Courtenay Elementary PLCs

Click on the Inquiry Question links below to see the full survey response and learn what each PLC group is exploring.

2015-2016

  1. How can we use our knowledge of trauma and the stress response system to better understand and support our school communities?
  2. How can play based learning be used to increase student engagement and comprehension?
  3. What lessons, tools, and strategies can we use to help students develop self regulation skills in real-life situations?
  4. Students will learn to be self-aware of individual abilities (self and others) by using a different language (ASL – sign language) in order to communicate with others.
  5. How can we use therapy dogs to support our students with anxiety, help them self-regulate and boost their reading confidence? (See this great video about this project: https://vimeo.com/168722943)

 

2014-2015

  1. In what ways can Kindness Club giving compliment cards, help spread kindness through the school?
  2. How can we help our students be more available for learning?
  3. How can we use portfolios to enhance student learning?
  4. How can opening the door for children and adults affect my students acceptance, and other children with special needs, and how can it help her with her communication?
  5. How do we empower students to become independent learners?

 

 2013-2014

Social Thinking

Our group has been examining the core principles of the self-regulation and social thinking
programs we are using in the school: Zones of Regulation and Michelle Garcia Winner’s work on Social Thinking (Think Social, and Just Me, Thinking of You among other books). We have been looking at them in the context of a whole school approach, using common language and concepts throughout the school. In our group we have a low incidence EA, a resource EA, an ELL teacher, 2 LSTs, and a library clerk who does supervision. Not all of those individuals are in classes when the lessons are being taught to the students, so having the opportunity to learn the concepts and the language had been paying off for them in their work with students at other times and in other settings. They are seeing the students using the language, responding to cues to use strategies, etc.

Strongstart PLC Team

Our PLC supports our teaching partnership between Amber Lewis’ Kindergarten classroom and Carlene’s Strongstart Classroom. Her students are typically ones that are entering Kindergarten the following year. Our Partnership provides a play-based learning environment for our students that:
• Has a higher ratio of adults to students so that more “teachers” are in the room. This
provides much more opportunity for exploratory play, messy activities, and adult
guidance, such as direct question, conversation, scribing, and other individual learning
time with an adult.
• Takes place in a room that is already set up for play-based learning for the age groups
involved (our partnership takes place in Carlene’s room). My kindergarten room does
not have anywhere near the same kind of play-based learning materials available in it.
• Includes field trips and nature studies that again utilize all of the adults with the
Strongstart program. We are able to go on bus trips, walking field trips, outdoor
exploration.
During our PLC time we plan our weekly play-based learning sessions that are wrapped around a given book. We create a template for that book that attempts to capture all of the learning domains for the age groups, with a focus on sensory learning. After we have planned for a book and we have engaged in the learning session, we also debrief how it went, make adjustments, and find ways to extend the learning in our other sessions if possible. We share ideas and materials.

Describe in relation to the work of the PLC teams in your building, how this work is having a real life impact on student achievement.

Over all, we see students who are better able to understand the impact of their actions on others, take responsibility for what happened, and suggest ways they could avoid a similar
situation occurring in future. Even the youngest children in the school can explain the concepts in simple terms, and can tell you what “zone” someone is in, and what they can do to help themselves get calm and focused. We have also taken the time to design some classroom resources to support the program: a poster of the brain explaining the impact of disregulation on your ability to learn and to make good choices, and a poster illustrating strategies to help you self-regulate. The strategies poster is still under construction. 

The children are incredibly happy during our weekly play-based learning sessions. We play and learn together every Thursday afternoon from 12:30-2:00. It shows that this kind of exploratory learning, where they have choice and the use of adult interaction where needed, is a natural learning environment for the age group. They have time and materials available to them and they are truly engaged. Problem solving, conversation, collaboration and critical thinking…it all comes about naturally in this learning environment. Adults assist where needed. The buzz of conversation during play, the happiness, and the “ah-ha” moments tell about student achievement.