Wellington Secondary SD#68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith

By September 4, 20202019-2020 Case Study

School Name: Wellington Secondary

School District: SD#68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith

Inquiry Team Members: Andrea Davidson: Andrea.Davidson@sd68.bc.ca
Dawn Holdom: DHoldom@sd68.bc.ca
Brian Lennox: blennox@sd68.bc.ca
Tina Pedersen: tpedersen@sd68.bc.ca

Inquiry Team Contact Email: dholdom@sd68.bc.ca

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE

Grade Levels: Secondary (8-12)

Curricular Area(s): Applied Design, skills & Technology, Science, Social Studies

Focus Addressed: Indigenous understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), Community-based learning, Land, Nature or Place-based learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Focus is on how traditional ecological knowledge can offer all students opportunities to further their connections with land and their sense of place within the community.

Scanning: Students were surveyed, and results suggested that some students do not feel connected to the school community. Could a sense of place be developed through opportunities to learn about the land?

Focus: The First Peoples Principles of Learning supports the well-being of the self and the land, and is embedded in memory, history and story. Therefore, understanding the history of the land from an Indigenous perspective and making personal connections to the land and experiencing it, will help foster a sense of responsibility towards the land and lead to the creation of new stories and a feeling of connectedness and sense of place.

It is hoped that students will continue to develop their sense of place and connection within their environment through opportunities to learn from others in the community. It is also hoped that shared understandings will provide students with an opportunity to develop social and environmental responsibility.

Hunch: Teachers are continuing to learn how to teach Indigenous understandings and how to implement/interpret the overarching goals of the new curriculum and current method of assessment. Presentations by specialists where teachers can learn alongside students about some of the local First Nations understandings and/or how First Peoples Principles of Learning can be modelled, may benefit both students and staff.

New Professional Learning: Do students feel more connected (have a greater sense of place) when they deepen their understanding of their local environment and how it can be, or should be, cared for from an Indigenous perspective?

Does a sense of pride in, and responsibility for, the land contribute in a positive way to how students feel about themselves?

Would a presentation (Archaeology and Clam Gardens) given by a presenter who is an expert in the field of archaeology and who works closely with several First Nations on Vancouver Island, be beneficial for staff and students?

Taking Action: Nicole Smith, MA, Archaeologist & Educator, gave a presentation, “Archaeology and Clam Gardens,” to two science 9 classes, one grade 11 Science for Citizens class, and one Geography 12 class. Following the presentation, students reflected on topics they found interesting, new learning, and new perspectives of coastal B.C.

Checking: Based on three survey questions students were asked following the presentation, evidence suggests that most students enjoyed the presentation and almost all the students learned something about Vancouver Island that they did not know before. For example, several students said they would look at local beaches and forests from a different perspective. Staff reported that the presentation fit with the curriculum of their classes and one staff member said the presentation made him feel good and reminded him of his childhood. It appears that some changes may have been made and the presentation was a good first step.

Reflections/Advice: In hindsight, it may have been more beneficial to have students reflect on the presentation in small mixed-grade, mixed-subject groups rather than having students reflect individually once back in their classrooms.

The next step will be to seek support and guidance from local community members who can deepen student and staff understanding about the environment and First Peoples knowledge through hands-on, outdoor learning opportunities. This could be done through activities such as shellfish data recording at Departure Bay, as organized by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans; learning about local plants and animals as a source of medicine or food; or learning from the Clam Gardens Network how to help protect and restore historical clam gardens around Vancouver Island.

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