Friday, March 11, 2016

Curriculum Unlocked

As you are probably aware, the BC Ministry of Education has released a bold new set of curriculum documents.  What I have found is that the reduced number of curriculum outcomes has 'unlocked' the possibilities in the classroom.  There is now more time and flexibility to focus on topics that best interest students and teachers.

Competencies Matter
What I find most striking is that they have separated the curriculum topics and the processes of learning.  Competencies are the new skills and processes of learning that are highlighted in the new curriculum.  As teachers, we know that there are special skills that the best students already have.  What is excellent in this curriculum revision, is that by making the competencies overt, we can help all students improve in the areas of communication, thinking and personal and social skills.  Taking the communication competency as an example, there are now eight levels of communication that students can identify with and improve on.  They range from profile one where students identify with 'I statements' such as 'I can respond to peers' up to profile 8 where students communicate with statements like 'I seek consensus and focus on collective results'.  What I really like is that the profiles are linked to specific age or grades of students but provide a continuum that students work through.

I really like this quote from the Ministry of Education website, "British Columbia’s curriculum is being redesigned to respond to the demanding world our students are entering.  Transformation in curriculum will help teachers create learning environments that are both engaging and personalized for students. At the heart of British Columbia’s redesigned curriculum are core competencies, essential learning and literacy and numeracy foundations."

Opportunities for Inquiry
There are many ways in which teachers can use the inquiry model of learning to with our students.  Once they students have an overview into the content of the big ideas, they can then spend time further wondering about related topics that matter most to them.

Inquiry has become a core process for learning and part of the lexicon of how I approach my instructional planning.  I would encourage other teachers to consider how they offer inquiry opportunities for their students.

Connect, Wonder, Share
Here is a process of student learning that highlights the key aspects and opportunities in the revised curriculum.
Connect: Students make personal connections to their peers and to the curriculum. 
Wonder:  Student then wonder and investigate through a process of inquiry to topics that most interest them. 

Share: Student design ways to make learning visible.  I'm a huge fan of student portfolios of learning over time.  This year I'm trying out the tool FreshGrade.  So far I've had nothing but positive feedback from parents and students.