Your board has been hard at work; attending a variety of meetings, including the Kindergarten to grade 4 curriculum development seminar hosted by Alberta Education. In this session, they detailed what the new curriculum currently looks like and they asked for our feedback. We were assured this was a work in process, and so, it may change from this format in response to our input and the input of other stakeholders. That said, we thought we would elaborate on the proposed changes that were revealed to us. In broad strokes the differences are:
1. Learning outcomes for all courses reduce from approximately 90+ outcomes per course (often dealing with small fact based outcomes) to 15 outcomes that instead require the child to apply the factual knowledge to demonstrate their understanding.
2. Many of these approximately 15 outcomes are reflected in the content of each of the elementary subjects. Math outcomes are mirrored in social outcomes are mirrored in language arts outcomes etc. This is moving towards a less rigid barrier between subjects. This integration could allow for more project based learning, where projects address development across all subject matters.
3. Each of these 15 outcomes are actually developed to relate to the following year’s outcomes: they specifically build upon one another and the overall 15 topics covered develop over kindergarten to grade four.
4. There is a specific shift away from viewing school as mainly reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic. Instead these are tools to learn and communicate: 3 tools among several.
From the perspective of a Home Education organization, we looked at what impact these changes might have: it is far easier to follow the Alberta curriculum when you have 15 learning outcomes in each subject AND that material intertwines. For families who choose to use the Alberta curriculum, either as BlendEd students or as traditional students, this may make meeting requirements a bit less like a checklist (though I do know some people really like checklists!)
At the meeting I specifically asked about Special Needs Education, as this is an area that Alberta struggles in regards to education. I was assured that the steady progression and intertwining of subjects should actually help a lot of kids make sense of the material they were learning.
Things we especially liked:
Consent is part of the program from Grade 1.
Literacy learning is addressed in terms of phonemic and morphological awareness.
Things we wished could be improved:
Though learning about First Nations, Métis, Inuit and Francophone people has been integrated in every subject and every year, the focus appeared to be more historical. Current representation of our many Alberta communities is important. That said, the information within the curriculum was provided by members of those respective communities.
Another concern for us was the focus on Alberta history and geography for the entire 5 years. While children do tend to learn both history and geography best when they begin with the familiar: we are a diverse province with children from many countries. That should be reflected in our curricula, including our elementary curricula.
This is a work in progress, and may change between now and implementation. At AHEPS we are invested in working with Alberta Education to continue this effort.
By Samantha MacLeod