School Name: Hatzic Middle School
School District: SD#75 Mission
Inquiry Team Members:Lyn O’Grady: firstname.lastname@example.org
Inquiry Team Contact Email: email@example.com
Type of Inquiry: AESN (focus on Indigenous learners or Indigenous understandings)
Grade Levels: Secondary (8-12)
Curricular Area(s): Arts Education, Language Arts – Literacy, Language Arts – Oral Language, Language Arts – Reading, Language Arts – Writing
Focus Addressed: Aboriginal understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), First Peoples Principles of Learning, Inquiry-based learning
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? My focus this year was ‘The Seven Sacred Teachings’ with specific inquiry into ‘The Sacred Teaching of Love’.
Scanning: I chose to ask the four key questions with 4 of my Gr. 8 students during the scanning process. I noticed that all 4 students identified with specific adults who thought they would be successful in life. Students shared their ideas that these teachers made them feel welcomed and comfortable in the classroom, showed a definite interest in them as people and were willing to facilitate and scaffold their learning to help them feel successful. In turn, this motivated the students to continue learning and trying their best.
I discussed each principle from The First Peoples Principles of Learning with each student and asked if there were any connections between them and the questions I had asked them. The students made connections with the principles and themselves especially with where they were going with their learning and goals for their future. It was quite interesting to note that two of the students were non-Aboriginal and yet they connected some of the principles to their daily lives.
Focus: The information gathered during the scanning process informed me that there was a definite need to learn about ‘The Seven Sacred Teachings’ and in particular ‘The Sacred Teaching of Love’ as the students did not know anything about these teachings. I was hoping through the students inquiring and researching that they would become informed about the sacred teaching of love and how they could bring it into their daily lives-at home, at school and when out in their community. In addition, I was hoping to encourage the students to dig deeper within themselves and co-create, co-reflect and co-problem solve how they could ‘show their learning’ to the class using a variety of creative methods. i.e. they were asked not to use a board presentation, a power point or Prezi to show their learning.
Hunch: Students were asked to complete a few questions which formed the baseline of my inquiry. 1. What I know about ‘The Seven Sacred Teachings’ in Aboriginal culture. 2. What I know about the Sacred Teaching of Love. 3. What I would like to learn/know about the Sacred Teaching of Love.
While the elders choose a sacred teaching each year for Mission School District, this was only brought to our school district last year, our school has not focused on the teaching, discussed/explained the teaching or ensured the students understand the meaning/importance of the teaching.
New Professional Learning: The resources that proved most helpful to me were Aboriginal colleagues and their knowledge of the Aboriginal culture and sacred teachings, ‘The Seven Sacred Teachings’ book written by Joseph Bouchard, the graphic of the Sacred Teaching of Love created by a local artist for our school district, and researching online.
Initially, I presented about the Sacred Teaching of Love at a staff meeting and discussed the meaning of the teaching and the importance of the animal connected to the teaching. i.e. the eagle. I gave each staff member a coloured copy of the sacred teaching of love with a detailed explanation of the teaching and also the school district graphic, showing the sacred teaching of love, so they could display them in their classroom and could refer to them when they discussed the sacred teaching with their students. I offered to come to their classrooms to assist in discussions with their students if they required further help.
A colleague and I organised a field trip for 4 classes at our school to view the ‘Eagle Release at Harrison Mills’ to further investigate and watch habits of the eagle. I created a booklet connecting the eagle to the Aboriginal culture for the students to discuss and begin completing prior to, during and after we returned from the field trip. On returning to the school the students co-created collages to show their learning from the field trip. These were displayed in the classrooms.
Taking Action: There were many changes at our school throughout the year and I was the only member working on this inquiry.
Reading the students notes on what they would like to know about the Sacred Teaching of Love provided and guided my inquiry and approach. I asked the students to form groups of 5-6 and to write down words they considered important and related to ‘love’. After brainstorming the students then shared with their class their findings. Within their groups they each had to create an individual inquiry question connected to the scared teaching of love that they could research and gather information. This worked well in groups as each student had their own inquiry question and if they were struggling their peers could support them and discuss ideas as they formed their questions. Students spent time in the computer lab. researching and then sharing their findings in the next class with their group. In their groups the students chose one word that they found significantly connected to the sacred teaching of love and co-reflected, co-problem solved and co-created various ways to show their learning. They needed to show how they would bring the sacred teaching of love into their daily lives.
Checking: The students showed through inquiry and research they had gained a deeper understanding of the sacred teaching of love and could discuss it’s meaning within whole and small group discussions. Students were extremely creative in demonstrating their learning to their peers through games, skits, TV quiz shows, drama creations, collage creations, comic booklet. It was truly amazing to view the students creativity and authentic displays of learning about the sacred teaching of love. The students also wrote an end of year essay about what they learned through their individual inquiry question and this represented another way to convey what they had learned. The constant idea in each essay was the students had learned more than they originally thought and how they could share this with others.
The baseline I used was informative of the students knowledge at the beginning of my inquiry. However, there was a definite contrast when they showed what they had learned/continued learning using an inquiry methodology. The students answers to the four questions, when I revisited this work, indicated a marked change towards their confidence in themselves, motivation towards their learning and in planning future goals. The students and my learning about the sacred teaching of love soared and we all look forward to the sacred teaching for the next school year.
Reflections/Advice: I am learning, with and from the students, the many ways we can bring ‘The Sacred Teaching of Love’ into our daily lives, including at school, at home and within our community. I also learned a variety of ways that the students have creatively, through co-creating, co-reflecting and co-problem solving, shown and presented their learning to their peers and myself.
I am hoping to create a whole school project next year focused on researching and inquiring about ‘The Seven Sacred Teachings’ and in particular ‘The Sacred Teaching of Respect’. As students and staff become more familiar with inquiry and research this could be developed into an annual whole school inquiry as the elders select a specific sacred teaching each year.