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Blog: Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

Embracing the New Curriculum

Innovation happens at the edge of known areas. It happens when old boundaries between school and community, academic subjects and real-world paradigms are being challenged. It’s what’s happening right now in our province and it’s providing us with the opportunity of a professional lifetime. In taking advantage of this opportunity the staff at Rick Hansen Secondary School of Science and Business has adopted a school wide philosophy of inquiry based learning enhanced by digital literacy, developed a collaborative culture of risk taking by insisting that innovative practices become part of our professional practice, and in doing so have created learning community that serves as a proof of concept for the new BC curriculum.

Rick Hansen Secondary School is underpinned by a philosophy of social innovation, character development and personalized learning through Project Based Learning. Our teachers work collaboratively and course offerings are inquiry based and interdisciplinary. Our students present their mosaics of learning through digital portfolios and alternative summative assessments, which include demonstrations of learning to biologists, veterinarians and farmers as opposed to guessing the right sequence on a multiple guess test. Feedback is welcomed from industry professionals and is considered a vital part of the school’s planning process. We have forged partnerships with academic researchers who are actively engaged in measuring the changes at the school and publishing the positive results of the school’s transformation.

I look at the opportunities our staff have created for our students over the last two years and I am reminded of a day two years ago when I popped into a Science 9 class. The class was working on an interdisciplinary PBL project that combined the outcomes from Science, English, Math and Digital Literacy. Students were focused on answering the driving question “Does the word disability still apply in 2016?” The students had been paired with an ambassador from the Rick Hansen Foundation. They were responsible for researching this individuals’ spinal cord injury, finding out the latest treatment options and the latest assistive technologies available to help this individual. They then had to communicate their findings to the individual through a face to face meeting or Skype. The science was focused on stem cell research. Every single group called me over and was excited to talk to me about their ambassador and the work they were trying to do to help them. Now the teacher could have just asked them to flip to pg. 52 of the text book, read a few paragraphs and answer questions 1-10 on stem cells but would that have allowed the students to think critically, work collaboratively and communicate their ideas effectively? Would they have had a personal connection to the learning? Would they have made a positive difference in the life of someone else or would they have just filled the blank and forgot about it? Would any group have even called me over?

DAVID DEWIT
Principal, Rick Hansen Secondary