Transformed Grade 10 Program Opens Doors to a World of Experiences

On Tuesday, we hosted our Course Information Evening to provide insight and information to parents and students about the programs SMUS has to offer in the coming school year. Among the course changes is our transformed Grade 10 program that will extend far beyond what is currently offered and will provide every Grade 10 student with unique opportunities to connect learning with real-world experiences, by focusing on experiential education.

Here’s more about that exciting transformation from Becky Anderson, Director of Leadership:

Within our school mission is the statement “providing outstanding preparation for higher learning and for life.” Staying true to our mission and reflecting our understanding of learning, effective educational approaches, and the ever-changing world in which we live, it is important to adapt and remain innovative.

Starting in the upcoming 2015-16 school year we will implement a new approach for all Grade 10 students with a focus on experiential education. We will do this by offering a variety of hands-on learning expeditions in and out of the classroom that will be connected to the curricula of individual courses, as well as provide opportunities for interdisciplinary study throughout the year.

“By connecting learning to life … we are helping students find that essential spark not only to build their academic resumes but also to be creative, caring, engaged human beings.”

– Michael Brosnan, editor of Independent School Magazine

Drawing on the model and success of the Experiential Program and extensive research, highlights of the new program for every Grade 10 student will include an outdoor education week, a series of afternoons out of the class each month in a variety of interest areas, integrated reflection, embedded experiential education in course work, and an interdisciplinary June expedition.

Upon arrival into Grade 10, students will have an orientation day. This is a day when seeds are planted and expectations are set for the year. As has been a long-standing tradition, students will head out mid-September on various nature-based adventures. When they return, students will be given time to reflect on their experience and prepare for the year ahead. Within their courses, each student will notice that there is a greater emphasis on project- or problem-based tasks; that teachers are weaving activities from outside of the class, inside.

Four afternoons each month, students will participate in afternoon expeditions chosen from a variety of options within the themes of Career/Life Skills, Arts and Humanities, Fitness/Wellness, and Global Citizenship. These afternoon expeditions are connected in an interdisciplinary way to the curriculum and give students ownership in their learning, build on previous knowledge, and happen outside of the classroom. Addressing big questions such as, “How can media be used to communicate to a local, national, or global audience?” or “How can I use YouTube to spark an important conversation?” students may find themselves working alongside an expert for the week and producing something to share with the wider SMUS community. Another student may choose to participate in an internship to gain clarity on a possible career path. Some students may want to put their passion for technology and creativity to work with an app designer or get their hands dirty working in our community garden. We will be partnering with professionals and organizations in the city to allow students to make connections and utilize facilities we have access to in Victoria.

Building reflection time into the schedule will allow students to find the connection between what they are learning in and out of the classroom, identify their own discoveries and hopefully prompt them to ask more questions.

To conclude the year in June, students will ​embark on a week-long expedition that will take them further afield, both literally and metaphorically. Students will be presented with a variety of options, such as hiking the Nootka Trail or heading to the Lower Mainland to experience the post-secondary athletics and sports science world, or possibly living in Quebec for the week for a cultural and language immersion.

Each element of the year emphasizes the importance of academics and critical thought while providing students the time and space to have real-world experiences. Making time for these experiences will deepen their understanding of academic content, spark personal interest and gain valuable real-world experience.

If you have further questions about the Grade 10 program, please don’t hesitate to contact me at

For a complete read of our 2015-16 Senior School Course Selection Guide, check it out online.


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