From Me 2 We: an overview and case study

Although “Me, Family, Community” is not well known outside Indigenous communities, within Indigenous Culture it is a widely regarded pedagogy that is learner specific and considers the whole child (see for example pg. 27 of Jo-Ann Archibald’s book , Indigenous Storywork). It may vary slightly in its format, but essentially it understands that all learning begins with “oneself”, as Jo-Ann Archibald articulates in her book about the rigour of Indigenous Oral Tradition, (Indigenous Storywork: Educating the Heart, Mind, Body, Spirit ). Indigenous people have been using this method to teach concepts for many generations. It is deceptively simple, and effective.

Me, Family, Community has been adopted by many larger businesses such as Google, however, they frame it as; Me, Team, System. The principles are the same, however, in the Indigenous practice of this methodology there is more accountability in the second and third phases as you see the people as members of your family, and of your community, rather than a team, or a system. For this reason we believed that this methodology natural lead to a “Big Picture” teaching of equity over equality.

  • ME: Start with the individual learner. Help them know themselves as a person, know their strengths and needs, then connect them to the new material personally. Let them question it. Give them space and time to process it and start to engage personal learning strategies as well as personal connections. This is good learning. Research has shown us time and again learners are more engaged and encode new ideas if they personally connect to the learning. However, in an Indigenous perspective “me”, considers the whole child. It lets them have personal reactions to the learning. To process their feelings, concerns, excitements, as well as allowing them to connect it to previous ideas and personal experiences. This activates their prior knowledge. Rather than being too easy, this helps students to build and highlight neurological pathways to aid in their new understanding. This is an excellent place for teaching strategies like Mindset (Carol, S.Dewick, as well as First Peoples Principles of Learning, Multiple Intelligences, Myers Briggs, etc)
  • FAMILY: Bring the individual students together as families. They will now come to the family with their own curious questions and knowledge, because they have had the time as an individual to to consider the learning. If students have “me time” they never have to come empty handed to a family conversation. This mitigates the individuals who often sit aside and say nothing when “groups” are brought together. Therefore when they move into “families” the students can determine what their contribution to the family may be: what strengths they bring, how they contribute, how to lean on family to question, learn, and iterate. How to recognize the strengths and needs of their family members. When setting up Me, Family, Community for the year we highly recommend helping the families to move through norms and protocols to establish how they will interact with each other equitably. Determining how you will move through conflict prior to conflict existing really helps students to work more smoothly, and communicate effectively. The size of families can vary depending on the work being done. If you are engaged in a project that involves your whole school, perhaps your class is the family. If you are doing in class projects perhaps the family is any group size working together for a common goal. The family allows students to stretch their learning together, sadly, with support. So it is essential to set up healthy relationships to allow the students to be vulnerable. This is an excellent place for Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Brené Brown’s Vulnerabiluty work, Sawabona, etc.
  • COMMUNITY: The Community considers the well being of all people who live and rely on a common area, and because the student has moved from their individual needs, to considering the strengths and needs of a family and how they contribute, they are now ready to see themselves as active participants with agency in the larger Community. They bring their strengths with them, and their ability to see the strengths and needs of others, then collectively determine the “needs” of the Community. The Community is the backwards design. If you always start with the end goal, “how does this learning benefit the Community?”, the learner is always moving towards processing and learning to achieve something. Sometimes the end goal may be to hone into a Big Idea that will strengthen them as a citizen within the Community, but you should try to look for opportunities for students to authentically contribute to the Community. This is an excellent place for Backwards Design, Design Thinking, all stages of “Me, Family, Community” strongly encourage Formative Assessment.

You will notice that this methodology gradually releases children, as per the recommendations of Indigenous pedagogy, and many other well researched educational methodologies. Further, it allows the students to invest intrinsically in the work because you started with them, connected to their thoughts, connections and questions. Therefore they bring their curiosity with them. We have further found that “Me, Family, Community” helps hone a sense of respect and responsibility both to the individual and to the community. Although each lesson, or yearly plan can and will include a plethora of core and curricular competencies, the very nature of gradually releasing the learners from Me, Family, Community deeply connects with the B.C. curriculum. This is no accident. The “new” curriculum was built on the back of Indigenous learning principles, including the First People’s Principles of Learning. While teaching in a me2we way we have the perfect opportunity to model and teach directly to Core Competencies.

We recommend that as well as including Me, Family, Community in all lesson and unit planning, that you also consider dividing the year into thirds when. looking at Core and Curricular Competencies, allowing the students to focus on spending the first part of the year in deeper self discovery and personal awareness in Me, then moving towards group protocol and trust in Family, and working with society in mind with Community. Students need to understand that we all change over time, that who we are today is a reflection of the experiences and decisions that we have made, and that they will continue to grow and change. Therefore it is essential that they are actively participating in their growth, and feel agency over their change. They need to be the primary determinate of their learning. This is agency, and without agency students will not understand that learning changes are not merely “coincidental”, but are rather a direct result of the investment of time and energy they put into themselves. Students without agency will sit passively believing that for good or bad change is something that happens “to them” not “by them”. This work directly aligns with the Core Competencies. Especially Personal Awareness and Responsibility and Positive Personal & Cultural Identity

We used the “Me, Family, Community” pedagogy in two distinct ways, in the beginning of the semester in the case study you will be following, we would focus the lessons and resources around learning about themselves. Their strengths and needs, their learning styles, their ideas and questions, amongst many other pieces. We did this to let the kids get to know themselves. We had them create mind maps about who they were, take multiple intelligence tests on the iPads, write poetry that discussed who they were and where they were from, and many other pieces. We did this in order to support them in understanding who they were at that time. We spent time talking about how we change. How what we value changes, what we like changes, and how this is all part of the human experience. We thought it was important that none of them saw their personal investigations as a permeant description of who they were as people. To show them tangibly how our personalities are a reflection and reaction to events, people, and experiences we guided them through a lesson Rosanna created called Level Five Life Lesson Plan use it along with level five life backline master.

In order to do this big work it was important to build the capacity in the classroom, as it explains in the lesson plan. Which is why we started with framing the work being done. We did it using these two resources, and class discussions. Others may choose their own powerful ways, what is important is that the work is done. It sets a foundation for vulnerability and trust. Things we will build off all year.

Background for Teachers on Witnessing



We have done this work in other schools as well, in very different ways. In one Secondary it was the format for their “Be the Change”: school wide project. Below are some outlines of this work, and how we adapted it to fit for all students in the school.

Be the Change – Lesson 1 Me at a Glance 2

Learning Lab Lessonpdf

Be the Change – Project Development Overview

This is just a small sample of the work that took place in there, though it was not part of this particular case study, it took all the same principles and helped bring a perspective of teaching through a Me, Family, Community Indigenous Pedagogy. It was difficult work with some real successes, and some back to the drawing board moments. Working with the administration, teachers, support staff and even board members on this project was a highlight of the year, and we are very thankful we had the opportunity.

This was also the template for the year of a Community Classroom at this school. Here we helped facilitate how to organize all subjects so that they took place in a Me, Family, Community way. This meant deciding which Science outcomes matched with which English or Socials in grades 8 to 10, then determining which ones would benefit most as being “Me” focussed (obviously the body and its processes less obviously immigration), which were “Family” outcomes, and which were “Community”. We then went through the same processes we have described here. Creating opportunities for the students to know who they were, to see the ability to change and choose our reaction and have self-determination. When we did the “level five life”, we worked together in community, sharing our five items with the entire class over a few days, while half the class listened with their whole focus, and the other took notes as a gift to the presenter. It was one of the most moving and changing moment we have ever seen in a classroom, and helped to build deep community. Because this class was 8 to 10 and all day, we were able to do some amazing cross curricular pieces, and connect that work to the community. The students even created projects to improve the lives of community members and presented them to the City Council.

In this case in particular when we moved them through Family, including what it is like to be a Family member, we had them research effective teams, and family dynamics. Compile norms and protocols of being in a team and many other pieces. We used the technology seamlessly. The students are of an age and time where they very often know the technology better than any of the teachers. Some used it to make mind maps, some preferred paper, they compiled their norms and protocols and kept the “evidence” of learning on their technology. It was one of the first times we have seen technology function in the way it should. Not as the big exciting thing that you bring out and everyone has to fumble through learning, it was a tool. A well working tool that didn’t stop the learning, in much the same way a paper and pencils are a tool the students don’t have to stop, discuss and figure out. The learning was the focus of their attention, not the technology. It was wonderful.
Finally we moved them through the learning around Community. Who is in our Community, what is a Community, what is our responsibility to the Community, how do we participate in our Community and why? Though we moved them through each step of Me< Family, Community individually, we also used Me, Family, Community in every lesson, lecture, and research piece we did. The students would always start with themselves, what they knew, what they wondered, then their Families, what dis their Family know as individuals, what did they determine together, What did the family wonder? Finally our Community. This not only reinforced the concepts, it allowed the students to practice internal review. Further whenever possible we allowed the individual or the family to determine for themselves what they wanted to do to put as much choice as possible in their hands. This not only increased buy-in, it allowed them to understand the process by which they and by which Families make decisions. The intention of the year-long work was to end with a Community project whereby the students told the story of a member of the Community, whose voice had been silenced in some way. These could include homeless people, people of poverty, or any other form of silencing the students identified. The two classes were as different as they could be. One class was quietly analytical, while one was active and loudly questioning. This allowed us to constantly compare a variety of learning needs and styles throughout the project. Please see my blog post on Tech to find a list of resources we used here.

Many interesting things happened along the way because of the self-determination. Students began to expect that they had the right to question, disagree, ask to present in different ways, and generally just feel actively involved in their learning. This was wonderful, but challenging as well. We found ourselves needing to brush up on negotiations and to be ready to deeply understand “why” we were asking them to “do” things in order to explain it clearly. They saw themselves as being the owners of their learning. Fantastic! However, this is a huge change for us all as teachers, and we needed to regroup ourselves many times to embrace their confidence while guiding them how to question in a respectful manner. This was a fantastic unexpected outcome of this project.

A few other curves came into the project as well. During the course of the project the school we were working with went from being part of an extended campus of the 8 to 12 High School, to being a separate school entirely for gr. 8 and 9 students only. Due to this the students felt the goals of the final project had to change too, and therefore they felt they would like to do a project that looked at what the school “ought” to be in order to create equity and inclusion for all people in the “new school”. They felt that it being a new school meant that it was also an opportunity to have a fresh start, which was difficult to argue with, especially since we had worked so hard for them to feel self-determined and challenged them use their critical thinking skills with an inclusive socially conscious lens. Therefore, everything changed.

The first thing that changed was the focus of the semester, as mentioned. The students were now looking at school equity and inclusively with a goal of presenting it to members of administration, the Superintendent, and other key school board members in order to not only present their findings but have a higher likelihood of actionable change. However, this came very late in the year and therefore we had concerns that this was a lofty goal at this point. Secondly, we added another teacher. This Social Studies teacher had done a school improvement plan the year before that resulted in many changes. Therefore, we determined that it was a natural match to become a larger team allowing us more blocks, minds, and perspectives on this project. Further, they not only had experience working on this type of project, it also allowed the goals of this project to spread throughout the school, and as the school was branching in its own direction this was a wonderful opportunity. They, in turn, invited a Science and Math teacher to participate and he gladly took on work looking at data analysis with the students that occurred in the later stages of their projects.

So the project morphed and the Vice Principal who began the journey with us began to have new priorities arise with the impending changes that were taking place. As the students had nearly a semester of working together in a Me, Family, Community way, we determined the Community they were improving was the the school, and moved into that. The students watched pieces on equity, researched inclusion, kept track of their work as a group to put their projects into and a myriad of other uses, all the while trying to figure out how they could collect the voice of the entire school in order to make sure that they were seeing the needs through as many perspectives as possible, until they determined they would interview a variety of students in the school, therefore they began learning the key components of effective interview questions and effective interview tactics together. First in Family, then as a class Community in order to write a grouping of questions that would elicit a variety of responses and allow the students to understand the needs and wants of the student Community.

Together we determined that they needed to lead the questions from basic to deep, not allow for generalization by creating questions that focussed their attention on specific aspects of the school, and surprise the students with interesting questions about themselves that made them more likely to want to answer them. Both classes created questions on their iPads in their family groups, we then shared between groups and classes and determined which questions we felt should be the master list.

Some examples on the master list of questions included:

“Do you feel safe at school?”

“Have you ever moved during the year, if so what would have helped you?”

“What could this school do to make it feel more welcoming to you?”

“If you had to spend the day in classroom where would it be and why?”

“Is there an area of the school you don’t go to, why?”

“If you could redesign the school in any way what would you do?”

We then asked four classes and the Indigenous resource room if they would mind being interviewed and the students went out into the these rooms with their fantastic questions. We had all learned that they needed to ask the questions carefully and not lead the person being interviewed or make judging statements that made them afraid to answer or answer honestly. We did two rounds of interviewing and collected a great deal of information, especially in the Indigenous resource room.

Though many of our Indigenous students felt uncomfortable being interviewed, and did not want to actively participate, some did, and they shifted prospectives dramatically in their peers who had the good fortune to be interviewing them. One student in particular was taken aback. She had two interviews back to back who exposed racism and feelings of not belonging in the school she never imagined. The girls told her,

“We walk with our head down and try not to make eye contact. We call to each other when we notice another Native because we want each other to know they aren’t alone. We only feel comfortable in this room with other Native kids, everything else feels unsafe.”

However, though these interviews were incredible, and did a lot to describe the experience of these particular individuals, in general the students were not impressed with the interviews. We discussed and wondered if the students trying to say as little as possible in order to not lead the people, was resulting in people feeling awkward about speaking and also allowed them to answer minimally without being challenged. Further, we wondered if students felt uncomfortable telling their peers how they felt and therefore were not able to answer honestly or with any depth. So we all went back to the drawing board, and after a number of ideas decided it would be best to photocopy the questions and hand them out to all students in the school at the next assembly in two days. Given that the Vice Principal was working with us, the idea quickly moved forward and the students decided for themselves who from each class would speak to the student body about the project.

In-between the interview pieces and questioning the Social Studies teacher had the students do a number of amazing things. She had the students move through the school in character, taking on the aspects of an exchange student, or someone with physical needs etc. to determine what different areas of the school looked like from their perspective. She taught them about the way Renascence people saw ethically the need for beautiful spaces, as well as function. She worked them through population samples with jelly beans. We all walked them through the Design Thinking process and let them choose purely fun projects to practice this skills of design thinking prior to using them on their projects. It was a busy and rich time for us all.

When all was complete we took the questions as a class and went through them in detail in family groups. We researched using the technology, “how do we analyze qualitative data?” We determined that we needed to look for patterns in the student Community, and we asked questions, “What might it mean when they say they are not comfortable with the boys in their class? Why did they say the front of the school makes them feel unwelcome?” We had the students research how to read between the lines and ask “I wonder” questions, without making assumptions. The students created numerous questions that really helped them see the school from a variety of perspectives. They began to notice patterns, that certain areas felt less comfortable, that many problems seemed to stem from people not really knowing each other, and therefore not feeling a sense of responsibility to each others comfort and happiness.

We looked at the data for two separate blocks and analyzed the surveys then created categories that the students determined needed attention. In math they learnt about data as quantitative information, data sets, statics, and percentages, which allowed the students to use tangible material they had created both qualitatively and quantitatively to understand the needs and wants of the students through an inside equality lens. Looking back on it, it was amazing, beyond a doubt. However, We can honestly say that at times it felt too slow, then too fast, then chaotic, it was a messy journey with a number of problems we would love an opportunity to back and fix, which shows we were definitely trying something new.

Once the students had broken the data into themes each family group chose an area they wanted to focus their attention towards tackling. Some of the themes they complied were as follows:


Creative Classrooms

Hallway Crowding

School Aesthetics

Learning Places

Gathering Places


They then created areas that each group wanted to tackle. We determined that each question would read: “How will…change hearts and minds?” As open heart and mind is a Cowichan concept at the heart of learning. Some of their questions were:

How will learning about Cultures help change hearts and minds?

How will getting to know people in the school will change hearts and minds?

How will making the hallways calmer help change hearts and minds?

How will inclusive outdoor learning places help change hearts and minds?

It was late in the game. All the other aspects of this project after the change took much longer than we expected it too, however, we just couldn’t see a way around it at the time for a few reasons. We had helped to create trust that the students voices would be heard, so when things needed to be reworked we had to allow students the opportunity to change direction. We had told them that learning was messy and wouldn’t be perfect the first time out and incredibly importantly, we were teaching through the First Peoples Principles of Learning. How could we not allow the time needed when one of the pieces we taught the students was that “Learning Takes Patience and Time”. We needed to honour the process. We kept saying to the students, “The process is the point”, in learning it is the process that matters not the product. “You will have many times in your working life once you have more learning where the product gains importance, however for now, it is the process that is the point.” Therefore, more changes needed to occur.

The students appreciated that they got the time to redo their interviews, and to look at them from a deep qualitative and quantitative process. However, their anxiety about presenting this information in front of important Board members went through the roof. Both classes started to have major concerns about the final piece. They realized that it wasn’t going to be “showy”, that this entire experience had been learning “how” to do this type of work, and therefore they felt like it went against the spirit of learning to make it such high stakes. They also expressed that they did not want to be filmed. They said that if anything should have been filmed it should have been the interviewing, or the data analysis, or the learning and lessons around inclusively and equity, because they didn’t have the time they needed to make a showy product, and honestly, we had to agree.
We talked as a village classroom in both blocks to determine what things should look like at this stage.

We as a collective determined that first and foremost we would cancel the board members coming, we would make the presentations oral still but that they would be for only those people who had seen the whole process, who understood how much rich work had been done, and who appreciated that the final product could never highlight that work, especially at this late stage. We had a few high anxiety students in both classes and they articulated that they did not want to be filmed. They felt that the final piece should not be what determined how “well” they did on this learning. We paired down the final presentations to Power Points, (not our preferred method), because the students already felt comfortable with this method of communication. Further we all agreed that they would have to present to both classes at once so that everyone was able to see the great work that had been done amongst the many themes, as per the students request. This helped to prove to us that the students really did see that they had made huge strides in their learning. It wasn’t that they didn’t want to share, it was that they didn’t want these presentations to represent this work, because they understood that it could not do it justice due to how late we changed the format, and how much learning and teaching needed to take place inside of the project itself.

However, they also determined this work needed to continue…

They wanted us to talk to their grade 9 teachers for the following year, to explain what had taken place within this project, to tell them what the initial goals were and how they changed, in order that they could continue this work in grade 9 now that they had learnt the fundamental skills!

At first we were so disappointed. We were stuck in an old paradigm despite how many times we had told them the goal was learning, the process was the point. We wanted the initial projects, We wanted them to push themselves to produce what we all intended. (In our heads thank goodness). It only lasted for a moment but it was there, all our old paradigms, all our old product before process Old Curriculum ways. Then when they talked about the continuing of their learning we saw it. They had discovered that learning is not about the grade, not about the product, it’s about mastery, it’s about long-term acquisition and practice of new knowledge so you own that learning, and we were floored. Of course these are our goals when teaching, however, we were wearing our old expectations and almost failed to see what it looks like when students actually own their learning, because that is what was truly achieved.

Looking back there are some significant areas of change we would recommend, however, we recognize that some of these areas occurred because of large unforeseen events. If we had had knowledge of the upcoming school changes we could have had those conversations with students earlier which would perhaps have let us change directions earlier. If we were to do this again we would still begin with the empathetic work we did, the research and practice understanding of equity vs equality, however, we would then take some time to take about different methods to collect the ideas of larger populations. We would have included the statistical work earlier on and allowed the students time to practice using this data in a variety of practical experiences. We would also have researched an app to use that helped collate statistics data in a practical easy to understand ways, such as Statistics, Graphs, and Charts, by Pocket Revision Ltd. Further, we would have started with a conversation around how the students wanted to represent their work, and who they wanted to be present when we began the project. During a conversation about safety and privacy and the right to not be filmed with one class, students expressed that their parents signed away their personal rights when they agreed to let their kids be photographed each year. They expressed that they were tired of seeing unflattering images of them in the hall, or on school websites, and believed that it took away from their learning and seriously distracted them when they had to worry about “how they looked” while learning and presenting. When we questioned why it mattered how they appeared, they asked if we wanted double chin pictures of us plastered across the internet, or displayed for our peers to mock. It was incredible to us that we never thought about this, we had simply always taken pictures of the students at work, had permission from their parents, and therefore felt due process had been met. The students however, felt that we allowed their parents to speak for them on a number of issues without considering that they are humans in their own right, who have a right to express their own preferences for filming in any way they chose.

In the end the students made their Power Points, they presented them to each other and we saw the most diverse goals. the school is beginning to make changes to the way it sees its students and teachers. There has been a paradigm shift to actually “knowing” who the teachers are as people, who the students are when they are not inside the building. There  are new ideas around what learning spaces should look like, and students are asking questions as to how they can make these spaces desirable for all students. How can we make them accessible, how can we take down cultural barriers.


Field trips

Changing Exploration

The above presentations are from three of the 16 groups and only represent those children who were available when I came in to wrap up the project. The others were not there at that time.

We have had advice on change throughout this report. However, we have a couple of practical pieces we believe people would benefit from.

  1. Assign someone to collect data each day.

Whether it is an E.A., teacher, student, make sure there is someone who knows that it is their job to gather evidence. We did not do this, we went into things with full energy and it would be weeks later we would say, “do you have…, do you remember… Which leads to advice 2.

2. Keep a super quick reflection journal every time you do something that involves your work. This is so helpful to remember the process.

The Five Truths of Technology in Education.

The technology should become an integral part of how the classroom functions — as accessible as all other classroom tools.” — National Educational Technology Standards for Students, International Society for Technology in Education

I confess I had a very different view of technology in the classroom prior to the active work we did in this project. Previously I had viewed technology as a stand out feature in the classroom. The technology would come out and we would all take a moment to marvel in its amazingness, then attempt to manipulate it into doing what we wanted, while often problem solving on the spot. It was new, we were new to it, and using it in the classroom was a necessity because technology is going to be a part of every students life in the future. However, my tune changed both because of the frequency of use with the iPads consistently available, and because of something a principal of technology said. “Technology should be no more intrusive, jarring, or out of place in the classroom then a pencil and a paper. It is a tool, and it should function seamlessly as a tool.”

Well obviously…now that he pointed it out! The way I treated tech as an educator meant that the technology was stopping the flow of learning to take a moment to bow. So I began to research effective technology use and how I could better let it be the tool it was meant to be to allow the learning to be amplified. I went through many sites and read many articles and discovered, I was way out of date. On of the top blogs I read on proper intergration was a piece from Edtopia from 2007! What is Successful Technology Intergration? I was not prepared to be this out of touch, especially when I had thought, up until the moment the principal dropped the mic, that I was fairly tech savvy. So here is what i learned in an effort to catch up and move forward.

  1. At the center of tech use, or any other methodology you find the students.

This means the tech or whatever else you bring in should be used in a way that supports what the students are doing, is easily accessible (meaning that it is not only avaliable but also that they know how to use the app, blog, program you are working with.

2. Never assume prior knowledge

This goes for the teacher and the student, unless you learned the program recently, or taught it recently, brush up and be ready to give at least a quick recap. If the kids or the teacher don’t really understand how the technology works, it begins to soak up all the learning time while you figure it out together, and while there is a time and place for investigating technology together, and playing around, it should not consistently happen during the lesson.

3. Charge it!

I have been caught here a few times. We are already to go and I forgot to plug in the technology and we have some iPads ready to go while others have 20 minutes of battery life left. Enough said.

4. Teach a variety of skills early to increase the seemless intergration of technology later.

I think if I could go back in time I would outline the 5 to 8 different apps or programs I intended to use over the semester and use them all within the first week in a variety of ways to build cofidence, work out the kinks and add to the technology tool kit of the students. I believe they would then feel much more independent when it came to choosing methods to learn, or show their learning. Instead I have often taught students something new, then expected that they would use this new technology to create a new deliverable. If we instead taught the technology early I wonder if the students would choose the technology they needed more diversity.

5. Use education technology sites to find great new ways of using technology.

Some of the best apps and programs I found came because I was researching technology intergration in the classroom, (again I’m looking at you Edtopia). Simply by dipping your toe into the world of tech, and coming in with an open mind and a willingness to try, you can find outstanding resources. Below is a list of some of the favourites we either used of have quest up for next time.

Survey monkey

This is an amazing app that allows students to create polls and obtain the data from those polls. Further, it will print QR codes that let students gain interest in what this may be.

Inspiration Maps

Though this is a lite version and you can pay to upgrade, it’s is still a very powerful mind mapping app that teaches you how to diliniate by colour, and idea. It’s practicle and fun.


This app is like having a graphic artist as a friend who gives you really great advice, then takes over and does it for you. Amazing. It allows you to create posters, blog posts and numerous other pieces with 100’s of free templates balanced and eye catching.


In the words of Padlet; “Padlet is an online virtual “bulletin” board, where students and teachers can collaborate, reflect, share links and pictures, in a secure location. Padlet allows users to create a hidden wall with a custom URL.” It’s super cool, and this is one of those ones I wished I had learnt and experiemented with earlier because I can see so much potential to share ideas and help organize themse of discussions, plans, or a variety of other needs.


This is my future focus. This app allows students, or teachers, to break a project down by its components, (that they self select), move things to complete, and manage they entire piece. It also lets the teacher see where every kid is in that process. We began using this in another school and I could walk in open Trello and have a conversation with the students about the process they were currently working through…because I could see it! Amazing

Some others we used and love Explain Everything, TedTalks, and of course One Note. I am currently using the iPads in another class and we are producing Stop Motion films. This is an ESL class, we learned about the power of the Narative from a First People’s perspective and now each student is telling the oral tradition of their home Country, their decision to come to Canada, and their life here now. They can choose to narrate over it in their native language, and put English subtitles, or rever it and speak in English while using their native language as sub titles. It is so easy to do, (though time consuming), incredibly fun and it gives the students so much confidence.

Changing Expectations

It is difficult at this point to talk about “wrapping it up”, because for us everything has changed, and we are changing with it. That means new lessons, new focusses, and new problems. The students have already expressed concerns about our due dates now that we have switched focus and have so much deep work to do. However, we know we will be using the blog to put our final project together. We like the format, and it feels important somehow to have the full story of our journey in this one place.

We know that we are taking a different angle, and we are running out of time, so we suspect we will have part of what the final project will be and some aspects will have to come later. We all talk about the “teachable moment”, we know how important it is, but we know that sometimes it demands we put everything aside in go with something we are not prepared to do. That is precisely where we are right now. Having said this, we are thrilled that the Indigenous Pedagogy we used to get here has worked. After all the students identified that there was an opportunity and a new problem that demanded immediate critical and creative thinking. They felt empowered enough to think the ideas through on their own, share it with their Family groups and finally move to the Community to discuss it with us. Further, they talked with the other class and aligned, having conflicting conversations key in the Five Functions of Team. They are acting as Global Citizens, and using techniques we taught them. It is difficult to be upset with this…but wow, the work involved!

The Teachable Moment

You know the story, everything is ticking along in just the right way then…BOOM!, and nothing is the same.

The school I am partnered with was on an extended campus for 8 to 12 students. However, that’s no more. They announced that the school was dividing from the high school and becoming its own 8 and 9 individual school. On the surface this doesn’t seem like it would change much, but that would be untrue. Everything changed, from the time one of our team had to spend on the project, to the “new” prioritized needs according to the students. In their opinion this is a fantastic opportunity to put all this learning into practice, to switch focus and concentrate on making their school as inclusive as possible. Therefore they will be fully emerging themselves in that process. Discovering what the voice of the school village people want. Determining what would draw everyone together, and basically trying to create equity in their “new school”.

Meetings abound, decisions fly and they determine it starts with getting the people to speak….now how to do that?

Sharing Along the Way

Presentation 2

The link above will download a presentation we shared with the district about our progress on the Me2We project we had been working on. The people at the event were all working with Shelley Moore, and needed to show their journeys through the lens of a T.V. show, we chose Sesame Street, because we felt it had worked hard to be inclusive years ahead of everyone else. Without the talk to go along it may not be the most helpful, but we thought we would share since it was an important part of our journey.

The Community: Equity and Responsibility

“When you are accustomed to privilege, equity feels like oppression.”  -Clay Shirky

Our last area of direct teaching was the Community. It was important that students understood that they are a part of many communities, just as they are a part of many families. There is the community of the school, the town, the region, the Province, Country etc. Each one of these spheres is just an extended community. We are responsible to it, and it is responsible to us. We wanted to the students to particularly look past those people in the community whose voices had experienced silencing, so we went through a variety of pieces that focussed on the teaching of equity and equality. We had them participate in the paper toss for equity: Paper toss to teach equity

We had them think about their perspective and question how they see the world based upon what they are looking for: Awareness Test

We encouraged them to look for their own privileges and notice when they were given head starts: Privilege Race (We stopped this prior to the ministrations) On a Plate:by Toby Morris

We had them consider what privileges they had in there own backpack of privilege. Backpack of Privileges

We worked together to help see the world with equity glasses to look at perspective: Check Your Perspective not your Privilege

The students used their iPads to further investigate privileges, perspectives, to find TedTalks and Vimeos on these subjects. To find blogs, websites, books, and to talk about why it matters, how to use personal power when we have it to strengthen others. How to be an active ally. It is remarkable the stages people go through when they take off the blinders of hegemony for the first time and look around to wonder how they are being aided, how they are benefiting where others are not. Many of the students were immediately in shock, they had never imagined they were “privileged”, they never thought about what it looked like to not be able to find a bandaid that didn’t look like a bullseye when they put it on darker skin, but many were angry, at us. So we remembered the words (that we soon taught them) of Clay Shirky, and we opened up Pandora’s box.

Debates reigned, students argued from all sides, politics, education, social worlds, family, nothing was safe from dissection as the students worked through these concepts. None of us were expecting such polarizing view points, and it did not end neatly wrapped up in a bow. It was constant long term discussions, opportunities to discuss, new examples to consider, it was difficult real work. Many students changed and grew and began questioning everything they thought they knew, but some students are not there yet. They could not recognize that privilege isn’t always earned. However, it opened doors and planted seeds. For some students this work was paradigm shifting, they began seeing what had been there all along, what was hidden in plain sight. They noticed that their school often divided along racial lines, that entrances to stores made it difficult for people in wheelchairs, that homeless people truly had nowhere to feel safe. They had had the blinders taken off and could not look back, and were now intent on change.

Team Work: More than Just Sitting Together

As we are using the pedagogy of Me, Family, Community, we need to work carefully to teach exploration of these areas explicitly. After some discussion about how to teach Family we determined to use the format of Patrick Lencioni who wrote The Five Dysfunctions of Team, but take it from the angle taught by Neil Smith, a professors at VIU, and look at the Five Functions of Team.

Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Five Dysfun ctions of Tesm

This image comes from the following link: Cayenne Apps

We felt that it was essential to teach the kids a model for teamwork that would allow them to lean into the work and share a common language. In each stage we tweaked the language to come from a positive slant. Using our iPads each Family drew the following list in positive language, and focussed on what it looked like to have each of the skills or “function”.  We then taught these functions explicitly. What helps build trust? What is predictive trust (being on time, doing what you say you will etc.), what is vulnerability trust (being comfortable sharing ideas, worries, problems excitement etc.)? they moved through each stage, researched and determined for the group what this looked like for them, then put together their own Norms, and Protocols for their family group. In this way they had to predetermine what they would do if there were difficulties, what would they do if they were tired and not on task, if someone did not do what they said they would, if someone was absent for a long period of time. Then as a class we went through what other groups determined was good practice to adopt and adapt, remembering that building off the thinking of others helps us all move forward stronger.


These family norms and protocols were amazing! They really helped change conversations from “How are we a teachers responsible for family control” To “How is each Family going to resolve their concerns” It also gave us an incredible opportunity to talk about self regulation, what will you do if you are no longer in a highly functioning place. Some determined 10 minutes of shooting hoops, reading, a walk around the school etc. We had to have a big discussion about how they as individuals knew what they needed to refresh and reset, and we as teachers were not policing the families, our role is support. The kids never abused the privileges of choosing their own space to work, or how to refocus because they shaped them together, had us sign off on them, and felt an intrinsic pull to use their own solutions responsibly. It reminds me of what my F.A. John Stockdale used to tell us in our practicum work many years ago. “If you want to teach children kindness create opportunities to practice kindness, if you want to teach them responsibility give them things to be responsible too. Kids are human, and humans learn by doing.”

Using assessment to build open minds.

A mind is like an umbrella; it functions only when it is open. -Walter Gropius

As the project we are engaging in looks so different depending where it is taking place within the district, so too does the assessment. However, at the core of it all we take our guidance from formative assessment. Further, because we are working with Indigenous Pedagogy, starting all learning with Me, then Family, and then Community, our assessment reflects this. This looks very different in a school wide initiative then it does a classroom, but the basic concept remains the same. We use a K.W.L format throughout the process as a guiding framework for both the students, and ourselves. As the students learn everything first for themselves, then as a Family, then as a Community, it is important that we have clearly constructed learning habits for them, and us, to process with.

1) Me: K.W.L. What do I already know about the topic? What curiosity am I taking into my learning, and finally self assessment as to what I have learned and what I believe I can add to my teams understanding? This means the student moves into the work or family/team with a very clear understanding of the strengths and information they believe they can bring to the Family. This helps eliminate a lot of the anxiety and uncertainty as to how the individual students value themselves as participating learners, and allows them to negotiate their role in the family much more fluidly.

2) Family: What does my family know, what do they wonder that strengthens my thinking about the topic area or makes me think differently, what have we learned together that we can bring into the Community? By working through this process as a family you start from a strengths based approach. The members of the family come together knowing they all bring something to the collective work, and it is their duty to help uncover those strengths in order to achieve good learning. Further, as the students work out as a group what they are wondering they build curiosity together, which continues later when we unpack as a Community, this leads to a quest for further understanding and an intrinsic desire to search for deeper meaning.

3) K.L.W Community: What do you know collectively? What have we gained collectively, what do we wonder that will further our learning and thinking? When we unpack our learning as a Community we do it a little different. As this is the final phase of the learning circle we determine what we understand now, discuss what we learnt along the way (annotating out conversation), then move into lasting wonders that may take us to the next topic or idea, or simply be a jumping point for further personal consideration at some later point. The intention here is to leave the students with the clear understanding that though this “topic” may or may not be studied in this class again, the learning about this “topic” is far from done. We have noticed how important this idea is when paired with our Core Competencies. It is vital that students understand that you can look at the same topic or skill from so many angles, and at varying degrees of depth etc., that it can still be fresh even if you devote years to its study. As the Core Competencies rightly ask students to explore the same abilities at deeper and deeper levels, and as they are skills that will aid our students in becoming “educated citizens” we believe we need to be explicit about the concept of real deep learning. Starting with the investigation, moving towards building knowledge, and finally deep discovery. We also clearly state that it is very important to bring these skills and topics back to “me”, so that they can process, determine what they still wonder, and see how what they have learned benefits them.

Within lessons or units of instruction we also implement other formative assessment practices we are finding very successful. It is done mirroring the Me, Family, Community framework however, where possible the system assessment has two components.

1) Self assessment, we have the students ask questions as they are working, lightly adapted from Linda Kaiser and Judy Halbert’s three questions. A Culture of Yes (Linda Kaiser, Judy Halbert) What am I doing, how’s is it going, what do I need, what’s next? We believe through research, and trial and error, that it is important for students to consider “what they need”. This asks them to look at what they are doing differently, in terms of supplies, resources, people, learning environment (a quiet space etc.), technology etc. As they do this they become aware of how to move forward into the next steps, but more importantly they become aware of how they learn, and what brings them success. We always ask that all feedback is , Kind,Specific, and Helpful whether to themselves, or peers. We have taught them this skill using, Austin’s Butterfly and other pieces to teach them how to give critical feedback that works. We have augmented a simple self assessment tool Rosanna designed earlier in her practice, to have the students track their own learning.


2) Peer assessment: We have tried to make peer assessment more fluid, as we believe peer assessment should happen on the fly, as needed, and we found that regulated peer assessment time wasn’t always in the teachable moment. To do this there has been a host of work done around using your Family or Community. When is it ok to speak to someone? Keeping in mind that each person is also engaged in their own learning etc. When we are working in Families and wish to speak to another Family do we send a delegate, do we speak as two groups to guide each other? It can be messy, which we need to get are comfortable with, as we believe the skills they are learning in these negotiations are invaluable. Further, as it is not static, they are learning that different situations and needs, call for different solutions.

3) A: The teacher: The formative teacher assessment is constant, and usually in the form of small conversations. We are teaching them to see us not as judge and jury, but as another tool or resource that can help them see their work through a different lens, or guide them to ask new questions. To do this we have to constantly model kind, specific, helpful, feedback on the fly. Which works well, if the students are catching it. Because this does not always happen, because we are all human, we are going to introduce a little sheet they can use on an iPad, or printed out. The sheet can be used with any critical friend in a learning conversation. (You can find it below)
B: The outside perspective: Some projects and work takes place in the classroom and scaffolds new learning. In this case we encourage the students to look for an outside source for a bit of feedback. Someone who is not in the class or working on the piece because an outside prospective will notice things differently. We encourage them to use other teachers, and administrator, or someone from home. However, if the project includes members of the community in anyway, we insist that they seek ongoing feedback from the Community members who are impacted by their work, as it is our ongoing responsibility to keep the Community apprised, to check that it meets their needs and standards.


Another piece we were struck by lately is how to keep everything together. How do we teach students to juggle all the pieces of thoughtful work and not get lost in the details? Luckily in the School wide initiative of ME2We,  Jake West spent some time with us and one of the many wonderful things he brought was an App that we believe is a game changer for organization, Trello. Trello tracks progress, allows the children to set achievable goals, and can be shared and monitored by teachers so we are having real learning conversations about what the students process is. We have just barely skimmed the surface of this one but we will keep you apprised.

Coming Back to the Work After Breaks

Coming back after the holidays has been go go go for everyone. However, we all agreed we needed to give our students a refresher on Me, Family, Community. This has looked different in each of the settings. However in English 9 we are re-linking the students to “Me”, because we move back to individual experiencing whenever we are beginning, even if it is a refresher or not.

So prior to moving into a literature club and focussing on the role of place in defining person, we had the students re-examine their own characters in two ways. First they mind map who they are, and then they are looking at the role of “where they are from…”  to help see the link between who they are, and where they come from. What opportunities are available to them because of the place they come, how has the cultural practices of the First People influenced them, how has the time shaped them? The students choose the lenses that fit them, and then participate in an unpacking of character and place with a smaller team. In this exercise they will be making connections between their place and themselves by linking their likes, skills, family, opportunities to where they were born. As we will be looking at some dense material in their novels, we really want the students to examine the role being born into a place, time, and culture has in influencing a life. So as with everything we do we start with “Me” (the mind maps and poetry),  to make those personal connections, then move to “Family” (the group conversations about the connections between their mind maps and poems) to broaden the question and practice empathy while collecting the abilities of a family, then move into “Community” whereby we consider the implications to the larger community, in this case the novels we chose. We chose to use the mindmap because we wanted the students to feel unhindered in considering the different facets of “self” and believe the format of the mindmap doesn’t hem them in to being one thing over another. It allows them to think about themselves both broadly, and minutely. Further, we will be using the mind map app for identical reasons to do a character study and we want their perspective on mind mapping fresh while they are considering the pros and cons of the different mind map Apps, and what a successful mind map App would need to include.

As I explained in my last post, we have a mind map App now but we are still unsure about it, therefore, to find the right App the students will be working as Families to try out a number of brainstorming Apps they chose based on the criteria they made after mind mapping about themselves. We love this because we are using it as part of another lesson. The students will present the pros and cons of the App from a “Family” perspective, looking at the App under the lens of what would meet the family’s needs. This is a cultural perspective as we are reinforcing the collaboration and championing of the needs of the Family. Working together as a unit for the best of all, rather than trying to convince everyone that their groups App is best in order to win. It has really helped the students to understand the concept of the greater good as we work together to improve the overall conditions of our needs.

Below is an early example of the “I am from…” piece. We are really looking forward to the next steps.


Software Apps and Extensions

We are increadibly lucky in this district to have a technology team who works hard to add all the software and Apps that our district Ipads have onto our Setbc technology. For this reason my Setbc Ipads run seamlessly with the smaller iPads available in Libriary Learning Commons, which allow our students to have some access to technology when I am not there. As our Me to We projects include self determined presentations we have been testing out a variety of apps to aid the students in telling their stories, their teams stories, and the story of someone who’s voice has been silenced in their community. Some have fit these needs better than others, however three that we are really enjoying as story telling models are; Book Creator, Animation HD, and iMovie.

Book Creator is a great app. It’s easy to use, holds a variety of media sources, and easily allows multiple users to work on the same piece as long as all the team members have the app. The students appreciate that they can write a traditional book, add photo’s or art work to illiistrate it, and audio clips, video’s, and a variety of other media. They also really appreciate that they can move the pages around, and add pages wherever they choose. Therefore this app really works well with the philosophy of practice without punishment as students feel that they can explore and take risks with this app without worry that they will not be able to navigate themselves out of problems.

Animation Creator HD frame by frame movies is an oldie but a goody. This is a great app for those student’s who enjoy expressing themselves through art but want to do something a bit more involved than Comics or drawings. It allows them to create rich stories with movement, and honestly the pride it provides is incredible. Students are amazed at what they are able to create with this app. One excellent side benefit here is the planning that is involved. As the students are creating a frame by frame movie they can easily understand the necessity of story boarding and planning, then once students apply those skills here they can easily see the benefit of storyboarding elsewhere. I don’t want to overstate this so, WOW! This has provided us some happiness. There are some problems with this app. It has a bit of a learning curve, which we got through with YouTube clips, and its audio component is not fantastic, however, it is on our devices so we are using while vetting other frame by frame makers that deal with those issues.

iMovie is a fantastic app that we often overlook, another oldie but goodie. It really gives students the feel for movie creation. We are using it in a variety of functions, from recording spoken word poems and interviews, to capturing performances, creating movie trailers and much in between. The students love the ability to manipulate the sound and edit more deeply using their larger screen on the IPad pros. This app really functions better when you have the larger screen.

Honourable mentions go to Stopmotion, which we have just begun to use with a few students, and Inspiration Maps™ by Inspiration Software, Inc.

Stopmotion needs very little introduction. However, one of the best things about Stopmotion are the incredible resources available to learn the program and show exemplars. One of my favourite exemplars is from Haidawood which is a YouTube channel of Stopmotion movies created by Haida students. It is wonderful, and truly inspires students.

Inspiration Maps is a free app for mind mapping. As we have many students who don’t feel comfortable with mind mapping on paper because of their penmanship, may of us are trying to find mind mapping apps that will work for them. We are not in love with this app. It’s basic functions are fine, but the pieces we would love the kids to be able to access are only available with the $13.99 upgrade, and well, we are teachers. We are looking for a better fit and would love some recommendations. We would like the kids to be able to use their own images and manipulate the brainstorm using the ipencil.

It’s such a unique pleasure to use technology with culture. I am looking forward to reading all the pieces you are all using.