Don Christian Elementary 23-24



At Don Christian, we believe that literacy skills are the foundations of lifelong learning and full participation in society. Reading enables us to better understand and connect to the world and people around us. Reading is crucial to empower students to make meaning, think critically and creatively, and reach their full potential. Throughout the grades, literacy is applied across all areas of learning. Teaching effective decoding and comprehension skills is crucial to the overall success of Don Christian students. Here are some examples of how our learners at Don Christian utilize their reading skills:

Our students develop critical thinking skills.

Our students engage in daily reading activities that help them develop critical thinking skills. By analyzing characters, settings, and plots in various texts, they learn to make predictions, draw inferences, and identify the main ideas and themes, fostering a deeper understanding of the material.

Here is one of our students interacting with the characters of a book, retelling and building his own stories.

Many of the students at Don Christian engage in daily read-aloud sessions, which significantly enhances their listening skills and fosters a love for reading. The benefits of these sessions include improved comprehension, increased vocabulary, and the ability to connect themes and characters in the story. Below is an example of a final activity completed by Grade 2/3 students. Each student built a robot including a summary, characters and setting of the novel, The Wild Robot, reinforcing their understanding.

While listening to the novel, The One and Only Ivan, students created a bulletin board with new vocabulary. This activity enhances their comprehension and analytical abilities by encouraging them to understand and use new words in context, fostering discussions about the story and its themes. Additionally, it promotes empathy and perspective-taking as students explore and share different aspects of the novel's characters and events.

Our students learn collaboratively 

Don Christian students engage in activities like reader's theatre, literature circles, and other collaborative endeavours fostering a vibrant and inclusive community within the school. Through these interactive experiences, the students develop critical reading skills, enhance their comprehension abilities, and cultivate a love for literature. Furthermore, these activities promote teamwork, communication, and empathy, laying the foundation for a supportive learning environment where every voice is valued.

Reader's Theatre

Here a group of students from an intermediate class are practicing reader's theatre to build fluency. Reading with expression brings the story to life, capturing the audience's attention.

Literature Circles

Don Christian students learn collaboratively through literature circles by engaging in discussions about a shared text, allowing them to exchange diverse perspectives and deepen their understanding. This interactive approach fosters critical thinking, enhances comprehension, and builds communication skills as they collaboratively analyze and reflect on the reading material.

Spuds in Tubs

These grade 2/3 students are working collaboratively in "Spuds in Tubs" by planting and observing the growth of their potato plants, sharing their predictions about how the plants will develop over time. They engage in discussions, asking each other questions about the changes they see and what those changes might mean for their plants' future growth. This teamwork fosters a shared learning experience, encouraging curiosity and critical thinking as they monitor and document their plants' progress.

Our students are encouraged to foster a love for reading.

Our students are encouraged to explore diverse genres and authors through independent reading time. By providing a wide range of age-appropriate and culturally relevant books, we aim to cultivate a lifelong love for reading. This not only enhances their literacy skills but also promotes empathy and cultural awareness as they encounter stories from different perspectives.

In the photos below, early primary students are exploring the fascinating world of snails through hands-on activities, observations, and discussions, which help them understand these creatures' habitats and behaviours. The students explore diverse diverse books to enrich their learning experience and broaden their understanding of the world.


Reading is essential and serves as a basic building block for lifelong learning. Reading helps to develop empathy and fosters connection with perspective taking, it improves critical thinking skill and it builds vocabulary authentically to enhances conversation skills.

At the core of every effective reading instruction program are the following: Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Fluency, Vocabulary and Comprehension. While all five areas are vital to effective instruction, we have decided to track fluency as an indicator of where our students are at and whether our instruction in all five areas are leading to improved reading skills for our student population.

Our focus supports the following the following Big Ideas necessary for K-7 instruction in BC:

K-3: Curiosity and wonder lead us to new discoveries about ourselves and the world around us.

Gr. 4-7: Questioning what we hear, read, and view contributes to our ability to be educated and engaged citizens.

Our goals are for students to:

  • Read fluently at grade level
  • Use developmentally appropriate reading, listening and viewing strategies to make meaning

The following offers a glimpse into the dynamic learning experiences tailored to enhance phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension among students. Through interactive activities and engaging tasks, students are immersed in language-rich environments conducive to developing fluency. From collaborative discussions to real-world applications, these experiences foster a holistic approach to promote reading confidence and proficiency.

Here a primary-aged student builds words with magnetics and using word chains to help develop fluency and comprehension by reinforcing phonemic awareness and vocabulary development, which are crucial for decoding and understanding text. These activities also promote pattern recognition and context usage, enabling students to read more smoothly and grasp the meaning more effectively.

Students engage in repeated readings of a decodable passage, focusing on fluency and comprehension. While reading, they highlight key words or phrases to illustrate. This multi-sensory approach helps students deepen vocabulary through visually connecting words to their meanings, deepening their comprehension skills.

Students in this photo below are engaged in a phonics lesson, exploring various ways to produce the long "a" sound, focusing on phoneme pairs like "ai" and "ay". They're observing how "ay" is used at the end of words, enhancing their understanding of spelling patterns and pronunciation.

In these images below, diverse students take turns reading aloud a variety of texts to their classmates, fostering language fluency and comprehension. This interactive practice not only cultivates confidence in public speaking but also enhances listening skills and promotes a deeper engagement with text among peers.

Dictated sentences allow students to practice their listening and writing skills simultaneously, fostering language acquisition. Self-checking against the sentence written on the board encourages students to independently verify their work, reinforcing reading comprehension and accuracy.

The above examples serve as a window into the diverse and immersive learning experiences students engage in at Don Christian Elementary.


For the 2023-2024 academic year, we implemented a specialized learning plan to enhance reading skills for students from grades 2 through 6. When gathering data, teachers were given the flexibility to focus either on small groups of at-risk students or to gather comprehensive reading data for their entire class at the beginning and end of the year. Below are the results of the data, and interview with a student who was emerging in September and is now reading at grade-level.


 The results showed an overall improvement in reading skills across the cohort. Students in both targeted groups and entire classes exhibited significant progress in fluency and comprehension from September to June. The pie charts below show the reading achievements of students in September and June. The September chart shows 52% of students reading at a proficient level, while the June chart indicates an increase to 62%. Both charts show a consistent 25% of students at the developing level. The percentage of students at an emerging reading level decreased significantly, dropping from 20% in September to 8% in June. This shift highlights a considerable improvement, with 10% of students advancing from developing to proficient and 12% moving from emerging to developing. Overall, the data illustrates a positive trend in reading proficiency among the students from September to June.

Interview with a Student

The interview below offers a snapshot into one student's remarkable learning journey, highlighting her significant progress in reading. At the start of the year, she was reading at a mid-grade 3 level, but she has now reached her grade level (end of grade 5). Her increased confidence and reading skills are largely attributed to the effective direct instruction she received in both whole class and small group settings. This tailored and focused teaching approach has played a crucial role in her academic development and success.

The difference she has noticed in her reading this year.

       I can see the difference. I know that I have really improved because now I can read a book without having someone sit next to me and help me sound out words. I still do not like reading aloud because I am still nervous to make mistakes. My book club went well this term, I could read the book really well and I actually understand it. There were only about 5 words I couldn’t read. I looked at them, went back and kept trying to re-read it. After, it was easier for me to kind of understand the word based on what was happening in the story.

When asked about a time she felt proud...

     When I read a few chapter books! I have increased how many books I have read. Last year, I couldn’t read chapter books at all, and it felt like I was missing out.

When asked about how her confidence has shifted...

Yes, my confidence has improved! It has improved because I can keep up with people reading. I feel I can be part of the class and join in. Now I know more strategies to help other kids and I know what to do when I come across a hard word.

Reflection and Next Steps

Although this is our second year focusing on reading as our learning plan, we recognize the importance of continuing this goal into next year. The success of this year's initiatives include:

  •  3 % more students in the cohort are now extending in reading fluency and comprehension
  • 10 % more students in cohort are now proficient in reading fluency and comprehension
  • 12 % of students in cohort have shown improvement and are no longer emerging in reading fluency and comprehension

These results are encouraging. Building on this momentum, our learning plan will continue to focus on improving the reading fluency and comprehension of students in our school, ensuring tailored support and resources are provided. Additionally, our cohort will include a greater number of students, allowing us to extend our reach and impact on more learners. This sustained and expanding focus on reading reflects our commitment to fostering strong literacy skills among our students because reading is essential and serves as a basic building block for lifelong learning.

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