The Ontario Curriculum

A Review by Monika Smuczak

Elementary Curriculum: Creation and Implementation

The Ministry of Education develops the current Ontario curriculum. Experts within the subject fields analyze and revise the current curriculum. Teachers are responsible for the implementation of the curriculum.
The current revised curriculum documents can be easily accessed here.

How Do The Documents Look?

The Ontario curriculum is divided by subject mater and grade level. There are unique expectations for each grade and subject. The contents in the documents are separated by an introduction, expectations, assessment and evaluation, and considerations for program planning.
Each document is structured in this way. Each grade has overall expectations and specific expectations.

Key Terms

Strand: overall expectations for each subject are organized into strands. These strands signify the overarching themes in each grade. For example, the strands in the Arts include drama, dance, music and visual arts.
Evaluation: the process of judging whether or not every individual student is meeting curriculum expectations. Evaluation is assessed in a report card.
Achievement Chart: as a form of assessment and achievement, the chart is used to reflect on the student's achievement of the curriculum expectations.
There are four categories in the chart:
  • Level 1: achievement falls below the provincial standard
  • Level 2: achievement approaches the provincial standard
  • Level 3: achievement is at the provincial standard
  • Level 4: achievement surpasses the provincial standard

Assessment and Evaluation of Student Achievement

The fundamental principles of evaluation and assessment are similar throughout the Ontario curriculum documents. "The primary purpose of assessment and evaluation is to improve student learning" (Social Studies, pg. 26)

Teachers are expected are expected to record student achievement that reflects their overall development of learning skills and work habits.

Using the chart of achievement, teachers can organize student's achievement. There are four categories of knowledge and skills: knowledge and understanding, thinking, communication and application.
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How to Communicate Student Learning

Teachers are expected to effective teaching strategies to ensure that every student is engaging and meeting overall curriculum expectations. With respect to expectations, teachers play an important role as being a role model to students.
"Teachers should reflect on the results of learning opportunities they provide, and make changes to the activities where necessary in order to help students achieve the curriculum expectations to the best of their ability" (Arts, pg. 8)

Students, parents, principals and community partners also play an important role in the overall achievement of a student.

It is important for the teacher to communicate with parents. Direct communication through report cards, parent-teacher interviews, workshops, etc. are all vital for successful education.
"It is therefore important for schools and parents to work together to ensure that home and school provide a mutually supportive framework for young people's education" (Social Studies, pg. 15)

A Culturally Responsive Curriculum

Each document defines the importance of diversity in the classroom. Implementing a multicultural and diverse is essential for a respectful learning environment.
The Arts document focuses on a curriculum shaped around culture. Parents, principals and community partners can help student's feel comfortable with their culture.
The Social Studies document emphasizes antidiscrimination principles to formulate inclusive education.
"It promotes a school climate that encourages all students to strive for high levels of achievement, affirms the worth of all students, and helps students strengthen their sense of identity and develop a positive self-image" (Social Studies, pg. 45)

References

Ontario Ministry of Education. (2009). The Ontario Curriculum Grades 1-8: The Arts.
Retrieved from: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/arts18b09curr.pdf

Ontario Ministry of Education (2013). The Ontario Curriculum Social Studies Grades 1-6, History and Geography Grades 7 and 8. Retrieved from: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/sshg18curr2013.pdf