Janice Churchill Elementary SD#36 Surrey

I. General Information

School Name: Janice Churchill Elementary

School District: SD#36 Surrey

Inquiry Team Members: Elana Miller (miller_e@surreyschools.ca), Jasdeep Gakhal (gakhal_j@surreyschools.ca), Jen McLean (mclean_jennifer@surreyschools.ca)

Inquiry Team Contact Name/Email: Elana Miller/e_mintz@hotmail.com

II. Inquiry Project Information

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE

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

Curricular Areas Addressed:

  • Applied Design, skills & Technology
  • Arts Education
  • Language Arts – Literacy
  • Language Arts – Oral Language
  • Language Arts – Reading
  • Language Arts – Writing
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Focus Addressed:

  • Indigenous understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation)
  • Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving)
  • Experiential learning
  • First Peoples Principles of Learning
  • Indigenous pedagogy
  • Inquiry-based learning
  • Land, Nature or Place-based learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Indigenous ways of knowing and First People’s principles of learning.

III. Spirals of Inquiry Details

Scanning: Many students did not have any background on Indigenous Education. They really did not know when there were other Indigenous students in the class, and they couldn’t really understand that they were Indigenous — like the Cultural Facilitators. They thought that Indigenous peoples were an ancient civilization that had died out. My Indigenous students didn’t know much about their culture at all. Using the Principles, we wanted the students to really get a better sense of self and community.

Focus: We wanted to present the Indigenous Peoples, and their way of life, as a thriving culture that everyone can learn from by teaching many aspects of Indigenous culture.

Hunch: Students thinking that Indigenous people are an ancient civilization and no longer exist.

New Professional Learning:

  • First Peoples in Residence
  • Orange Shirt Day
  • Indigenous Talking Circles
  • Circle of Courage
  • Lots of literature, including levelled guided reading (Raven tales)
  • Reader’s Theatre
  • Social Studies with learning about their history
  • Art
  • Music (e.g., N’we Jinan)
  • Cross-curricular in every subject, including Heart Smart and the biodiversity unit where we did some of the guided 30 day walks. We learned about a sense of place and stewardship for the land.

Taking Action: They now know a lot more about the past and present (e.g. from their ancient way of life and residential schools, to Indigenous Sense of Place and knowing a lot more about the culture in general).

Checking: We thought we did well, considering when we did a formative assessment where they knew virtually nothing and thought the culture was an ancient civilization. Now, they have a much more knowledgable understanding of the culture. We are very happy that the Indigenous students in our classes have a new found pride in their culture.

Reflections/Advice: When I (Elana) started this inquiry a few years ago, I was so afraid of teaching Indigenous Education. I did this so I could feel more comfortable teaching it, originally. I did not realize that I would fall in love with the culture and learn so much in the process. We also didn’t realize that we would be helping out our Indigenous students establish a deeper sense of identity in the process either.

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