Senior 1 English Language Arts: A Foundation for Implementation

Implementation Overview: Senior 1
Planning for Instruction and Assessment Using Learning Outcomes

While English language arts teachers will continue to use many of their current effective classroom practices, prescribed learning outcomes and standards of performance assist teachers and other educators in

  • planning learning activities that support students in achieving learning outcomes and standards of performance
  • establishing goals for learning, instruction, and assessment
  • monitoring student progress in achieving outcomes and standards
  • communicating with students, parents, and guardians about student progress
  • developing a literacy plan for a school

Reading the Learning Outcomes

Reading the general and specific learning outcomes assists in planning for instruction, assessment, and selection of learning resources.

Reading Learning Outcomes for Purpose

The English language arts learning outcomes can be viewed as an elaboration of the knowledge, skills and strategies, and attitudes that constitute literacy for students at each grade. The kinds of learning described in the outcomes can be categorized in terms of

  • declarative knowledge
  • procedural knowledge
  • attitudes and habits of mind

A learning outcome may include more than one of these three dimensions of learning. Consequently, the outcomes require careful reading to determine appropriate content, learning resources, and instructional and assessment approaches.

Example: Senior 1: Outcome 4.1.3 (Organize Ideas)

  • Identify and use a variety of organizational patterns [such as flashbacks, cause and effect, comparison and contrast, problem and solution . . .] in own oral, written, and visual texts; use effective transitions.

This outcome comprises three dimensions of learning:

  • Declarative knowledge: Students learn the meaning and effect of organizational patterns such as flashbacks, cause and effect, comparison and contrast, and problem and solution; they learn transitional devices.
  • Procedural knowledge: Students learn processes for organizing their material such as using concept maps, graphic organizers, linear outlines, and exploratory talk.
  • Attitudes and habits of mind: Students learn the importance of prewriting and pre-production; they learn to be aware of audience and the audience’s need for organizational cues.


Reading Learning Outcomes for Application to the Six Language Arts

General learning outcomes integrate the six English language arts: listening, speaking, reading, writing, viewing, and representing. Many of the specific outcomes refer to oral, written, and media texts; others are stated generally but have application to several of the language arts.

Example: Senior 1: Outcome 1.1.2 (Consider Others’ Ideas)

  • Acknowledge the value of others’ ideas and opinions in exploring and extending personal interpretations and viewpoints.

This outcome has the most obvious application to listening and speaking. Students listen actively to the ideas of others in formal presentations and informal exchanges. They reflect orally on what they have heard, extending, strengthening, or revising their own views. However, students may also read the ideas of others in the form of letters, journal entries, or formal texts, or view them in texts such as documentaries. They may reflect on others’ ideas in written form, through letters, logs, or journals, for example, or they may respond in a visual representation such as a poster.


Reading the Bracketed Examples in Learning Outcomes

Many specific learning outcomes provide examples, enclosed within brackets.

  • Bracketed examples prefaced by such as indicate the range and variety of examples that educators need to consider in planning.
  • Bracketed terms prefaced by including indicate mandatory aspects of the curriculum.

To assist students in maintaining and strengthening previous learning, teachers need to review learning outcomes and mandated aspects of learning outcomes from previous grades. Where aspects of specific outcomes depend on previous learning, a review of learning outcomes from previous grades assists in planning.

Example: Senior 1: Outcome 3.2.4 (Access Information)

  • Expand and use a variety of skills [including visual and auditory] to access information and ideas from a variety of sources [including on-line catalogues, periodical indices, broadcast guides, film libraries, and electronic databases].

Accessing information from on-line catalogues and electronic databases requires that students know how to use key words to conduct information searches. Instruction in the use of key words is required in outcome 3.2.4 for Grade 8. Senior 1 teachers may need to review and maintain the skills for accessing information taught in the Middle Years, including the specific aspects listed in brackets.

Planning with Learning Outcomes

Pulling together the threads of learning outcomes, performance standards, and the six language arts into balanced, integrated programming is an individual and creative process. Many elements shape each Senior 1 English language arts course: the teaching style, resources, and gifts of each teacher, the interests, ideas, and gifts each new group of students brings to the classroom, the needs of the students, and the community and public events that provide learning opportunities.

In planning for instruction, assessment, and resources, teachers need to keep in mind general considerations such as the following:

  • Learning is recursive, and many of the learning outcomes need to be addressed repeatedly in different ways throughout the school year. As well as developing new literacy skills and strategies, students need to practise and refine those previously learned.
  • General and specific learning outcomes are end-of-year outcomes. Teachers need to consider and plan for the series of instructional steps that will assist students in achieving the prescribed outcomes and performance standards by the end of the school year.
  • Planning is ongoing throughout the year, informed by needs that become evident through classroom assessment.

Teachers may plan by aligning previously used plans with the learning outcomes, or by building new units around selected outcomes. Throughout the year, all teachers need to monitor their planning to ensure that they are achieving balanced instruction in each of the language arts, using a variety of groupings and instructional approaches, and differentiating their programming to address the needs of each student.

Basing Planning on Present Practice

After teachers have become familiar with the learning outcomes, they may plan by examining their current practice to identify the outcomes that are being addressed, and those that are not:

  1. Analyze a previously planned unit to identify the specific learning and assessment activities it includes.
  2. Match the learning activities of the unit to specific outcomes.
  3. Determine additional outcomes that might be included by adding or modifying the unit.
  4. Identify outcomes that are not included and may need to be the focus of subsequent units.
  5. Determine or develop means for assessment of student achievement of specific learning outcomes.

Planning for the Achievement of Specific Learning Outcomes

When teachers determine that students require instruction in a particular area to ensure balanced language arts programming, or to achieve a specific learning outcome, the following steps may be of value in planning:

  1. Read the outcome carefully, identifying its elements and bracketed examples.
  2. Ask, "How would this outcome play out in a topic or unit I plan to use?"
  3. Determine the knowledge, skills and strategies, and attitudes that are included in the outcome.
  4. Choose indicators that will demonstrate that students have learned this knowledge, gained these skills or strategies, or acquired these attitudes.
  5. Design or select assessment tools and methods (e.g., logs, rubrics, teacher observation, and performance tests) to gather information about student learning.
  6. Design or select instructional strategies and activities to help students achieve the learning outcome.

Planning Balanced Programming for the School Year

While the whole year’s programming may be planned broadly, detailed lesson and unit planning is ongoing, and depends on the interests and needs 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 check periodically whether their programming is balanced with respect to the following elements:

  • 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 media texts from a variety of forms and genres. 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 styles 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 styles at least some of the time. Teachers who identify their students’ learning styles and intelligences profiles 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 towards providing students with learning experiences in various preferred learning styles 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 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 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 outcomes, such as the use of organizational tools, can be taught in the context of a wide variety of student applications.
  • Differentiation for students of various ability levels: To ensure that language arts programming offers learning experiences for students of all ability levels, teachers need to check whether they are providing experiences that can be applied with varying degrees of complexity and with greater or lesser student independence. Differentiation also can 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 for 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 groups, 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’ need for cooperation and collaboration as life skills, individual learning and assessment experiences also are vital for many kinds of learning, including the development of independence and self-knowledge.


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