Grades 5 to 8 English Language Arts: A Foundation for Implementation

Implementation Overview: Grades 5 to 8
Environments for Literacy Learning

Ideal environments for literacy learning in Middle Years schools are built on the characteristics of Middle Years students. In addition, instructional methods, organizational practices, and learning materials must align with literacy instruction and literacy. Teachers can assist each other by acting as mentors to colleagues as they implement new approaches and strategies.

Schools in the Province of Manitoba are organized by grade in a variety of ways: K-5, K-6, K-8, K-Senior 1, K-Senior 4, 5-8, 5-Senior 1, or 7-Senior 4. Some Middle Years students may be taught in multi-graded classrooms. Regardless of how the school is organized, however, an effective literacy learning environment will have certain qualities:

  • The school focusses attention on the literacy of all its students. The whole staff and each classroom teacher makes literacy a positive goal, and all members of the school community work together to create an atmosphere where risk-taking in literacy activities is supported and celebrated.

  • Explicit instruction continues in all the language arts, with particular attention to non-fiction reading skills and strategies applied to textbooks, independent learning, memory, and study strategies.

  • Language development of students is facilitated through peer interaction: co-operative learning, peer editing, and paired reading. Group interactive processes are taught explicitly. Group decisions are made to facilitate both individual and collaborative learning.

  • Classroom teachers use meaningful, integrated tasks with authentic purposes and real audiences.

  • Instruction is focussed on the processes of literacy. These include metacognitive processes, activating and using prior knowledge, strategic instruction, and reflection.

  • Strategy instruction is part of daily literacy instruction.

  • Language arts and literacy activities such as recreational reading and reading aloud are prevalent in the classroom and throughout the school.

  • Adult role models in the school can be observed reading and using books, writing, and using all the language arts as part of their work.

  • Literacy activities incorporate materials and topics relevant to Middle Years students. Motivation is increased by allowing students to make choices and by focussing on topics of current interest to them. Students are also involved in setting criteria for assignments and assessments.

  • Classroom and hallway displays in Middle Years schools celebrate literacy development, provide models of student work, and invite the participation of all students.

  • Teachers encourage personal and critical responses to oral, print, and other media texts. Responses are valued and discussed formally and informally on a regular basis.

Fostering the Will to Learn

When students value their learning, believe they can succeed, and feel in control of the learning process, they develop motivation, or the "will to learn." Teachers can foster students’ will to learn by:

  • making students aware that they can learn by teaching them strategies used by successful learners

  • helping students become aware of their own learning processes, and teaching them strategies for monitoring these processes

  • instilling in each student a belief that s/he can learn

  • assigning tasks and materials of appropriate difficulty, and making sure that students receive the necessary instruction, modelling, and guided practice to be successful

  • communicating assessment processes clearly so that students understand the criteria by which progress and success are measured

  • helping students set realistic goals, and celebrating progress and success

  • ensuring that instruction is embedded in meaningful literacy events and learning experiences

  • modelling personal enjoyment of learning, and communicating the value of learning for later success in the world beyond the classroom

  • offering appropriate choices to students in the class

  • creating inclusive classroom communities where curiosity is fostered and active involvement in the learning process is valued and shared


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