Literacy is a fundamental life skill. It is the ability to read, write, speak, and think in a way that lets us communicate effectively and make sense of the world. Communication-a core competency- is embedded across all areas of learning in BC's curriculum central to supporting our learners develop their literacy skills as they collaborate, problem solve, share ideas, share and exchange information, and express their individuality. Evidence of our learners many gifts, attributes, and competencies are illustrated below.
Our learners can communicate their ideas of inclusion, diversity, and collaboration.
Writing sample from a Grade 6 student:
"Let’s understand the connection between Diversity and Inclusion. Diversity is the "what"; inclusion is the "how." Diversity focuses on the makeup of our workforce — demographics such as gender, race/ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, veteran status, just to name a few, and inclusion is a measure of culture that enables diversity to thrive.
At our school Georges Vanier, we welcome diversity and inclusion whole heartedly. We also have the diversity club in place. We celebrate various festivities together which allows students to learn and accept different cultures. We respect and welcome all races, languages, ethnicities, genders and ideologies which makes us proud."
Our learners understand that learning requires exploration of one's identity. They can communicate pride in who they are and what they can do through images and written language.
Our learners can communicate their observations, explain their ideas, and reflect on their personal experiences.
Reflections from another Grade 6 student:
"I feel like I belong at this school because the staff and students are very friendly and supportive. I really like this school and I feel like I belong here".
Students can communicate with clarity their reflections on:
The following are student writing samples explaining their personal 'Truth and Reconciliation' based on the criteria outlined below.
For example, one student would like to focus on wearing red to support the safe treatment of women; while another student is committed to learning from the past.
Each and every day, among the variety of learning experiences presented to our learners, our team of educators focus on thinking, writing, and communicating in all curricular areas. Our aim is to build strong literacy foundations that are fundamental for student's participating in today's world.
Our students' learning goals include these curricular competencies:
Students are provided with learning opportunities aimed at increasing the literacy success of all learners. Students across all grade levels are using writing to create a welcoming and inclusive community, where all are welcomed, feel safe, and have a sense of belonging. To highlight and determine overall successes and gaps, we monitored the progress of one cohort and provided direct experiential learning experiences.
Experiences that have contributed to our students' learning goals include:
a) Providing opportunities to share student writing about a sense of belonging through Hands on Learning.
Students can communicate their understandings and learnings with clarity in an outdoor setting. The picture below is an example of this hands on learning in action.
b) Students can communicate their understandings and learnings with clarity and can collaborate effectively with peers by sharing their stories orally.
Students and their families were invited to our school for personal connections and shared conversation.
Students who gathered for this shared experience demonstrated:
See sample pictures of this shared student learning experience.
Evidence of our students' learning demonstrates that our literacy focus is positively impacting our cohort of learners. When surveyed and asked to communicate their students' progress using the provincial assessment scale, teachers from the cohort indicated that all students are developing growth in relation to our two literacy goals:
It is demonstrated, through the evidence provided by our cohort of students and reflected in the larger group of early intermediate students, that our writing focus is positively impacting learners. After reflecting on what would comprise a representative sample of our student population, we worked closely with a cohort of students.
In order to provide an opportunity for students to work together with a common goal, the cohort gathered to build drums. Drum making is identified as a way to strengthen the presence of culture, language, and traditional practices.
See sample pictures of the first drum making session. Students were taught each step of how to build a drum by an Elder. The Elder was clear in the purpose that, "the process of making the drum is just as important as the final product". Students listened, learned, and created together.
A grade seven student from the cohort reflected on the drum making experiences. See written sample below.
"I felt proud of the drum. Tomorrow I will teach younger kids what I learned".
During the second drum making session, students from the first drum session taught their peers how to make drums. See pictures of this collaboration between peers below. The purpose of this second session was to recognize the importance of 'sharing knowledge and understanding with one another". Students were invited to dig deeper into exploring their own sense of belonging as they worked alongside others.
Direct evidence of student learning from the cohort in relation to the identified goals can be found in the summative analysis of writing progress using the Proficiency Scale. Overall, students increased their ability to provide written samples to express their ideas with clarity.
Before students participated in the drumming sessions, all students in the cohort were 'emerging' in their ability to communicate their sense of belonging in written or oral forms. Please refer to the Proficiency Scale that outlines a description of a learner who is developing in their writing.
After the drumming sessions, students in the cohort were 'developing' in their written abilities to communicate their own sense of belonging. Please refer to the Proficiency Scale that outlines a description of a learner who is developing in their writing.
Analysis of Learning
Early in the school year, students in the cohort were all 'Emerging' in their ability to communicate their ideas in written form. Throughout the year, a variety of supports and interventions were implemented. These included direct teaching of the writing process, side by side instruction, fostering peer collaboration and a joy of learning through each drum making session. By March, as a result of the literacy interventions, coupled with shared learning experiences, all students moved along the proficiency scale to reach a 'Developing' level. In our work moving forward, we will strive to move our learners along the proficiency scales using targeted interventions. We continue to recognize the importance of the process of building literacy skills through valuable experiences that foster a deeper sense of belonging and connectedness.
A window into a student learning experience:
As we began this work, we identified a student in the cohort that did not have a sense of belonging at school. This student often disengaged from learning environments and did not connect with peers. The student was not able to provide a writing sample about any shared experience with clarity.
Evidence of this student's lack of sense of belonging is shown in this student's attendance where the student was absent over 46% of the school days from September to December 2022.
The student began to participate in learning opportunities like the drum making sessions. Over time, the student collaborated with other peers. This student demonstrated a stronger sense of self as was observed smiling while assisting other younger learners to create a drum.
Evidence that this student was developing a sense of belonging through shared, hands on learning experiences can be observed in a dramatic increase in attendance at school from January to March 2023.
This graph shows that the learner was only absent 33% percent of the school days (a marked decrease from 46%) as the learning experiences was having a positive impact.
With direct interventions and support, this learner was able to write about their experiences. Please read writing sample below.
"I belong here because I feel happy here".
Analysis of this learning experience
The targeted instruction put into place for this student included learning support in writing, intentional work on the writing process, peer mentorship and collaboration. These strategies have helped to foster an increasing sense of belonging for this student.
Based on evidence of students' progress in relation to our two learning goals, our next steps will include:
As a school community, we are committed to creating equitable, supportive and caring learning environments where all children and youth can thrive to reach their full potential. To this end, we will continue to monitor and adjust our student learning plan. By determining our progress; identifying what is working and what needs to be improved; reflecting and evaluating our plan; and using this feedback to adjust ongoing teaching and learning-we will support learners from our community in developing literacy proficiencies that cultivate a deeper sense of belonging.