Senior 3 English Language Arts: A Foundation for Implementation

Implementation Overview: Senior 3
Assessing, Planning, and Reporting Progress - Part 2

Maintaining Student Learning

Unit Planning

Effective programming maintains a balance between advance planning and flexibility. It is characterized by enough planning to ensure that student learning experiences focus on the learning outcomes, and by enough flexibility to be responsive to the unexpected learning opportunities that arise through student curiosity and enthusiasm and through community events.

Initial assessment helps teachers decide

  • how much time to allocate to various learning outcomes
  • which learning outcomes to focus on first
  • what materials and learning resources are most appropriate
  • which instructional strategies to use
  • how much independence students can handle

Senior 3 students will assume more and more autonomy as the semester or year unfolds, but even in the case of inquiry units that are largely student initiated and planned, teacher planning is essential in identifying project requirements, collecting support materials, preparing mini-lessons on inquiry skills and strategies, and selecting assessment tools.

Teachers may wish to use four-column planning charts, with columns paralleling the four-column format in Section 4 of this document. Note that the learning outcomes identified in the first column are the targeted outcomes in each learning sequence or unit (i.e., the learning outcomes that the teacher and students will assess). A four-column chart such as the following is also ideal for specific lesson planning involving the activating, acquiring, and applying stages of learning.

Unit Planning Chart
Learning Outcomes to be Assessed Instructional Strategies Assessment Tools and Methods Learning Materials and Resources

Monitoring Programming for Balance

By preparing a written plan, using a standard format, teachers produce a unit overview that they can use to monitor their programming for balance with respect to the six language arts and the five general learning outcomes, as well as for variety in teaching and learning approaches. Teachers may want to use a checklist such as the following to assess units for balance. Although each unit is unlikely to achieve balance in every respect, reviewing the checklists they have produced based on various units will help teachers determine if their programming as a whole is balanced.

Monitoring Units for Balance

Is this unit balanced with respect to the following programming considerations?

  • Does it provide experiences in the six language arts?

Check Box listening Check Box reading Check Box viewing

Check Box speaking Check Box writing Check Box representing

  • Are aesthetic and pragmatic experiences consistent with the particular curriculum focus?

Check Box aesthetic (approximate %) ____

Check Box pragmatic (approximate %) ____

  • Does this unit reflect a variety of instructional and learning approaches?*

Check Box interactive learning

Check Box experiential learning

Check Box independent study

Check Box direct instruction

Check Box indirect instruction

  • Does it balance individual and interactive learning experiences? Consider whether it provides students with opportunities to work

Check Box individually

Check Box in small groups

Check Box in a whole-class setting

  • Does it include appropriate differentiation for students with varying learning approaches, knowledge, and skills?

Check Box extension activities

Check Box supports for struggling learners

* These instructional approaches are discussed in Section 2: Teaching and Learning in English Language Arts of this document.

Ongoing Assessment

Classroom assessment can be drawn from any activity or experience that provides information about student learning.* Teachers learn about student progress and achievement not only through formal tests, examinations, and projects, but also through moment-by-moment observation of students in action. Tasks and assignments are frequently the means by which students learn and, at the same time, demonstrate their achievement of learning outcomes. Assessment should focus on assessing the learning outcomes, rather than on assessing the piece of work or the process through which students demonstrate the learning outcomes.

Given that much of student learning is internal, looking only at the final product of a complex task usually does not provide adequate information about the processes students used in accomplishing the task. To assess learning in language arts, teachers require a variety of tools and methods. They ask questions, observe students engaged in learning experiences and processes, and examine student work in progress. They also engage students in peer assessment and self-assessment. The information teachers and students gain from assessment informs and shapes what happens in the classroom.

The following chart identifies various assessment tools and methods appropriate for ongoing assessment. Formal tools such as rubrics may be more appropriate for summative assessment.

* For a further discussion of assessment, see Reporting on Student Progress and Achievement (Manitoba Education and Training, 1997).

Monitoring and Recording Student Progress and Achievement

Building portfolios as the semester or year progresses is an invaluable way of monitoring student progress and achievement. Students periodically select pieces for their portfolios that demonstrate their current performance of targeted learning outcomes. As they progress, they revise their portfolios and replace pieces with new ones that reflect their learning and progress. Summative assessment of learning outcomes through this updated selection reflects the fact that the learning outcomes are exit outcomes. (Literacy portfolios are discussed in Section 2: Teaching and Learning in English Language Arts).

It may be appropriate not to assign marks until necessary for report card periods. Instead, teachers may wish to set up recording charts to monitor student progress in attaining learning outcomes. The assessment summary sheet that follows is an example of a chart that records student performance in the learning outcomes targeted in one instructional unit. Collating information from charts such as this one will help teachers determine the level at which each student is able to maintain consistency.

Below Level
At Level
322 323 324 332 522 212 213  
Check BoxComprehensive Focus
Check BoxLiterary Focus
Check BoxTransactional Focus



Student Names
Tat Sing                

The Cycle of Planning, Teaching, and Assessment

What is at issue is not whether the class has "covered" the learning outcomes, but whether each student has attained them. Assessment allows the teacher to determine the degree to which students have achieved specific learning outcomes. Depending upon students’ learning requirements, the teacher may then target new learning outcomes or revisit earlier learning outcomes using alternative strategies and resources.


As the chart, found on Section 3 – 13 of the Senior 3 English Language Arts: A Foundation for Implementation (1999), illustrates that the primary purpose of classroom assessment is not to evaluate and classify student performance, but to inform teaching and improve learning and to monitor student progress in achieving year-end learning outcomes.

Self-Reflection Tools for Teachers

Keep a Professional Journal

Keeping a professional journal ensures that you remember day-to-day insights and explore and use them to enhance professional growth.

Try a Combined Notebook/Journal

  • On the right page: Jot notes, plans, questions, and observations on the run.
  • On the left page: Take ten quiet minutes to reflect on what you see on the right page. Ask the broader questions that shape your practice:

-- What gaps do I see in my professional knowledge and how can I address them?

-- What biases do I bring to the classroom?

-- How many students were really engaged in this learning experience?

-- How balanced is my programming?


Implementation Overview: Senior 3