Learning Bursts

Our Learning Bursts have now come to an end for this 2023-2024 school year! A big thank you to all the presenting teams for taking the time to share the inspiring, invaluable work taking place in and around your schools. We plan to host the Learning Bursts again next year, as they continue to be a big hit! Stay tuned for our 2024-2025 Learning Burst schedule. Scroll down to read about our past Learning Burst sessions.

What are the Learning Bursts?

These sessions are designed as a chance to have a quick burst of new learning provided by two NOIIE schools – complete with book prizes.  These events are offered free of charge and open to anyone interested in learning more about the impact of inquiry on the ground in BC schools. Read below to find out more about our past session topics.

Would you like to share your inquiry project with the NOIIE community? We would love to hear from you! Contact us.

Past Session Details

May 30, 2024

Jana Fox (SD 54 – Bulkley Valley) & Lori Burger (SD 52 – Prince Rupert)
NOIIE Indigenous Transitions Study 

During this session Jana (SD 54) and Lori (SD 52) will provide insights from this 3-year study on how collaborative inquiry can assist educators in enhancing transitions for Indigenous youth spanning from grade to grade, school to school, and beyond school. Learn more about Jana, Lori and the Indigenous Transitions Study here.

Personal Twitter (Jana): @JanaRFox1
SD54 District Twitter: @sd54BV
Personal Twitter (Lori): @LoriBurger7
SD52 District Twitter: @RupertSchools

April 25, 2024

Sarah Browning & Cameron Adam
Similkameen Elementary Secondary School
(SD 53 – Okanagan Similkameen)

We are curious about how to move beyond graduation requirements to ensure that Indigenous perspectives are represented in every course and learning space. As a school team we are also exploring how to ensure equitable representation for Indigenous students in every school program and initiative.  Using the Spiral of Inquiry model, we rely on student voice and community connections to help bring the First Peoples Principles to life for the benefit of all learners.
Personal Twitter (Sarah Browning): @MrsBrowning53
Personal Twitter (Cameron Adam): @MrAdam53
District Twitter: @SSimilkameen

Brett Hancock
District Principal of Learning Alternatives
(SD 68 – Nanaimo-Ladysmith)

How to move from integrating to indigenizing?  On our journey, the spirals guided us to actively listen to our learners and families to make sure they felt safe and connected to their school.  This helped us shape a new identity and build a school of choice and not a place students felt they were sentenced to.  Our new identity was focussed on building belonging and making the first peoples principles of learning, more than just a poster on the classroom wall.  We continue to learn how to build sustainable programs to best support our community.

Personal Twitter:  @BrettHancock
School Twitter: @LearningAtren1
District Twitter: @sd68bc

April 11, 2024

Jen Eddie
George M. Murray Elementary School
(SD 74 – Gold Trail)

Jen teaches grade 6/7 at George M. Murray Elementary School after having taught in a high school middle years program for the previous three years. The shift to a diverse learning group, in a portable, was a unique experience that brought up a lot of curiosity (and more than a few head-in-hands moments). Being deeply rooted in place-based projects, restorative practice, and a love of community connections, Jen leaned heavily into the moments when her learners ‘got rowdy’. What follows is a mid-year check-in about the structures and routines that have helped her students begin to see themselves as learners, a community of collaborators, and people with agency and accountability.

Jennifer MacDonald & Samantha Dargis
Mapes Elementary School
(SD 91 – Nechako Lakes School District)

At Mapes Elementary School, educators have been exploring ways to enhance students’ speaking and listening skills through developing self-regulation learning strategies. This focus includes exploring ways students communicate while interacting in the forest areas surrounding the school. Place plays an important role in this learning environment. Students at this school experience place in unique ways; many of their families sustain the land through agricultural practices and in turn, the land sustains the families. Educators hope that students’ interactions and feelings of well-being, that are being observed when group sharing is taking place out on the land, will be replicated in the school setting. Educators are focusing on developing the strengths demonstrated in the forest setting to design and reinforce self-regulated learning strategies for the school setting. As part of the SRL strand of NOIIE we are fortunate to be learning alongside a team of SRL educators from UBC. This team has helped us move to the New Learning phase of the Spiral of Inquiry through collaborative discussions.

District Twitter: @sd91bc

February 8, 2024

Ashley Aoki & Dustin Hyde
Trout Creek Elementary School
(SD 67 – Okanagan Skaha)

Ashley_AokiDustin HydeOur curiosity – How we could continue supporting Elementary Educators to continue instructing from an Indigenous pedagogical frame in thoughtful, respectful, responsible ways. The Spirals Framework gave us both insight into the type of support the educators wanted, where the educators were at in integrating and instructing from a Indigenous pedagogical frame, and what they were hoping to see. The framework provided us guidance so that the time spent together directly reflected this – was meaningful, purposeful, and authentic.

Personal Twitter: @MissAshleyAoki

Mia Moutray & Nicole Arnold
EBUS Academy
(SD 91 – Nechako Lakes School District)

We are curious about cultivating well-being and a strong sense of belonging for the diverse community of learners in our provincial online learning school EBUS Academy in SD91. Using the Spiral of Inquiry, we collaborate with staff and community members to create or facilitate virtual classes (vclasses) and in person gatherings with an Indigenous focus.

Personal Twitter: @MiaMoutray
Personal Twitter: @nicole_arnold71

November 30, 2023

Sarah Miller & Jenni Erickson
Lochside Elementary School
(SD 63 – Saanich)

Lochside Learning BurstWe are curious about exploring the connection between literacy development and nature-based learning experiences involving Indigenous stories and storymaking. How can local, place-based, Indigenous stories help support students’ literacy development while also inspiring their own stories and image of themselves as story makers. What stories will students tell about themselves and this place? The Spiral of Inquiry framework was important in helping us to bring our actions and ideas back to our students, focusing our work on how this supports students in both literacy and their feelings of agency and belonging.

District Twitter: @sd63schools

Sarah Garr
Esquimalt High School
(SD 61 – Victoria)

At Esquimalt High School, we have noticed that after several years of disruptions through the pandemic, many of our Grade 9 Indigenous students appeared disconnected and disengaged from their learning, from their peers and from the school community in general. This manifests in several ways such as inconsistent attendance, lower instances of successful class completion, and various behavioural challenges. Through the Spiral of Inquiry, we are exploring ways to increase the feeling of safety, connection and belonging for our Indigenous students. Now in our third year of our Inquiry, we have implemented an Advisory model for our Grade 9s where relationship building is at the centre. This is dedicated time once a week with a “Raft” class (collective noun for a group of otters, our school mascot) to share stories, connect, reflect, and ultimately, have fun! In addition to implementing other supportive structures through our Indigenous Education Department, we hope to see a positive outcome for our students as we continue through the year and as these students progress through to Grade 12 and graduation. Ultimately, through this early focus on connection and relationships, our goal is to continue to improve graduation rates for our Indigenous students.

Personal Twitter: @garr_s
School Twitter: @Esqhigh
District Twitter: @sd61schools

April 13, 2023

Keri Remple
Cayoosh Elementary School
(SD 74 – Gold Trail)

I will be sharing our spiral of inquiry, focused on asking how story studio might support students’ independent reading comprehension, and their accountability for picking a “just right” book. We have recently taken story studio out onto the land to gather materials, learning traditional protocols around offerings.

David Delorme
χpey̓ Elementary School
(SD 39 – Vancouver)

The overall focus of our school was to celebrate our students. We connected ceremony and tradition to our Inquiry topic. This topic changed over time to reflect the student voice and choice. It was through the Spiral that a plan was developed and as a school we moved forward to support our learners. Currently, the staff are working to complete the final year which will begin in the 2023/2024 school year.

School Twitter: @xpeyelementary

February 2, 2023

Alison Walkley & Heidi Jungwirth
Courtenay Elementary School
(SD 71 – Comox Valley)

Does using pedagogical documentation increase student engagement in math? How do we make learning and teaching visible? What does pedagogical documentation look like in a primary and intermediate classroom?

We have been working closely together since September of 2021 to use journals, class anchor books, hands-on materials, Indigenous explorations, and formative assessment in math. We are being guided by the First People’s Principles of Learning. In this Learning Burst we will focus on pedagogical documentation and share examples of what this looks like in our classrooms. We will reflect on how making teaching and learning visible has impacted our students and ourselves.

District Twitter: @ComoxValleySD71

Kelly Barnum & Carol Funk
Nanaimo District Secondary School
(SD 68 – Nanaimo-Ladysmith)

How can shifting our assessment lead to better learning outcomes for senior students? How does a Calculus and a Dance teacher end up working closely on redefining how they grade students?

Over the past few years, our district piloted the new competency scale for K-9 students; that coupled with new curriculum focusing upon competency over content led us to working closely together on establishing standards based assessment in our grade 10-12 classes.

Join us for an introduction to the work we’ve been doing which not only asks students to talk about their learning, but encourages them to strive for skill mastery by understanding exactly which competencies are weakest.

Personal Twitter (Kelly): @KellyBarnum68
District Twitter: @sd68bc

Picture (left): Kelly Barnum
Picture (right): Carol Funk 

November 17, 2022

Brenda Papapanagiotou
Teacher-Librarian, École Westridge
(SD 41 – Burnaby)

We are story. Our origins shape and define us. Sharing our story connects us in meaningful ways to those around us. Honouring our heritages and having others recognize and honour them alongside us nurtures our basic social-emotional needs: to feel seen, heard, and understood. I am curious about identity and how it founds and shapes our educational experiences. I wonder how by valuing the multi-faceted layers of our students’ identities in real and tangible ways, we embolden them and foster an environment that makes it safe to take learning risks. It saddens me when students feel the need to camouflage themselves – when they do not feel like they can be their authentic selves. I wonder why certain students adopt westernized versions of their names upon arrival to Canada from other countries. Does this disrupt, hinder, or change identity? Working with the Spiral of Inquiry gave me the confidence to explore these questions in my community using Indigenous epistemologies – learning is relational; learning requires exploration of one’s identity; and learning is embedded in memory, history, and story (First Nations Education Steering Committee, 2008). This manifested as a “Museum of Us” project: a deep dive into identity. It was a lovely honour to hear students’ stories. We are all a beautiful story. What is your story?

First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC). (2008/2014). Poster First Peoples Principles of Learning. Retrieved from https://www.fnesc.ca/publication/ October 2022.

District Twitter: @burnabyschools

Cari Hopkins & Terri Scott 
Bear Valley School 
(SD 82 – Coast Mountains)

Can playing outside with friends increase academic skills? This was our question after struggling to support our students with deficits in core skills, especially since COVID. We wondered if encouraging cross-grade interactions through activities in outdoor settings, paired with explicit instruction in vocabulary and writing structures, would improve creative writing for students in grades kindergarten to seven. The structure of the Spiral of Inquiry helped us to frame our questions and focus our attention on strategies that worked for our students. We were able to incorporate new learning from our research, Indigenous ways of learning (outdoor, place-based, cross-age) and our own curiosity, into an amazing experience for our students.

District Twitter: @CoastMtnSD

April 7, 2022

Shane Reader
W.E. Kinvig Elementary School
(SD 36 – Surrey)

I am curious about everything! I embrace all the varied experiences that come from working in schools and the growth that comes from being vulnerable and open to new experiences. My work with the Spiral of Inquiry afforded opportunities to think outside the box, collaborate with colleagues and innovate my practice explicitly through lenses of Indigenous World Views and First Peoples Principles of Learning.)

District Twitter: @Surrey_Schools

Linda Baldwin
Randerson Ridge Elementary
(SD 68 – Nanaimo-Ladysmith)
Randerson Ridge Elementary has been involved in a continual inquiry project over the years (not including this year), with a focus on growing the knowledge of mathematical instruction/assessment. I will share our experience and findings from the 2020-21 inquiry (year 3), where our goal was to find new strategies to meet the diverse range of abilities in our classes and provide learning opportunities for students to practice concepts, deepen understanding and engage in higher level mathematical discussions. I consistently reflect on my practice and look for the impact (results in data and engagement), continually working on creating hands-on learning experiences for my students for deeper learning of math concepts.
District Twitter: @sd68bc
Margaret Paxton
Southlands Elementary School
(SD 39 – Vancouver)
Southlands Elementary is the catchment school for the Musqueam Indian Reserve in Vancouver. We will share some of the challenges, opportunities and successes we have experienced over the past three years. One team of teachers has been working together on an inquiry into how to engage all students in learning about Indigenous ways of knowing, being, land-based education, drum-making, language and culture, and ways of engaging the different departments at Musqueam.
Personal Twitter: @paxtonmargaret

February 10, 2022

Melody Watson
A.J. Elliott Elementary School
(SD 85 – Vancouver Island North)

Our school’s math inquiry began in the 2013/2014 school year. Our focus has developed and deepened as we have learned more along this journey. Our current goal is to incorporate more place-based learning and culture into math. We want our students to engage in experiences that are connected to place, story, and culture, that are relevant to our local communities. The Spiral of Inquiry has framed our work as we have looked at what is happening for our learners and how we can best support their learning.

School Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/A-J-Elliott-Elementary-School-670373736674079 

Monica Chiorean
Teacher, Colebrook Elementary School
(SD 36 – Surrey)

My journey exploring the Spiral of Inquiry began with the curiosity of incorporating the First Peoples Principles of Learning (FPPL) in all areas of the curriculum, with a focus on mathematics. How can hands-on experiences stimulate and promote student engagement? The six parts of the Spiral of Inquiry — scanning, focusing, developing a hunch, new learning, taking action and checking — guided my inquiry, allowed me to take risks in my learning and maintain open communication with my fellow teachers and students. Our focus on the connection between FPPL and math was explored through beading. We were able to learn more about patterns, materials the beads are made of, and our connection to the place we live and learn about beading regalia and/or pow wow celebrations.

Personal Twitter: @ChioreanMonica
School Twitter: @ColebrookLearns
District Twitter: @Surrey_Schools

November 18, 2021

Barb Hamblett
Valleyview Secondary School
(SD 73 – Kamloops Thompson)

Barb When students returned to school in September, 2020, we worried about how they were feeling about being back at school. Most had not been in the building since spring break the previous year! We used a Spiral of Inquiry  to unpack what was going on for students and thought about what we could do to make things better. Students told us they were anxious and and afraid of getting sick with COVID so we set our sights on learning more about well-being through Jennifer Katz work in Ensouling Our Schools. We used the Famework for Well-being in chapter 7 of Katz book to check our progress along the way and help us uncover good practice that went beyond add-on structures. This year we will be spiraling into a deeper iteration of well-being for our students again guided by our new learning from Jennifer Katz as well as the important questions posed throughout the Spiral of Inquiry.

Personal Twitter: @BarbHamblett
School Twitter: @ValleyviewSeco1
District Twitter: @sd73news

Stephanie Lundrigan
Stride Avenue Community School
(SD 41 – Burnaby)

At Stride, we are entering our third year of our Indigenous Inquiry – “What can local Indigenous stories teach us about self-regulation?” Self-regulation in this instance is similar to that of the Core Competencies involving understanding oneself, cultivating patience and perseverance and, perhaps most importantly, understanding how individual actions affect oneself and others. Our Inquiry has led us out into the neighbouring forest where the adults have inadvertently been learning along with the students. We have all strengthened our self-regulation and, as a result, are building our understanding of interconnectedness and reciprocity through the natural lessons provided by place-based learning. Over the course of the past two years, we have been able to cover a wide range of curriculum by using lessons directly found in nature and/or by utilizing nature’s unlimited and truly uncomplicated potential as an engaging classroom environment.

School Twitter: @strideSD41
District Twitter: @burnabyschools

April 8, 2021

Mia Moutray
Nechako Valley Secondary School
(SD 91 – Nechako Lakes)

Middle Grades Educator (Grade 8), Network leader, Immigrant from Sweden, SD91 Ab Ed Teacher Lead, Yogi, Gardener, and Outdoor enthusiast.

I am curious about so many things, especially how to support a joyful, curious and collaborative climate at our school and in our district. I am also passionate about equity and how to more thoroughly bring in/out learners’ voices and use their feedback to build constructive youth adult partnerships to improve learning and belonging for all. Lastly, an ongoing personal and professional passion is to embed place- and land-based learning in all that I do for all learners to have a strong sense of belonging. The spiral of inquiry is now a mindset for me, a way of being and learning. I am deeply grateful for the network support and inspiration!

Nechako Valley Secondary School, Vanderhoof, BC,  Saik’uz Traditional Territory, SD91

Twitter: Mia Moutray @MiaMoutray
Twitter: School District 91 – @sd91bc

Sheila McGrath
Georgia Park Elementary School
(SD 72 – Campbell River) 

Planning for September, Georgia Park Elementary began looking for ways to support their learners in dealing with the stress and anxiety they were all experiencing during the pandemic. What strategies could they teach their learners? They wondered if they tweaked Forest School, their outdoor learning program, to allow students to spend additional time outdoors engaging in Indigenous ways of learning and mindfulness activities would it have a positive impact on students’ wellness and see them develop a deeper sense of place and connection to land? Join Sheila McGrath, vice-principal of Georgia Park Elementary, as she shares about Georgia Park’s Forest School journey and her passion for championing wellness and connecting learners with nature through place-based learning.

Georgia Park Elementary School, Campbell River, BC, SD 72

Twitter: Sheila McGrath @Mrs_S_McGrath
Twitter: School District 72 – @CRSD72

February 10, 2021

Joanna Macintosh
Sands Secondary School
(SD 37 – Delta) 


Joanna has been an advocate for inquiry based learning for many years. She is going to discuss bringing the Spiral of Inquiry to student leadership service projects as a framework for creating positive change in the Delta School District. Students from three service learning inquiries will share their learning and their experiences. Inquiry topics including creating a peer to peer mentorship program to tackle negative social media experiences, antiracism and mental wellness will be discussed. Joanna believes that by empowering students to engage in collaborative inquiry, students will develop the competencies to influence positive change in the world around them.

Sherri Hoffer
Juniper Ridge Elementary
(SD 73 – Kamloops)

Juniper Ridge Elementary began its Spirals of Inquiry journey four years ago with a small committee that was committed to modelling the spiral framework throughout the year. My inquiry began with two primary teachers and myself as Learning Assistance Resource Teacher, looking at reading and asking ourselves if we were making enough of a difference for our at promise readers. Fast forward four years later, we now have 14 teachers (grades K-4) as part of our inquiry and many other teachers engaging in inquiries of their own.  Curiosity was sparked in other schools when our district brought the “Curiosity Cab “, a bus full of teachers from around the district to tour schools that had been engaging in the Spiral of Inquiry work. From there we have just begun a District Inter-school Spiral of Inquiry to explore their own curiosity with reading in their buildings. This framework has allowed us to focus our collaboration time and build a community where teachers are curious, continually reflecting and working as a team to explore their own systems.

Twitter Handle: @sherri_hoffer

November 18, 2020

Michelle Iacobucci
Lindsay Park School
(SD 6 – Rocky Mountain)

Michelle Iacobucci will be joined by two teachers from Lindsay Park: Doreen Sharpe and Corissa Pasiechnyk. These two teachers have agreed and are excited about participating in the Network’s first mini-sessions. Both classroom teachers are passionate about place-based learning. Their focus this year is about how place-based learning can support all curricular areas, as well as have positive impacts on their learners’ social and emotional wellbeing.

Nicole Davey
Smithers Secondary
(SD 54 – Smithers)

Nicole Davey will be joined by Julie Krall, principal from Smithers Secondary, who will share the work their grade 8 team has been doing around student centered transition. During the spring, the Smithers Secondary School grade 8 team reflected deeply on the needs of the incoming grade 8s, using the three big picture questions as a guide: What is going on for our learners? How do we know? Why does it matter?  After their discussions, they became curious:  Would creating a grade 8 class based on connection and place-based learning impact students’ sense of belonging?  Julie Krall, the principal, will share where they are at in their journey.