The sun shines through chilled windows into a small workspace at Mountainside Secondary School, illuminating a group of three teachers on a frigid Monday morning in February.
"We're trying to design the tasks so that the carrot is dangling far enough away that it stretches students' minds, but not too far that they become discouraged," said Emily Taylor, teacher, North Vancouver School District.
The three teachers are from North Vancouver's Distributed Learning program, which operates out of Mountainside Secondary. They are designing units under the new grade 11 math curriculum.
"We're moving away from memorization and regurgitation to problem solving and critical thinking," said Naresh Chand, teacher.
After explaining how students need to understand how to apply math to real life, teacher Billy Lauzon expanded on this thought, "By focusing on the Big Ideas of Math 11, we are creating essential questions to engage students and designing performance tasks where students apply math concepts in real life situations."
The collaborative work this group is undertaking exemplifies the efforts happening across the North Vancouver School District to implement British Columbia's new curriculum. School teams are using collaboration time to unit plan. Staff are also coming together within their Family of Schools to plan, share and learn from one another.
At a district-wide level, two curriculum implementation days have occurred this school year – one in November and one in January. At the January professional learning day, staff worked through four levels of planning. The planning moved from basic understanding of the new curriculum to more complex integration of the core competencies (communication, thinking, and personal and social responsibility). A key element of curriculum planning in the school district is a North Vancouver School District planner and guide that was created by a group of educators in the district.
"The planner has been fundamental in providing guidance to support teachers to work through the new curriculum to create inquiry units," said Kathleen Barter, District Vice Principal, North Vancouver School District.
In addition to the planner and guide, the school district has also created a new website called the Curriculum Hub. This site supports staff with implementing the new curriculum. There are many resources, including already designed units and resources to help teachers design their own units. The website is dynamic, with additional resources and supports added as they are created.
"Implementation of the new curriculum within our school district has been quite impressive. Staff are engaging in various ways with planning, and are applying new units geared at deeper, more meaningful student learning," said Barter.
Thus far, the new kindergarten to grade nine curricula are fully in place and the grades 10 to 12 curricula are in a trial phase until September 2018 when they will also be fully implemented. More information on BC's new curriculum can be found at www.curriculum.gov.bc.ca.