Queen Mary Public School

Introduction

Our project

We are dedicated to the affirmation of cultural practices. The goal being equitable education through cultural awareness and learning interactions based on student need and interest. We strive to provide students an educational experience where learning is joyful, culture is affirmed, and students are given real choice for their future. Students will engage in green play to advance their cultural knowledge through work with Elders within the school context and through land-based learning. Students will use screen play to deepen cultural understandings, participate in virtual cultural experiences and to explore contemporary Indigenous perspectives. Finally, students will look towards their futures as they connect traditional knowledge and machine play to course a plan for their futures. We will examine how students utilize play experiences to build relationships and accelerate students’ academic progress. We hope to see improved student attendance, improved engagement and reduced disruptive behaviors in the classroom.

Tell us about your team and your school community.
Queen Mary Public School (QMPS) is a Pre-Kindergarten-Grade 8 school located in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Approximately 98% of our school population identify as Indigenous. Our students come from culturally diverse backgrounds. Many of our students face trauma, economic disadvantage, a loss of access to traditional ways of knowing, and social marginalization. Our CPSN team is made up of administration, Literacy Support teachers, and homeroom teachers. All team members have been previously engaged in experiential play through our school division’s strategic priorities and our Experiential Play-Based model. Play has been identified as a key instructional strategy to accelerate learning across all grade levels in our school. We seek to provide students with a joyful learning experience that meets their educational needs. QMPS supports equitable education by supporting, affirming, and celebrating diversity and resiliency for all stakeholders. We are committed to responsible, accessible education tailored to student, staff, and community needs.

Tell us about the importance of learning through play for your team and for your students.
At QMPS, we have firsthand evidence of the power of play in our classrooms. In 2021, QMPS made a commitment to embed Experiential Play-Based Learning (EPBL) into our K-3 classrooms’ daily schedules. Our K-3 classrooms were asked to take an exploratory approach to experiential play. Through play, and collective teacher efficacy, we witnessed sufficient impact on student learning to embed this powerful teaching model into all K-8 classrooms. We strive to provide students with hands-on, student-focused learning experiences connected to academic and social indicators. EPBL classrooms engage in daily play, including green, screen, machine, and everything in between. Through play, we are able to create common experiences within the classroom to inform our instructional practices. Our students have demonstrated improved oral language skills, improved acquisition and application of academic vocabulary, broadened knowledge base and improved interpersonal interactions. We have seen transformational changes in our students’ abilities through authentic play experiences.

Tell us about your interest in joining the Canadian Playful Schools Network.
QMPS is interested in joining the CPSN as a collaborative partner in developing our grades 4-8 EPBL instructional practices. We hope to connect to schools serving similar communities to inform our process of embedding play throughout our 4-8 classrooms. We hope that working with schools in a similar context will contribute to the overall collective efficacy within our school, and our partner schools, benefitting everyone involved in the CPSN. Additionally, QMPS seeks to improve the efficacy of our team in offering experiential play opportunities through CPSN professional development. Through professional development, our teachers will move from the exploratory phase of play to the full implementation of play in their classrooms. We also ask that the CPSN supports us in this endeavor by providing resources for our students to explore Indigenous perspectives through play, and through this lens, offer students the experiences needed to make an informed choice for their future.