Each month our administration and teachers report about important events and happenings at school council meetings. Our school report can be found here each month.
We had 19 people at our council meeting including 3 staff members. Thank you very much for the insight and wisdom you offered us and your commitment to making our school wonderful!
Below is the slide show from our school report. Detailed minutes can be found on the School Council website.
School Development Plan:
Our school development plan is now online on the school web site. Our achievement goal is around literacy, specifically focussing on non fiction and expository texts through writing. This work will include topic specific writing in other content areas such as social studies and science. The instructional goal is around formative assessment strategies including:
Criteria setting, using success examples, actionable feedback, self assessment, goal setting and peer assessment. Our professional learning will no doubt have positive effects across academic subjects even though we are intentionally targeting expository writing. Our School Development plan articulates one piece of the work our teachers are focussing on although there are many other things that are not documented in the plan that teachers are still taking up and focussing on.
Learning Through the Arts:
A group of our teachers, representing each grade group taking part in a year long professional inquiry in order to learn how to leverage Learning Through the Arts more fully in our school. Their participation and leadership will help us to continue to enrich what makes our school unique.
Swimming and Skating
After parent engagement a majority of our parents decided that a 5 day program was still preferred even though the price had increased to $136 this year, up from $100 last year. This program is being offered to grade 5 and 6 students in March this year.
The first round of swimming for grade 3 - 6 will happen Jan 27 - Feb 2. This 5 day program is approximately $32 being paid for from activity fees collected at the beginning of the year. K - 2 students will have a 5 day swimming program the first week in June for the same price.
A Rockin’ Tale of Snow White:
We are about a week from production, the finishing pieces are coming together. A few challenges remain that we are working through. Our teachers have been working so hard and the students are still very excited. Tickets are available to be reserved online. The link can be found by going to the Weekly Update button on the web page and reading the message for last week.
To date about ½ the tickets have been reserved. Any tickets not reserved by Thursday will be released to parent as of December 1st. All tickets need to be paid for in advance. Please see Kari in the office. The cost is $5 per ticket.
Parent Engagement - Building Security
The question of whether to lock or not lock our front doors has been tossed around for 3 years now. Many schools in the CBE have moved to procedures that have all exterior doors locked throughout the day. We recognize that there are very real concerns on both sides of the argument. We want to engage parent voice so that we can make the best decision for our school community and keep students safe in our building. Our discussion will help us to generate solution requirements that will allow school staff to understand as fully as possible all perspectives to this important question. There will be no decision reached this evening about this question as school staff and students still need to be consulted. It is very important to note that no decision has been made at this point. Whether our doors remain unlocked or secured, all visitors to the building must sign in at the office.
Update: Please take our short parent engagement survey...
We invite all of our parents to weigh in. CLICK HERE Please let us know what is important to you. We will continue to consult with our school council about this decision and will update our parent community about any change in our door procedures very soon.
Council Collaborative Art Piece
We hope all parents at our council meeting tonight took the time to add to our Council Artwork that we are doing for the upcoming art auction in the new year. The second stage of the art piece is to include council / parent wishes for their children. Please take a moment to fill in a wish for your child, for our school, for education in our society OR write out a favorite quote that is applicable to the role education plays in a child’s life. These will be added to the piece once it is dry.
School Report - October 2016
School Development Plan - Clapping for Assessment Demonstration
Ms. Holford led a demonstration of how Formative Assessment works to improve learning. The activity had 4 volunteers to illustrate how clear criteria, feedback, goal setting and repeated opportunities to learn greatly improve student performance. Formative Assessment is the focus of our School Development Plan for 2016 - 17. More information about details of our SDP will be presented at the November meeting.
Ms. Holford and Ms. El-Guebaly presented slides describing how our Grade 6’s performed on Provincial Achievement Tests (PAT’s) in the spring of last year. She highlighted the complexity of this particular cohort of grade 6’s compared to the province, previous year and the current year and explained. She further explained how the statistical impact of several children not writing the exam has made interpreting the results difficult. In order to meaningfully provide direction for school improvement, scores for PAT’s were reported only for students who actually wrote the exams. The following observations were offered:
CBE Resource Allocation Budgets came out last week. Our budget has room to purchase additional school personnel. Ms. Holford reviewed plans for utilizing the additional funds. An additional 0.4 teaching position will be created. It is hoped that we will be able to find a music teacher who will also support release time for Learning Leaders. Two Learning leader positions will be created and filled with existing staff members. Our bookkeeper, Irene Foote, will be retained one day a week to support our new Administrative Secretary in the office as she adapts to her role. Finally, a 20 hour EA position is being considered to support special needs learners in our school.
Community Engagement - Impacted Schools
Information about the process of deciding about future accommodations in Area 2 schools was shared. This information will be further explored October 25th at a Community Engagement meeting for parents at Colonel MacLeod School at 6:30 pm. Belfast parents are encouraged to attend as decisions made may impact some of our students down the road. The timeline for staff and community engagement was presented as well as the 3 scenarios being considered by the board. Ms. Holford and Ms. El-Guebaly will be attending the meeting tomorrow night as well.
Sorting initiatives. Parents were asked in small groups to discuss their understanding and priorities for school improvement. Initiatives that required more explanation will the be focus of our planned Coffee Talk conversations in the future.
Setting the Direction for our School Development Plan:
Last year our school development plan was about task design under the umbrella of personalized learning. Our goal was to become better at knowing our students individual starting points so that we can better plan for instruction. We became better at understanding the development of learning and in setting incremental steps for each child that would ensure their growth from their individual starting points. Our work later in the year enhanced these goals with the addition of a formative assessment focus. Our work in improving our collective teaching practice will continue to build on formative assessment as the most essential piece of personalized learning. Tiffany Dahl and Kati Coates will continue with the teacher leader sessions that Jeremy Rosvold and Jennifer Locke were doing last year. Starting this week, they will be attending sessions with other teacher leaders in the CBE and bringing that learning back to our staff.
Teachers came together to reflect on the multiple initiatives in our province and our system. Through their work discussing the relative importance of each of these initiatives teachers articulated the importance and disconnectedness of all the initiatives. What became clear however is the essential piece that formative assessment plays in connecting them all. Another intentional focus is our understanding and implementation of Arts Centred-Learning to enrich the ways that we can teach through art rather than the art being only the end product.
We have invested in sending a representative from each grade group to the CBE’s Learning Through the Arts professional learning series. Lara Culig, Debbie Boud and Nadine Ayer attended their first session this week on Monday and they too will bring their learning back to their teams so that we all benefit from their experience. After winter break we have hired Sara Smith, the Rogue Naturalist, to do a residency specifically aimed at creating experiences whereby students can learn about Science through art.
There have been many hurdles to approval for the large equipment. The most significant has been the location of underground utility lines that conflict with our original design. After much consultation with CBE grounds, Alberta One and our selected vendor we have come up with a new layout that shifts the large equipment somewhat in order to accommodate the installation.
As of today we have ordered $52 000 (corrected) worth of playground equipment. We have ordered a Supernova, bank of disc swings and a bank of regular swings as well as 4 picnic tables, bicycle racks and additional bench seating. We are still pursuing quotes for the installation of this equipment as this is to be considered separately. The equipment can take up to 8 weeks for delivery of equipment. An installation date will depend on weather and actual delivery date. The new layout and pictures of the ordered equipment were pictured in the slideshow presentation. Funding for this part of the project is from a $20 000 parks grant, $75 000 CIP grant, $1000 Conaco Phillips Grant (New), as well as School and School Council contributions. The budget is $150 000.
We had the trim and doors painted on the outside of the school over the summer which was a big improvement, and the garden beds had some much needed weeding done. There are a few transplanted shrubs from another school as well.
Painting has started in the south wing of the school and should take about 6 weeks to complete. After consulting with our School Council and Fundraising Council executives over the summer we have decided to paint around the quotes on the walls. We are having all the hallways, bathrooms, offices, library, gym and stage repainted. 2 colour schemes have been chosen to coordinate with the existing flooring in the school. Some of the art installations have been removed from across from the gym allowing for wallspace that will reflect the work of the students who currently attend the school. There was a question about whether or not to remove the large flower mural at the front entrance. That decision has been delayed until we can consult with the parent community since this piece is iconic to Belfast.
Plans have been underway since May for our school musical - A Rockin’ Tale of Snow White. There will be 1 matinee and 2 evening performances on December 7th and 8th. Mr. Symington is our new fine arts teacher and is overseeing the production. Other teachers have signed up for significant responsibilities as well. Mrs. Ayer and Ms. El-Guebaly will be co-directors, Ms. Holford is acting as producer and choreographer, Ms. Knight will be leading the choir, Miss Dahl and Mrs. Boud will be attending to the technical theatre aspects, Mr. Sangster is directing a shadow theatre piece and Mrs. Coates will be coaching soloists. Miss Weber will be helping with stage direction and along with the other K-2 teachers getting involved with other aspects of the production closer to the performance dates. All students will have a part in the production. K -2 students will rehearse their pieces in fine arts class with Ms. Holford (K) and Mr. Symington. Grade 3-6 students will have a choice about what aspects of the performance they would like to be involved in. Auditions are being held for our main cast on Monday October 3rd from 3:30 - 4:30 pm (next week) and a notice will go out this week to parents about auditions today. Some students will be called back for a second audition for specific roles on Wednesday, October 5th from 3:30 - 4:30. Auditions are only for grade 3 - 6 students. Other roles for grade 1 - 2 students will be decided within fine arts classes. We Care Club will not be doing a market at this production and so school council is welcome to do a concession.
Budget and School Organization:
Our official count to the province happens on Friday and our budget for the 2016-17 school year will be officially released October 17th. Based on our calculations we are hopeful! We have presently 258 students in the school.
We are not taking any additional “out of area” students at this time.
The bulk of our September “in area” student registrations this fall have been in the grade 3 / 4 grouping.We currently have one 25 hour EA officially hired for our school and have been bringing in an additional EA on the sub roster to help us with some student needs. Other expenditures have been the purchase of psychologist time and a bookkeeper 1 day / week while our new admin secretary transitions to her role. Irene Foote has agreed to continue to support us with our school bookkeeping and will be in on Wednesdays.
Communication from the school
Our school messenger system is up and running. This system will generate emails based on the email address parents have provided to the office. Each parent can have one email address that is linked to our distribution list in School Messenger. Please contact the office if you would like your email added or changed.
Parents can expect to receive an email each week from the office and from their child’s teacher. These emails will outline learning in classrooms and important upcoming events in our school.
Commercial messages will be emailed separately as per CASL legislation. While schools aren’t typically commercial enterprises, emails such as council fundraisers, field trip fees and school photo days fall under CASL legislation and are considered commercial. We will have to send a separate email to families with this important information. Only families that have opted in to these messages will receive them from the school. CBE has reported that approximately 74% of students to date have at least 1 parent who has opted in to receive these messages from the school. We encourage everyone to opt in. Please be assured that the only commercial messages you will receive from our school will be relevant to Belfast School.
Our class websites are evolving and you should be receiving information from your child’s teacher in the next 2 weeks about their new classroom website.
Please note that our school website is our primary source for information from the school. Calendars on paper can become outdated; we encourage all parents to refer to our online calendar on the Belfast website for the most up to date information.
Our school newsletter is also changing. As a result of our survey input from parents we are streamlining our newsletter. Information from the system and our partners will continue to be published monthly. Celebrations of student work in classrooms however will be shared primarily via classroom websites. Parents have told us that they prefer to have important information sent to them by weekly by email.
Social media: Our school is exploring twitter as a platform for connecting our school to parents and our community. Parents can follow our school @BelfastCBE. We are still evaluating the potential for Twitter and other platforms to help us connect and have dialogue with parents. There will be more on this as the year develops.
Terry Fox Report
Students participated in buddy classes to run laps for Terry. They collected coffee sticks that were later counted in K - 2 classes. This provided a rich and authentic purpose to their math lessons last week! The official count is in and Miss Dahl and Miss Weber’s class ran the most laps with 376 laps completed. They will be having a buddy class popcorn party in celebration! The date is yet to be decided by Miss Dahl and Miss Weber. We also raised ________ for donation to the Terry Fox Foundation's through our Toonies for Terry collection. Students dressed up as superheros after learning about our Canadian hero, Terry Fox. Parent volunteers helped us pass out lap markers and manned the water table. Feedback about the run this year was very positive, with both parents and teachers commenting that students were making the connection between their run and the impact Terry Fox had in inspiring others to make a difference. Thank you to Ms. Knight for coordinating our efforts this year!
As revisiting the survey was requested on the agenda, the main results that will inform our work this year are: