Ontario Curriculum

Elementary School Document Guide

Access to Ministry Curriculum Documents:


These documents can be viewed by grade or by subject.

Documents are organized into four general categories:

  1. Introduction - general subject visions and goals, importance of subjects, and roles and responsibilities in each subject
  2. The Program - the overview of structure of intended learning; includes general curriculum expectations and strands
  3. Assessment and Evaluation of Student Achievement - covers basic considerations and achievement charts for individual subjects
  4. Considerations for Program Planning - discusses the policies that need to be taken into account, which include instructional approaches, cross-curricular and integrated learning, planning needs, and more

The rest of the document then goes over each grade's strands and their overall and specific expectations.

The Ministry of Education is responsible for the development and maintenance of the Ontario Elementary Curriculum. They do this using a curriculum review cycle implemented in 2003. This cycle is intended to ensure that the curriculum remains current, relevant, and developmentally-appropriate from Kindergarten to Grade 12. The review supports students, teachers, schools and boards by identifying targeted areas in need of support and allows time for development or updating of related support materials as required.

Key ideas central to the design and implementation of curriculum documents:

The Ontario Curriculum is defined as the skills and knowledge that students are expected to know and be able to demonstrate in each subject at each grade. The curriculum documents constantly change as our world around us does. They provide expectations for both students and teachers as guidelines to be able to achieve their goals. They also expect teachers to design instructions by providing examples and teacher prompts to improve lesson plans. Ontario elementary schools try to give every student the opportunity to learn in the way that is best suited to his or her individual strengths and needs. A teacher evaluates a students' understanding, which is measured against an established standard. The Ontario Curriculum is designed to help every student reach his or her full potential through a program of learning that is coherent, relevant, and age appropriate.

Important Vocaulary:

Other Key Terms:

Achievement Levels: brief descriptions of four different degrees of student achievement of the provincial curriculum expectations for any given grade. Level 3, which is the "provincial standard," identifies a high level of achievement of the provincial expectations. Level 1 identifies achievement that falls much below the provincial standard. Level 2 identifies achievement that approaches the standard. Level 4 identifies achievement that surpasses the standard.

Differentiated Instruction: An approach to instruction that maximizes each student's growth by considering the needs of each student at his or her current stage of development and then offering that student a learning experience that responds to his or her individual needs.

Equality: a condition in which all people are treated the same way, regardless of individual differences.

Integrated Learning: Identifying opportunities to link related content and/or skills in two or more subjects and to give students practice in meeting expectations from two or more subjects within a single unit, lesson or activity.

Teachers' understanding of student learning

Communicated by:

  • descriptors, which identify and outline how a student is performing
  • meetings with parents, students and principals to discuss learning and any difficult areas
  • report cards
  • feedback on tests, reports, and assignments

How do overall expectations, fundamental concepts and specific expectations drive lesson designs?

The expectations, as seen above, are what help guide teachers in their lesson planning. They also give areas of focus. Fundamental concepts are embedded in the expectations that relate to each strand. They are what students should be taking away from their lessons.

In the Language Curriculum for example, the expectations are organized into four strands for each grade: Oral Communication, Reading, Writing, and Media Literacy.

Each strand then has overall and specific expectations for each grade.


Overall expectations by the end of Grade 1, students will:

  1. listen in order to understand and respond appropriately
  2. use speaking skills and strategies appropriately to communicate
  3. reflect on and identify their strengths as listeners and speakers, areas for improvement, and the strategies they found most helpful in oral communication situations

This strand focuses on the identification and development of the skills and strategies effective listeners and speakers use to understand and interact with others. It also emphasizes the use of higher-order thinking skills to stimulate students' interest and engage them in their own learning.

Using this information, teachers can provide students with the opportunities to learn the knowledge and skills they need in order to complete each expectation. Specific expectations are given with numerous examples and teacher prompts if teachers need.

Assessment and Evaluation

The primary purpose for assessment and evaluation is to improve student learning. Student learning in Ontario is assessed and evaluated based on:

  • basic considerations: The primary purpose for assessment and evaluation is to improve student learning. Assessment includes gathering information from a variety of sources that accurately reflects how well a student is achieving the curriculum expectations in a subject. Evaluation refers to the process of judging the quality of student work on the basis of established criteria.
  • individual achievement charts: There are four categories for levels of achievement in each curriculum document (knowledge and understanding, thinking and investigation, communication, and application). The Ministry of Education has provided teachers with materials that will assist them in improving their assessment methods of strategies. These materials include samples of student work that illustrate achievement at each of the four levels.

Below is an example of the first half of the achievement chart for language in grades 1-8. Click here and go to page 20-21 to view this document in full.

For more information on assessment, evaluation, and reporting in schools, check out this growing success document.

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