School Name: Dorothy Peacock Elementary
School District: SD#35 Langley
Inquiry Team Members:Dawn Driver firstname.lastname@example.org
Joanne Rempel email@example.com
Inquiry Team Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Type of Inquiry: NOII (focus on core competencies, OECD learning principles, etc.)
Grade Levels: Intermediate (4-7)
Curricular Area(s): Applied Design, skills & Technology, Arts Education, Career Education, Language Arts – Literacy, Language Arts – Oral Language, Language Arts – Reading, Language Arts – Writing, Matahematics / Numeracy, Physical & Health Education, Science, Social Studies
Focus Addressed: Aboriginal 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? To improve a better understanding of Environmental Place Based Learning we worked on appreciating our local environment, in turn developing their Social and Emotional skills.
Scanning: The four questions helped gain more insight into how the students are connected to staff in the school and their outside environment. Talking to the students allowed me to understand their feelings and emotions. The four questions were important. The environment is important because it makes us realize we need to make our community a safe and liveable environment. When I referred to question one with the students today (the end of June) they were eager to share their thoughts. Talking to the students about spending time outside and in the school, they said the following: “They encourage me to do well in school” and he continued to say that the success makes him feel good. “They keep me safe. Whenever they got hurt they gave me a bandaid or an ice pack.” “Everytime she sees them they say, ‘Hi’ and they encourage me”. The First Peoples Principles of Learning is important in my studies, because the principles emphasis the importance of connection between people, place and learning.
Focus: I selected this area of focus because our school is surrounded by a beautiful natural environment. We have green spaces on the south and east sides of our school property. It is beautiful to see the children playing around in nature, as well as connect with their peers and staff members while they do this. Walking in nature is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and I felt my focus helped me build a greater understanding of our school community and our natural environment surrounding it. The three students I interviewed in the Fall shared some thoughts with me. The students appreciated that we have good food, good shelter, animals, trees and weather that makes us appreciate nature. One student talks about the importance of animals, water and trees in our local environment. They have come to appreciate the community, teachers and nature, and that each teacher celebrate different aspects of our community and local environment.
Hunch: My hunch included the understanding that developing sustainable goals such as Good Health and Well-Being (UN Sustainable Goal #3) brings a better understanding of our connection with each other and nature. The salmon did not come back this year, as we thought they would in my hunch. However the students gained a deeper understanding of their local environment still and developed connection with the “land” and their community of people. In addition, the students talked about how the Olympics Assembly and outdoor activities – such as walking field trips to the McClughan Park and other local places. Celebrating the nature around you helps you appreciate our community and our school.
New Professional Learning: I explored the idea of Mindfulness and the idea of using different lighting this year. I found the resources that were most helpful was quiet music; outdoor walks and also spending time with other classes (i.e. buddy classes). I used the design of the United Nations Sustainable Goal #3: Good Health and Well-Being. Bringing a global goal into our school through this process has been inspiring to me. I was also able to bring about a Hiking Club with staff, as well as Mindfulness Workshops with Randy Persad (a speaker focused on breathing and silence in the classroom). Through this initiative I have been able to branch out and use my focus on nature to help others.
Taking Action: Some strategies we developed was the importance of Recess and Lunch outside. Other than poor weather days, there was an encouragement to be in our local environment and the students to be playing outside. There was also support to do a full open yearly walking field trip permission. Our administration approved of any class that was interested in doing walking field trips in the neighbourhood. By the end of the year, an additional 4 classes joined local walking field trips down to McClughan Park with nature walks. There was talk among teachers about the importance of being outside and the idea of nature affecting Social and Emotional development. There is awareness of the importance of nature, community and healthy living.
Checking: The differences we made were amazing. I found that students being outside in the environment for Recess and Lunch; going on walking field trips down to the local parks and emphasis on staff healthy activities (i.e. Mindfulness Workshops and Hiking Club) made a difference with our students. When we became more aware of the important of our own Social and Emotional development through encouraging activities that promote Good Health and Well-Being, then the whole community benefited. I was satisfied. Our base line was primarily the level of engagement with students, as well as staff to talk and be interested in Nature. Language used in the classroom, as well as language used in our hallways and outside, often would be positive when we talked about being in our local natural environment. We developed awareness through this initiative. We developed motion and more of a flow towards our local environment. We developed curiosity to learn more about our local natural environment.
Reflections/Advice: We have started to talk more about developing outdoor education curriculum, as well as an educational shelter by our local park. There has been a deep curiosity developed about our McClughan Park and more teachers are interested in bringing their children down to this wonderful park with Yorkson Creek flowing through it. The three students I interviewed in the Fall, were interviewed again today and this is some of their thoughts:
“My body feels good when I exercise outside.”
“I have learned that it can be really hot and really cold. Make sure you include everyone and being outside makes everyone feel include.”
“Nature is the most delicate thing on our planet. Some things are super strong and others are fragile. Everything in nature is so diverse.”
I would give the advice to other schools that it starts with curiosity. We also need to appreciate motion. The motion to curiosity, then through curiosity and then past curiosity to embracing a new mindset. Allowing our students to be part of our local environment and embrace the beautiful of the living and non-living things around us can add value to our lives. It increases gratitude and appreciation. It develops connection and relationships to each other, but also to our land. We are transforming and it is beautiful to see how we are celebrating and enjoying the process. In the end, our Social and Emotional development grew in a positive direction, and I think moving forward I really believe that their can be more done with our local environment. I am considering connecting with the Township to do more initiatives – such as environmental panels or building an educational shelter. It is an exciting place to be and it will be neat to see where it takes us in the coming years. Thank you for this opportunity.