Manitoba

Education and Training

Kindergarten to Grade 4 English Language Arts: A Foundation for Implementation

Implementation Overview: K-4 Planning for Instruction and Classroom Assessment Using Learning Outcomes - Part 2

Planning with Learning Outcomes

Developing a balanced, integrated language arts program is a creative process. Language arts instruction is shaped by the teaching style, resources, and strengths of each teacher, by the interests, abilities, and talents that each new group of students brings to the classroom, and by the needs of the community.

Planning a Balanced Language Arts Curriculum

Planning for a balanced language arts curriculum needs to take into account:

  • that specific learning outcomes stated are end-of-year learning outcomes; while students may reach the level of competence described by the learning outcomes at any time during the year, the learning outcomes describe end-of-year performance; educators must consider the series of instructional steps that will lead to accomplishment of the learning outcomes and achievement of the standards by the end of the year;
  • that learning is recursive and cumulative; many of the learning outcomes need to be addressed repeatedly in different ways throughout the school year; students need practice in many meaningful contexts to consolidate new knowledge, skills, and strategies; as well as developing new literacy skills and strategies, students need to review, maintain, and refine those learned previously;
  • that planning is continual, informed by needs that become evident through ongoing classroom assessment;
  • that a variety of instructional approaches, classroom management techniques, assessment practices, tools and strategies, and language arts activities are essential

Some areas of balance to consider in planning are:

  • five general learning outcomes
  • six language arts: reading, listening, viewing, speaking, writing, and representing
  • seven standards of student performance
  • text types: oral, literary, and media texts, which include a variety of expository or informational, narrative, poetic, and dramatic texts; and a variety of forms and genres such as videos, magazines, big books, letters, charts, and computer programs (see Appendix B, Part One: Forms and Genres. In: Kindergarten to Grade 4 English Language Arts: A Foundation for Implementation)
  • various functions of language arts activities, ranging from exchanging ideas and information to expressing feelings and finding aesthetic pleasure in language (see Appendix B, Part Four. In: Kindergarten to Grade 4 English Language Arts: A Foundation for Implementation)
  • grouping patterns: individual, pairs, small groups, large groups, whole class, heterogeneous, homogeneous, student-directed, teacher-directed
  • various learning styles and multiple intelligences
  • various rates of student learning, addressed by providing pre-teaching, review, and additional practice for some students, and challenging extension activities for others

Teachers strive for balance in their classrooms. The following diagram, Planning to Ensure Balance, illustrates options to consider in planning instructional and assessment activities.

Planning to Ensure Balance

Planning for balance while ensuring sufficient instruction and practice in all the outcomes defined for a particular grade is a challenging task. Manitoba educators have found the Continuum for English Language Arts Outcomes (in the Kindergarten to Grade 4 English Language Arts: Manitoba Curriculum Framework of Outcomes and Grade 3 Standards, Appendix D, pages 83-94) very helpful. The information can be used to create balanced instructional activities and to help define areas in which initial teaching and practice are necessary and those in which practice and maintenance are the main emphases. It is important to note that students who have not reached maintenance levels of specific skills will need to continue with scaffolded instruction at their level.

Themes, integrated units, and learning sequences provide opportunities for explicit instruction in many learning outcomes. Instructional activities such as mini-lessons are necessary to introduce, develop, or reinforce particular skills. In every planning decision, reflective teachers ask:

  • What is an appropriate balance for my students?
  • Am I achieving that balance in my classroom, both in the short term and in the long term?
  • Is my instruction helping students achieve the appropriate learning outcomes of the English language arts curriculum?

Planning by Starting with Present Practice

As teachers become familiar with the learning outcomes, they may plan by examining their current practice to identify the learning outcomes that are being addressed and those that are not. Teachers may find that integrated, thematic units or learning sequences they have previously used can be focussed, adjusted, or extended to include additional learning outcomes.

Planning in this way gives teachers an overview of the learning outcomes for each grade. Learning outcome maps that incorporate the specific learning outcomes for each grade are useful in analyzing a previously taught unit. The learning outcome maps are included at the beginning of every General Outcome for each grade level. Enlarged to placemat size and laminated, the learning outcome maps make a useful reusable template for recording integrated themes or learning sequences.

Using learning outcome maps, teachers follow a series of steps in planning from previously prepared materials:

  1. Analyze a previously planned lesson sequence or theme to identify the specific learning outcomes and assessment tasks it includes.
  2. Using the prepared maps of all five general learning outcomes for a specific grade, match the learning activities to the specific learning outcomes on each map. Highlight these learning outcomes with a coloured washable marker.
  3. Examine the learning outcomes that have not been highlighted to determine which additional learning outcomes could be addressed through adjustments to the original plan and which learning outcomes need to be the focus of subsequent learning sequences.
  4. Highlight and code the language arts (reading, writing, listening, speaking, viewing, and representing) most emphasized in the learning sequence.
  5. Use the learning outcome maps to record learning outcomes cumulatively throughout the year, using a different coloured pen for each integrated theme and learning sequence.

Many learning outcomes need to be addressed repeatedly and in different ways throughout the course of the year. When used in conjunction with daily planning, tools such as learning outcome maps help teachers assess whether all learning outcomes have been addressed in sufficient depth for all students to be successful. They also assist teachers in tracking and monitoring the balance in each of the language arts. Learning outcome maps may also be used in conjunction with learning outcomes from other disciplines to assist in interdisciplinary planning.

The chart below illustrates how a community study at Grade 3 might be examined for the learning outcomes and standards it addresses.

Excerpt from a Community Theme for Grade Three

Showing Links to English Language Arts Learning Outcomes and Standards at the Grade Three Level

Teaching Sequence

NOTE: page numbers refer to the Kindergarten to Grade 4
English Language Arts:
Manitoba Curriculum Framework of Outcomes and Grade 3 Standards, 1996.

 

1. Class brainstorms ideas and prior knowledge about "community."

Outcome 1.1 — Express ideas, p. 17, Consider others’ ideas, p. 17
Outcome 2.1 — Prior knowledge, p. 23 Standard 1: Preparing to Learn
Outcome 4.1 — Generate ideas, p. 39
Outcome 5.2 — Cooperate with others, p. 51 Standard 6: Working as a Community

2. Whole class or group organizes or categorizes ideas about community.

Outcome 1.2 — Combine ideas, p. 19 Standard 4: Managing and Organizing Ideas and Information
Outcome 3.3 — Organize information, p. 35
Outcome 5.1 — Compare responses, p. 49 Standard 6: Working as a Community
Outcome 5.2 — Cooperate with others, p. 51 Standard 6: Working as a Community

3. Each student picks one topic to study.

Outcome 1.1 — Express ideas, p. 17 Standard 1: Preparing to Learn
Outcome 2.1 — Prior Knowledge, p. 23 Standard 2: Making Meaning
Outcome 3.1 — Use personal knowledge, p. 31

4. Each student works alone to record or represent what he/she knows, and then confers with partner(s) to share ideas.

Outcome 1.2 — Develop understanding, p. 19 Standard 1: Preparing to Learn
Outcome 3.2 — Identify personal and peer knowledge, p. 33 Standard 4: Managing and Organizing Ideas and Information
Outcome 4.1 — Generate ideas, p. 39
Outcome 5.1 — Compare responses, p. 49 Standard 6: Working as a Community

5. Each student categorizes recorded ideas according to a criterion and format modelled by the teacher.

Outcome 1.2 — Combine ideas, p. 19 Standard 4: Managing and Organizing Ideas and Information
Outcome 3.3 — Organize information, p. 35 Standard 4: Managing and Organizing Ideas and Information
Outcome 4.1 — Organize ideas, p. 39 Standard 5: Composing, Revising

6. Students create additional questions they wish to research. They share their inquiry questions with a partner or group and revise their questions based on new information.

Outcome 1.2 — Extend understanding, p. 19 Standard 1: Preparing to Learn
Outcome 3.1 — Ask questions, p. 31 Standard 4: Managing and Organizing Ideas and Information
Outcome 3.2 — Identify personal and peer knowledge, p. 33 Standard 4: Managing and Organizing Ideas and Information

Planning that Begins with Particular Learning Outcomes

When teachers determine that students require instruction in a particular area to ensure balance in the language arts curriculum, a specific learning outcome or group of learning outcomes can be the starting point for planning. Usually, specific learning outcomes will not be addressed singly but in conjunction with other prescribed learning outcomes. Care must always be taken to make sure that planning does result in activities that are connected to the specific learning outcomes of the language arts curriculum.

When planning to achieve learning outcomes, it is important to read each specific learning outcome carefully and clarify the types of learning that are expected of the student. This will provide guidance for developing appropriate instructional activities to help students meet the expectations of the English language arts curriculum.

Before choosing assessment tasks, tools, and strategies, it is critical to define the reasons for assessing, the audience who will use the information, and the ways results will be used. Appropriate assessment activities must focus on tasks that allow students to demonstrate their competence in applying learning in authentic ways.

The following questions should be answered at the beginning of the results-based planning process.

Questions to Guide Results-Based Planning

What do we want students to know and be able to do?

This question can be answered by reading the learning outcome to determine the knowledge, skills and strategies, and attitudes or habits of mind that it includes.

What instructional methods, materials, and strategies will help students develop these competencies?

These will be drawn from teachers’ experiences, professional resources, or instructional suggestions provided in this document.

What is the purpose for assessment? How will the assessment be used?

Various assessment audiences and purposes are suggested in the chart, Principles of Assessment that Assist Learning and Inform Instruction, on page 24.

What assessment tasks will allow students to demonstrate their understanding in authentic ways?

Assessment tasks will be drawn from teachers’ experiences, professional resources, or suggestions provided in this document. The Suggestions for Assessment column of this document provides information on types of assessment tasks and strategies. The Strategies That Make a Difference chapter also has suggestions for assessment strategies for classroom-based assessment tasks and provides ideas for assessing the instructional strategies presented.

In choosing a variety of authentic assessment tasks, tools, and strategies, teachers assess both process and product to achieve balance.

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