Ontario Curriculum Refresher
Elementary: Arts, Language and Social Studies
How Are Ministry Documents Organized?
Each document begins with a section regarding the importance of that specific subject and how it is essential as a part of the Ontario Curriculum. Whether it is the crucial learning of literacy and language in students to aid in intellectual growth, or the transferable skills students learn in Social Studies that help them outside the classroom, the importance of each subject is highlighted to prove the positive long term effects. The documents then focus on curriculum expectations and how there are "Overall Expectations" along with "Specific Expectations." The overall expectations describe the expected skills and knowledge students are expected to display by the end of each grade. The specific expectations describe the knowledge and skills in further and more specific detail. This aids teachers in developing their lessons by knowing which aspects of knowledge they should focus on when they begin planning. This is followed by each specific strand within subjects. These strands are then organized into smaller, more specific expectations.
For example: Social Studies for Grades 1-6 focus on two major strands.
Heritage and Identity
People and Environments
It is important to remember that although each grade has the same strands, they differ from grade to grade. A grade 2 Social Studies class would focus on "Changing Family and Communications" while a grade 5 class would learn "First Nations and Europeans in New France and Early Canada".
How to access Ministry Documents!
1. Online Access - available to download in pdf
2. Hard copies -
Here are some extra resources:
How Overall Expectations, Fundamental concepts and specific expectations should drive a lesson design:
The Arts curriculum gives and excellent example of combining expectations with fundamental concepts. Take a grade 3 Art class with the overall expectations of:
Creating and Presenting
Reflecting, Responding and Analyzing
Exploring Forms and Cultural Concepts
The Fundamental concept of dance is broken down into a specific focus on time and energy.
The specific expectations further specify the lesson by adding the expectation of "imitation of movements found in a natural environment in a variety of ways and incorporate them into dance". This could mean dancing like different types of weather, showing how different animals move through dance and other examples. These examples help clarify the lesson so the teacher can fully understand the expectations and hopefully, create new, inventive ways to teach it.
How Student Learning in Ontario is Assessed and Evaluated:
For the Arts Curriculum, as for Language and Social Studies, there are four categories on the Achievement Chart:
- Knowledge and Understanding
How is the acheivement chart helpful?
-It assists teachers in providing meaningful feedback for students
-Acts as a guideline/ framework for curriculum expectations
-Aids teachers in planning instruction for learning
These outline the levels which students are placed in according to the Achievement Chart, either 1, 2, 3 or 4.
Level 1 - Student is performing well below provincial standards
Level 2 - Student is close to provincial standards, needs improvement
Level 3 - Student meets provincial standards
Level 4 - Student exceeds provincial standards
All in all, these tools used for assessment all focus on furthering student's learning.
Who is responsible for the creation of the curriculum documents?
Meeting the Needs of Every Learner
Not every student learns at the same pace, or with the same methods of teaching. It is the responsibility of teachers to recognize the different learning needs and develop instruction in a variety of ways. The Language curriculum states that the use of flexible groupings for instructions and and the provision of ongoing assessment are important elements of programs that accommodate a diversity of learning needs. Teachers need to address all students needs and bring new teaching strategies to accomodate for those who may not learn at the same pace as others.
There are three types of accomodations:
1)Instructional accommodations: changes in teaching strategies, including styles of presentation, methods of organization, or use of technology and multimedia.
2) Environmental accomodations: changes that the student may require in the classroom and/or school environment, such as preferential seating or special lighting
3)Assessment accommodations: changes in assessment procedures that enable the student to demonstrate his or her learning, such as allowing additional time to complete tests or assignments
For the Language curriculum specifically, there is a whole section on Antidiscrimination Education in the Language Program as well as a section of English Language Learners.
Culture in the Classroom
Students should be able to see their own culture reflected in the choices of materials, resources, and examples selected by the teacher. Some strategies for fostering a culturally accepting classroom could be:
- Incorporating some of the different backgrounds of the students into the lesson plans for subjects such as Geography and Social Studies.
-Altering your instruction strategy for those who may not be familiar with it and seeing alternative methods for teaching in order to enhance that student's learning
-Explore different traditions or histories of countries or cultural backgrounds.
There are many ways you as a teacher can make a student feel included. The more comfortable they are at school, the easier it will be for them to learn!
Achievement Levels: Brief description of four different degrees of student achievement of the provincial curriculum expectations, for any given grade. The levels range from 1-4 and level 3 is the "provincial standard". A student at level 3 can will more than likely be prepared for the next grade's amount of work.
Strands: broad area of the curriculum for Grades 1– 8. Certain subjects have certain amounts of strands in order to assure the curriculum is completely covered. For example, the Language curriculum expectations are organized into four strands: Oral Communication, Reading, Writing and Media Literacy. Language is such a broad subject to cover for students, but these strands aid in breaking it down.
Overall Expectations - Overall expectations describe the knowledge and skills students are expected to demonstrate by the end of the each grade.
Specific Expectations - Specific expectations describe the expected knowledge and skills in greater detail.