Student population: 450; Grades: JK–6; Principal: Mikki Hymus
Located in the Leslie and York Mills community, Dunlace is a vibrant school with an exceptionally engaged and actively involved School Council that supports the school through volunteering, organizing numerous special events and fundraising. Collaborative inquiry drives the school culture at Dunlace, which is characterized by high expectations and success for all. All stakeholders participate in a consensus-building process working toward creating a shared vision on areas of need. As such, the staff and school community have created a safe and collaborative climate that promotes and fosters a sense of trust—an essential piece to this collaborative process.
"Math is mostly in everything we do. If we do math in a fun way, where everyone is included, in groups and where we get to be present, I like it better and I like it more. When I am not sure about a math question, I break it up, underline the most important parts, ask people around me or use math things that you can move around, not only look at."
— Grade 6 Student
EQAO considered schools that:
EQAO data drives the Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) at the school and helps staff constantly challenge and reassess their own teaching practices. Dunlace Public School embraces a growth mindset culture and instills in students a belief that all students can be anything they set their mind to and that no obstacle is insurmountable. To this end, staff honour that there are many means to the final answer in mathematics and that everyone can learn from each other. Mathematics lessons are infused with positivity. Learning math is made fun through a transdisciplinary approach that involves deep, real-world problems. As a result, Dunlace students approach mathematics with a growth mindset and a positive attitude. Attitudes and behaviour data of 2016 indicates that 71% of students in Grade 3 like math and are confident answering difficult math problems; by Grade 6, this number increases to 90% of students liking math and using cognitive strategies, such as reading the problem over first.
"I work alongside with my child and school to support their learning by getting involved. I partner with the teachers. I attend school council meetings, parent teacher interviews and parent workshops that help me understand the different aspects of the math curriculum."
Dunlace has had a significant paradigm shift in how they unpack EQAO data, in that it is intentionally examined through the lens of equity to help create a level playing field for all students. EQAO data not only drives the Professional Learning Communities at the school, but makes staff constantly challenge and reassess their teaching practices and pedagogies, as well as existing stereotypes and biases. Equity is the foundation upon which school improvement at Dunlace is built. Staff have identified vulnerable groups through the unpacking of EQAO data and have plans to level the playing field for all students. As such, data drives Dunlace’s vision and school improvement planning.
Speaker— Mikki Hymus, Principal
“Collaborative inquiry” defines the school culture at Dunlace Public School. We embark on a consensus-building process towards the creation of a shared vision based on student need. Collaboratively, we identify where the school is at this current moment in time, also known as our current reality, and where we need to go, which is our vision. This results in creative friction amongst our staff, and that is what motivates us to bridge the distance between the two. Specifically, to raise our current reality to meet that of our vision. So, how do we do this? Data drives our vision and our school improvement. However, there has been a significant shift with regards to how we unpack our EQAO data, in that we intentionally look at it through the lens of equity. As professionals, we constantly challenge ourselves, our own teaching practices and our pedagogies, as well as existing stereotypes and biases. Equity is the foundation upon which we build school improvement. We have identified vulnerable groups through the building and the unpacking of our EQAO data, and have an intentional plan to level the playing field for all. We believe in improving student learning by investing in quality teaching. Significant time and school budget is channeled towards the development of our professional capital. To this end, our staff meetings are used expressly for the purpose of professional development and not for the dissemination of information. Additionally, every month our staff is afforded an extra hour of release time to either meet as a grade team or divisional team for the purpose of planning, discussing, sharing and collaborating. Our school is truly infused with positivity. We embrace the growth mind set and instill the belief in our students that no obstacle is insurmountable. The greatest learning takes place when we reflect on our efforts, whether they have been successful or not. We recognize that failure has been stigmatized, and have worked very hard to change this mindset within our own school population. Our students have learned the incredible power of the word “yet.” We make math-learning fun through a trans-disciplinary approach, and as a result, our students are overwhelmingly positive about their math-learning experiences. At Dunlace, we truly make math-learning come alive for our students.
Dunlace has embedded STEM in all facets of its teaching and learning. Through the implementation of STEM at Dunlace, all students have access to various technologies that allow them to enhance their understanding of curriculum expectations and make mathematics content come alive. Some examples of the engineering and design process that embed mathematical concepts are the construction of greenhouses, race cars, solar villages, wind turbines and bridges for animal wildlife to cross freeways.
Speaker— David Laredo, Vice-Principal
Dunlace is a STEM-focussed school. STEM is a trans-disciplinary approach to inquiry- and problem-based learning that fosters collaboration, creativity and innovation in all students. Dunlace has embedded STEM in all facets of its teaching and learning, because it prepares students to become global learners and it moves public education forward, improving on culturally relevant and responsive pedagogy. We approach STEM through problem-based learning by co-constructing both learning goals and success criteria, asking questions that empower them to challenge practices, making sure that students have access to various technologies that allow them to enhance their understanding of curriculum expectations and make content come alive. Problem-based learning also promotes the transfer of concepts by thinking & inquiry skills to other situations of daily life. At Dunlace, we also move through the engineering and design process. We design by identifying real world situations and link them to overall curriculum expectations. We develop a solution, and we also optimize and revise and retest. Some examples at Dunlace of the engineering and design process that [use] embedded mathematical concepts are: coding for robotics where we looked at algebraic equations, creating wind turbines where we embedded data management (Sic.). At Dunlace, we promote equity by looking at social barriers, such as language for ELL students, fees associated to purchasing of materials and making sure that school and class environment is welcoming for all students, making sure that diversity and equity is represented in all subject areas (Sic.). As a STEM school, we strive to incorporate problem-based learning where all subject areas are de-siloed, and culminating tasks include student voice, multiple entry points for various learners.
Through a collaborative approach, teachers work in grade teams to plan meaningful learning activities to align curriculum expectations, co-construct learning goals and success criteria with students and participate in moderated marking sessions. Staff support all students by meeting them where they are in their learning. The learning environment at Dunlace encourages student voice, creativity, ownership of their learning and risk taking to demonstrate their understanding in a variety of ways, such as math journals, diagrams and oral presentations. The learning environment is modified to fit the student, not the student to fit the environment.
As a professional learning community, we collaboratively unpack our EQAO data to determine school strengths and to identify areas for improvement. We use our EQAO data to set our school direction, to inform our School Improvement Plan, and to determine our pathway focus. Each pathway answers the following questions: What is the direction of student learning? How do we know when our students have learned and how can we further support our students who have yet to learn the concept? Through a collaborative approach, teachers work in grade teams to plan meaningful learning activities, to align curriculum expectations, to co–construct learning goals and success criteria with their students and to participate in moderated marking sessions. We feel that the use of learning goals and success criteria has helped our students internalize what it was they were learning and what they needed to do in order to be successful. Throughout our pathways, teachers closely monitor student progress by using a class data wall tracking sheet that incorporates assessments for, as and of, learning. These assessment strategies are targeted and specific to meet student needs. Assessment is student focused and offers a peer and self-evaluation opportunity. We debrief student assessments by conducting student-teacher conferences that provides students with constructive, descriptive feedback. Lastly, as a staff, we celebrate our successes and determine our next steps.
Speaker—Stacie Berman, Teacher
When planning our pathways, we support all learners by meeting them where they are at, at their instructional level. We differentiate instruction to support all students, and all learning styles, which incorporate a variety of tasks and approaches to learning. For example, we use open-ended questions, we provide our students with rich tasks that are relevant to their everyday lives, and we use inquiry- based learning, which focuses on a big idea or a big question. Our learning environments encourage student voice, creativity and ownership for their learning. They risk-take to demonstrate their understanding in a variety of ways, be it math journals, group presentations, drawings or oral presentations. The learning environment is modified to fit the student, not the student to fit the environment. Prior to any learning experience, we embed a variety of teaching strategies. Firstly, as teachers, we plan together to scaffold questions to ensure understanding of the question. Additionally, we implement the use of the 3-Part Lesson—and include knowledge and understanding, thinking, communication and application in all of our assessments. During teaching time, we spend time with our students developing their problem-solving skills. We teach them to use what strategy is most effective, reaching reasonable conclusions, detecting errors and communicating student thinking clearly. We equip our students with various strategies and tools to approach math tasks. Some of these strategies include a KWS chart to organize information and the steps they need to solve problems. We use the “DICE it” strategy, which is diagrams, illustrations, calculations and explanations, or the “ICE it” strategy, which is illustrations, calculations and explanations. We teach them DII, which is determining important information, where students re-read math questions or highlight important parts, and lastly, we provide them with manipulatives for challenging math tasks.
School Profile and Results