Miss Whittall

"If a child can't learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn" - Ignacio Estrada

October 28th – A Sense of place


(A video of Miss Mackie and I looking down on the beautiful Cranbrook BC and surrounding area! Standing atop Lakit Lookout also know as Naⱡlmuqȼin’s back)

I am learning to call Cranbrook home and through those findings, I am developing a sense of place here. Through this course, I have begun to understand developing a sense place means developing a sense of your surroundings and the histories there; as well as understanding the impact you have on your place and influence on your surroundings. On the Sunshine Coast where I grew up, we often didn’t learn about the local first peoples ways of life. What I do recall from school, was being told, “well we are technically on the land of the Squamish Nation, but the Sechelt Nation is closer so we will base our learning on that”. Even grade ceremonies were represented by the Sechelt Nation. Looking back, this was such a poor representation of the place we were living in. Not that we learned a lot about the Sechelt Nation, but we learned it wasn’t relevant to where we lived! Sorry for the rant but it made me almost frustrated to think about. It is refreshing and comforting to know the Ktunaxa have an important role in the Cranbrook community. Their name and presence is constantly surrounding us. In our program, we are fortunate enough to be introduced to many Ktunaxa community members, sometimes weekly, and really immersed into their stories, beliefs, and memories. The Ktunaxa creation story is beautiful. It gives meaning and history to the entity of the east kootenays. The Ktunaxa creation story sees no borders, no ownership of the land, and no limits. Our eurocentric views that everything needs to be justified by scientific evidence blurs our ability to indulge in the mythical, the perplexing, and the surreal. I believe encouraging this idea of being open minded to different peoples perspectives is valuable to the own health of our mind and body. I grew up in a very “nonreligious” family, but I wouldn’t say we were atheists either. I enjoy hearing stories like the creation story and Adam and Eve. I also enjoy hearing about all the different gods people from India believe in and the theories of Buddists. I believe not being attached to any one of these stories has allowed me to be more understanding and embracing of all of them. I believe it is important to allow students a chance to hear a variety of creation stories and belief systems. By doing this, we are allowing them to be imaginative and creative. We are showing them there is no one right answer to who we are and where we come from. It also gives students an understanding of their sense of place and an understanding that the world around is not linear. Not all believe in the same ideals, and that is okay. As a teacher, I want to let go of my eurocentric views (some I am probably not even aware of), advocate for my students to do the same, and together develop a better understanding of the perspectives surrounding us in order to better understand the place we call home.

Contact Me!

If you have any questions or concerns you can contact me via email at:


I check my email frequently throughout the day.

Who is Miss Whittall?

Hi students, parents, teachers, administration and anyone else who has found their way here!

I am a year four student in the University of Victoria Teacher Education program, offered through the College of the Rockies. I am also currently an Uncertified Teacher Teaching on Call as of October 2020.

As a teacher I strive to provide my students with meaningful, engaging, and personalized learning experiences. I believe the best way to achieve this is through taking my students outdoors and allowing them to inquire about their natural environment and community. Through place-based, or community based, education, I plan to allow my students a deeper understanding of their community and all the aspects making it whole. Through environmental education, I hope to immerse my students into a more powerful learning experience. I want students to connect their learning and education to their community, surrounding environment, and to their personal lives. I want students to leave lessons seeking more information or excited to share out their discoveries and activities.

I am happy to answer any questions you have for me so please feel free to contact me.

Miss T. Whittall


October 21st – Building a Lake!

Ok well this was a CRAZY experience…

We were give the Citro A. resource “A Little Bit of Dirt” a couple weeks back and I was SO excited to see we were going to be building the lakes this week! I thought this lesson plan was so powerful and an incredible way of implementing environmental education and place-based education into your curriculum. I had all these ideas for students to get involved in their community, investigate if they have any lakes nearby being polluted by human development, and so on.

So naturally, practicing this activity excited me. I read the story to my boyfriend and as we read we poured the the different solutions into the large tub of water. We used:

Food colouring – pesticides

Flour – sawdust

Dirt – Dirt

Soaps -shampoo

Oils – Olive oil

Poop – chocolate sprinkles

Our tub looked disgusting by the end of the activity. It was brown, dirty, and unwelcoming. My boyfriend, who lives on Moyie Lake, said after the activity, “that is ridiculous. Our lake has been developed by and never looked like that.” He was wrong. After

we agued for a bit, I inquired with his father if he remembers a time when the lake was filthy. His father couldn’t recall a time when the lake looked unwelcoming. However, as a junior mine owner himself, he was sure when the Moyie mine was first opened the lake would have been filled with oils, dirt and other foreign products. He then recalled the Moyie Lake fire in 2017. He shared with me the photo to the left. He is a stubborn man who stayed in his lake front home this close to the fire throughout the entire fire. He recalled waking up one morning to ash lining the shores of the beach. He said he wouldn’t have entered the water with fear he would come out coated in the ash that laid on the top of the water. Thinking about the story we had just read,  I wondered whether the ash would have negatively effected the life within the ocean.

Unfortunately, the photos from building my own lake are not able to upload. I have tried and tried and tried some more. So I hope you can imagine our gross dirty lake and how inspired by it we were to keep our lakes clean afterwards.

October 14th – Check out my Maps!!

Please enjoy some maps! I chose to draw a slightly elevated drawing of my house from the outside. An elevated drawing of my boyfriend’s house and neighbor’s yard and house. I have also chosen to draw a birds eye view of the interior of my house. I learned I am not artistic when it comes to mapping whatsoever and I should definitely use a ruler… and pencil to start!!

October 7th – Sit Spot

Back to that first place I called my sit-spot, things are looking different. The frosty ground bites through my black rubber boots and chills my feet to the bone. The tree I noticed a month ago, still green and strong. It’s yet to lose its greenery to the harsh Cranbrook winter. The ground is hard as rock. Hard enough to scar the knees of a falling student.

The air smells fresher than last time I was here. It smells lighter, breathing is easier. The air is so crisp my nose begins to freeze. I can feel it getting red.

The wind still whistles off the lake, through the trees, and chills the rest of my warm body. The sun is rising and the birds are singing. They are hustling around. Preparing for winter? Heading south? Praising the warmth of the sun?

Theses seasonal changes have many curricular connects. For example:

Kindergarten Science Big Ideas (BC Curriculum, 2018):

“Plants and animals have observable features” which connects well to the other big idea, “Daily and seasonal changes affect all living things”. By observing their environment and seasonal changes, students are observing the physical and observable aspects of plants and animals and how they change throughout the seasons. 

Grade 1 Science Big Ideas (BC Curriculum, 2018):

Living things have features and behaviours that help them survive in their environment”. By having students observe different plants and animals we can observe how they survive through harsh winters. This is a valuable way to begin talking about hibernation and migration as well as different strategies plants use to survive swell.

Grade 2 Science Big Ideas (BC Curriculum, 2018):

“Living things have life cycles adapted to their environment” and “Water is essential to all living things, and it cycles through the environment” both of these allow teachers to have students observing the seasonal changes and lead in to conversations about , “how do plants get water/survive when the creeks are dried up or frozen?” or “how do plants and animals adapt to the changing seasons?”

I won’t go through all the activities I can think of for each grade but here is a list of some grade to grade big ideas that connect to seasonal changes:

Grade 3 Science Big ideas: “Wind, water, and ice change the shape of the land.”

Grade 4 Science Big Ideas: “All living things sense and respond to their environment.”

After taking the time to consider the curricular connections, I began to realize the simplicity involved in taking students outside of the classroom. We talk a lot about the amount of preparation involved in taking students outside of the classroom, but it doesn’t have to be. These activities simply involve taking your students outside, and letting them observe their surroundings.




September 30th – Feeling Rooted

On a walk through a new area and new place today I tried observing the various roots throughout my walk; trees, shrubs, grass, flowers, those little brown, fuzzy, flower things found in the Cranbrook area. I also noticed the buildings in the area. Maybe they didn’t have roots, but they were grounded, sturdy, and seemingly invincible. One of my favourite things about trees is how tall and strong they can grow. It seems magical sometimes, how tall the trees can grow without falling over. I wonder how deep the roots go of those tall and sturdy trees? I wonder how the trees stand when the roots seemingly run along the top of the ground? I wonder if under all that dirt the hundreds of tree roots are intertwined and grown together? When language like “feeling routed” is used, I think of feeling safe, grounded,  and content in the space and moment I am in. In comparison, when I hear “branching out” I think of  trying something new or going a different direction than normal.

Justyn Mackie and I built a structure together this week. Justyn and I wanted to build a strong and sturdy structure. We wanted it to last through the harsh seasons we see in Cranbrook, specifically the snow. I will get some more photos added to this post as we see how our structure lasts! We wanted our structure to represent our learning journey. To me, feeling rooted relates to sticking to your educational philosophy. Although our philosophies are changing and adapting as we learn throughout the program,  see it important to stick to our routes and belief systems.

September 26th – Sound Walk/ Ride

Sound walk/ride with @ms.justynmackie 🐴

Horse prancing
Dogs running
Sticks cracking
Rain drops on leaves
Wind in the trees
Hooves clicking
Dude Nickering
Ashley laughing
Camera snapping

Alright, I’ll admit it, I am terrible at finding a “sit-spot”. It’s ever moving, ever changing, and to be COMPLETELY honest, I am usually not sitting. I enjoy moving, horse back riding, running, or just wondering. I find I can’t focus on my surroundings when I am sitting, instead I end up distracted by my thoughts. So I am learning to be even more in tune with my walks and rides.

I loved this activity because it made me tune into my surrounding and enjoy the ride so much more. After a big rain, this ride provided the opportunity to listen as the water fell through the trees and bushes and disrupted the resting plants. Sound Mapping would be beneficial at any age group especially with its relation to the core competencies. Students must stop and think about what they are listening to, identify the sound and where it’s coming from. Students express their diversity and uniqueness by bringing the different sounds they associated with the walk to the group. And students have the opportunity to communicate and collaborate within their class to create a sound map all of the students participated in.

Sound mapping can easily be adapted for all ages and grades to enjoy the outdoors and their surrounding environments!

September 20th – Rainbow Walk


“Here is where I can learn” -Andy Goldsworthy

After doing a Rainbow Walk and creating this nature mandala I felt like I understood Andy Goldsworthy’s work much more. Living in the city of Cranbrook I figured there isn’t much in the way of colourful natural options (remember the whole grey, dusty, dirty, gross?), I WAS WRONG! You just have to be looking for the colour and you will find it in the most unexpected places.

I would love to create a lesson for my students where they began by going on a rainbow walk and creating a design based on what they found.
Our next step would be to research Andy Goldsworthy and be inspired by his ability to create beautiful things out of natural objects.
Next the students would explore outside and find 1-3 objects (sticks, leaves, rocks, pine cones, etc) and create a design using only those in their natural habitat.

Following their art and exploration in nature students could journal about how it made them feel and what they enjoyed most.

Ideally this activity will help students feel more grounded and connected to their environment 🌳

I am learning more and more about the unexpected beauty of Cranbrook and the outdoors through this Environmental Education course. I am excited to learn more and explore the possibilities for getting students outside and connecting the outdoors to the curriculum.

Sept 16th – My Sit-Spot

I moved to Cranbrook 3 years ago to begin my bachelors of education and to play for the Avalanche volleyball team. For my first 2 years, I hated Cranbrook. I thought the city was grey, dusty, dirty, and overall gross! I enjoyed my social life and school life but always thought once I graduated I would leave the dirty, dusty, streets of Cranbrook. It was not until my third year that I began seeing the beauty of Cranbrook and the Kootenay’s. I met my boyfriend who is and avid hunter and hiker an my best friend Justyn who began showing me the incredible back country near Cranbrook. I am learning to love Cranbrook and the surrounding land; however, as someone who is new and unsettled, finding one sit-spot has proven difficult. Back home I would simply sit somewhere by the ocean. It’s where I feel most calm. I am yet to find that spot here in Cranbrook, so my sit-spots tend to change and adapt to my ever changing perspective and appreciation for Cranbrook.

Today I found myself sitting and staring at the willow tree overlooking Moyie Lake. I thought the water would make me feel at home, it didn’t. But it made me feel tranquil, at peace, and in tune with the environment. I got to hear the wind whistling off of the lake, through the trees, and on my skin. I felt a sense of relief. No school worries, no social life worries, no work worries. Pure tranquility. I was glad to take some time out of the confines of my bedroom (aka homeschool desk, aka homework room, aka home theatre) and look away from my computer.

So, this may not be my permanent sit-spot. I don’t think it’s where I will find myself daily or weekly, but I am beginning to feel a sense of place here in Cranbrook and a sit-spot will come at some point.

Attached is a video from this sit-spot from March of 2020 as the ice began to melt.


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