Cindrich Elementary 23-24

OUR CONTEXT

Cindrich Elementary is a vibrant and diverse community, comprising 420 enthusiastic learners. An impressive 82% of our students speak a language other than English at home, reflecting the rich tapestry of our school. In total, 24 different languages are spoken in the homes of our students, who hail from 26 different birth countries. This diversity brings unique strengths and challenges, particularly for families who are new to Canada. Recognizing this, we understand the critical need for foundational skills in reading, especially early reading comprehension, to ensure long-term success in the Canadian school system. Reading comprehension involves not just decoding words but also understanding and interpreting the text. We believe that for children to truly grasp written material, they must be able to decode the words, make meaningful connections with their prior knowledge, and engage in deep, reflective thinking about the text. As a school, we have made a significant shift in how we approach literacy instruction, employing evidence-based strategies to enhance reading proficiency. Over half of our school is now utilizing UFLI (University of Florida Literacy Institute), an explicit and systematic program designed to teach students the necessary skills for proficient reading. This approach has led to immense growth in our students' foundational skills. By using decodables—books that reinforce the skills of sounding out, blending, and segmenting—teachers have observed remarkable progress. With our students demonstrating significant growth, we are now transitioning them to trade books. These traditional books allow students to apply their newfound skills in a broader context, helping to build their background knowledge, comprehension, and vocabulary. Trade books enable students to explore everyday literature, effectively bridging their skills to more complex reading materials. To better support our students, our staff has committed to continuous professional development. This year, we engaged in a staff book study focused on "Shifting the Balance (K-2): 6 Ways to Bring the Science of Reading into the Balanced Literacy Classroom" by Jan Burkins and Kari Yates. This insightful book has been instrumental in shaping our teaching strategies. Each month, we delved into a different aspect of the book, ensuring that our teaching practices are aligned and that all students benefit from consistent and effective learning opportunities. In addition to "Shifting the Balance," some of our staff members participated in a book club throughout the school year, focusing on "Reading Above the Fray." This book club provided a platform for in-depth discussions and reflections on advanced reading strategies, further enriching our instructional approaches. By expanding our understanding and application of these methods, we aim to equip our students with the skills they need to excel in reading and beyond. Our collective efforts as a staff underscore our commitment to fostering an inclusive and supportive learning environment. By continually enhancing our own knowledge and teaching practices, we strive to meet the diverse needs of our students and help them achieve their full potential.


OUR LEARNERS

The core competencies are an integral part of British Columbia's curriculum, designed to equip students with essential proficiencies for deep, lifelong learning. Alongside literacy, numeracy, and other critical subjects, these competencies support students in becoming well-rounded individuals. At Cindrich Elementary, the core competencies are woven into every aspect of our education: Communication, Thinking, and Personal and Social Awareness. We believe that fostering the Communication competency is key to enhancing student success and developing thoughtful, proficient readers. According to British Columbia's curriculum, the Communication competency "encompasses the knowledge, skills, processes, and dispositions we associate with interactions with others. Through their communication, students acquire, develop, and transform ideas and information, and make connections with others to share their ideas, express their individuality, further their learning, and get things done. The Communication competency is fundamental to finding satisfaction, purpose, and joy." Our focus on the Communication competency has led us to ensure that our students not only read but also internalize, understand, and interact with the texts they encounter. Effective reading comprehension goes beyond phonological awareness and vocalizing words; it encompasses a range of language skills, including grammar (syntax), vocabulary, and semantics, to grasp the meaning of texts. Good readers create mental images of the words they read, connect new information with prior knowledge, and can comfortably answer comprehension questions and summarize parts or entire texts. Integrating these skills with phonics instruction helps develop the brain's orthographic processing system, which links letters, sounds, meaning, and context. By embedding these competencies into our curriculum, we strive to nurture students who are not only capable readers but also effective communicators and critical thinkers, prepared to navigate and thrive in an increasingly complex world.

OUR FOCUS

At Cindrich Elementary, our early education teachers have been dedicated to enhancing reading skills through targeted phonemic awareness instruction. Recognizing the critical importance of early literacy, our teachers began last school year with a focused approach to identify and address the specific needs of each student. In May 2023, kindergarten students completed ELPAT assessment (Early Literacy Phonemic Awareness Tool Surrey); The ELPATS is a tool that helps teachers keep track of how well students are learning important phonemic awareness skills, which are crucial for reading and writing. Starting in kindergarten, teachers use this tool regularly to check students' progress until they have mastered each skill. The skills included in the ELPATS are based on research showing they are essential for reading and writing success. The results of this assessment provided valuable insights into individual areas that required attention. This assessment allowed our teachers to tailor their instruction, ensuring that each child received the support necessary to develop strong foundational reading skills. Throughout the year, our teachers employed a variety of strategies to reinforce phonemic awareness. They worked closely with small groups of students, focusing on phonological skills such as decoding, blending, and segmenting. By providing targeted instruction, our teachers helped students not only read words but also comprehend and engage with the texts. This hands-on, personalized approach ensured that each student could progress at their own pace while benefiting from the collective learning environment. 


In January of this year, the same quick phonics screener was administered once again to measure the progress made since May 2023. The results have been nothing short of remarkable. In two of our classrooms, all grade one students who were unable to read at the beginning of the school year have now reached a proficient reading level. This dramatic improvement highlights the effectiveness of our phonemic awareness instruction and the dedication of our teachers to fostering early literacy skills. These achievements are a testament to the power of evidence-based teaching methods and the commitment of our staff to student success. By focusing on phonemic awareness and providing targeted support, we have been able to create a strong foundation for our students' future academic endeavors. Our teachers' efforts have not only improved reading proficiency but have also instilled a love of reading in our young learners, setting them on a path to lifelong literacy. The success of our early education program has inspired us to extend these practices to older grades, ensuring that all students at Cindrich benefit from a cohesive and comprehensive approach to literacy instruction. 

The specific Curricular Competencies from British Columbia's curriculum that our primary teachers are focusing on throughout the primary grades are:

  • Read fluently at grade level (Grades 1-3)
  • Use sources of information and prior knowledge to make meaning (K-3)
  • Use developmentally appropriate reading, listening, and viewing strategies to make meaning (K-3)
  • Engage actively as learners, viewers, and readers, as appropriate, to develop understanding of self, identity, and community (K-3)
  • Use personal experience and knowledge to connect to stories and other texts to make meaning (K-2)
  • Recognize the structure and elements of story (Grades 1-3)
  • Show awareness of how story in First Peoples cultures connects people to family and community (Grades 1-3)



OUR NEXT STEPS

As outlined in the previous sections, our school's focus this year has been on our early primary students, making significant strides in enhancing their foundational reading skills. This has been accomplished through our strategic implementation of evidence-based reading instruction methodologies, particularly the UFLI (University of Florida Literacy Institute) program. We are now excited to announce the next phase of our literacy initiative: expanding our reading instruction focus to older grades to ensure a seamless and cohesive educational experience for all our students. To support this transition and create a unified approach to reading instruction, our Learning Support Team will also be integrating UFLI into their support strategies. By doing so, we aim to provide consistent and targeted support that aligns with the shifts happening in our classrooms. This integration will allow for a more cohesive educational environment, where both students and teachers benefit from a unified, evidence-based approach to literacy. 

By adopting UFLI, our Learning Support Team will be able to better address the diverse learning needs of our students, particularly those who require extra assistance in developing their reading proficiency. The expansion of our literacy focus to older grades will build on the successes we have seen with our early primary students. Our staff is actively determining which book study to explore next year, continuing our commitment to professional development and evidence-based teaching practices. This ongoing learning will ensure that we remain at the forefront of effective literacy instruction, continuously improving our methods to better serve our students. At Cindrich Elementary, we recognize the importance of creating a holistic and supportive learning environment. By aligning the efforts of our classroom teachers and Learning Support Team with the principles of UFLI, we are fostering an educational atmosphere that prioritizes student growth and success. Our goal is to empower all students with the skills they need to become proficient, thoughtful readers, capable of engaging deeply with texts and making meaningful connections. Through this comprehensive approach, we are confident that our students will continue to thrive academically, supported by a cohesive and well-coordinated educational framework. By embedding these competencies into our curriculum and expanding our focus to include older grades, we are committed to nurturing students who are not only capable readers but also effective communicators and critical thinkers, prepared to navigate and excel in an increasingly complex world.

Surrey Schools

Formed in 1906, the Surrey School District currently has the largest student enrolment in British Columbia and is one of the few growing districts in the province. It is governed by a publicly elected board of seven trustees.

The district serves the cities of Surrey and White Rock and the rural area of Barnston Island.

Surrey Schools
14033 - 92 Avenue Surrey,
British Columbia V3V 0B7
604-596-7733