Dec 062016

This morning I attended a full morning sessions on a framework for coherence in school reform.  The presenters are all from New Jersey, where the framework is an agreed upon common practice called the Connected Action Roadmap (CAR). The presenters are Vicky Duff, Donna McInerney, and Patrica Wright.

The sessions starts with a Think-Pair-Share on why change does not work.  Then the presenters bring us back in and summarize their thinking as initiative fatigue, including:

  • Too much change
  • Flavor of the month
  • Little “buy-in” (I’d call this one lack of a compelling case for change)
  • Lack of leadership understanding or knowledge of how to support it

They move through many common elements of an early presentation including learning outcomes, essential questions (there are a lot of them – four) and some expectations and norms.  Because I have led a lot of professional learning, I often watch the structures of a professional learning structure from outside to think about how they are functioning.  I like the process used with the norms, which asks us to consider which one each of us as individuals most needs to consider.

After all the initial conversation wraps, we do a four corners activity about our assumptions.  This type of activity is a strong formative assessment activity in the classroom or a teacher learning workshop.  In this case, it helped me see what is common and different in Canadian and American thinking about professional learning groups.  I got really uncomfortable when we started talking about a need for high fidelity implementation of standards with identical lesson goals and instructional strategies.  I do think is is important for us all to teach provincial curriculum, but not in exactly the same way.  I can’t imagine how individual teacher’s strengths and differentiation for students would occur when everyone does the same thing each time. Many of the other common barriers raised by the process did resonate, like not understanding purpose, lack of individual responsibility, have data but not making changes based on it, etc.  I do keep noticing that everyone else is talking about buy-in, when I am talking about providing a compelling why.

Dufours’ common questions for PLC are discussed next, and I still like them as great questions for departments or PLCs:

  • What do we want our students to know?
  • What strategies do students need in order to master the learning goals?
  • What instructional activities will help teach students the strategies they need?
  • How do we know when they know it?
  • What do we do it they don’t know or already know?
  • How can we best address these questions in order to build knowledge ad skills effectively and consistently  across grade levels in the content area/across content areas?

The group notes that when PLCs are focused on these areas, they are very effective is supporting teacher and student learning.

The presenters next spend a while explaining how student learning improvement is the central goal, and PLCs, Curriculum, effective instruction, and formative/summative assessment serve that goal. When they move into the role of the administrator in the climate and monitoring, I get concerned. I am with the presenter when she says monitoring everyone’s lesson plans is not good, but I am not sure monitoring everyone’s unit plans (her alternative) is much better.  I am reminded again that as a facilitator, I may run into opposing assumptions and need to address them for someone to move on. I can see that given their model, unit plans are great data about what elements of unit planning are well understood.

Some time later we come back to ten (I condensed to nine) PLC conversations that I like, and do a cross-pollination activity between the questions and a unit planning template. I have transformed it to Saskatchewan curriculum language here:

  1. Unpack the outcomes in simple, student friendly language
  2. Cluster outcomes and indicators into units
  3. Create essential questions
  4. Create summative assessments including rubrics, examples and non-examples
  5. Design pre-assessments
  6. Design learning experiences, including instructional activities that are best given the outcomes, and formative assessments.  Check to be sure you are not using your preferred instructional strategies over and over.
  7. Analyze formative assessment as you teach the unit to plan differentiation and responsive instruction
  8. Analyze summative assessment data to refine unit and choose targets for more professional learning
  9. Discuss grading and strive for consistency.

I notice the process is much more focused on planning and instructing that our current TLG or CIT work, with a strong emphasis on curriculum. It would require a variety of teachers teaching the same curriculum in order for it to work.

The facilitator share access to their online moodle, used to support their PLC process for teachers and leaders.  If you’d like to explore the topics or see an example of blended staff development, create an account.

Perhaps the most useful elements of the day were about how to use pre-assessments to plan and common formative assessments to discuss. We tried several activities practice looking at data then considering what to do next in planning and instruction.  We used some common rules that helped to guide the process.


  1. Be honest about what the data are saying about your current reality.
  2. No blaming.
  3. Focus on what the data says and does not say about the progress of each student.
  4. Recognize it is not about you, it is about what you can do next to improve success. The data is not a reflection on your teaching because it is influenced by many factors and it is formative. However, the action you take is a reflection of your dedication and professionalism.

Next steps you control:

  1. Reflect on how instruction could be changed.
  2. Share best practices for what to do when things don’t go well.
  3. Review your assessments to ensure they are measuring outcomes
  4. What will you do next for students who were not proficient?
  5. Consider revisions to your unit.

We looked through sample data sets together to make plans for next steps in instruction. The data helped explicitly describe who we needed to differentiate for and about what, and when it was important to reteach and how. This workshop was a good model for strong facilitation and modeled process for using data I’ll definitely use in my work in the future. I also like how we cycled back and directly addressed each of issues we identified initially.

Dec 052016

The keynote session today is a call action about transforming professional learning, according to to Micheal Fullan.  He and Andy Hargreaves are presenting today in response to the question:

Can someone please tell me the impact of professional learning? We are spending millions of dollars and lots of time,  and I want to know it is worth it.

They are speaking in response to Carol Campbell’s report on the state of professional learning in Canada, released this morning. You can find the links in the blog post on it. Hargreaves notes the terms professional learning and professional development are used interchangeably.

Fullan and Hargreaves define professional learning as an effort (direct or indirect) to learn something new that has value, formally or informally. Hargreaves defines professional development as how your grow and change as a professional person, and describe it mostly as personal growth and leadership growth. They combine them in PLD.

The room laughs as Hargreaves starts by defining people with high professional learning but low development as eggheads and sociopaths.  You can read about the categorizations in the full paper.  He argues we want teachers to be moral, mature professionals, who who learn a lot and grow personally.  Fullan takes over, and notes that although we want PLD (those moral, mature professionals), we always argue things that prevent it.

Fullan states that good PLD is the tip of the iceberg, and collaborative professionalism is the 90% of the learning found under the surface. He says the good case focus on the following essential argument:

  • Every teacher and every principle, with autonomy (no exceptions)
  • Professional expertise thought reflective practice and feedback
  • Collaborate to improve learning and achievements for all students – be that explicit not to improve accountability but to improve results

Hargreaves stands up to attack the case against PLD (which is really the case against various forms for professional learning as described in the literature).  He makes fun of the alternative as ignorance and atrophy, then says the genuine case against comes from a variety of crusades:

  1. Do more with less: CD Howe Institute compared teacher effectiveness and noted similar results were achieved with lower salary in BC, and suggested the same quality could be maintained with lower salary.  There is not point in doing professional learning because it is hard to measure and makes little immediate change. Better to invest money elsewhere.
  2. Don’t learn and develop – instead evaluate and select: professional learning rarely results improved achievement scores in the short term. The argument is teachers change less after the first three years, so you should just pick the best then and get rid of the rest of the teachers. However, there is almost no evidence to show teacher evaluation has an impact on student achievement.
  3. Collaboration is often overrated:  This has truth, according to both men, in that collaboration can be ineffective talking or sharing bad practice. And because this is true, it is used to advocate not for improved collaboration, but for more working alone.  The worries may have legitimacy but the proposed solution actually makes the problem worse.

Fullan argues that bad pedagogy is relatively easy to identify, but good pedagogy is comparatively hard to agree on and even harder to spread. He sees this an argument for better PLD, not teacher sorting and firing. In his argument, good PLD is focused on good pedagogy which enables students to develop the six Cs: Character education, citizenship, creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration.  He puts in a plug for NPDL and then Hargeaves puts one in for ARC. They argue that both are examples of collaborative professionalism.  Hargreaves says there is a false dichotomy between individuals professionalism and collaborative learning.  Teachers might fear central office will dictate what they must be learn, and school leaders are worried unions will dominate any attempt to encourage teacher growth in specific areas.  He says both are legitimate fears if collaborative professionalism is misunderstood. I think collaborative professionalism sounds great in theory – I am worried how to actually support it happening, so I am really hoping they explain how it would be best supported.

In true academic glory, Hargreaves goes on to define collaborative professionalism in terms of both individual and collective autonomy, focus on impact, responsibility, inquiry, efficacy, and mindset. He described the role of the individual and the role of the group in each area. Each thing he describes is certainly ideal – it is less clear how it might be achieved. See page 19 of the full paper for details about what each part means.

Fullan warps up, already tight for time, by showing some slides they run out time for but not speaking to them and referring everyone to the full report. I am headed to their breakout session next and hoping it has some “how to get to the change” to accompany the contention that PLD is the specific change we want.


Dec 052016

I am at Learning Forward’s Annual Conference again, at a session on Educator’s Professional Learning in Canada.  If you are interested, you can read the full study by Carol Campbell et al., but you’ll get my summary in this blog post. I appreciate Learning Forward as an organization, because they are focused specifically on what makes high quality professional learning, which is helpful information for anyone wants to do a good job supporting teachers. If you appreciate a relatively simple summary of what current research says, check out the summary of the standards.

Carol Campbell is from OISE and worked with a team from across the country included a professor from the U of R, so there was some Saskatchewan in the study. The group attempted a generalized summary of the state of professional learning by summarizing existing research. As I listened and read the executive summary, I sometimes questioned the findings given the source and type of evidence, but a really appreciated the value of a pan-Canadian study, which is rare in this area.

Some quick facts about Canadian education for the out-of-country readers:

  • 96% of children in publicly funded schools, organized by province, territory, and the federal government for schools on reserve
  • Canada has about 400,000 teachers
  • Canada is a relatively high performing education system and that is relatively equitable, according to PISA results.

The group identified three main principles in the research, and found they generally existed in the type of professional learning typically found in Canada. They summarized in three main categories that are related to, but not the same as, the Learning Forward Standards.

  1. Quality content
  2. Learning design and implementation
  3. Support and Sustainability

A summary of some of the findings:

  • The group found that data alone is not driving decisions in Canada, but a combination evidence, inquiry, and professional judgement are impacting professional learning practice. The report determined evidence was being used because provinces and individual schools had models that had stages where evidence should be consulted.  While I am glad that models include data, there seemed to be very little information about the actual impact of professional learning on student results.  Most data seemed to be about what professional learning models included data.
  • Subject-specific and pedagogical knowledge is a key element of quality professional learning according to the report .One of the things I found most interesting in the presentation was that 56% of teachers wanted information about supporting diversity in learners, making this the topic most in demand. Subject and pedagogical knowledge was only the highest priority for teachers in their first five years of teaching. I wonder how significant immigration, the TRC recommendations, and immigration are in shaping this finding.
  • A focus on student outcomes is the most important element of quality content, but broadly defined and integrated with professional learning outcomes in Canada. In the US, where as the focus is on student outcomes as defined by test scores, teacher professional learning is often linked to it.  The study noted that teacher collective agreements in places like Manitoba still describe a specific need for teachers own learning and efficacy, rather than starting with student outcomes. Carol spoke repeatedly about linking professional learning to teacher voice. Teacher voice and system coherence was the most controversial subject in the report.  The report found that the appropriate balance between teacher interest and student learning was contentious. In Saskatchewan, 95% of teachers reported employer-led professional learning, and 79% were involved in professional learning based on personal interest, including action research.  The Canadian Teacher’s Federation reports that 55% of teachers get to use professional judgement in selecting professional learning, but over half of teachers say this has decreased.  In Alberta, both teacher voice and choice in PD and system supported are both declining.  This finding is mirrored in other provinces.
  • Feedback is relatively rare in Canada.  Alberta is the only province with TALIS data, where 81% of teachers report receiving feedback from an administrator.
  • Mentoring and induction is only required for new teachers in Northwest Territories and Ontario.  The majority of teachers in Canada are not offered formal mentoring.

The report disagreed with current research in several areas:

  • It noted that professional learning does not need to be directly related to teachers’ work, and could be indirectly related and just as effective
  • The presentation stated one day sessions and conference are effective forms of professional learning, according to data from one maritime province, were one-day sessions are the most common form of professional learning
  • The presentation was much less definative than other current research, finding “it depends” for what models are effective or whether teacher learning should be about teacher interest or student need.

Implications for planning professional learning:

  • Time is critical to change teacher practice, and 50 or more hours in an 18th month period is required to change student results.  The presentation indicated Canadian teachers get an average of 2 hours per week, 76 hours per year, (I missed the source of this data, sorry)  but not sustained, cumulative quality learning. Mostly half day sessions and meetings, or on the weekends or over the summer, the PD does not have a common focus.  The way the time is used makes it unlikely to have impact, even with sufficient amounts of time.
  • Carol also related work-life intensification to PD, noting that much professional learning occurs outside of the official school day. Teachers and principals reporting minimum of 45 hour work weeks in Canada, averaging of 55 hours. 38 hours is average from TALIS, indicating time dedicated to teaching practice is high and professional learning outside the school day may be a factor.




Nov 282016

As part of the division-wide goal of elevating Indigenous and struggling learners, the band teacher learning community is investigating how collaboration between music educators can support students during the transition from elementary to secondary music programs.  On November 17th, we met in neighbourhood groupings to initiate discussion about student engagement in Band, factors for continuing/discontinuing participation in an instrumental music program, and transition strategies to connect students from elementary and secondary feeder schools.

 Prior to our session, we activated prior knowledge by considering a variety of reasons why students choose to continue with Band at the high school level.  Teachers created profiles of grade 8 students most likely to continue and not continue with Band in high school.  This created a framework for understanding which students most need support with smooth transitions from one teacher/program to another.

Reflecting on our own experience as music educators, we brainstormed factors that impacted student engagement and participation in Band:

  • Love of music (intrinsic motivation)
  • Parental support
  • Positive teacher-student relationships/expectations
  • Culture of playing music in the school (“It’s what we do”)
  • High number of students involved in school program
  • Appropriate level of challenge
  • Sectional time to support learning
  • Administration and homeroom teacher support of program
  • Participation in extra ensembles (ie Lions Band, North Heights Winds, Junior East Winds)
  • Additional support from peer tutors/private lessons
  • Lack of schedule conflict with other classes










Relationships are the underpinning for most of these factors.  The most common time for students to quit band is between Grade 8 and 9 as they switch buildings, and leave their elementary program and teacher behind.  Teachers identified key challenges for students during this pivotal transition time:

  • Lack of interest (not band keeners)
  • Struggling at band at elementary level
  • Feeling not good enough for high school band
  • Intimidated by high school expectations for assessment
  • Desire to try something new (try an option that wasn’t available in elementary school)
  • Specialized instruments (ie bassoon, tuba) less likely to continue because only one on their part
  • Schedule conflicts (mandatory classes with only 1 or 2 options available)

Thinking about the students who need the most support to feel confident and committed to sticking with band, we’re completed a culturally responsive activity called a Graffiti Wall.

Focusing on our goal of strengthening student learning and smooth transitions from elementary to secondary music programs, we recorded our ideas and suggestions for four areas of support:

  1. Workshop/Performances
  2. Mentoring/Tutoring
  3. Division-wide Events
  4. Other Ideas

These ideas helped direct our collaboration time that was set aside for teachers to make plans for collaboration in their neighbourhood groupings.  Teachers co-created a planning document that focused on areas of need with targeted strategies to enhance relationships between elementary and secondary programs. We will continue to revise and revisit throughout the year to support our students as they continue in their lifelong journey with music.

Sep 172015

The keynote of a conference often gives you the Reader’s Digest of a complex topic, and day 1 of the Saskatchewan Educational Leadership Unit’s (SELU) annual conference feature a keynote discussing the nature of engagement and what we can do to foster it, so we had to get a summary of many points.  Nicole Vagle discussed a variety of topics and  provided lots of opportunity for discussion and reflection. In the ninth year of Collegiate Renewal (podcast describing what it is), Saskatoon Public has been discussing engagement deeply for nearly a decade, so much of what Vagle said was familiar.  However, there were some reminders worth discussing:

  • Vagle argued that the teacher can focus on engagement at a ratio of about 2/3 classroom environment/ relationships/beliefs to 1/3 instructional strategies.  She discussed a number of key elements that can help, and I have linked to older post on this site discussing these ideas:
  • She also noted that teachers who name a number of things within their control to increase engagement have more engaging classrooms than teachers who see engagement as outside their control.  This matches theory in wide variety of areas that indicates when you believe something is within your locus of control, you are more effective at dealing with it. Read more about teacher beliefs and engagement from this site, or a great post from Vagel detailing what teachers can do in increase motivation and flow.
  • Vagle spoke extensively about the role of empathy and thinking deeply about what motivates students.  We discussed the perception that a student might be lazy and considered how to avoid inference and stereotyping when considering what a student might need.

One of the things I appreciated the most was the fact that Vagle made a deliberate attempt to relate things to Saskatchewan. While she slipped and mentioned standards a couple of times instead of outcomes (hard to avoid if you come from the States), she referred to the Broad Areas of Learning when talking about 21st Century Literacy and did great job of addressing Cultural Responsiveness, a main theme in Saskatchewan education at the moment. We looked at common definition from Gay and spoke about which words resonated for us. Gay (2000) defines culturally responsive teaching as using the cultural knowledge, prior experiences, and performance styles of diverse students to make learning more appropriate and effective for them. Some of the people I spoke to real appreciated the clarity about why responsive instruction maters.

All in all, it was a lot to digest in a short morning, but a summary with helpful highlights. If you are interested, you can see some of Vagle’s books and chapters at Solution Tree.

Apr 242015

Coaching Classroom Instruction BookAt Saskatoon Public Schools, we have moved into supporting literacy instruction using a Learning Leader model. We have had the wonderful opportunity to work with five wonderful teachers who have taken on the Learning Leader role. Recently, our group met to explore Coaching Classroom Instruction by Marzano and Simms. We had a great discussion and wanted to share some highlights that we took from the book discussion and further connections that we made to the work.

  • Chapter 1 outlines coaching models and the benefits of coaching.  If interested in coaching models, please see graphic below.
  • The book emphasizes the importance of creating relationships, setting goals, and providing relevant feedback.
  • A framework provides coaches and teachers to establish a shared understanding of instructional practice that starts with a self-audit.
  • The last portion of the book takes you through 41 elements (see table 3) that can has a positive impact on classroom environment and learning. Through exploration of the Marzano site we found support documents for individual teacher scales for reflective practice in Becoming a Reflective Teacher in Appendix B
  • This book supports the coach in guiding a teacher from implementing new strategies to innovating and integrating several strategies that supports differentiation.
  • The book outlined many activities which support the elements using Marzano’s 9 Effective Instructional Strategies

This book enhances the learning we have done with Jim Knight’s book High Impact Instruction and is a nice companion to Charlotte Danielson’s book Enhancing Professional Practice: A Framework for Teaching.

By: Deighan Remoundos & Michelle Pantel

Mar 272015

I have a little challenge for you.eyetest

If this is not a good day – you’ve been marking a lot, you had some hard phone calls, or some students you’ve been really trying to help are away again, this is not the day for a challenge.  But if you’ve got some brain cells to spare and you’d like get to know yourself a bit better as a teacher, this post is for you.

My “little” challenge is deceptively simple. 

  1. Ask yourself what is really important to know and do in  unit you are currently teaching
  2. Read this post by Grant Wiggins
  3. Look over the summative assessment for the unit (test, big assignment or project) with critical eyes for the following:
    1. What percentage of the assessment requires knowledge?
    2. What percentage of the assessment requires comprehension as Wiggin’s describes it (remember, it isn’t low level as described by Bloom) – The student can identify and comprehend the major ideas which are included, as well as understand their interrelationships. This requires nice sense of judgment and caution about one’s own ideas and interpretations. It also requires some ability to go beyond mere rephrasing  to determine the larger and more general ideas. The interpreter must also recognize the limits within which interpretations can be drawn.
    3.  What percentage is application?  Remember, you had to ask the student to apply the skill or understanding in a novel situation for the task to be application…

What you’ll find by doing this activity what you really think is worth knowing in your in your class. The answers to knowledge level questions are the ones just found online. However, the answers to genuine comprehension often require a good teacher, and the answers to a good application question mean you don’t need that teacher anymore.  Most teachers talk about big ideas in comprehension or above, but many of us are guilty of asking the lowest form of knowledge questions because they are easy to write and mark.

(If you are starting to feel badly here, read this working paper that claims 0% of state tests in the US actually assess higher order think skills in more than 5% of the students.)

How does this all relate what’s worth knowing?  Well, you’ll design the best possible assessment at the unit if you write down a few key application task you are looking for, then move backwards to comprehension of concepts and process, and finally come to the base knowledge for all of that, most of which you can skip assessing because it essential to know it to be successful at the higher level. My “little” challenge is worth it, because your assessments become littler, with less marking, but much more profound.  After all, you really do know which things are really worth learning, you just may not always focus on them during that summative assessment.

Dec 052014

Recently, we have asked our Kindergarten  to 8 French Immersion staff to answer the following question: What does a high-quality French Immersion program look like and sound like? We received a wealth of responses from our staff members. I also participated in the process. Here is the list that I created:

A high quality French Immersion program looks like:

  • A wide range of students with differing needs and abilities are participating and learning an additional language
  • The teacher uses frequent formative assessment strategies to determine student ability and knowledge of content and language
  • Students learn from a range of explicit and inductive instructional experiences to enable their unique learning styles and intelligence types
  • Students work independently or cooperatively in small groups at authentic tasks and explore personal wonders that link the curriculum and the real world that are developmentally appropriate to their learning and or language needs
  • Instruction and tasks develops students language proficiency
  • Students are exposed to multiple rich language models inside and outside of the classroom during the entire school day and interact frequently and meaningfully with the francophone world
  • Students are exposed to excellent diverse learning resources (print and non-print) that are appropriate to their learning and language needs
  • Students engage in learning the language and grammar through authentic communication situations and tasks that are context specific and content rich
  • Students use the language as a tool to structure cognitive processes and as a communicative tool to interact orally frequently with a range of peers for a range of purposes
  • Students draw extensively on their background knowledge of content and language and self-assess their use of strategies, ability, skills, or knowledge according to visible co-constructed developmental continuums
  • Students receive a range of timely supports in French inside and outside of the classroom
  • The language is used as a tool to structure cognitive processes and as a communication tool in frequent interactions with a range of peers
  • The language is used a tool to structure cognitive processes
  • Students read and write a range of fiction and non-fiction texts (in print and non-print)
  • Students feel free to take risk in their learning and communication

A high quality French Immersion program sounds like:

  • The teacher only speaks French to students using vocabulary and structures that are slightly beyond their zone of proximal language development, even if the content is cognitively demanding and uses instructional strategies to ensure that students can access language and content
  • The students only speak French to the teacher and peers and use disciplinary vocabulary, communication methods and language patterns in appropriate contexts
  • Students communicate among themselves using authentic and socially appropriate language
  • The students have sophisticated methods to overcome unknown French words when communicating and continue to use the target language despite slight difficulties
  • The classroom has a continuous buzz of French communication (may appear noisy)
  • Learning targets can be heard being stated by the teacher and students and students can express their current ability level, explain specific things they can do to improve and their preferred strategies to seek support
  • Multiple language models are available to students
  • Students progress through developmental language stages and continue to improve their ability to express ideas, thoughts and fluency in the target language through a range of authentic tasks
  • Students ask and answer a range of questions (simple/closed to complex/open)
  • Students frequently receive immediate positive or negative feedback about their oral production and have the chance to immediately improve their message
  • Students develop and refine implicit grammar structures when communicating authentically during tasks
Dec 052014

Should They StayLate French Immersion

Saskatoon Public Schools is Saskatchewan’s only school division to offer Late French Immersion (LFI). LFI is an intensive two-year program starting in the beginning of grade 6 and finishing at the end of grade 7. Students interested in LFI are not required to have any French language competencies. During the program, students are fully immersed and learn the foundations of the French language using their established thinking and learning skills. At first, students focus on French language acquisition with a reduced emphasis on subject content. Once a sufficient language base has been acquired, they continue to expand their language proficiency while learning content from all subject areas. In the LFI program, students develop the ability to listen, speak, read and write in French. All subject areas in the program are taught in French except for English Language Arts. Once students complete the LFI program, they are encouraged to join the early immersion cohort to form one cohesive class in grade 8 and to pursue their studies until the end of grade 12 in French Immersion so that they may receive a bilingual mention on their high school diploma.

There are many different reasons why families consider accessing the late immersion program. Due to its structure, LFI is the optimal program to allow students to access to a French Immersion program after the kindergarten entrance point. Some parents prefer to have their children develop a solid foundation in English or an alternate mother tongue prior to undertaking French Immersion programming (Cloud, Genesee, & Hamayan, 2009). Others, prefer to wait until their children are old enough and sufficiently mature to make the decision to learn a second language on their own. Access to school bus transportation, access to schools offering the program and the number of students in the program are also factors that impact families’ decision to selecting the program. LFI is not comparable to Intensive French due to the fact that the instructional hours are far greater in the LFI program.

Timeline of Late French Immersion Programming in Saskatoon Public Schools

  • In 2009, Saskatoon Public Schools launched the LFI programming with a grade 6 cohort at École Lakeview (ÉLKVS) School and École Henry Kelsey (ÉHK)
  • In 2011, a grade 6 cohort was launched at École River Heights School (ÉRHS) and the first graduates of LFI program at ÉLKVS and ÉHK joined early immersion students in grade 8 French Immersion classrooms
  • In 2012, the LFI program was closed at ÉRHS
  • In 2013, the LFI grade 6 cohort was moved from ÉLKVS to École College Park School (ÉCPS) and the ÉLVKS LFI program was scheduled to be closed once the grade 7 cohort completed the second year of the program
  • In 2014, LFI programming is still offered at ÉCPS and ÉHK.
  • In 2016, the first LFI students will graduate from Saskatoon Public School collegiates

Benefits of Late French Immersion

  • Offers the opportunity for students to make the independent decision to study French which increases motivation
  • Offers the opportunity for late arriving students who have not previously studied in French Immersion to have the same access as their peers
  • Offers the opportunity to develop a strong foundation in their first language before adding a second language ensuring strong academic skills in both languages
  • Develops cognitive and social skills, strategies to better understand known languages and prepares a person to learn other languages
  • Exposes and develops understanding of French-speaking communities and cultures as well as their own and those of others
  • Develops language learning, critical thinking skills, oral and written expression in students
  • Prepares a student to study French in high school and then at a post-secondary institution or to accept employment in a bilingual work environment

Realities of Late French Immersion

  • Students in LFI have diverse experiences learning French ranging from none and beyond
  • Students who enter LFI received their primary education in English and come from diverse environments and cultures and may not have French or English as a first language
  • Students in LFI have already developed language skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking in their mother tongue), learning strategies and problem-solving strategies
  • At first, students listen and understand language, afterwards they speak, write and read
  • Students who have difficulties in a language will have similar difficulties in French-such as with the reading and writing (Government of Alberta – Education, 2010)
  • Students develop the ability to effectively, practically and appropriately use language for communication of personal, scholastic, social and professional purposes (Genesee, 2004) however, they do not attain equibilingualism (Roy, 2008); which means that they cannot speak both French and English like native born speakers
  • Students who learn languages use their cognitive skills differently from unilingual students (Cook, 2001)
  • Students develop French language skills according to the number of hours they have had of instruction- students who receive the most hours have the highest results (Archibald, et al., 2006)

Suggested Reading

Archibald, J., Roy , S., Harmel, S., Jesney, K., Dewey, E., Moisik, S., & Lessard, P. (2006). A Review of Literature on Second Language Learning. Edmonton: Alberta Education.

Arnett, K. (2013). Languages for All. Toronto: Pearson.

Cloud, N., Genesee, F., & Hamayan, E. (2009). Literacy Instruction for English Language Learners. Portsmouth: Heinemann.

Cook, V. (2001). Using the First Language in the Classroom. Canadian Modern Language Review, 57, 3, 402-423.

Cummins, J. (1998). Immerion Education for the Millennium. Learning through two languages: Research and practice., (pp. 33-47). Katoh Gakuen, Japan.

Day, E., & Shapson, S. (1988). A Comparison Study of Early and Late French Immersion Programs in British Columbia. Canadian Journal of Education Vol. 13, No. 2, 290-305.

Genesee, F. (2004). What Do We Know About Bilingual Education for Majority Language Students? In W. R. T.K. Bhatia, What Do We Know About Bilingual Education for Majority Language Students? (pp. 547-576). Malden, M: Blackwell.

Government of Alberta – Education. (2010). Late Immersion Foundation Document. Edmonton: Alberta Education.

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Nov 072014

Gallery walks in a classroom mimic what would happen when you were visiting an art gallery or museum.  Most often, the visitor goes from picture to picture, or exhibit to exhibit trying to understand the artist’s meaning of the picture, or the purpose of the exhibit.  That is exactly what you hope to gain in a gallery walk in your classroom; students critically studying pictures or questions and making responses that would cause others to stop, think, and reflect.  Gallery walks are a great way to stimulate engagement, choice, and collaboration in the classroom.

There are different ways to do a gallery walk in a classroom.  Some Gallery walks are meant to encourage questions and curiosity, while others evaluate student understanding of concepts and unearth misconceptions. Used effectively, gallery walks can be used as an introduction to a unit or theme, as a concept attainment lesson, or as a way to gain peer feedback.  Obviously, gallery walks can be done in art, but they also lend themselves nicely to:

Most commonly, gallery walks are done with questions or pictures.  A gallery walk is a way to create movement for students while they dialogue.  Simply put, students get out of their desks and move through the room past the pictures or the questions.  Students can be recording thoughts, ideas, and answers on their own paper, or putting questions and thoughts up on the chart paper that has been provided so that others can enter into what has been recorded before they get to the gallery walk exhibit.  Depending on your outcome, gallery walks can be done individually, in partners, or small groups.  The number of exhibits can vary for a gallery walk, but realize the more stations the more time that is needed to complete the gallery walk.  Rotating through the exhibits can be a formal organized process where each station gets approximately 3-5 minutes, while other gallery walks can be more fluid allowing the students to choose how long they stay at a station.  Teachers can move through the room collecting observations to inform future lessons, or to stimulate conversations.  It is always important that at the end of the gallery walk that there is some type of synthesis of thought.

Key pieces to keep in mind when creating a gallery walk are:

  • It is most effective when the gallery walk is set up with open ended questions, or a focus that engages in higher order thinking skills
  • Clear step by step instructions and expectations of how the gallery walk should progress and how students should record their learning is important.
  • Arranging the room so that it is conducive to students moving through the different exhibits.IMG_1131