First in a series on BC's new curriculum and what it means for VSB students.
British Columbia has implemented a new curriculum in kindergarten through Grade 9, and will soon roll out the new curriculum into all high school grades. At VSB, teachers, principals and vice-principals, and district staff have been working for a few years to build elements of the new curriculum into what is being taught in VSB schools.
"This is a redesigned curriculum, created by educators, that is intended to engage students while providing flexibility and choice for both teachers and students," says VSB superintendent Suzanne Hoffman. Hoffman was recently Chief Educator for the province, and had a hand in bringing the new curriculum to life in BC. "I'm excited to provide leadership with respect to curriculum, assessment and reporting as this is a personal area of passion."
The new curriculum was designed by teams of BC educators based on research, consultation and classroom successes from around the world. "By bringing teachers and educators into the curriculum development process, we've got a curriculum created by teachers, for teachers," says Hoffman. "What we've got pulls together the best from educational research as well as our provincial context'.
After three years of trial and feedback, the new kindergarten to Grade 9 curriculum was implemented in classrooms in the 2016/17 school year. The curriculum for Grades 10-12 is currently being revised and this September, all BC schools will use the redesigned Grade 10 curriculum, with the final Grades 11 and 12 curricula in place for 2019/20.
The redesign of BC's curriculum reinforces strong foundations in literacy and numeracy. This includes text literacy (reading and writing), number and financial literacy, visual literacy, and digital literacy. There is also a focus on essential learning, on students developing deeper understanding of concepts and how to apply processes.
"Learning can take place anywhere, not just in classrooms," says Hoffman. "It's not about prescribing how things are taught but is intended to focus on what students are learning. There's a spotlight on personalization that will enable students to learn by exploring their interests and passions."
In addition, there is an important emphasis on incorporating Indigenous worldviews, culture and perspectives into all grade levels and all subject areas. This includes concepts about identity, the power of story, and learning from the land.
"At the heart of the curriculum redesign is a set of 'core competencies'," says Hoffman. "This is a set of proficiencies in thinking, communication, and personal and social responsibility that all students need to develop in order to engage in deeper learning."
The flexibility of the new curriculum enables teachers and schools to offer courses, modules, thematic units or learning experiences that focus on students' needs as well as interests or local contexts.
"All in all, this is an amazing time to be both a student and educator," enthuses Hoffman. "In our rapidly changing world, we are setting up our children and future generations for lifelong success."
While teachers are finding ways to adopt the new curriculum in their classses, throughout the year teachers continue to take part in professional development sessions to provide additional information that they can use in their classes.
Read the other stories in this series:
New curriculum fosters life-long learning for Walter Moberly Elementary's kindergarten class
New curriculum begins next year for Grade 10s, meaning new options for this year's Grade 9s in course selection
By creating podcasts with seniors, Tecumseh students learn about communication, a core competency of BC's new curriculum