I feel like the revised curriculum and how it is being presented has given teachers the freedom to create more personalized, authentic learning environments rather than having students jump through hoops and regurgitate readily available knowledge before they move on to the "real world".
However (yes there is another side to my daisy and flowers reflection here) there are some nuts and bolts that need to be addressed before this "utopia" of education can start to evolve.
Our staff had the opportunity to have some excellent conversations on our curriculum implementation day which often ended with "That's a good question", or "That is a big conversation right now" or "I'm not sure how that would/could/should work"
So here's some questions I put together and sent to the Minisry after a very close reading of the documents in the English Language Arts curriculum section of the BC Ministry's New Curriculum website:
After having the opportunity to attend the ELA 1012 and Literacy Assessment Conversation in Vernon earlier this year and after having carefully read the draft documents (particularly around assessment and ELA) I hope you will consider some of my comments/questions:
Overall I am excited by what I interpret as a chance for me to design one English curriculum that will offer students an opportunity to work and progress according to choice and their current ability while being challenged to achieve clear expectations of what it is to be a fully literate citizen. If I can use and develop similar activities across three grades (example: How to write a strong introduction) then I feel that there can be more quality over quantity curriculum created AND provide flexibility in organizing classes etc.
So my first question is: Given the way the ELA 10-12 competencies are written, is there any reason why a teacher could not offer one class that could have three different grade levels in it if the students were assessed at their grade level.
Which leads to my second question: If I am designing an English course that is inclusive (ie includes students that would otherwise have been in a Communications class) and is based on written standards, this is where I am not sure how to proceed. How is curricula with a “low floor and high ceiling” as described on the website, to be assessed in the absence of having clear and distinct standards at each grade?
Currently it is explained in the documents that: “The Elaborations offer definitions, clarifications, examples, and further information about the topics or competencies at a given grade” and ” Some Elaborations are repeated across grade levels to avoid prescription and to allow teachers to use professional judgment in selecting specific aspects of the Elaborations according to the needs of the learner and the learning context. However, many Elaborations show increasingly elevated expectations across grade levels.”
Also it is explained that, “When identical topics appear in multiple grades, the elaborations further clarify the depth and breadth to which the topic should be addressed at each grade.”
At the same time, “It is expected that students will achieve the required learning standards for each grade level whether they have taken the same option in a previous grade or they are new to the particular option.
However, the curricular and content competencies for ELA 10-12 including the elaborations are almost exactly the same word for word. In fact, it is clear that there has been some cut and pasting as “English 11” appears in an English 12 document!
Which leads me to finish with my third question: To create a realistic, effective curricula it seems to me that at each grade level there needs to be clear and different standards. Are these standards going to be provided? OR is it up to the teacher /dept/school/district to create their own standards?
Thank you for your time in considering these questions as feedback for what needs to be clarified or refined in the existing documents.
While I did email these to the email listed on the website: firstname.lastname@example.org, I did not receive a reply, nor did I expect one, however I still would love to hear what others think about my questions, whether you have answers or not!