Our Learning Story
In 1948, since doors first opened, Raymer Elementary has had a sound tradition of promoting and celebrating a safe and caring environment for all to succeed, to develop foundational skills in math, literacy, and the arts, and to foster a joy of learning. As within families, our Raymer family strives to celebrate each child's unique abilities, talents, and individual learning journey. Efforts to foster a growth mindset have and continue to send the message that all students are valued and encouraged to grow to be their best selves each day. Our learning community, which stems from a rich range of backgrounds, celebrates Raymer's vibrant diversity and continues to expand students' understanding of what makes us us. Goals center on equipping our young people to become productive, empathetic and socially responsible citizens who are successful and enjoy their lives in an ever-changing technological, fast-paced society. Building positive relationships with students is at the heart of everything we do!
In the fall of 2016, we embarked on a journey, together as a community of learners to address the Core Competencies within the B.C. Redesigned Curriculum. Guided by OECD principles, we created clear learning intentions with a focus on big ideas and learning targets, the Central Okanagan School District's Attributes of a Learner, and engaged ourselves with Spirals of Inquiry, a scanning processes with staff and parents. A common thread was revealed! Social emotional learning (SEL) and self-regulation would be key to learning lots around growth mindset. Recognizing our need to empower Raymer students to share their voice and personal leadership, all two hundred forty-two Raymer students were scanned. This added scanning uncovered useful data and confirmed several threads - to promote and celebrate growth mindset was the right pathway to take!
During 2018-2019, we continue to develop efforts around growth mindset reflecting upon, exploring and embedding sound assessment principles and attention to criteria for quality communication of learning. July 2018, a team of Raymer educators attended the Anne Davies' and Sandra Herbst's Assessment Symposium in Courtney, BC, to seek guidance for aligning Raymer's assessment practices, K-6. With the expert coaching of widely respected researchers and valued leaders at the symposium, Raymer's Lighthouse Team went to work designing a "made for Raymer" strategic plan. Using numerous questions, answers, and plentiful feedback, our team successfully developed a proposal of a common school-wide assessment scale, kindergarten to grade six. In addition, with the appreciated help of Davies and Herbst, our team was able to share examples of how we might set up learning portfolios and three-way conferences as forms to highlight learning and to consider seven key criteria for quality assessment practices that align wonderfully with Central Okanagan Public School's Criteria for Quality Communication of Student Learning. September 2018 saw an exciting start to implementing this strategic plan.
After collaboration in the fall of 2018, teachers were successful at constructing Raymer's "new" reporting document - the Term Summary: My Learning Journey: Moving Forward with Purpose. Well-known local artist, Marzio Manderioli, was even consulted to include striking visuals illustrating Raymer's mascot, The Raven, charting a learning journey of its own.
Most importantly, the Raymer school community at large were invited into conversations around communicating student learning at Parent Advisory Council (PAC) meetings as well as an informative evening workshop put on by teachers in October 2018. First utilized in December 2018 for our Term 1 "reporting" period, the Term Summary met our goals to personalize learning for every student, to foster student ownership, and to offer a rapid feedback cycle for students, teachers and parents/guardians.
Individual digital e-portfolios were established for Raymer students at the district level connecting with FreshGrade. Together teachers and students strive to capture authentic and meaningful learning opportunities to show growth over time. Evidence of learning may be observed through photos, videos, audio recordings and/or notes and, at the same time, parents, guardians and other family members have been encouraged to contribute feedback to their child's e-portfolio. In January 2019, three-way conferences were held and, more recently, parents/guardians were asked to complete a survey providing Raymer teachers with their point of views. As we speak, results from this survey are providing us with much-needed direction as we move forward into the 2019-2020 school year. Please stay tuned for the learning journey at Raymer continues!
Moving forward, assessment continues to play an essential role at Raymer. We continue to be mindful of explicit learning targets - to help students to show what they can do, what they are working on and where they need further support. As we see the focus of curriculum shifting from an emphasis on factual knowledge to a balance of essential skills, competencies, and conceptual understanding, Raymer teachers strive to "triangulate evidence" - balance artifacts and activities through observations, conversations, and products in their assessment routines.
Through a partnership with Central Okanagan Public School's Collaborative Learning Service (CLS) Team, and teacher collaborative time, Raymer teachers explore visible thinking routines. These rich thinking structures, such as a set of questions or a short sequence of steps, can be used across various grade levels and content. Making Thinking Visible routines become ways in which students can go about the process of learning. What makes them routines, versus mere strategies, is that they get used repeatedly in a classroom so that they become part of the fabric of a classroom's culture.
Innovative programs, such as Learning in Depth, and Play is the Way, as well as the meaningful and purposeful use of new technologies, are some ways in which we engage students at Raymer. Teachers and staff are sincere in wanting to meet the needs of all learners in their care and continue to explore authentic learning opportunities to help students find, follow and share their passions as learners, thinkers, collaborators, contributors, and innovators. Stay tuned as our learning journey at Raymer Elementary continues at this exciting time!
Written by Pam Samaddar in consultation with the Growth Mindset Lighthouse team (Terrilynn Nunes, Jennifer Cartwright, Janet Hertz, Rochelle Popoff, Sydney Hertz and Julie Rubadeau) & Raymer teachers.