Stride Avenue Community School SD#41 Burnaby

By September 4, 20202019-2020 Case Study

School Name: Stride Avenue Community School

School District: SD#41 Burnaby

Inquiry Team Members: Stephanie Lundrigan, Head Teacher/LSS Teacher/ILIT Teacher –
Jennie Lee, Strong Start Educator –
Vivian Norman, Gr 6/7 Teacher –
Vasso Feretos, Gr 6/7 Teacher –
Todd Graham, Gr 6/7 Teacher –
Christine Hylton, Gr 6/7 Teacher –
Stathis Marghelis, Gr 4/5 Teacher –
Kayla Hamer-Jackson, Gr 4/5 Teacher –
Stephanie Janzen, Gr 4/5 Teacher –
Cheryl Chan, Gr 3/4 Teacher –
Mairi Spence, Gr 2/3 Teacher –
Jaswinder Sanghera, Gr 1/2 Teacher –
Sarah Collier, Gr 1/2 Teacher –
Roland Hinmueller, Gr 1 Teacher –
Caroline Thomas, Gr K Teacher –
Susan Orologio, Gr K Teacher –
Karen Gillespie, Gr K/LSS Teacher –
Giovanna DiFrancesco, ELL Teacher –
Karen Andersen, ELL Teacher –
Yvonne Pang, Teacher-Librarian –

Inquiry Team Contact Email:

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE

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

Curricular Area(s): Language Arts – Literacy, Language Arts – Oral Language, Language Arts – Reading, Physical & Health Education, Science, Social Studies

Focus Addressed: Indigenous understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), Community-based learning, Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving), First Peoples Principles of Learning, Growth mindset, Land, Nature or Place-based learning, Self-regulation, Social and emotional learning, Universal design for learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? We are taking time to listen to the stories that the living beings in our place are telling. We will then consider how this helps us self regulate. We are also curious and exploring to find out the stories of the Indigenous people who have lived in this place.

Scanning: We began with the curriculum (English Language Arts) and its focus on ‘story’. We then looked at our school goal of self regulated learning. It felt right to include Indigenous worldviews and place-based learning; however, we are limited in our knowledge of the people who lived here. Thus, as a starting place we looked to other living beings to tell us their story and we moved on from there. Our students all love being outside in nature and can describe how it feels in their body to experience wilderness. With little to no prompting, the majority of students report feelings of peacefulness, calmness and clarity.

Focus: We have a relatively large Indigenous population; however, everyone is from some place else. We are all very curious about the Indigenous people who lived on these lands. We live in a very urban setting and most of our students live in high density housing. Many are refugees. Few have experienced having nature as part of their regular life.

Over the years, we have noticed that our urban students experience incredible joy being outside. They all become very engaged.

Our school goal, and large chunks of what we do daily, involve explicit instruction in self regulated learning.

We were hoping for the following changes for our learners:
– stronger relationships – greater connections with adults
– increased engagement – there was always part of the week to look forward to
– deepened understanding that we are all connected – natural move away from ‘othering’
– improved physical health (and possibly mental health)

All of these things increased in importance as a result of the pandemic. Our forest inquiry became more frequent and increased in priority. There was much deeper engagement from the adults as well. (Note: a limited amount of students returned to the physical school in June)

Hunch: Our students are hands on learners with lots of physical energy. Many have experienced some form of trauma in their lives, and as a result can have difficulty self regulating. Traditional (factory) models of schooling do not meet the learning needs of these children. Remaining seated within the walls of the classroom, listening to an adult talking to them without eliciting their participation was of concern. A limited understanding of who each student is as a learner was also a concern.

New Professional Learning:
– Through outdoor exploration, story and other forms of research, we developed a better understanding of the importance of the natural world we immediately live in – what it provides and how we can protect it.
– This deeper understanding gives an authentic and emotional connection from which to better understand the negative effects of colonization.
– We also hope to achieve a greater understanding of Indigenous lives before colonization. We will utilize the First Peoples’ Principles of Learning to guide our learning.

As a team, supplemented by a variety of in-class learning activities throughout the school year, we were able to more authentically and deeply incorporate Indigenous Worldviews, including the First Peoples’ Principles of Learning, into our school culture. That is to say, it was not done through a ‘one-off’ lesson or craft.

Taking Action: Our strategy was to introduce our Inquiry – similar to the information that was presented here. We began by talking about how the majority of us were all from somewhere else, indicating on a large map with a dot where we were all from. Every Friday afternoon, four classes (2 groups of 2) would journey over to the forested area with a question in mind, and we would walk and look for evidence. We would share along the way. These Friday activities were supplemented by a range of in-class activities, many focusing on story (e.g Orange Shirt Day, Literacy Week, National Indigenous Peoples’ Day…).

Please see attached school report.

Checking: The differences were significant. Not a single student ever complained about the fairly long (for elementary students) trek through the wood in all kinds of weather. We observed each season and noted the changes. The students recognized this area as their ‘place’ – there was reminiscing, comparison, looking forward….

The baseline was a bit of a blank look and statements of uncertainty. There was some questioning – “why are we doing this”, and commenting – “but it is raining…”

We did not have the opportunity to ask the majority of our learners that four questions as part of our year end close. Anecdotally, my hunch is that our learners answers are significantly richer.

Reflections/Advice: Our learners truly benefit from being out in nature. They learn about the world around them and themselves. It provides a nurturing environment from where to grow. This was highlighted during the return to school in June. The children and adults that did return were thrilled to be returning to the forest area, and to see how rich it had become during our absence. They found this reassuring and helped them recover feelings of safety and connectedness.

We plan to continue with this Inquiry. This will provide a grounding for starting the year. We plan to go deeper with our Inquiry. Incorporate more Indigenous understandings, ideally from an Elder or Knowledge Keeper. I feel at this point it is really important to hear specifically from the students how they are feeling about this Inquiry. It also feels important to find a variety of ways for them to express their feelings and understanding. I have not yet been able to arrive at a place of determining what those means of expression are.

The advice I would offer is to move forward with a plan. It feels quite simple and uncomplicated – trivial perhaps? But, the responses of the students make it very worthwhile.

Click here to check out Stride Avenue Community School’s detailed Indigenous Learning Inquiry Plan 2019/2020

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