to empower students, build school capacity and improve food literacy skills such as knowledge around the local food system, growing food, preparing food, sharing food, managing waste and healthy eating

Farm to School conducts two evaluations each year to determine program impact, identify success factors and identify and address barriers to implementation. Data will be collected through a variety of methods such as student surveys and self-reflections, focus groups, observations (e.g., school tours), and interviews with teachers, school administrators, community partners, dieticians and parents. 

The data collected helps us analyze changing attitudes, knowledge and behaviour regarding healthy, local food and how the direct connection to our school garden may increase students abilities to plan and monitor their learning regarding their learning inquiries.

‘Community animator’ grows food literacy in Surrey schools

Question 3: How can we increase students’ sense of belonging and attachment to school?

a.    What events/procedures/activities support students’ attachment to school?

b.   How can we measure students’ attachment to school?

To assess students’ sense of belonging and attachment to their school we will administer two questionnaires at the beginning and end of the school year. The first questionnaires will be distributed in the fall we will ask students and families to identify their feelings of attachment toward the school and staff. These data will be used as baselines.  While all data will be considered, we will extract data gathered from students and families new to our school community. These data will provide targeted information regarding how and if students’ sense of attachment increases or decreases throughout the year. In June, the final questionnaires will be distributed. In addition to questions included in the first questionnaire, these probes will also be included to gather information about what events, activities and procedures are most meaningful for students and their families.


Part 3: Reflect, Adjust, Celebrate

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

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