I. General Information
School Name: Lakewood Elementary
School District: SD#62 Sooke
Inquiry Team Members: Kerry Arnot: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lisa Stuart: email@example.com
Chelsea Marle: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tiffany Adams: email@example.com
Inquiry Team Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
II. Inquiry Project Information
Grade Levels Addressed Through Inquiry: 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, Mathematics / Numeracy, Physical & Health Education, Science, 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), Differentiated instruction, Experiential learning, First Peoples Principles of Learning, Flexible learning, Growth mindset, Inclusion and inclusive instructional strategies, Indigenous pedagogy, Inquiry-based learning, Land, Nature or Place-based learning, Self-regulation, Social and emotional learning, Transitions
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? We investigated the gaps that could be filled in order for teachers to increase time spent on land-based, experiential learning activities for their students.
III. Spirals of Inquiry Details
Scanning: We paid attention to which teachers were taking the students outdoors to learn and which ones were hesitant. We listened to general comments made by teachers during meetings, etc., as to why or why not they were moving to experiential learning. We observed what teachers’ general knowledge of place was mainly in relation to flora, fauna and local Indigenous communities. We kept the following FPPOL’s in mind as we observed teacher’s comfort levels with taking kids outdoors and with their knowledge of place:
• Learning is holistic, reflexive, reflective, experiential, and relational (focused on connectedness, on reciprocal relationships, and a sense of place).
• Learning involves generational roles and responsibilities.
• Learning recognizes the role of Indigenous knowledge.
• Learning involves patience and time.
We referred to the OECD’s while exploring our observations. It was particularly important to us to consider individual differences, the role of emotions in learning and student-centered learning during the scanning phase.
Focus: We have decided to focus on providing teachers with a resource to support them in either starting to use place-based, experiential learning (PBEL) as part of their teaching program or expanding their use of it if it is something they are already doing. We feel that PBEL is a powerful way to connect students to place, create compassionate and engaged learners, and provide an inclusive learning environment/style for all students. Our hope is to empower teachers to try, or to develop, their PBEL programs, while incorporating Indigenous knowledge authentically. The benefits will be passed directly on to students.
Hunch: It is our hunch that teachers are not feeling prepared to take on PBEL. Although there are many, many great resources available to guide teachers to take the learning outdoors and to incorporate the FPPOLs and Indigenous content, the time it takes to find these resources can be daunting and it takes time and energy that teachers may not have. Additional barriers might be that administrators may have reservations about teachers taking students off site, so teachers don’t feel supported; or there are few resources/materials/activities readily available for teachers to use outdoors; or additional adults to help supervise may not be available.
New Professional Learning: One of our team members did some professional development on Personal Inquiry provided by Kath Murdoch and NOIIE which was truly informative and practical. Another team member was inspired by all that she learned at the NOIIE symposium. All our team members have incorporated the First Peoples’ Principles of Learning into our teaching practices for several years now. Along the way, we have amassed many resources and contacts. As part of professional learning this year, we have been reviewing these resources to find ones that best fit our plans to create professional learning opportunities for our colleagues. This will be ongoing.
Taking Action: Taking action will be our main focus in the 2022-2023 school year. We will need to finish gathering data from our colleagues and students via “The Four Questions” and some further scanning. Next steps will include choosing a format for our professional learning resource and selecting the topics we want to cover. We have brainstormed a good list of possible formats and topics, so the task will be to select a format that we are all comfortable with and to whittle down the list of topics so that it is manageable for us and impactful for our intended audience. Once we have decided on a format, we can hopefully connect with local experts to assist and guide us, which is quite exciting.
Checking: Not yet at this stage.
Reflections/Advice: Our inquiry is ongoing at this point, but so far we have learned that an authentic and easy to use resource or professional development series may help fill the gaps and remove barriers that are preventing teachers from taking part in PBEL.