Bulldog Bulletin October 19, 2015
As many of you are aware, the Ministry has been working with teachers across the province to develop new curriculum and reporting practices that will align with the 21st Century Learning needs of our students. This newsletter is devoted to informing you about the changes that are coming during this year and next, as well as what that means for you, your children, and schools. There are many new and innovative things coming to education and we are excited to be a part of the change!
Please carefully read through the provided information and feel free to talk to your classroom teachers, or myself, should you have any questions. Please follow any links provided to explore the new curriculum yourselves!
Deputy Minister, Dave Byng, explains the need for change:
“We are building on one of the world’s most successful school systems, with student performance currently making British Columbia one of the top three education systems in the world. But our world is changing and it is essential that we prepare all of our students for success in whatever life path they choose. To achieve this, all subject areas from k-12 have been updated…”
“This work is based on world-leading research and successful classroom programs from across the globe. The new curriculum ensures that every single child will be connected to the basics like reading, writing and mathematics, while learning [to be collaborative, think critically and develop communication skills] needed in university, college and the workforce. It also provides students and teachers with great flexibility to personalize the learning experience, allowing out kids to develop a deeper understanding of, and connection to, what they are learning.”
In other words, it is a necessary move toward the development of those skills that the students of today need, for the world of tomorrow.
The New Curriculum
The Ministry of Education has spent the past three years working with teachers from public, independent and First Nations schools across BC to develop and refine the curriculum. Beginning this year, we are transitioning to this new curriculum, which you can look through by following this link: www.curriculum.gov.bc.ca. There are several parts to BC’s new curriculum.
- Core Competencies: At the heart of the new curriculum (along with literacy and numeracy foundations), are three core competencies. The core competencies are sets of intellectual, personal, and social and emotional abilities that all students need to develop, in order to engage in deep, life-long learning. These core competencies are: Communication, Thinking (creative and critical thought) and Personal/Social Awareness. A detailed explanation and description of each competency is available here: curriculum.gov.bc.ca/competencies.
These competences are embedded into each of the new learning standards and the idea is that students will come to employ them every day in school and in life.
- A New Curriculum Model: The new curriculum model is based on three elements (content, curricular competencies and big ideas) that work together to support deeper learning in each subject area.
- Content – what we want the students to know
- Curricular Competencies – what we want the students to be able to do (the skills, strategies and processes that students develop over time)
- Big Ideas – what we want the students to understand (generalizations, principles, and key concepts important in the area of learning)
- Learning Standards: The new learning standards replace the current “learning outcomes” reported on in student report cards. A learning standard is an explicit statement regarding what students are expected to know, understand and be able to do.
- Literacy & Numeracy Foundations: Literacy and numeracy are fundamental to all learning and are found in all areas of learning. Literacy is the ability to understand, critically analyze and create a variety of forms of communication (including oral, written, visual, digital and multimedia) in order to complete a task. Numeracy is the ability to understand and apply mathematical concepts, processes and skills to solve problems.
British Columbia’s curriculum redesign brings together two features that many educators feel are essential for the 21st Century Learner: a concept-based approach to learning and a focus on the development of competencies. These two features are complimentary in that they focus on the active engagement of students, and deeper learning is better achieved through ‘doing’ versus passive listening. Both engage students in authentic tasks that connect learning to the real world.
Timeline for Implementation of the New Curriculum
The new curriculum has not yet been mandated by the Ministry, however many teachers are already opting to begin implementation by exploring parts of the new curriculum with their classes. They may be implementing it in one, many or all subject areas this year.
Assessment, Evaluation and Reporting Update
As we examine our curriculum and the needs of the 21st Century Learners, the school district has also been exploring more informative ways to assess and report student learning. Many individual classrooms and whole schools in Surrey have been involved in reporting pilots with this in mind.
At TE Scott, all teachers will be using a new format for communicating student learning. Teachers have decided to use the new Report card template created by the District. This new template will be in paper format and allow teachers to share your child’s learning with you using our New Curriculum. The big difference will be, rather than receiving letter grades on their report cards for students in grade 4, student learning will be communicated clearly to students and parents thru the use of the BC Performance Standards and a variety of assessment practices. Our grade 4 students will receive letter grades on their formal report in June 2016.
November 12th Non Instructional Day… read on for more details…
Message from Jordan Tinney …
October 14, 2015
Dear Parents and Guardians,
As you may know, a new curriculum has been developed in BC. This work has been years in the making with many teachers involved in its development, and implementation is a huge task. For the past two years the curriculum has been available for teachers to use in their practice, but starting September 2016, it will be the only available curriculum in grades K-9.
On Monday, September 28th the Ministry of Education and the British Columbia Teachers Federation (BCFT), supported by provincial partners in education, announced a plan to support the implementation of the new curriculum. As part of this plan, districts have been asked to add 10 hours of non-instructional time (or two days) in this school year. The time will be provided for teachers to familiarize themselves with the new curriculum and to plan for its implementation in the coming year. As an additional part of the plan, the Ministry is also allocating $1M to provide release time for 2000 teachers across the Province to further support implementation of the curriculum.
We needed to determine how to choose the dates for these two non-instructional days. We have looked at November 12th as a likely day that could be chosen. November 11th is Remembrance Day, and November 13th is already a non-instructional day. The placement of a single day of instruction between a statutory holiday and a long weekend certainly is not optimal for parents and students. We have met with our local teachers’ association to agree on the use of those days, and we are recommending November 12th be one of the two days. We have met with the Board of Education, and at the upcoming October 22nd Board meeting a motion will be presented to approve an adjusted local calendar declaring November 12th as a non-instructional day.
We apologize for the short notice to parents and our community, but in our preliminary collaboration with small groups, the consensus has been that November 12th is a logical choice. Many people have commented that parents need to know right away given that they will need to make alternate arrangements for that day. We still need to decide how to select the other day which likely will come in the spring, but that date is yet to be determined.
A final note is that this support plan will look different from district to district. Each district must create a plan with their local teachers’ association, and the provincial plan allows districts to establish the dates or manner of non-instructional time. What we have presented is a Surrey solution, and we simply wanted you to have as much advance notice as possible so that you can make plans for your family.
Thank you for your understanding and we hope this letter helps shed light on our processes and the context. We are pleased that teachers have been given time to spend on the new curriculum. These days are but a small part of a much larger plan for implementation as it unfolds across BC.
Jordan Tinney, Superintendent of Schools/CEO