Fort St. James Secondary SD#91 Nechako Lakes

By September 5, 20182017-18 Case Study

School Name: Fort St. James Secondary

School District: SD#91 Nechako Lakes

Inquiry Team Members:Cordell Ware:, Lenore Aspell:, Kelley Inden:, Marnie Dinwoodie:, Jacqueline Soles:, Jacqueline Boyes:, Gary Soles:

Inquiry Team Contact Email:

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

Grade Levels: Secondary (8-12)

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

Focus Addressed: Aboriginal understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), First Peoples Principles of Learning, Formative assessment, Growth mindset, Inclusion and inclusive insructional strategies, Inquiry-based learning, Self-regulation

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Infusing place based learning, First Peoples Principles of Learning, and Aboriginal perspectives in personalized inquiry based learning.

Scanning: Greater student engagement, increased learner independence and success are key areas for growth. When we offer opportunities for students to personalize their learning through choice we see incredible growth and engagement and some can answer the four questions readily (more will. Through this students are also getting the sense that they are being more successful, and becoming more self-regulated and goal oriented.
Trauma stemming from the history of Indian Residential Schools in our country and community, and the intergenerational trauma that continues to impact the learners, our school, and the community presents many challenges. Many of our Aboriginal learners are not engaged or feeling successful, school wide but this is starting to change. Students at all levels are starting to speak about intergenerational trauma and are embarking on healing through community and school based learning.

Focus: We aimed to take the First Peoples Principles of Learning off the poster on the wall and begin to live it.
The importance of the land and its original peoples in this area is an essential piece of who our learners and community members are, both aboriginal and non-aboriginal. We see this focus as a powerful continuation of improved ways of engaging learners. Connecting to the truth of our history of colonialism, will support the development of all of us meeting on equal ground, with mutual respect: moving forward together.

Hunch: At the beginning of the year, the whole school community was not fully aware of some of the innovative practices happening at FSJSS, nor did everyone agree yet on the most effective ways to enact positive change with learners. Some families had a fear of asking questions and expressing concerns, and sometimes school only communicates about concerns with families. This is changing because of the successes and celebrations and connections to our Aboriginal communities that have occurred this past year. Eyes and minds are more open at this point and we are at a tipping point. We predict we will also see more collaboration between the elementary schools and the high school. There is also potential increased collaboration across departments.

New Professional Learning: -Collaborative professional day with Jo Chrona from FNESC regarding English First Peoples Curriculum
-One teacher has worked on curriculum learning maps for EFP courses (with Jo Chrona & Shelley Moore)
-A team participated in the Small Secondary School Think Tank as the case study that other districts focused on.
-Teachers are learning from each other through sharing, co-teaching and other collaborative activities.
-A cross-school team presented their learning journey at the Network of Inquiry & Innovation Symposium
-We collaborated with Vancouver Island University, a representative from UNBC, and the high school (NVSS) in Vanderhoof to produce a professional quality video highlighting innovative learning practices in our rural district. The reflection
initiative and collaborative discussions that laid the foundation for this video were valuable professional learning opportunities!
-John Prince Research Forest (partnership with UNBC) –We are learning how to incorporate this forest and what it has to offer into our courses.
-Some teachers are in training with the Streamkeepers

Taking Action: -We intentionally used inquiry based learning in all of our humanities based classes and students shared their learning in a variety of forums (video interviews, class sharing circles). Sharing involved addressing three of the four questions posed by NOII and often, the fourth was addressed spontaneously in their reflections. Portfolio assessments were integral in most humanities classes.
-Many staff incorporated growth mindset learning as part of the learning journey in their classrooms. Some students are using the growth mindset language explicitly and demonstrate it in their learning. As others look back and reflect on their journeys, they can identify the mindsets they either used or wished they had used.
-Expanded the design of the curriculum in many areas to incorporate Aboriginal perspectives
-One teacher piloted Eng. First Peoples 10 -2 credits course with English Language Arts 10 -2 credits.
-Another teacher hosted Co-Creation 2018, a rich day of sharing where students learning in an alternate space were invited to have dialogue with each other, the Aboriginal Education staff, Aboriginal community leaders and educators from outside the school. These learners unpacked First Peoples Principles of Learning (one small group wrote them in student friendly language to better understand them), began to co-design personalized Socials 11 courses, provided feedback on the year’s work and input for the coming school year. We hope this idea will be shared and adapted/adopted by other teachers in the building and possibly in the district.

Checking: Although the differences will never be enough, we know this year was a great beginning. More students learned to be true learners. Learners in a variety of classes were exposed to and learned the same important big ideas through integrating courses. They were also able to appreciate each others’ learning styles and differences. Students were keenly interested in what others were learning which strengthened the community of learners in the school.
The Aboriginal liaison support workers and First Nations Education Coordinators were even more involved in the school and community based learning. Their knowledge and wisdom were welcomed and incorporated into the perspectives and learning that took place. Some of the opportunities were spontaneous and authentic (eg. an eagle’s untimely end led to learning about the cultural significance of this creature; Allan Downey, author & professor visited while in the community) while others were co-created in advance (eg. Local knowledge holder Pete Erickson shared his community’s traditional practices with respect to governance and justice). More learners and adults alike can answer the 4 questions with genuine deep responses. They know what they are learning and where they are going or would like to go next. Some are at the beginning of this continuum and others are going beyond our expectations.

Reflections/Advice: In the coming year, there is potential for more collaboration between the elementary schools and between departments. Staff meetings will be used for sharing strong practices with each other.
Our advice to others would be to build and strengthen cross school connections, sharing resources and practices.
We need to keep building on the connections to the community, learning who the knowledge holders are, etc. We need to stay connected with a key community person (Jolene Prince) to bring community members into the school or take our learners out of the building.

Our adult learning needs with regards to the local Aboriginal culture also require some attention. We need to know more about the local culture so we can feel more comfortable connecting it in the curriculum. Engaging in reconciliation and ‘truth telling’ is a goal and a challenge that arose out of the Small Schools Think Tank and we need to embrace this.

-In the 2018-19 year, an altered timetable will be implemented, allowing all students more choice and flexibility in course selection.
-We want to explore and delve into the core competencies more effectively in ways that honour diverse demonstrations of knowing and learning.
-We have determined that many learners are needing access to text that they struggle to read. We will pursue the use of the district licenses for Google Read and Write so more learners can access information independently.

Leave a Reply