Part 1: Analysis of Context

1. What do we know about our learners?

White Rock Elementary is a K-7 dual track school in White Rock, BC, Canada, currently in its 90th year. The new building was opened in 2007. White Rock is located in an area with a mix of apartments and single-family homes.  The school is currently home to approximately 490 students who learn in the main building, and our modular classrooms. The community consists largely of diverse families, many with two incomes. Each student brings a unique set of strengths and needs.  Our school community serves as a microcosm that reflects our diverse society; a school community that makes humanitarian needs a focus, as we all learn about what matters. The Aboriginal Principles of Learning are embraced in our curriculum studies, as we reach out into our community to make connections.

White Rock Elementary offers an Intensive Fine Arts Education choice program for K-7.  There are currently 273 students in our Neighbourhood classes and 214 students enrolled in our Intensive Arts Education program. 

Our beautiful facility, with a music room, dance, drama and art studios are used on a rotating basis by all classes.  As well, the four pods outside of the classrooms are used for small group work and additional teaching space.  Our beautiful Library Commons is a space that allows for a fluid, organic flow, where student learning choices guide the focus of our full time Teacher Librarian. The learning commons is an evolving space. This level of activity and movement gives the school a very active feeling.  Teaching our students to prepare themselves for their day of learning and honing their skills for the workforce has been the focus of our work. In addition to differentiation within our classrooms, we celebrate the diversity of our learners through individualized learning with our Learning Support and Integration staff. Being near the ocean, our students also have the gift of experiential learning right outside our classroom doors steps away from the beach. We have a Seaquarium in our school in which our students take ownership of. With support of Friends of Semiahmoo Bay, our students look after sealife within the building. In addition we have many community partnerships including: Fraser Valley Public Library (White Rock Branch), RCMP, Seniors homes (Grandbuddies), Donations from local communities, as well as our hot lunch supporting local restaurants.

Our students are inquisitive, curious, and courageous.  We have a very diverse population from different socio-economic backgrounds and our students bring with them, a wealth of background knowledge that has enabled them to apply those skills to their everyday learning in and out of the classroom.  Visitors to our school have commented on what a lively and welcoming place it is to be and that White Rock pride is undeniable when you walk into the building.  Students have embraced technology and inquiry-based learning and teaching as it allows them to pursue their passions and interests. Recently, these passions have expanded into an interest into robotics and coding.  Staff have responded to this thirst and have thoughtfully designed programs that are engaging and challenging for every learner. 

The parents at White Rock work tirelessly helping to build a positive school community with special events and fundraising to support the school. The Parent Advisory Committee plays a very active role in building a positive learning community. Many parents volunteer on a regular basis both in classrooms and on field trips.  The PAC has organized many events including a Winter Craft Fair, Book Fairs, Parent Socials, Pancake Breakfasts, hot lunches. They have also generously fundraised for the purchasing of supplies, materials and sponsoring performances to support the implementation of the new BC Curriculum.  Technology (laptops, iPads, robotics), sports equipment, Social Emotional tools, teacher resources and fundraising for our new playground are just a few items the PAC has contributed to. From 2018-2019 the PAC will be actively fundraising for a new outdoor playground.

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

White Rock learners demonstrate a level of confidence as they are often asked to perform in front of an audience.  We would like to see students increase their pride and ownership for their own work.  Students have started to share their thinking, for example, in Math, they are starting to show their learning pictorially, concretely, and orally.  We would like to see them move along this continuum and self-reflect and self-evaluate their work.  This includes inviting students to reflect purposefully and intentionally on their learning which is shared in a digital portfolio or in their communicating student learning format.

Students are going deeper into their learning. For example, for Science Fair students are asked to think like real scientists and design and conduct experiments from things they are curious about in the world. Students are encouraged to think about how their findings could impact their local or global communities. Students are starting to learn to think outside the box and think in a new way.

Our White Rock Students are: 

 

Confident

  • 2 Grade 1’s presenting at Intensive Arts Education Open House
  • Student leaders running school wide gatherings
  • Willingness to volunteer – say Yes I can and Will you help me?
  • Intermediates self advocate 

Curious

  • Inquiry projects (eg: Science Fair, Young Entrepreneurs, Notables
  • Encouraging an inquiry based approach to learning – ask probing questions
  • Metacognition
  • Wonder walls – wonder walks –
  • Library accessible early morning
  • Robotics: Spheros, mBots, Ozzobots, Osmos, Blocks
  • Coding: Scratch Jr., Codeables, and multiple ever evolving apps

Passionate

  • Seaquarium
  • Student leadership
  • Self identity projects
  • Chess club
  • Metacognition – Mind Up
  • Pursue interests through the electives program (intermediate): cooking, painting, STEM, sewing, garage band, stop motion animation, construction (buddy bench),

Empathetic

  • Student Leadership- Grade 6 Clothing drive, GOOS paper, Food Bank, Working with Free the Children Foundation, supporting other students in our local community,
  • Self awareness
  • Buddy activities
  • Lunch monitors
  • Children who are responsive to their environment and the people in it (reporting to an adult, seeking adult help, showing care and concern)
  • Awareness of Indigenous principles of learning and the practice of them by all students
  • Choir – community outreach
  • Self regulation strategies used daily in the classroom

Reflective

  • In their online digital portfolios students are able to articulate their own understanding of where they are at in their learning. Students are asked to look at their own work and identify where they are and develop goals for where they want to go.
  • Self assessment
  • Morning message promotes mindfulness and tone checking
  • Peer editing and feedback

Creative

  • School wide Art Show, Dance Festival, Drama Productions
  • Purposeful play at intermediate level – then reflection
  • initiate creative – go deeper and think globally
  • Choir
  • Band program
  • Author visits
  • Visual Arts Club

Independent

  • Math Stations in primary classrooms to start the day off
  • Intermediate rotations in the Grade 4 and 5 classrooms
  • Upper intermediate students having choice around electives
  • Flexible seating in Grade 7 classroom
  • Grade 7 camp

Athletic

  • We have a variety of sport teams (Cross Country, Soccer, Volleyball, Basketball, Track and Field, Ultimate)
    • Lunch hour open gym times
    • Monthly school wide runs
    • Terry Fox run
    • Zumba
    • Tennis
    • Jump Rope for Heart
    • School wide support for world events – Olympics (unifying)
    • Swimming, skating

Collaborative

  • Lip Dub school wide led by Grade 6 & 7 Students
  • Team leaders – focus on core and curricular competencies – and gatherings to strengthen understanding and practice
  • Buddy benches built by Grade 7’s for primary children to sit on to chat and share
  • Play
  • Big Buddies
  • Student leadership (Grade 7’s teaching technology)

Courageous

  • Risk takers in learning/sharing
  • Reaching beyond the school into the community to make connections
  • Reading Link Challenge Grade 4/5

Part 2: Focus and Planning

3. What focus emerges as a question to pursue?

As we continue uncovering the current Ministry Curriculum, district initiatives, and the changing needs of our students, we have identified four main growth areas that we will focus on to help move our students forward:

1.    To what degree does inviting inquiry and choice encourage student engagement and increase student ownership?

2.    To what degree does teaching and implementing SEL (Social Emotional Learning) strategies increase student success and confidence?

3.    To what degree does teacher participation in long term district initiatives have an impact on changing results in student learning?

4.    How can descriptive and timely feedback from staff, peers, self and parents further student learning?

We have identified our core beliefs:

  • We are ALL learners
  • We ALL belong
  • Learning is enhanced through connection, choice and collaboration
  •  A growth mindset, persistence, grit and resilience and a sense of belonging encourages risk-taking in a safe-learning environment
  • Continue to celebrate and affirm the powerful and impactful work our staff is doing

4. What professional learning do we need?

Based on the questions we have, here are the areas of professional learning we want to explore:

To what degree does inviting inquiry and choice encourage student engagement and increase student ownership?

  • Creating a strong foundation for the teachers understanding the choices, programs available
  • Attending workshops that the district offers
  • Having time together to explore
  • District in-service
  • District Helping Teachers to come into our classrooms
  • Staff Book Clubs
  • To continue in school curricular café to access expertise in the building
  • Invite student leaders to come and teach teachers or other classes 

To what degree does teaching and implementing SEL (Social Emotional Learning) strategies increase student success and confidence?

  • Access to resources and a list of what programs or books are available in the building
  • A partnership with a mentoring colleague to share the learning journey
  • Professional reading
  • Time with Taunya Shaw our District Helping Teacher

To what degree does teacher participation in long term district initiatives have an impact on changing results in student learning?

  • Need professional learning opportunities at a district level to remain excited and passionate about our practice
  • Off site visits to schools who are also working on our same goals
  • Peer visits between teachers with release time from administration to see what’s happening in classrooms in our school.
  • Funding for attendance at dinner series and inquiry projects at a district level.

How can descriptive and timely feedback from staff, peers, self and parents further student learning?

  • We would like to delve deeper into formative assessment, student self-reflections, and explore the digital literacies – specifically STEM, ADST, and Coding.  For this, teachers are engaged in their own individual learning, team collaborative inquiries, and workshops. 

 

 

5. What is our plan?

To what degree does inviting inquiry and choice encourage student engagement and increase student ownership?

  • Pick one day a month where staff can come together and invite an expert in to speak to a topic of interest.
  • At Staff Meetings, and Primary and Intermediate meetings and some time from Pro-D Days commit to inviting staff to share some learning from a workshop or exciting learning in their classroom. 
  • At the start of each year, make a document outlining the skill sets and expertise of each staff member so others can contact and collaborate with those staff members.
  • Continue with opportunities for Electives at the intermediate level for students to explore different art styles and ADST explorations

To what degree does teaching and implementing SEL (Social Emotional Learning) strategies increase student success and confidence?

  • We started our school year reading What Matters and talking about what mattered to us as a school. Teachers shared What Matters to them…
  • When we have vulnerable groups of students it’s important they are supported emotionally by staff and programs.
  • We would like to continue to implement the use of noise cancellation ear muffs, student breaks, daily runs, wiggle cushions, children’s literature, school wide yoga, programs such as Friends for Life and MindUp, friendship groups (lunch bunches), hot tea trolley, yoga at lunch in the dance studio, soft starts (board games, numeracy stations, open Library).
  • Make February a Friendship and Kindness month
  • Pick a social emotional picture book for the whole school to read and explore, and gather for an assembly
  • Intentionally pairing our younger students with older students to build confidence and teach patience and compassion.
  • We embrace “it takes a village to raise a child” mentality. This looks like continuing with the wrap around support of all staff (teachers, counsellors, LST) with all students no matter who is in your classroom
  • When students are overwhelmed or need a break, we support by redirecting and finding a positive supportive space and invite them to help with a job that is serving their community.
  • Building a school wide survey to ask students how they are feeling in the school and using this information to help us set goals and move forward.

To what degree does teacher participation in long term district initiatives have an impact on changing results in student learning?

  • Continue to stay connected with district workshops offered as well as connect with the District Helping teachers by reaching out to them for support and inviting them into our school.
  • Administrators will communicate professional learning opportunities to staff.
  • We value learning from these experiences and from the impact they have on young learners.
  • Provide parents with opportunities to participate in forums and information sessions to be more connected to the new curriculum

How can descriptive and timely feedback from staff, peers, self and parents further student learning?

  • We have a collaborative team of 6 teachers from a variety of grades who will hope to report out through their own portfolio as to how student learning has been impacted.  They have visited other schools, collaborated with one another and are working with their own students to help them articulate their own learning. So far this year, teachers have worked in teams to visit other schools and observe strategies on how to best give descriptive feedback.  We also have teachers who work at the school-level and direct their focus on the students right here, at White Rock.  Much thoughtful discussion have derived from these conversations as teachers are reflective in their practice and constantly sharing out the best instructional strategies they have observed and implemented in their own classrooms. 
  • A sense of pride has been instilled on our students as they take care of themselves, each other, and the community.  That pride directly correlates to the ownership of their own learning journey as teachers and students strive to emphasize progress, not product.  Regular reflections and conferences between teachers, parents and students are opportunities for rich discussions.  Through avenues such as student-led conferences, discussion boards on classroom Blogs, and comments on FreshGrade, teachers work hard to make sure that parents and students are well-informed. 

Part 3: Reflect, Adjust, Celebrate

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

We will gauge the success of our four questions, by noticing and documenting the following:

When student engagement is high, confidence tends to naturally follow.  We would like to gauge this using student feedback (conversations with classes, individuals and teachers),

When there are less office referals for students and reduced calls to CCW and support staff. 

School gatherings will reflect welcoming, respectful and responsive attitudes from all learners.

Teachers and students will want to be at school.

We would like to complete a formal Satisfaction surveys three times a year to gauge how we are doing with our school plan goals.

Having all staff members contributing to leadership within the school.

The tone and the feeling of the school is positive.

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

As we move into the 2018-2019 School year, we will explore these questions in our School Plan and post reflections as we proceed through the year.