Burdett School has been entrenching students into the Deeper Learning method for the last four years.
The writing program stemmed from a high school inter-jurisdictional social studies writing project in which some students from Prairie Rose School Division and Grasslands were participating in.
It was with the help of educational consultant,Johanna deLeeuw, and Lisa Matsumoto, a PRSD AISI coordinator that Burdett School started the program as a junior high language arts program.
The school experienced some “heavy slogging” in 2015 according to principal Laurie Cooper, as staff tried to wrap their heads around the theory behind the process as they tried to turn high school exemplars into something with which their junior high students and staff could work with. In 2016, Burdett School expanded to include Grades 4-6 teachers, which was a conjoined effort with Foremost and Senator Gershaw Schools.
“During this year and the next, the group found instructional videos and graphic organizers, developed writing prompts and began to fine tune the rubrics,” says Cooper.
“… Last year, we brought in the Grade 3 teachers from Foremost and Burdett on board and continued to fine tune the assessment rubrics and to build a PRSD exemplar bank.
“This year, Burdett expanded the project/process to include Grades 1 and 2 as well. Our kindergarten students even wrote an On-Demand Performance Assessment last May. They did great.”
The Deeper Learning this year includes all teachers completing a minimum of two instruction rounds.
Most have chosen to video themselves and then to reflect using the rubric provided by PRSD assistant superintendent Reagan Weeks and the instructional coaches.
An update on the progress this year was presented to Prairie Rose Board of trustees on Feb. 12.
Between two and three other teachers have chosen to join the instructional coaches on visiting schools outside the district.
Teachers have learned about using tuning protocols which includes the PD packs at SI Days and staff meetings as well as choosing a new protocol or strategy.
The goal is to have common language and practices from grade-to-grade that will be used to implement and support balanced and disciplinary literacy learning and programs.
“The greatest benefit to students is the intentionally it has brought to teaching strategies and the methods the teachers are using,” said Cooper.
“Teachers using the on-demand writing to assess where students are at and where they need to go. This guides the mentor texts and exemplars they use to teach writing as well as the scaffolding they build to help all students to succeed.
“Another huge benefit is the discussions that individual students have with teachers during conferencing around what they have done well in their writing and what they need to do to improve.”