Sullivan Elementary SD#36 Surrey

I. General Information

School Name: Sullivan Elementary

School District: SD#36 Surrey

Inquiry Team Members: Niki Leech:
Lora Sarchet:

Inquiry Team Contact Email:

II. Inquiry Project Information

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE Case Study

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

Curricular Areas Addressed: Language Arts – Oral Language, Mathematics / Numeracy, Science, Social Studies

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

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? To strengthen our connections through experience of place: the forest, river and sea.

III. Spirals of Inquiry Details

Scanning: Through observations and conversations, we have noticed that our learners are consumers of place but do not necessarily have a reciprocal relationship with it. Therefore we planned a cross-curricular experience: math, story, science and socials. Our goal was to focus on the stories of the Semiahmoo People and how we connect to story through experiencing a variety of local environments.

Focus: We chose to focus on the First Peoples Principle that “Learning is holistic, reflexive, reflective, experiential and relational.” Focusing on respect & reverence, inspired by Jo-ann Archibald’s story work (Indigenous Storywork), we built connections to develop a sense of place. We also explored the medicine wheel and four parts of being to reflect on place.

Hunch: We wondered if exploring the forest, river and sea several times over the course of the year would help make connections between ourselves and the resiliency of the people, plants and animals that make this area their home. By developing our understanding of teachings around the medicine wheel, we would feel connected to these places and the stories of these places.

New Professional Learning: We participated in a place-based district math group that explored Joanne Archibald’s Indigenous Storywork. We also worked with handcrafted mats of Semiahmoo Bay to explore gifted stories from the Semiahmoo People. With support of our District Indigenous Helping Teachers, and the book Ensouling our Schools by Jennifer Katz and Kevin Lamoureux, we incorporated the medicine wheel into our reflection of place.

Taking Action: We planned weekly hands-on experiential learning activities to introduce the significant plants and animals that live in these places. Through these experiences we learned to practice engaging our senses, and learned how to use our hearts, minds, bodies and spirit to reflect on place. Through art, story, math and scientific observations, we built our relationships with the land and one another. We. provided intentional opportunities to also develop the oral language skills of our learners by retelling, creating and sharing stories.

Checking: Through these experiences our learners became protectors of the forest and waters. They can recognize patterns and identify significant trees and animals that share this place with us. They are aware of the life cycles and how their actions have consequences. Through story, our learners became more comfortable crafting stories and sharing knowledge with each other. They explored a variety of story structures and experienced listening and creating stories in a variety of environments and on different scales.

Reflections/Advice: We have learned that when children are connected and feel like they have ownership over their learning, they are engaged and are able to transfer their knowledge. We are looking forward to continuing our journey with Joanne Archibald’s Indigenous Storywork, Wayi Wah! by Jo Chrona, and our understanding of our four parts of being.