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Report to the Community

​Using Collaboration to Improve Student Learning

 

The Writing Project

Improving student writing was an important part of the professional work that was done by staff in the last few school years at General Vanier, and work in this area has been a part of an ongoing project that brought many Louis Riel School Division schools together to discuss the ways that we teach writing.  It is a belief of General Vanier School and the LRSD that effective teacher learning is the fundamental way to improve student learning.

Through Divisional in-servicing and personal contributions, teachers were guided through the work of Regie Routman and the Optimal Learning Model.  Teachers learned new techniques in the teaching of writing and visited demonstration classrooms as they practiced and collaborated to improve each other's pedagogy.   Teachers were instructed in ways to approach the gradual release of responsibility for writing and as they gained proficiency, invited other divisional staff into General Vanier so that they could share what they learned.

 
 

 

Goals for the writing project included but were not limited to insuring that students:

    • Have a clear learning destination
    • Use samples to understand quality and development
    • Participate in the co-construction of criteria
    • Be involved in self and peer assessment
    • Collect, select, reflect, and project (set goals) based on evidence of their learning
    • Communicate their learning to others, both formally and informally.

 

The following are graphs of the percentage of students who received 3 or 4 and 1 or 2 in the writing outcomes on June report cards over the last three years.  Generally there is a decrease in the number of students receiving reports of a limited or basic understanding of writing concepts and skills (1 or 2), and a growing number of students receiving a good or very good understanding and application of concepts and skills (3 and 4).  Although there are many variables that can account for changing results, it is encouraging to see a general improvement.

 3 and 4 writing.PNG

 The graph above show the changes in four groups of students by following them for a three year period; June 2015, 2016, and 2017.

1 and 2 Writing.PNG

The graph above show the changes in four groups of students by following them for a three year period; June 2015, 2016, and 2017.

Also of great importance are those qualitative observations made by teachers who were part of the writing project.  Teachers at General Vanier were asked to reflect on various aspects of the Writing Project and remarked that the Lesson Study Weeks were "powerful" and "valuable" experiences.  In the process of constructing shared beliefs about teaching writing, teachers remarked that the experience "stimulated conversations to really change our beliefs", and it was remarked of the importance of "making teaching decisions that are based on research instead of assumptions".

 

Grade 8 Family of Schools, Usage of Provincial Assessments

At the grade 8 level, English Language Arts teachers met as a family of schools (General Vanier, Frontenac, and Archwood) to discuss how provincial assessment results could be used to improve the way that teaching and learning is done.  With the help of coordinator Lauren Mitchel-Lawson, and author Bruce Wellman, a culture of collaborative inquiry was nurtured.  Teachers explored inter-rater reliability (the ability for teachers to be consistent in their grading practices) and in the process, created common assessments to improve the validity and relevance of these provincial reports.  This work will be continued in the upcoming school year.

General Vanier's commitment to improving literacy through the engagement of students in the writing process is in concordance with the Louis Riel School Divisions' Priorities for Student Learning.   

 
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