Walnut Park Elementary School SD#54 Bulkley Valley

School Name: Walnut Park Elementary School

School District: SD#54 Bulkley Valley

Inquiry Team Members:Melanie Anderson – Melanie.anderson@sd54.bc.ca
Sandra McAulay – Sandra.mcaulay@sd54.bc.ca
Tisha Witt – tisha.witt@sd54.bc.ca
Nicole Davey – ndavey@sd54.bc.ca

Inquiry Team Contact Email: melanie.anderson@sd54.bc.ca

Type of Inquiry: NOII (focus on core competencies, OECD learning principles, etc.)

Grade Levels: Intermediate (4-7)

Curricular Area(s): Applied Design, skills & Technology, Other: Core Competencies, Self Regulated Learning

Focus Addressed: Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving), Differentiated instruction, Flexible learning, Growth mindset, Inclusion and inclusive insructional strategies, Self-regulation, Social and emotional learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Our focus was teaching students the skills of self regulated learning, focused on creating a flexible learning environment which would impact student engagement and success.

Scanning: We are focusing on how to develop self-regulated learners through creating flexible learning spaces with innovative options. We believe that this will positively impact student engagement and success.
We have noticed that grade sevens tend to become disengaged in their last year of elementary school. Providing choice and ownership increases engagement, and learning about what they need as a learner is important as they move onto the high school where they will need to advocate for their own learning. We worked as a collaborative team. We trusted each other and our experience, and different lenses as principal, learner support teacher and classroom teachers to give reliable feedback. As we were working on this collaboratively we were continually looking back and adjusting our process as needed.

We really noticed that our learners were more attached to the classroom and the community that we created in our learning environment. The students were not leaving the room as often, they were more engaged in their learning.
We understand that learning supports the well being of all learners, that our inquiry was holistic and we were setting a sense of connection in our classrooms.

Focus: We were all curious about flexible learning environments. In the last few years, student voice and choice have become more and more prominent in our practice and we wanted to see what would happen if we gave students more options in their learning environment. Leyton Schnellert’s work around developing self-regulated learners also inspired into inquiring further into this further.

Hunch: Our school has been growing its work in the areas of self-regulated learning which has lead to the creation of specialized places that better meet students’ needs (i.e. sensory room, learning commons). We have seen the power of flexible environments. In past experience working with PT and OT specialist, we have noticed that many of their recommendations for particular students have been applicable to many students in our classrooms. Through our collective experience with grade 7s, we also noticed that engagement is often a challenge. We felt that giving students voice and choice in their learning environment would also help them feel more connected to their school and more invested in their learning. With the amalgamation of a community school that recently closed into our school and with an increase in diversity in our classes, we realized we needed to think about our learning environment in a different way. Traditional rows of desks and chairs did not fit with the changes we have seen in pedagogy. We are teaching differently and realized that our environment needed to reflect this.

New Professional Learning: Leyton Schnellert – Self Regulated Learning
Goal Setting and embedding Core Competencies in curriculum
Working explicitly with Faye Brownlie, and Leyton Schnellert and Shelley Moore on inclusiveness and one point rubrics
Working with our district aboriginal support teacher – Jana Fox – planning units around the First Peoples.
We were a part of our district Professional Learning Community.
Attending the celebration of learning through the NOII in Prince Rupert.
Presenting our project at School District level.

Taking Action: The students were explicitly involved in the design of the room. We used the design process, we worked collaboratively to decide upon an order of the furniture and materials that we wanted for our rooms. We applied for other grants such as the Dash/Healthy Schools BC to support our inquiry. We came up with a set of guidelines collaboratively with students so they had ownership.

Checking: We found that the students were much more engaged and had a stronger sense of community and belonging within our classrooms. We found the changes to be great, we were highly satisfied. Our evidence was supported by students taking more ownership for their own learning and overall academic success. Students needing or wanting “to leave the classroom” for a variety of reasons was significantly reduced. We informally surveyed our students and the response was overwhelmingly supportive of the flexibility and choice offered.
We noticed a significance of our students ability to reflect upon their own learning, their responses as they were setting goals were richer, more detailed and accurate.

Reflections/Advice: This project went very well and we would recommend this inquiry to any middle school or higher intermediate classroom teacher. We learned that if we give our pre-teens and teenage students options of where they can sit/stand/lay/cycle in order to learn that they are more apt to stay in our classrooms rather than wander the halls as they were prior to the inquiry. We found that if we gave the kids the opportunity to wander in our room and sit or stand how they wanted (self-regulate) while we were teaching they didn’t tend to check out as often. We did not expect this inquiry to be such a drastic change. As soon as options were given and furniture started arriving and design was being implemented the students were changing. Their learning ability to self-regulate and overall engagement was impacted in a phenomenally positive way.

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