Sunday, October 19, 2014

Thoughts on the Proposed BC Curriculum Revision

Here are some thoughts and ideas connected to the proposed changes to the BC curriculum.

Practices that I value as a middle school educator:

  • Integrated learning of multiple subjects and topics
  • Co-teaching and planning using common preparation time with other educators
  • Outdoors and environmental education with an emphasis on active scientific work
  • Technology infused learning: digital environments that expand learning beyond the pencil and paper and beyond our the classroom walls
  • Flexible timetables and schedules that allow the learning to continue across long blocks of time
  • Reconfigurable learning spaces.  IE the classroom, a double classroom, hallways and meeting spaces for various group sizes
  • Inquiry based learning using the framework by the BCTLA called the ‘Points of Inquiry’
  • Math instruction that is hands on and strengths student core competencies
  • Taking time to create and foster a learning environment that meets the social and emotional needs of young adolescents
  • Having a students and teacher shared responsibility for assessment/planning/learning (personalized learning)

What I Like about the revision:

  • That the curriculum overview is one page for easy scanning
  • That there are BIG ideas for teachers to connect to themes at the school-level
  • 3-way alignment of competencies/curriculum/assessment

Don’t like:

  • Science proposed curriculum is far from complete.  The dramatic moment of topics between the various grades needs a re-mapping between the current and proposed curriculum.  
  • Science curriculum needs to have connection to environmental themes. 
  • Science is missing outdoor education opportunities
  • The heavy emphasis on mixtures (grade 6), mixtures and substances (grade 7).  Seems to have a connection to BC’s new industries of LNG and pipelines but would like to see more natural science
  • That a revision of Math curriculum that takes us away from WNCP 2007 protocol will isolate BC teacher from the excellent resources used in other provinces. From the curriculum site: “While the Western and Northern Canadian Protocol K–9 curriculum (WNCP, 2007) remains an important resource, it has been aligned with the goals of the curriculum transformation, making it concept-based and competency driven.”
  • Assessment information on Ministry site is too vague to understand what is being proposed.  Can we get concrete examples of report cards to understand what parents would see related to the process of their son/daughter?

What is Missing:

  • Digital literacy and digital citizenship are key issues of 21st century learning and should be stand-alone competencies.  There is some integration of technology into Identity and Communication Competencies.
  • Resources to support the implementation of the curriculum.  Doesn’t need to be a traditional textbook but teachers shouldn’t have to be content creators.  We need ‘Lit Kits’ that match the outcomes with material written at the appropriate reading level of our students.
  • Cross-grade ideas.  IE. How to implement this proposed curriculum in a blended 6/7/8 classroom or team that many teachers now find themselves.
  • SD43 issue: implementing a new curriculum without staff development department educators.  Without support there is too much onus on classroom teachers to figure it out on their own.

This blog post is meant as the beginning of a discussion.  I'm looking forward to new thinking on this curriculum revision and hope to gain new insight through feedback.  Leave a comment below.