Nurturing Minds, Moulding Lives.
Although the EQAO and Literacy Exams may cause some stress, we know that when we prepare our students for it with our in-depth material and teachers who have experience marking these tests, we have nothing to fear. We make sure our students know the EQAO and Literacy Exams inside and out, as well as techniques to answer specific questions.
We work on strategies to answer Multiple Choice and Short Answer questions, as well as practice writing long answers within a set time frame. We provide our students with practice tests, but also make sure to mark all their work and provide them with feedback so students know what they need to do to improve their reading and writing skills. We review with students the importance of providing supporting points to back up their answers, as well as how to write quality responses rather than simply filling up empty space.
With Mathematics, we identify what specific strands of math our students need more support in, and focus on those so we can make sure they are prepared for any kind of question. As informed teachers, we know that the EQAO integrates all five strands of math, so it is important for us to be proactive rather than reactive.
By the end of our lessons, students leave feeling prepared as well as informed on what they are expected to do when it comes to the EQAO English and Mathematics.
With our Primary, Junior and Intermediate students, we recognize the importance of helping them build skills so when they go to school the next day, they know how to transfer what they learn with us into the class. Listed below are some of the main skills we cover throughout JK to Grade Eight and how we address them:
We provide our students with a wide range of topics and genres to read, so that they can develop their reading skills. Students will read fiction and non-fiction texts ranging from short stories and children’s books to novels, newspaper articles and graphic texts. One main concept of our reading program is to focus on before, during and after reading strategies. As classroom teachers, we know the importance of engaging our students in the reading process all throughout the text rather than simply reading to complete questions or re-telling a story. This is why we ensure that our students are making predictions, inferences, connections and conducting research even before they start reading. This way, they are engaged with the text and the various features it has as they read. Students will look at the title, the images, review the author and everything else to ensure that they are thinking critically about their books. As students read, they are encouraged to make connections, think about conflict, make inferences and predictions, as well and track the growth and development of the plot and characters. This ensures that students are effective understanding what they are reading, rather than skimming over words and not fully comprehending the meaning behind them. Finally, after reading, students reflect on what they have read, the implications of the text, as well as asking questions and summarizing.
Developing strong writing skills is at the top of almost everyone’s priority list because this is a skill that is absolutely crucial – whatever our children plan to do in the future. This is why we have invested so much time and attention into our writing program. Right from the diagnostic assessment which focuses on identifying the gaps in writing, to developing an individual plan what addresses before, during and after writing strategies.
We place a lot of importance on before writing strategies such as planning and organizing ideas so that when our students start to write, they are producing high quality work, and do not become stuck with what to write, and can instead focus on how to write. While writing, we encourage students to refer back the the question they are answering or their main focus, and assure them that it is more important to have quality writing rather than quantity. Finally, as students wrap up their first copy, we remind them that good writing comes from reviewing and rewriting. With this, we focus on revision and editing – teaching our students how to independently address spelling and grammar issues, as well as visibly edit and revise their work so that each time they work on a new copy, the quality of their work goes up.
As teachers, we know that math is not just about completing worksheets, but ensure that our students can think outside the box and apply the math concepts they learn. The most common math challenge we encounter is when our students can complete the worksheets they receive, however are unable to complete world problems and use the math they learn in different contexts.
To address this challenge, we focus a majority of our math work on word problems and application-based work so we know right away where the gaps in learning are and how to move forward. We believe that for our students to grow, they need to be challenged. This is why we are always on the search for the right kind of work for each student to ensure that we are providing them with practice that will help them grow and develop their math skills.
Science instruction is very much connected to real world events and ensuring that our students can understand how the science content they learn in school connects to their everyday needs. When supporting our students with science, some strategies we follow are to ask what material/unit is being covered in school and align our lessons with that, or if there is no such need, we move ahead. This way, we will always know where our students need more support and what the next steps are for them.
One of the first questions we ask our students as they take their seats is if they have an upcoming test, project, assignment, or need any clarification or support with anything done in school. These responses are the guiding factors in how we plan our classes and the kind of work we assign students.
Tests and exams take priority – if we are informed of these upcoming assessments, all the work we prepare and support we provide will address this need. We believe that the best way to spend our class time is by first identifying the individual needs of our students, and then ensuring that we are preparing them in a way that will allow them to carry forward our class work into their daily classes.
Many students also come to us needing assistance with assignments or projects which we gladly provide. We support our students by prompting them to think of different perspectives and identifying any gaps they may have in their work. In many cases, we encourage students to bring in their devices so we can review work online through their Google Classrooms or on Google Docs. We aim to accommodate the various learning needs of our students by being up to date with the most recent technology and content knowledge so that whatever our student’s needs may be, there is always someone to help.
Every five weeks, on pre-set dates, we conduct assessments of the various skills and content our students have been learning. This, we have found is the best way for us to ensure that our students are learning. It is not enough to simply provide practice work and review, for how will we know if we are having an impact. We therefore, have a system of assessment where we use rubrics and assessment tools that integrate Ontario curriculum expectations so that as teachers, we know what is going well, as well as what our next steps are. Ongoing assessments keep our students, families as well as us, the teachers accountable for the learning that is going on to ensure that we are making progress.
Our high school program is strategically organized to support our students with work they are completing at school. In a semestered high school, there are five months to complete a course, and this is usually four courses at a time. As high school teachers ourselves, we recognize that we need to provide our high school students with targeted support so that they can carry forward what they learn with us into the classroom the next day, as well as come to us with questions and concerns they may have so that we can address these needs on a timely basis.
When we have high school students who come to us to learn ahead for a course they have not yet taken but will be in the near future, we put on our teacher hats. Our students are assigned to a subject-specialized educator who is aware of the Ontario curriculum expectations for the course being prepared for, and we start to plan out how to teach our students the material they will need to know for the upcoming course.
As we do for our younger students, we will start with a diagnostic assessment, and then move on to filling in any gaps our students might experience from the previous year. We believe that a solid foundation – especially for high school courses are crucial for success. Each course in high school as the years progress builds on the previous one. For example, students need to have a solid understanding of Grade 9 Math in order to move on to Grade 10. Therefore, we take it upon ourselves to make sure that there is a solid knowledge and understanding of before moving on to new concepts. We conduct assessments through observations, conversations and products, and communicate these results to our parents to ensure transparency.
Our support for our University and College students are specialized on the courses they are taking. After an introductory meeting where we discuss needs and expectations, we will pair one of our Senior teachers up with the University or College student in need, and move accordingly. These individual sessions are meant to be collaborative, where the student will have time to ask the teacher for clarification, as well as support on topics being covered in class. Since these classes are one on one, there is a lot of flexibility in terms of timing and structure.
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