Author Archives: justin wu

Hi I'm Justin Wu. I'm a MET student at the University of British Columbia. I love being a teacher because I get the opportunity to shape tomorrow's future; much-like how technology is shaping society's future – from enhancing our classroom learning, to sharing our successes with loved ones miles away, with just a click of a button. During the day I work in a Grade 5/6 classroom. I also work as a Learning Support Teacher, as my first passion lies with children with learning and developmental disabilities. After school, I work on my MET courses, as well as play hockey, hangout with my family and friends.


  1. Lakeview’s Circle of Courage

This video was created by the students at Lakeview Elementary School in Quesnel, BC. The children at the school demonstrated the 4 components from the Circle of Courage (belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity) through the use of acting, animation and documentary. The focus of my group’s research paper is looking for educational benefits for the dominant society in addition to the Indigenous community. “Indigenous knowledge is not just for Indigenous peoples, but is a way of thinking holistically about the connections between the natural world and human consciousness” (Marker, 2017). This video demonstrates how a variety of students, both of Indigenous and non-Indigenous decent, used their knowledge of the four components of the Circle of Courage and create examples that they may encounter in their everyday life. The commentary in the video is not always fitting as some of them were laughing and what not, but overall the examples were well done. Lastly, the students utilized technology very well in this video. Lastly, the children in the video did a great job of using the Core Competencies (communication, thinking, and personal & social) from BC’s Redesigned Curriculum to apply what they are learning into a meaningful way.


  1. Global News: Failing Canada’s First Nations Children

This video made me realize the importance of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in all communities, especially highly populated Indigenous communities. The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) describes social and emotional learning (SEL) as, “The process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions” (CASEL, 2017). SEL has become a framework for how educators, families, and community partners to promote students’ social, emotional and academic learning. According to Statistics Canada, Aboriginal children represent the fastest growing segment [on and off reserves] of Canada’s population (Statistics Canada, 2017); yet, they are the lowest ranking group in the country in terms of health status, as well as social, emotional, and economic well-being (National Association of Friendship Centres, 2017). Canada funds First Nations students wanting to attend high school off Reserve but doesn’t keep track of how many students receive that funding. First Nation’s students must make sacrifices when attending these schools, one being boarding with a stranger. It is extremely hard because they are so far away from their families; living with unknown people and going to school with a bunch of strangers – it doesn’t really feel like home. How can we provide a meaningful education, while meeting the social and emotional needs of these students? “It’s devastating to know that the kids that you’re sending out to get an education come back in a body bag” (Global News, 2016). Racism makes these children feel like an outsider when it comes to afterschool hours, “I mean you come out here and you’re different … you’re looked at differently” (Global News, 2016). The problem is that on some reserves, the primary schools are falling apart, with no high schools at all. When the kids finish Grade 8 they have a tough decision to make – stay here and not get a high school diploma or move away. The rates of unemployment are high, and so are the rates of poverty, addiction and suicide. The Canadian government need to provide the same level of child welfare services on reserves that exist elsewhere.

Justin’s Module 4: Post 2 + 3

2. Aboriginal Perspective on Social Emotional Competence in Early Childhood

This journal gave me great insight on understanding of how to best support the development of Indigenous children and how important it is to promote positive social, emotional, educational and health outcomes. What is great about this study is that they looked at all Indigenous groups living in Canada: First Nations, Metis, and Inuit children. They addressed the issues of socio-cultural adversities related to colonization and loss of language and culture, that has contributed to long lasting struggles with social and emotional wellbeing and with positive identity development. Tremblay et al. wrote this study to help us identify the most important elements of healthy development for Aboriginal children, with a particular focus on social-emotional development. Social and emotional learning is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. Social-emotional competencies have been defined to include: behavioural and emotional regulation, understanding emotions, showing self and social awareness, social problem solving, as well as relationship skills.

3. The Social and Emotional Wellbeing of Indigenous Youth

The aim of this project was to obtain a deeper and broader understanding of the health and wellbeing of Indigenous youth ages 12-24 living in Australia. This document provides insight on some programs and projects that have assisted Indigenous young people to succeed in life by overcoming adversity and building strength and resilience. Young people have so much to offer and contribute to society. Often it is youth who are most responsive to changing circumstances and best able to deal with dilemmas presented – to achieve a balance between change and continuity. So, investing in our youth will in turn provide them with opportunities and skills that will help them achieve success. One thing that isn’t presented in this pdf document is lesson plans of the programs that they designed. This would’ve been helpful for my project, as my group and I were going to create a few Social Emotional Learning (SEL) lesson plans, using the Circle of Courage framework. Nonetheless, it was a long, but informational resource that helped me formulate objectives that my group’s paper focuses on regarding the mental and emotional wellbeing of Indigenous youth.

Justin’s Module 4: Post 1

  1. Aboriginal Family and Community Literacy Curriculum – Workshop #6 (Circle of Courage)

For the final project, my group and I using the Circle of Courage framework and tying it into Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in our classrooms. This resource was great in introducing the four main principles of the Circle of Courage: Belonging, Mastery, Independence, and Generosity. For anyone who doesn’t know what the Circle of Courage is, it is a holistic program based on traditional Aboriginal ways of knowing, personal development, and community values. What differentiates this resource from other Circle of Courage resources I’ve posted is the section that talks about mending a broken spirit. Below is a screenshot of the “mastery” lesson and the lesson on mending a broken spirit.

Lastly, what I like about this resource is that different teachers are able to share their ideas on this blog. Collaborative learning allows for multiple perspectives to be taken into account, while providing a vast majority of ideas that can be implemented into lesson plans.

Justin’s Module 3- Post 4 + 5


Post 4- Whole Schooling (Circle of Courage and 8 Principles)

Whole Schooling is an approach to developing schools in which all children flourish in the inclusive classroom. Dr. Tim Loreman (Professor at Concordia University College) and Dr. Michael Peterson (Professor at Wayne State University) are the co-directors of the Whole Schooling Consortium. This resource supports the development of the whole child by using the 8 principles of whole school: creating learning spaces for all, empower citizens for democracy, include all in learning together, build a caring community, support learning, partner with families and the community, teach using authentic multi-level instruction, and assess students to promote learning.

Since our classrooms are so diverse, I thought this resource would be a great introduction to help us begin how the Circle of Courage may look like in our classrooms. Children learn better in environments where their social and emotional needs are being met; we also know that children learn better when experiences and activities are part of the learning process and that social interaction reinforces learning. Although the Circle of Courage is based on traditional values from cultures of people who cherish children and treat them with respect, current research in education and youth development show that these practices are in alignment with what children need to do well.

The Circle of Courage can also be used to analyze what opportunities to develop or experience these qualities a particular environment offers and whether there is a healthy balance of all the necessary qualities within the environment. Whole Schooling carries out the intentions of the Circle of Courage in its philosophies and methods. Chapter one from the PDF document focuses on the principles of the Circle of Courage, while the rest of the document focuses on how to implement the 8 principles of Whole Schooling in schools and classrooms and their relationship with the qualities of the Circle of Courage.

PDF Document: & C of C.pdf

Below is a Ted Talk by Moe Carolin Anderson, who speaks about supporting the whole child for the whole world. Many of the points she brings up in her speech follows the 8 principles of Whole Schooling.


Post 5- REBIRTH: New Orleans (2013) Video

Learning Matters featured a video of the Circle of Courage being used to transform classrooms in New Orleans. This video tells the dramatic story of what may be the greatest experiment in the history of American public education: the transformation of New Orleans’ public schools after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, from a dysfunctional, scandal-plagued monolith into a greatly improved “system of schools,” nearly all of them publicly funded but privately-operated charter schools.

New Orleans charter high school Sci Academy has made impressive academic gains; however, retaining students have been a struggle. In 2011, the school brought n an intervention program called “Circle of Courage Mentoring” to try to help students most at risk of dropping out of getting expelled. This video is raw footage from a meeting that took place six weeks into the program, just after nearly half of the group had been suspended. The students were very appreciative of how much the teachers of the program cared for them. It was more than just bringing home a paycheck.

Attached is a video clip of students in the ‘Circle of Courage Mentoring Program’ at Sci Academy, where they describe their experiences and thoughts about the charter school’s disciplinary system.

Additionally, I stumbled upon The “Circle of Courage Song” written by L. Olafson, C. Slomp and the students of Westminister Elementary School in Lethbridge, Alberta. This Video celebrates the Circle of Courage.

Justin’s Module 3- Post 2 & 3

Post #2- Circle of Courage (STARR Website)

As I’m focussing my research on the “Circle of Courage,” I stumbled upon the STARR website which is dedicated to the mission of creating positive environments where children and families flourish. This organization specializes in residential, community-based, educational and professional training programs that build on the strengths of children, adults and families in communities around the world.

The “Circle of Courage,” came from the book “Reclaiming Youth,” which is a holistic program based on traditional Aboriginal ways of knowing, personal development and community values. In 1997, this website founded Reclaiming Youth International (RYI) which offers strength-based training to professionals such as teachers, counsellors, social workers, psychologists and others working with children and youth to become resilient.

RYI’s uses the “Circle of Courage,” to identify the four universal needs of every child: belonging, mastery, independence and generosity. This model is trauma-informed and resilience-focused. Many Indigenous children around the world face challenges daily, including: drugs, violence, gang activity, conflict, trouble in school, and so much more. The model is designed to encourage kids to feel safe and comfortable in an environment of understanding and acceptance.

In addition, there is a resource page that you can access: CLICK HERE


Post #3- First Nations Principle of Learning

When researching about Reclaiming Youth at Risk, I began to look into the co-author of the book, Dr. Martin Brokenleg. Dr. Brokenleg co-developed the Circle of Courage model and provides worldwide training for individuals who work with children/youth at risk. He is a retired professor and was most recently Director of Native Ministries and Professor of First Nations Theology at the Vancouver School of Theology. The following website is a list of publications that he wrote: CLICK HERE.

Dr. Brokenleg has talked about the following topics: Reclaiming Youth at Risk, Growing Your Own Kids, Intergenerational Trauma, Creating a Positive Youth Culture, Building Strengths – Early Childhood, Culture in Classroom, and many more. Since my topic for the final project focuses on Reclaiming Youth at Risk, I will provide a short blurb about the story and an informational video of one of his talks.

For thousands of years, American Indian cultures nourished respectful and courageous children without employing punitive discipline.  Now, recent youth development research is revealing the essential elements in raising confident, caring children.  Drawing on his research with Drs. Larry Brendtro and Steve Van Bockern in their book, Reclaiming Youth at Risk, Dr. Martin Brokenleg presents information on the Circle of Courage which offers concrete strategies for creating environments in which all young people can grow and flourish. Dr. Brokenleg has a resource page that you can access on his personal website: where you can access more information about his workshop opportunities and presentation slides.

School District 27 (Cariboo/Chilcotin) in the Central Interior of BC put forth an informational video which features Dr. Martin Brokenleg talking about how educators can use the Circle of Courage in their classrooms. At the 2:45 mark of the video, it begins to explain the Circle of Courage model.

Justin’s Module 3 post #1:

  1. Connected North – A digital Legacy for the next 150

I came across this resource while reading the morning news. This website was launched in 2013 with just one school in Iqaluit. Connected North being shared across 30 schools currently, in the Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Saskatchewan and Northern Ontario. The program provides schools with access to Indigenous mentors, experts and role models, along with field trips, education and mental wellness.

You can visit their YouTube page here: CLICK ME

This resource has fundraised $300,000 already to help support the growth of Connected North. What makes me most happy is the stories that are being shared by their users. Storytelling is one of the best ways to share tradition and learn about new cultures.

Justin’s Post 4 & 5- The Project of Heart/BC’s Aboriginal Education Scholarships

  1. The Project of Heart

The “Project of Heart” is an in inquiry based, hands-on, collaborative artistic journey of seeking the truth about the history of Aboriginal people in Canada. The purpose is to: examine the history and legacy of residential schools in Canada, acknowledging the loss of former students, commemorate the lives of the thousands of children who dies as a result of the residential school experience, and call Canadians to action through social justice endeavours.

The Project of Heart acknowledges the families and communities whom those children belonged to. Originally, this website was designed to bring awareness, but as it has evolved, this is a tool used to educate all Canadians about the history and legacy of this crime and tragedy.

This resource was created for: teachers who want to know the truth and inspire their own students to speak the truth and take a positive action in society, families who want to become more aware, and anyone who wants to know the truth behind the reality that Aboriginal people are faced with today and to work together to make a difference NOW.

Below is a link to the resource section: Click here


  1. BC Aboriginal Student Scholarships

There are over 60,000 students in BC’s school system who self-identify as being Aboriginal (First Nations, Métis or Inuit) ancestry. Recognizing that our students are our future, Aboriginal Education seeks to: improve the success of these students, support all students learning about Aboriginal peoples, and help teachers in their efforts to bring Aboriginal knowledge into their teaching practice. I’m not sure how many of us are high-school teachers, but below are some scholarship opportunities provided to Aboriginal students.

All information can be found on the British Columbia Education webpage under the Aboriginal Education tab.

Justin Post #3- Short Film ‘Mountain of SGaana’

While reading the news today, I came across a short film about Haida culture and tradition that is being shown at the Vancouver International Film Festival. Animator and creator Chirstopher Auchter says the Mountain of SGaana is a take on a traditional story of a killer whale who falls in love with and lures a sea hunter into the water. The hunter’s lover has to save him.

On the news1130 webpage, Hana Mae Nassar and Stephanie Froese wrote the article that covers an interview they had with the Animator/creator Chirstopher Auchter. Archer says, “This film is kind of full of different meanings,” who adds the 10 minute short contains no words apart from the Indigenous songs throughout. “It’s a story about culture, and the story about the importance of that.”

Auchter, who is from Haida Gwaii, hopes his work will help give people a different perspective through the use of iconic designs, songs, and technique.

“One of my main goals is that these stories that I do that they be almost like a window or a little doorway that people from other cultures can kind of peek in and see how we as a Haida people see the world.”

Watch the trailer below, courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada.

The Mountain of SGaana has won an award, and is also a reflection of how Indigenous youth have lost connection with their ancestors, and Auchter is hopeful his film will help bring them closer to their history.

“It’s about culture and about how that can help us be anchored and go through life a little bit more confident because we feel like we have a place of belonging.”

The film makes its Western Canada debut at the International Village tomorrow, October 5th, and will play again on the 12th.

For more information please visit the Vancouver International Film Festival webpage: 

Justin’s Module 2 resources: #1 & #2

  1. In the Eyes of Mala

On the Government of Canada website, under the teaching resources, you will find a pdf document called, “In the Eyes of Mala.” This document demonstrates a series of lesson plans built around a 12-year-old Inuk boy who lives in Salluit, Nunavik, for students aged 9-12 years old. The unit will provide some insight into the lives of Inuit, where students will learn about the history, culture and traditions of Inuit. When completed the booklet, students will be able to: express an appreciation for strong traditions and unique culture of the Inuit people, describe the various developments that affected Canada’s Artic from its early history to the present, locate the community of Salluit and its neighbouring Inuit municipalities on a map of Canada, and relate the similarities and differences between life in Salluit and life in their own community.

Here is the pdf: CLICK ME

In addition to this, I wanted to include a webpage that will help introduce the topic of the Inuit.

Here is the webpage: CLICK ME

  1. Stained Glass Window in Parliament: Commemorating the Legacy of Indian Residential Schools

Residential schools were government-sponsored religious schools established to assimilate Indigenous children into Euro-Canadian culture. They were originally established in 1880 and the last one closed in 1996. Personally, I have a hard time teaching about this topic because it is something I’m not proud of, and something that I do not want my kids to think was okay. I’ve used this video to introduce residential schools to my students, which can be found on “The Canadian Encyclopedia” webpage.

After introducing the video, I had an elderly man from the community come in to talk about their experience with residential schools and how it affected his family. After each story, Jackie (the elderly man) would attach some sort of art activity. Since we were learning about colours and shades in Art class, Jackie suggested that he would teach a lesson on stained glass, as there is a glass window in parliament commemorating the legacy of residential schools. Here is the 4 page brochure issued by the Government of Canada: CLICK ME

Hopefully this resource can provide you an introductory lesson to teach in your classrooms. I felt better using government issued resources at first, because it has been written and developed with Indigenous perspective in mind.

Literacy and Digital Story-telling

Weblog Module #1:

As Katie mentions in her post, I too am interested in digital story telling that is created by indigenous peoples to share with neighbouring communities. For now, I’m extremely intrigued with the N’we Jinan artists who record their own music to share with districts across BC. Hare discusses how connected Aboriginal people are to their land and surroundings when he says, “Indigenous knowledge is intimately connected to land, where meaning and identity are constructed through landscapes, territory, and relationships with the natural world” (Hare, 2011, p.92). For myself, I cannot help but notice how connected I am to my devices and cannot imagine going hours, days, or weeks without my phone. I often find myself so focused on the 6-inch screen in front of me; rather than what is around me. The resources below are a starting point for me to attempt to unearth the connection between literacy and digital media. This is where I will look at lyrics from the N’we Jinan YouTube channel and connect it to independent films created by Aboriginal Actors/producers. Again, this is only the first module, so my focus may change as we begin to explore other topics.

  1. Aboriginal Enhancement Agreement (SD41)

The Burnaby School District (SD41) Aboriginal Program provides relevant programming and services to students of Aboriginal ancestry. The program is in congruence with the Aboriginal Enhancement Agreement. The agreement is built on the foundation of mutual respect, understanding and ownership over the success of our students of Aboriginal ancestry. The Agreement has 3 main goals:

  • To increase Aboriginal learners’ connection to school and community that supports and reflects Aboriginal cultural values and perspectives
  • To increase the knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal history, traditions and cultures for all learners
  • To enhance academic achievement of all Aboriginal learners within the Burnaby School District

This pdf document outlines goals that enhances academic achievement of all Aboriginal learners within the Burnaby School District. The motto of this document is called “Strong Together,” and I believe that this agreement is a true reflection of how the community wishes education to progress in Burnaby, so that students of Aboriginal ancestry have the opportunity to maximize their full potential.

  1. Aboriginal Education in Burnaby Schools website

This is Burnaby District’s Aboriginal Education website for students, parents and educators in our district. The website provides updates, resources for new teachers and scholarship opportunities for our students. What I like most about this resource is the section on reconciliation and residential schools. Teachers are encouraged to use the PDF documents, video series, and an introduction to “100 Years of Loss App.” These resources have allowed me to bring up the topic of residential schools with my students, as we read through stories and begin to understand how difficult it was for families to recover from the trauma sustained while attending these schools.

  1. Chief Dr. Robert Joseph Ted Talk

Dr. Robert Joseph came and presented at our district Pro-D-Day last year and let me tell you, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. Attached is a glimpse of how the Truth and Reconciliation was created to allow First Nations people to share their truths, as a mend to help heal from the racism and intolerance experienced by them. Dr. Joseph is the Hereditary Chief of the Gwawaenuk First Nation’s group, who has dedicated his life to bridging the differences brought about by intolerance, lack of understanding and racism in Canada. At the end of his speech to us, he said, “Let us find a way to belong to this time and place together. Our future, and well-being of all our children rests with the kind of relationships we build today. We are one.” To book Dr. Joseph for a professional development opportunity, click here: BOOK NOW

  1. We Are Medicine – N’we Jinan Artists

(I didn’t know that Danielle posted about this group too, so I’ll leave this up as a connection to hers)

As I was working through the readings in Module 1, one of the biggest topics that I came across is how stories are being told and how technology is being used to share these stories. I immediately thought of a family I met last year at the inner-city school I taught at. During breakfast club last year, there was one family that had just moved from Bella Coola, BC. The eldest girl in the family was in my Grade 6 class, and for her “get to know me” project, she introduced a video that her cousins and her made the past summer in Bella Coola. The music video “We are Medicine,” talks about the Nuxalk youth of Bella Coola, who have big dreams and hopes for their future. They are faced with many daily struggles, such as low income, addiction, and some learning difficulties. But, the best way to heal is through people. Their way of storytelling is through music. The song, “We are Medicine” shows their faith, their choices, their hearts and their character as the medicine that allows them to heal. This music video does an amazing job on addressing stereotypes and labels that have been attached to these youth, and how these youths are overcoming their challenging circumstances. Their voices are heard and their stories are now being shared across our district. For more videos on the N’we Jinan, please visit their Youtube channel:–We2a6TTi2gK5Q and their website:

  1. 100 years of Loss App

Since this is a technology class, I thought it would be fitting to explore the free app created by Tristan Interactive. The developer “Acoustiguide Interactive” takes a personalized approach to immerse and redefine the way people visit museums, art galleries, parks and cities. This app explores the lives of Aboriginal families starting from the mid 1800s and continuing until the mid 1990s. As a non-Indigenous person educating in BC’s school system, I must feel comfortable to incorporate Aboriginal studies into my curriculum. Since I’m quite nervous to teach about this material, I must get the facts straight, so what better way than to utilize our iPads and this wonderful resource. The app shows a timeline of major events throughout Canada. My students like that the content is simplified and presented in a different way than a textbook.

6. AbEd Opportunities in September/October

Our AbEd teacher at our school sent teachers the memo below to address Orange Shirt Day which is coming up on September 30th.

“September 30th has been declared Orange Shirt Day annually, in recognition of the harm the residential school system did to children’s sense of self-esteem and wellbeing, and as an affirmation of our commitment to ensure that everyone around us matters. As September 30 falls on a weekend this year, we hope you can choose a day near the 30th to honour this within your school community.”

Here is the official link for this event: CLICK ME

Additionally, UBC has some amazing workshops that are being offered on October 17th and October 21st. See below:

The PDCE office at the UBC Faculty of Education is proud to be offering two online MOOCs this fall:

A MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course. Our MOOCs are modular, self-paced and non-credit online courses offered by the University of British Columbia, and delivered on the edX platform.

Please share the information about these MOOCs (below) with your colleagues at  Burnaby Youth HUB and Take a Hike Secondary Program, or with anyone else whom you feel would benefit and may find them of interest. We are excited to be offering these courses, and to be sharing them with you!

For more information, please visit




Hare, J. (2011) Learning from Indigenous knowledge in education. In D. Long and O. P. Dickenson (Eds.), Visions of the heart, 3rd Edition (pp. 91-112). Toronto, ON; Oxford University Press.