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 Email:

II. Inquiry Project Information

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE Case Study

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: 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, Formative assessment, Indigenous pedagogy, Inquiry-based learning, Land, Nature or Place-based learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? The focus this year was to learn about Indigenous plants and help with work around our school garden. We want to learn more about the place and land where the school is situated, and how we can incorporate Indigenous plants in our garden.

III. Spirals of Inquiry Details

Scanning: The scanning process revealed that students were excited to learn more about the land where our school is situated, about Indigenous plants, and about how we can grow them in our garden. The four-questions used during the scanning process helped us identify areas of learning we will focus on, guided our learning, made connections with the curriculum and the First Peoples Principles of Learning. The students were able to reflect on their knowledge and skills, assess their progress and deepen their inquiry about Indigenous plants.

Focus: Our school started to build a garden last year and we wanted to continue our learning about the land where our school is situated, the Indigenous plants that grow around the school, and make outdoor learning a daily routine. Students enjoyed exploring the outdoor garden, making connections with different areas of the curriculum such as: science, literacy, math and continued to build strong relationships with their peers. Students’ self-esteem and self-confidence grew stronger throughout the year and that deepened their understanding and connections with the First Peoples Principles of Learning.

Hunch: Outdoor Education became our daily focus this year. We had numerous opportunities to explore our garden and the park across the street from our school. We were able to identify some Indigenous plants that grow in Joe Brown Park and did weekly observations in our walks there. Our teacher librarian organized a Bio Blitz in collaboration with Surrey’s Park and Recreation Department. The whole school participated in identifying new plants and animals that call Joe Brown home. It was a great opportunity for the whole school to come together, build community and learn more about the land.

New Professional Learning: Our learning was guided by the First Peoples Principles of Learning and Monique Gary Smith’s Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults. We continued to use the district ARC resources, attended PRO-D and collaborated with other teachers and students in the school to build our knowledge about plants. Our school hosted the First People in Residence program for a week. This was a great opportunity to connect with Indigenous people from the Lower Mainland, listen to their stories, learn from them about the land, the songs and their stories.

Taking Action: A few of the actions we took:

  • Connected with local Indigenous people and learned from them, through the First People in Residence program
  • Attended PRO-d, explored FNESC resource, and the district Indigenous resources (ARC)
  • Collaborated with district Indigenous helping teachers
  • Explored Joe Brown park
  • Collaborated with other teachers in the school and members of the community: City of Surrey-Parks and Recreations
  • Used formal assessment to guide our learning and inquiry

Checking: Through this inquiry, students and staff were able to connect and share a common goal: learning more about the land our school is situated, connect with the BC curriculum, build a stronger school community and enjoy hands-on experiences in a safe and secure environment. I noticed a bit of a difference in students’ attitudes towards outdoor learning, Indigenous learning, and a boost in self-confidence and self-esteem. While this project started at a class level, it extended to a few other classes. At the end of the year everyone was happy about their accomplishments.

Reflections/Advice: This inquiry allowed myself and my students to deepen our understanding about Indigenous learning, outdoor education and the importance of hands-on opportunities to enhance students’ self-esteem and self-confidence, as well as collaborate with other members of the community. The spiral of inquiry allowed us to re-evaluate our goals, the progress we made, and guide our learning process and experiences. Looking forward, we are hoping to continue our journey into outdoor education and Indigenous learning, connect with the local First People and add more to our school garden.