Early Years Evaluation – Teacher Assessment

Guest Author: Elizabeth Gouthro, Director of Learning Services, Calgary Board of Education – Early Years Evaluation – Teacher Assessment (EYE-TA) – What has the Calgary Board of Education learned? Since 2011, the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) has used the EYE-TA in Kindergarten to assess children’s development in five domains. The EYE-TA ensures that Kindergarten teachers look at each child in a holistic, developmental way and emphasizes the importance of providing programming in all areas of development. All Kindergarten children are assessed in the fall of their Kindergarten year, then again in the spring if the fall results indicate that a child had some or significant difficulty in a domain.CBE_circle

With a large Kindergarten population of over 9,000 children, the Calgary Board of Education is rich in diversity.   The EYE-TA provides us with a common language to discuss children and their learning and a framework for a consistent response to instruction.

We have found other benefits to the EYE-TA such as:

  • it provides a clear picture of each child’s unique strengths and next steps in learning;
  • an emphasis on collaboration which supports inclusion, advocates collective responsibility for all children, increases professional capital, develops comprehensive supports and services and supports a wrap-around model;
  • data which is helpful to inform decisions at the classroom, school and district level.

In using the EYE-TA, we have learned that we need to:

  • continually refine and clarify processes;
  • promote the EYE-TA as one aspect of embedded, comprehensive assessment practices;
  • ensure the on-going use of the data to inform instructional decisions; and,
  • continue to strengthen the collaborative model.

When teachers have the information necessary to attend to all areas of development, as provided by the EYE-TA, they are better able to support the unique learning needs of each child and contribute to the mega-end of the Calgary Board of Education, in which:

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Student Orientation to School Questionnaire

Guest Author: Dr. John Burger, RVS Director – A casual perusal of current educational research journals demonstrates a growing emphasis on the role of students’ affective or socio-emotional experience of school as a key determiner of academic success. The September 2013 issue of Educational Leadership focused on resilience and learning and included articles on building resilience, the influence of caring teachers, ideas for connecting with troubled students and building students self-confidence. The September 2014 issue of Educational Leadership focused on student motivation and thoroughly explored the relationships between inspired pedagogy and students’ motivation to learn and hence engagement with school. This edition reported on the results of a 2013 Gallup Student Poll that observed that 54% of students reported being engaged in their learning, 28% reported not being engaged or mentally checked out and 17% reported being actively disengaged. The authors (p.10) suggest that schools should, “Monitor their students’ sense of hope, engagement, and well-being because these are significant predictors of academic achievement.”

Paralleling this advice, the 2014 OECD study, What 15-year-olds know and what they can do with what they know, observed that drive, motivation and confidence in oneself are essential if students are to fulfil their potential. This study concluded that, “Teachers and school principals need to be able to identify students who show signs of lack of engagement with school and work with them individually before disengagement takes firm root”( P.22).

This growing literature reinforces the case that educators and policymakers are increasingly interested in developing students’ non-cognitive skills in support of academic success and long-term life outcomes. Happily, the Student Orientation to School Questionnaire (SOS-Q) SOS-Qwas developed by Alberta Education as a multi-year project from 2003 to 2009 as a direct follow-up to recommendations in the Removing Barriers to High School Completion study (Alberta Education, 2001) to pay closer attention to students’ affective experience of school. The SOS-Q is premised on what factors or constructs keep students connected to school, including: safe and caring, external resilience, internal resilience, self-confidence and peer relationships. In addition, in the junior-senior high version extra-curricular activities, utility of school and, if the student works part-time, work-school integration and handing work-school pressures are included.

Rocky View Schools, with the assistance of an initial Alberta Healthy School Communities Wellness Fund grant ran a small pilot on the applications of the SOS-Q in four schools that grew to nine schools between 2011-13. The success of this pilot, described in an article published in CASSA Magazine  lead to a $45,000 grant to scale up the application of the SOS-Q as a key component of a broader Comprehensive School Health strategy in 2013-15.

During the 2013-14 school year SOS-Q’s were completed by 1556 RVS upper elementary students. Of this cohort 126 or 8% were in the below average range on their total SOS-Q score, and thus may be disengaging from school. On the positive side, 113 or 7.3% were in the above average range reflecting high engagement with school, and the remaining 1317 students were in the average range.

In the same time period, the SOS-Q was administered to 1713 grade 7-12 students. Of this cohort 12.2% were in the below average range on their total SOS-Q score demonstrating a growing phenomenon of disengagement with grade level, a finding consistent with the research literature on student disengagement or alienation.

Other patterns of interest when 1072 jr. high student SOS-Q results were analyzed indicated that female students had significantly lower internal resilience or higher levels of anxiety than male students. Also, not surprisingly disengagement increased with each increase in grade level. When students coded as gifted were compared to non-coded students they demonstrated higher levels of self-confidence, but lower levels on extra-curricular activities, school utility and peer relationships. Lastly, the relationship between SOS-Q results and classroom achievement results demonstrated positive correlations on nearly all SOS-Q factors and highly significant relationships between self-confidence, utility of school and total SOS-Q score and academic achievement in English language arts and mathematics.

Action research on the SOS-Q within Rocky View Schools is clearly demonstrating the diagnostic potential of the SOS-Q in identifying the powerful relationships between the constructs measured by the SOS-Q and student academic outcomes. The SOS-Q Program Manual was re-written this summer to capture the insights and experiences with this instrument during the 2013-14 school year and to enhance the strategies to support students who manifest patterns of disengagement from school. This manual will shortly be distributed to all school administrators.

In 2013-14, 18 RVS schools used the SOS-Q for some or all of their students and already at the start of the 2014-15 school year five schools have requested to administer the SOS-Q in October. Having recently obtained the full copyright to the SOS-Q, Rocky View Schools is clearly leading the way in the area of applied, action research on student affect and ways to support student engagement with their learning opportunities.

I want to leave you with the SOS-Q challenge. If we blend understanding by design, universal design for learning and balanced assessment as a foundation for inspired pedagogy with a focus on student affect, let’s see if we can’t reverse the common pattern of student disengagement as grade level increases for our students.

Using the Right Technology & Pedagogy

Guest Authors: Heather Hill & Stacy Pothier, RVS Alumni & Administrator – Using the Right Technology and Pedagogy to Enhance Thinking, Learning & Teaching: The Impact of A Collaborative Action Research Project – What are the ingredients for our successful project? In this case it was 10 inquisitive learners (teachers in K-4, FI & English) committed to collaborative action research, time for collaborative professional development, technology tools and a guide on the side – in our case, the fabulous facilitator Dr. Martine Pellerin.

Our big questions to be pursued were:hs-students

  • How does technology influence dialogical, inquiry-based learning in the elementary classroom?
  • How can tech tools increase accessibility for students – for their learning, to express their learning, to capture their learning, to assess their learning, to enhance their learning, to share their learning?

We had time to go through 3 cycles of collaborative action research & professional development, which is composed of four components:

  1. collaborative professional development meeting – planning
  2. implementation of new strategies (6-8 weeks)
  3. digital documentation of the new strategies (6-8 weeks)
  4. reflections on actions and inquiry – individually and then with the group

Some of the other questions we considered as we worked through the project were:

  • Who is using the tools (teachers, students) and how are the tools being used?
  • How are the tools promoting the use of oral language as a tool for learning and thinking/metacognition?
  • How are the tools facilitating differentiation and enhancing student learning?
  • How are the tools being used to document the students’ learning process?
  • How are the tools being used for students’ assessment?
  • How is the documentation helping to adopt new teaching practices?

What apps were most appropriate and useful ?

  • Speak Easy Voice Recorder, iPod video camera, Google maps, Stop Motion Video, Puppet Pals, Toontastic, Book Creator, Mee Genius, Workbook, Pic Collage, Show Me

How did teachers feel about the work they did, and its impact on their teaching and learning?

  • Students are more reflective and aware of their learning. Learning goals are clearly established and students are able to work towards their personal goals. Students are able to communicate their learning in a variety of ways: through written reflections, oral reflections or conversations with peers and their teacher. Students are more aware of their learning and of their personal learning goals.
  • Dialogue is essential at this level for metacognitive thinking. Being aware of how others perceive things (concepts, ideas) enables the students to reflect more deeply about their own understandings.
  • They make better connections and they can develop their ideas more fully.
  • Students see technology as a tool for learning as opposed to a toy. They seamlessly integrate technology into their day by grabbing an
  • iPod or an iPad to assist them with their work.
  • Teachers are having meaningful conversations about their practice and looking at ways to improve student learning through reflective practice.

Some general conclusions from the project:

  • Collaborative Action Research is a non-threatening, welcoming way to engage staff in professional learning.
  • Action Research enhances collaboration, communication and reduces isolation for teachers and students.
  • iPods are extremely valuable tools for young learners, for ease of use, comfort of use and engaging aspects of appropriate applications.
  • Google + was an excellent tool for communication among participants. Feedback was immediate and led to verbal interaction.
  • The project enhanced the use of appropriate technology and tools for assessment and evaluation and encouraged reflective practice for teachers and students.

Implementing a Professional Learning Framework

Guest Author: Pamela Adams, University of Lethbridge – School leaders and central office administration often express to me their frustration or uncertainty that, despite all good intentions, and not insignificant amount of funding, the jury is still out on the extent to which professional development translates into enhanced teaching practices or increased student learning. For their part, teachers report that they are not always inspired, motivated, or activated by their profession development experiences; that even after the most informative conference or provoking guest speaker, restraints and demands of schools simply do not afford them time to apply their new ideas in a systematic and purposeful way.

For years, I’ve been curious about the kinds of shifts that can be made in thinking about and delivering professional growth experiences that are more likely to captivate teachers and mobilize them to convert their learnings into student learning. I was pleased, then, to present at the RVSD Research Conference in August, where we considered this and other questions about professionalPL-2 learning and instructional practice. At the conference, I provided the synopsis of a recent study titled Implementing a Coordinated and Comprehensive Professional Learning Framework, conducted over four years with 175 teachers, administrators, central office staff, and student teachers across south and central Alberta. During this study, I was able to explore ways in which the use of an alternate paradigm of professional learning—collaborative inquiry— might impact teaching practice and student learning.

It turns out that using an inquiry-based model of growth to guide teachers’ professional learning attends to a number of areas that teachers appreciate (for the full report, please contact me). It is a personalized process that can be differentiated to meet the needs of individual teachers, even as the work is easily aligned with school and district goals and the provincial Teaching Quality Standard. It is collaborative and based on professional dialogue about learning and growth in teaching effectiveness. It is appropriately accountable and evidence-based, yet honors the notion of shared responsibility.

The study produced some other commentary around the processes, structures, and delivery of professional learning, including the following:

  1. Who should be responsible for professional learning?

Participants felt that teachers should play a very important role in this regard, taking initiative, ownership, and responsibility for engaging in reflective practice and sharing with colleagues. Participants also felt that, as an equal partners in teacher professional learning, school administrators were very important in creating the climate and structures that would support teachers’ goal setting and achievement, particularly those that involved taking risks and trying alternate instructional strategies. Central Office leadership was seen to be next in importance in supporting teacher professional learning; participants suggested that it was the role of central office to articulate, align, and establish the structures that would promote collaboration and authentic learning.

  1. What structures are essential to support professional learning?

Participants identified specific types of on-site structures, such as changes in timetables and release time, to encourage and sustain collaboration, self-reflection, a sense of community and learning. The notion of job embedded and site embedded time was identified as the most valuable in facilitating personalized and collective goal achievement.

  1. What strategies would strengthen teachers’ commitment to integrating their learning into practice?

Participants saw collaborative inquiry and communities of practice as two strategies that were very important ways to strengthen educators’ sustained participation in professional learning. These two strategies were defined by three characteristics: regularly scheduled time to meet, talk, and learn; a process based on inquiry and curiosity; participation based on the role of teacher-as-researcher.

  1. What types of leadership activities facilitate professional learning?

Participants suggested that school leaders were very important contributors to teacher learning and that they could facilitate growth in several ways. First and foremost, all participants agreed that in order to enhance teacher learning, school leaders must couch all professional development in the language of student learning. Next, participants suggested that teachers are more likely to engage in professional learning when school leaders do the following:

  • Provide explicit permission to innovate and think differently about teaching
  • Model reflection and professional learning as an expectation of practice
  • Meet often to help teachers achieve their professional goals
  • Put into place collaborative structures and strategies to promote team learning

I look forward to having further conversations about these ideas. Please feel free to contect me at adams@uleth.ca.

What are Partner Research Schools?

Guest Authors: Cynthia Prasow, Director of Partner Research Schools, and Jennifer Lock, Associate Dean of Teaching and Learning, University of Calgary. The Partner Research Schools initiative is aligned with the Education Research Framework document ratified 2011 by the Education Research Partnership Committee and guided by the Inspiring Education document.

What are partner research schools? Partner Research Schools (PRS) are dynamic collaborations among schools, communities, and universities leading innovation through research-active inquiry and practice. The Partner Research Schools initiative is aligned with the Education Research Framework document ratified 2011 by the Education Research Partnership Committee and guided by the Inspiring Education document.

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How has partner research schools evolved? This initiative evolved over two years. The work of the Partner Research Schools Committee included developing a definition, Letter of Interest, Memorandum of Agreement signed by 8 school authorities in April 2013, and the development of a three-year strategic plan.

What Constitutes a Partner Research School Project? This initiative is designed to create opportunities for academic staff and schools to work together around a research project/question. A research project may also include experts from various community agencies (e.g., theatre, museums, and foundations). The richness of a partner research school project is that it fosters collaboration among stakeholders in the school, school jurisdictions, and the larger community. Such examples of areas for research might include formalizing a question regarding such ideas as:  classroom practice, curriculum areas, examining diversity, technology integration in teaching and learning, universal design and assessment of, for and as learning.

How to get involved? Go to the Partner Research Schools website to find out how to facilitate a collaborative research initiative. You will find on the website a formalized process for submitting project ideas, as well as examples of current project descriptions.

Assistive Technology Implementation

Guest Author: Kathy Howery, University of Alberta – Assistive Technology Implementation: How do we know it? How can we show it? I was delighted to be asked to participate in the recent Rocky View Research Conference, and particularly delighted to have the opportunity to talk about assistive technology implementation. Why is this topic so near and dear to my heart you might ask? Well that’s easy – now more than ever before there are assistive technology solutions for students that can help them overcome physical, sensory, cognitive and even social/emotional challenges to become active participants in learning and life! There are hundreds, no thousands, of assistive devices on the market. Able Data lists some 40,000 products! Happily they also help us sort through those thousand of products by categorizing them by function and special features so we are not so likely to get lost in the AT forest. Since the huge uptake of tablets and smartphones there has also been a huge social-media-teensincrease built in accessibility in the operating systems (see for example Apple Accessibility solutions). Back in the day we had to add all those features as add-ons – the world has certainly changed for the better! These almost ubiquitous devices have also lead AT manufacturers to create 100s if not 1000s of apps that create new opportunities for barrier free access to the tools of today’s classrooms.

So you might say what’s the problem? Why am I so keen to talk about implementation when it seems like all we need to say is “there’s an app for that’? Well… there is the rub. Despite, or one may argue perhaps because of, the vast array of AT devices the rate of underuse or even worse abandonment of AT remains extremely high. People who have studied this phenomenon of AT abandonment put the rate anywhere from 30% (Phillips, B. & Zhao, H.1993) to a shocking 75 to 80%. (Ebner, 2004). To be fair, sometimes AT is not abandoned but appropriately put aside for something new or more appropriate. But, in my journeys around the province I continue to see students that have access to software and devices that they are underutilizing or not using at all despite that fact that it would very likely help them communicate, participate and learn.

There are a few definitions of AT in the literature, including of course the Alberta definition of Assistive Technology for Learning (see http://www.rockyview.ab.ca/techsupports/assistive-technology for this definition). What is key in this definition as well as in others is that AT is defined NOT ONLY as the devices, the things, but also as the services that are necessary to be in place to ensure those things are implemented in a way that the result improved student function and success. As I often say, one can go to any number of websites or catalogues and find a device or devices that sound like they will be the “the thing” to compensate for a child’s struggles, but it is much more challenging to find the expertise, personnel, training and supports necessary to really make that thing or those things (the AT system) work for the student in his or her environment to accomplish the tasks involved in schooling and in life. This is what we seem to be missing – Assistive Technology Services and Supports – and the research tells the same story.

Studies conducted during the past 20 years have documented lack of access to technology, insufficient funding for devices and services, and the need for further training as the most commonly expressed needs and barriers (Bausch, Ault, Evmenoa, & Behrmann 2008). A recent study of AT implementation in Michigan reiterates these same themes (Okolo and Jeff Diedrich, 2014). The Michigan study highlighted need for improved awareness, knowledge, skills and-to a lesser extent attitudes as being at the top of the list of barriers and actions needed. These authors also note that concern about educators professional preparation has been cited in several decades of research, their findings suggest this concern continues. Even if teachers are keen to learn about best practices in AT evaluation, implementation and use they struggle to find professional learning opportunities either at the pre-service or in-service level.

Unfortunately most of the research has been done outside of Canada. Certainly there has been little to no research done looking at effective AT implementation in Alberta. So now perhaps you understand why I am so keen to talk about this.

Rocky View Schools has a proud history of leveraging technologies to create engaging, authentic and accessible learning for students. But, how are we doing for students that need AT to be successful? Are RVS students with complex or significant needs getting the devices and services they need to communicate, participate and learn? Are those systems being implemented in ways that really promotes success and facilitates meaningful inclusion? How do we know it? How can we show it?

There are several good resources teachers and consultants can go to consider best practices in AT implementation. Here are a couple of my favourites:

QIAT stands for Quality Indicators of Assistive Technology (www.qiat.org). If you visit the QIAT site you will find a wealth of ideas and resources on best practices in AT. Some of you may know of QIAT through the amazing listserve where you can ask an AT question and get answers from some of the most experienced AT personnel across North America.   I encourage you to look at the Quality Indicators themselves. These have been developed and vetted by AT experts and in my opinion are the most useful tools one can use to understand that quality looks like – and what might happen if we don’t attend to some of the issues raised. While there is certainly an American slant, I think the information is definitely translatable to our context.

The second resource I would like to point you towards is a Canadian gem!

SETBC is a organization funded by the government of British Columbia to provide AT supports and services to students with disabilities in that province. Happily for us, andmany others, they generously share their work and resources on their website, www.setbc.org . While you may find yourself dazzled by the great information here, I would like to point you to their resources on Effective Implementation of Assistive Technology. I use these every time I teach an Assistive Technology course. I think you will not go to far wrong if you use them as guidelines as well.

In closing, I want to acknowledge that there is much good work being done across the division in this area! But I put out the challenge to do better and to document what you are doing, how you are doing it and how you know it’s working for kids! I am hoping that next year at the RVS Research Conference there will be many more people presenting on AT and how you have used best practices and data to inform your work and create student success.

In closing I will leave you with my favorite quote about assistive technology!

“The success of technology has more to do with people than machines.   All the right parts and pieces together won’t work miracles by themselves. It is people who make technology powerful by creatively using it to fulfill their dreams.”  Alliance for Technology Access, 1996

Looking forward to hearing about dreams fulfilled!

Re-Awakening Wonder in Elementary Math

Guest Author: Leslie Waite, RVS Assistant Principal – “Math isn’t a creative subject!” was a typical reaction to the topic of my Master’s Thesis. Most associate creativity with the arts, not with mathematics. So, what is mathematical creativity? Simply put, the process of creation implies the coming together of two or more ideas, which are then mixed and remixed into something new. So, it is taking what is known about a concept, adding in new information and creating a new understanding of the concept; experiencing an idea and comparing what is known with what is being discovered. Students are overwriting their understanding and making sense of mathematics in new ways. It’s the “oh, I get it” moments.

Here are some of my findings:boy-idea_s

Ah-ha #1: A personal connection to the context of a problem makes the concept “stickier”. Background knowledge and the ability to put oneself in the context are very important if we want our students to remember a mathematical idea.

Ah-ha #2: We need to give our students permission to not yet understand and to think divergently. For whatever reason, many students feel they have to know the math before we even begin investigating the ideas. We must foster the idea that strategies have to make sense to the learner, if these strategies are going to be of any use.

Ah-ha #3: We need to develop their tolerance for ambiguity and frustration, as well as their ability to persevere. Students need to understand that sometimes an answer will not come easily. Sometimes we have to mull things over and revisit ideas in order to make sense of them. “I don’t know yet” is a phrase we need to hear more often when working in math.

Ah-ha #4: Students need to believe they are mathematical and that each of them has a unique way of learning mathematics.

Final thoughts about creativity from my students:

“I’m creative in math when I find a way to do math that makes sense to me.”

“It’s when your brain thinks and how your brain puts ideas together.”

“When you don’t know what it is before and then when someone explains it to you…you just get it” They don’t give you the answers. They just help you think about it.”

The ECMap Project

Guest Author: Susan Lynch, U of A Project Director – How are our young children doing? Too many are being left behind. As a part of the panel at the RVS Research Conference, I was pleased to do a short presentation on the Early ChildPIP-kids-circle_l Development Mapping Project (ECMap) which illustrated the use of the Early Development Instrument (EDI) to capture a picture the developmental progress of preschool children across Alberta. ECMap began in 2009 and partnered with school authorities to gather EDI information on over 85,000 kindergarten children during the period from 2009 to 2013. The EDI provided baseline data for non-special needs children in five areas of development: Physical health and wellbeing, social competence, emotional maturity, language/thinking skills, and communication/general knowledge.

Though the EDI questionnaire is completed for individual children, the data is aggregated for groups of children – it is a population measure not an individual assessment. In the Alberta study, the EDI revealed some startling findings about groups of children throughout the province:

  • The baseline data indicates that less than 50% of young children are developing appropriately in all five areas of development when they reach kindergarten. A large portion, approaching one third of Alberta children, are experiencing great difficulties (below the 10th percentile) when compared to the Canadian Norm for vulnerability. These statistics are for typical children and do not include children with severe disabilities. Alberta children could and should be doing much better.
  • Every community in Alberta has a percentage of children experiencing great difficulty on one or more of the areas of development. The percentages range from a low of 12% to a high of 53%, the Canadian Norm being 25.4%. Sixty-six communities in Alberta are doing less well than the Canadian Norm. No single geographic characteristic (density, urban/rural, north/south) differentiated the EDI results.
  • Five areas of child development were analyzed. Each area of development has a slightly different pattern of reported child outcomes. The area which seems to have the greatest challenge for children in Alberta is that of Communication and General Knowledge. However, the five areas of development are inter-related and there is a tendency for difficulties appearing in one area of development to be indicative of difficulties in other areas as well.
  • The correlation between socioeconomic status and childhood outcomes is .58. The more positive the socioeconomic status of a community the more likely the early childhood outcomes will be positive. Although a higher percentage of children in low socioeconomic communities are experiencing great difficulty compared to higher SES communities, the largest number of children who are struggling is to be found in the middle income/class communities because of their large numbers of children.
  • Alberta communities vary widely from one another in their overall socioeconomic levels and in the patterns of economic, social and cultural factors. The economic stability factor stands out as the most important across the province as a whole, but the social mobility and cultural similarity factors, when examined at the community level, are more prominent influences on the EDI for some communities.

Further information was gathered with the help of community coalitions in each of the 100 communities. Community resources, early childhood data, and socioeconomic status data was mapped and reported in community profiles for all communities. The ECMap website (www.ecmap.ca) contains all the community reports, interactive maps and results reports for the project. The final report has been submitted to Alberta Education and the full LiveAtlas will be posted on the website shortly.

Celebrating Collaborative Research 2014

Guest Author: Dr. John Burger, RVS Director of Schools – Research & Data – The 2012 Rocky View Schools Research Conference had a strong external bias and focused extensively on the theoretical design of a SIS, and hosted researchers from 9 universities representing 3 Canadian provinces and 3 states. The 2014 Research Conference theme, “Celebrating Collaborative Research: Using Data to Inform Practice, was heavily premised on an internal/external balance of research completed by and with RVS staff. In many ways this represents an evolution and growth of applied and action research within RVS while maintaining a balance between quantitative and qualitative data to inform and enhance practice.

All of the presenters/discussants in 2014 were researchers and/or practitioners actively engaged in applied research, data-informed decision-making and/or educational leadership, or are policy makers at provincial or jurisdiction levels. Of 43 presenters 23 were affiliated with RVS, reflecting a wonderful and growing hs-students-library_lcommitment to in-house research. We were thrilled to have six presenters from the University of Calgary, Werkland School of Education and look forward to a growing relationship via the Partner Research Schools initiative that Cynthia Prasow and Jennifer Locke presented at one of the break-out sessions. In fact, this conference could well be a prototype for a future regional research conference, building upon the Partner Research Schools initiative. Fourteen other presenters attended the conference from ten other organizations, including: Intellimedia, Practical Data Solutions, Mount Royal University, the Alberta Healthy School Communities Wellness Fund, The Calgary Board of Education, Alberta Education, the ASBA, the University of Alberta, the University of Lethbridge, and the Early Childhood Development Mapping Project.

So we were, again, an eclectic group, in some ways similar to the crew of the starship Enterprise – going where no person had ever gone before, searching for strange worlds of data-informed environments and new knowledge. This metaphor reminds one of a specific Star Trek episode when the starship, Enterprise, encountered an entity described as “pure intelligence”, an omniscient being that knew everything and hence could predict anything and always make the right decisions. This might be our challenge as practioners– to evolve, in an on-going process, towards pure intelligence by pooling our collective wisdom within a research-rich and data-informed environment.

To this end, the 2012 and 2014 Research Conferences are contributing to what will be a continuing process, and as such, each presenter has been invited to contribute to a schedule of post-conference blogs to stimulate on-going reflection around themes identified during this conference. This blog introduces the 2014 blog series.

To conclude, thank you to all who attended, presented, and otherwise supported the Research Conference, to Intellimedia for co-sponsoring, and especially to our emerging and future leaders in the new University of Calgary/Rocky View masters cohort who attended the conference as an extension of their on-going studies. Perhaps the time invested by all of the conference attendees will change our professional lives in ways that help us collectively approach “pure intelligence.”

It Takes a Village to Raise a Child

Guest Author – Audrey Bloxham, Director of Student Transportationbusstudents_mediumIt takes a village to raise a child – and it also takes many caring people to teach our students to ride on a school bus.

Riding a school bus requires that students are punctual, reasonably quiet, polite, and able to sit in a cramped space without pushing or shoving. Students also must remember to use appropriate language, and to keep their feet out of the isle and their back packs under the seat or in their lap.

All of these behaviours must be adhered to with very little supervision. The only adult on the bus is the driver and for safety reasons should not be distracted.

So, you can no doubt see that teaching, reminding and praising students for good behaviour is vitally important for the safety and comfort of all the students on a bus. So too are discussions on cooperation and safety.

Are all of us doing our part?  If you are a parent, a school administrator, a bus driver, are you doing your part?

Rocky View Schools and the bus contractors sponsor a First Ride Program in August. This program provides important information and gives new riders an opportunity to experience bus riding. Although this year’s training is passed, it is important that everyone involved with Rocky View bus students take ownership of our students’ safety by reviewing RVS’ Student Code of Conduct for Bus Passengers.

Please ask yourself, are you doing your part? Your support will make a difference.