Wood Elementary SD#70 Pacific Rim

I. General Information

School Name: Wood Elementary

School District: SD#70 Pacific Rim

Inquiry Team Members: Kristine Clark: kclark@sd70.bc.ca
Jayne Chase: jchase@sd70.bc.ca
Erin Venn: evenn@sd70.bc.ca

Inquiry Team Contact Email: kristineandbrent@gmail.com

II. Inquiry Project Information

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE Case Study

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

Curricular Areas Addressed: Other: Primarily SEL, but hopefully impacts all areas of study.

Focus Addressed: Social and emotional learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? To improve students’ sense of belonging by “leveling the playing field” with experiences provided to all students; providing similar life experiences for students who may not otherwise have the opportunity.

III. Spirals of Inquiry Details

Powerpoint presentation to introduce to my staff, and share with the local NOIIE inquiry group:

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Scanning: “Borrowed” the idea from a friend in England.

  • Have always thought about the gaps in what kids experience in life; how does this affect their schema, vocabulary, ability to fit in with others? For example: One child has been to 4 continents, but another doesn’t know what a ‘pilot’ is.
    Our school’s Indigenous population is approximately 30%, and many of those come from backgrounds that lack life experiences.
  • We are learning about students and their sense of belonging, finding out how we can help them fit in and feel part of their school community. SEL is a school goal, so trying to “even the playing field” and give kids more commonalities “should” help with their sense of belonging. ​
  • Asked some students and teachers what they thought of the idea and if it seemed worth pursuing, and got a resounding “Yes!” ​
  • Tied in with focus group of Grade 3 & 6, as the counsellor was working on a sense of belonging project with them already.​
  • Starting with our school, but the ultimate goal would be district-wide.

Focus: I really want to provide all children with what my own children have been able to see, do and experience…in their own hometown, and further afield. I want to give them aspirations to see that they can see or do anything in the world they want, to have goals, to see that there is a way to break cycles, and to set your sights high no matter what kind of life you come from.

Hunch: The teachers and support staff in my school are wonderfully supportive in so many ways, and we are already providing so many things to help enrich many students’ lives. I just wanted to formalize some of the students’ experiences and try to diversify what we offered at school and on field trips. My guess was that every little (and big) thing we offer to kids at school makes a difference in their lives. ​Giving them similar experiences automatically gives them something to talk about, and helps them fit in with others who have done the same things. ​Every chance we get to show the world to our students, the more likely we are to show them what is out there and what they could do and see and work at in their future lives. ​Opportunities to see and do things will increase general knowledge, and provide opportunities to connect with other students and staff, which in turn creates belonging. ​The more we can fill up our kids with knowledge, the better the chance they will be successful at school.

New Professional Learning:

I read “Design for Belonging” by Susie Wise​. This was a practical, illustrated guide to using the tools of design to create feelings of inclusion, collaboration, and respect in groups of any type or size—a classroom, a work team, an international organization—from Stanford University’s d. {design} school.​ It was an easy, practical read that reminds you why to consider ALL your learners in your planning.​ I talked to teachers and students to find out how they feel about belonging at school, how their life experiences affect them at school, and what parts of school they think help them the most. (I would like to find a good follow up to this next spring). I will be introducing the idea and the passport to students and staff next fall, where I will fully launch my project. Our school goal for SEL is largely about belonging, so I suspect there will be more staff-wide learning next year.

Taking Action:

  • Polled every class in the school: Colour-coded by grade to look for themes, as well as grouped into “categories” (sports, nature and events/places)​
  • Met with teachers and a select group of Grade 3 & 6 students to rank the experiences (ideas like the Wild Card came up here)​
  • Decided to go more generic with the experience list, rather than specific, to accommodate teacher preferences, new/rotating staff, and abilities or passion areas
  • Created booklet in Canva (Thanks, Sandra!) and bought gold-seal stickers (for completed experience pages)
  • Will introduce to teachers and students in Sept./Oct.

Photo description: 8 in 8 Experiences Passport


This year:

  • Informally talked to students about things they did this year, and while some did mention curricular things they enjoyed, the overwhelming things they loved most about school were the “extras”….field trips, guests, clubs, talent show, etc. These are things that bring them together as peers, and they feel more “equal” with their classmates when they have similar experiences.

Next year:​

  • Introduce the project​
  • Start using and talking about the booklets and experiences​
  • Have students do some reflecting on their experiences​
  • Meet with the now Gr. 4 & 7s for feedback
  • Talk to the new Gr. 3 & 6s​
  • Key questions: How/why are these experiences and field trips helping you (in life, school/work, home, with friends)? ​
  • Make any tweaks or changes as required (follow the spiral process)


  • Fully launch project in my school next year.
  • At the end of next year, I would love to present the idea to the district/all elementary schools and see if others would like to launch it at their schools. (It’s pretty easy to implement; the big work has been done).
  • Finding some funding to help make experiences happen, or buy items to help with projects (ex. a sewing machine).
  • I would like to talk more in depth to a group of students who come from less privileged backgrounds, and get honest opinions about their lives and in what ways school does help, or how it could help better. Perhaps it would be a focus group and we would meet once a month for lunch and “get real”.