Part 1: Analysis of Context
1. What do we know about our learners?
We have found that our students are imaginative and creative- they are good oral storytellers. By early intermediate, many students have developed good decoding skills. Across the grades, they can make good connections and have good background knowledge. They are also adept at using technology, and by the intermediate grades, they are able to find information that they need.
We are noticing that our students are having more and more difficulty with written output, perhaps as use of technology increases. More students are having difficulty with fine motor skills, and some struggle with perseverance in writing- it can be hard to take an idea and expand on it. We are also noticing that more students are struggling with phonemic awareness (hearing different sounds- a precursor to reading and writing), spelling, conventions such as the use of punctuation, and proper sentence structure.
2. What evidence supports what we know about our learners?
This year, the number of English Language learners at our school has doubled, which has increased the need for classroom teachers to take a more targeted approach when it comes to phonemic awareness across the primary grades.
Our teachers do Fountas and Pinnell levelled reading assessments twice a year, and are able to track reading improvement through these.
The kindergarten teachers use the the ELPATS- Early Literacy Phonemic Awareness Test- to assess students’ understanding of consonant and vowel sounds.
Teachers have noticed that students are producing less work in written form, and that more students are struggling with conventions and spelling.
Part 2: Focus and Planning
3. What focus emerges as a question to pursue?
How will our students’ literacy skills improve by introducing the Heggerty phonemic awareness program at the primary level, and targeted phonemic awareness with intermediate students in learning support?
4. What professional learning do we need?
We will begin by starting a book club once a month where interested staff read Shifting the Balance by Jan Miller Burkins and Kari Yates.
We will also attend after school sessions offered by the district on how to use the Heggerty program to teach phonemic awareness to all primary grades.
5. What is our plan?
We will begin with the book club. The book Shifting the Balance discusses changes teachers can make to their literacy program by introducing more instruction around phonemic awareness.
We have ordered the primary books from the Heggerty program, and will begin by attending workshops on how to begin to implement these strategies. These are being offered by the district in November and December.
Part 3: Reflect, Adjust, Celebrate
6. How will we know our plan is making a difference? (evidence / success criteria)
By the end of term 1, Gr. 1-3 teachers will complete the initial Heggerty assessment to assess for their phonemic awareness skills. They will do the same assessment in June to measure growth.
The K teachers will use the ELPATS in Jan//Feb. and June.
We are hoping to see an improvement in their independence in spelling with greater accuracy, and they will be able to persevere in writing.
We are also expecting to see greater accuracy while reading decodable texts and in our final reading assessments.