Strawberry Hill Elementary School SD#36 Surrey

I. General Information

School Name: Strawberry Hill Elementary School

School District: SD#36 Surrey

Inquiry Team Members: Allison Hotti:, Julia Thompson:

Inquiry Team Contact Name/Email: Marie Myers/

II. Inquiry Project Information

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE

Grade Levels Addressed Through Inquiry: Primary (K-3)

Curricular Areas Addressed: Language Arts – Literacy, Language Arts – Oral Language, Language Arts – Reading, Language Arts – Writing, Social Studies

Focus Addressed: Indigenous understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), First Peoples Principles of Learning, Land, Nature or Place-based learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? For students to deepen their understanding of place through learning about the Stó:lō true tellings and applying them to story workshop.

III. Spirals of Inquiry Details

Scanning: When scanning, I noticed students wanting extended time working with the pieces to recreate the story. The more they heard the story and discussed it with their group members, the more concretely they were able to give an accurate account of the beginning, middle and end, of the story. Students had oral dialogue about what they were learning from the Stó:lō story and how the message was applicable to their lives. They regularly asked each other to repeat parts and discussed how they would create the story with loose parts when given the opportunity to retell.

Focus: I selected this area because I am passionate about creating an environment that builds students’ connection to place and ability to recognize the impact that Indigenous story has on us. These tellings have been in this place since time immemorial and are applicable as much today as they used to be. I wanted my students to engage in a deeper understanding of how these stories are connected to the place we are currently living in, as well as see how we can use story workshop to connect to place.

Hunch: Many of my students are only aware of Indigenous ways through a day of recognition, such as Orange Shirt Day. I am actively trying to bring the First Peoples Principles of Learning into the classroom in an authentic way that imbeds these practices in their daily lives. Many educators (including myself) have been hesitant to include some curriculum for lack of confidence and knowledge. Using the Stó:lō stories gave me the ability to use a vetted curriculum in a new way.

New Professional Learning:

  • Reading the Stó:lō stories and choosing one to pilot with story workshop
  • Reading articles:
    • Sarah & Robert Davidson- Potlach as Pedagogy
    • Cheryl Bartlett, Murdena Marshall, Albert Marshall- Two- Eyed Seeing and other lessons…
    •  Jo-Ann Archibald- Indigenous Storywork
  • Focusing on imbedding the First Peoples Principles

Taking Action:

  • Julia Thompson (artist) – helped build our story workshop mat that supported Stó:lō story of The Mountain Goat People of Cheam
  • Allison Hotti – helped to bring the Stó:lō stories into the classroom and facilitated guiding questions and support during the process
  • Talked about the First Peoples Principles of Learning
  • Oral telling of stories, lessons and history – what is the purpose of the telling? How would others have heard the story?
  • Reviewed parts of a story
  • Read The Mountain Goat People of the Cheam (discussed character, setting, beginning, middle and end)
  • Message of the story?
  • Retell story to a friend, help each other with the parts
  • Using Story Workshop, can you retell the story?
  • In a group of 4 students: added loose parts and pieces to make story setting and parts
  • Retold the story to one another
  • Needed many reminders to slow down and think of all the parts
  • Inquiry questions to prompt discussion and connection to place, such as “describe your relationship with family, land place.”
  • Repeated the story weekly and allowed different groups to try and try again

Checking: The more the students heard the story, the more connected they became to it. They were telling the story (The Mountain Goat People of Cheam) to students who were not in their class. They engaged fully with the materials and wanted to tell the story from other characters’ perspectives. They were asking questions and wanting to delve deeper into the why and how the story came to be. Students began to recognize that these stories came from places they had been before and wondered about other stories. Students were able to talk about why these stories are important and asked to hear other stories. I feel that the students would have benefitted from even more time with the materials and story.

Reflections/Advice: This inquiry taught me how to implement the First Peoples Principles into a practice that I was already doing – story workshop. I was able to pull in true tellings from the Stó:lō people that explored Indigenous knowledge and provide a holistic, relational experience. I also had to really embrace patience and time. Each child was invested in their process of recreating the story and could not be rushed. By curbing my own desire to push them through, so the next group could go, I was able to see students create meaningful connections to the story. They were able to remember the story and reflect on its importance.

I plan to pursue creating mats that support other Stó:lō stories, to broaden student understanding of our connection to place and Indigenous knowledge within a classroom setting.

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