Happy 2018 to all our Fish Creek School families! As with our personal lives, the turn of the calendar provides an opportunity to reflect and look forward. The good news is that the future continues to look bright for Fish Creek School.
Our commitment to academic excellence continues with our 2017-2018 focus on writing, but the real explanation happens by understanding the WHY and HOW we’re doing this at Fish Creek School.
The WHY is partially embedded in data, but it is also rooted in the skills current and future employers are demanding of employees. Recent data from Provincial achievement tests shows a bit of a gap for our students in the area of writing excellence. While our acceptable standard remains very high (95.6%), our excellence score of 19.6% stands our compared to excellence in reading (61.4%). This is also reflected in our report card data, which showed 19.1% of our students receiving a report card indicator of 4.
The skill of writing has been identified as highly valued by employers. Outside of being able to relay thoughts and ideas effectively, being able to communicate through writing is a quick and easy indicator of aptitude in other areas. Good writers can summarize what they’ve learned, make things easier to understand, and can “think” their ideas through words.
The HOW is evolving on two levels – one designed for students, and one for teachers. Our students are beginning to recognize their strengths and areas for growth. Items such as writing inventories help students with their self-awareness, and from there they set goals, work toward them and then re-evaluate to begin again. This process helps the students to initiate change for improvement on their own first rather than relying solely on teacher feedback. In addition, changes tend to be more manageable in scope rather than a wide range of recommendations that need to be realized.
On the teacher end, we are concentrating on our own assessment practices to assist our students. Three high-impact strategies are at the fore of our professional work: use of effective feedback, student self-assessment (as above), and micro-teaching. By examining our use of feedback, we want to ensure that what we say to students is targeting specific, outlined learning intentions as opposed to scattered, global feedback. While student self-assessment puts some work back on the student, learning how to use self-assessment is certain teacher directed. Finally, micro teaching capitalizes on both feedback and self-assessment as it is a way that teachers can, through invitation (teacher) or request (student), sit with a student, or group of students to review or stabilize concepts with which the students are experiencing difficulty.
Throughout it all, our goal is to see progress in writing for each of our students. In our student report cards you will notice detailed comments specific to your child’s writing. We look forward to continued success in writing, and hope that our families notice these improvements as well.