Posts tagged ‘Student Success’

2 independent reports released re TDSB students

Profile of Students in arts schools:

The study, “Market ‘Choices’ or Structured Pathways? How Specialized Arts Education Contributes to the Reproduction of Inequality,” by Gaztambide-Fernández and Gillian Parekh reviews student data enrolled in TDSB arts schools and determine that they serve mostly affluent families and students with access to high levels of social and cultural capital.

Selected media releases:

Race and Black students in TDSB schools:

James, C.E. & Turner, T. (2017). Towards Race Equity In Education: The Schooling of Black Students in the Greater Toronto Area. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: York University.

From page 64 “Throughout the consultations community members, parents, students and educators welcomed the insights that the TDSB data provided, noting that the profile of Black students and in light of the recent spotlight on Black boysconfirmed for them that race plays a significant role in producing the unequal outcomes for Black students. They affirmed that the “web of stereotypes” (Howard, 2008, p. 966) operates to “racialize and marginalize these youth and structure their learning process, social opportunities, life changes, and educational outcomes” (James, 2011, p. 467).” Pages 68-79 include an extensive series of recommendations for the Ministry, school boards, the Black community and parents.

Selected media releases:

Check ’em out! Rowan

April 25, 2017 at 12:54 pm Leave a comment

Library as the hub of school improvement: OLA jot notes


Third in a series by Natalie C, one of our fabulous reference librarians who attended this year’s OLA Super conference.

Teacher-Librarians were out in full force at Super Conference, with many presenting on the new and innovative projects they were undertaking in their Library Learning Commons and Makerspaces.

One such presentation was offered by a Principal/Teacher-Librarian (TL) team from the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board. Working at a small school in a small community,  school administrator Alison Osborne and TL Lea French discussed how they took advantage of all of their community’s resources — the public library, engaged parents, and local artists — to turn their library into the thriving hub of their school’s community.

What they did wasn’t necessarily complicated, but a lot of small things added up to make a sizable difference for their students:


  • Refreshing their Environment: In addition to purchasing new comfortable, versatile furniture, Alison & Lea enlisted the help of a local artist to create a collaborative art installation for the library with the students at their school.
  • Rebranding: Rather than calling the school library a makerspace or library learning commons — terms that they thought might not resonate with their students — they opted to name the space The Hub, because that’s what they wanted it to be: the centre of their students’ learning
  • Active Learning: Alison & Lea developed simple activities to help students feel involved in the space, including a Blackout Poetry exercise, Tearable Puns, and a bookmark design contest
  • Know Your Stats: Alison & Lea knew that intermediate students were the lowest users of the library so they encouraged teachers to issue Research Passes to these students that they could use to come down to the library during class-time for help with researching an assignment
  • Parents as Partners: Relying heavily on the assistance of parents in their community during their school library’s revitalization, Alison & Lea applied for a Parents Reaching Out grant to provide their parents with compensation for their time
  • Hitting the Books: To help their students cultivate a love of reading, Alison & Lea applied to First Book Canada, which provides books to students in impoverished communities. They also organized an Earth Day Book Swap where students could bring in books they’d already read to trade with their peers.
  • Creating a Safe Space: To provide alternative spaces for students, Lea offers Mindful Mornings in the library, opening The Hub early so students looking for a quiet space can take some time to themselves
  • Developing a Lifelong Love of Libraries: To foster a love of libraries in all their forms, Alison & Lea partnered with their small public library to offer students regular library field trips

In addition to their dedication to transforming their school library space through these many projects, what I found most inspiring about Alison & Lea was their collaborative and trusting relationship. Alison evidently was passionate about her school’s library, but she said that she might not have necessarily seen it as a priority if Lea hadn’t knocked on her door and said: “Hey, I’m a Teacher-Librarian and I don’t know why I’m teaching grade 5.”

Because of Lea’s advocacy and the pair’s dedication to making the school library a hub for literacy and learning, Lea’s full-time space is now the library. The pair made a commitment to each other to stay at their school for 3 years and see their project through. Just a year after starting their revitalization, their school has already seen increases in its academic and attitude data. It is a motivating story of what Principals and Teacher-Librarians can accomplish together.

I’m sure that there are many of these examples from TDSB Teacher-Librarians as well. If you have a great school library revitalization story, start thinking about your OLA Super Conference proposal for next year!



February 15, 2017 at 1:00 pm Leave a comment

Improving academic language leads to school success

Understanding Academic Language and its Connection to School Success is an article written by C. Friedberg,A. Mitchell and E. Brook that discusses the importance of learning academic vocabulary in order to improve reading comprehension and overall academic success, which can be additionally challenging for ELLS.

In addition to defining ‘academic language’, the article includes tips for the elementary (e.g. foster a language-rich classroom that includes opportunities for students to learn and apply new vocabulary when following directions, describing, participating in conversations, and listening and responding to stories) and middle & secondary (e.g. before students read class selections, preview and pre-teach vocabulary that will be important for their comprehension of the text, and provide semantic maps (graphic organizers or “webs” that connect new vocabulary to related words and concepts) when teaching new words) grade teachers.

You may also be interested in this recent OISE report on kids and ebooks. The study shows that four-year-olds with average and lower vocabulary skills learn more effectively with an adult reading an e-book to them versus relying solely on the e-book’s voiceover“

Check it out! Rowan

January 9, 2017 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

The digital Divide (SES)

Recently, I have read a couple of articles about the digital divide for ‘disadvantaged’ students and would like to share them with you:

From the OECD Education & Skills blog, an article by Marilyn Achiron titled Can Analogue Skills Bridge the digital Divide?

  • The digital divide has shifted. Instead of (and in some places, in addition to) separating people with Internet access from those without access, it now cuts a wide chasm between those who know how to get the most out of the Internet and those who don’t. It’s no longer a matter of getting the tool into people’s hands; it’s a matter of getting people to understand how the tool can work for them.
  • the Internet is most useful when you know how to use it. Results from PISA 2012 show that just because students have access to an Internet connection, it doesn’t mean that they know how to use it for learning. And differences in how students use the Internet seem to be linked to socio-economic status, although the strength of that link varies widely across countries. For example, PISA finds that while disadvantaged students play videogames on line as much as advantaged students do, they are far less likely to read the news or search for practical information on the Internet than their more advantaged peers.

Read the full report here.

AND, from  the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE), Molly Zielezinski and Linda Darling-Hammond have written Promising Practices: A Literature Review of Technology Use  by Underserved Students.

This report summarizes research findings about the conditions and practices that support positive outcomes of technology use for these student populations. Related to technology specifically, we find that:

  1. Underserved students benefit from opportunities to learn that include one-to-one access to devices.
  2. High-speed Internet access is needed to prevent user issues when implementing digital learning.
  3. Underserved students benefit from technology interactions designed to promote high levels of interactivity and emphasize discovery.
  4. Successful digital learning environments are characterized by the right blend of teachers and technology

Read the full report here.

Check it out! Rowan

July 28, 2016 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Learning and Leading the TDSB

Written by John Malloy, Director, TDSB has released a new document titled Learning and Leading in the TDSB: School Improvement and School Effectiveness (2016)  and can be found on the  Learning Centres web page. It describes a “strategy to improve the effectiveness of our schools, make us more responsive to the needs of our communities, and increase student achievement and well-being.” (p. 1).

From page 5:

Our Expectations

  1. All students reading by the end of Grade 1
  2. All staff learning in teams
  3. All students experience a sense of belonging in their school supported by a caring adult.
  4. All students experience deep learning opportunities supported by technology leading to improved achievement
  5. All students graduating

Check it out!


July 11, 2016 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Capacity Building: OFIP

LearnTeachLead  has shared links to 4 new Ministry documents (2016) – 3 from the What Works? Research into Practice series and 1 from the Capacity Building Series.

Every student/Every School: Ontario Focused Intervention Partnership for Elementary Schools. (2016, Feb.). Capacity Building K-12, #44.

From page 1: “In this monograph, we introduce you to the big ideas behind the Ontario Focused Intervention Partnership (OFIP) and share with you the lessons learned about school improvement by some of Ontario’s most challenged schools.”

From page 2:

  1. “While EQAO achievement is the sole criterion used to identify low-performing schools in Ontario, like low-performing schools world-wide they tend to have a significantly higher proportion of students living in challenging circumstances. “
  2. “OFIP has evolved from a more centrally directed initiative with expectations for target-setting, diagnostic assessments, improvement planning and implementation to one that is more locally developed and defined.”
  3. “At its simplest, OFIP assists school and board leaders, classroom educators and other key members of the school community, including parents and caregivers, in planning, implementing, monitoring and refining a school improvement plan.”

Pages 4-6 examines 5 common OFIP themes:

  1. Building leadership for learning;
  2. Holding the belief that all students can learn and acquiring a deep understanding of student learning needs;
  3. Building inclusive, collaborative relationships and committing to a collective goal;
  4. Focusing on effective literacy and mathematics programs, including the teaching of higher order thinking and problem solving skills;
  5. Connecting professional learning needs to student learning needs at the classroom level.

Page 8 includes a graphic Lessons for All Schools with 7 sections (not the similarity to the themes above:

  • ensure equity as the foundation for excellence
  • connect professional learning  needs to sturende learning needs
  • monitor impact
  • focus on effective literacy and mathematics programs
  • build relationships and work towards a collective goal
  • understand student learning needs
  • build leadership for learning

Check this out. Note that I was unable to find a current webpage devoted to OFIP.


March 18, 2016 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Assess success in physical education

In the January 2016 issue of the OPHEA e-connection, it includes an article How to Assess for Student Success. OPHEA and OASPHE have released a joint position paper titled “Addressing the quality assessment to support the development of physical literacy skills in health and physical education” [one page or full document].  There are seven key messages:

  1. Physical and emotional safety is a precondition for effective learning in Health and Physical Education.
  2. Assessment is an educational process for the purpose of improving student learning.
  3. Assessment should engage students in learning, provide multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning over time and provide meaningful information for educators to make informed instructional decisions.
  4. Physical fitness assessment results/scores should not be used as a grade.
  5. Assessment should be used to support the development of the Living Skills.
  6. The assessment of Body Mass Index (BMI) is not the role of the educator.
  7. Assessments used should be inclusive, student-centered, personalized and consistent throughout the year.

You have to read the article for details. Check it out!


January 15, 2016 at 1:00 pm Leave a comment

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