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, Marie Josee Krkosek; mkrkosek@sd85.bc.ca, Anca Fraser: afraser@sd85.bc.ca

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

II. Inquiry Project Information

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE Case Study

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

Curricular Areas Addressed: Applied Design, skills & Technology

Focus Addressed: Indigenous understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving), Experiential learning, First Peoples Principles of Learning, Growth mindset, Land, Nature or Place-based learning, Social and emotional learning, STEM / STEAM

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Our goal was to enhance student engagement through the Applied Design, Skills, and Technologies Curriculum.

III. Spirals of Inquiry Details

Scanning: Through our Student Engagement Survey, interviews, the 4 Key Questions, and educator observations we found that:

  • 70% of students like to take part/join in activities all the time and 30% like to sometimes
  • 43% of the students like to stay on task until they get everything done, 53% like to sometimes, and 4% don’t like to
  • 93% of students were interested in at least one thing they were learning at school
  • Some activities students listed that they enjoy doing, or would like to do, included: math, reading, writing, science, French, Indigenous studies, art (painting, sketching, sculpting), drama, dance, physical education, sewing, cooking, carpentry, coding, robotics, STEAM challenge, outdoor ed.
  • Some students are struggling with mental health and we are noticing less engagement
  • Students seem most engaged when learning by doing and many said they wanted to do more hands-on learning next year
  • We are looking at all student achievement data (see data section of School Plan)

Focus: We wanted to incorporate more ADST curriculum into our learning across the curriculum to increase student engagement. Also, when students are engaged in hands-on learning, they develop crucial SEL skills. ADST topics included, but were not limited to:

  • Coding and robotics
  • Project-based learning
  • Place-based learning (school garden, outdoor learning spaces, forest, trails, beaches, etc.)
  • Learning from local First Peoples
  • STEAM challenges
  • Creation of a maker space
  • Carpentry
  • Sewing
  • Cooking
  • Genius Hour (once per term in year 1)

Hunch: The COVID-19 pandemic had significant impacts on students including:

  • less hands-on learning
  • less collaborative learning (e.g., students sitting at individual desks, less partner/group
    work, social distancing, etc.)
  • increased mental health concerns

The idea to incorporate more “learning by doing” through ADST was born as a hunch to improve student engagement. We also hope that improving engagement will help with some of the mental health issues that have been increasing (anxiety, stress, depression, regulation, etc.).

New Professional Learning:

  • Learning about setting up a Maker Space (contact Jeff Willson)
  • Reaching out to community for volunteers who can share their skills with students
  • Reaching out to other schools
  • Working with district Elders and Role Models
  • Collecting resources
  • Topic at each monthly staff meeting

Taking Action:

  • Staff reached out to the community in September (took an inventory of skill sets available to us within the school and community).
  • Staff gathered resources to add to our collection and reviewed those we already had. Throughout the year we added to these resources as we introduced new topics/activities/skills to the students.
  • Schedules were organized to allow for time when students could pursue their interests. Genius Hour was hugely successful. We started with once each term and will be increasing the number of Genius Hours we have next year.
  • We began building our Maker Space. This space was used during class time, at lunch hour drop-in time, and in an after school Maker Club once a week.
  • Staff shared and collaborated regularly (monthly staff meeting topic, daily interactions, etc.)
  • ADST was frequently included in our after school programming 4 times each week (e.g. carpentry, cooking, etc.)

Checking: We feel that we need more time to go deeper into this inquiry and deepen both student and staff learning. This was a big learning year for all of us and we know there is much more work to be done.

Data collected from our Engagement Survey showed:
• 73% of students like to take part/join in activities all the time and 23% like to sometimes
• 47% of the students like to stay on task until they get everything done and 53% like to sometimes
• 97% of students were interested in at least one thing they were learning at school
• Some activities students listed that they enjoy doing or would like to do include:

  • Genius Hour (held 3 times in the 2022/2023 school year)
  • Science Fair
  • Missoula Children’s Theatre
  • Field Trips (Mount Cain, skating, swimming, gymnastics, bowling)
  • Makerspace
  • Math, reading, writing, science, French
  • First Nations studies
  • Art (painting, sketching, sculpting), drama, dance
  • Physical education
  • Sewing, cooking, carpentry
  • Coding, robotics
  • STEAM challenges
  • Outdoor Education
  • After-School Program

Reflections/Advice: It has been reinforced for us how important “learning by doing” is. Our students are more engaged and seem happier and more excited about learning. Most students commented on wanting more time in the makerspace and more Genius Hours. Both of these things will be happening in the new school year. We have surveyed and interviewed the students throughout the year and have used this information in deciding activities for Genius Hours and topics/materials/supplies etc. for the makerspace.