Planning for Improvement Accreditation Summary Report

November 2011

Planning for Improvement Summary Report

Introduction:

Humber Park Elementary School is a semi-rural community school situatedin the middle of Humber Park. Today, the children of Cherry Brook, Humber Park, Lake Loon, Montague, and Westphal come together to learn and grow within its walls. There have been numerous additions to the building since it first opened in 1968. A new gym, library and classrooms have been built. While much activity occurs inside, the children and staff of Humber Park enjoy the outside landscape available to them during recess and lunch. here are numerous playgrounds, hills, fields, courts, and various pieces of equipment for play and friendly competition. The nearby woods and wildlife offer opportunities for scientific investigation as well! Students at Humber Park School are very active in sports and make use of the gym, outdoor areas, the local pool and hockey rink to engage in many physical activities.

Staff and community members work tirelessly to support students in these difficult times of information overload.  Capital Health, RCMP and HRSB personal provide parent sessions on internet safety, drug awareness, youth violence, healthy living and communication skills. We value the mental health of each and every individual that enters the doors of Humber Park and strive to provide a caring and healthy environment for all. Our unique and diverse population creates a rich cultural experience for all students and staff.

Over the three years of implementation we have been successful in maintaining strategies to continue to build on the positive experiences for staff and students to create a safe, happy, healthy and productive school climate.  We have been working hard to ensure that we are developing strategies, activities and events that support our three PFI goals.

Humber Park’s team efforts have contributed to our on going success.  Staff have worked collaboratively in PFI teams to support student progress.  Our PLCs have developed and we have recognized their value to creating supportive learning environments for both students and staff.   As we look over the data we have collected and presented in this report it is obvious that our gains are reflected in the changes we have made in practices. Our math and writing common assessments have shown consistent growth in student learning.  Classroom data has been gathered from several forms of assessment that have been used to drive instruction and teacher practices.  Teachers have worked closely to share and examine assessment pieces together in order to have a collective understanding of what is going on in all of our classrooms.  This practice is not exclusive to our goal areas but all teaching going on in the school.

What major changes have we accomplished?  How have we improved?

  • Stronger teacher partnerships through our PLCs and PFI teams.
  • Collaboration with literacy and math coaches to improve teacher practices and student learning.
  • Better understanding of curriculum outcomes at all grade levels by all teachers.
  • Consistent review and conversations around assessment and results at a classroom, school and board level.
  • Consistent teaching practices and language across all grade levels
  • A positive school climate that celebrates diversity and difference
  • Strong and consistent positive, effective behavior systems to support all students
  • improvement in writing and math results on school wide common assessments
  • Use of assessment data to make changes in teaching practices

In the following sections of this summary report, each Goal will be stated and a narrative will supply the story of how we implemented strategies and the improvements that were made.  We have also included some visuals in the form of pictures and grids that create a clear picture of our school’s journey over the past four years.  Teacher impact statements are included at the end of each goal section to give the individual perspective.  This report is a collective from the PFI teams that worked long and hard to make our school the positive learning environment it is today.  We all realize that although we have definitely made school wide improvements we have created a direction that we will continue to follow.

Goal 1: Create a school climate focusing on positive behavior and language, with sensitivity to diversity.

Strategies:

  • Monthly Recognition Assemblies
  • Camera Club
  • Postcards mailed from the Principal
  • Positive phone calls from staff to Red & Yellow Zone students
  • “Tokens of Respect” weekly draws

In the last four years, our monthly assemblies have evolved from just meeting occasionally for celebrating special days and experiencing visits from speakers, to recognizing students’ strengths and reinforcing what respectful behaviour looks like. We watch student generated slide shows each month, showcasing student learning and celebrating the various contexts for respectful behaviours in our school.  Students sing “Proud Like A Mountain” to launch the assembly and they enjoy seeing themselves in positive ways on the big screen. Each month over 130 students receive ribbons for various academic subjects, effort and other positive attributes. 

Another way we communicate our appreciation for our students’ achievements and commendable efforts is by regularly awarding Respect Tokens to all students and they are reminded which type of respect they are demonstrating when they receive them. Our students also look forward to hearing their name over the loudspeaker announcing when they have won a prize from entering their hard earned tokens into a draw. Of course, teachers and administrators make phone calls home to give positive updates to families about their children (Red Zone& Yellow Zone children). Mrs. Jones (via teacher prompts) also writes and sends each child a postcard home highlighting some recent accomplishment.

Strategies:

  • “Dear Bully” Bulletin Board
  • Pink Day
  • Lunch time activities for students
  • PALS Program
  • Peer Mediation
  • Activities designed to support cultural diversity
  • Sharing of information and progress of yellow/red zone students at staff meetings

Teachers know that what is “predictable is preventable”, so we try to keep kids active during free play times and monitor them closely.  The PALS program was introduced to many of our older students this Fall.  So, they (along with Peer mediators) were trained to be leaders and assist in creating healthy, fun activities for our younger students to engage in. They can also watch for and help prevent bullying or disrespectful behaviours.  Empowering and educating students, to know that one person can make a difference is on-going.

Wearing pink, learning about and celebrating differences, having a voice for what is right, sending powerful messages through creating posters on our walls about respect…these are the things we do at Humber Park. We are a diverse community and it is reflected in involvement in our Gospel Night, the Seniors’ Tea, African Heritage assemblies, First Nations presentations and numerous other cultural presentations.

Strategies:

  • Reinforcement of PEBS matrix (expectations) are taught and modeled in the many different contexts reaching beyond the classroom.
  • Friends For Life
  • Roots of Empathy
  • Real Beauty School Program
  • DARE Program

Our staff is dedicated to furthering their own knowledge through PD opportunities.  We are involved in delivering and promoting programs that inform our students on not just the academics, but help shape them into being global citizens. The above mentioned programs help students identify and learn to deal with their anxiety in healthy ways, boost self-esteem and develop empathy for others.  Making positive choices about their behaviour and decision making is a focus and strong message in each of these programs spanning the levels of grades 2- 6. Staff, parents and students understand what the expectations for behaviour are in our school and this shows in our “Getting to Great” survey over the last 4 years:  97-100% of parents believe our school is a safe place. 92-97% believe they have not been treated differently because of their race. 96- 100% of children have said that their teacher always want them to do their best. 

Strategies

  • Parent Alert Program
  • Partnership with Public Health Nurse
  • Outreach Efforts of staff and students to support others in need
  • After school Program
  • Breakfast Program
  • School Garden

Making partnerships between home, school and community has been a priority with this administration and as a result we now have a very active Home & School  (which previously did not exist)! There have numerous opportunities throughout the year for families to become involved whether it’s a social occasion, or children demonstrating student learning and progress. Many staff volunteer their time to help with the fundraising and other after hours events. 

This Spring we held “Parent Alert” sessions with the RCMP, to inform the community about social media, substance abuse, gambling and other issues they may encounter as their children get older. Our Capital Health Nurse is a member of our SAC and presents health related information for parents. 

During the last two years, we have applied and received a grant for a breakfast program at our school.  These breakfast baskets nourish their minds and bodies and also teaches children about healthy choices they may not have in their homes.

Celebrating and nurturing all student cultures, needs and strengths is an ongoing challenge that all staff embrace.  We recognize the need to welcome all students into our school if we expect them to achieve their full potential.

Teacher Impact Statements
School Climate Goal

“By focusing on positive feedback students are motivated and are proud of their achievements.”

“The great 6 respect powerpoint presentations help students see the big picture outside of their own classroom and helps to build a sense of community.”

“The Staff meeting discussions about student needs are very important! Creates great awareness of the needs in P-6 and is a perfect venue for brainstorming strategies to support students.”

“Community events helps to create a real sense of community.”

“The Parent Alert program helped to make me more aware of things going on in the community and all of the different parent/child issues.”

“The great 6 Respect Presentations demonstrate technology integration and the product is enjoyed by all.”

“Staff meeting discussions about student needs raises awareness of needs in our school and offers an opportunity for teachers to support each other.”

“Staff meeting discussions about student needs allows us all to be more forgiving and accommodating for others.  This should be on-going as a way to reinforce the importance of all staff being responsible for all students.”

“Giving out Tokens of Respect maintains and sustains a positive learning environment.  Having a daily amount target ensures positive interactions with students.”

“The great 6 Respect Presentations give the grade 6 students an opportunity to be school leaders.  The students in the school from all levels are caught on film being respectful”.

“Student recognition assemblies provide more time to talk about “respect” and demonstrate what it looks like.  A great way to celebrate and praise students for making good choices.”

“Activities to support cultural diversity raises awareness of cultural differences, strengthens my ability to be flexible with learning approaches and positively impacts my social studies programming.”

“The explicit teaching of the PEBS matrix plays a huge part in my planning.  My students pledge to demonstrate these four components of respect each day with one another.”

“Our breakfast program helps students become more aware of the importance of healthy food and what that looks like while providing food for those in need.”

“Tokens of Respect give acknowledgement on behalf of staff and students as children demonstrate a respectful attitude and actions throughout the school.”

“Student Recognition assemblies mean more time spent talking about “respect”, demonstrating what it looks like, celebrating and praising students for good choices.”

April Attitude

Students have a very strong understanding of what respect means in our school.  It is often reflected in their actions, responses and work.

Award Ribbons

Students receive recognition for their respect displayed for self, others, learning and the environment at our monthly Student Recognition Assembles.  Students are displaying their “Phenomenal Physical Education Ribbon” and “Francais Fantastique Ribbon” in the above picture.

Strategies Implemented

Strategies Impact/Changes

Monthly Recognition assemblies

  • Students received ribbons for their accomplishments
  • Presentations explicitly taught and reinforced respectful behavior (self, others, learning & environment)
  • Powerpoint presentations showing pictures of students being “respectful”
  • Students were recognized for their effort, attitude and achievement in all social and academic areas
  • Staff were reinforcing positive learning behaviors and accomplishments
  • Students were able to articulate/represent examples of respectful behaviors

(videos, pictures, stories, poems, letters, song…)

  • Students’ positive behaviors were recognized and they were able to celebrate the accomplishments of others.
  • The assemblies happened in the first week of each month.
  • Over 130 students were recognized each month.

Post cards homes to recognize student effort and improvement.

  • Students received mail that reinforced positive school behaviors

Sharing of information and progress of yellow and red zone students at staff meetings.

  • All staff worked together to support students struggling with expected behaviors
  • More positive reinforcement was given out to these students for appropriate behavior
  • Staff consistently addressed issues
  • Staff was aware of trouble spots and triggers

Reinforcement of PEBS matrix in the classroom, on announcements and during assemblies.

  • All students are aware of behavior expectations
  • The expectations were taught in a consistent manner by all staff
  • Explicit lessons were taught to address concerns

Dances, Ice Cream Social, Gospel Night, concerts, Family Fun Fest, Math Night, Literacy Night, Reading Blitzes, Curriculum Night, Volunteer Tea, Grade Six Closing, Nutrition Information evening…

  • Increased community support and fun!
  • Staff, parents and students worked together to build school spirit
  • Good representation from the entire community (Diversity)
  • Opportunities for students and parents to explore expected curricular outcomes together in the classroom

Pink day to “stand up against bullying” on a monthly basis.

  • Raising awareness that bullying still exists and that we all have a role to play to stop it!
  • Promoted conversations about what Bully does to others

Dear Bully Bulletin Board

  • Gave students an opportunity to voice their opinions about bullying
  • Kept the topic fresh in all of our minds as we walked by each day

Weekly draws of “Tokens of Respect”

  • Encouraged and reminded staff to give out “Tokens of Respect” to reinforce positive behaviors
  • Reinforced positive behaviors in students
  • School celebrated a huge bin of “Respect “ with a trip to Cole Harbour Pool for a school swim at the end of the year.  Great recognition!

Peer Mediation training and program

  • Developed leadership skills in peer mediators
  • Taught students how to resolve conflict in a peaceful manner
  • Supported lunch monitors

School adopted “Proud Like a Mountain” as our PEBS song.

 Sang it at Student Recognition Assemblies.

  • Building positive school spirit
  • Students are talking about try, try again…

PEBS Matrix is in the student agendas and on the website. It is referred to often with parents and student

  • Communicates behavioral expectations

Teachers and Administration made positive phone calls home on a regular basis to those students in the yellow and red zone

  • Reinforced positive behavior and communicated that we notice all the great things you do!
  • Parents and students appreciated the time and commitment to reporting the “ good stuff”.  They felt supported and valued.

Activities designed to support cultural diversity (African Heritage Assemblies, Career Day, Community Presenters, Senior’s Tea, Drumming/Dancing presentations, Gospel Night, field trips, First Nations Presentation, Chinese New Year Assembly…)

  • Shared valuable cultural knowledge with students and staff
  • Celebrated and acknowledged community diversity

Grade 6 Camera Club

  • Captured “Respectful” moments in the school each month
  • Created a powerpoint presentation for our monthly Student recognition assemblies and parent gatherings
  • Communicated to school community about all the positive things happening at Humber Park School
  • Created a feeling of pride for the whole school
  • Gave the grade 6 students an opportunity to “Shine” all year long

Breakfast Program

  • Ensured that all students had an opportunity to have healthy food to start their day
  • Was available in classroom for any student in need
  • Gave students a strong sense that they were cared for

School Garden

  • Applied and received a grant to expand our existing garden to include vegetables
  • Work to begin in expansion in Sept. 2011

After School Program

  • Responded to the community request to provide an opportunity for after school care on site
  • The SAC worked diligently to do a needs assessment, interview and select a caregiver
  • Stronger partnership with the Boys and Girls Club
  • The first year of implementation (2010-2011) was a success

Roots of Empathy

  • Provided the grade six classes with an opportunity to follow the stages of a baby’s development throughout the year
  • Students were taught about meeting the needs of a baby through discussion, observation and explicit teaching
  • Students further developed a sense of empathy

Outreach efforts of staff and students to support others in need

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  • Terry Fox walk
  • Haiti Relief efforts
  • World Vision Support for a Foster Child
  • Christmas Family support
  • Shoes for Souls
  • Supported community (local and global)
  • Learned about those in need
  • Further developed empathy
  • Did Fundraising and made a difference in the lives of others

Lunch time activities for students

  • Students have been provided with more lunch time activities in the gym over the past three years at all grade levels
  • Promoted healthy living activities
  • Promoted positive interactions while engaging in physical activity
  • More leadership opportunities for  students

PALS  Program

  • Grade 4,5 & 6 students were trained to provide games and activities to other students during lunch and recess times(Spring 2011)
  • Students are provided with opportunities in positive leadership roles
  • This program will begin on the playgrounds in September of 2011

DARE Program (RCMP)

  • Students participate in a Six week program to teach the dangers of drugs and alcohol use and abuse.
  • The program is designed to educate youth to make `Good Choices` during the adolescence years and to resist peer pressure when it could effect them in adverse ways

Real Beauty School Program (This program seeks to give students the tools to build their self-esteem and to understand how concerns about the way they look can affect their lives.)

  • Students identify their strengths in relation to personality, work and leisure
  • Students learn to respect differences between people as they develop their own identities
  • Students recognize how others see them and to be able to give and receive constructive feedback and praise
  • Students learn to identify the effects of stereotyping and ways to challenge it assertively

Friends For Life Program

  • Two teachers were trained to implement this program
  • The program teaches student to recognize and cope with anxiety in healthy ways.
  • This ten week program was run in the Spring of 2011 and will target a new group of students in September 2011
  • Parents and teachers are able to select students who have been struggling with anxiety issues to participate in this positive and proactive program

Parent Alert Program Creating Healthy and Safe Communities Together

  • This partnership between RCMP, HRSB,Public Health and Southeastern Community Health Board was an excellent opportunity for community to explore issues that are putting our youth at risk.
  • 20 parents and staff attended a four session program for building skills in supporting our students’ future (Communicating with your pre-teen/teenagers(s), Internet Safety & Cyberbullying, Drug and Alcohol Use and Youth Violence
  • Quality information sessions while building supportive community awareness

Partnership with Public Health Nurse

  • To have the Public Health nurse more involved in supporting staff, students and parents
  • Public Health nurse became a member of our SAC
  • Public Health nurse was involved with Parent Alert sessions and Friends for Life program
  • Public Health nurse presented to grade 5 and 6 students
  • Public Health nurse will present to parents on how to talk to children about their sexual development

Grade 3 garden

The grade 3 garden is a learning experience valued by all in the school.

Terry Fox Cheque

The Humber Park School community consistently raises money to support the Terry Fox foundation. This year, we again raised over $2000 for our Terry Fox Walk.

Shoes for Haiti

Students at Humber Park School donated over 400 pairs of shoes to be donated to children in Haiti.  They also raised over $2000 by buying and selling used toys along with other fundraising activities.

Peer Mediator

Peer mediators work diligently to model positive conflict resolution on the playgrounds and in the classrooms.

Professional Development
2009-2011

Professional Development/Focus

Participants

What was learned? Changes in Practices

Updates of PEBs initiatives at staff meetings

All Staff

  • Helped staff to react consistently to behaviors
  • Increased PEBS knowledge
  • We worked and communicated as a team

PEBS Team met regularly to review progress with PFI goals and presented information and updates at staff meetings

PEBS Team

All Staff

  • Staff were kept briefed about students struggling with behavior expectations
  • Strategies were shared
  • Communication was enhanced

NVCI training on site

12 Staff members

A clearer understanding of how to support students before crisis occurs

Team approach to conflict resolution

Roots of Empathy

PEBS Team Leader

  • Shared info with staff
  • Ran the program with our grade 6 classes
  • Many opportunities to teach explicitly about empathy, bullying and feelings …

Friends For Life Training

2 Teaching Staff members

  • Teaching students how to handle anxiety in a healthy and proactive manner
  • Communication with parents and home support
  • Increased awareness on staff of how anxiety affects students emotionally, socially and academically
  • Guidance for staff when dealing with students exhibiting anxious behaviors

Mental Health PD

Learning Centre Teacher/PEBS team member

  • How to respond to mental health issues
  • Opening up more conversations with staff
  • More support with parents

Managing Challenging Behaviors – Jennifer Martin Wells

Staff

  • Strategies for dealing with difficulty behaviors
  • Developed a better understanding of why difficult situations and conflict happens
  • Staff shared own strategies and experiences

Internet Safety- Safe Schools(Kathleen Richard)

Staff/Parents

  • What is out there on the internet.
  • How to monitor child access to internet
  • How to educate our children about the safety issues
  • Where to go for help

Facebook/Internet Safety- RCMP

Parent Alert Program

Creating Healthy and Safe Communities Together

Staff/Parents

Further awareness of issues facing youth today (internet safety, cyber bullying, drugs and alcohol, violence...

Supports available in the community for youth and families during difficulty situations

Ways to identify issues before they get out of hand

PLCs

Staff

Sharing positive intervention strategies

Supporting students in the yellow and red zones as a school

Creating school wide strategies and activities to support a positive/diverse school climate

Mental Health First Aid ( Capital Health)

2 Staff members

Identifying signs of mental health concerns or issues

Information about mental health disorders

Strategies to support students with mental health disorders

Information about supports available in community to support students with mental health disorders

No Mind Left Behind (Public Lecture) at IWK

2 Staff

Information and strategies to ensure that we are engaging all students at school

Exploring how students learn in different ways

Nutrition Information Evening-Dietician

Parents/Staff

Information on healthy eating and how to read labels and prepare  nutritious meals for our children

Grade 4 Dream Speech

Grade Four students share their own “I Have a Dream...” speech during a Student Recognition Assembly

RCMP Liason

The DARE program, delivered by our RCMP liaison officer contributes to the proactive education of our grade 6 students.

Big Cove Camp

Our grade 6 Big Cove Camp experience was a positive end to our year.  Once again, these strong role models represented proudly at the camp.

Diversity

The diversity of our population is a positive asset for all of us at Humber Park School.

Climate Goal- DATA

The Humber Park Learning community has worked very hard over the past three years to implement and maintain many strategies to promote a positive and productive school climate.  The challenge has been to continue with initiatives throughout the three years without losing momentum or effectiveness.  We believe that this has been achieved.  The following data is evidence that staff, students and parents perceive Humber Park school as a positive learning and work environment.

The Halifax Regional School Board, Getting to Great survey has given us some positive feedback about our efforts to have Humber Park School a great environment to teach, learn and visit.  The following charts highlight the aspects of our school climate that makes us a “positive and caring” place to be.

Parent Responses 2009 2010 2011
My child’s school is a safe place. 100% 100% 97%
My child likes going to school most of the time 98% 97% 92%
My child’s school has high academic standards 86% 94% 89%
I am satisfied with the school’s efforts to meet my child’s academic needs. 99% 98% 95%
When I do something to help my child’s classroom or school I feel appreciated by school staff 96% 90% 97%
I feel welcomed at my child’s school 100% 92% 100%
I have a good relationship with my child’s teacher 93% 95% 95%
My child’s school invites parent/guardian and community involvement 100% 97% 100%
I have not  been treated differently because of my culture or race 96% 97% 92%

Parent response data shows that parents have consistently perceived Humber Park School as being an inviting learning environment. Overall responses show that parents believe that we have created a safe and inviting school environment.

Student Responses 2009 2010 2011
I am not bullied at school 92% 84% 89%
I am not treated differently because of my race or culture. 88% 87% 86%
My teacher really cares about me 93% 99% 100%
At my school there is at least one adult I can go to when I need to talk to someone 71% 82% 91%
At my school I learn about living in a healthy way 98% 98% 100%
I am happy with my grades in school. 90% 89% 89%
I have lots of chances to learn by doing things and not just listening to my teacher 87% 92% 94%
My teacher always wants me to do my best in school 96% 100% 100%
Most days I try to do my best. 94% 94% 95%

Students perceive Humber Park School as being a place where teachers care and strive to help students do their best. 

Teacher Responses 2009 2010 2011
Administration has a clear vision that makes a positive impact on student achievement N/A 100% 100%
Administration sets high expectations for the quality of teaching in our school N/A 100% 100%
Administration works together with me to make this school run effectively N/A 100% 100%
School-wide professional development supports the work we do with our school’s PFI plan N/A 92% 100%
Administration values the work I do N/A 100% 100%
I am actively involved with data collection and analysis as it relates to PFI N/A 100% 100%
Administration encourages me to take on a leadership role when appropriate N/A 100% 100%
I believe that all students can learn in my class N/A 100% 100%
My school celebrates student learning in many ways N/A 100% 100%
My work inspires me. N/A 100% 100%
I am enthusiastic and proud of the work I do N/A 100% 100%
I try to ensure that families and community members feel welcomed at my school N/A 100% 100%
I am never treated differently from other school staff because of my culture or race N/A 75% 100%

Teachers consistently report that they are inspired by their work and are valued for their efforts and dedication by administration.  They feel that we celebrate student learning and we have created a PFI plan to move the education of our students forward.

“Working environment for teachers is the learning environment for students”  NSTU

Over the past four years we have given students an opportunity at all grade levels to fill out an attitudinal survey to find out how they feel about school.  We wanted some additional data to go along with the `Getting to Great Survey to get feedback from all students.  Classroom teachers administered the survey during class time.

 Although students in grades primary to two believe that they have friends and teachers listen to them they have reported feeling less safe at school. Upon discussion, staff have wondered if this could be as a result of the consistent teaching and discussion of the issues surrounding safety and bullying.  Students are now able to identify and articulate very clearly when they feel unsafe.  Younger students made interesting comments such as … “ I feel unsafe when I see a spider or bump my head on the slide.”  Students are encouraged to talk about their feelings so issues can be addressed in a timely manner.

Our older students feel safer at school than they did four years ago and consistently develop friendships.  Eighty percent currently like school and they continue to believe that teachers listen to them.  We wonder if some of our students are unhappy or dislike school because of the high expectations placed on them each day. When we speak to students they often report that they would like to be home doing video games, playing hockey or other more preferred activities.  We are not sure if 20% of our students do not like school or would just rather do something else that they perceive as more enjoyable.

Office referrals over the past three years show that the older students tend to get referred to the office more often and the raw data indicates that some of that is due to the fact that there are a few students who repeatedly return to the office.  Fall appears to be the busier months so we have decreased that over the past three years by working collectively as a staff and ensure that school wide PEBs practices are in place from the first day of school.

Clearly, there have been many strategies and professional development opportunities put in place over the past three years to help maintain and improve the overall positive climate at Humber Park School.  We strive to recognize and celebrate the diversity of our community and we have shown through the various survey results that we are achieving our goals.  We will however, continue to create more opportunities for community members to participate in school wide activities to improve student achievement through understanding and collaboration.

Goal 2: Student writing will improve in the areas of conventions, sentence structure and idea development.

Strategies:

  • Development and implementation of school-wide writing assessment.

Over the past four years, teachers at Humber Park committed to refining their understanding of rubric based assessment. We have worked through the process of developing, implementing, and reflecting together during Professional Learning Communities. Our initial work developing our grade specific common assessment allowed us to deepen our understanding of rubrics and student learning expectations. As time progressed and we met together, our collaborative evaluation sessions afforded us with a broader perspective on all of our students strengths with writing and areas we need to address through specific teaching. Gaining this school-wide view has assisted us in knowing how to refine our assessment practices. As well, teachers are moving forward with specific instructional focuses that target students’ needs and are directly linked to what our evaluations reveal to us. Teachers’ feedback is more specific in nature, and students are taking on more ownership of their writing.


Strategies:

  • Professional learning communities with a focus on improving students writing abilities.
  • Professional development with the literacy coach to improve current literacy practice.
  • Conversations with teachers about teaching practices and student achievement.
  • Establish and implement specific mini-lessons as a way to improve literacy skills.

Discussing and supporting one another for the purpose of excelling student learning is a common occurrence within our walls at Humber Park. During the action phase of our plan we consciously structured within our instructional days time for professional conversation and learning through PLCs. In our learning groups various topics including; assessment tools, writing concepts, yearly planning, mini-lesson development, and best practice were examined and reflective learning was shared. Teachers’ initial concerns (writing conventions) to a large extent no longer occupy our main focus in terms of student need. During the last two years Idea Development and Organization have been of PLC focus and instruction. Analysis of our school wide assessments shows improvement in these areas. Students are effectively using pre-writing strategies to expand and plan their narrative writing. Through the generous availability of literacy coaches over the years, our teaching staff have ventured into new areas on instruction and pushed their personal boundaries to consider new points of view, new practices and frameworks for instruction. A wonderful result from these think sessions is encouragement and support we give one another and the genuine interest in new challenges. Our staff continues to display interest in professional learning.

Strategies:

  • Reading Blitzes in primary to grade two classes

During our PFI journey, particular attention was given to early intervention amongst our students in primary through grade two in reading. We used this as a way to heighten student attention to book language conventions. Daily blitzes occurred in each of the P-2 classrooms on a weekly rotating basis. Numerous adults were present to support student and teacher learning. Our sessions included from coaches, resource, support services, trained volunteers, and administration. These sessions were a wonderful example of collegial teamwork. How fortunate our young and older learners were to work in classrooms routinely having five adults listening and encouraging purposeful reading! Mini-lessons anchored our blitz sessions and afforded teachers structured conferencing sessions with individual students. Daily assessments of students’ strengthens and needs were recorded and future lessons were designed to target specific student needs. Through our conversations and analysis of session notes, trends in learning were detected, and the tie between using reading to support writing, and writing to support reading became clear. Students began to make the reading-writing connection and focused on writing for an audience. The immediate feedback students were given resulted in immediate shifts in ability. Students’ abilities were recognized and praised, and areas needing improvement were explicitly addressed and progress was monitored in a timely fashion. Students who have participated in our blitzes over the course of our plan, many now in upper elementary, have maintained their reading success and continue to develop as literacy learners

Strategies:

  • Implementing the writing workshop model in all classrooms.

Our individual understandings and practice of workshop have developed over the past four years. Group and one-on-one sessions with literacy coaches, multiple professional development information sessions, and independent study have highlighted the importance of this framework as a practice conducive to student learning and success with writing. The value in explicit teaching, mini-lessons, student practice, conferring, and student sharing of learning is obvious. Through this process students are able to find and develop their own voice through writing. Students are seeing themselves as authors and developing a meaningful relationship with writing. Writing is seen as expression of themselves. As we move forward as a staff, continued attention to building a shared understanding of workshop and the powerful potential it affords us in teaching our students shall be given.

Teacher Impact Statements

Writing Goal

“During writing workshops specific feedback is a priority now and mini lessons are focussed.  Students are improving in their specific areas.”

“I am conferencing more with students and giving feedback specific to their needs.”

“Sharing assessment results with other staff helps me become aware of trends of students needs.”

“During writing workshops I give specific feedback to student and only focus on 1 or 2 areas that require attention.  Mini lessons are used to focus student learner and teacher instruction.”

“Common assessments made me more aware of rubrics.  By sharing rubrics with students prior to writing allows us to work towards a goal.”

“Sharing assessment results made me more aware of what my students need…this helps me with planning instruction.”

“Work with the literacy coach provided support at the classroom level to establish new routines and structures for enhancing student learning through informed teaching and ongoing assessment.”

“Sharing assessment results provided time to look at school a community of learners and how individual groups may change over time.  Provide a snapshot of student/school population strengths/weaknesses.”

“Literacy night was a great hit and the use of passport cards allowed students to engage in different ideas and activities.  Students and parents enjoyed games, puppet shows, readers’ theatre etc.  A family affair.  Lots of positive energy throughout the school

Strategies Impact/Changes

1. Development and implementation of school-wide writing assessment.

Strengthen teachers understanding of writing expectations

Have specific knowledge of students’ areas of strengths and areas in need of further instruction.

2. Professional Learning Communities with a focus on improving students writing abilities.

Purposeful instruction based on student evidence of need

3. Professional Development with the Literacy Coach to improve current literacy practice.

Established instructional focuses and year long planning. Strengthened skills, knowledge, and practice. Fostered culture of inquiry

4. Establish and implement specific mini-lessons as a way to improve literacy skills.

Potential for improved student practice and learning.

Instruction based on best practice

5. Conversations with teachers about teaching practices and student achievement.

Productive discussion centered on improving student learning has a direct impact on daily work with students as well as long term affects on instruction

6. Reading Blitzes in Primary to grade Two classes on a year long, daily schedule

Offers opportunities for students to examine the writing conventions with teacher support.

Provides opportunities for teachers to highlight writing structure, conventions, and organization of ideas.

Provides opportunities for students to make that reading and writing connection.  To learn more about writing for an audience.

7. Implementing the writing workshop model in all classrooms

Students at all grade levels are experiencing the same writing process.

Provides opportunities for teachers to share an understanding of the writing process across all grade levels.

Consistent strategies and expectations across all grade levels

Professional Development

Professional Development/Focus

Participants

What was learned?

Changes in Practices

On-going reviews of school-wide writing assessments

All teaching staff

The need for us as a staff to align our understanding of workshop and the writing process as a means to achieving our school goals

The importance of using common assessments for informing writing instruction that fosters authentic student writing

Multiple half-day PD sessions with Literacy Coach

Various grade level teachers

Refined individual practice

Strengthened professional learning partnerships

Increased knowledge on particular literacy based topics

Classroom writing lessons following the workshop and guided reading model  demonstrated by Literacy Coach

Various grade level teachers

improved instruction

The need to support and establish this as a standard in all classrooms

Reading Blitz Mini-Lessons

Classroom Teachers

Support Teachers

Coaches

Administration

Revised observation template to better suit teacher need.

The need to restructure and revamp mini-lessons for next year.

During the past three years our staff has implemented strategies to improve the areas of conventions, sentence structure, and idea development. Teachers have participated in numerous team and whole group professional development sessions and worked in professional learning communities designing, refining, evaluating, and reflecting on assessment devices and instructional practices. The following highlights some of the strategies and professional development employed:

  • Professional Development
  • Workshop Framework
  • Writing Continuum and Assessment
  • Grade Expectations
  • Mini-Lesson Format
  • Data Coaching
  • Strategies
  • Professional Learning Community opportunities within weekly schedule
  • Accessing literacy coach and securing HRSB PLC days
  • Parent Information Sessions and Corresponding Handouts
  • Writers’ Celebration Night
  • Consultation with HRSB Literacy and Assessment Staff
  • Development of common writing assessment rubrics P-6

External Literacy Data
Grade 3 Elementary Language Literacy Assessment (ELLA)

Over the three years of implementation, we have seen an increase in the percentage of students meeting expectations in Ideas.  We have maintained a high percentage of students meeting expectations in Conventions, although the percentage this past year was somewhat lower than we had hoped. Possible explanation for this lies in increased instructional concentration on developing ideas and refining min-lessons to address areas of student need in reference to idea development. Furthermore, teachers’ increased attention to idea development over conventions has deepened the children’s writing experiences and products.  Although we understand the importance of conventions for communication, we have come to place greater importance on strengthening idea development than addressing each convention. This can speak for the slight decrease in conventions from 2008-2009 to 2010-2011.

By looking at Narrative and Expository writing elements separately, we noticed that the narrative writing for 2010-2011 was much lower than other years of narrative as well as 2010-2011 expository. While we are pleased to note the sustained results over the last two years in expository, the percentage decline in narrative can be explained by numerous considerations. Three students who wrote the ELLA in 2010 have since been working on Individual Program Plans. All of these plans include components that speak to the instructional support needed for written narrative form. As well, in 2010 more discussion and instruction has been delivered via expository forms, and when given the option, many of our grade three students opted for expository over narrative writing choices. 

Grade 6 Elementary Literacy Assessment (ELA)

We have maintained a high percentage of students meeting expectations in overall writing on this functional literacy assessment.

Grade 5 CAT.4 -- Writing

Over the last two years, CAT.4 Writing results have shown that about three-quarters of our Grade 5 students have met expectations in ideas (Content). Similar results were obtained for conventions and organization (Content Management).  As the graph below demonstrates, the percentage of students scoring in the proficient category increased in 2011 compared to last: 22% increase in content and 15% increase in content management. 

School-based Data

Over the three years of implementation, we maintained a high percentage of students meeting expectations in our Spring common writing assessment as demonstrated in the graph below.

For Ideas in particular, a higher percentage of students is scoring in the strong category by year three. Spending more attention and time on planning writing tasks has been very helpful in achieving the success students have with Ideas. Various pre-writing mini-lessons, use of writers’ notebooks, emphasis on oral sharing of ideas have been part of our instructional shift over the last three years. 

We also examined performance in the Winter common writing assessment to determine progress.  As demonstrated in the graph below, we achieved an increase in all three components of writing over the three years of implementation. This improvement highlights the value in creating change over time. Reflecting together and identifying student need and strategically responding to them through explicit teaching has over the past three years created a writing learning environment that fosters student risk-taking and increased practice which has led to this significant overall gain across our student population.

With Ideas in particular, we had a higher percentage of students not only meeting expectations, but also scoring in the strong category.  

For Structure, we saw improvement as students moved from developing to strong, an increase of 10% from the first year of implementation to the third year.

PLC conversations about structural expectations and teacher sharing lesson ideas have refined our school-wide understanding of these areas of writing. Using grade level grids and repeated reference to outcomes we have better aligned our understanding of this component and our instruction.

Clearly, through analysis of external and internal assessment data, the students (and staff) of Humber Park Elementary are stronger writers than they were three years ago. Our attention to daily writing, on-going discussions, and specifically focused PLCs resulted in continuously higher achievements. Intentional teaching with clear instructional focuses is working to achieve these increasing scores that are stronger across the writing areas we are targeting. 


Goal 3: Math – Number Operations

We implemented strategies to improve students’ understanding of numerical operations.

Strategies:

Using Math manipulative kits

Teachers at Humber Park School have recognized the importance of having access to and use of math manipulatives in the classroom.  PLC groups across grade levels put together math baskets and bags for groups and individual students. The math coach helped teachers select appropriate manipulatives for each grade level, while the math team collected the materials. Having math kits available helped with time efficiency during class. The math kits allowed students to have math materials readily available, to help them explore and problem solve.

Family Math Fun Night

All students created math invitations to send home to their families. Our goal for Family Math Night was to allow students to showcase math skills and enable parents to familiarize themselves with mathematical thinking, in a supportive and fun environment. Math Night began with a brief presentation for parents in the gym.  Parents circulated through and participated in student led math stations in the classrooms.  Parents were introduced to activities and manipulatives used by students.  Teachers created activities to excite and motivate students to share their understanding of math.  Both parents and students enjoyed Family Math Fun Night.  Parents gave great feedback and were pleased with the event.  

Mad Minute March

All staff and students have participated in Mad Minute March.  Mad Minute March was introduced to students to strengthen mental math skills for quick recall of basic facts.  The format was determined in collaboration by the math team, math coach and grade level teachers.  All grade levels participated in building a school wide math community.  The Mad Minute format was differentiated to ensure that all students were included.  The principal introduced the challenge over the morning announcements. At the ring of a bell, students began their math recall activities and stopped at the second bell.  All students graphed their progress over the month.  Students were excited about the challenge and actively participated daily.  Results showed that students made positive gains in mental math operations over the month.

Math Common Assessments
Sharing Assessment Results

Humber Park Elementary students from grades P-6 participated in school wide mathematic common assessments. The goal of the common assessments was to identify student needs and strengths in number sense and operations.  The assessments were also initiated to provide teachers with supporting data for instruction as well as accreditation.  Collaborative meetings were held with the math coach, grade level teachers, specialist teachers and administrators to discuss, plan and prepare the assessments. The assessments were administered three times a year, creating ongoing data of student challenges and successes.  Staff meetings and professional development sessions provided school staff with a wide understanding of concepts being assessed. It also provided a greater awareness of how ideas about operations are developed through the grade levels. The results provided information for individual and school wide data, but most importantly, it strengthened teacher knowledge and direction for future instruction and assessment.

PRIME Professional Development

PRIME was used as an operations assessment tool to help identify a student’s developmental level in math.  The staff of Humber Park School participated in three days of PRIME professional development training.  PRIME enabled students to demonstrate their understanding of number concepts.  PRIME was especially useful to resource and learning centre teachers to help identify struggling math learners. The data collected from PRIME informed teachers about student comprehension and development in number sense and operations.  PRIME also gave teachers a starting point when working with new and resource students. 

Support with Math Coach

Teachers had the opportunity to work with the school math coach, Anna Conrad.   The coach provided professional development to all staff and met with individual teachers and PLC groups to plan lessons and units.  Anna regularly went into our classrooms to support teachers with lessons or to model the lesson itself. This provided staff with opportunities to observe a modeled lesson as well as student involvement.  She motivated and informed teachers by her explicit planning and instruction.  Anna played an integral role in the planning and implementation of all the strategies to achieve our school’s math goal. 

What teachers are doing differently to help students?

Over the past few years, teachers have increased their knowledge and improved their teaching practices in mathematics. Teachers used the three part lesson model to implement more structured and effective lessons with their students.  They have explicitly included the 5 representations of mathematical concepts during instruction.  As a result, students gained a more integrated understanding of math through the use of concrete, contextual, pictorial, symbolic and language representations.  Teachers realize the significance of linking math concepts to the real-world, by promoting student reasoning, problem solving and discussions.

Teachers used the common assessments to assess student knowledge of math concepts at grade level.  The data provided teachers with information about student strengths and weaknesses in number sense and operations.  The data promoted discussion and collaboration among teachers as well as gave insight for future instruction.

Teachers frequently collaborated within and across grade levels to share and discuss strategies for student improvement.  The constant use of standard math language, mental math strategies and manipulatives by teachers across the grade levels, has helped to build a common understanding of math concepts and procedures as students develop from year to year.

Teacher Impact Statements

Math Goal

“Work with the math coach has supported my learning in differentiation of instruction, tracking student progress and creating effective assessments.”

“Sharing assessment results has enabled me to recognize trends in student learning and to address them in my instruction.”

“Family Math Fun Night”, students see themselves as experts and view math as fun.  Parents are introduced to daily math activities which help to clarify math concepts being taught.”

“Family Math Fun Night” helped me aware of parent needs and understanding of math concepts and procedures.  A great opportunity to answer parental questions and address concerns.”

“Looking at graphs during assessment talks helps me to see results clearly because they illustrate strengths and needs of students on specific assessments and over time.  This helps me to focus on my students’ needs and to inform my instruction.”

“Mad March Math Minutes allowed students to practice numerical operation skills and enhance proficiency.  Students were motivated to improve their results daily and to beat the clock.”

“Work with our math coach was extremely valuable to whole staff in servicing and development.  It is particularly exciting when the coach is in the classroom supporting the teacher and providing insights into student learning.  Students were happy to welcome the coach and enjoyed and benefited from the support of 2 teachers in the room.”

“Sharing assessment results allowed for insights into individual progress, grade level achievement as well as whole school results.  Very useful for planning at all levels.”

“ Family Math Fun Night allowed students to showcase math skills for their parents and enabled parents to familiarize themselves with students’ mathematical thinking while in a supportive, fun environment.”

“Math manipulative kits allowed all students to have math materials at fingertips to explore and to problem solve.  Children enjoyed and benefited from using the manipulatives to help clarify thinking.”

“Sharing assessment results is imperative for teacher learning and improved teaching.  This forum allows for new learning, sharing of common interest and purpose!”

Strategies

Impact/Changes

Increase math manipulative inventory through book bureau order, as well as manipulatives provided by HRSB Math Department

Teachers are able to make students math-manipulative bags for each of their students

This started in our first year of implementation and kits continued to be added to over the three years.

In February 2010 Humber Park hosted a Family Fun Math Night. After a parent presentation on math students led parents through partner, and whole class math activities that are used in their classrooms used as a means to introduce and reinforce math concepts.

Teacher led math nights held in previous years were not were not well attended. Having students ‘take the lead’ ensured that our math night was successful with higher attendance.

Mad Math Minute March

All P-6 students took part and for the most part were able to make positive gains in number operation skills through personal challenges

School wide mathematics common assessments to identify student strengths & needs in number sense & operations. This will provide us with necessary data re: accreditation

School wide understanding of what is being assessed.

Staff awareness of operations development

P to 6

Assessment of student learning to inform instruction

Strategies

Impact/Changes

Math Coach will support ‘math blitzes’ in Resource Room.

Resource teacher has used consistent math strategies to reinforce the concepts of number and operations across all grade levels.

Classroom teachers will use PRIME to find out where ‘struggling students’ need support.

Teachers will know the math developmental level in number sense and number operations of students they assess using PRIME.

Ensure that math manipulative kits are being used in all classrooms.

Students are routinely using math manipulatives

Math night clearly demonstrated that students know how to use various math manipulatives.

Design and provide a math curriculum night for parents.

Student led activities ensured that our math night was success with 120 parents attending.

PLCs will design teaching activities to address student needs.

PLC time with math coach and grade level partner.

Schedule and administer ‘numerical operation’ common assessments during the 3 terms.

School-wide focus on the concept of operations.

Students will show improvement in numerical operations.(p to 3 addition & subtraction; 4 to 6 focus is multiplication & division)

School-wide internal assessment data allows for comparison within grade levels and between grade bands (P-3; 4-6)

Professional Development/Focus

Participants

What was learned? Changes in practices

Math Component of school-based in-service days.

All classroom teachers, resource/ learning centre  teachers

  • Participants typically met in grade level groupings to review student achievement in mathematics.

Individual staff PD with HRSB school-based math coach

All classroom teachers, administration, resource and learning centre teachers

  • That the coaching process is reciprocal in nature
  • We learn to trust each other, and not make value judgments, but rather focus on advancing student achievement in mathematics.

External Math Data

Grade 3 Early Elementary Mathematical Literacy Assessment (EEMLA)

Students of different cohorts have not shown a steady pattern of improvement in the EEMLA assessments over the last four years.  We have noted that our students are struggling with the language of the assessments and we plan to address this in our daily instruction so students become more independent while navigating the math terms and procedures.  Our math coach has been instrumental in supporting teachers develop assessments that may mirror some of the aspects of the provincial assessments. 

Grade 6 Elementary Mathematical Literacy Assessment (EMLA)

In 2010 76% of our Grade 6 students met expectations on the EMLA. In 2011, 58% of students met. We examined the data by student and reflected on those who did not meet expectations and have been tracking their progress.  These students have been receiving extra math support in class and with our resource teacher.  Our resource program now offers more support to students in math than ever before.  The resource teacher works very closely with the math coach and classroom teacher to support in areas most needed by students.  We do however, recognize that the EMLA is only one assessment at a particular place in time and may not be a true reflection of student overall ability.  We therefore, we use classroom assessments and the Prime math assessment to pinpoint specific areas of concern.

Grade 2 CAT.4

Over the three years of implementation, 100% of our Grade 2 students have met expectations in Number Sense. This is also true of Estimation and Number Operations.  With respect to adding and subtracting of whole numbers, our students’ performance has increased steadily in subtraction, but decreased this past year in addition. We wonder if our focus on subtraction has meant we spent less time on addition through mental math and other strategies. Somehow we need to achieve a balance as we deliver our math curriculum.  Also we must take into account that the data represents different cohorts. This will be incorporated into to new goals for next year.

Number Operations Graph

Grade 5 CAT.4

Over the three years of implementation, the percentage of our Grade 5 students meeting expectations in Number Sense has decreased steadily from 91% to 86% to 80%. We believe this decrease has to do with the difference in the cohorts and we plan to monitor their progress closely.  We have been focusing on our delivery of mental math strategies to help support students doing numerical operations.  We believe as we strengthen this ability students will improve achievement.

As demonstrated in the graph below, we have seen small increases in the percentage of students meeting expectations in the four operations, with a steady decline in students’ ability to estimate and apply number operations.

School- Based Math Data

While looking at our Spring Common Assessment data we can see that more students have become more proficient in their level of understanding in Number Operations.  Classroom work and assessments have been focusing on students using the five representations to be more able to show and explain their understanding of number operations. Teachers are using discussions during PLCs  and review of assessments to implement strategies to meet the direct needs of students.

We have seen some growth in our students understanding of numerical operations but our performance on the provincial assessments has indicated that we may need to also teach our students how to “take the test” more successfully.  Teachers are incorporating the format of the assessments into some of their classroom assessments so students are more successful. 

We have noticed that classroom activities are very driven by the curriculum outcomes and students have a clear understanding of the goals of our lessons.  They are now realizing that school is “hard work” and this has been reflected in the results of our attitudinal surveys.

The following attitudinal survey results show that students in grades primary to two have decreased their enjoyment of math by 20%.  We are making a stronger effort to monitor how students are feeling and taking time to observe stressful feelings and reacting in a timely fashion to boost student positive attitude about math.  Teachers are using a balanced approach to assessment by using conversations, observations and products to allow students many opportunities to show what they know.  We have maintained or increased the positive attitudes towards the reading and writing activities for these students.  We believe that parent involvement is crucial and continue to communicate our curriculum goals and strategies with parents so they feel more comfortable working with their children at home.

The above data shows that students’ enjoyment of doing academics is not increasing and in many cases is decreasing.  We are concerned that our focus on mastery and the pace we have to maintain in school to cover all outcomes is having a negative effect on our students overall feeling of pleasure in learning.  We believe that although students are reporting that they read less at home they may be referring to books where in fact they may be reading more as they interact and use computers.

We do believe that a positive attitude about learning will translate into more effort and focus during learning activities.  For this reason we are going to infuse more motivation and descriptive feedback into our lessons.

Closing Comments

The past four years has been an extremely intense experience for all stakeholders.  We have had to learn and integrate many new strategies and initiatives to complete the accreditation process. We realize that PFI is about what happens in the classroom everyday. As we look back we can see where we have fumbled and have a clearer understanding of how to use PLCs, data and assessment practices to guide our PFI.  We view PFI as a way of “doing” not an extra thing to do.  Communication has improved and we do feel that we are in a better position to start off on the next cycle of PFI.   Going through the process once has helped us to work closely as a staff and community to reach our goals.  We do believe that the second time round will not only run smoother but we may even enjoy the journey as the foundation of positive change has already been laid.

Declaration

Roberta Jones, Principal, November, 21, 2011

Brenda Riley, SAC Chair, November 21, 2011