Janice Churchill SD#36 Surrey

School Name: Janice Churchill

School District: SD#36 Surrey

Inquiry Team Members: Elana Miller: miller_e@surreyschools.ca, Jasdeep Gakhal: gakhal_j@surreyschools.ca

Inquiry Team Contact Email: miller_e@surreyschools.ca

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE

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

Curricular Area(s): Applied Design, skills & Technology, Arts Education, Language Arts – Oral Language, Language Arts – Reading, Language Arts – Writing, Mathematics / Numeracy, Physical & Health Education, Science, Social Studies

Focus Addressed: Inquiry-based learning, Land, Nature or Place-based learning, Social and emotional learning, STEM / STEAM

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Our focus was to have our students be more connected to the environment and the Coast Salish land our school is located on.

Scanning: We noticed that there was a disconnect between our students’ understanding of the environment, and of Indigenous people. For example, our students associated Indigenous people with the past. Also, we wanted our Indigenous students to feel a sense of pride in their culture and to feel recognized. We noticed at the end, that our students now understand that Indigenous culture is a vibrant culture that exists today, and they feel a sense of stewardship with the land much like the Indigenous people do. We used these principles because we felt they were important. We decided to take time out of our day to do Morning Meetings, to address the social emotional needs of our classroom.

Focus: We selected the environment focus because it plays a prominent role in the Social Studies and Science curriculum. We thought the best way to accomplish this task was through experiential learning. We decided to take advantage of the environment located behind our school and took our students on nature walks in which we discussed different themes each week. We also wanted them to understand the Science curriculum through an experiential approach. We ultimately wanted the students to feel a sense of place and stewardship for the land.

Hunch: One of the hunches we had was that the students’ knowledge about the environment was limited because they had not explored it before. This became evident during the nature walks and by the questions posed by the students. Also, the students’ understanding of Indigenous ways of knowing was limited.

New Professional Learning: We continued to explore lessons in the SD36 Walking Curriculum and outdoor education, as it related to AbED. In collaboration with our Teacher Librarian, we explored and used resources from ARC that included recipe books, stories, and Salish animal activity cards among other resources. The ARC resources were very helpful because they provided us, as educators, and our students with more information about the Coast Salish people and culture. These resources helped our students with their inquiry about the Coast Salish people, in which they explored land, sea, art, food, and government.

Taking Action: Our team incorporated certain activities into our regular routine. Students participated in talking circles during morning meetings, and nature walks were also scheduled into the week. We also had the students complete an ADST project in which they created their own talking sticks which led to a greater sense of ownership during morning meetings. Our students also created books about the Coast Salish, on Book Creator. Lastly, we tried to incorporate the First People’s Principles of Learning into our day and the different things we were learning.

Checking: Overall, our students now are more knowledgeable about Indigenous culture, and have a much better appreciation of the local environment. The students had a clearer answer to what they were learning and why it is important, particularly when it came to Social Studies – the grade 3 and grade 4 curriculums have a strong Indigenous focus.

Reflections/Advice: We learned so much by incorporating Indigenous ways of knowing into our daily routine. We found that by having these things be imbedded into our routine, they were more meaningful for our students. We made sure that a lot of what we discussed could be learned through inquiry, such as our Coast Salish project. By focusing on the local Coast Salish culture, we were able to make the learning relevant to our students. This learning helped make the land acknowledgement more relevant to them and more concrete in their minds. Next year, in a non-Covid year, we can expand our nature walks by exploring other places in the environment and local community. Next year, we also hope to have visitors from the community come share and speak with our students about their culture and ways of knowing. In the future we would like to further explore how we can incorporate an Indigenous perspective into the math curriculum. We have begun to explore this through math games. Our advice to other schools would be to get in touch with ARC for current resources, and we recommend collaborating with the Teacher Librarian in addition to exploring the local environment. Covid allowed us to look within and really explore our local school environment and consider how we could use it.

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