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New curriculum at work in Gr. 8/9 math project at WSS

BC’s redesigned curriculum gives teachers the flexibility to create engaging and practical learning activities for students.

Grade 8/9 students at Westview Secondary, for instance, are learning about math while designing, building and selling houses. Teacher Kate Easby came up with the cross-curricular learning activity that will culminate with the creation of a model village of Lego homes.

“They are working on scales and model diagrams in conjunction with designs for houses and how this would relate to the real world,” explained Easby. “The new curriculum has just allowed for that to happen because it’s been made into the big ideas rather than just the nuts and bolts of math. Using problem-solving and critical thinking skills, the students are moving from the 3D modelling of the houses they designed with Lego to 2D blueprints of a room in the house.”

As part of the 12-class assignment students will also be putting their homes up for sale. “So, we’re going to look at interest rates and mortgages, and value of houses,” she said.

Easby noted that when it comes time to selling their houses, students also need to write real estate ad-style descriptions of their homes. “Those descriptions get evaluated by their English teacher, and so the students get cross-curricular credit for that.”

The student homebuilders are learning a lot about which features add value to homes.

“They want their house to sell for the most amount of money, so they are putting a real effort into the features of the house and what they feel would be beneficial for selling. We have one of our students who has made an environmental house. It’s going to be energy efficient because it’s got solar panels and features like that, so again, he’s able to pull in the science,” she explained.

Along with literacy, numeracy and essential learning, Core Competencies are key building blocks of the new curriculum. The three Core Competencies – thinking, communication and personal and social – are evident in every area of learning and come into play when students become actively engaged in their learning.

“The idea for the project was able to evolve and grow due to the new curriculum. With the new curriculum, I have been able to keep the idea of the building houses going as I have not been constrained within the content goals,” she said. “We’re focused on core competency thinking right now. When they first built the houses, there were no windows or doors, so there was a lot of problem-solving of how do we make that happen. And then how do we promote our house and sell it, so really thinking about those parts. The kids are enjoying it and learning from it”

For more information about the new curriculum, go to http://www.sd42.ca/new-curriculum/

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