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 3

Sample: An Inquiry Planning Model

"Students will listen, speak, read, write, view, and represent to manage ideas and information."

The following planning example illustrates one method for addressing a cluster of learning outcomes in General Outcome 3 at Grade 2: Taken from 3.1, page 30, Kindergarten to Grade 4 English Language Arts: Manitoba Curriculum Framework of Outcomes and Grade 3 Standards, (1996). The preliminary stage in an inquiry — the Plan and Focus stage — is provided below. The learning sequence would continue through selecting and processing, organizing, recording, and assessing stages, and culminate in composing and presenting.

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

The following summary sheet identifies the knowledge, skills and strategies, and attitudes or habits of mind targetted by the cluster of learning outcomes related to Plan and Focus in General Outcome 3.1.

Specific Outcomes (Grade 2) Understanding and Applying Knowledge, Skills and Strategies, and Attitudes
3.1.1 Use personal knowledge

Record personal knowledge of a topic to identify information needs.

  • access prior knowledge: reflect, map, web, list, or do K phase of KWL Plus
3.1.2 Ask Questions

Ask questions to understand a topic and identify information needs.

  • pose relevant inquiry questions
  • explore ideas
  • categorize ideas
3.1.3 Contribute to Group Inquiry

Contribute relevant information and questions to assist in group understanding of a topic or task.

  • listen, maintain topic
  • use group participation skills
  • make connections, combine ideas
3.1.4 Create and Follow a Plan

Recall and follow directions for accessing and gathering information.

  • identify purpose, processes
  • recognize sources, locate materials
  • listen, speak, read, write, and view to access sources
  • record ideas by talking, representing, or writing

What instructional methods, materials, and strategies will help students develop competencies to achieve the learning outcomes in 3.1?

Excerpt from a Grade 8 Inquiry Planning Model

1. Students and teacher choose topic for inquiry

2. Students and teacher discuss prior knowledge of the topic and generate general questions [3.1.1., 3.1.2, 3.1.3, and 5.2.2]

Teaching opportunities:

  • question development
  • group processes
  • discussion skills
  • connecting prior knowledge

3. Students make a plan of ways to find and gather information [3.1.4 and 5.2.1]

Teaching opportunities:

  • develop sequence
  • divide and share tasks
  • set goals and time lines
  • group processes

4. Students complete preliminary search of the topic by

  • viewing films, picture and concept books, multimedia sources
  • checking magazines
  • researching general information in the school library or media centre
  • finding human resources such as elders in the community [3.1.4 and 5.2.1]

Teaching opportunities:

  • critical viewing and listening
  • library skills
  • recording information (including use of graphic organizers or frames)
  • interviewing

5. Students meet to share ideas and information, acknowledge achievements, revisit their original questions, and choose an area of interest for further study [3.1.1, 3.1.2, 3.1.3, and 5.1.4 ]

Teaching opportunities:

  • focussing a topic
  • question development
  • celebrating successes


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

Assessment information is used by teachers to shape instruction as the inquiry proceeds. Some of the specific purposes of assessment in the Plan and Focus stage are:

  • to determine whether students have an adequate foundation of prior knowledge on which to build the inquiry. This information will be used
    • to identify individual students who will be provided with support in developing a conceptual base for the inquiry subject
    • to select learning resources and activities that will address gaps or misconceptions in students’ prior knowledge
  • to determine need for further instruction in collaborative skills and strategies
  • to determine whether students can ask relevant questions to develop an inquiry topic, or whether questioning strategies need to be taught

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

Assessment information can be collected as students are engaged in various tasks of planning, focussing, and inquiry. For example:

  • Students use a Think-Pair-Share strategy to activate prior knowledge. As students share, the teacher identifies individuals for a follow-up conference to assess gaps in prior knowledge or experience.
  • Students work in co-operative groups to follow an inquiry plan. The teacher assesses co-operative skills using an observation checklist.
  • Groups post and share their inquiry plans. The teacher and students assess the plans according to the criteria established with the class.

Summary of Key Steps in Results-Based Planning

When teachers determine that students require instruction in a particular area to ensure balanced language arts programming, or to achieve a specific learning outcome, a number of steps may be of value in planning. See the chart that follows, Summary of Key Steps in Results-Based Planning, for an outline.

Summary of Key Steps in Results-Based Planning
Plan with the end in mind.

  1. Read the learning outcome carefully to identify the key aspects of instruction and assessment. (What do we want students to know and be able to do?)
  2. Determine the knowledge, skills and strategies, and attitudes that students need in order to achieve (or move toward achieving) the learning outcome.
  3. Choose the Standards of Student Performance that will be used as indicators to demonstrate that students have learned this knowledge, gained these skills and strategies, or acquired these attitudes.
  4. Design or select authentic assessment strategies and tools (observations, checklists, logs, journals, rubrics, performance tasks) to gather information about student learning in a variety of contexts.
  5. Ask: How would this outcome be assessed and taught in a topic or theme I wish to use?
  6. Choose activating, acquiring, and applying teaching and learning strategies, materials, learning resources, and activities that will help engage students to achieve the learning outcome.


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