Student population: 236; Grades: K–9; Principal: Susan van Schaayk
St. Luke Catholic School is an urban school located in North Bay, Ontario. It is a school that has experienced growth over the years, seeing a growth of approximately 50% since its opening in 2011. St. Luke’s undergoes very little staff turnover, enabling staff to work together and build relationships with other staff members and with the community from year to year.
"My daughter’s teacher is in constant communication with both my wife and me, keeping us up to speed on how our daughter is progressing and the areas she needs to review. In mathematics, parents are encouraged to be active participants in their child’s learning."
Staff at St. Luke use EQAO data extensively to identify areas of need in mathematics and to help determine the students’ mindsets and attitudes toward math. Staff examine the achievement data early in the school year to help them understand the areas in a math strand and the skills that students struggle with. By examining student responses to questions on EQAO Student Questionnaires, the staff are able to identify and understand student mindsets in mathematics and are thus able to address these mindsets through student engagement in mathematics.
"My teacher uses checkpoints to ensure understanding of various concepts. She uses the checkpoints to determine what concepts need to be reviewed or revisited. I also get descriptive feedback on an ongoing basis so that I can produce my best work."
"We spend a lot of time on math, and if some students don’t understand something, we go back over it. We also have papers and charts that we can go back to if we are having trouble."
The junior-division continuum developed by teachers in the Nipissing-Parry Sound Catholic School Board provides a mapped-out plan of the school year for junior-division teachers. When followed, the continuum ensures complete coverage of the overall expectations in mathematics. Staff at St. Luke Catholic School follow the continuum and use it to plan lessons relevant in split classes.
Richard Cazabon, Grades 5/6 Teacher
So the junior math continuum that our board has developed has helped me in the planning process. I’m allowed to look at a year at a glance—so term one and term two—and it allows me to report on five strands per term. The delivery plan is broken down into overall and specific expectations for each of the grades, as I teach split grades. It helps me bridge my planning from Grade 5 to Grade 6 within that lesson. The expectations for the lesson are up on the Smart Board, and with the students we can construct that expectation. We talk about some of the key words that will help them develop the concept.
The delivery plan allows me to match and sequentially order the expectations for my split grade and for my lesson. I use the grade-specific expectation to plan my lesson. I target the expectations. I also find multiple-choice EQAO questions that target that specific expectation while assessing the “for learning” portion of my lesson with my students.
The expectation from the delivery plan also has me consolidate the lesson—it’s expectation-specific. With my students we also create success criteria based on the expectation for the lesson.
Well before the 60-minute numeracy block was mandated by the Ministry, St. Luke’s staff had dedicated the time necessary to numeracy instruction. Blocks have been designed to activate, review, introduce, practise and consolidate learning. Students get a balanced approach to numeracy by practising basic skills, through direct instruction from a teacher and others, and by practising higher-level thinking in both small- and large-group situations.
Lynn Price, Grades 3/4 Teacher
Here at St. Luke’s School, we follow a balanced day, which includes three 100-minute blocks, and teachers can choose when that uninterrupted 100-minute block for math can occur. Our basic lesson follows the same pattern. We start with basic math drills to refresh the kids or to activate their minds. We then go on to either taking up their practice work, or we review yesterday’s lesson. Then we go on to introducing the lesson with the learning goal, so that students know where we’re going for that lesson. Then we do explicit teaching with discussion, questioning inquiry to then either group or individual work, where students can practise what they’ve learned, either by talking, using manipulatives, showing their work. We then come back and consolidate our learning by discussing the different solutions that have happened over the course of that activity. Then there is checkpoints. Checkpoints can look like an activity card, an exit card or even homework that can be started in class, and if not finished, then for homework, to make sure that kids are understanding on their own what has been learned in that day’s lesson.
No students fall through the cracks at St. Luke, because all students and lessons are constantly assessed for understanding. Teachers ask the students if each lesson is clear, and students give valuable feedback about the lesson. Students are assessed as they are learning to gain a clear understanding of where they are in the process, and they are provided with remedial-help interventions, if need be.
Sue Korosec, Grades 6, 7 and 8 Math Teacher
So here at St. Luke’s School, we try to ensure that all our students succeed in math. We try to make sure that no one falls behind. In my class I have a two-fold system that I use to try to prevent students from falling behind. One is a check system for my lessons. What it is, is every student in my classroom has a popsicle with their name on it, and in my class I have a pocket folder with three pockets: red, yellow and green. At the end of a lesson, if the student feels they understood the lesson and they feel confident, they put themselves at green. If the student understood the lesson but they want more practice to be confident and comfortable with it, they put themselves at yellow. If the student is completely confused, they place themselves at red. It’s also great for me, because at the end of the lesson, I’ll look at the pocket, and if a lot of my students are at yellow and red, then I know that I have to reteach the concepts again and come at it a different way. So again, it tells me if I’m moving on tomorrow, or are we teaching a lesson again.
The other system I have in my classroom are checkpoints. Checkpoints are like quizzes, but they don’t count for marks. However, on a checkpoint I’ll be looking at one or two concepts that we learned in class the previous day, and basically I’ve given the students feedback on how well they did. If the students get a Level 2 or less on that checkpoint, then they know that I’m going to be working with them at lunch at homework club in order to close the gap in their understanding before we move on. My students say that the thing in my classroom that helps them succeed are the checkpoints.
School Profile and Results
EQAO Celebrates Five Ontario Elementary Schools for Their Math Strategies That Work
EQAO in the News:
St. Luke Recognized for Improved Math Results