Ecole Puntledge Park Elementary SD#71 Comox Valley

School Name: Ecole Puntledge Park Elementary

School District: SD#71 Comox Valley

Inquiry Team Members:Barb de Goede:
Liz Goodger:
Beth Reed:
Paul Colthorpe:

Liz Murdoch: Wachiay Friendship Centre, Courtenay
Allison Sanders: Wachiay Friendship Centre, Courtenay
Mary Everson – Classroom Elder , K’omoks First Nations

Inquiry Team Contact Email:

Type of Inquiry: AESN (focus on Indigenous learners or Indigenous understandings)

Grade Levels: Primary (K-3), Intermediate (4-7)

Curricular Area(s): Language Arts – Literacy, Language Arts – Oral Language, Social Studies

Focus Addressed: Aboriginal understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), First Peoples Principles of Learning, Land, Nature or Place-based learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Two French Immersion Kindergarten classes will combine with our district aboriginal K / 1 program to share aboriginal culture and language through oral story telling and puppets, and traditional drumming – focussing on the local FN language of our valley

Scanning: The younger students learned that joining together despite our different “streams” in the school is a natural thing; There were obvious signs of less division outside on the playground amongst our younger students, which we see as only expanding as we continue our team work from year to year; the three classes went effortlessly between the three pod areas. The French Immersion K’s eagerly shouted during assemblies ” We know this song” “hey that’s the lady who tells us awesome stories”; all early primary students can re tell at least four key seasonal local stories / legends from the K’omoks First Nation – our grade five big buddy class can do so much more. The Indigenous students felt such a sense of belonging and had many leadership opportunities. We felt all students involved felt greater ties to the land – in terms of respect and land stewardship, we studied local animals and plants within the seasonal round. Being published artists through our picture book ( Little U’ligan in both English and French with key words in both books down in Kwak’wala ) gave all participants a great sense of pride – our book launch party was a great success- every school in the district has a copy of the book

Focus: We selected this area to share / exchange knowledge and skills and between the teachers … music skills being shared with language skills and cultural knowledge. The French Immersion teachers gained greater comfort in teaching about Indigenous ways of learning and knowing throughout the curriculum. With the gift of a variety of aboriginal songs the programs are enriched. Working with the greater community with our Friendship Centre and our dear Elder the school community is ready for next steps ; singing and dancing with aboriginal music is also now common place – so much so the entire school does “O Canada” in three languages. Our youngest learners see all this learning as seemless and hopefully that will grow as we bring in more teachers. Our older big buddy did so well with their art lessons and interest in NWC art forms we found another grant form and they were each able to make a pair of moccasins to wear at their school ceremony – such a powerful moment of pride fro them.

Hunch: the students observed teachers collaborating and sharing ideas – visibly teaching each other esp. around music and language – a great way to role model learning and cooperating. We honoured our most at risk students who blossomed especially with the involvement of our Elder who would check in with them first and ask them to help her protocol and traditions; again the book publishing looking so professional gave a sense intense pride – every child got a copy of the book

New Professional Learning: we had success with the new materials from Strong Nations being in both English and French – so we could share learning times – sharing a non fiction book in both languages and then heading outside to learn in our school forest about the book topic; we had school based collaboration times to help us with timing

Taking Action: collaboration time was given but we wanted to maximize it so we always kept to our time lines, choosing jobs to accomplish before our next meetings really helped; we learned that sometimes 60 kindergartens learning together can be chaos – joyful chaos but still very busy! Watching them all dance and drum was priceless.

Checking: Sense of pride and belonging especially with the indigenous students ( even the grade ones became great leaders for the school) the understanding of aboriginal ways of knowing learning and being are growing stronger throughout the classes involved in the project, the teachers feel more confident in teaching specific content . A great way for a teacher new to the school to really feel part and included in a new staff. We did make a difference the school has a good sense of community already but now it feels as our aboriginal land and culture ties honours the 30% of our population who have aboriginal ancestry .

Reflections/Advice: we sometimes over expanded our ideas as we got excited but everything got done; our Elder needs to be duplicated as many classes would love to welcome her next year in sharing her history, culture and knowledge but especially the language ….so we can see this expanding with district support; we hope to have the whole school sing “Jingle Bells ” in three languages at our Christmas Concert. We plan to publish another local story based on the “Big Rock” in the neighbouring town. We will forward some photos of our journey

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