Ecole Puntledge Park SD#71 Comox Valley

School Name: Ecole Puntledge Park

School District: SD#71 Comox Valley

Inquiry Team Members: Colleen Devlin;
Mary Everson; ( Elder)
Gail Martindale;
Erin Naswell;
Dean Littlelight ; subtitute Ni’noxsola ( Elder)

Inquiry Team Contact Email:

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE

Focus Addressed: Learning is holistic, reflexive and experiential (focus on connectedness, reciprocal relationships, and a sense of place). Using this as a lens, we will explore the kwakwaka’wakw seasonal cycles with our Elder and enjoy math observations. We were to have done a two-fold approach: 1) bringing the class and Ni’noxsola (Elder) outside for seasonal plant gatherings, complete with a family food celebration at the end, and 2) bringing Ni’noxsola Dean into the forest to tell the local stories, have the students re-enact them, and do many math sessions around them.

Inquiry Story: We explored what we felt was important for the students to learn from/with our Elder – they love to share local seasonal stories based on the K’omoks territory (Big Rock Story, Little Giwas, Salmon King, Little Uligan, Legend of Queneesh, and the story of Tsonokwa). Maybe subtilizing through the stories would build stronger math knowledge; for example, if four kids were in the canoe how many arms and legs are in the canoe (with a cedar mat covering them to make it a bit more tricky! … Take out one child, how many limbs now, etc). We could share this with other classes and schools to enhance their learning of place-based education. We will probably focus more on looking for repeated patterns, data management and probability — creating sorting rules to make simple pictographs and bar graphs.

As teachers, we have already learned that we often start with the math question – “what do our students need to learn from the curriculum?”; however, we flipped this to “what can our students learn in nature and from our Elder, to help expand their math knowledge and/or intrigue them about math such a big picture/lens switch?” For teachers involved, its means listening more to the Elder and the importance of his teachings, than us asking her to “back up” our plans.

Once we decided to to focus first through an Indigenous lens, it became easier to see which nature/math concept might be a good fit for these early primary learners…. The students love taking clipboards into our woods, so this will give our walks with the Elder more focus. The children love hearing about what plants Dean and his family gathered when he was a child. We will zoom in on life cycles and harvesting with the moon cycles to deepen their knowledge. We think this will be a big shift in view point – with the Elder leading more. We will learn to look at nature as a way to teach, not just something to enjoy and visit. It will be more about listening, observing and learning, rather than teaching and talking to students. Having a chance to collaborate as team members will be so beneficial, especially as we bring in our learning support teacher – actually “bring him” outdoors with us, rather than sending students to work with him at the learning centre! We asked students, “if Tsonokwa gathered ten children in her basket – how many legs were there in the basket… if two kids got out, now how many legs,” – lots of subtilizing. This carried on to the Legend of Queneesh – “if the families packed five cedar baskets with five fish in each, how many all together?” Using “sets of” to begin multiplication understanding for grade ones – “if the village sent out five canoes with ten people on each canoe, how many people escaped the flood?”; here were various forms of skip counting. The students had a much stronger ability to re-tell the stories after rehearsing them from math and art angles, rather than just listening to the Elder tell the story (see attached pictures). They also learned a great deal about cedar weaving to create the mats, and that led to measuring and predicting how much cedar would be needed, etc. We liked the early parts of the gathering and graphing, but this group of children really enjoyed the story re-enactments and math story problems.

Our Inquiry Story Pictures


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