Montecito Elementary SD#41 Burnaby

By December 4, 20222021-2022 Case Study

I. General Information

School Name: Montecito Elementary

School District: SD#41 Burnaby

Inquiry Team Members: Jessica Vaughan:
Alex Peters:
Leslie-Jo Field:

Inquiry Team Contact Email:

II. Inquiry Project Information

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE

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

Curricular Areas Addressed: Language Arts – Reading, Language Arts – Writing

Focus Addressed: Indigenous understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving)

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? On building students’ understanding of Indigenous worldviews, specifically related to the role of oral language in traditional Indigenous ways of learning.

III. Spirals of Inquiry Details

Scanning: We noticed that our Indigenous students who were also struggling with language arts activities in the classroom were not engaging in oral opportunities to increase their understanding during literature circle meetings. The body language of these students indicated that they were uninterested and/or felt defeated by the structures in place during literature circle meetings. We wanted to honour the BCTF “Indigenous ways of knowing and being” that important teachings emerge through stories.

Focus: We focused on building students’ understanding of Indigenous worldviews specifically related to the role of oral language in traditional Indigenous ways of learning. We wanted to increase our Indigenous students’ belief in themselves that they could participate in literature circle meetings in meaningful ways. We were hopeful this increase in self-belief would lead to an increase in participation during literature circle meetings.

Hunch: The structure most commonly used during literature circle meetings in our intermediate classrooms assumed that all students had read the assigned section of the novel and that they had made connections to the story. This put any student who had not completed the reading assignment at a disadvantage which led them to withdraw from conversations about the themes in the book.

New Professional Learning: We enrolled in an inquiry based workshop series called “Changing Results for Indigenous Learners” through the Burnaby School District. Through this workshop we focused on literacy interventions for all students in our classrooms. We focused on strategies for ensuring struggling learners received multiple opportunities to engage as a group prior to being asked to demonstrate their learning.

Taking Action: The strategies that were used during literature circle time were effective in increasing participation for our Indigenous students. Specifically, using half of the time during the meetings to discuss aspects of the next section of the book increased participation. By activating prior knowledge and discussing possible connections when predicting and hinting at the content in the next few chapters, students’ willingness to participate in discussion and share their thoughts increased.

Checking: The differences we noticed in the students were satisfactory. Most students were not participating in conversations at all (and in some cases, not attending to those conversations). We tallied the number of contributions each student made during literature circle meetings and noted their overall level of attention to the conversations. We found that in small group literature circle meetings, their participation increased (from zero to two or three contributions each meeting).

Reflections/Advice: We learned that it is important to offer opportunity for students to engage orally with the materials they are using in class, especially when front loading students. This strategy worked well for all students in the class.