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Senior 2 English Language Arts: A Foundation for Implementation

Implementation Overview: Senior 2
Planning, Teaching, and Learning with Learning Outcomes - Part 6

Planning Balanced Programming for the School Year

While the year’s programming can be planned broadly, detailed unit and lesson planning is ongoing, and depends on the interests and learning requirements of students identified through classroom assessment. In the course of this ongoing planning, teachers need to monitor the balance of various important elements in each unit and in the course as a whole.

Teachers who keep an ongoing record of instructional and assessment activities can assess whether their programming is balanced with respect to the following elements:

  • the six language arts
  • opportunities for using various learning approaches and intelligences
  • a variety of instructional approaches
  • differentiation for students with varying knowledge and skills
  • individual and interactive strategies and groupings

The Six Language Arts

An effective language arts course has a balance of listening, speaking, reading, writing, viewing, and representing activities, and provides opportunities for students to interact with a variety of oral, print, and other media texts from a variety of forms and genres. Learning outcomes addressed with reference to one of the language arts in one instance may use a different language art on other occasions. For example, students who learn to generate ideas by creating lists may sketch on another occasion.


Opportunities for Using Various Learning Approaches and Intelligences

Intelligence is multi-dimensional and dynamic, and each individual has preferred ways of accessing, processing, and expressing information and ideas. Teachers need to vary their instructional approaches and methods to enable all students to use their preferred learning approaches at least some of the time. Teachers who identify their students’ learning approaches may provide experiences that use students’ strengths as a point of entry into new material, and that directly address their learning requirements. Offering a high degree of choice and ensuring a balance in the six language arts are steps toward providing students with learning experiences in various preferred learning approaches and intelligences.


A Variety of Instructional Approaches

Teachers need to ensure that their programming incorporates a balance of instructional approaches. While indirect instruction activities, such as inquiry projects, provide excellent learning experiences in many learning outcome areas, it may be difficult for teachers to integrate certain aspects of the curriculum when students are using self-selected materials and engaging in a variety of activities.

Teachers need to monitor carefully the learning outcomes that indirect instruction addresses and those it omits. They need to be inventive in finding opportunities to embed curricular aspects in the context of students’ own work. Many of the learning outcomes, such as learning editing skills, may be addressed through mini-lessons that provide instruction and modelling, followed by student practice with their own writing. Other learning outcomes, such as the use of organizational tools, can be taught in the context of a wide variety of student applications.


Differentiation for Students with Varying Knowledge and Skills

To ensure that the language arts programming offers learning experiences for all students, teachers need to check whether they are providing learning experiences that can be applied with varying degrees of complexity and with greater or lesser student independence. Differentiation can also be achieved by providing extension activities for capable students, and by building supports into instruction for struggling students. Success for All Learners: A Handbook on Differentiating Instruction (Manitoba Education and Training, 1996) is a resource for teachers to use in differentiating programming to meet the learning requirements of all students.


Individual and Interactive Strategies and Groupings

Teachers need to ensure that there is a balance in their classrooms of various kinds of groupings: pairs, small groups, and whole-class settings, as well as opportunities for individual work. Cooperative and collaborative work reflects that learning is social, and builds on students’ desires to interact, to learn from each other, to perform, and to share their views with an audience. While interactive experiences address students’ needs for cooperation and collaboration as life skills, individual learning and assessment experiences are also vital for many kinds of learning, including the development of independence and self-knowledge.


Suggested Resources

Anthony, R., T. Johnson, N. Michelson, and A. Preece. Evaluating Literacy: A Perspective for Change.

This book presents teachers with rational and practical suggestions for learner-centred literacy assessment, evaluation, and reporting to parents. The authors view teachers as reflective practitioners who gather many types of assessment data that reflect broad student growth.

Bridges, L. Assessment: Continuous Learning.

This book demonstrates to teachers a variety of ways to connect learning and assessment, including kidwatching and use of developmental checklists, portfolios, student interviews, and student self-evaluation.

Hart-Hewins, L., N. Goldman, and F. Parkins. Integrated Programs for Adolescents.

This teacher resource provides a blend of theoretical background and practical application ideas for integrating classroom learning. Allowing for diversity in student backgrounds and learning approaches, this resource uses thematic units to address the needs of diverse adolescent learners. Examples of thematic units developed around specific subject areas are included. Suggestions for lesson plans, activities, and time-tabling are provided. This text is intended both for individual teachers and for two or more teachers working collaboratively.

Maxwell, Rhoda J., and Mary Jordan Meiser. Teaching English in Middle and Secondary Schools. 2nd ed.

This comprehensive resource addresses significant components of educational theory and reflective practice. It provides a wealth of techniques, considerations, strategies, and approaches. Topics include planning for instruction, developing thematic units, and evaluating language arts.

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