Goldstone Park Elementary SD#36 Surrey

I. General Information

School Name: Goldstone Park Elementary

School District: SD#36 Surrey

Inquiry Team Members: Julia Sugawara:, Ryan Howett:, Spring Stanley:

Inquiry Team Contact Email:

II. Inquiry Project Information

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE Case Study

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

Curricular Areas Addressed: Arts Education

Focus Addressed: Experiential learning, First Peoples Principles of Learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Increasing awareness of positive aspects of indigenous culture to our whole school.

III. Spirals of Inquiry Details

Scanning: We discovered that there was wide variety in the ways that teachers engaged students with Indigenous cultures. However, we found that teachers struggled to come up with and/or access experiential opportunities for learning in this area and almost always relied on listening to books or watching videos.

Focus: We decided to find a way to spark student appreciation and understanding of Indigenous culture, as well as the interconnectedness of cultures through an experiential learning opportunity that would impact the whole school. We were hoping to see new enthusiasm for exploring Indigenous culture.

Hunch: We wondered if the repetition of the same aspects of Indigenous culture year after year (usually focusing mainly on the negative experiences of Indigenous people in Residential Schools) may have contributed to a lack of appreciation and apathy over time of Indigenous culture as a whole. We wondered if learning through videos or books may not have as much of an impact as in-person experiences.

New Professional Learning: In the process of finding a performer, we researched online about the meaning and tradition behind certain dances. We then provided primary and intermediate resources for teachers through anchor books for pre- and post-teaching about the performance we hosted. Having these readily available for classrooms to borrow, provided for opportunities to connect to the performance beyond the actual day.

Taking Action: We met as a team to choose an Indigenous performer to invite to our school. Once we confirmed a hoop dancer, we started building accompanying curricular activities teachers could use in their classrooms to pre-teach ideas connected to hoop dancing and for follow up afterwards. We added a number of books to our school library and also made a resource with local Indigenous words for animals that were to be represented in the performance. Unfortunately, the hoop dancer canceled at the last minute and we were unable to rebook. So, we searched for another performer and found the Wild Moccasins. Two dancers did a performance for the entire school and then completed workshops with a number of our classes (our school is too large to fit in a workshop for all students in one day, unfortunately). We felt the workshops provided a direct link to classrooms post-performance and allowed teachers to follow up even beyond the classroom, with many posting pictures and descriptions onto class websites/Teams which invited our wider community into the experience.

Checking: Based on teacher feedback, students throughout the whole school were impressed with the performance and workshop, and teachers were excited about the level of engagement from the students. Many teachers reported students were initiating conversations about the performance days after, and many students wrote in their weekly journals about how it was a highlight! The performers did an excellent job of making the performance informative, engaging and entertaining, as well as made the workshops accessible, fun, and memorable. As a team, we were satisfied that we had reinvigorated student interest and engagement with Indigenous culture through this shared experience.

Reflections/Advice: As school and classroom focuses ebb and flow throughout the year, we noticed that the engagement in Indigenous cultures has waned again, but we are hoping to tie conversations back to this event through recognition of National Indigenous People’s Day in our school. We also hope we can continue to offer different in-person experiences for our students each year, to continue to highlight positive and engaging aspects of Indigenous culture. If this becomes a regular part of our Aboriginal education every year, we anticipate students will look forward to it and more easily recall some of the creative and expressive aspects of Indigenous culture more clearly. We would highly recommend the group, Wild Moccasin Dancers, to any other school in the Lower Mainland.