Literacy is a fundamental life skill. Through writing and the English Language Arts Curriculum, students are equipped with the language and literacy skills they will need for success in school, the community, career, and life. It provides students with the opportunity to become effective communicators, to develop and express their own ideas, and to think deeply and critically about the ideas of others. As they explore and create written, oral, and visual texts, students expand and deepen their understanding of both real and imaginary worlds, gaining insight into their own lives and the lives of others.
Our learners connect and engage with others in informal and structured conversations in which they listen, contribute, develop understanding and relationships, and learn to consider diverse perspectives.
Our kindergarten learners can talk about their weekend during sharing circle. Then the students begin with the prompt on the board "On the weekend I" and sound out the rest of the sentence stretching out the word to include all the sounds they hear. .
Primary students are sharing the autobiographies they wrote about students in their class. They researched by asking probing questions. The students enjoyed learning new things about their animal and the animals the classmates chose. One student said, "Wow, I didn't know deers could swim!"
Our learners communicate with intention and purpose. They understand that communication can influence, entertain, teach, inspire, and help us make sense of the world and our experiences. They recognize the role the audience plays in constructing meaning, and they make strategic choices to help convey their messages and create their intended impact. They draw from a range of forms, media, and techniques, monitoring and adjusting their approaches and assessing their effects.
Below, two of our students demonstrate how delivery helps to engage and entertain their audience. They can engage with their audience and know how to deliver their message in the most impactful way possible.
Our learners can participate in conversations and communicate their ideas in their writing confidently about topics they know and understand.
Our youngest learners always enjoy sharing their learning. In this video sample, this student tells us about her imaginary grown up life. Her journal demonstrates her ability to use visuals and expressive language to talk about what she likes. In the second video we see how she begins to embed language into her book. It is such a good representation of what we hear from our early learners!
Our learners can make connections to the real world and communicate their learning beyond the classroom.
Students practice essential 21st century communication skills through media and technology. This school year, students from grade 4 participated in the Minecraft Challenge, where they created Biomes. Through this ADST learning experience, students worked collaboratively to design, plan, build and reimagine a biome of their choice. They transferred and applied their learning to a new situation and communicated their findings with the use of digital technology. This sample of their learning demonstrates that our students can plan, write and create for a specific purpose, and present their learning to others.
"This is about a river biome house project. The boats are for fast travel. This house is adapted for a river biome. The reason why we built this is so we can stop pollution.
We also wanted to grow a community. Inside is an air cooler to keep the house cool. The sink is connected to the sewers, which is processed and produces freshwater for the plants. The air cooler cools the house. The dock is also for fishing and sailing. This was made out of terracotta, wood, and also torches for light. We enjoyed making it with our friends/community."
"My class was learning about biome, so we had to build a home in a different biome from where we live right now. Why I chose the jungle is because I wanted something that was unique and very different from Surrey. I wanted my house to fit with the environment. I didn’t cut a lot of trees down in the process of making my home. One of the things I liked about the jungle is that it is warm all the time which makes growing food easier. What I liked about the project is we got to use Minecraft Education."
Our learners communicate orally first and then using sentences. They focus on conventions of Canadian spelling, grammar and punctuation.
These students are participating in a Heggerty lesson. The students love these lessons that are quick, fun, & multisensory!" Watch the journey to reading and writing that begins through phonemic awareness. They can follow a pattern, understand beginning and end sounds and combine sounds to make begin the writing journey.
Our learners can communicate using letters and words.
These kindergarten students are beginning to recognize letters and letter sounds to create words. Combining it with ADST, using technology, they can scaffold their learning.
Our learners participate in a variety of learning experiences that focus on thinking, writing, and communicating in all curricular areas. Students aim to build strong literacy foundations that are fundamental for participation in today’s world.
Our students’ learning goals include:
To plan for intentional learning experiences, the progress of one cohort across different subject areas was monitored. This cohort was comprised of primary students. We chose primary this year as last year's focus was on an intermediate class. Cohorts are chosen because we feel it provides a sampling of our students and they are good indicators of school performance as a whole.
The cohort teacher was asked to communicate students’ progress using the provincial assessment scale. The teacher indicated that all students demonstrated growth in relation to our three literacy goals using data from samples below.
Our school literacy goals are as follows:
Below are examples of students’ graphic organizers:
Below are examples of student writing that was derived from the graphic organizers above:
Student A has improved in their writing due to the following: modelling, step-by-step instructions, and scaffolding tasks. Since the beginning of September, the students have been writing almost daily, whether it be informal or formal writing. When the students explore formal writing (e.g., simple paragraph structure, narrative writing, opinion writing), students are asked to use a graphic organizer first, their sentences are edited, and then they complete a good copy. To ensure students develop their spelling, a systemic and structured phonics program has been implemented in the classroom. A supplemental program is also used to tackle spelling skills. Student A has become familiar with the structure of writing because of such teaching methods and strategies.
Student B came to grade one with a strong basic understanding of writing. Therefore, the students writing was easily understood. The student needed to be challenged with writing more developed sentences and simple paragraphs. Student B received the same instruction as Student A: modelling, step-by-step instructions, and scaffolding tasks. However, this student was challenged to use transitions in their writing. Student B goes through the writing process, using a graphic organizer and then completing a good copy. Phonics skills are further solidified by participating at a higher level in both programs. Exposing students to writing on a daily basis has helped Student B become an even stronger writer.
Student A was assessed as developing based on their writing in November and February (rubric below). There is definitely an improvement in their writing. Student A has increased their confidence in sounding out words and can write sentences that begin with capitals and end with periods. They continue to need to specifically work on the conventions of writing (e.g. neat printing and spelling more words correctly). They also need to add details like a concluding sentence to their writing.
Student B was assessed as developing based on their writing in November. This is because they wrote a minimal amount with very little detail. Their writing improved and was assessed as proficient in February. Student B used transition words. They need to further work on sentence writing skills and ensure that they remember capitals and periods.
Students A and B, as well as the rest of the class, were assessed based on the following rubric.
As indicated in the table above, the students demonstrated growth in personal writing between the assessment dates. A significant increase is seen in the percentage of students that are proficient in personal writing from November 2022 to February 2023 (+10%) with an increase of 5% of students being assessed in the exceeding category.
Evidence of student learning demonstrates their ability to use the writing process to write and communicate for a specific purpose and audience. In this cohort, students utilized planning tools and have shown growth in their efficacy to use them.
Beginning three years ago student progress was tracked using writing folders that follow the student from year to year beginning in Grade One. Student writing samples are collected three times per year and assessed using provincial writing scales. Below are examples of writing folders from both cohorts.
Based on the progress we have seen thus far in our goals; our next steps are:
Create text to deepen awareness of self, family, and community
Identify, organize, and present ideas in a variety of forms
Communicate using letters and words and applying some conventions of Canadian spelling, grammar and punctuation
Going forward, our students will continue to collaborate, learn and work on self-assessing their writing. The students will benefit from the use of the inquiry principles of review, revise and refocus when planning, teaching and learning in order to reach the diverse learners in our school. The writing folders that were created three years ago will continue to follow our students as they move through the grades. Looking back at the 3 yearly samples of their writing as well as the rubrics will help the students see growth and create new goals. We look forward to seeing how far our students come as we track their progress from year to year and continue to watch them develop literacy proficiencies that cultivate cognitive skills and “thinking habits”.