Thursday, 22 June 2017

CFE Day 13 National Aborogianl Day June 21st 2017

Happy National Aboriginal Day! Today we celebrated Canada's Indigenous Peoples at Trout Lake. It was a beautiful event on the lake that hosted many Indigenous vendors, artists, and musicians. The intricate artwork and jewelry the vendors were selling were amazing to see up close - such detail and care! One of my favourite artworks that I saw that day were some beautiful button blankets made by a wonderful Haida Elder. Before I started teaching in my practicum, my class was learning about salmon and the importance of them in Haida culture. As an activity, they created their own button blankets with a salmon design on them. They turned out amazing and the students were really proud of them. It was quite special to see an authentic button blanket in real life after doing this activity in my class. They are so beautiful and I can appreciate the care and time it takes to create them.

It was an incredible experience to see Indigenous peoples being celebrated, honoured, and supported in our community. I was trying to describe my experience to a friend later that day and I had a difficult time putting into words the vibes and the feelings that radiated from the park that day. It was a powerful feeling of  community - people greeting one another, embracing each other, meeting new people, being proud of who they are and what they created. It was a sincere honour to be a part of it. I couldn't help but think about how happy everyone looked, how this is what their everyday lives may have looked like if settlers had not come, and what a tragedy it is that this event only occurs once a year. I left with mixed emotions - National Aboriginal Day is a step towards reconciliation but it is not enough. I am eager to participate, learn, and above all, listen, to ways in which we can move forward on our path to reconciliation. 


I went to participate in National Aboriginal Day in Musqueam on Unceded and Traditional Territory of the Musqueam people. The pride my community demonstrated is quite an honor being part of a strongly connected community. The morning started out with a Honoring our Elders Ceremony, for elders born in the 1940's. The guests in attendance are witnesses to the ceremony, and Musqueam's recognition is part of teaching traditional cultural protocols about respect for elders to all people.

Learning about the cultural events that take place in the community are extremely important learning opportunities for our Musqueam youth. Children of all ages are constantly reminded of who we are as Musqueam people through culturally significant events. Community gatherings provide the ability of Musqueam people to show the collective cohesiveness, and how we all come together to teach, instill, share and make meamingful relationships. A fresh seafood lunch, music, games, and information tables allowed for many opportunities to engage in various activities throughout National Aboriginal days events in Musqueam. We learn everyday and we continue to learn constantly throughout our lives.  

Sara. L

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

CFE Day 12

Today was primarily a planning day for both the Summer Solstice and the Gardening Workshop events that will occur this upcoming Friday June 23rd and Saturday June 24th. We started off the morning with Susan reviewing final details in order to make the appropriate adjustments prior to the events. As we are a part of the Solstice group, our blog post will focus primarily on how our day went and our planning progress.

Our group members decided we would able to cover more material if we distributed our work evenly amongst ourselves. Two members of the group went to the Orchard Garden to do inventory and insure that everything we need for the event is there. The rest of us stayed behind at Scarfe creating posters containing facts and a poem about the solstice. This planning process parallels unit and lesson planning because there are plenty of little details/ factors to consider. For example, food, advertisement, music, materials necessary for our stations, etc. Very much like unit and lesson planning, organizing these events involves a lot of team work and collaboration amongst team members. After today, as a team, we feel prepared and are excited for our event on Friday.


Hoda and Sara.T

Monday, 19 June 2017

CFE - Day 11

Our Monday morning started with a lesson on rope making and braiding from Susan. We took long, dry leaves, soaked them in water, then - using the reverse wrap method - we braided them into rope which can then be used as bracelets. It was interesting to see how material that would otherwise be discarded or used as compost can be fashioned into something useful or decorative. I also thought that this would be a great activity for fidgeters such as myself.

We also watched a video which pointed out how rope is perhaps one of humankind's earliest inventions, apparently dating back around 20,000 years ago. During the Middle Ages, rope making machines were developed. Even now, I would imagine the process of making rope is not much different from how it was done back then.

After creating several lengths of rope, we did a dance somewhat like what is done around a maypole. As we danced, we held a length of ribbon tied around a stick, which resulted in a braid. Depending on what dance was performed, different types of braids were formed. When we danced in a circle, we formed a round braid, while dancing in a line formed a flat braid.

Several aspects of these activities can be incorporated into our classrooms. For one thing, it was satisfying to create something practical and interesting by hand using natural materials. For another, the dance activity teaches physical education, rhythm, and braiding techniques which can be transferred to ribbons or hair. Since rope is an ancient technology, history and science can also be taught.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Day 10- Eco-poetry

Today we met Margaret in the garden to explore the concept of eco-poetry in the outdoors. After a brief introduction to the topic, Margaret led us to different sports in the garden to inspire our writing.

Using Descriptive Words to Describe a Tree
The first stop was the Birch tree forest, and we were encouraged to use our senses to brainstorm adjectives about the trees based on Smell, Feel, Sound, and Sight.  We all thought this was a great exercise to practice coming up with adjectives for something tangible. Some textural words we used were:hard, solid, rough, flakey. We also tried to characterize the trees with short phrases, showing what our own connections to the trees were.

What words could you use to describe this tree?
For when the majority of us finished, Margaret would play her flute in the distance to signal that it would be time to transition into our next activity.  We all really loved this idea as a call for students to gather as it was so much more relaxing than a bell or clap as well, it provided time to finish work and have a peaceful end of each creative process.

In the next station, we wrote short verses with alliteration in them, using the grass as inspiration. It was nice to spread out and sit quietly in the sun with our thoughts to ourselves. We noted that grass is something that is very common in the city, but we rarely seem to take time to notice its characteristics and details. Taking the time to sit and focus on such a small, menial plant, put into perspective how we should slow down to appreciate the intricacies of nature. Using alliteration, you can notice that the rhythm and flow of the words themselves mimicked the sound in nature, there is rarely a sound that only happens once when we listen.

Beautiful Buttercups Basking in the Bright Sun
Next, our exported adventure took us back into the Birch forest, where we used the trees, leaves, sun, branches, twigs and ground around us as inspiration to write haikus. As Elementary School Teachers we were quite familiar with haikus and as a result many of us wrote more than one.

We found that it was interesting to see how a Japanese poetic form has been translated and used so frequently in schools. As we have seen in last week's visit to Nitobe Memorial Garden,  there is an apparent respect for nature, its state of being and the balance that comes forth from simply observing and noticing natures subtleties.

Story Response
Margaret lead us to the grassy field and shared with us two stories of Eagles. We were told to respond through drawings. We found it fascinating how a verbal story could provoke so many different images. Many of us just spread out and just stared and each movement in the trees, sky, and the ground. We were immersed in the process of creating rather than focusing on the product that was to be created which brought a sense of peace which made everything much more natural.

Free Verse
As we followed the " Path to Verse" going through each station, we were invited to create a free verse poem using the different words, alliterations, and phrases that we had previous created. Given that there were no rules, it was nice to be able to play with words, moments, and moods. We could see how this was a closing piece to the journey that we had taken today, many of us adopted the practice of spreading out into our own spaces in the garden to complete this activity. As a cultural connection, teachers could look at other works of poetry based on nature to form connections based on content or style.

At the end of our eco-poetry session. We debriefed an shared some of our poems with each other and also what we liked about the activity. We all agreed that it was really helpful to have a general focus on what to write on and to be in the space helped us create our poems. We also all liked the level of loose structure that the activity had, in that we knew what the boundaries were, what sound to listen for when to come back, and a general idea of what should inspire our writing. However, the activity was not overly structured as we were allowed to wander and find our own independent peace to write in. This would definitely be a fun way to incorporate outdoor learning into a poetry unit and to build on the core competencies.

We briefly talked about how to organize and create a safe space for learning opportunities like these to occur. Keeping in mind: boundaries, accountability, safety hazards, permissions, and preparations. In light of this conversation, we saw that it required a process to set these experiences up, but when established, they would be easy to maintain.

- Kirstie and Natalie

Orchard Garden Saturday workshop #7: Flax to linen

On Saturday June 10, we were thrilled to have guest artist Rebecca Graham of EartHand Gleaners teach a hands-on workshop on flax processing and linen thread spinning with drop spindles.

Rebecca used flax we had grown in the Orchard Garden last summer and flax from EartHand gardens, brought to campus in the new willow Weaving Wagon and towed behind an electric bike! Participants learned how to ripple, ret, break, scutch, hackle

and spin fibres from home-grown flax plants to make a fine linen thread -- the original 'line'.

John Ames, Julian Yeo and Ele Hendriks organized and ran the workshop, and a great group of teacher candidates participated. Photos below!

Uhill Elementary

Today we starting off by meeting at University Hill Elementary to join in Kate's Foreman's "Outdoor Learning" class. We were welcomed into the Uhill classroom with open arms. When we first arrived we were like a fly on the wall, observing the instructional time and classroom management from Kate.

Kate started off her class by asking the children to reflect on their previous knowledge and to make connections to previous learning from their other classes. The classes focused on learning about slugs, a subject that many students already had a strong background knowledge on. Kate supported the gaps in student learning by oral, visual and written information on the Smartboard in front of the class. The necessary information on slugs and expected behaviour was given to the students in the classroom, before we went outside.

As future educators, we found this time especially interesting. It has showed us that time in the classroom does not have to be isolated from outdoor learning, and instead it can be used as a way to support outdoor learning. For example, the children learnt the features of slugs before going out into nature to find the slugs themselves and identify the features. Had they not had the instructional time in class before hand then the outdoors experience would have been less learning focused. Furthermore, the students are encouraged to let the teacher know with a non-verbal cue when they have made a connection in their mind (by linking their two thumbs and index fingers together). This encourages the students to reflect individually on their learning and independent knowledge.

Once we were outside in Pacific Spirit Park, the goals and expectations for behaviour were clear. The class would be based in their "secret spot" and would be allowed to wander around the park so long as they were within ear shot to hear the "coyote" call from Kate. The children were encouraged to explore, inquire and play until they found slugs. Once a slug was found, the teachers would put a hula hoop around it to keep the boundaries clear. The children loved this time outside!

This teaching method has helped us as teacher candidates to see outdoor learning in action. We learnt the value of setting boundaries and rules to support the learning, to encourage creativity and curiosity, and how to ensure that all students are involved and interested. It was a wonderful experience. There has been tons of learning by the children and us, and we are grateful for the opportunity to attend Uhill!

-Meg and Laurence

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Day 8 - Visit to Musqueam

Today we had the amazing opportunity to visit Musqueam and learn about their culture, history and traditions. 

Musqueam Cultural Centre

Fortunately, a Grade 8 class was doing an educational tour the same time as our group was supposed to do the self-guided tour and their leader, Audrey Siegl, warmly invited us to join them. It was a good omen as to how the rest of the day would go; Audrey was open, honest, brave, and welcoming to us all. She shared her deep knowledge and personal experiences to tell us the story of the Musqueam people.

As an Indigenous student Sara Louie, from Musqueam First Nations in the Teacher Education Program at UBC; the importance of place-based learning is integral to the First People Principles of Learning and Indigenous pedagogy. I have lived in Musqueam my whole life. A visit to my community through an educators perspective awakens my sense of being and future goals within education.
The various opportunities and resources that teachers can make with connections to the curriculum are open to ones creativity in their own pedagogical approach to teaching. Learning about the land and what it means to my community really grounds my connections to my identity. 

Walking through the Cultural centre The City before the City Exhibit and as well as specific points of interest to the community provided excellent learning opportunities to bring back to the classroom.

 I was able to explore all kinds of ways to connect subject/content: i.e History, Social Studies and Art with story-telling and place, Math and weaving with cedar and wool, Science with natural medicines and native plant species, and Language Arts with the Language. I realize that one would need to understand or learn about each of these teaching points first to be able to make connections in the classroom. The tour is an excellent way to begin to learn and it's also a way to gather knowledge of how to teach the local First Nations within the curriculum. 

By the Fraser River in Musqueam