Building Social Emotional Learning Capacity

accomp_social-emotionalThe Learning Supports Branch continued to promote Social Emotional Learning (SEL) among schools, with 730 teachers trained in MANDT over the past 30 months. Other training programs, such as Mental Health First Aid, Friends for Life, Reach, the Fourth R, and Wrap Around Supports, were offered to a variety of staff focusing on social skills, anxiety, crisis response, ethics, and working with children in the regular classroom. Numerous parent sessions also were offered on a wide variety of topics such bullying, addiction, and digital citizenship. Through a triangulated analysis of data sets, including attendance, student affect, and student performance, the Learning Supports team worked with three schools over the course of the year to identify students at-risk and strategies to re-engage them in the learning process.

Expanding Student Supports 

Through its newly established Multidisciplinary Support Team (MST) the Learning Supports Branch provided direct services to eight individual students with complex communication and/or behavioural needs. Comprised of a learning specialist, a speech language pathologist, an occupational therapist, a psychologist, and an autism strategist, the MST worked with homeroom teachers and educational assistants to build staff capacity, while providing enhanced support to students in both inclusive and specialized settings. The overall vision of MST is to improve a student's communication, social interaction, and behaviour skills, as well as developing his/her academic skills. RVS estimates that 210 students or one percent of RVS’ population has complex communication needs. In addition to this new team, the Learning Supports Branch also established a Mental Health Program at George McDougall High School, staffed by a positive behaviour strategist and a learning support asssistant, and a Complex Communication Program at Bert Church High School, staffed by a teacher and three learning support assistants.

Balancing Literacy, Numeracy, and 21st C Skills and Knowledge

accomp_balanceA Task Group, comprised of eight K-8 teachers and administrators, worked with Alberta Education’s Dr. Karen Loerke on the development of a Literacy/Numeracy Framework for Rocky View Schools. Based on the results of an audit, which identified the literacy practices, assessments, interventions, and professional learning activities employed across the jurisdiction, the framework outlines RVS beliefs about literacy/numeracy, the essential conditions required to build these skills and the strategies, key resources, and assessment tools recommended for teacher use. The draft framework will be finalized over the 2015/16 school year, with implementation plans included in schools’ 2016/17 School Education Plans. An extension of the framework to address literacy/numeracy practices for Gr. 9 to 12 students also will be built and rolled out in 2017.

Advancing 21st C Instructional Practices

In 2014/15 over 280 teachers and 84 school administrators from 40 schools participated in one of seven instructional design professional learning opportunities, hosted by RVS’ 21st C Learning Branch. Structured around the principles of design thinking, all sessions were supported through an online practice guide, entitled “Making Learning Visible.” This ‘design toolkit’ walked educators through a structured approach to generating and developing ideas, with the focus on building foundational literacy/numeracy skills and 21st C competencies. Responding to new administrative guidelines that minimize the number of days teachers and administrators can be away from school for professional learning, the 21st C Learning Branch has modified its approach for 2015/16 to offer more school-based, elbow-to-elbow training to build teacher capacity on effective 21st C instructional practices.

Accelerating the Implementation of 21st C Assessment Practices

accomp-21CTwenty-three out of 34 schools have adopted 21st C assessment practices as outlined though RVS’ Communication of Student Learning (CoSL) initiative. To guide schools' implementation, four practice guides relating to RVS’ new report cards, goal setting and self-assessment, three-way conferences, and portfolios were made available to teachers and parents. Outside of the CoSL team providing onsite support to administrators and teachers at all 23 schools, implementing schools also had access to assessment specialist, Anne Davies, on three occasions – one of which was dedicated to parents. The remaining 11 schools are poised to begin implementation of CoSL in 2015/16.

Maintaining a Robust, Integrated Technology infrastructure

To assess the health and future technological needs of the jurisdiction, RVS engaged IBM in an external review of its technology network and infrastructure in November 2014. Received in March 2015, IBM’s final report identified 10 top priorities for action to ensure a stable and robust infrastructure is maintained to respond to the increasing demands of a growing school division. The priorities are:

  1. Automate user management
  2. Evergreen of school networkaccomp_technology
  3. Standardize network user information
  4. Evergreen wireless infrastructure
  5. Refine RVS helpdesk processes
  6. Upgrade email system
  7. Evergreen district network
  8. Upgrade RVS user authentication/security
  9. Upgrade jurisdiction and school websites
  10. Implement POD/RVS device management tools

By the spring 2015, RVS’ IT Branch already began work on implementing the recommendations, with a roll out plan for the migration to Office 365 to be developed in the fall 2015.

Moving to One-to-One Learning Environments

accomp_webA Divisional Technology committee was established under the Associate Superintendent of Learning to align all technology initiatives with the tenets of Alberta Education’s Learning and Technology Policy Framework (LTPF). Moving forward, a formal charter for all technology-related projects and hardware requests will be vetted through the committee to ensure consideration has been given to LTPF’s five policy directions of: student-centred learning, research and innovation, professional learning, leadership and access, infrastructure and digital learning environments. To date all 10 high schools have successfully moved to one-to-one Personally Owned Device environments, with approximately 85 to 95 percent of high school students bringing a laptop or tablet to school. The remaining 15 percent are provided access to school-supplied Chromebooks for the day. At the Grade 7 to 9 level, schools are at various stages of implementation. Students in Grade 6 and below can bring a POD to school, however, teachers wanting one-to-one environments generally use laptop/iPad/Chromebook carts.

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