McDowell Foundation Funded Projects – 2022-23

The McDowell Foundation is pleased to announce the following projects have been approved for 2022-23. Congratulations to all the recipients and we look forward to sharing the results of this work next year.

A Critical Participatory Action Research Project: Improving Teaching practices Through Professional Development in Culturally Responsive Pedagogy

                     Jessica Madiratta

This proposed research is a critical participatory action research project that provides educators with the opportunity to participate in an online professional development group on culturally responsive pedagogy. The uniqueness of this study is that the research aims to explore how building a community of educators engaged in professional development over multiple sessions can impact the teacher’s practice in the classroom. One outcome of this research is building a community of practice for the teachers involved.

The two overarching research questions for my proposed study are:

1) What are the experiences of participants in an online professional development group on culturally responsive pedagogy?

2) How do participants perceive their engagement in this group in terms of influencing their teaching practice?

This proposed study is significant because educators in Saskatchewan will benefit from having professional development in culturally responsive pedagogy and build a network of colleagues through an online setting.

#328 – The Journey As Physical Education Teachers Navigate Indigenous Perspectives, A Narrative Inquiry

                     Julie Andrew

“Decolonization is the process of undoing colonizing practices. Within the educational context, this means confronting and challenging the colonizing practices that have influenced education in the past, and which are still present today” (UVic and the Centre for Youth and Society, n.d.).

This study will examine the perspectives of settler and Indigenous teachers in their implementation of Indigenous perspectives in Physical Education (PE) 20 and 30 in Saskatchewan. The study will aid in our, the researchers and participants, understanding of Indigenous ways of knowing and being and allow us to see other’s perspectives as we move along on this journey.

This study is significant because it challenges teachers thinking of how and why they incorporate Indigenous perspectives into their teaching. Although teaching Indigenous perspectives is mandatory in Saskatchewan, I want to examine other motives teachers may have.

There are four main objectives to this study:

  • First, I want to facilitate discussions around the challenges and successes of teachers’ experiences in incorporating Indigenous perspectives into their classrooms.
  • Second, to further my own learning and understanding of Indigenous perspectives, as a researcher and consumer of research.
  • Third, to connect the experiences of settler and Indigenous teachers by the examination of the similarities and differences among the two perspectives to find a way forward.
  • Lastly, I seek to remind colleagues that it is their imperative responsibility to teach Indigenous perspectives.

#329 – Ahkamimotan To inspire Continuous Learning

                     Lois Keller and Jacqueline Helman

“How can an elementary school and high school community create a shared pathway of responsive learning opportunities for student success?” is the central inquiry question posed for this research study. Teachers, staff, and students of Rossignol High School and Rossignol Elementary School, Île-à -a-Crosse, SK., are questioning the artifacts and traditions that have shaped their existing practices and learning experiences. They wish to explore how to activate and coordinate differentiated instruction, especially in light of recent Covid impacting events. School leaders hope to partner with students and the staff from their community elementary and high schools to explore how to create a shared pathway of opportunity for students from grades 4-12. This pathway would recognize the nuanced realities and opportunities in learning as students move through the grades and disciplines.

This research study uses an appreciative inquiry lens and participatory action research methodology to create opportunities that authentically reflect Métis community beliefs and values and provide opportunities for student and staff growth and success. Participating in a
shared action research project would further offer an opportunity to realize capacity and foster leadership participation.

#330 –  Exploring Indigenous Student Sense of Belonging in a Saskatchewan High School

                     Raquel Oberkirsch and Melanie Press


The proposed participatory action research explores Indigenous students’ experiences of belonging at a Saskatchewan high school over one school year. We will examine the effects of implementing culturally relevant initiatives such as a beading club, painting workshops with local Indigenous artists, land-based learning opportunities, and Cree or Nakota language classes. We will plan these initiatives based on the interests and suggestions of Indigenous students and open them to all students who want to learn from Indigenous role models and participate as allies and friends.

We will also investigate the effects of an “opportunity room” where students can take a break, eat a nutritious snack, catch up on classwork, or connect with a positive adult, such as an Elder, community member, the community education liaison, or the school counsellor. Finally, we will study the barriers to a strong sense of belonging for Indigenous students at this high school.

We will use qualitative data collection methods, including observations, field notes, sharing circles, one-on-one open-structured conversational interviews, audio/video recordings of activities, and artifacts. We aim to centre Indigenous student voices and add student perspectives to the literature on Indigenous student school engagement and belonging through this project.

#331 – Supporting Neurodiverse Students by Incorporating Visual Strategies and Supports as a Tier One Intervention in Kindergarten Classrooms

                     Mary Barrow and Angie Balkwill

Supporting Neurodiverse Students by Incorporating Visual Strategies and Supports as a Tier One Intervention in Kindergarten Classrooms will examine what can be learned by incorporating visual supports, as a Tier One (whole class) intervention, in Kindergarten classrooms for both neurotypical and neurodivergent students.

Researchers will examine possible impact (benefits, challenges, possible
barriers and possible solutions, pedagogical implications, curriculum implementation impacts, and other impressions that may emerge as a result of the research) to the use of visual supports, possible alternatives to use of visual supports, and possible information on what teachers and school staff members need in order to successfully introduce and use visual supports as a Tier One strategy with early learners.

#332 – Inspired Writing in the Primary Grades: Stories From the Forest

                    Denise Heppner and Tirzah Reilkoff

This research will investigate how participating in outdoor education (Forest School) can be a springboard for exploring and creating written texts (e.g., expressive texts such as personal recounts of outdoor adventures, imaginative narrative texts such as drawing/writing stories, and/or informative expository texts such as maps or instructions).

This study will explore Brayboy and Castagno’s (2009) recommendation that the “oral traditions and storytelling central to many tribal communities can and should serve as foundations for the written and text-based literacies required by and developed within schools” (p. 43).

Categories: News & Events