Brockville – Trustees with the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) met on Wednesday, December 13th, 2017 to discuss a number of agenda items, including:
Mental Health Plan Update: Superintendent Valerie Allen, Principal of Special Education Debbie Banks, and UCDSB Chief Psychologists Dr. Alison Inglis and Dr. David Armstrong presented an update on the UCDSB Mental Health Strategy 2017-2020. The intent of the Mental Health Plan is to establish a consistent, equitable, and intentional culture of well-being in all our schools so that students will experience a positive sense of self and belonging, develop skills to make positive choices and live healthy lives. The core strategy of the plan is based upon four key elements:
- Implementation of mental health promotion, prevention, and early intervention programming;
- Development of “mental health literacy” (the knowledge about different mental health disorders and the recognition, management or prevention of such);
- How and where students access supports – to ensure appropriate levels of support for vulnerable students; and
- Enhancing current access to mental health information.
Naismith Memorial Public School Presentation: Principal Carmela Ciocio of Naismith Memorial Public School highlighted how Naismith staff are using their School Improvement Plan for Student Achievement to improve student learning in math and literacy and enhance student wellness.
In early literacy, teachers are employing a variety of strategies to enhance student understanding. Students are advancing through play-based literacy games focusing on reading, writing and oral language in Kindergarten, and use of the “Empower Reading” program to help students who are experiencing difficulty with reading. Staff employ a variety of strategies such as rhyming, helping students understand the initial and final sounds of words, and other techniques such as clapping to identify syllables.
In mathematics, staff use assessment tools to determine where students are in their learning and then collect that data to inform instruction. The goal is to identify and implement teaching strategies geared toward students’ understanding while encouraging them to arrive at answers more efficiently. In lessons on addition, teachers encourage students to use strategies such as estimation, displaying numbers in expanded form, and number lines.
The school is addressing wellness through an active focus on their “Quality Daily Physical Education” program, partnerships with agencies such as Big Brothers-Big Sisters, programming that builds character such as Roots of Empathy, as well as school clubs and sports.
Seaway District High School Presentation: Principal Don Lewis and Vice Principal Eric Barker of Seaway District High School reported on how their School Improvement Plan for Student Achievement is helping staff enhance student wellness, as well as learning in mathematics and literacy.
In literacy, the school is using data to determine students’ reading levels and the strategies they use to take meaning from non-fiction text. Staff use this data to determine the most effective strategies to help students improve. Teachers are implementing approaches such as “think-alouds” where students say out loud what they are thinking about when reading, solving math problems, or simply responding to questions. The school also encourages teachers in subjects other than English to incorporate literacy strategies within their teaching to improve students’ reading and writing.
In mathematics, teachers are setting clear learning goals and success criteria, showing students what they need to know by the end of a lesson and what they need to do to be successful. These allow students to reflect on how they work to solve math problems and identify ways to improve. Teachers are implementing different forms of assessment to see what students know, and how they are learning. This helps teachers determine the best teaching strategies to assist students. They are also using pictures and videos of student work to assess student understanding and inform teaching practices.
Seaway staff are improving student wellness through: increased spirit opportunities provided by Student Council; Mental Health and Wellness Minutes; coaching in time management, coping strategies and positive cell phone use; Link Crew activities that focus on developing a sense of care and community held throughout the year; as well as promoting student participation in club and sports opportunities.