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Strengthening Core Competency Integration in Educational Frameworks

School District 35 uses SpacesEDU to strengthen core competency integration in educational frameworks

Organization Profile

Langley School District (SD35) is a vibrant educational hub located southeast of the bustling city of Vancouver, British Columbia. Currently, the school district hosts around 24,600 students (K-12) and a dedicated team of over 3,800 teachers, support staff, and administrators. SD35 comprises rural and urban land, encompassing four distinct communities: the Matsqui, Kwantlen, Katzie, and Semiahmoo First Nations, along with the City of Langley and the Township of Langley. Due to the district’s diversity, every area is a unique community with its own unique challenges, needs, and voices. As a result, their approach to education must be adaptable and reflective of their diverse population.

To support their student body, their network of 45 schools offers a variety of programs, including International Baccalaureate, French Immersion, Fundamental, and Alternative programs, all designed to cater to their students' unique needs and interests. Guiding SD35 in their work is their firm belief in fostering a supportive and inclusive learning environment where every student can thrive and reach their full potential.

Challenge

Supporting authentic student self-reflections of learning

In the past, students from SD35 found their reflections on Core Competencies to be forced and detached from their lived experiences, resembling tasks rather than meaningful educational components that helped them tell their unique stories. When the K–12 Student Reporting Policy in British Columbia came into effect, SD35 “wanted to find a way that was better and more authentic than how we did it before,” explains George Kozlovic, Director of Instruction for the Langley School District.

They were searching for a more strategic method to enhance the visibility of Core Competencies and their integration into their educational framework. Like many districts, SD35 wanted to shift their practices from individual teachers and schools to a streamlined approach district-wide. Gregg Jennens, District Teacher, Langley School District, shared "I would say that's the big transition: we've taken it away from being just localized to a school experience, to more cross-district, so students are having similar experiences in each one of the schools across the district."

After numerous group discussions, they ultimately gravitated towards SpacesEDU. This decision was driven by SpacesEDU’s capacity to address SD35’s core competency needs and its value as a versatile tool in classrooms.

We wanted to ensure that we selected something that wouldn't only serve the purpose we were aiming for, but also be a tool that teachers could find value in for various aspects of their classroom instruction. – Gregg Jennens

Solution

Empowering reflective learning through student-owned digital portfolios

As of the 2023–2024 academic year, Langley School District embarked on an initiative to instill reflective learning practices district-wide. Recognizing the significance of student engagement and autonomy, the district embraced the concept of digital portfolios to empower their learners. Behind the scenes, they envisioned a versatile tool that could fulfill their objectives. Gregg Jennens emphasized that "we didn't start with the fact that we have this tool and how can we make this tool do what we're being asked of from the ministry? We started the other way. We looked at the experience we want our students and communities to have.” This approach allowed them to detach from the technology and focus solely on crafting an enriching learning experience. When they finally identified SpacesEDU as the ideal solution, everything fell into place.

SD35 uses SpacesEDU to help its secondary students document their learning experiences across various subjects. Referred to as the "grab it" phase, students, guided by teachers, identify instances where Core Competencies are evident in their classroom experiences. Through the SpacesEDU platform, students capture images, record audio messages, and write a brief description allowing students to re-connect with their experiences as they reflect on their development of the Core Competencies. Many students use the Thinking Competency Poster below as their starting point.

An illustration of the "Thinking Competency Poster" which outlines the different elements of thinking such as: Creating and Innovating, Analyzing and Critiquing, Generating/Incubating and Questioning/Investigating, Designing and Developing, Evaluating/Developing and Reflecting/Assessing. This poster is used when students are working on core competency integration.

The hope is over a generation of students that a student would be able to go back at any time and look at their journey from K through 12, and it's all housed in the same space for them. So they don’t have to look in a bunch of paper binders at different buildings and different areas of Langley. – Gregg Jennens

During mid-term and end-of-term reporting periods the “crunch it” phase occurs. Here, students reflect on their collected evidence, select key examples that resonate with them, generate a SpacesEDU post that captures why they've chosen certain items, highlight how this might shape their learning moving forward and explain their thinking behind their choices.

We try to grab evidence, and then when we set goals, our goals should be based on things that we have learned and experiences that we've had in the past to shape our future experiences. That's what we're trying to use the SpacesEDU platform to do, is to curate that information for our students. – Gregg Jennens

SD35’s elementary schools use SpacesEDU as a digital portfolio that champions student growth. Teachers have celebrated it as a tool for documenting classroom learning experiences, with primary educators praising its capacity for quick snapshots and recordings and its ability to track progress over time while keeping family members in the loop. Alexandra Baxfield, District Teacher and SpacesEDU Support echoes this sentiment, underscoring the power of family engagement:

A lot of our grade one teachers are like, 'Wow, if I do a quick recording of my student reading, I can put it in and then show growth over time.' If they have a conference later on with a parent, they have an example of how that student was reading in September and October, and then they meet with them in November and December and can see the growth. That has been really powerful.

SpacesEDU is the tool and reflection and goal setting are the process

Things fell into place from an effectiveness and change management perspective when SD35 clarified why their district shifted to competency-based education. The reason, simply, was that reflection is important.

We have to stay on the message, but also create an avenue for people to feel like their feedback is being heard. We’re adjusting based on what the field is, because while we created it, one of the things that was super important for us is that we were extremely transparent throughout the whole process. People saw what we were doing early on, so there was a mechanism for people to shape it, and it did get shaped a lot from where we started, and we want to keep doing that going forward.  – Gregg Jennens

In retrospect, Gregg Jennens shares “one of the trajectories that I would change is to focus more on the opportunity that it provides for students to learn reflection.” Once SD35 began functioning with reflection and goal setting at the forefront of their transition and saw SpacesEDU as a tool to curate that, everything came into focus, and the opportunity became clear:

Result & Next Steps

SD35 has successfully implemented SpacesEDU to enhance the visibility of Core Competencies and their integration within their educational framework.

“I love that students can take photos or record audio messages and videos. It helps kids who may not have great written output communicate what they’re saying or thinking. Plus, the platform's simplicity has made bringing it into our classrooms quick and easy,” shares Alexandra Baxfield.

As the SD35 team looks into the future they envision a world where students will notice when learning is happening around them and can grab the evidence themselves. George Kozlovic shares, "Our goal is that it becomes natural and just part of what kids do. And I think if we get there, we've achieved more than just core competency reflection. We've achieved bettering kids’ opportunities beyond the time they leave us.”

Tags

Assessment and Reporting, Digital Portfolios, Equity and Inclusion, Family Engagement, Personalized Learning
A graphic of School District 35 Langley's logo. Their logo is says "Langley Schools" in blue writing with a blue and green graduation hat. This is the main blog image for the "Strengthening Core Competency Integration in Educational Frameworks" partner story.

Partner Information

School District 35 Langley
BC, Canada
24,600 students

Interviewees

Alexandra Baxfield
District Teacher
Gregg Jennens
District Teacher
George Kozlovic
Director of Instruction

Tags

Assessment and Reporting, Digital Portfolios, Equity and Inclusion, Family Engagement, Personalized Learning
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