Edward Milne Community School (EMCS) SD#62 Sooke

School Name: Edward Milne Community School (EMCS)

School District: SD#62 Sooke

Inquiry Team Members:Laura Fulton: lfulton@sd62.bc.ca
Laura Vernhoeven: lvernhoeven@sd62.bc.ca
Patrick Gale: pgale@sd62.bc.ca
Jeremy O’Shea: joshea@sd62.bc.ca
Ceara Mullin: cmullin@sd62.bc.ca
Emily Lutze: elutze@sd62.bc.ca
Rachelle Fafard: rfafard@sd62.bc.ca
Kristi Shaefer: kshaefer@sd62.bc.ca

Inquiry Team Contact Email: pgale@sd62.bc.ca

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE

Grade Levels: Secondary (8-12)

Curricular Area(s): Applied Design, skills & Technology, Arts Education, Language Arts – Literacy, Language Arts – Oral Language, Language Arts – Reading, Language Arts – Writing, Matahematics / Numeracy, Science, Social Studies

Focus Addressed: 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, Indigenous pedagogy, Inquiry-based learning, Land, Nature or Place-based learning, Self-regulation, Social and emotional learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Incorporating ecological knowledge into multiple classes and school culture to improve student’s eco-literacy.

Scanning: Through surveys, anecdotal observations, garbage audits, and conversations, we found that there is a large range in our students’ connection and engagement with nature and with each other. We also noticed that our students, regardless of time spent outside, were missing the connection between their actions and the impact on the environment, and the impact of the environment in their lives.

Focus: We want students to value a connection to nature not to just please a teacher, but to find intrinsic value for themselves and their lives. We feel that cultivating improved eco-literacy creates a path to protect the natural world and develops the student’s sense of agency and well-being. Furthermore, we feel that if students are more eco-literate, then they will be more productive members of society.

Hunch: Bias about what learning is valuable or not, perceived curriculum pressures, teacher-on-call and bus costs, and bias about how valuable learning takes place.

New Professional Learning: Learning about what eco-literacy is, and what it looks like for students and teachers. We are beginning to explore how to use eco-literacy/systems thinking to inform educator and student action and collaboration. Our group felt that it was important to embed the inquiry work with outdoor experiences, so the we started the inquiry meetings with nature walks in the community. We also did a learning day at an outdoor education centre in a neighbouring school district, which was an incredibly valuable experience.

Taking Action: – Surveyed students and staff to determine interest and experience with environmental and nature based learning and various related issues.
– Collaboration and Mentorship between staff- we co-planned and co-taught several interdisciplinary sessions connected to eco-literacy (seed germination testing, re-usable fabric food wrap making, plugging logs with edible mushroom spore, outdoor cooking, etc.).
– Staff and student experiential learning- much of our learning together as a staff modelled what we hoped we can do with our students. We hiked, visited outdoor learning programs, paddled canoes, and visited local natural sites.
– We challenged other staff to lead outdoor learning in all subject areas.

Checking: Our actions expanded outdoor/ nature based learning opportunities across subject areas at our school. We also increased teacher skill sets and interest in nature based/ eco-literacy education. We coordinated our efforts across courses/ subject areas and significantly expanded our own eco-literacy and nature based learning for students. We have not been able to collect data to compare our results but hope this is the beginning of school based systems shift. Participating educators feel more connected and supported which has helped increase motivation and collaboration in eco-literacy learning.

Reflections/Advice: Final reflections:
– Students are very interested in and concerned about the environment/ nature.
– Students often feel like the school is doing some environmental education but it has significant room for enhancement.
– Working with other teachers is super helpful! Integrating various subject areas together is great!
– Hands-on/ experiential/ immersive/ and community service learning based projects are well received and have a higher level of participation.
We hope to continue our collaborative inquiry next year to grow our successes.

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