The New Curriculum – In a Nutshell

The New Curriculum – In a Nutshell

November 18, 2016
By Carrie Hughes-Grant, Associate Director, Senior School, Crofton House School

Socrates once said, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

Today we live in a state of constant change. It is a technology-rich world, where communication is instant and information is immediately accessible. The way we interact with each other personally, socially and work has changed forever. Knowledge is growing and information is changing extremely quickly, creating new possibilities. This is the world our students are entering. (Ministry of Education)

The new curriculum was generated through teachers collaborating, meeting, and discussing new assessments and the big ideas. Educators discussing what education should and could look like, and the results is a sound curriculum.

The new curriculum continues to have a focus on numeracy and literacy. This is the foundation. What is new is that the structure has been developed to allow students to find their passions and explore a more individualized path to success. It puts learning into the hands of the students. Inquiry-based, collaborative and student-centered learning, along with a deep and broad foundational education will help educators and students at Crofton House School achieve an extraordinary learning environment that will help to inspire our girls to discover and pursue their personal excellence.

One of the most dramatic developments is the inclusion of ‘Core Competencies’ at all grade levels. These have been divided into six profiles: Communication, Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, Positive Personal and Cultural Identity, Personal Awareness and Responsibility, and Social Responsibility. These are guided by teachers and self-assessed by students reflecting on personal growth.

The new curriculum model (see diagram from the Ministry of Education) is based on the ‘Do-Know-Understand’ theory. This model supports a concept-based, competency-driven approach to learning. These approaches work together to support the active engagement of students. Both concept-based learning and the development of the core competencies engage students in authentic tasks that connect learning to the real world in an active participatory way.
The courses themselves, and there are many, have been reformatted and structured to emphasize big ideas – to get students and educators asking essential questions that lead to intended outcomes. You will notice, for example, Biology 11 and 12 have new names that better reflect what is specifically being taught, and that English/ Language Arts 10 and 11 now have modules that change the way we have previously explored the study of Language and Literature. The number of credits for graduation has not changed; however, some of the routes to get there has been more personalized. We will continue to have Crofton House School requirements and specifics will be published with the course handbook, reflecting the new requirements and courses.

For many in the province, the most profound change has been to province-wide assessment. Students will no longer experience a series of subject-based exams at the end of the grade 10 and 12 years. Instead, there will be one literacy exam and another assessing math skills. The dates of these new exams have not yet been released. The emphasis of these new exams will become demonstration and application of learning. This modification allows educators to make assessment more flexible and personalized. For many, this will be an area of unease and uncertainty. The format the revised exams will take is unknown; however, given the strength of the changes to the entire program, one assumes the change will not be subtle. Having taught in provinces without provincial exams, I know that the students do not suffer in their learning, nor in their applications to universities, but rather they benefit from assessment practices that are creative and diverse.

I encourage you to explore the Ministry Website and to begin asking your own questions and exploring the big ideas.