School Name: Mountain View Elementary
School District: SD#68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith
Inquiry Team Members: Susan Gueulette
Inquiry Team Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE
Grade Levels: Primary (K-3)
Curricular Area(s): Applied Design, skills & Technology
Focus Addressed: Indigenous understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation)
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Life skills: sewing a plant pouch and gathering Aboriginal plants from our neighbourhood.
Scanning: Our scanning process started with a direct question about the level of skills the learners and teachers needed in order to complete the project successfully. The question was directed to the learners and teachers; have you done any hand sewing with anyone before? And, would you be interested in learning hand sewing skills to complete a plant pouch. This was an oral discussion for the whole class of 20 learners. The learners wanted to learn sewing skills.
Focus: We selected applied design because we wanted the students to have an opportunity to learn basic sewing skills, and learn that sewing is an important skill to have for themselves as well as First Nations Peoples who lived thousands years ago. We were also hoping that sewing a plant pouch taught them how difficult it is to sew but a necessity for plants or herbs to be gathered for the people just like we do today when we go shopping in the grocery store.
Hunch: We had a hunch that our learners had little experience with sewing skills, sewing words, and importance of it. Once the learners discussed how much experience they had with hand sewing, this gave teachers direction on what skills were needed.
New Professional Learning: Teachers had to learn sewing skills before modelling it to the learners. We used the internet and watched “how to sew” videos. We practiced sewing on felt at home. Tina Moore, Aboriginal Teacher of the school taught us the blanket stitch. We purchased needles from Amazon and good quality felt from the Dollar store.
Taking Action: Our team decided it would be a good strategy to learn a few plant names in Hul’q’umin’um, the language of the Snuneymuxw. We used a website called First Voices, that translates English to Hul’q’umin’um with the correct pronunciation.
Checking: Our baseline was about 4 out of 20 learners, who had done a little bit of hand sewing with family members. After practicing blanket stitch a few times, the learners were able to sew a felt pouch that collected plants. That makes 20 learners compared to 4 in a class who have successfully sewn and now have had that experience. We gave the learners a questionnaire on if they liked sewing and if they liked the experience. Hundred percent yes, and would sew again. Hundred percent of learners said they liked sewing a pouch and gathering some Snuneymuxw plants on a nature walk.
Reflections/Advice: I learned a lot from this inquiry; sewing skills as well as some new Hul’q’umin’um words. The learners loved it because it was hands-on, and the learners loved the social aspect of sewing together. I noticed that a lot of learners felt proud in completing a sewing project on their own. They also realized sewing is not easy. Lastly, they can’t wait to sew again. Some learners say they want to sew blankets, scarves or hats. I recommend a sewing project like this would be good for grades 2 to 4.