I. General Information
School Name: Nakusp Elementary School
School District: SD#10 Arrow Lakes
Inquiry Team Members: Sarah Arnett: firstname.lastname@example.org
Inquiry Team Contact Name/Email: Elizabeth Tupperemail@example.com
II. Inquiry Project Information
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE
Grade Levels Addressed Through Inquiry: Primary (K-3), 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
- Physical & Health Education
- Social Studies
- Community-based learning
- Differentiated instruction
- First Peoples Principles of Learning
- Inclusion and inclusive instructional strategies
- Inquiry-based learning
- Land, Nature or Place-based learning
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? We do not have a particularly strong understanding of the history of the local area, so this will be the biggest area of learning for us. We will need to make new community connections with the historical archives and museum. We will also be making connections with local people that lived during the historical event.
III. Spirals of Inquiry Details
Scanning: We noticed that our Social Studies units tend to focus on the content rather than on the proficiencies and therefore do not engage the students in deeper thinking. We noticed that our students do not have a strong understanding of the place that they live in and its local history.
Focus: We do not have a particularly strong understanding of the history of the local area, so this will be the biggest area of learning for us. We will need to make new community connections with the historical archives and museum. We will also be making connections with local people that lived during the historical event.
Hunch: We found that there was a lack of emphasis on local place within the old curriculum, and it takes significant time to develop new units to develop the concept and connection of place. To do this well, you need to have time to learn and have opportunities for professional development within the community. These topics can engender feelings of intense discomfort, especially in relation to teaching them to younger children. There is a fear that once you open up the floor to difficult questions if you don’t have the local history and knowledge to navigate that you can be exposed to a lot of scrutiny.
New Professional Learning: We were able to use collaboration time to visit the archives and speak to an archivist, who was able to provide us with historical photographs, stories, and avenues of inquiry. We used local history books, Columbia Basin Trust videos, walking field trips, and the local museum. Ladders of Understanding from Jen Moroz were also very helpful in reaching all students. We were also able to share these resources with other colleagues.
Taking Action: We engaged in professional learning first, to ensure that we had a solid foundation to explore these challenging topics. After that we established a sense of place. We explored maps, looked at historical photographs, talked about our personal connections, and went on walking field trips every week exploring a new area of our town. Then we looked at the key historical event, talking about causes and consequences, and then hearing individual stories of those directly impacted. Then we took action. The early primary students made a book about what they would have done if they could travel back in time. The upper primary students posted a story about this place along the waterfront, and created artwork symbolizing their learning.
Checking: A KWL chart was highly effective in showcasing how much they learned over the course of the unit. Learners are much more connected to their place because they can identify places and key physical features. Maps created at the beginning of the unit, compared to the end, showcased significant learning about their place as well — including more place names, key features and historical facts. We think that it went better than we originally thought after seeing these summative projects and comparing them to the baseline data.
Reflections/Advice: Archivists are very useful; if you are able to find local experts to support your inquiry, it is worth it. We learned how important it was to start at the bottom of the learning ladder and progress step by step to really ensure that everyone was able to access the information in a meaningful way. We are hoping to leave a project we made (a map of the Columbia River and all the dams that have been built along it) in the school for further inspiration to learn about this key historical event.
Primary research, instead of a unit that is pre-made, is time consuming and difficult. This is unrealistic to do for every topic, but to build up primary research over time strengthens both the practitioners knowledge and the depth that the students are able to delve into in their own inquiries.