Changes in the Secondary Science Curriculum: Stay tuned!

Being a science major, I have been given some information about what is happening in the next couple of years with the high school science curriculum.  Dean Elliott, from the Ministry of Education, has come to speak in my Science methods classes (ESCI) twice in the last year about the upcoming changes.  His team is currently working on writing some new curriculum for the new science courses.  I have included his PowerPoint presentation as the following link:

Proposed Secondary Science Courses

This PowerPoint is from 2012, and there is an updated 2013 version, but I do not have my hands on it yet.  Most of the information is the same, with some updated information about the new courses.

After reviewing the PowerPoint and having a couple hours of discussion with Dean Elliott, I have extracted a few key points and thoughts it raises for me.  We need to shift to an inquiry-based model for learning science and introducing these new courses should help us do that.  Current grade 11 science courses are Biology 20, Chemistry 20, Physics 20, Computer Science 20.  The new science courses that are currently being worked on are Environmental Science 20, Health Science 20, and Physical Science 20 (Computer Science 20 will remain).  The following slide illustrates how they will feed into the 30 level science courses.  However, the updated version does not have Earth Science 20, and the Environmental Science 20 and Health Science 20 are prerequisites for Biology 30 and Earth Science 30 in the updated version.

new science classes

This Fall 2013, there a few schools/school divisions piloting the new courses and then in Fall 2014, they will go into full implementation in the province.  To read more about each new course and what it will entail, read through the slides on the PowerPoint.  For me, this means that I will have gone through my internship and then one year of teaching with the old curriculum, and then in Fall 2014, have to tackle this new curriculum and new courses!  Although I am kind of caught in the crossover, I am excited for the new courses.  I think these new concepts like geology, geography, geosphere, human systems, medical diagnositcs, nutrition and metabolism will spark a lot of students interests.  I think it is a great idea to start introducing these topics to high school students to help them understand what their interests are and perhaps help expose them to more career paths for after high school.  We want to enable students to develop scientific literacy, develop scientific and technological skills, construct scientific knowledge and be critical thinkers.  Secondary science students should be able to identify scientific questions, design and conduct scientific investigations.  As a teacher, I understand the goals and what I want my students to achieve, but I am still unsure EXACTLY how my learning plan (activities, resources, and adaptations) will all come together.  I hope the new curriculum has very clear outcomes and indicators (like the new Science 3-9 curriculum) that is almost centered around inquiry to help teachers integrate that into their classes.  I am excited to teach these new courses and I think they are a positive change in the current science curriculum, but I just hope I have enough resources and time to figure out how to teach them!  I know there will be backlash with teachers, parents and students (as with any large change), but I think I am on board for trying out the new courses!  An interesting fact:  the U of S and U of R has examined the proposed curricular changes and they said they look good and this will not have a negative impact on any student who plans on studying science at the university level.  My question is, how long until they change science courses and the way science is being taught at the university level?

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