CANMORE – Bow Valley school divisions are getting ready to implement a new curriculum in the fall.
The new K-3 French first language and literature, French immersion language arts and literature and science curriculums will roll out in September.
The latest curriculum for the three subjects has 20 per cent less content than previous drafts, with some content shifted to older grades.
The science curriculum will include problem-solving techniques such as coding and algorithms, promotion of agriculture practice understanding and an emphasis on First Nations, Métis and Inuit knowledge, practices and perspectives.
“Christ the Redeemer has a plan for a new curriculum and within that plan we have a strong process to prepare teachers to implement the new curriculum,” said Cheryl Kuemper, director of learning for Christ the Redeemer Catholic school division, which includes Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Academy.
Students in Grade 2 will begin to learn the concept of debugging and removing errors in coding. New drafts for social studies and fine arts are still being developed.
The draft material was developed last year with 941 teachers and 22,000 students.
Alberta’s Minister of Education Adriana LaGrange said in a March 21 news release the curriculum is meant to be an evolution to align with the changing work market.
“Curriculum renewal is essential to help prepare our students for a rapidly changing labour market, which is placing an ever-increasing premium on adaptability and transferable skills,” she said. “To ensure successful implementation, we are making significant investments to provide teachers with the resources they need to support students in transitioning to the new curriculum.”
The province is putting $47 million towards equipping teachers to teach the new subjects in the next school year, and is working with the largest school boards to develop science resources.
“CRPS [Canadian Rockies Public Schools] is very happy that the Alberta government will invest $47 million across the province next year towards teacher professional learning and quality teaching and learning student resources,” said Chris MacPhee, superintendent of CRPS.
The money will help Christ the Redeemer prepare its teachers for the new curriculum. It will involve providing the resources for teachers to prepare support documents in the summer. This system has been used in the past and Kuemper said it worked well.
“We will be compensating teams of teachers to work in the summer to prepare curriculum support documents,” Kuemper said. “It is their choice and option to participate. Those teachers then work to prepare the curriculum support documents.”
The documents are important as they help all the teachers within the school district implement the new subjects and curriculum with their students.
“With the curriculum support documents, they explain curriculum objectives in a student-friendly language to ensure teachers understand what they are to teach,” Kuemper said. “They also identify resources to use to teach each curriculum objective.”
Jason Schilling, president of the Alberta Teacher’s Association (ATA), said in a March 23 news release a survey of ATA members had eight out of 10 teachers say they weren’t receiving the necessary resources to roll out the new curriculum.
According to the ATA survey, only 37 per cent felt the language arts curriculum was successfully implemented, but it declines to 30 per cent for physical education and wellness and 26 per cent for math.
“Teachers and students will be overwhelmed this fall when the government rolls out new curriculum for an additional three subjects and three grades,” Schilling said in the release. “Alberta’s schools are already struggling with the current implementation of the math, physical education and wellness, and language arts curriculum, yet Alberta Education announced they intend on introducing science, French and French immersion language arts for all K–3 students this September, while also advancing new math and language arts curriculum into Grades 4–6.
“Rather than addressing those needs, the government wants to further increase the burden on our schools by introducing new curriculum to even more grades and subject areas in an already stressed environment.”