Serpentine Heights is a diverse community of learners who consistently show care for themselves, others, and our school-community. The students at Serpentine Heights are kind, empathetic, and helpful. They express a sense of safety, community, and enjoyment with coming to school. Our students benefit from caring families who work closely with school staff to support their child's progression in learning.
Students at Serpentine Heights have the opportunity to participate in a range of activities that enhance learning, develop important skills and build community in the academic, social-emotional, leadership, and athletics domains. These include:
Staff at Serpentine Heights represent a diverse group of committed professionals with a range of experiences and talents. Some staff have been at Serpentine Heights for decades, while others are in the first year of their professional career. Our teachers are characterized by their strong commitment to professional collaboration - as evidenced by a school-organization intentionally designed to promote team-teaching opportunities. Teachers are engaged in professional learning through school-based professional inquiry in the area of Social-Emotional Learning and at the district-level in the areas of Literacy and Indigenous Learning.
A shared vision for teaching and learning was developed by teaching staff in the fall of 2021:
When asked "What is our team’s role in creating this vision?" staff felt they must:
This Student Learning Plan is the result of collective effort and professional inquiry by teachers at Serpentine Heights over the last two school-years.
Most of our students are on-track with their learning based on the results of report card assessment data. This is especially so in numeracy. Within the literacy domain, students showed overall strength in reading comprehension.
Report-card data from the first term of the 2021/22 school year demonstrated: 70% of students were meeting grade level expectations in reading; 75% were meeting in numeracy; while 61% were meeting expectations in writing/communicating. Communicating clearly and with a sense of purpose is a focus of our school plan.
Students in grades 4 and 7 completed the Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI) last school-year. This survey asks students about their thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the school and community. Overall, our student’s social-emotional development showed they are optimistic about the future, have high levels of self-esteem, and generally feel happy. Our students reported feeling strong connections to adults at school as well as peers - with 91% of grade 7 students and 100% of grade 4 students agreeing with the statement, "At my school there is an adult who believes I will be a success". Importantly, 93% of grade 7 students and 100% of grade 4 students indicated, "I am certain I can learn the skills taught in school this year". While the overall results of this survey showed positive school-experiences, a declining sense of belonging reported by students as they progress through school is an area requiring attention (96% in grade 4 compared to 73% in grade 7). Collaborating effectively with peers to build relationships and further shared goals is a focus of our school plan.
Communication is a fundamental life skill. At its core, Communication encompasses the knowledge, skills, processes and dispositions we associate with interactions with others. As a core competency embedded across all areas of learning in BC’s curriculum communication is central to supporting our learner's skills across domains as they collaborate, problem solve, share ideas, and express their individuality.
Collaboration – an interrelated competency – is nurtured simultaneously as our students learn to work together. People who collaborate effectively recognize how combining others’ perspectives, strategies, and efforts with their own enhances collective understanding. They value the contributions of group members, interact supportively, demonstrate inclusivity, and strive for shared commitment.
Evidence of our learners many gifts, attributes, and competencies as related to our school-goals are highlighted below.
Our learners can get ideas when they play.
Teachers use rich materials such as clay, paint, props, or blocks that play an integral role in language development, and strongly support children to see themselves as storytellers and authors. This happens, for example, when a child is playing with blocks or gems and imagines a story. As the child continues to play and explore his story, he may consider more details, the sequence may become stronger, and the language the child uses to tell the story becomes more clear and powerful. The stories come alive!
Our Learners contribute during group activities with peers and share roles and responsibilities to achieve goals. In a safe and supported environment, they respond meaningfully to communication from peers and adults.
Our learners are developing their communication and collaborations skills through Morning Meetings. Many classes start each day with a Morning Meeting where students share what's on their mind or talk-through an issue in the classroom. They are learning to share and to listen respectfully and with intention. They are learning to choose their words carefully and speak clearly. Students are also learning to create a welcoming environment and to encourage each other to contribute to the group.
Our learners can communicate clearly and purposefully using a variety of forms appropriately.
In our primary classrooms, students explore a variety of loose parts each week. In this example, students have spent time over the previous month making stories using loose parts. Students choose a color for their background paper and then they build a story with the provided materials. Through this practice, students are learning that everyone has a story to share and that stories can be told through pictures and words. Our youngest learners always amaze us with their ability to tell stories!
Our learners can contribute during group activities with peers and share roles and responsibilities to achieve goals. They can use observations, experience, and imagination to draw conclusions and make judgments.
Through daily number talks, open number lines, 3-act math tasks, and other activities, our students show their ability to complete tasks while justifying their thinking. Many of these tasks involve clearly organizing and communicating their strategies as well as an understanding of numbers. The activity pictured here is 10 Trains. In 10 Trains, the students were asked to work together to link as many cuisenaire rods as they could that would equal an orange train without having any duplicates. They were challenged with the task of organizing the trains in such a way that they would be able to recognize that they had a duplicate and know when they had found all the different combinations.
Our learners get new ideas in areas in which they have an interest and build skills to make them work. They can think “outside the box” to get innovative ideas and persevere to develop them.
Creative Thinking involves the generation of ideas and concepts that are novel and innovative, reflection on their value to the individual or others, and the development of chosen ideas and concepts from thought to reality. Our learners participate in the District Science and Innovation Fair – providing them the opportunity to develop the skills, processes, attitudes, and scientific habits of mind that allow them to pursue their own inquiries using scientific methods. In this example, students are working to develop a glove that acts as assistive technology – providing the wearer with additional grip strength.
Our learners can communicate mathematical thinking in many ways.
In mathematics class students learn different mental math strategies across grade levels. In late primary grades students explore various methods for adding and subtracting; making 10; decomposing; counting on; and relating doubles. Beyond answering an equation, students practice using drawings, manipulatives, and diagrams to demonstrate their problem-solving process and thinking. This communication is a way of sharing ideas and clarifying information. The process of communicating understanding helps build meaning and permanence for the ideas.
Our learners can communicate confidently, using forms and strategies that show attention to their audience and purpose.
Active citizenship is promoted across grade levels at Serpentine Heights. Through social action projects students identify, plan and carry out solutions to problems within the community and beyond. The goal is active citizenship though thoughtful, cooperative, critically engaging and responsible action. The four central reasons to engage in these projects are for students to: acquire important abilities and dispositions including problem solving and empathy; increase their understanding of curricular content; enhance their sense of personal and self-efficacy by understanding they can play a role in social change; and contributing to the betterment of society.
Examples of projects this year include students in grades 1 and 2 learning about challenges facing families in our community during the holiday season providing food and gifts for their family – and then organizing and promoting a school-wide toy drive to support the Surrey Christmas Bureau. Students in grade 6 researched the water crisis impacting indigenous communities in Canada. In an effort to help, students organized two school-wide assemblies and a fundraising campaign to support Water First – a charity that is working alongside indigenous communities to address this issue.
Our learners can develop a body of creative work over time in an area of interest or passion.
Students in several of our classes are writing through an online blog, choosing their own topics and areas of interest. They are learning about and selecting different styles of writing depending on the type they enjoy. For example, non-fiction writing, story writing, personal writing, descriptive writing, or information writing. Regularly blogging and sharing this work with classmates and beyond has helped to unlock a passion for writing in our learners.
Our learners respond and communicate with peers and adults meaningfully.
Through social-emotional instruction, students learn to communicate how they are feeling – to themselves, classmates and adults – using clear and consistent language that is understood by all. Many classrooms begin the day with students identifying the ‘zone’ they are in, which is possible once students understand the physiological cues their bodies give them. Being able to identify this zone increases personal awareness and gives students forewarning they are becoming less regulated. A variety of teaching methods are incorporated including the ‘Zones of Regulation’ and ‘Brain Fit Super Power’ programs. Teachers engage students in read-alouds, modelling, and guided practice.
Each day, among the variety of learning experiences presented to our learners, our team of educators focus on Communication and Collaboration in all curricular areas. Our aim is to build strong foundations in these domains that are fundamental for students to acquire, develop and transform ideas and information; make connections with others to share their ideas; express their individuality; and further their learning.
Our students’ learning goals, across all areas of the curriculum, include:
All teachers, across all grades, provide students with learning opportunities aimed at increasing the Communication and Collaboration competencies of our learners.
To highlight and determine overall successes and gaps, we monitored the progress of grade-group cohorts from K-7 across different subject areas.
A cornerstone of literacy instruction in our classrooms are literature discussion groups. In these groups, students have a chance to talk with their classmates about what they are reading in a manner where all voices are heard and respected. During these discussions students ask and answer questions, make connections and predictions, and respond emotionally to literature. This form of communication helps our learners makes sense of what they have read. Literacy discussions allow students to practice listening to all voices, to include others in a conversation, show respect for a range of ideas, and move to new understandings.
Writing and Communicating
Our learners wrote and engaged in communication practices that are specific to different areas of learning. In Art, they wrote artist statements for works they created; in Science, students shared their learning through our school-wide Science and Innovation Fair; in Language Arts, they wrote stories, poems and developed persuasive presentations; in Music, they performed and orally reflected on their performances; and for ADST, they used media and technology to demonstrate their coding skills and developed a small-business venture through the Young Entrepreneurs Program.
While reading, writing, speaking and making sense of their learning students engaged in creative and critical thinking activities. This involved imagining possibilities, suggesting alternatives, solving problems, asking questions, putting ideas into action, talking about their thinking, and drawing conclusions. Routines such as Story Workshop, Science Labs, and STEM Challenges provided students the opportunity to communicate their learning and collaborate with peers.
Communication is a core mathematical process students learn in school. In a math-talk-learning-community students are active participants in the development of concepts. Students build on one another's explanations. They learn from the act of responding to questions. Through mathematical conversations teachers can understand what a student does or does not understand. Teachers intentionally pose questions to students that allow all students to participate and gain from discussion in the classroom learning community.
Our learners are developing their communication and collaborations skills through Morning Meetings. Each morning, many classes start the day with a Morning Meeting by warmly greeting each other, sharing what's on their mind, and participating in an opening activity. Through this progression, students start each day in a positive manner while learning thinking, listening and speaking skills. Engagement, active participation and inclusion are fostered through activities. A sense of community is developed and maintained through meaningful interactions. Students regularly reflect on their own development – and the group's – through recognizing growth and setting personal and class-wide goals.
Social and Emotional Learning
Social and Emotional Learning is the process through which young people acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions; demonstrate empathy for others; establish and maintain positive relationships; and make effective decisions. Through daily-embedded practices such as Collaborative Problem Solving and structured programs including the Zones of Regulation, our learners are developing important intra and interpersonal skills in this domain. These skills include communicating their emotional 'zone', showing empathy for others, and actively participating in problem solving protocols.
Evidence of student progression in learning demonstrates our communication and collaboration focus is positively impacting learners. When surveyed and asked to communicate their students’ progress using the provincial assessment scale, teachers indicated that all students demonstrated growth in relation to our two goals:
Growth was demonstrated in our September to April results. With our communication goal, we saw a decrease in the percentage of students who are Emerging (-10%) and Developing (-4%). We saw an increase in the percentage of students who are Proficient (+11%) and Extending (+3%).
Likewise for our collaboration goal, we saw a decrease in the percentage of students who are Emerging (-10%) and Developing (-4%). We saw an increase in the percentage of students who are Proficient (+9%) and Extending (+5%).
Descriptive evidence of learning that is specific to each of our school goals is highlighted below.
Literature Discussion Groups – Grade 4/5 and Grade 6 Cohorts
A cornerstone of literacy instruction in our classrooms are literature discussion groups. In these groups, students have a chance to talk with their classmates about what they are reading in a manner where all voices are heard and respected. During the discussions students ask and answer questions, make connections and predictions, and respond emotionally to literature. This form of communication helps our learners makes sense of what they have read. In our classes, evidence of student learning is gathered and placed in each student's portfolio. As documentation for these portfolios, teachers record observations during group work, conference with individual students, and students reflect and self-assess their own progress.
In our cohort of three grade 4/5 classes, all students experienced some level of success. 59% percent of the students are now proficient in their ability to clearly communicate their understanding of literature with clarity and purpose.
In our cohort of three grade 6 classes, 64% percent of the students are now proficient in their ability to clearly communicate their understanding of literature with clarity and purpose.
Communicating Scientific Understanding with Clarity – Grades 2 through 3/4 Cohort
Our learners write and communicate in a variety of ways in all subject areas. To clarify and solidify understanding of science concepts, our four classes in grades 2 to 3/4 communicated their understanding of science ideas in oral, written, and visual forms. In our classes, evidence of student learning is gathered and placed in each student's portfolio. As documentation for these portfolios, teachers record observations during group work, conference with individual students, and students reflect and self-assess their own progress. Focus is placed on using scientific vocabulary to share their thinking, highlight understanding of key concepts, and present their findings.
Based on the evidence gathered in students’ portfolios, 70% of the students in our four classes demonstrated the ability to communicate their understanding and learning with clarity.
Communicating Mathematical Understanding with Clarity – Grade 7 Cohort
Our learners write and communicate in a variety of ways in all subject areas. To clarify and solidify their understanding of math concepts, our two classes grade 7 students communicated mathematical understanding using words, manipulatives, pictures and through number-talks. In our classes, evidence of student learning is gathered and placed in each student's portfolio. As documentation for these portfolios, teachers record observations during group work, conference with individual students, and students reflect and self-assess their own progress. Focus is placed on using mathematical vocabulary to share their thinking; connecting math concepts with other areas of learning; and using mathematical arguments to support personal choices.
Based on the evidence gathered in students’ portfolios, 69% of the students in our two classes demonstrated the ability to communicate their understanding and learning with clarity.
Generating New Ideas and Communicating with Clarity – Kindergarten and Grade 1/2 Cohort
Evidence of our students’ learning demonstrates they can generate ideas and concepts that are novel and innovative. Through structures such as Story Workshops – where teachers use materials including clay, paint, props, or blocks – students develop stories that act as prompts for personal writing. Teachers carefully combine this free-play that generates ideas with teacher-led instruction addressing: writing conventions, sight-words, letter-sound recognition, and printing skills. In our classes, evidence of student learning is gathered and placed in each student's portfolio. As documentation for these portfolios, teachers record observations during group work, conference with individual students, and students reflect and self-assess their own progress.
In our cohort of three kindergarten classes, all students experienced some level of success. 54% percent of the students are now proficient in their ability to clearly communicate their ideas in writing.
In our cohort of four grade 1/2 classes, 62% percent of the students are now proficient in their ability to clearly communicate their ideas in writing.
Collaborating Effectively with Peers – Grade 6 and 7 Cohorts
Evidence of our students' learning demonstrates they are collaborating and learning from each other. Through daily Morning Meetings, students in four of our classes are learning to share, and listen respectfully and with intention. They are learning to choose their words carefully and speak clearly. Students are also learning to create a welcoming environment and to encourage each other to contribute to the group.
Based on their teachers’ reflections, 82% of our learners demonstrate they can effectively contribute during group activities, cooperate with others, listen respectfully, and express their ideas.
Based on evidence of students’ progress in relation to our two learning goals, our next steps will include:
Communicating their understandings and learning with clarity and a sense of purpose (using oral, written, visual, and digital forms of communication)
Collaborating effectively with peers (confidently interact and build relationships with others to further shared goals)
As a school community, we are committed to creating equitable, supportive, and caring learning environments where all children and youth can thrive and 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; evaluating the impact of our plan; and using this feedback to adjust ongoing teaching and learning – we will support learners from all communities in developing literacy proficiencies that cultivate cognitive skills and “thinking habits” that prepare them for future success.