Storytelling Workshop Brings a Happy Ending to Year-Long Focii on Literacy and Digital Literacy
Since September of 2021, all of our classrooms have participated in a variety of initiatives designed to target Literacy for our students. All of our primary teachers were part of a Literacy Project with a District Teacher Consultant, Ms. Briana Adams. In addition to exploring best practice in teaching Reading and Writing, an emphasis of this Innovation Project was to encourage students to reflect upon the strategies that they used to be an effective reader or writer.
In addition to this school-wide focus on Literacy, all of our teachers were part of an Innovation Project on Communications Student Learning through the use of e-Portfolios to share with families exemplars of learning throughout the year, and to effectively communicate on the Portal each student's progress using the Proficiency Scales. Since January, Ms. Ellen Reid, also a Teacher Consultant in the District, worked collaboratively with teachers to develop Digital Literacy within our students and staff. Students and staff learned how to creatively and efficiently post artifacts of their learning - pictures, video clips, movies, and written work - as well as reflections, and comments about their learning along the way.
In early June, these two areas of inquiry and learning for teachers and students - Literacy and Digital Literacy - came together, culminating in an exciting and incredibly powerful week-long learning experience for all. Our Grade 2 and 3 students in Division 6 had the chance to be a part of a fully-integrated "River StoryTelling Workshop". The classroom teacher, Mrs. Janet Trahey, and Ms. Reid, worked together to create an amazing week of learning for our students. Please click on the "Story McKay.1" link below for a general overview of the Storytelling Workshop" and the two links that provide examples of two of the themes / lesson objectives and instructional strategies (Setting and Character Development) over the five day Workshop.
A key goal in planning this River Storytelling Workshop, was to think creatively to ways to share this experience with others - to release teachers to observe the lessons throughout the week - to expand the experience and the professional development that would take place in this classroom with as many of the educators at McKay as possible. Please click on the "River Teacher Research" link for more information on the learning for the team of educators at McKay.
The results of this week of learning were, in a word... incredible!
Mrs. Trahey is an experienced teacher and she was absolutely amazed at the impact of this workshop on her students and her colleagues and upon her own professional development as an educator:
"My class composition this year nudged my thinking in so many ways. My biggest wonder was how do I make learning accessible for all in such a way to challenge those who need to be challenged and create space for those who need more help. This project really demonstrated how and why this is possible. Because this project was so open ended, flexible, and allowed for student choice in presentation of their story, Ellen and I were able to meet the needs of all students.
Examples of why this is important is how one student who struggles with reading and writing made the choice to write his story versus record it in a video. He was so proud that he could read his story and that his teachers could as well. HIs parent even noted a change in his confidence. Another example of why this project was so effective is that it also provided space for writers who needed time, space, and challenge to write to their abilities.
Through all of our discussion and the affordance of time a few students were able to write stories that demonstrated a sophisticated understanding of the competencies of the expected learning. Their parents also noted how the use of loose parts and time allowed their child to be creative and successful. This project provided opportunities for learning for all including me!"
According to Mrs. Trahey and Ms Reid, the impact on all of the learners in the classroom was profound and exceeded all of their expectations. Because of the differentiated, open-ended, and multi-layered approach to learning, students who were emergent or developing in the area of Literacy, were highly motivated, engaged, and connected to the learning and to the stories they had created. According to our teachers, these students demonstrated tremendous growth as writers in just one week of learning and in the end, wrote wonderfully rich and powerful stories as never before. Further, many students who were proficient learners within the area of Literacy took their storytelling to expanded levels of proficiency.
Our next steps are to invite Ms. Reid and Mrs. Trahey to share this experience with our staff at our Pro-D Day in September, and collaboratively plan ways to bring this type of learning to all of our students next year. We were thrilled with all that we have learned through this Inquiry Project - within the area of Literacy and Digital Literacy, but also in terms of a model for teaching and learning that could be applied across all of the core competencies. We are even more excited about the possibilities for more learning in more classrooms in this regard next year.