Cedar Hills Elementary SD#36 Surrey

I. General Information

School Name: Cedar Hills Elementary

School District: SD#36 Surrey

Inquiry Team Members: Christian Oskam: oskam_c@surreyschools.ca, Caitlin Riebe: riebe_c@surreyschools.ca, Vincent Kwan: kwan_v@surreyschools.ca, Marie Keeley: keeley_m@surreyschools.ca, Colleen Heidrich: heidrich_c@surreyschools.ca, Jordan Kidd: kidd_j@surreyschools.ca, Diana Loewen: loewen_di@surreyschools.ca, Mikki Cornfield: cornfield_m@surreyschools.ca, Richard Abed Rabbo: abedrabbo_r@surreyschools.ca

Inquiry Team Contact Email: abedrabbo_r@surreyschools.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: Arts Education, Social Studies

Focus Addressed: Indigenous understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), Community-based learning, Land, Nature or Place-based learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? We focused on adding visual representations of Indigenous Culture at our school, so that our school environment could better support Indigenous Ways of Knowing.

III. Spirals of Inquiry Details

Scanning: From the Scanning phase, we noticed that we have many resources at our school for many subjects, but that we don’t have many resources that intentionally help to teach Indigenous ways of knowing. For example, for math we have things like textbooks, workbooks, blocks, and reflection mirrors. But we noticed that we don’t have many visual/tangible resources that help students engage in meaningful ways to Indigenous Education (in comparison to the many visual resources we have with other subjects). We have Indigenous books at our school, but we know that our students often prefer other valuable ways to learn other than reading.

Focus: We were able to focus on obtaining visual resources for our school. After we completed the scanning phase, we realized that our parents, students, and staff were all on the same page about wanting to see more Indigenous culture visually represented within our school. We were hoping to see more lessons that intentionally use Indigenous Ways of Knowing at our school.

Hunch: We were able to confirm our hunches with one another, that we do have significantly fewer authentic resources and visuals in our school that intentionally connect us to Indigenous Ways of Knowing (in comparison to our other resources).

New Professional Learning: We connected with an Indigenous Helping Teacher in our school district, to help guide us towards using authentic Indigenous resources. From this, we were able to look at specific websites that sold authentic Indigenous resources and visual art that we purchased for our school. This Indigenous Helping Teacher also came to our school with a large amount of Cedar Bark, and taught us how to do Cedar Twining with our students.

Taking Action: We discussed our new Indigenous Resources (Cedar Bark Twining, Indigenous Plant Identification Cards, and Indigenous Visual Art) with our students, families, and at staff meetings as well. We made sure people were aware of where all the artwork was put up throughout our school, and we also communicated why we purchased the specific pieces that we did (these decisions were made by using surveys and getting feedback from everyone first). We also brought classes together by having older buddy classes teach their younger buddy classes how to do Cedar Twining (this created a nice supportive family community feel). Moreover, teachers used the Indigenous Plant Cards with their classes to enhance the Socials and Science curricula.

Checking: Students felt a great connection to the Indigenous resources that we included at our school. We felt satisfied as a staff team about our progress, but of course, there is always more work that we can do. Some of our Indigenous students left our school during the school year. But of the Indigenous students who stayed at our school, we saw a clear increase in the positive results for the two questions “Can you name two people at our school that think you will be a success?” and “What are you learning and why is it important?”

Reflections/Advice: I learned that when taking in the feedback from many different people, it is easier to get a clear picture as to what an issue may be at your workplace and what some possible solutions could be. Trying to think about this on my own at first was overwhelming. In the future, I am interested to see if there are specific Indigenous resources that target other Elementary School curricula other than Science and Socials.