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Ellison Elementary
Making a Difference at Ellison Elementary!

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The work of this year's Inquiry began last spring when students shared with the staff what was going on for them as learners.  Please refer back to our 2018 - 19 Inquiry for full details.   

As a result of this scan, our focus as a staff has become supporting our students in understanding themselves as learners, and in particular identifying what their next steps in their learning journey are.  We will focus on student growth, and examine and use student reflections to help us plan moving forward.  This shifts the role of our student learners, placing them closer to the center of their learning and providing them with more agency to determine what their next steps are.  Innovating each element of the Pedagogical Core (role of learner, educator, content, and resources) will support us with designing powerful learning for our students.

Pedagogical Core

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Ellison DRAFT Theory of Action:  

If we as learners, both adult and student, continually reflect upon the learning that is taking place inside and outside the classroom, then we as learners will be able to better articulate where  we are at with our learning journey and what the next steps will be.  

What our families think of when we talk about LEARNING:

When we start having deep conversations with our students, amongst our staff, and with our families, we quickly discover that we all define learning differently.  At Ellison we are all about LEARNING, and believe that everyone is a learner and therefore it was important for us to clarify the question, " what do we mean by learning anyway?"

At our Student Led Conferences, student leaders at Ellison asked our parent community, "how do you define learning?"  They encouraged them to make their thinking visible on the bulletin board at the front of the school.  Below are some of the thoughts that were shared with us throughout the afternoon.  Some common words that emerged were related to growth & collaboration, discovery & exploration, and fun & joy.

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How to get students thinking about their thinking?

Thinking routines are short, easy-to-learn strategies that extend and deepen students' thinking and become part of the fabric of everyday classroom life.  They can be used regularly, across a variety of content and grade levels, and help students develop ways of thinking about their own thinking. When a student uses a Thinking Routine to make his/her thinking visible, all students benefit from the shared thinking as collective knowledge is built.  (Taken from ILT resource on Thinking Routines)

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Mathematical Thinking in Gr. 4/5

In the two photos below, grade 4 and 5 students are working collaboratively during Math Council to solve complex problems.  They are applying their knowledge and understanding, and strategizing on the best way to solve the given problems.  


Thinking Critically at "Camp ELE" during COVID-19

The photo below on the left is our grade 2 and 3 class.  Here students are trying to find out how they can apply their science understanding to cook "s'mores at camp" without the use of a fire.  Students had to use the design thinking process to help them solve this problem, and create prototypes of their creation.  The photo to the right is one of our Kindergarten and grade 1 classes.   Here students have created their own composts to take home.  These students are learning how to contribute positively to our environment. 


Sharing some Thinking from Mrs. S. Ito's Grade 1 Class - January 2020

​Each morning in Mrs. S. Ito's class, students take turns bringing in special items from their home to share with their classroom community. 

Check out this gigantic PINE CONE that one of the students brought in!  Students had a lot of great wonders as they tried to guess what might be the special item in the bag.  There were questions about the colour, if it was part of nature,  the beginning and ending sounds of the item, and more!

Once the pine cone was revealed the questions continued.  Where was it from?  How big was the tree?  What is on the ends of the "pointy" things?  "How heavy is it?"


Mrs. Fletcher's grade 2/3 class has been engaged in inquiry this past month around "what is technology?"  Stemming from the question student's questions on "how are pencils made?" and other curiosities that arose in the class, students began to explore the idea of technology.  The three main questions they had were:

  1. What exactly is technology?
  2. How is technology made?
  3. Why do people need technology?
Through the process it was evident to Mrs. Fletcher and her students how much their thinking had changed. 

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​Below the grade 4/5 class reviews the ideas they generated around their government inquiry, "what parts of your life does the federal government affect?"   Students used the Thinking Routine, Chalk & Talk, to generate their ideas and make connections to their peers in the class.  Themes were then examined, and this lead to further questions about government, and the different levels of government in Canada.

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Above a Kindergarten/grade 1 class delivers a card to Mrs. Csuka as part of World Kindness Day.  This class and others in the school have been reflecting on how kindness impacts others in our community.  These students are learning how acts of kindness promote well-being in others by helping them "feeling hopeful, happy, and good about oneself"(Post, 2005, p. 68).  They are also experiencing the reciprocal effects that occur on the individuals who are kind.  

"I felt happy because I have never had the chance to give a special card to one of the teachers or staff at the school.  It filled my bucket because I was kind to others."

"I felt happy, so happy!  It was good to make someone else feel good, and deliver the cards."


 On Friday, November 8, 2019 we held our Remembrance Day Ceremony at Ellison Elementary School.  This year our ceremony fell on National Indigenous Veterans Day, and therefore we thought it would be very important for the school to recognize the contributions of Indigenous Canadians.  Lead by two of our Ellison students, students, staff, families, and community members had an opportunity for quiet reflection upon the bravery and sacrifice of those who risked everything in order to make a difference here at home and around the world.


The Grade 4/5 students engaged in inquiry around Remembrance Day.  Their teachers asked them, what they knew or wanted to know about Canada's participation in our World Wars, and Remembrance Day.  Below are some of the questions that they posed:

  • What is the ultimate sacrifice?
  • How did wars start?
  • Did poppies grow on the graves of the soldiers?  Why did they grow there?
  • Why is Remembrance Day on November 11th?


This past Friday our team of educators came together to learn about how we might make some "micro moves" in our classrooms to have students dig deep into thinking about their learning.  As a team we began our morning connecting as a team, and reflected back on powerful learning experiences we have had as learners ourselves.  This set the stage for our day, and allowed us to experience and examine a variety of thinking routines throughout the day all while unpacking what we really want for our students when they leave us, and learning more about Indigenizing our curriculum.  

In the photos below, staff are experiences two routines, Chalk and Talk and Colour-Symbol-Image.  

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"I used to wonder why I spend so much time on kindness, empathy, and creating safe spaces for students to learn, but now I know that those are the residuals I want them to take away in life."

"I used to think that I taught children, but now I think that they teach me."

"I used to think that education was all about school, college, and/or university, but now I think it is also about culture, and life experiences."

"I used to think that I could do this on my own, but now I think collaboration is the key."

"I used to think learning was a destination, now I think it is a journey."

"I used to think units and content had an end point. Now I think each student is on their own unique learning journey and their growth is continuous."

The First People's Principles of Learning and the OECD 7 Principles of Learning were foundational to the design of the day.  

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Photo evidence from our afternoon outdoor learning tasks:

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