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

I. General Information

School Name: A.J. Elliott Elementary

School District: SD#85 Vancouver Island North

Inquiry Team Members: Melody Watson: mwatson@sd85.bc.ca, Serena Lansdowne: slansdowne@sd85.bc.ca, Frank Purdon: fpurdon@sd85.bc.ca, Anca Fraser: afraser@sd85.bc.ca, Kathy Hamilton: khamilton@sd85.bc.ca

Inquiry Team Contact Name/Email: Melody Watson/mwatson@sd85.bc.ca

II. Inquiry Project Information

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE

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

Curricular Areas Addressed:

  • Mathematics / Numeracy

Focus Addressed:

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

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? The continuation of cyclical math teaching with a focus on incorporating more place-based learning and culture into our learning.

III. Spirals of Inquiry Details

Scanning: We have been focusing on math as a school for several years. There is a real math culture in our school. Students have developed strong number sense and problem solving skills. Last year we changed our focus to incorporate more place-based learning and culture into our math classes and wanted to continue this work this year. The pandemic years have been challenging and focussing on connectedness and a sense of place was more important than ever. We use the four key questions throughout the year as students reflect on their learning, monitor their progress, and set goals.

Focus: Infusing First Peoples’ culture in an authentic way, into math in particular, is a learning process for all of us. In year one of this focus we got a good start, but felt another year would help us to deepen our learning. We hoped that our learners would make deeper connections between First Peoples’ worldview and perspectives, and mathematical concepts. We wanted to engage our students in further 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 also hoped, that with health guidelines loosening over the year, that we would be able to connect with elders and role models again.


  • 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:

  • We connected with Elders and Role Models for several activities this year. This was incredibly valuable learning for students and staff.
    • Trip to Alert Bay Big House and U’mista Cultural Centre visit for math inquiry work
    • Trip to Alert Bay for Kwak̓wala on awi’nagwis
    • Trip to Village Island with Elders and Role Models
    • Zoom with Elders
    • Began school regalia project with an Elder in Residence (this work will continue next year)
  • We continued our work with Cynthia Nicol.
  • We shared our inquiry work at a District Professional Development Day, as part of a NOIIE Learning Burst, at the Indigenous Math Symposium, and as part of the ICCME (Indigenous Community-Culture-Math Education) Mentoring project through UBC.
  • We also shared with each other at monthly staff meetings. This was a time to share the learning we had done in the previous month, as well as discuss new ideas/learning.

Photo (above): School trip to ‘Mimkwa̱mlis (Village Island) with Elder Ada Vera,
and Role Models Andrea Cranmer, Ernest Alfred, William Wasden, and Arthur Dick Junior.

Photo (above): Visit to the Big House in Alert Bay (SD85)
to learn from Elder Ada Vera and Role Model Andrea Cranmer.

Taking Action: We began the year planning together. Our work would focus on cedar again revisiting some topics like patterns in nature and weaving, but expanding on those ideas and going deeper. We also decided to focus our learning on Big Houses in third term. 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 (the hope is that these documents will become a resource that can be shared).

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 continuing to grow 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 and learning surveys.

Reflections/Advice: Being able to connect with Role Models and Elders again was wonderful, as was getting the students out onto the land for learning. Planning as a whole school and sharing both formally at monthly staff meetings and informally throughout the week kept us accountable and gave us inspiration to try new things.

Leave a Reply