Curriculum versus the Program of Studies…

According to Ben Levin, numerous initiatives have been instituted to improve education and learning based upon the idea that changes in what could be called the curriculum, or in Alberta what we call the program of studies, would improve the practices of educators and enhance student learning. The Program of Studies, which is a document outlining both general and specific learning objectives for students, is part of our work in developing learning for each of our students, but I would argue that it is a guide to go along with us. It is not a Bible to live by, or is a specific checklist of all the outcomes that must be done within a classroom every day. A major part of the work of every teacher needs to be in creating learning opportunities that are engaging, motivational, exciting, deep, and meaningful.

I think a good analogy for our Program of Studies is thinking of it as we would a passenger in our car. It is not the driver, it’s not controlling how fast we’re going or which route we’re taking, it is along with us for the ride and helping us to navigate learning  It is not in control. We, as the driver, are deciding where we can go and in what fashion will get there, but we are utilizing the program of studies in order to assist us in determining student needs as well as have some idea of how we want to approach learning for the year. It will provide guideposts for learning, or what curriculum designers feel are appropriate learning objectives for a student had a given age. Since we know every learner is different, in order to personalize learning we need to get away from the image of the program of studies as being a checklist of what we have to accomplish during a year for each and every student.

My own definition of curriculum would be everything that encompasses learning within a school. This could include specific work done in each classroom, the big ideas and objectives, deep thinking and questioning, skill development, learning of resiliency skills, development of abilities around communication and literacy, the development of learning competencies such as creativity, curiosity, and thinking, as well as the opportunity to dig deeply into content areas in ways that reflect real world and authentic work.

I think the first step in developing innovative learning opportunities for our students is for our teachers to have the opportunity and the permission to be creative with how they approach the program of studies. This does not mean getting rid of the program of studies, but working with it in creative, meaningful ways. I know that we, meaning my class and I, always had a wonderful day when I knew that I was completely excited about what we were learning.

If you as the teacher are not excited, how can you expect your students to be?


2 Responses to Curriculum versus the Program of Studies…

  1. Jen Arruda says:

    Shannon and I spent the first part of our planning time discussing PATs this year and how best to utilize the support we have with Bea. As many of you can hear the “chirps” outside our classroom we have had our guests arrive. Shannon and I spent the rest of our planning time discussing how we can use these ducks as an engaging learning experience in all subject areas. We have started looking at storybooks, videos and websites to generate students prior knowledge of ducklings and this has led into an inquiry unit where students have a number of questions they want to investigate. As scientists we will be observing the growth and behavioural changes of the ducklings. As artists we will be sketching and painting the changes we observed during the ducklings’ life cycle at Keeler. As mathematicians we will be investigating the data we collected in graphs and analyzing the changes. As writers we will be journaling our experience with our new friends. We will be continuing to look at different activities, if anyone has any others ideas we can do please let us know!

  2. Bent says:

    Lisa and I planned and organized our next inquiry unit where the grade 3-6 students will be exploring music and sound. In the project they will be researching an instrument to create. They will then build that instrument and compose a song. The students will then brainstorm ways to visually share their compositions and instruments. To develop the students’ understanding of how to visually represent their compositions we have been showing them various ‘artistic’ music videos as real life examples. Students will be encouraged to use different media to support their compositions i.e. video, dance, garage band, art, etc.

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