Hazelgrove Elementary SD#36 Surrey

I. General Information

School Name: Hazelgrove Elementary

School District: SD#36 Surrey

Inquiry Team Members: Amber Geremia: geremia_a@surreyschools.ca (team lead), Kerry Schwab (Admin): schwab_k@surreyschools.ca, Stephanie Turner: turner_s1@surreyschools.ca

Inquiry Team Contact Name/Email: Amber Geremia/geremia_a@surreyschools.ca

II. Inquiry Project Information

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE

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

Curricular Areas Addressed:

  • Mathematics / Numeracy

Focus Addressed:

  • Indigenous understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation)
  • Experiential learning
  • First Peoples Principles of Learning
  • Indigenous pedagogy
  • Land, Nature or Place-based learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? The focus of our inquiry is looking at how using Indigenous perspectives and resources for math will help the students connect to math in a more positive way, as well as expand students’ understanding of where math exists in the world.

III. Spirals of Inquiry Details

Scanning: Our three team members selected a range of students from three classes to interview. Our team determined the focus by noticing in our interviews that Math came up when we were discussing, with the students, areas that they felt they needed support. In addition, we created a math survey in which we asked the students how they felt about math, as well if they can identify where they see/use math outside of school. Most students were unable to connect math to their lives, as well as see math outside of the school context. We used the First Peoples Principles of Learning by using questions that focussed on connection, and reflection.

Question: Can you name two adults in this school who believe that you can be successful in life?
Question: How are you doing with your learning? What do you feel good about?
Question: What areas do you need help with/work at more?
Question: Why is learning what you are learning important?
Question: Where are you going next with your learning? Do you have a goal?

Focus: We selected this area because we noticed that math was a concern for our students at our school. In the survey, most students were unable to connect math to their lives, as well as see math outside of the school context. We thought that enriching the students understanding of place-based and Indigenous perspectives in math would not only strengthen their understanding of math, but also create opportunities for them to see where math lives in their lives and the world.

Hunch: We selected this area for focus because of feedback from colleagues who felt that applying the First Peoples Principle of Learning to Math, and Indigenous Ways of Knowing and Being (IWKB) to mathematics curriculum, was particularly challenging. The teachers did not have the resources needed to support them, as well as they were unsure about where to start. We wanted to explore it and come up with some math kits that would help support colleagues as they too explored Indigenous perspectives in math.

New Professional Learning: One of the inquiry members signed up for the Indigenous Math Education Symposium. We used FNESC Math First Peoples guide for ideas, suggested activities and examples, as well as using our district website. We researched and purchased resources to build math kits (weaving, beading, west coast/coast Salish shapes, number sense). We used part of a professional day to set up a chance for colleagues to explore the math resources that are available in our school, as well as online. As part of that, we curated a selection of our Indigenous math kits that would support our inquiry.

Photos (above): Pro-D day to share math kits
(photo credit: Amber Geremia)

Photos (above 3): Math kit (weaving)
(photo credit: Amber Geremia)

Photos (above 3): Math kit (cedar)
(photo credit: Amber Geremia)

Taking Action: The inquiry members began using the picture books and materials from the kits in their classrooms. The students engaged in a wide variety of math activities (Coast Salish and West Coast shapes, weaving, beading, place-based number stories, etc). For staff, one strategy we used was to include provocation prompts among the math resources to get colleagues thinking about how they could use the resources in their own classrooms. Staff used these discussion prompts to talk with colleagues, and they were asked to come up with an idea of how they could use the math kits in their math practice.

Checking: Earlier in the year, one teacher had the students complete a math survey that included specific questions about how they feel about math and how they connect math in their everyday lives. At the end of the year, the survey was taken again. The data was gathered and there were some shifts in how the students perceived math and they were able to identify more ways that math connects to their everyday lives. The four questions were given to 6 students at the end of the year, and most of the students were able to identify at least 2 adults who they thought believed in them. Notably, the students were able to identify more reasons as to why what they are learning is important. Beginning to curate a selection of resources is a first step in our journey to include IWKB in mathematics. We were able to explore the new resources with our own students; however, our goal is to have all students in the school experience learning with the materials and resources — the pro-d day was a big part of that.

Reflections/Advice: We learned that it is not only important to support our students in this learning, but also our colleagues. Moving forward, we hope to create some goals on a school-level to support all of our learners in our school community. The next step is to complete the math kits and make them available to all staff in the school. If other schools are interested in creating Indigenous math kits, we would highly recommend they find a time to introduce the materials to staff at a pro-d day or a lunch and learn, etc.

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