WATCH: Education Minister Mike Bernier and Jon McComb discuss the new curriculum (begins 12:20)
Next week marks the full-scale launch of a new curriculum for BC students in K-9 classrooms.
And while there will be some big changes coming to the content kids get, the differences run deeper than simply what texts students will be looking at.
Literacy and math skills
Front and centre in the new curriculum is a foundation on literacy and numeracy.
But the province isn’t just pushing a renewed focus on reading and ‘rithmatic, as the old saying goes, but is looking to boost to the skills behind those.
On the literacy front, the idea is to push kids to understand and be able to critically analyze a variety of modes of communicaion: oral, written, visual, digital, and multimedia.
In terms of numeracy, the idea is to develop a strong foundation in mathamatical concepts, not purely as formula but also with an eye to real-world applications… and how they may interact with other subjects.
New way of learning
The province has identified three core competencies that all students should be mastering:
- Personal and Social Competency
But now teachers will also be employing a three pronged attack based on a “know/do/understand” model.
Confused? Fair enough. It works like this:
“Know” refers to content. The facts and figures we traditionally associate with schooling, covering the essential topics and information for each grade.
“Do” focuses on how students are approaching subjects and actually performing in the classroom. It’s the skills, creative thinking, and communicating.
“Understand” refers to the big picture, the overarching concepts, and the final learning goals for a subject.
Teachers are being encouraged to come at subjects from each of these different approaches depending on the students and the subject matter.
The goal is to have kids learning actively, to master each academic subject from all three perspectives in the end.
Throughout it all, an emphasis is to be placed on “real world” applications.
But what will the kids actually be learning?
Stepping away from the new educational theory, we can also get a look at some of the nuts and bolts of what is actually turning up in the classrooms this year.
Below is a table highlighting changes between the old curriculum and the new, when it comes to classroom content. Or you can see a detailed subject by subject breakdown here.
Aboriginal history and perspectives will also play a bigger role in the classroom, building on the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The new curriculum is designed to incorporate more Aboriginal content and culture. The idea is to introduce aboriginal perspectives early, with the goal of developing a foundation of empathy and respect.
Aboriginal perspectives are being interwoven through all areas of learning, starting in kindergarten.
The province announced with great fanfare last winter that going forward all students will have the opportunity to learn some measure of computer coding.
It announced $6 million towards that goal in June, with the promise that by grade 9 all students will have taken at least one module of coding.
The money will be divided the following way:
- $2 million for teacher training for the coding curriculum
- $2 million towards equipment and resources
- $2 million to help teachers bring the curriculum to life in their classrooms
Although some people have expressed concerns over how, or when, students will have access to coding classes, the government says the plan is laid out.
The class will be one of the modules of the new Applied Skills, Design and Technologies (ASDT) curriculum.
The ADST curriculum for K-9 will be mandatory this 2016-2017 school year, but Districts are not requires to offer coding as a module on the new curriculum until 2018/2019.
“We are working with schools districts and teachers to give them the time and resources to implement the coding unit,” reads a statement from the Ministry.
A three-year implementation plan in place to help make coding mandatory in all schools for Grades 6 to 9.
Last year, K-9 teachers gave the new curriculum a trial run, and they are now rolling it out.
This year, students in grades 10-12 will get the trial run, with a fuller implementation of their new curriculum to roll out next year.
You can see details of that program here.