School Name: John Stubbs
School District: SD#62 Sooke
Inquiry Team Members:firstname.lastname@example.org
Inquiry Team Contact Email: email@example.com
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE
Grade Levels: Primary (K-3), Intermediate (4-7)
Curricular Area(s): Career Education, Physical & Health Education, Social Studies, Other: Core Competencies
Focus Addressed: Indigenous understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving), Flexible learning, Growth mindset, Indigenous pedagogy, Land, Nature or Place-based learning, Self-regulation, Social and emotional learning
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? How does place-based learning support the development of personal awareness and responsibility?
Scanning: We began by crafting questionnaires for our respective grades (1, 4 & 6) asking how their learning was going and what were their next steps in the area of personal and social responsibility. We posed several statements from the Core Competencies and they expressed they could do this competency in Few, Some, Many or Most situations. We were curious about how they felt this learning was going. In grade1 the biggest spread was in Taking Responsibility for their physical and emotional well-being, Recognizing emotions and Knowing activities that support well-being. In grade 4, they chose a level but also had to write an explanation about why they felt that – which sometimes led to them changing they choice of level. Many felt they needed to improve finding and using strategies to manage emotions, as well as imagining and working toward change in themselves and the world. Many felt they also needed to work on persevering with challenging tasks. In gr. 6, there was a mixed bag with most of them choosing the middle 2 – some and many. The lowest responses were around managing their physical and emotional well-being and celebrating their efforts and accomplishments. A few felt they didn’t have the ability to make change in the world.
Focus: As educators, in this generation, we feel that connecting children to the earth is one of the most important things we can do. If the next generation doesn’t take a hard stand to protect the environment, nothing of value will be left. We are concerned about the apathy some students were exhibiting about pollution, climate change, species loss. In the past, students would learn this at home, but now, in our limited time, we need to teach this at school. We feel the 2 areas – personal & social responsibility and a connection to the environment are very much connected. We believe that a focus on self-awareness and social responsibility coupled with connection to the earth, the outdoors, will help students develop these competencies and also support their mental health. In addition, we were concerned about how more students were not connected to the outdoors and are opting to stay in at recess and lunch to play on devices.
Hunch: One thing we discussed was that in the past, teachers were more directing students in their learning, which leads them to feel less in control of their learning. So it’s no surprise that many feel they don’t have ownership of their goals, their learning and their behaviour. We’ve been controlling more than guiding. Another thing we notice is schools have so much more responsibility for so much more learning than in the past – not only the ‘basics’, but also social/emotional learning, environmental learning, personal emotional and physical health, with no more time to do this. In the past, we’ve been very content-focused, but now we need to look at it from the Big Ideas and competencies, both curricular & core. Public perception often sees ‘going outside’ as not as ‘educational’ as working in the classroom, and therefore we are sometimes hesitate to go outdoors for learning.
New Professional Learning: We examined resources around self-regulation, and supporting personal and social responsibility learning. We have read from “Developing Self-Regulating Learners” by Deborah L. Butler, Leyton Schnellert & Nancy E. Perry and “The Six Cedar Tress”. We have used these aboriginal motifs in our Inquiry. We have learned about outdoor education, tapping into the Sierra club for after school teacher workshops as well as in-class workshops. They released us (using a grant) to plan outdoor education lessons. We examined picture books about nature as well as teacher guides developed at Hatley Park (next door to our school, within walking distance) for nature activities.
Taking Action: Gave Self-evaluation to students with “I can” statements based on core competencies and First Peoples’ principles.
Students set goals for themselves and these goals were re-evaluated through out the project.
Took students outside and planned activities based on their goals (journaling, meditation, cooperation activities, drawing…)
Build empathy through nature and develop connection with the local lands
Observe (with all senses), sketch, journal, partner talk, …
Bateman Center, Seaquaria, Sierra Club
Local forest visits
Galey Farms, Royal BC Museum, Beacon Hill Park, Butterfly Gardens
Regular journaling was essential to keep students on track and in touch with their goals
Check-in before and after going outside was used to help recognize their own emotions and the impact of nature
At the end, they did the same self-evaluation that was done at the beginning. They also completed a survey to see what types of activities had helped them most with their social emotional learning.
Checking: Based on observations: students were better able to regulate problems with their peers and to regulate their own emotions. They seemed calmer after being outside and it seemed easier for them to focus. They also seemed more invested in protecting the environment (the language used, the choice of topics for projects…)
Based on surveys:
82% of students said they were more focused after being outside.
88% of students said that going outside made a positive difference in their feelings/behaviour.
All students reported that cooperative games/activities helped them manage their emotions. 82% said that exploration, breathing, sketching, and having quiet time helped with managing emotions.
65% of students said they were more focused after being outside.
74% of students said that going outside made a positive difference in their feelings/behaviour
20 on 24 students like writing about nature or mental health compared to 12 at the beginning of the year
81% of students said they were more focused after being outside.
100% of students said that going outside made a positive difference in their feelings/behaviour.
Cooperative games/activities (66%) exploration (76%) and sketching (57%), were the activities that helped the most students with managing emotions.
The students are more aware of what they are learning and the importance of it (self to self, self to community, self to world) They are able to make connections more easily between what the are learning at school and at home and how this can have an impact on who they are.
We believe that we made a big difference on how students see themselves and the world around them based on how they now have a conversation compared to before. We are very satisfied by these results:)
Reflections/Advice: We learned that it is valuable to have been in a group where we can discuss how to invest in student’s social emotional learning. Meeting regularly kept us on track with our goal and the rich discussions helped us overcome some personal obstacles that were in the way. We are now feeling even more confident to bring students outside and more comfortable using our resources (other teachers, books, nature clubs, funding…)
We learned that regardless of their age, students are able to develop this profound sense of awareness when the approach is used appropriately and when time and the right environment is given to them.
We are already working together to extend this learning to more curricular outcomes. This learning will be used to help other teachers and guide our future students.
Advice: Jump right in, Learn with your students, “break the ice” and just go outside…