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In Anticipation of the New Social Studies Curriculum

In September 2014, a new Social Studies curriculum will be mandated in all elementary school classrooms across Ontario. This new curriculum focuses on developing big ideas and enduring understandings through inquiry. At Richland we have continued to progress in our journey as a Reggio-Inspired school; driven by inquiry-based learning.  This new Social Studies curriculum supports and affirms the work that has already been unfolding in our classrooms.

Ms. Bei, the Grade 5/6 Teacher at Richland, reflects on an experience she had as she began to navigate the new Curriculum.

We are educators in a rapidly changing world. As such, education has continually sought to flex and change in order to meet the needs of the changing world citizen. As a teacher at Richland, I have been proud to be part of a team continually seeking to be at the forefront of these teaching practices. This pride was only made more tangible for me as I began my journey with the new Social Studies curriculum.

In early March, I was in the midst of compiling my quotes, notes, and pictures from the recent Grade 5/6 Mock Election. Within this study and subsequent project, students were challenged to investigate the inner workings of the Canadian Government, Citizenship and Democracy in an experiential way. Within this inquiry, students created their own political party, platform and campaign. Of this project one student reflected, “After this experience, I truly understand what it means to run a democracy.” As with many inquiries at Richland, our Election Inquiry produced rich learning and enduring understandings. Each of these inquiries began with one idea, but become multi-faceted and integrated in nature. For instance, our current study of the Planets has become a deep study of what humans need to survive, and why humans may need to colonize planets such as Mars and Venus.As I reflected on the work that was done within this particular study, I looked to the new curriculum in anticipation for the coming school year. As I clicked through the pages of the new document, the shift in focus struck me immediately. The focus has shifted away from the acquisition of knowledge, to the deep understanding of society in relation to the self. Ideas such as “Application”, “Inquiry” and “Understanding Context” are prominent. Nevertheless, as I delved deeper into the content around Canadian Government and Citizenship, I was struck by the fact that our Election Inquiry was able to hit on every single point of the new curriculum. The Reggio-Inspired education at Richland has always diligently aligned itself with the Ontario Curriculum; however, the new Curriculum more accurately reflects the deep learning and understanding that was gained through the study.Thus, as I dipped my toe into the new curriculum that day, I realized that at Richland we had already been immersed in it. As a school we embark on our work with the new curriculum knowing that in many ways we were already practicing it. What a promising time in store as the Ontario Ministry and Richland become even more aligned!”

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