BEFORE AND AFTER: THE NEW CURRICULUM
GRADE 6-9 SCIENCE:
‘STUDENTS BUILD A SHELTER’
Before: Many science classes were often textbook-based, with an emphasis on hard facts.
After: More opportunities to see how classroom learning applies to real-life situations in their own environments. In this example, students learn the basics while working collaboratively. They solve problems and learn communications skills.
The assignment: In science class, the teacher asks students, “What’s important in building a shelter to protect you from the elements?” Students are invited to design and build a shelter using only materials found on the forest floor right outside their classroom. The first day, they work independently sketching their designs. The following day the entire class brainstorms, comes up with criteria for successes and protocols for working outside. Students have a keen sense of purpose and ownership during the planning process, and when communicating and sharing their plans and working collaboratively to build their shelters.
‘WE ARE ALL RELATED’
Before: English language classes might have involved a teacher asking students to read a book and write an essay exploring the main themes.
After: More opportunities for active hands-on learning. Involved in a group project, students explore literary themes while they develop compassion.
The project: When asked to explore the themes of the book We Are All Related, one school project involves students from all grade levels. Primary students work alongside a group of secondary students on an art piece based on concepts from the book. The teachers then invite students to share stories about their families, backgrounds, and favourite things. All students learn about literary devices and technique while building relationships, developing compassion and learning about other cultures.
‘MAKING OWN ROBOT’
Before: Many K-5 science classes were often textbook-based with an emphasis on hard facts with few opportunities for students to set their own path.
After: Flexible learning is encouraged. Allowing kids to take ownership and learn about core subjects while doing projects related to their interests.
The result: For example, one student is extremely passionate about robots. He is invited to use his love for robotics to learn about science. He starts by doing online research — trying to discover how robots are used, when the first one was created. In the process, he realizes he could create his own robot by using the remote from his Lego car. He tweaks the design until the basic DIY robot works. He was able to develop investigative skills, critical thinking and deep understanding of science concepts while building his very first DIY robot.
K-5 SOCIAL STUDIES:
Before: Many K-5 social studies classes might explore world history and current affairs, with little reference to local/regional culture.
After: Aboriginal perspectives are integrated throughout all grades. Students from all cultures are invited to learn about their own region, and cultural history in their own communities.
For example: As part of an outdoor education project, aboriginal elders are invited to a local school to share their knowledge of traditional medicines based on local plants with about 85 students. Students are then invited to apply this knowledge and develop their own creative plant-based medicines. This project encourages creative thinking, investigative skills, and compassion, while kids learn about the cultural history of their own community.