School Name: Forest Park Elementary School
School District: SD#68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith
Inquiry Team Members: Larry Dean: firstname.lastname@example.org, Sean Walsh: email@example.com, Veronika Pienkowski: firstname.lastname@example.org, Ashley Richardson: email@example.com, Lisa Marshall: firstname.lastname@example.org
Inquiry Team Contact Email: email@example.com
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE
Grade Levels: Primary (K-3), Intermediate (4-7)
Curricular Area(s): Language Arts – Literacy, Language Arts – Reading
Focus Addressed: Differentiated instruction, Growth mindset, Inclusion and inclusive instructional strategies, Inquiry-based learning, Universal design for learning
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Will adding classroom libraries filled with good fit books increase the students love of reading and in turn, their reading levels? (The focus was on 2 specific divisions)
Scanning: The teachers from the two divisions asked the students in their classrooms about how they felt their reading was going. Most of the students responded with “ok” or “not bad” and there seemed to be very little excitement around reading. When we asked where they would like to go next with reading we heard a lot of responses about how weak the classroom library was. Being upper intermediate they also felt like the school in general was lacking good fit books for all learners. Using the OECD principals of learning we decided to put the kids at the center of the process. The students helped the teachers build good fit book bins and they even got to go to the local book fair and use school money to purchase books that they wanted to see in the classroom. This process was very effective and the student engagement towards reading increased significantly.
Focus: If students are given voice, choice and options in what they are reading, their love for reading will continue to grow. This has been very apparent in Division 15 and 17 this year. We are looking forward to the results of our year end screeners. We are excited to continue to build classroom libraries that promote a desire and love for reading.
Hunch: We think that a lot of teachers are still doing novel studies where the whole class reads one book together and then answers questions. Our hunch is that this discourages the strong readers as well as the reluctant readers.
“In today’s world we need to meet kids where they are in all subject areas, especially in reading. Having a well organized and well stocked classroom library will help meet them at their personal reading level, which in my class ranges from grade 3 to university level.”
Sean Walsh Elementary VP & Grade 6/7
New Professional Learning: A big change for us this year is that we promoted the use of conferring binders that have specific reading data for every student in the class. The binders are used for ongoing formative assessment in order to ensure the progress of every learner regardless of where they start. This strategy is most effective when combined with a strong and good fit classroom library. Many teachers are now adopting variations of daily 5 practices. A lot of work went into on-boarding teachers with new strategies this year and we look forward to seeing the results in the year to come.
Taking Action: Having students involved in choosing good fit books for the classroom library.
Having conferring binders with a section for every kid to track specific progress.
Variations of Daily 5 reading strategies throughout the school.
Checking: Students at the center, student voice and choice, Good fit books, conferring binders, Daily five. I think that we have enough change in place and now we need to put them into practice for a full 10 months. Starting right from day one with proper strategies in place will increase the effectiveness. Our baseline was that overall the 2 focus classes had low reading levels. Several grade 7’s were at a grade 2 level. Additionally our strongest readers were disengaged. The level of excitement towards reading improved drastically and the student responses to the four questions were much more hopeful and positive.
Reflections/Advice: “My students have developed a love of reading this year that has been ignited by finding just right books that spark their interest. We paired this with an increase in student selected new books for our class library. Students have access to ample genres and books of all different levels to meet the needs of all learners.”
Ashley Richardson Grade 5/6
We have learned that if you want to help students improve their reading levels, you first need to have a strong classroom library that is well organized and full of good fit books for all reading levels.
Next we will keep the ball rolling with the many changes that were made over the year. We will continue to check-in with students and our Colleagues during PLC time in order to hold each other accountable to best practice.
Our advice to other schools would be to create a collaborative environment for yourself within your school. Learning with your colleagues is the ultimate form of accountability and creativity in pushing your practice to the next level in order to increase student achievement.