Colebrook Elementary SD#36 Surrey

I. General Information

School Name: Colebrook Elementary

School District: SD#36 Surrey

Inquiry Team Members: Monica Chiorean:

Inquiry Team Contact Name/Email: Monica Chiorean/

II. Inquiry Project Information

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE

Grade Levels Addressed Through Inquiry: Primary (K-3)

Curricular Areas Addressed:

  • Applied Design, skills & Technology
  • Arts Education
  • Language Arts – Literacy
  • Language Arts – Oral Language
  • Language Arts – Reading
  • Language Arts – Writing
  • Mathematics / Numeracy
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Focus Addressed:

  • Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving)
  • Experiential learning
  • First Peoples Principles of Learning
  • Indigenous pedagogy
  • Inquiry-based learning
  • Land, Nature or Place-based learning
  • Social and emotional learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Indigenous understanding and the connection between land, place and outdoor education.

III. Spirals of Inquiry Details

Scanning: One of our school’s goals was to build Indigenous understanding and knowledge through hands-on and outdoor experiences. Therefore, we focused on connecting the First Peoples Principles of Learning with different areas of curriculum: science, language arts, math and outdoor education. Teachers and students were interviewed using the four key questions, with adaptations for age and ability. I noticed that students are able to identify what they are learning about, they know if they are successful and what difficulties they might encounter. Students enjoyed the outdoor learning experiences, and the connections they were able to make with the First Peoples Principles of Learning were reflected in their learning.

Focus: The focus of inquiry was chosen due to a strong belief that learning is holistic and takes time and patience. It was responsive to students’ interests and their desire to learn more about Indigenous people and have meaningful connections with the land our school is located on. We enjoyed learning about the surrounding areas, the forest across the school and about the medicinal plants that grow there.

Hunch: The addition of a school garden contributed a lot to engaging students and staff in more outdoor learning activities. This was a big milestone for our school. The intention is to continue to grow this project, add more resources, learn more about the use of medicinal plants, and support students’ engagement in their learning. It was really great to see every classroom trying to be involved in outdoor activities, with a clear focus on learning more about the land we live, work and play.

New Professional Learning: It seems we would like to continue learning about the land and the natural resources it offers. We enjoyed visits and workshops from Indigenous facilitators from our district, and we would like to continue our inquiry and exploration. Through the First Peoples in Residence program, our school deepened the knowledge and desire to learn more.

Taking Action: Here are a few of the actions we took: 1) got enough funding to support starting our outdoor garden, 2) added some local Indigenous plants, 3) involved district facilitators, and 4) attended different workshops to learn about plants and their medicinal uses. We were very pleased to have support from our community and our PAC.

Checking: Overall, I think our inquiry was a success. There was so much learning happening for students and staff. The fact we started our garden and started to build our outdoor learning space, guided by the First Peoples Principles of learning, was the highlight of the inquiry. The students were empowered and engaged in daily/weekly outdoor activities, and they made meaningful connection in all areas of the curriculum.

Reflections/Advice: The reflection of this inquiry is very well summarized by few of the First Peoples Principles of Learning:

  • Learning is holistic, reflexive, reflective, experiential, and relational (focused on connectedness, on reciprocal relationships, and a sense of place).
  • Learning involves patience and time.
  • Learning ultimately supports the well-being of the self, the family, the community, the land, the spirits, and the ancestors.

Looking forward, we would like to learn more the use of medicinal plants.

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