Curriculum design, quality assessment, instructional strategies, and social emotional learning – all aimed at preparing our learners for a world in which they think creatively and critically, communicate skillfully, and demonstrate care for self and others – are the focus of the Surrey School District’s professional learning opportunities. Through our ‘School Planning as an Inquiry Process’ Surrey teachers apply their professional learning, deepening understandings, and classroom designs and structures to their diverse contexts. The First Peoples Principles of Learning are a foundational lens used to support the integration of Aboriginal knowledge, content and ways of being. They are applicable and beneficial to all learners within the Surrey school district and support teachers in the increased curricular emphasis on the traditions, culture and history of Aboriginal peoples.
- Learning ultimately supports the well-being of the self, the family, the community, the land, the spirits, and the ancestors.
- Learning is holistic, reflexive, reflective, experiential, and relational (focused on connectedness, on reciprocal relationships, and a sense of place).
- Learning involves recognizing the consequences of one’s actions.
- Learning involves generational roles and responsibilities.
- Learning recognizes the role of indigenous knowledge.
- Learning is embedded in memory, history, and story.
- Learning involves patience and time.
- Learning requires exploration of one’s identity.
- Learning involves recognizing that some knowledge is sacred and only shared with permission and/or in certain situations.
Curriculum Design in the Classroom
Teachers approach curriculum in purposeful and intentional ways, designing learning experiences that are relevant, meaningful and support students in acquiring the knowledge, skills and competencies necessary to prepare them for their futures. Learning is messy and complicated. As teachers circulate and engage with students in conversations that focus on moving learning forward, we see students who are grappling with challenges, generating ideas, revising their thinking, and finding their way through various stages of the learning process. We may see students spread on the floor in groups, sitting individually looking at their work on a screen, in quiet spaces editing video or audio, or out in the world interviewing, filming or researching. Learning experiences are framed around topics where there are problems or challenges that encourage students to develop ideas and questions of their own that they then pursue through projects they design and create.
Curriculum, instruction, and assessment are interconnected. When designing a framework for quality assessment, teachers build on the processes outlined in the curricular competencies and provide multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning.
Quality assessment consists of both formative and summative assessment. Formative assessment places teachers and students in the position of gathering and acting on evidence to inform day to day teaching and learning. Throughout this process, teachers develop students’ ability to reflect and set goals in order to take ownership of their learning.
In math, I’m really good at inquiring and asking questions. Every time there’s a new topic, I end up getting confused. This is the point where I think of the topic and start asking questions to get a better picture of what I am learning about. Now I don’t just ask one question, I ask a bunch of questions so I can understand. My teacher explains the steps over and over again until I get the procedure. I have to ask a lot of questions in all subjects to understand, but in math I excel in asking questions.
The area I need to grow in is respecting other opinions. If I’m working in a group, I listen to what other people say, but most of the time I don’t use what they say in my own work and I ask the teacher instead. My teacher said I could use what other people say to help me see things I don’t see. I can learn from their opinions and strategies to tackle down math questions. I need to trust other students in my class. Surrey Student
Effective summative assessment involves teachers developing well-constructed performance-based tasks that ask students to demonstrate curricular competencies and content learning in a variety of ways. It is reserved for those occasions when a snapshot of student achievement is required or necessary.
If teachers are trying to make changes to their assessment practices, there has to be a shift in their mindset. This allowed me to be flexible in how I structure my units, and it changed how I communicate student learning. Everything revolves around the curricular competencies now and not on the content in the textbook. My students document their learning journey through digital portfolios. When they go online to check their progress, they don’t see a traditional gradebook with tests and quizzes. I track evidence of their learning using a competency-based gradebook with curricular competencies as categories. Now the topic of conversation in class is how do I develop my competencies, not how do to I make up on this test. Surrey Teacher
Instructional strategies are carefully crafted by teachers to enrich learning experiences for all students. Effective instructional strategies are anchored by curriculum design and formative assessment practices that provide students with choice, voice and ownership of their learning. The teacher has a strategic role as the instructional architect, designing learning experiences that reflect and address student needs, passions and curiosities. Learning thrives when teachers design instructional strategies that acknowledge the social nature of learning and make learning visible, open and transparent. By keeping learners at the center, teachers set the conditions for students to take responsibility for their learning and engage in the learning process in deep and meaningful ways.