Alberni Elementary SD#70 Pacific Rim

I. General Information

School Name: Alberni Elementary

School District: SD#70 Pacific Rim

Inquiry Team Members: Jelena Dyer

Inquiry Team Contact Email:

II. Inquiry Project Information

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE Case Study

Grade Levels Addressed Through Inquiry: Intermediate (4-7)

Curricular Areas Addressed: Mathematics / Numeracy, Science, Other: NuuChahNulth Language and Culture

Focus Addressed: Indigenous understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), Community-based learning, Differentiated instruction, Experiential learning, First Peoples Principles of Learning, Flexible learning, Growth mindset, Inclusion and inclusive instructional strategies, Indigenous pedagogy, Inquiry-based learning, Land, Nature or Place-based learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? To create authentic learning experiences, based in place and linked to the curriculum in as many ways as possible.

III. Spirals of Inquiry Details

Scanning: In the past, my students did not always find links between their classroom experiences and what these classroom-based skills are useful for in real life. Frequently questions came up such as, “Why are we learning this?” or, “What is this good for?” I wanted to head off these inquiries so that students would be more intrinsically motivated to learn.

Focus: I wanted to create an expandable unit which immediately engaged learners in such a way which motivated learners to understand classroom-based skills, and provide them with context and opportunities to use these skills in real life.

Hunch: I had a hunch that by using applied science I could link nuuchahnulth language, medicine and cultural practices to the math curriculum using local resources, such as the forest and sea.

New Professional Learning: I did need to learn more about traditional medicine, the language around the plant and forest resources nearby, and I needed to meet with a biologist to learn about the processes involved in data gathering, tools and presentation of this information.

Taking Action: We created a biological survey unit where we taught students how to use quadrats and transects to track the plant life – first on the school ground, and then later in the forest. We collected this data as a group, mapped it, calculated the ‘Simpson’s Biological Diversity Index’ for each quadrat and created maps and line graphs to analyze the data. We also asked students to learn the nuuchahnulth word for each of the plants they observed and to research the traditional uses for those plants. With this came discussion of invasive species, new language development and understanding of traditional knowledge and how it is kept and passed on.

Checking: Ultimately, because of timing, not all students were able to complete the entire laboratory report. However, it was easy to observe during math lessons and science work times that students were happy to apply concepts such as percentages, scales, graphing, reading and interpreting data and measures of middle, when they were taught after the demonstrations. This reverse design did help students engage in their learning in a more meaningful way.

Reflections/Advice: I want to do this again, but start right away in September. I believe with a little creative thought, we can design all learning experiences around first introducing the real-life application using field experiences and demonstrations from community members. Once these applications are shown to students, teachers can link these experiences to the curriculum at any grade level.