Blog Monthly Archives:: December 2016

Authentic First Peoples Resources (K-9)

The past two decades have seen a dramatic increase in the number of resources with a First Peoples theme or focus aimed at young people. This guide, Authentic First Peoples Resources, has been created to help BC educators make appropriate decisions about which of these resources might be appropriate for use with their students to incorporate First Peoples knowledge and perspectives into classrooms in respective ways.

The inclusion of authentic First Peoples content into classrooms supports all students in developing an understanding of the significant place of First Peoples within the historical and contemporary fabric of this province and provides culturally relevant materials for Indigenous learners in British Columbia.

This guide lists resources (story and informational text) written for a student audience. The annotated listings identify currently available authentic First Peoples texts that students can work with to meet provincial standards related to literacy as well as a variety of specific subject areas. Click here to access the guide.

John A. Hutton Elementary School – Healthy Schools Example

The Healthy Schools Network (HSN) is highlighting previous year-end stories to ignite creativity and share ideas about curriculum-based approaches that are aligned with the redesigned curriculum and foster student health and learning.

These stories are shared as examples to demonstrate the innovative ways in which BC educators have been fostering student competency development, creating flexible learning environments, and focusing on student-centred approaches to health and learning, all while undergoing their own professional learning. These examples primarily align with the Physical and Health Education curriculum and also highlight cross-curricular learning opportunities that integrate health education into other subject areas. These examples focus on the core competencies.

This month we are featuring a story from John A. Hutton Elementary School in Grand Forks and their inquiry about social and emotional well-being for the entire school community. Below is an example based on their story, The HAWKS Philosophy. Click here to read their story in its entirety.

Grade 4-7
Learning area: Physical and Health Education
Big ideas: Developing healthy relationships helps us feel connected, supported, and valued (Grade 4)
Curricular competencies: Describe and apply strategies for developing and maintaining positive relationships (Grade 4)
Curricular content: Practices that promote health and well-being (Grade 4)

Core Competencies

  • Communication:
    Connect and Engage with Others: This project demonstrates this facet as staff paired each intermediate student with a primary buddy with the purpose of students working together to develop criteria (together with teachers) for appropriate (HAWKS*) behaviours. In doing so, students were able to take into consideration different perspectives, and develop relationships and understandings through communication. This facet is also demonstrated through having the intermediate students meet with their primary buddies throughout the year to continue the conversation about respect, kindness, empathy and positive attitude.
  • Personal Awareness and Responsibility:
    Self-Regulation: This facet is demonstrated as students were able to regulate themselves based on criteria that were developed by the school as a whole. Students were able to clarify and modify their actions/emotions both individually and with their buddies through their follow-up meetings.
    Self-Determination: By utilizing the HAWKS system and recognizing students’ attitudes, behaviours, and interactions with others, the staff has provided the groundwork for students, as they develop more confidence in their successes, to continue to advocate for themselves and others.
  • Social Responsibility:
    Solving Problems in Peaceful Ways: Students are practising appropriate ways of dealing with each other in a variety of situations including situations of conflict and solution-based thinking.
    Building Relationships: This theme is the cornerstone of this project in that, ultimately, students are working towards improving their levels of connectedness through promotion of positive, respectful relationships.

Formative assessment strategies: Observations and anecdotal notes

*The school developed the “HAWKS” philosophy. (A hawk is the school mascot). HAWKS stands for:
H – Helpfulness rules
A – Attitude matters
W – We work hard
K – Kindness counts (and we)
S – Stay calm and carry on!

Fostering School Connectedness Using the Spirals of Inquiry

It’s been a busy school year so far, with lots of time devoted to understanding and using the redesigned curriculum. While we may not have the energy to take on any extra tasks, we can still help students form strong connections to school.  

School connectedness is about creating a school community where everyone feels safe, seen, heard, supported, significant and cared for (BC School Based Mental Health Coalition, 2013). The focus in school connectedness is on building strong, positive relationships: among students, between students and school staff; between school staff, families and the larger community. The presence of caring relationships in schools — the heart of school connectedness — is increasingly recognized as a vital component of successful schools.

Through an inquiry-based approach using the Spirals of Inquiry from the Networks of Inquiry and Innovation (NOII), we can engage with students to ask:

  • Can you name TWO adults in this school who believe you will be a success in life?
  • How do they show you that they believe in you?

We can have discussions with students about what is meant by “success in life”.  The Networks of Inquiry and Innovation (NOII) believe students life success is supported through crossing the stage with dignity, purpose and options.  Using the Spirals of Inquiry as a guide, we can listen for the extent to which students can provide specific examples of the range of ways in which adults are demonstrating their belief in their future success. The first phase of the Spirals of Inquiry, scanning, is an excellent starting point to inquire about school connectedness as this phase involves finding out what is happening for all learners from their perspectives and those of their families and their community.

You may also think about your students and the things that you are already doing to build strong, positive relationships with them. Consider how you might fine-tune your classroom/school environment to foster stronger connections. Can these actions be linked to align with the redesigned curriculum? Are there ways you might make the classroom/school feel more welcoming to all students and their families? Are there ways that you can give students more responsibility and more opportunities to contribute? By doing this, we signal student opinions are valuable, and that they are capable problem solvers — which contributes to a positive environment and strengthens connections.

The changes you make in your classroom and school to increase connectedness can be big or small. They can be as small as re-doubling your effort to form a relationship with that one distant student or as big creating a peer mentoring program. Both ends of the spectrum (and everything in between) help students feel more engaged in their learning and more cared for by the adults in their school. Keep focused on the Spirals of Inquiry powerful questions by continuing to reflect on how’s it going and where to next?

No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship.

-James P. Comer, 1995

Connecting the Redesigned Curriculum and Health Literacy Through CSH

The Action Schools! BC’s Team presented at the  October 21st, 2016, QDPE (Quality Daily Physical Education) Conference.  Workshop participants  explored how the new updated Action Schools! BC program made connections to physical and health literacy using a comprehensive school health approach.

Action Schools! BC is a provincial school-based program designed to improve the health and learning of BC students via physical activity and healthy eating with connections to mental well-being. Through a new partnership between DASH BC (DASH), viaSport, and Physical and Health Education Canada (PHE), and with support from the Province of B.C., the program has been updated to reflect changes to B.C.’s education system and integrate a comprehensive school health approach. Updates to the program were informed by users and experts in the field. The goal of the program is to support students learning to be healthy at school.

The comprehensive school health (CSH) whole school approach used in Action Schools! BC, supports improvements in students’ education outcomes while addressing health in a planned, integrated and holistic way. It looks at all areas of the school environment, including the broader school community, to coordinate efforts in order to have a greater impact on student health and learning. Part of this positive impact is improving students’ health literacy.

Health literacy, as a broad concept, can be defined as the ability to access, understand, evaluate, and communicate information as a way to promote, maintain and improve health in a variety of settings across the life-course (Rootman & Gordon-El-Bihbety, 2008, p. 11). Within the umbrella of health literacy are the concepts of physical literacy and food literacy:

  • Physical literacy is the motivation and ability to understand, communicate, apply, and analyze different forms of movement in a wide variety of physical activities in multiple environments that benefit the healthy development of the whole person. (PHE, 2016)
  • Food literacy is the knowledge, attitudes and skills that people have relating to food. Food literate individuals have many competencies such as the knowledge of what constitutes healthy eating, an understanding of how food is connected to health and well-being, and having a positive relationship with food. (BC Ministry of Health, 2016)

A whole school approach to physical literacy and food literacy ensures that these concepts expand beyond just teaching and learning to also address school community partnerships, the physical environment, the social environment and policies to foster health-related competencies. This type of approach provides students with many opportunities for health and learning beyond the classroom, throughout the school and into the community.

For more information about comprehensive school health, physical and food literacy, check out these websites: