SD20 rolls out new curriculum for K to Grade 9

Teachers are given more freedom to teach big ideas, says assistant superintendent

Grade 2 Science teachers may be teaching their students about the life cycle of a snake or scorpion rather than the traditional lesson of the butterfly.

The province has given teachers the freedom to play around with new curriculum introduced this year in Kindergarten through Grade 9 with full implementation rolled out next year with grades 10-12 on board.

“Despite the fact that for some there will be angst, and there will be grieving because we’re letting go of the old system, I think in our district we’re well positioned to take this work on,” said Bill Ford, School District 20’s assistant superintendent.

School districts across the province started rolling out the Ministry of Education’s new education plan in September. The new curriculum is considered flexible, said Ford, because it prescribes less learning outcomes and rather focuses on core competencies, skills and knowledge students need to succeed in the 21st century.

“Employers have been telling the government for years that they’re looking for students that have the ability to be a creative thinker, to be able to collaborate, to be able to problem-solve, to communicate, to be able to take information and make sense of it and do something with it,” said Ford. “They’re not looking for the system to produce the kinds of kids that are like a factory model.”

Personalized learning plays into this concept, too. The life cycle is still an important teaching note, for instance, but now kids can choose a subject of their choice so long as there is the same learning outcome. The new expectation holds that the life cycle is a “big idea” but how the message is delivered is open ended. Teachers do, however, have to weave “core competencies” like communication and critical thinking into lessons.

“Now it’s a formal piece of the curriculum so as the teacher is thinking about the life cycle work that kids will engage in, they will now look at the competencies and say, ‘I’m going to put this as a group project’ – collaboration- ‘and the other competency I want to see is communication,’” explained Ford. “They’re going to communicate their learning in a variety of different ways; it could be a diorama, poster or a web page.”

So what does this change mean for School District 20?

Within the traditional class setting, parents can expect to hear more about collaboration that may even span between classrooms.

Nicola Kuhn is the teacher-librarian at Rossland Summit School, who also teaches Humanities 7/8/9. She said she’s been working with the new model since 2014 as it lends itself well to her teaching approach.

As teacher-librarian, Kuhn is collaborating with other teachers at her school and across the district, this work includes an immigration unit that focuses on the experience in Canada.

Students will be examining immigration through poetry, picture books, and non-fictions; they’ll also write poems, create a collaborative piece of art to raise money for the West Kootenay Friends of Refugees and an illustrated children’s books. The unit will also look at immigration through the lens of math and science and ultimately teach young learners about empathy, acceptance and tolerance of diversity.

“We’ve invited a community member to come and speak to the students about her work through the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) and working with adolescent refugees,” she added. “It also brings in Rossland’s rich history, as students will be visiting the museum and learning more about immigration in the late 1800s in the Kootenays.”

Moving away from the old curriculum is exciting but also a little scary for some. The Board of Education has struck a community engagement committee to look at ways of informing the public about the switch over, and SD20 will schedule two additional professional development days this school year to support teachers with the change. The school district has also invited Dr. Leyton Schnellert, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia, to work with local educators on approaching the new curriculum.

“This is a big shift for us, and this is going to drive change and it’s not going to happen overnight and teachers need to be supported through all of this,” said Ford.

But the timing is right, he said. The information age has changed the role of the teacher in the classroom. “Teachers are not the sage on the stage, they’re the guide on the side,” added Ford. Just as kids have adapted to the modern classroom so too should curriculum.

“I hope that a decade from now, a generation from now, that this is well enhanced and that we challenged the status quo,” said Ford. “That we’ve got kids who are really involved in what they’re learning and that we’ve got flexibility built into a school day to allow for that to happen.

“I hope that we haven’t lost sight of the core learning but because the core learning has shrunk and we’re attending to all of these competencies that we’ve got the flexibility to meet the kids’ needs and the teachers’ needs in a way that it keeps the system healthy and vibrant.”

Kuhn greets the change with open arms but still waits for assessment to follow suit. Moving away from textbook learning is beneficial to the students but new resources need to be developed to match the new curriculum, she adds.

The new curriculum for grades 10-12 is now in draft form at https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca, where this year’s roll out is also described in detail and broken down by grade and subject.

Just Posted

J. L. Crowe Secondary will host the convocation for 2021 Graduates on Saturday starting at 9 a.m. Photo: Jim Bailey
Convocation goes Saturday with Kootenay Columbia grads in learning groups, no parents

Parents can live-stream the ceremony of their 2021 graduates online

Clarice Tuai, seen in front of the ‘50 Objects for 50 Years’ exhibit, is a summer student for the Trail museum/visitors centre. Photo: Sheri Regnier
Trail museum invites everyone to visit new Doukhobor exhibit

‘50 Objects for 50 Years’ runs until October 1

Students at Creston Valley Secondary School put together an art installation of a replica residential school room. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Creston students create art installation of residential school room

The replica was decorated with a small bed, school uniform, and notes written with pleas for help

A living wage sets a higher standard than the minimum wage; it is what a family needs to earn to provide the basic needs based on the actual costs of living in a community.
Fruitvale now a living wage employer

“I’m really excited that Fruitvale is leading the charge for municipalities locally,” Morissette said.

Black Press file photo
West Kootenay communities behind provincial COVID-19 vaccination rate

Only Trail is at the provincial average for vaccinations

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Thousands of protesters make their way through the downtown core during a Black Lives Matter protest in Ottawa, Friday June 5, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
MPs’ study of systemic racism in policing concludes RCMP needs new model

Chair of the House public safety committee says it’s time for a reckoning on ‘quasi-military’ structure

A case filled with packages of boneless chicken breasts is shown in a grocery store Sunday, May 10, 2020, in southeast Denver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-David Zalubowski
One million chickens euthanized during labour dispute at Quebec slaughterhouse

Premier says waste amounts to 13 per cent of the province’s chicken production thrown in the garbage

Premier of Manitoba Brian Pallister speaks at a news conference at the Manitoba Legislative Building in Winnipeg on Wednesday, April 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Lipnowski
Provincial leaders want more federal money for health care, plan to meet in fall

Premiers ask Ottawa to increase its share of overall health spending to 35 per cent from 22 per cent

A section of the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies is seen west of Cochrane, Alta., Thursday, June 17, 2021. A joint federal-provincial review has denied an application for an open-pit coal mine in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, saying its impacts on the environment and Indigenous rights aren’t worth the economic benefits it would bring. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Panel says Grassy Mountain coal mine in Alberta Rockies not in public interest

Public hearings on the project in southern Alberta’s Crowsnest Pass region were held last fall

An old growth cedar stands in a cut-block within the Caycuse Valley. More than 100 prominent Canadians, have signed an open letter calling for the immediate protection of all remaining old-growth forests in B.C. (Submitted)
Brian Mulroney and Greta Thunberg among 100 celebrities pushing to save B.C. old growth

List includes Indigenous leaders, scientists, authors, Oscar winners

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on Friday, February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
U.S. border restrictions to remain in place until at least July 21

Safety minister says Canada, U.S. extending restrictions on non-essential international travel

Himalayan Life helped finance the construction of Nepal’s Yangri Academic Centre and dormitories after a 2015 earthquake devastated the valley, killing more than 9,000 people. (Screen grab/Peter Schaeublin)
B.C. charity founder pledges to rebuild Nepalese school swept away by flash floods

Six years after an earthquake killed more than 9,000 people, Nepal faces another catastrophy

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Most Read