Schools implement new curriculum

Students heading back to the Upper Columbia Valley’s schools last week may have already noticed a few differences in the classrooms

Students heading back to the Upper Columbia Valley’s schools last week may have already noticed a few differences in the classrooms, as the new Kindergarten to Grade 9 curriculum is implemented.

The curriculum has been a few years in development, and this fall marks its province-wide role out.

“The previous curriculum was very prescriptive, putting the emphasis on long lists of ‘prescribed learning outcomes’. The emphasis in the new curriculum is concepts, competencies and processes,” Rocky MountainSchool District Six superintendent Paul Carriere told the Echo.

Carriere added that the new curriculum aims to reduce the prescriptiveness of the existing curriculum while ensuring a consistent focus on the essential elements of learning; allowing teachers and students the flexibility to personalize the learning experience to better match each student’s individual strengths and needs; and balance the foundational skills that students need to learn with the “big ideas” or concepts that they need to understand to succeed in their education and their lives.

“The curriculum is explicit about the ‘big ideas’ that are critical to meaningful learning in a particular discipline,and provides in the learning standards both curricular competencies students are to attain, and descriptions of curricular content,” said Mr. Carriere. “Much of what the curricular design supports is already going on in classrooms, much of the time what is different is the encouragement to pursue deeper learning by taking amore flexible and personalized approach.”

He said that teachers have often had difficulty with the expectations built into the previous curriculum design.

“It was never realistic that students could be expected to attain the sometimes hundreds of learning outcomes specified in just one subject area for one year. The real benefit to me is the reduction in the length of that list and a better sorting out of what is actually important, while still maintaining an appropriate focus on essential skills and academic rigour,” said Mr. Carriere. “I believe students will have more opportunity to learn what they need to learn to live in an increasingly complex world, i.e. that these changes over time will make it more natural to promote critical and creative thinking, easier for students to get engaged in what they are learning,give them more time to pursue what they are passionate about, and prepare them better for work after school.”

Part of the requirement of the new curriculum is that by the 2018-2019 school year, all students will spend at least 15 hours learning about computer coding, in a module (not a class) as part of Applied Design, Skills andTechnology (ADST), sometime between Grades 6 and 9.

“In our district it is likely that we will be including this 15 hours in Grade 8 as part of ADST but we do expect that there will be other opportunities, including special events like the ‘hour of code’ for students to learn skills both before and after Grade 8,” said Mr. Carriere.

The provincial Ministry of Education has announced a $6 million fund to support teacher training and implementation of this change.

“Computational thinking is a competency contained in several content areas. Computational thinking is the basis for coding. The goal is that every B.C. student will have the opportunity to write simple computer code by the time they leave Grade 9,” said Mr. Carriere. “There has been considerable feedback to the ministry that basic computer coding needs to be considered an essential skill. The module is being implemented in ADST, which is replacing the former ‘Applied Skills’ curriculum.

Those wanting to review the curriculum design can do so by visiting