School Name: Bert Bowes Middle School
School District: SD#60 Peace River North
Inquiry Team Members: Melanie Carew: firstname.lastname@example.org, Moneca Conway: email@example.com
Inquiry Team Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE Transitions (focus on Indigenous learner transitions)
Grade Levels: Secondary (8-12)
Curricular Area(s): Applied Design, skills & Technology, Arts Education, Career Education, Language Arts – Literacy, Language Arts – Oral Language, Language Arts – Reading, Mathematics / Numeracy, Science
Focus Addressed: Indigenous understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), Community-based learning, Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving), Differentiated instruction, Experiential learning, First Peoples Principles of Learning, Flexible learning, Formative assessment, Growth mindset, Inclusion and inclusive instructional strategies, Indigenous pedagogy, Inquiry-based learning, Land, Nature or Place-based learning, Self-regulation, Social and emotional learning, STEM / STEAM, Transitions, Universal design for learning
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Our focus was to help Grade 9 Indigenous students find a deeper connection between what they are learning in school and their future, that included an adult from their current middle school and future high school.
Scanning: We invited students who seemed to have a lack of connection to traditional classroom courses and the school community. We asked the students the four questions in an interview-style. We learned they were having some difficulty finding relevance in coming to school on a regular basis, and did not have a clear focus on short- and long-term goals for themselves. We wondered and asked the students what they thought we could do as a group, career-related, that they would find useful and relevant for themselves, as well as enjoyable. They wanted to do hands on activities. The students built projects individually, however assisted each other each step of the way when necessary.
Focus: We wanted to create an introduction to career options for some of our Indigenous Learners in Grade 9. This group consisted of 7 Indigenous students in Grade 9 who had a disconnect of some form from school. The different types of activities that were being explored were student driven ideas that we, as facilitators, would support and assist the group in executing. We hoped that our students saw the value of what they were learning at school and how it could be applied to their future. There was also the aspect of having one of the adult facilitators being based out of the high school. We hoped that she would be a person they would build a positive relationship with and assist with making their transition to Grade 10 smoother.
Hunch: Our school offers many different elective courses for different interests; however, we wanted to create a group that focused more on student-initiated activities and projects that relate to a variety of career options as students grow in their skills. Having a small group setting and building a safe community was also an integral part of the group. Everyone made individual projects, however we worked together to help each other complete each step of the process, so we finish as a whole group — no one is left behind.
New Professional Learning: There were a variety of different learning opportunities that we explored. Going to the National Gathering for Indspire and attending sessions related to STEM and Indigenous learning, were important professional development pieces. Also, participating in and leading maker days/groups, allowed for time to research different activities and organize projects that have purpose.
Taking Action: Before we met with our students, our team created an introductory letter stating group objectives, goals and expectations that students and parents would sign. We met 2-3 times a month in our maker space library at the middle school. Students assisted in compiling a list of ideas for projects they wanted to work on, and we decided as a team how projects would be executed. Some examples were: hand warmers, pallet Christmas trees, and pine storage boxes students filled to tell their story about themselves during a circle talk. We were planning on working with electronics and coding next by assembling a mood lamp, however due to COVID-19, the project was not started.
Checking: Our team thinks that based on the time spent with the group, relationships were forged between students and adults. We hope that this will result in a smoother transition for this group to the high school.
Reflections/Advice: We learned that in order for students to see the value in their work, it was important for them to have a voice regarding their projects. There were many student talents that were discovered through these projects. This built a sense of pride and confidence in a group that normally viewed school as a challenge. Our team would like to continue this inquiry with a new group of Grade 9 students in the fall, with different ideas on how we could enhance learning and include more students.