The Ontario Curriculum: A Refresher
Using The Language and Social Studies Documents as examples
The Ontario Curriculum Documents describe the mandatory content or information that is taught in our classrooms and are useful resources for teachers to explain to parents what their children can expect to learn in each subject, by the end of each grade. Good teachers build lessons around the curriculum with defined goals, but also pay attention to what they observe in their classroom to ensure children are engaged in their learning. Every child should have individualized goals that are challenging but ensure his or her success and achievement. Curriculum is developed by the Ministry of Education and it is reviewed and revised by teams of experts in the subject area on a regular cycle to reflect best and evolving knowledge and teaching practice. The documents are designed in such a way that once you understand the layout of one, you understand the layout of all of them. Each one has three components:
- The curriculum itself and how that learning connects to Ministry policies, program and priorities
- The curriculum expectations or the knowledge and skills students are expected to demonstrate in each subject at each grade level by the end of the grade, and
- Additional supports and information to support curriculum implementation.
We follow it- but who makes the document?
- The Ontario Ministry of Education is responsible for curriculum documents.
- Experts in the field and writing groups of educators come together to review, revise or develop it, in line with Ministry priorities.
- A Curriculum Council, a group of knowledgeable community leaders are brought together to provide high level, strategic advice to the Minister on issues related to curriculum.
LOCATING THE DOCUMENTS
You can download the documents as PDF or choose to order them in hard copy. All curriculum documents are available free of charge at government book stores or kiosks should you wish to have them available for parents.
Organization within the documents
- The Program
- Assessment and Evaluation of Student Achievement
- Some Considerations for Program Planning
- Specifics per grade
Each grade section has very similar stucture (examples):
- Overall Expectations
- Specific Expectations
SOME TERMS TO KNOW
Strand: The overarching themes that are looked at in each grade in each document
Expectations: Are the understanding and demonstration of the skills and knowledge by the end of the grade
Levels of Achievement: Are located on the Achievement Chart and identify 4 levels of achievement where the student fits. Qualifiers in those levels are:
Level 1: limited
Level 2: some
Level 3: considerable
Level 4: high
Student Learning Assessments and Evaluations
- Basic Considerations: "The primary purpose of assessment and evaluation is to improve student learning." (Language doc, p. 16)
- The Achievement Chart which examines:
- Knowledge and Understanding
Using this chart, teachers are able to examine where students fit on the chart and assign a mark accordingly. The chart is designed to cover all aspects of the curriculum and the teacher is supported in consideration of different learning styles along with examples.
How are we expected to communicate student learning?
- and Community Partners
- Teachers are expected to have communication with families so support is coming from all angles of the students life
- Providing regular feedback and communicating with your students about their progress supports them in their understanding of the subject matter. By doing so, you are providing them with the basis to succeed by providing an open and supportive environment.
- Regular communication with parents is also vital to engaging them with their child's learning and expectations.
Culturally responsive curriculum
The Curriculum Documents themselves include a section that outlines considerations for program planning:
- The section is designed to incorporate a variety of considerations.
- Ontario is extremely multicultural and there is understanding build in for teaching for English Language Learners (E.L.L.) students and students with special education needs
- The Language document has a subsection on antidiscrimination education
Teachers are expected to reflect our country and all the students represented within it in curriculum delivery to ensure all students feel comfortable and supported with their learning.