Georges Vanier Elementary 23-24



Understanding literacy as a foundational life skill is paramount. It encompasses the capacity to comprehend, articulate, interact, and reason, facilitating effective communication and comprehension of our surroundings. Communication, being a fundamental proficiency, is seamlessly integrated throughout all educational domains within BC's curriculum. It serves as a cornerstone for fostering skills such as collaboration, critical thinking, sharing ideas and personal narratives, exchanging information, and self-expression. The ability to delve into one's cultural and ancestral background through story, and subsequently, share those stories, embodies the influential utilization of literacy at Georges Vanier.

The multifaceted talents, qualities, proficiencies, and the varied applications of literacy by our learners are exemplified below.

Our learners can use literacy to share understanding and learning:

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Our learners can use literacy to express their goals and needs:

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 Our learners can use literacy to express their feelings and emotions:

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Our learners can use literacy to analyze, think critically, and make connections:

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At Georges Vanier, students have access to diverse learning opportunities that emphasize critical thinking, reading, writing, and effective communication across all curricular areas. Our primary goal is to establish robust literacy skills, which we believe are essential for students to engage meaningfully in today’s global society.

Our objectives for student learning goals in writing include:

  • Using writing and design processes to plan, develop, and create texts for a variety of purposes and audiences.
  • Listening to others' perspectives and exchanging ideas to develop shared understanding
  • Transforming ideas and information to create original texts (ie. Storytelling passed down from generation to generation)

Teachers at all grade levels provide a wide range of engaging opportunities for students to cultivate their writing skills. These opportunities are supported by clear strategies and resources aimed at improving students' capacity to write for different purposes, incorporating personal experiences, ideas, and perspectives. We monitored a group of intermediate students (Grade 4 and  Grade 7) to gauge their progress toward the goals established by our staff and to pinpoint areas for enhancement.

The strategies provided for Personal Narrative and Story Writing below draw inspiration from Adrienne Gear's Writing Power strategies.

Personal Narrative

Story Writing

Planning Arrangement

  • 4 square writing
  • Story Maps
  • Elements of a story planning pages


  •  Topic sentence/paragraph, detail #1, detail #2, detail #3, conclusion
  • Beginning, Middle, and End
  • Story Elements: Setting, Characters, Problem & Solution, Story Plot, and Dialogue

Writing Methods and Strategies

  • Engaging details
  • Hook sentence
  • Transition words
  • 5 senses
  • Character development
  • Dialogue
  • Plot development
  • Problem & Solution

Language Elements and Devices

  • Nouns, verbs, adjectives
  • Transition words
  • Dialogue
  • Descriptive words
  • Transition words

Personal Narrative and Story Writing 

Our students engaged in personal narrative and story writing activities. Grade 4 students wrote fictional stories inspired by their personal experiences, memories, feelings, and imagination. Meanwhile, Grade 7 students gathered folk tales from their families, stories passed down through generations, and used them as inspiration to create their own narratives and share oral stories with the class . Throughout this process, students were exposed to diverse examples of personal narratives, oral story telling, and folk tales. They also received clear guidance and instruction from teachers on effectively planning the events and details of their stories.


Based on the evidence from our selected cohort of Grade 4 and Grade 7 students, it is clear that our literacy emphasis on writing is making a positive impact on learners. Of note is the impact of specific targeted teaching of explicit strategies such as mapping. The difference in quality between pieces produced before and after this explicit instruction is significant. We carefully chose this cohort to ensure a representative sample of our student population.

The teachers in the selected group used terminology from the provincial assessment scales to assess achievements and areas needing improvement. They were pleased to observe overall improvement among all students in the sample cohort regarding the literacy goals set by the staff. These goals, listed without specific priority, included:

  • Using writing and design processes to plan, develop, and create texts for a variety of purposes and audiences.
  • Listening to others' perspectives and exchanging ideas to develop shared understanding
  • Transforming ideas and information to create original texts (ie. Storytelling passed down from generation to generation)

Cohort & Time of Writing Sample

Grade 7 Cohort - December 2023
Grade 7 Cohort -
May 2024
Grade 4 Cohort - December 202321%65%14%
Grade 4 Cohort -
 May 2024

As noted above in the graph, the students of both cohorts progressed significantly and proficiency increased by 26% for Grade 7 students and 23% for Grade 4 students in their narrative writing once they were able to master the use of planners to help organize their thoughts and their written output. Additionally, there was a movement of students who went from emerging to developing, suggesting progress for the majority of the class.

Throughout the year, students used the writing process to demonstrate an ability to communicate a particular idea to a particular target audience. Students were taught and then encouraged to use various writing tools and planning structures to construct the requested writing samples. 

Student learning evidence is gathered in a variety of ways. For example, in one method, the teacher, using the language of the assessment standards, identifies student strengths and challenges in relation to writing samples and provides comments. Student digital portfolios and self reflections ,as well as peer evaluations, also play a role in developing a holistic, authentic, and ongoing assessment process. 

Based on teacher reflection at the conclusion of the period in which concepts were presented, practiced, and reviewed, less than half of the students in the cohort were able to use  the features and conventions of language to express meaning in their writing and representing at a proficient level. This suggests there is room for further work in this area.  With over 50% of students at an emerging or developing level, there is still a significant block of students requiring support in this skillset, this will remain an area of ongoing focus and priority.

Moving Forward

This year represented our "first steps" in the shifting of our dual focus in SEL and writing towards the writing side as the more significant focus.  Staff remains excited and committed to further solidifying their own understanding and proficiency in using more strategies and resources to move more students into a proficient writing ability. Based on the progress we have made, and following staff consultation and review, we have identified the following as future areas of focus:

  • Continued in-service and review of writing resources, using various formats including Staff meetings, Lunch and Learns and online methods. 
  • An enhanced focus on improvement with regard to the conventions of writing as this remains an area of significant challenge.
  • Branching out to include other areas of writing and other resources and documents that support this work.
  • explicit teaching of planning tools to help focus written output

As we approach our second year with these refined goals, our students and teachers will continue to work together, assess together and implement the suggested methods. We will continue to use SEL as content areas for written output and allowing writers to express their ideas, their identity, and their culture.  We believe that these initiatives at the individual student, class, and at the larger school community level, will allow our students to experience even greater success moving forward.

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