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Learning through innovation and exploration

A new curriculum for Grades 4, 5, and 6 has students learning what is relevant to their cultures, interests, and futures 

By Elwin LeRoux

 

If you have children in Grades 4, 5, or 6, you may have heard that their classrooms are operating a little differently this September. That’s because schools across the province are rolling out a revised curriculum for each of those grade levels that’s active, student-centred, and designed to be a whole lot of fun. 

What does the revised curriculum look like in the classroom? 

It’s busy. It’s messy. It can also be noisy! If you walk into any Grade 4, 5, or 6 class, you’ll see students working on projects together, discussing challenges, and innovating solutions. They will move around. They’ll experiment with robots and modern technology. They will explore, create, and invent. They’ll use everyday objects in new ways. They’ll engage in hands-on learning activities in computer programming, creative arts, science, and collective impact projects. 

This newly revised curriculum will also give students an introduction to the basics of coding, technology, and design. What’s most exciting is that students will be having fun while learning in a way that is authentic, meaningful, and connected to their lives outside of school. It will be inquiry-based, experiential learning at its best!

The curriculum for Grades 4, 5, and 6 is intended to maximize student learning by creating the conditions to ensure success for every student, regardless of their age and their stage of learning. It allows for each student to learn in the way that suits them best. The revisions also put a strong emphasis on culturally responsive teaching, which considers and values each student’s strengths, prior knowledge, and lived experiences in the classroom. 

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There is also increased time to learn in the areas of mathematics and literacy built into the curriculum. Students will have many opportunities to develop their creativity, their ability to collaborate and innovate, as well as their problem-solving skills. Another important characteristic is that students will have various opportunities to engage in career-readiness learning. It’s never too early to start planning for the future! 

Why the change? 

Prior to the revised Grades 4–6 curriculum rolling out this fall, the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (EECD) introduced a revised P-3 streamlined curriculum in September, 2015. All of the changes being made come from Nova Scotia’s Action Plan for Education 2015, The 3 Rs: Renew Refocus Rebuild:
ednet.ns.ca/sites/default/files/docs/educationactionplan2015en.pdf 

The Action Plan is in direct response to what was heard from teachers, parents/guardians, business and community leaders, and many others interested in improving public education in Nova Scotia following a comprehensive review of the system in 2014. Ultimately, EECD is making fundamental changes that will build a more modern education system, create an innovative curriculum, promote inclusive school environments, and advance excellence in teaching and leadership. 

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To learn more about the plan and what it means for you and your child, check out the provincial Parent Guide.

This past spring, every teacher who works with students in Grades 4 to 6 took part in a full day of professional learning on the revised curriculum. This included administrators, classroom teachers, resource/learning centre teachers, as well as physical education, music, and core French teachers. Additional professional learning will continue throughout the 2016–17 school year. For real change to occur, every teacher in the system must be a part of the fundamental shift in the way we are teaching.    

It’s an exciting time to be in education! At both the provincial level and the school board level, we are continuously adapting and adjusting the way we teach so that we are not only providing a high quality education for every student every day—but we are also providing an education that is relevant: to their culture, their interests, and their future. It’s up to all of us to ensure that each student leaves our system equipped with the skills they need to be successful, contributing members of our community. The changes to our curriculum are an excellent start.  

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