Senior 3 English Language Arts: A Foundation for Implementation

Implementation Overview: Senior 3
Teaching and Learning in English Language Arts - Part 1

In results-based learning, the programming focus is on what students know and can do, rather than on what material is "covered." The learning outcomes are an elaboration of the knowledge, skills and strategies, and attitudes expected of each Senior 3 language arts student. All programming decisions are directed toward addressing the gap between students’ present level of performance and the performance specified in the learning outcomes.

Bridging the Gap Between
Student Performance and the Prescribed Learning Outcomes
Present Level of Student Performance Arrow Programming Decisions Arrow Senior 3 Student Learning Outcomes
  Instructional Strategies
Materials and Resources
Assessment Tools and Strategies

The student learning outcomes are not taught separately or in isolation. Nor are they taught consecutively in the order in which they appear in the curriculum documents. Most instructional units or lessons involve various aspects of exploring ideas, responding to texts, inquiring, generating texts, and collaborating. This means that most lessons or units draw on knowledge, skills and strategies, and attitudes addressed in several or all general learning outcomes. In the process of planning, teachers are encouraged to identify and focus on the learning outcomes they intend to assess, rather than on all the learning outcomes involved in an instructional sequence.

In implementing results-based curricula, experienced teachers may find that they use many of the instructional strategies and resources they have used previously. However, the nature of results-based learning will reshape their programming in several ways:

  • Planning is ongoing throughout the semester or year because instruction is informed by learning requirements that become evident through continuous assessment.
  • Many learning outcomes are addressed repeatedly in different ways throughout the school semester or year. The learning outcomes are end-of-semester/year outcomes. A learning outcome has not been "taught" until students consistently demonstrate their mastery of it. As well as developing new literacy knowledge, skills and strategies, and attitudes, students need to practise and refine those learned previously.

Varied Instructional Approaches

In planning instruction, teachers draw upon a repertoire of instructional approaches and methods and use combinations of these in each unit and lesson. Instructional approaches may be categorized as

  • direct instruction
  • indirect instruction
  • experiential learning
  • independent study
  • interactive instruction

Most teachers draw from all these categories to ensure variety in their classroom learning experiences, to engage students with various intelligences and a range of learning approaches, and to achieve instructional goals.

The "Instructional Approaches" diagram found on Section 2-4 of the Senior 3 English Language Arts; A Foundation for Implementation (1999) displays instructional approaches and suggests some examples of methods within each approach. Note that the approaches overlap.

In selecting instructional approaches and methods, teachers consider which combination will assist students in achieving the learning outcomes targeted for a particular lesson or unit. Teachers consider the advantages and limitations of the approaches and methods, as well as the interests, knowledge, skills and strategies, and attitudes of their students. Some of these elements are represented in the following charts.

Roles Purposes/Uses Methods Advantages/Limitations
  • Highly teacher-directed
  • Teacher ensures a degree of student involvement through didactic questioning
  • Providing information
  • Developing step-by-step skills and strategies
  • Introducing other approaches and methods
  • Teaching active listening and note making
  • Explicit teaching
  • Lesson overviews
  • Guest speakers
  • Instruction of strategic processes
  • Lecturing
  • Didactic questioning
  • Demonstrating and modelling prior to guided practice
  • Mini-lessons
  • Guides for reading, listening, and viewing
  • Effective in providing students with knowledge of steps of highly sequenced skills and strategies
  • Limited use in developing abilities, processes, and attitudes for critical thinking and interpersonal or group learning
  • Students may be passive rather than active learners
Instructional Approaches: Roles, Purposes, and Methods
-Indirect Instruction-
Roles Purposes/Uses Methods Advantages/Limitations
  • Mainly student-centered
  • Role of teacher shifts to facilitator, supporter, resource person
  • Teacher monitors progress to determine when intervention or another approach is required
  • Activating student interest and curiosity
  • Developing creativity and interpersonal skills and strategies
  • Exploring diverse possibilities
  • Forming hypotheses and developing concepts
  • Solving problems
  • Drawing inferences
  • Observing
  • Investigating
  • Inquiring and researching
  • Jigsaw groups
  • Problem solving
  • Reading and viewing or meaning
  • Reflective discussion
  • Gallery walks
  • Concept mapping
  • Students learn effectively from active involvement
  • Allows for high degree of differentiation and pursuit of individual interests
  • Teacher requires excellent facilitation and organizational skills
  • Focused instruction of content and concepts may be difficult to integrate

Instructional Approaches: Roles, Purposes, and Methods
- Interactive Instruction -





  • Student-centered
  • Teacher forms groups, teaches and guides small-group skills and strategies
  • Activating student interest and curiosity
  • Developing creativity and interpersonal skills and strategies
  • Exploring diverse possibilities
  • Forming hypotheses and developing concepts
  • Solving problems
  • Drawing inferences
  • Discussing
  • Sharing
  • Generating alternative ways of thinking and feeling
  • Debates
  • Role-playing
  • Panels
  • Brainstorming
  • Peer conferencing
  • Co-operative learning groups
  • Problem solving
  • Talking circles
  • Peer editing
  • Interviewing
  • Student motivation and learning increase through active involvement in groups
  • Teacher’s knowledge and skill in forming groups, instructing, and guiding group dynamics are important to the success of this approach
  • Effective in assisting students’ development of life skills in co-operation and collaboration

Phases of Learning

When preparing instructional plans and goals, many teachers find it helpful to consider three learning phases:

These phases are not entirely linear but are a useful way of thinking and planning. A variety of activating, acquiring, and applying strategies are discussed in Success for All Learners: A Handbook on Differentiating Instruction (Manitoba Education and Training and Training, 1996).

Activating (Preparing for Learning)

One of the strongest indications of how well students comprehend new information is their prior knowledge of the subject. Some educators observe that more student learning occurs during this phase than at any other time. In planning instruction and assessment, teachers develop student learning experiences and select strategies for activating their students’ prior knowledge. These learning experiences provide information about the extent of students’ prior knowledge of the topic to be studied, their knowledge of and familiarity with the forms or genres of the texts to be used, and their knowledge of and proficiency in applying skills and strategies for learning, using these forms or genres.

Learning experiences that draw on students’ prior knowledge

  • help students relate new information, skills, and strategies to what they already know and can do (e.g., if a text includes unfamiliar vocabulary, students may not recognize the connection between what they know and the new material being presented)
  • allow teachers to correct misconceptions that might otherwise persist and make learning difficult for students
  • allow teachers to augment and strengthen students’ knowledge base when students do not possess adequate prior knowledge and experience to engage with new information and ideas
  • help students recognize gaps in their knowledge
  • stimulate curiosity and initiate the inquiry process that will direct learning

The suggestions for instruction and assessment in Section 4 of this document contain numerous strategies for activating prior knowledge, such as Gallery Walks, brainstorming, and concept maps.

Acquiring (Integrating and Processing Learning)

In the second phase of learning, students engage with new information and integrate it with what they already know, adding to and revising their previous knowledge. Part of the teacher’s role in this phase is to present this new information or to help students access it from other people or from oral, print, and other media texts.

Since learning is an internal process, however, facilitating learning requires more of teachers than simply presenting information. In the acquiring phase, teachers instruct students in strategies that help them make meaning of information, integrate it with what they already know, and express their new understanding. These include strategies for active listening, reading, and viewing, for exploring ideas, and for representing emerging understanding orally, visually, and in writing. In addition, teachers monitor these processes to ensure that learning is taking place, using a variety of instruments, tools, and strategies such as observations, conferences, and examination of student work.

In practice, within an actual lesson or unit, the acquiring phase of learning may include a series of steps and strategies, such as

  • setting the purpose (e.g., lesson overviews, learning logs, admit slips)
  • presenting information (e.g., guest speakers, mini-lessons, active reading, viewing, and listening)
  • processing information (e.g., note making, group discussions, journals, visual representations)
  • modelling (e.g., role-playing, think-alouds, demonstrations)
  • checking for understanding (e.g., quizzes, informal conferences)
  • practising (e.g., guided practice, rehearsals)

(The above examples of instructional strategies are elaborated in the four-column section of this document.)

Applying (Consolidating Learning)

New learning that is not reinforced is soon forgotten. The products and performances by which students demonstrate new learning are not simply required for assessment; they have an essential instructional purpose in providing students with opportunities to demonstrate and consolidate their new knowledge, skills and strategies, and attitudes. Students also need opportunities to reflect on what they have learned and to consider how new learning applies to new situations. By restructuring information, expressing new ideas in another form, or integrating what they have learned in language arts with concepts from other subject areas, students strengthen and extend learning.

To ensure that students consolidate new learning, teachers plan various learning experiences involving

  • reflection (e.g., learning logs, exit slips)
  • closure (e.g., sharing of products, debriefing on processes)
  • application (e.g., performances, publications, new inquiry cycles)


Implementation Overview: Senior 3