Eke Me-Xi Learning Centre SD#85 Vancouver Island North

By August 28, 20182017-18 Case Study

School Name: Eke Me-Xi Learning Centre

School District: SD#85 Vancouver Island North

Inquiry Team Members:Leah Hubbard: lhubbard@sd85.bc.ca, Melanie Demoe: mdemoe@sd85.bc.ca, Teniel Hunt: thunt@sd85.bc.ca, Scott Orjala: sorjala@sd85.bc.ca, Sheila McGrath: smcgrath@sd85.bc.ca

Inquiry Team Contact Email: smcgrath@sd85.bc.ca

Type of Inquiry: AESN (focus on Indigenous learners or Indigenous understandings)

Grade Levels: Secondary (8-12)

Curricular Area(s): Science, Other: Core Competencies

Focus Addressed: Aboriginal understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), Community-based learning, Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving), Experiential learning, First Peoples Principles of Learning, Indigenous pedagogy, Land, Nature or Place-based learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? In what ways will deliberate and planned activities in the classroom, on the land, and in community shape students’ sense of identity and influence their metacognition of transferable skills and strengths?

Scanning: The focus in the previous year was learning on the land with planned activities in the classroom, on the land and in the community, that would influence students’ metacognition of their transferable skills and strengths. Our focus on land literacy not only connected students with traditional land based activities, it has also provided a foundation for students to develop a connection to core competencies that will be used in transitions for success beyond school.  Bringing together students, teachers, Elders and community, these learning experiences have helped build a foundation for learners to develop transferrable skills for success in all contexts. We will build on reflection activities of our students, to prepare them for completing their capstone project for graduation.
These activities are designed to engage our learners with the goal of improving our attendance and graduation rates from the previous year.

Focus: Based on the student interview responses and our previous year’s work we have identified the following areas of focus:
1. We are a safe and caring school and many students comment on the sense of belonging they feel while attending Eke Me-Xi. We have many alumni who stop by to visit and tell us that they miss being at our school. Next year, we will build on this context by encouraging our learners to follow the traditional value of Maya’xala (respect).
2. Teacher Collaboration and Cross-Curricular Planning to plan and create additional learning opportunities on the land – Wilderness Wednesdays is one idea. This planning time is essential because it will allow teachers to cooperatively examine content, identify and align learning intentions and co-construct criteria and assessment tools.
3. We piloted several Student Learning Plans (SLPs) this year. We found that completing the SLP with the Child and Youth Care Worker or Principal elicited important information to jumpstart the student’s relationship with the school. We have narrowed our templates to one SLP format that we will be implementing next year.

Hunch: High participation by students in field trips and during traditional food harvesting activities are seen as positive indicators that this is the direction to move towards. Attendance and engagement in activities are high during field trips and community learning experiences. We are going to build on our land activities by adding in weekly opportunities for students to reflect on their learning. Students will build a portfolio during the year that they can use to guide them in reporting on their core competencies and eventually their capstone graduation project.

New Professional Learning: Staff are developing skills in the following areas:

1. How to differentiate instruction to engage students in multi-level classrooms. (Mini-workshops)
2. A deeper knowledge of reflection and its impact on learning. Teachers will introduce the skill through direct instruction, develop the skill by practicing skill application during the teaching of other things (with coaching), provide opportunities for fluent use of the skill (without coaching or minimal support) and extended applications of the skills.
3. Co-curricular planning for activities on the land that explicitly link to curriculum outcomes.
4. Preparing and including Elders in learning activities, both on the land and in the classroom, that integrate traditional ecological knowledge.

Taking Action: • We realized that learning activities on the land need to be closely tied to cross-curricular learning outcomes.

Next year, weekly learning activities on the land will be linked to classroom activities where tier one support occurs in-class and tier two support in small groups and tier 3 support with 1:1 support.

• Teachers will continue to look for opportunities for learning to occur on the land. This may include but is not limited to; trips to the homeland, student film projects, Elder participation in and out of the classroom, and increasing the use of Kwak’wala language phrases by staff.

• Teachers will guide students in linking reflection portfolio and reporting on their core competencies.

Checking: • Interviews with individual students let us know that students can answer the four questions!
The results we are looking for are:
Student attendance records indicate less absences.
• Involving Elders in learning activities builds community.
• Student reflections document student growth and success.
• Students complete core competency assessment based on their reflection portfolio.
• Students complete self-assessment portion of their SLP and see connection to graduation.

Reflections/Advice: Our key learning is that we need to continue with the land learning and have strong connections to curricular and core competencies. Next year we plan on weekly school-wide blocks where learning occurs on the land.

Eke Me-Xi Learning Centre of School District #85 is a choice school that builds relationships around the belief of maya’xa̱la with many opportunities that enrich our school; specifically with teachings grounded to the values, ceremonies and history of the Kwakwaka’wakw. Throughout this academic year Eke Me-Xi has continued with our annual and seasonal activities for staff and students to learn from Kwakwaka’wakw traditions such as; Kwamya’sapa, cultivation of foods from clams to seaweed and the gathering of cedar. Each year we broaden our learning of local history from place names, uses of the resources, Kwakʼwala words/phrases and this year Kwak’wala language classes, students learned close to 600 Kwak’wala words in the junior class and 800 Kwak’wala words in the senior class. We had several Field Trips to Blunden Harbour where students were able to learn from Elders and experience the Kwak’wala language on location.
We have incorporated informally and formally the traditional learning that goes with harvesting, processing and preserving natural resources. Examples of this year’s learnings include: continuation of Cedar gathering and preparing for weaving, tactile work with aprons, shawls, sashes to dress our students and guests as we prepare to host our very own ḵ̕wa̱myasap̓a. This academic year we have continued on with the core values, beliefs, history of the Kwakwaka’wakw that will help entrench our students with indigenous sensitivity and awareness, in conjunction with the Enhancement Agreement and implementation of the Aboriginal Worldviews and Perspectives. We had a focus on increasing the visibility of Kwak’wala at school and integration of Kwak’wala and traditional knowledge across the curriculum. We provided t-shirts for each student/staff member with Key Kwak’wala phrases. We hosted Elders lunches where students and Elders played games in Kwak’wala. This was made possible through shared supports from the school and the Mt. Waddington “Literacy Now” Strategy
We are grateful to share that since 2013 Eke Me-Xi has benefited from the continued support and assistance of the “Our World, Our Language” Film crew where students produced videos that promoted Kwak’wala language with phrases, origin stories, culture, and artists. Over the course of the years films created by our Students have been featured at film festivals and have won awards.

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