Manitoba

Education and Training

Senior 3 English Language Arts: A Foundation for Implementation

Implementation Overview: Senior 3
Learning about Senior 3 Students

Successful learning is more likely to occur if programming decisions are informed by an understanding of students and the ways they learn. Teachers seeking to learn about their students need to be knowledgeable in various areas, including the following:

  • How people learn: In recent decades, cognitive psychology, brain-imaging technology, and multiple intelligences theory have transformed our understanding of learning. Teachers need to engage in ongoing professional development and study to update what they know about learning processes.
  • The ways in which student populations are changing: The students teachers encounter today are different in many respects from those of a generation ago. Classrooms are more likely to be culturally diverse. Students are more likely to be living with a single parent or blended family. More have part-time jobs. Students are more sophisticated in their knowledge and use of information technology. Much of their understanding of the world, and many of their expectations about texts, come from television and other visual texts.
  • The developmental characteristics of Senior 3 students: The characteristics of adolescent learners and the particular situation of Senior 3 students in late adolescence have many implications for teachers.
  • The unique qualities of each student: Family relationships, academic and life experiences, personality, interests, learning approaches, socioeconomic status, rate of development, and language proficiency all influence a student’s learning. Teachers can gain an understanding of the unique qualities of each student only through day-by-day interaction, observation, and assessment.

Characteristics of Senior 3 Learners

For many students, Senior 3 is a stable and productive year. Many Senior 3 students have developed a degree of security within their peer group and a sense of belonging in school. They show increasing maturity in dealing with the freedoms and responsibilities of late adolescence: romantic relationships, part-time jobs, driver’s licences. In Senior 3, most students have a great deal of energy and a growing capacity for abstract and critical thinking. Many are prepared to express themselves with confidence and to take creative and intellectual risks. The stresses and preoccupations of preparing for graduation, post-secondary education, or full-time jobs are still a year away. For many students, Senior 3 may be their most profitable academic year of the Senior Years.

Although many Senior 3 students handle their new responsibilities and the demands on their time with ease, others experience difficulty. External interests may seem more important than school. Because of their increased autonomy, students who previously had problems managing their behaviour at school may now express their difficulties through poor attendance or other behaviours that place them at risk.

Students struggling to control their lives and circumstances may make choices that seem to teachers to be contrary to their best interests. Communication with the home and awareness of what their students are experiencing outside school continue to be important for Senior 3 teachers. Although the developmental variance evident from Grade 6 through Senior 1 has narrowed, students in Senior 3 can still change a great deal in the course of one year or even one semester. Senior 3 teachers need to be sensitive to the dynamic classroom atmosphere and recognize when shifts in interests, capabilities, and needs are occurring, so that they can adjust learning experiences for their students.

The following chart identifies some common characteristics of late adolescence observed in educational studies (Glatthorn, 1993, Maxwell and Meiser, 1997, Probst, 1988) and by Manitoba teachers, and discusses the implications of these characteristics for teachers.

Senior 3 Learners: Implications for Teachers

Characteristics of Senior 3 learners

Accommodating Senior 3 Learners

Cognitive Characteristics

 
  • Most Senior 3 learners are capable of abstract thought and are in the process of revising their former concrete thinking into fuller understanding of principles.
  • Teach to the big picture. Help students forge links between that they already know and what they are learning. Be cognizant of individual differences and build bridges for students who think concretely.
  • Students are less absolute in their reasoning, more able to consider diverse points of view. They recognize that knowledge may be relative to context.
  • Focus on developing problem-solving and critical-thinking skills.
  • Many basic learning processes have become automatic by Senior 3, freeing students to concentrate on complex learning.
  • Identify the knowledge, skills, and strategies that students already possess, and build the course around new challenges. Through assessment, identify students who have not mastered learning processes at Senior 3 levels and provide additional assistance and support.
  • Students have a clearer self-understanding and have developed specialized interests and expertise. They need to connect what they are learning to the world outside school.
  • Use strategies that enhance students’ metacognition. Encourage students to develop literacy skills through exploring areas of interest. Cultivate classroom experts and invite students with individual interests to enrich the learning experience of the class.
  • Students typically enter a period of transition to adult texts, moving from adventure, romance, and teen fiction to texts that explore adult roles and social questions.
  • Build bridges by suggesting engaging and thoughtful texts that help students in the search for personal values.

 

Senior 3 Learners: Implications for Teachers (continued)

Characteristics of Senior 3 learners

Accommodating Senior 3 Learners

Moral and Ethical Characteristics  
  • Senior 3 students are working at developing a personal ethic, rather than following an ascribed set of values and code of behaviour.
  • Explore the ethical meaning of situations in life and in texts. Provide opportunities for students to reflect on their thoughts in discussion, writing, or representation.
  • Students are sensitive to personal or systemic injustice but are increasingly realistic about the factors affecting social change.
  • Explore the ways in which literacy and community involvement can bring about social change.
  • Students are shifting from an egocentric view of the world to one centered in relationships and community. They are able to recognize different points of view and to adapt to difficult situations.
  • Provide opportunities for students to make and follow through on commitments and to refine their interactive skills
  • Students are becoming realistic about the complexities of adult responsibilities but resist arbitrary authority.
  • Explain the purpose of every learning experience. Enlist student collaboration in developing classroom policies. Strive to be consistent.

 

Senior 3 Learners: Implications for Teachers (continued)

Characteristics of Senior 3 learners

Accommodating Senior 3 Learners

Social Characteristics  
  • By Senior 3, certain individuals will take risks in asserting an individual identity. Many students, however, continue to be intensely concerned with how peers view their appearance and behaviour. Much of their sense of self is drawn from peers, with whom they may adopt a "group consciousness" rather than making autonomous decisions.
  • Ensure that the classroom has an accepting climate. Model respect for each student. Use language learning experiences that foster student self-understanding and self-reflection. Challenge students to make personal judgements about situations in life and in texts.
  • Adolescents frequently express identification with peer groups through slang, musical choices, clothing, body decoration, and behaviour.
  • Foster a classroom identify and culture. Ensure that every student is included and valued. Structure learning so that students can interact with peers, and teach strategies for effective interaction.
  • Crises of friendship and romance and a preoccupation with relationships can distract students from academics.
  • Open doors for students to learn about relationships through poetry, film, and fiction and to explore their experiences and feelings in language. Respect confidentiality, except where a student’s safety is at risk.
  • Students begin to recognize teachers as individuals and welcome a personal connection.
  • Nurture and enjoy a relationship with each student. Try to find areas of common interest with each one. Respond with openness, empathy, and warmth.

 

Senior 3 Learners: Implications for Teachers (continued)

Characteristics of Senior 3 learners

Accommodating Senior 3 Learners

Psychological and Emotional Characteristics  
  • It is important for Senior 3 students to see that their autonomy and emerging independence are respected. They need a measure of control over what happens to them in school.
  • Provide choice. Allow students to select many of the texts they will explore and the forms they will use to demonstrate their learning. Collaborate with students in assessment. Teach students to be independent learners. Gradually release responsibility to students.
  • Students are preparing for senior leadership roles within the school and may be more involved with leadership in their communities.
  • Provide students with leadership opportunities within the classroom and with a forum to practise skills in public speaking and group facilitation.
  • Students need to understand the purpose and relevance of practices, policies and processes. They may express their growing independence through a general cynicism about authority and institutions.
  • Use students’ tendency to question social mores to help them develop critical thinking. Negotiate policies and demonstrate a willingness to make compromises. Use students’ questions to fuel classroom inquiry.
  • Senior 3 students have a clearer sense of identity than they had previously and are capable of being more reflective and self-aware. Some students are more willing to express themselves and disclose their thoughts and ideas.
  • Provide optional and gradual opportunities for self-disclosure. Invite students to explore and express themselves through their work. Celebrate student differences.

 

Senior 3 Learners: Implications for Teachers (continued)

Characteristics of Senior 3 learners

Accommodating Senior 3 Learners

Physical Characteristics  
  • Many Senior 3 students have reached adult physical stature. Other, particularly males, are still in a stage of extremely rapid growth and experience a changing body image and self-consciousness.
  • Be sensitive to the risk students may feel in public performances and increase expectations gradually. Provide students with positive information about themselves.
  • By Senior 3, students are able to sit still and concentrate on one learning task for longer periods than previously, but they still need interaction and variety. They have a great deal of energy.
  • Put physical energy to the service of active learning instead of trying to contain it. Provide variety; change the pace frequently; use kinesthetic learning experiences.
  • Senior 3 students still need more sleep than adults, and may come to school tired as a result of part-time jobs or activity overload.
  • Be aware that inertia or indifference may be the result of fatigue. Work with students and families to set goals and plan activities realistically so that school work assumes a higher priority.

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Implementation Overview: Senior 3

 


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