Looking Back on a Year of Learning: 2018-19

Posted: July 2, 2019

Dear James Hill Families,

As we reflect back on this year of learning with our students, we are proud of the hard work students and staff have put in to ensure student success.

The year started out with the first staff meeting in September, where all staff gathered to discuss, brainstorm and plan our Action Plan for Learning. We worked within the Langley School District Action Plan goals of improving literacy rates for students exiting the primary program and successful transitions. You can learn more about the District Strategic Plan here: https://www.sd35.bc.ca/the-board/strategic-plan/

With these goals in mind, our school determined, through assessing the needs of our student community and analyzing data trends over the past several years for literacy, that we would focus on two main goals this year: Literacy and Social-Emotional Learning. With these goals as our compass, we set out to draw the map of action to support these goals for learning. After months of collaboration, we worked with the PAC and shared our goals with the parent community, knowing the importance of families and schools working together. You can see our earliest communication of this plan to parents here, shared in November 2018:

Our Literacy Goal:

To support our literacy focus, we wanted to ensure we provided opportunities for parents to be involved. Bringing parents into the school and bringing school into the home is a wonderful way to continue student supports throughout the day and the entire year. Some of the events we planned to support this included:

DEAR Days (Drop Everything and Read): Parents were invited to join us in the mornings to read with their child(ren) and their friends. It was a great community-builder and helped emphasize the importance of the joy in literacy!

Student Authors: Miss Anderson featured our student authors in the library, creating a section completely dedicated to them! This allowed students to feel the pride of publishing their edited works, and allowed others students to read and learn from their peers.

Langley Picture Book/Langley Book of the Year: Miss Anderson also supported this amazing program for our students this year, encouraging students to read all the nominated books and then vote on their favourite. This initiative has ongoing in Langley School District for years and we intend to keep it as part of our literacy community for many years to come!

Speech Festival: This year, several of our grade 3-5 classes participated in the Langley Speech Festival. We were proud of our two students that made it to the district finals, Keira and Connor! All students who engaged in the speech festival developed their writing, editing and public speaking skills as part of a balanced literacy program.

Summer Reading Program: Mrs. Peck and the PAC spent the entire year acquiring books for our Summer Reading Program that allows students to take home up to 25 books EACH to read over the summer. This is a significant support for all our students so they can read daily over the summer and help prevent the Summer Slide.

Student Voice: Ensuring that students have a voice in the school community is important. Students deserve to be heard and valued. This year, students wrote and provided the oral communication for our daily announcements, our Seven Sacred Teachings, the speaking parts for assemblies among many other opportunities. Several students even wrote letters back and forth to Mrs. Simonetto throughout the year, communicating ideas they had for the school!

Students as Reader Leaders: We know how important it is for our students to see themselves as leaders. For this reason, we offered many opportunities for students to connect with younger students through literacy. Our intermediate students were buddy readers to our younger students. Several students were literacy readers to our Strong Start program!

 

In addition to these community building supports for literacy, staff also worked hard to ensure quality instruction and assessment were occurring on a daily basis. Our staff worked together to identify key areas they wished to focus on for professional development. These included:

Adrienne Gear’s Reading Power resources: As a staff, we agreed to use this teaching resource that helps develop student meta-cognition and reading comprehension school-wide. We brought in literacy coaches from the district to help us in this learning on Pro-D days, collaboration afternoons and during staff meetings, attended after-school district workshops hosted by the author, and resources were purchased for all classroom teachers.

Daily 5: In many of our primary classes, you will notice a structure of literacy centres called the Daily 5 framework. Many of our classes use this in order to allow for daily small group reading instruction for students. District coaches assisted in training some staff with this structure.

Guided Reading: Our staff recognizes the importance of guided reading (small group reading instruction and ongoing assessment) as part of a balanced literacy program in any grade. For this reason, we sought out district coaches to ensure all staff were trained in guided reading and we also implemented a guided reading platoon structure in our grade 4 and 5 classes for 6 weeks during the final term. This platoon system ensured small group reading instruction every day for 30 minutes. It required a team of over 10 staff to accomplish, but with a shared vision, we had the people on board to make sure it was a success!

 

Our Social-Emotional Learning Goal:

Our social-emotional goal this year really focused around creating a school-wide system to support students. Our staff chose Zones of Regulation as a way to engage in this learning. Several times this year we shared with our parents information on how to use the “Zones” language and strategies at home. Here are some of the structures and support we implemented this year:

Parent Information Night: We invited Kelly Cleeve to JHE for a parent-info night on the Zones of Regulation. She did a wonderful job of sharing how to use the Zones language at home and strategies to help students identify their zone and ways to return to the green zone.

Marvelous Mornings: Our Marvelous Mornings were one of the first structures we put in place. Our SEA staff took the lead on these mornings, which allowed families to come to school 30 minutes before the first bell to enjoy some time together and ease the transition into the school day. On a daily basis, we had upwards of 25 people in the Learning Commons. Students expressed how much they valued this time to relax and get ready for the day, and they felt more prepared to learn by the first bell.

Peace Circles: Our classes have adopted Peace Circles this year as a way to build community and respect among their students. The Peace Circle is also a proactive approach that allows students to identify their zone and their feelings, and voluntarily share reasons, if they choose to do so. It helps give information to the teacher as well, so that he or she can support the student in returning to the green zone if needed. Students showed a great deal of empathy in these circles and often reached out to a friend who needed a some care.

Brain Gym: After a site visit to a neighbouring school, our Resource Staff along with an SEA decided to bring Brain Gym to JHE. In just two weeks, the program was up and running twice a week. In just a few more weeks, Brain Gym was happening 5 days a week for the first 15 minutes after the first bell! To learn more about Brain Gym, check out this video:

Break room & Calm corners: In order to assist students in returning and staying in the green zone, the optimal zone for learning, we offer a variety of spaces in the school to support students in returning or maintaining calm. We have a cozy and relaxing Break Room that offers a tranquil environment for students who need a little down time from the busy classroom environment. We also offer Calm Corners in most classrooms that provide an in-class space for students to self-regulate as needed. These structures are intended as a proactive approach to self-regulation to help kids stay in the green zone.

Self Reg Studio: Our self-reg studio opened in the third term after many months of preparation and organization. Our resource team did an amazing job getting the Self-Reg studio up and running. The Self- Regulation studio is different from the Break Room in that it offers students a way to get BIG body movements and exert energy so they can remain calm in the classroom. The Studio hosts a rock-climbing wall, rowing machine, 2 trampolines, a stationary bike, a stepping machine, heavy ropes and heavy medicine balls. The students enter this space during set times in the day with an SEA guide, choose their body circuit that will help their body exert some energy, and then self-identify their zone prior to departing.

We are very proud of the hard work our staff and JHE community has put forth to support student learning this year! We look forward to continuing our Action Plan for Learning goals next year with additional supports and structures to enhance student success!

Thanks for a great year!

Mrs. Kendra Simonetto