A.J. Elliott Elementary SD#85 Vancouver Island North

School Name: A.J. Elliott Elementary

School District: SD#85 Vancouver Island North

Inquiry Team Members: Serena Lansdowne: slansdown@sd85.bc.ca, Lynn Walker: lynn.walker@sd85.bc.ca, Anca Fraser: afraser@sd85.bc.ca, Kathy Hamilton: khamilton@sd85.bc.ca

Inquiry Team Contact Email: mwatson@sd85.bc.ca

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE

Grade Levels: Primary (K-3), Intermediate (4-7)

Curricular Area(s): Mathematics / Numeracy

Focus Addressed: Indigenous understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving), First Peoples Principles of Learning, Formative assessment, Growth mindset, Indigenous pedagogy, Inquiry-based learning, Land, Nature or Place-based learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Continuing to teach math cyclically focusing on depth of knowledge and understanding while incorporating more place-based learning and culture into math.

Scanning: With a focus on math for several years, our students have built strong number sense and problem solving skills. This year we wanted to incorporate more place-based learning and culture into math. We wanted the learning to be focused on connectedness and a sense of place, with our learners at the centre. We use the four key questions throughout the year as students reflect on their learning, monitor their progress, and set goals.

Focus: This is a learning process for staff as well. Infusing First Peoples’ culture in an authentic way, into math in particular, has been an area we have needed to grow in. We hoped that our learners would make connections between First Peoples’ worldview and perspectives, and mathematical concepts. We wanted to engage our students in learning experiences connected to place, story, and culture. We hoped that this would deepen their understanding of the math concepts as well their understanding, appreciation, and respect for other cultures and ways of knowing.

– We find it more challenging to incorporate First Peoples’ culture into math than the other subject areas
– The new curriculum, and our District and personal philosophies, recognize the importance of integrating First Peoples’ culture into all aspects of the curriculum
– We have a fairly high percentage of self-declaring aboriginal students, but we lack local resources and elders to draw on for support

New Professional Learning:
– Seek out and collect culturally appropriate ways to incorporate First Peoples’ culture into math, as well as other place-based opportunities for teaching math and the exploration of other cultures (we are building our collection of ideas in a Google Slide)
– Connect with other educators – Melody shared our inquiry at the 2021 Indigenous Math Symposium in an ignite session
– Continue work with Cynthia Nicol that began in the 2019/2020 school year – Cynthia was an amazing support and resource. We will continue to work with her again next school year.

Taking Action: We focused our inquiry around cedar as a whole school. We brainstormed ideas as a staff and with support from Cynthia Nicol. Topics for our work included: patterns in nature, forest math walks, formline design in nature, non-standard measurement, cedar weaving (paper and with cedar strips), and bentwood boxes. We shared what we were doing in each of our classrooms as part of our monthly staff meetings, and added what we had done to our online documents. We also shared our learning at the 2021 Indigenous Math Symposium.

Checking: Staff self-assess using the Indigenous Understanding Learning Progression Rubric at the beginning and the end of the year as a self-reflection/assessment (original rubric created by SD68). We feel we are growing in our knowledge, but that there is still more work to be done. Our students are more aware of culture being infused into math class and can describe and reflect on the things they have learned. This has been reflected in their self-assessments.

Reflections/Advice: We plan to continue with this focus for another year. We also hope to incorporate more support for families (family math leaning sessions and a family math night) once COVID guidelines allow it. We will continue our work with Cynthia Nicol and the Indigenous Math Network. We also hope to work more with Elders from our district once they are able to return to in-person visits to schools. We would love to connect with other schools working on similar projects and share our learning with each other.

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