Student Work Study Initiative

Focused Learning Starting at the Student Desk

Overview of the SWST initiative in Peel

Student Work Study is a provincial initiative in its fifth year. Peel currently has seven SWST teachers; five in Elementary, and two in the Secondary panel. Presently, each teacher is working in four schools for a total of twenty-eight.

SWST's work together with classroom teachers through the process of collaborative inquiry to study student experiences to better understand what contributes to student achievement.


We observe student thinking, document student learning, analyze evidence of student learning, and reference research that supports our learning.


A digital monograph and supposition paper is written by each SWST and shared with the Superintendents, School Effectiveness Leads, School Administrators and the Ministry. The digital reports are currently in the process of being housed at J.A. Turner professional library.


Further information about the impact of the SWS Initiative is detailed in the "Evaluation of Student Work Study Teachers Initiative Report" which was conducted by the Research, Accountability, School Success Planning Department.


SWS research has been used to inform ministry monographs, the Primary Reading Discussion Paper and various LNS Webcasts. SWS research informs and impacts our system through the sharing of our learning at staff meetings, Educator Resource Teacher and Regional Ministry Meetings.


Communciation in Mathematics

If students communicate their thinking in a variety of ways orally, visually and in written form when problem-solving in mathematics, then students will have a better understanding of the concepts and be able to explain their thinking.

Students that participate in gallery walks and receive descriptive feedback from the teacher are more apt to explain their thinking with justification.

Documentation of Mathematical Thinking

If documentation of mathematical thinking and strategic questioning using technology is provided then students are able to self-reflect on their learning. This study explores the notion that documentation of mathematical discourse using technology provides a venue for metacognition of student learning. Thus allowing educators and students to inform their learning and practice, analyze their thinking patterns, and substantiate assessment `as` learning to promote higher metacogntive abilities.

The Mathematical Processes

"Learning mathematics results in more than a mastery of basic skills. It equips students with a concise and powerful means of communication. Mathematical structures, operations, processes, and language provide students with a framework and tools for reasoning, justifying conclusions, and expressing ideas clearly. Through mathematical activities that are practical and relevant to their lives, students develop mathematical understanding, problem solving skills, and related technological skills that they can apply in their daily lives and eventually in the workplace." The Ontario Curriculum Grade 1-8 Mathematics, 2005 (pg.3)

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Key Learning in Mathematics

  • Inquiry begins at the students desk


  • Mathematical processes are evident when students communicate and document their thinking through problem solving activities


  • Problem solving plans, risk taking environments, purposeful math talk and descriptive feedback are important elements in fostering student thinking


  • Embracing 21 Century Learning leads to student engagement


  • Pedagogical documentation allows students' metacognitive abilities to become visible and allows students to self-assess effectively


  • Students learning is enhanced when they have procedural and conceptual knowledge combined


  • All elements of a comprehensive numeracy program (modelled, shared, guided and independent) need to be present

Shannon Beach, Janet D'Silva & Salima Ibrahim-Khan

Peel District School Board, Student Work Study Teachers