Supporting Foundational Skills of Literacy and Numeracy

pencil-puzzleA 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 conducted in 2014/15, 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. Professional learning opportunities supporting the framework, such as running records, were offered in January and February 2016. Through to June 2016, the Task Group conducted an environmental scan among RVS schools as well as work with the Zone 5 Regional Consortia on Numeracy to define essential conditions, and identify resources and effective practices for K-6. To advance the implementation of the framework, three literacy/numeracy learning specialists were hired in September 2016.


Building Students' 21st C Skills

Thirty-two (32) schools, directly involving 90 teachers and 2700 students, were involved in one of four cohorts to collaboratively design, teach, and make visible engaging learning experiences where students have an active role andlight-bulb-puzzle voice, and make, create, and do things that matter to themselves and the community. This past year’s themes were:

  • Future Writers - writing speculative fiction to inspire sustainability and environmental stewardship;
  • Rocky View Geographic – publishing the stories of Rocky View’s communities and ecosystems;
  • Engineering Challenge – becoming engineers through hands-on designing, building, and making; and,
  • Change Makers – involving student action for our community and planet.

The cohort model built instructional design capacity at the teacher level and instructional leadership
capacity at the administration level. These cohorts were complemented by parallel streams of Design Schools and Design Fellows that focused on collaborative processes and tools for people to be creative together or employ innovative learning projects. These design streams are again offer in the 2016/17 year, with the hope that a greater number of schools and teachers are able to participate.


Strengthening Ties with RVS Families

At both the November and April Joint Board/School Council Meetings, School Council representatives and the Board ofpencils-in-box Trustees worked in table groups to identify and review effective practices/activities school councils have utilized to engage and support parents in ensuring student success. Along with the findings of a literature review and best practices employed by school councils across Alberta, feedback from the November session was compiled into a "Rocky View Schools’ School Council Effective Practices Guide" and released as draft at the April Joint Meeting. Based on feedback received at that April meeting, the Schools Department has been charged with finalizing the Practice Guide for distribution among all school councils in the winter 2017.


Building Skills to Support the Social/Emotional Needs of Students

pencils-circleThe Learning Supports Branch continued to promote Social Emotional Learning (SEL) among schools, with 940 teachers trained in MANDT over the past 36 months. Other training programs, such as Mental Health First Aid, Lagging Skills Inventory, and Applied Behaviour Analysis, 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 mental health and wellness, teen self-injury, video gaming and depression. Through a triangulated analysis of data sets, including attendance, student affect, and student performance, the Learning Supports team continues to work with schools to identify students at-risk and strategies to re-engage them in the learning process.


Supporting Student Needs through a Multi-Disciplinary Approach

Over the 2015/16 school year, RVS’ Multi-Disciplinary Support Team worked with a number of students at three school sites to assist schools 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, MST worked with homeroom teachers and educational assistants to build staff capacity, while providing enhanced support to students in both inclusive and specialized settings. With an overall vision to improve a student's communication, social interaction and behaviour skills, as well as developing his/her academic skills, MST's work will continue into 2016/17, as well as advance through the establishment of a second team in September 2016.


Accelerating the Implementation of 21st C Assessment Practices

The 2015/16 school year marked the final year for K-8 schools to implement RVS’ Communication of StudentglobeLearning (CoSL) assessment practices. By the end of the year, RVS is pleased to report that 34 out of 34 schools have now aligned to RVS’ new report cards, goal setting and self-assessment practices, three-way conferences, and portfolio development. Moving foward these schools will continue to work with Learning Specialists and the PowerSchool Team to hone their teachers’ skills in using PowerSchool and its new Gradebook to demonstrate balanced assessment. The expertise and wisdom of assessment learning authority, Anne Davies, also will continue through her website Connect 2 Learning and print materials.


Expanding Research and Innovation

bookRVS’ Third Research Symposium will be held in August 17 - 19, 2016. This Partner Research Schools Conference will be co-hosted with the College of Alberta School Superintendents (CASS) Zone 5, Calgary Regional Consortium (CRC), the University of Calgary, and Alberta Education. An outgrowth of the 2012 and 2014 conferences, the lineup will feature an address by the new Deputy Minister of Education, Curtis Clarke, as well as:

  • Aug. 17 - Dinner and Keynote Address – Dean of Education, Dr. Dennis Sumara
  • Aug. 18 - All day with break-out sessions; Keynote speakers - Sheldon Kennedy & Gary Strother
  • Aug. 19 - Optional activity day - Tours of Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre and Hotchkiss Brain Institute.

As collaborative research and transformational leadership go hand in hand, all participants will be encouraged to review the conference presentations and continue discussion at the jurisdictional level to help build a sense of how research should support student learning.

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