Student population: 263; Grades: JK–6; Principal: Karen Lim
Centennial Junior Public School is considered to be a small urban school in the southeast of Toronto. It has been a part of the community for over 100 years, when School Section Number 11 (S.S. #11) was formed in 1836 to serve the children living along the Scarborough–Pickering border. The present school opened on October 11, 1946.
EQAO considered schools that:
"In our home, we have math and English workbooks that we have the kids work on one or two pages almost every day after school. It can take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. We also encourage them to tell us what they've learned in math that day (if they've had it), and if they understand, and work on a few examples if they don't fully understand. Lastly, we try and use everyday life as teaching examples (e.g., discussing fractions and measurement when baking, learning about money when out shopping)."
The staff at Centennial Junior Public School use EQAO data to help provide a focus for school improvement. They use the EQAO data to look for areas of need and where scores are dropping, as well as report card data, classroom assessments and conversation with students and staff to address student need. They use attitude and behaviour and contextual data to better understand their students’ perspectives on mathematics and the tools they use to solve mathematical problems.
At Centennial Junior Public School over the last two years, staff have been leading up to pairing every teacher with a partner to co-plan and co-teach together, in order to support each other’s learning. When approaching a rich math question, students work in mixed-ability groups to communicate their answers. Communication in student answers improved throughout the year.
Speaker— Kristin Wolch
So when we looked at our data from EQAO, we determined that an area for improvement in our school was student responses to open questions in mathematics. So Jordan and I decided to work together as a grade team to address this issue through a “problem of the week” that we would co-teach and co-plan. So what that meant was we had to look at our timetables and find a double period that worked for both classes, and it did require us to be a little bit flexible in terms of moving subjects around. We also wanted to find a large, group learning space in our school, and for us that was our library. So once we determined that, we committed to getting together once a week to solve these rich math problems, and what happened was we got both classes in the library, put the students into small groups of mixed ability and with students from both classes.
Speaker— Jordan Holmes
And we found early on that very often the students could answer the problems—the answer wasn’t as difficult—but it was the process to which, communicating the process to which, they would arrive at their answer, [which] was the bigger difficulty. In the end, we would have students volunteer. We would scan their work, project it up on the smart board and have them go over their response. And what we would often find is that when they had their response, they would add in information that wasn’t on their paper, and we would reflect back that if it was important enough to communicate in a presentation, that they should have that also on their paper. And throughout the year, we find out that more and more often all the information they would have, step by step on the paper, and would leave out less and less information.
Centennial Junior PS examines their data closely, looking for areas of need across contextual, attitude and behaviour and academic data. After analyzing their attitudinal data as a staff, they discovered that not all students are enjoying mathematics. Staff decided to make math visible (e.g., math team, special math day, math hub) and relevant to students throughout classrooms and hallways within the school.
Speaker— Vivian Lui
So a few years ago when we looked at the EQAO data, we realized that our students struggled with the open response questions, and as a result, we decided to do the “problem of the week” as a way of addressing that. And so we used many different resources for that. We used Marian Small. She has two really great resources: one is Differentiating Questions and the other one was Open Response Questions that are divided by strand. And as well, our Principal sent us emails that had the problem of the week, and they were differentiated for each grade level or each pairing, and we created our own questions from EQAO as well. So that’s how we addressed the Open Response.
Speaker— Usha Nair
This past year we looked at the Attitudinal Survey, and we recognized that not everybody is interested in math. So we have that small percentage that we were thinking, “Well, what can we do to make it more engaging, more interesting?” So one of the things we thought about was making math more visible within the school and relevant to the students. We started an interactive bulletin board, and what it is, the children can go and measure themselves against a famous athlete, like Josh Donaldson, and then they can fill in the little card that they can include their own height and weight. The other thing we did, we had a food drive in November, and we were encouraging students to bring in items, and we would plot it on a pumpkin number line and have that visible in the hallway. So we used that as incentive to say, “Well, let’s see if we can get to the library,” and the pumpkins were placed in frames of five so that they could, they were coming and counting, they were using estimation. Some of the teachers brought their students out to use that to estimate. “How many do you think we have altogether?” The other thing we do in the fall, we have “K Club,” and students run around the field and get one popsicle stick that indicates a kilometer. Teachers use tally charts to keep track each of the number of sticks that they have, and that is visible throughout the school, so there is lots of comparison going on. The other pieces—we also work with area schools and we, through that, we decided to have a math team at the school. And what that is, it is open to Grade 3 to 6 students. They do a task in order to try out, and we select based on their ability to express their thinking in the task. We had about 20 students last year. They come weekly. We work on challenging “problem of the week” type questions, and the finale was that we would get together with the area schools, and we had like a math competition. Students were then recognized in an assembly so that the rest of the school would see what their accomplishments were.
Staff at Centennial Junior PS set high expectations for their students. The staff’s philosophy is that the children are their responsibility; students needing more support are identified by staff, and a positive staff mentor is assigned to the child. The staff support their students academically, socially and emotionally.
Speaker— Carolyn Spahn
So when we reflect on our student success here at Centennial Road, I think we look at our high expectations that we set for our students, and we’re able to set those high expectations because we know our students, we know our families. Our staff has been at this school probably more than five years, and we have been able to establish a kind and caring relationship with our students and our families, and we look at the whole child. And I think that is really important. We think about their emotional and social well-being, and if we want our children to be able to learn, those areas have to be addressed, and we have done that in a number of ways. So we have a mentor and mentee list that we create each September; it’s a confidential list, and we notice children who might need a little bit of extra care, and it can be for a variety of reasons. It can be based on their family life. It could be based on social skills, emotional needs. It could be based on anxiety, and we try to make sure that we can touch base with each child with a staff member who is not directly teaching them. So we believe in the philosophy that all of the children belong to us, and we want to ensure that we’re meeting their needs so that they can take risks and try to do their best when doing their learning. Another thing that we focus on here is looking at self-regulation, teaching self-regulation and allowing children to understand their feelings and explore them, and knowing that all their feelings are valid, and that how we express our feelings is what we have to focus on. We have to express our feelings in a way that is conducive to the rest of the people around them, not causing harm, not causing harm to ourselves, and we do this in a variety of ways. So a lot of our teachers will use the arts to try to help students create a sense of calm before they begin their work. We might put classical music on in one classroom. We might have a doodle journal where children can just get out any frustrations or calm themselves down. Some of us use more formal programs—so mindfulness techniques, breathing techniques. We also use things like cosmic yoga—so just trying to establish that sense of calm and well-being so children know it’s a safe place. They can put behind any troubles they may have arrived at school with, and begin the learning process.
School Profile and Results