School Name: Forest Grove Elementary School
School District: SD#41 Burnaby
Inquiry Team Members:Kinder Jones: email@example.com
Jill McQueen: firstname.lastname@example.org
Christina Sutton: email@example.com
Jodi Seidelman: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah Howard: email@example.com
Matt Pickering: firstname.lastname@example.org
Anna Aquila: email@example.com
Ditta Cross: 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): Applied Design, skills & Technology, Arts Education, Science, Social Studies
Focus Addressed: Experiential learning, Indigenous pedagogy, Land, Nature or Place-based learning
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Our focus is to increase Indigenous learners’ connection to the school community and increase knowledge and understanding of Indigenous history, traditions and cultures.
Scanning: At the end of last year, we debriefed with the staff regarding the inquiry focus in the previous year. Staff indicated that that they would like to spend more time on the concepts of the Seven Grandfather Teachings. We decided to choose 3 of the Grandfather Teachings to learn about them in more depth. The first topic was respect, followed by courage, then wisdom. We felt that we would be able to integrate these topics with the new curriculum and our natural school environment to make them meaningful learning opportunities for the students.
Focus: Forest Grove is located in a forested area and teachers want to bring education outdoors. Learning about Indigenous Education through Social Studies, Science, Art and ADST would be natural way for staff to make connections to nature. For the topic of respect, many classes are choosing to learn and explore themes of respect through cedar, reconciliation and weaving.
Hunch: Our team feels that we would see growth in student’s knowledge and comfort of Indigenous history, traditions and cultures. We also thought that staff would be more confident in their knowledge and teaching of Indigenous history, traditions and cultures.
New Professional Learning: This year, the inquiry committee at the school has made some recommendations about how we can explore new areas of professional learning. They include inviting an elder to speak with the whole school, scheduling collaboration time for teachers with our Indigenous Resource Teacher, and designating time at our staff meeting to share about the inquiry process. At staff meetings, teachers share what is happening in their classrooms and discussed the First Peoples Principles of Learning. Also, at the end of the year, the Grade Six Students were given leadership training through an Indigenous lens.
Taking Action: Our team decided to create a committee to decide plan for the year. The plan included a collaborative planning approach which our District Indigenous Resource teacher met with teachers throughout the year to guide learning inquiry in the individual classrooms. Each classroom teacher choose the focus of Indigenous Learning connected the the Seven Grandfather Teachings. Some of examples of topics include collecting and processing cottonwood for medicine, celebrating the Nisga’a New Year and weaving with wool. See below for specifics:
Introduction to Aboriginal Peoples explore themes of respect for all life, trees leaving nature in its place (not touching trees etc), Respect for others – how you show it by listening when others talking raising hands when have questions.
• I will introduce them to 3 Coast Salish Nations Musqueam, Tseil wau tuth and the Squamish words like Hychka- activity with art hands up
• Bring symbols for the 3 nations connect to the animal teachings Thunderbird, Salmon, Wolf- art activity
• Books they could do reader’s theatre of puppet show with Night and Day (I can bring Oct.30th) and Little Bear’s Vision Quest by Diane Silvey, Arctic ABC’s by Michael Kusugak
• Look and read the Big Raven books in library
Grade 2/3 (mostly 3’s):
Social studies is all about Indigenous people has planned for 3 terms cross-curricular approach
1st term: explore Culture, characteristics, government,
• Look at how they lived housing, transportation all connected to cedar and the importance of that tree in the past and present – Look at books in library call “we are all connected” for different areas in Canada.
• Exploring kinds of questions – suggested students write questions and put in question box to develop an inquiring mind.
2nd term: Focus on in depth study of one group in Canada Ex: Inuit end before spring break
• Stories to read look at Michael Kusugak “Promise is a Promise”, “Hide and Sneak” (good book to introduce Inukshuks)
• I will bring sample of Inukshuk art and the meanings behind different kinds of Inuksuks
3rd term: Connect Indigenous Culture to the rest of the world maybe compare and contrast Indigenous cultures and other countries.
• I suggest looking at themselves and who they are, where their family is from and where they are now – Traditional territory
• To develop inquiry thinking about what they wonder about Indigenous culture
Grade 4/5 :
Theme is respect
Cedar: How do I demonstrate Respect?
• Learn more about the pole being carved up near watch house (ask Dawn Howey more details)
• Buffalo is the animal for the Seven sacred teachings, Sarah wanted something connected to West Coast – Resource called Six Cedars – posters with Animal teachings (I can bring book and posters)
• I will bring a box of Cedar resources – story books variety of ages (can be used with Buddy class Ms. Sutton), touchable cedar objects and Hilary Stewart’s book on Cedar
• Weaving Cedar with Alice Gus (*let’s see if other classes would be interested in doing this)
– connects to ADST first practice with paper
• Gave book from Scholastic “We Are The Land” from the Take Action for Reconciliation series. It has great connections all across curriculum on Aboriginal Ways of Knowing. (I want to order 10 for 1 for all my schools)
• Shared teacher resource from Kathleen Vermette’s series on Seven Teachings Stories (I have the story books)
• Told her about The Seasonal Round- An Integrated Unit for Elementary Social Studies and Science a resource available on line
How do they teach values like Seven Sacred teachings on East Coast? Mic Mac – Glooscap, Iroquois (Mohawk like me) Have the Thanksgiving Address which teaches about how to be grateful for all we have, others like Nisga’a have their laws ways of being.
How water shapes the land?
• Great resource about water is “Water Walker” I have copies
• A River Lost book by Lynn Bragg– that describes how the Columbia river was dammed – there is a resource done by Maple Ridge teachers on Aboriginal Strategies.
Checking: We saw an increase of student knowledge and comfort in learning of Indigenous history, traditions and cultures. We observed children enjoying their experiences, connecting with empathy to Indigenous Peoples and making connections to themselves and their own worlds.
We saw many examples of these connections throughout the year. A few examples include:
– When Calvin Craigan, the Hereditary Chief of the Shishahl Nation of the Coast Salish people, came to visit an intermediate class sat listening in stillness and quietness as they listened to his wisdom while sharing dessert together. They showed respect, caring and courtesy towards our guest and elder offering him coffee and tea.
– A teacher showed me a video of Kindergarten and Strong Start students playing outside in the forest and spontaneously drumming with a stick on a tree trunk. The children nearby joined in and played in the same game.
– At the end of the year, a teacher assigned an open ended writing project and Grade 4 Indigenous student chose to write a story tilted “Stolen Land.” She illustrated and wrote about her thoughts and opinions about colonization and presented it to the class.
Another source of evidence was feedback from teachers regarding confidence and knowledge of teaching of Indigenous history, traditions and cultures. As the year went on, our teachers reported having more knowledge and comfort with teaching Indigenous ways of knowing.
Reflections/Advice: We learned that working with our District Indigenous Resource teacher was an enriching experience for both the teachers and students at Forest Grove Elementary School.