Grassy Plains SD#91 Nechako Lakes

I. General Information

School Name: Grassy Plains

School District: SD#91 Nechako Lakes

Inquiry Team Members: Ginger Moyah:, James Hannigan:, Amanda Orr:, Jessica Noth:, Caroline Deane:, Melisa Bigler:

Inquiry Team Contact Email:

II. Inquiry Project Information

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE

Grade Levels Addressed Through Inquiry: Primary (K-3), Intermediate (4-7), Secondary (8-12)

Curricular Areas Addressed: Language Arts – Oral Language, Social Studies

Focus Addressed: Indigenous understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), Community-based learning, Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving), First Peoples Principles of Learning, Indigenous pedagogy, Self-regulation

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? How the collecting of our own story and the story of others will contribute the development of connections to self, place and others.

III. Spirals of Inquiry Details

Scanning: In reviewing the four key questions, we knew that the sharing of our story would allow a deeper connection of learners to their teachers, and vice versa. In our scanning we worked to develop a concrete way to both honour and utilize the First People’s Principles of Learning. Specifically, the principles: “learning is embedded in memory, history and story”; “learning requires exploration of one’s identity”; and “learning involves generational roles and responsibilities.”

Focus: Due to the effects of Covid-19 and the isolation we were feeling, we felt that it was important to find a way in which we could connect our students to each other, this place and themselves. In addition, our school district has been taking initiative to support decolonization and Indigenization of our learning environments. We wanted to explore how storytelling could help educators and learners decolonize their learning environment.

Hunch: We expected to see an increased sense of belonging in both adults and students, and had a hunch that the project would contribute to a better understanding of each other and the different communities that exist within this place. We also predicted that storytelling would move us into kinder, more respectful practices, such as those described in the First Peoples Principles of Learning. We wondered if this project would provoke a change in our learning spaces with a possibility of moving outside more or redesigning our inside learning spaces. We also predicted that educators would become more creative and open about learning and developing new pedagogies.

New Professional Learning: Staff met together for district professional development days, as well as our own school-directed
professional development day. We reviewed the First People’s Principles of Learning, the BC Curriculum, and the frameworks of Karlee Fellner – who identified the importance of acknowledging territory, love, learning local protocols, living a good life, responsibility, sense of belonging, sense of land and place, service learning and story – as ways to incorporate Indigenous pedagogy in the classroom. We took time to discuss a plan of action for the collecting of stories from individuals, families, Elders and Community, as well as our learning, challenges, and success during our weekly PLC meetings.

Taking Action: In the month of January, learners were asked to collect local stories from a family member or adult in their life. They were asked to share this story orally with a peer. We chose to not get students up in front of the whole classroom, but to provide a space to practice speaking to a trusted friend/peer so as not to trigger the common fears/anxiety that comes with public speaking.

The February students were asked to interview a member of their household and ask them questions about their childhood, experiences etc. These stories were shared orally to the classroom.

And finally in March, learners were asked to collect artifact stories, which are stories that an object can hold; for example, a staff member held onto a canoe paddle while telling a story of her father waking her up early in the morning to go moose hunting via canoe. We celebrated our collecting of stories by holding a school assembly which was “open-mic” style, where students could get up if they wished to share their stories.

Checking: We noticed that learners of all ages were eager to participate in both the story sharing and receiving of story.

Most of the data/evidence we have collected which illustrates our learning and success have been the qualitative notes, comments, and feedback that we have received from staff, students and community. We have had many opportunities to visit as staff members, debrief our learning, struggles and successes during our monthly PLC meetings. Students were asked their thoughts and feelings around the experiences of the project and their feedback was recorded.

Reflections/Advice: a) Supports – our biggest support which allowed this to be a successful project was the collaborative time that we spent together as a staff. In addition, receiving feedback from students and the community allowed us to make adaptations to pivot when necessary.

b) Barriers – time and attendance were our biggest obstacles. During the winter months we were at times dealing with 50 percent attendance due to our community being hit with Covid-19. It also seemed that we were always running out of time which inhibited us getting deeper with our project. But we decided not to stress about factors that we couldn’t control, and instead celebrate the progress we had made. We also knew that we could use our next school year to continue.

Our plan is to continue with this current project in the next year but make adaptations to focus more on collecting the story of our community and of the First Peoples in our community. Some of the ideas we have generated have been to create an interpretive story trail around our community, as well as create a digital collection of local histories. For this to be successful we will need to engage our local knowledge keepers and Elders to hear and record their stories.