The Program in Language
The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1–8: Language, 2023 identifies the expectations for each grade and describes the knowledge and skills that students are expected to acquire, demonstrate, and apply in their class work and investigations, on tests, and in various other activities on which their achievement is assessed and evaluated.
Mandatory learning is described in the overall and specific expectations of the curriculum.
Two sets of expectations – overall expectations and specific expectations – are listed for each strand, or broad area of the curriculum in language for Grades 1 to 8. The strands include Strand A: Literacy Connections and Applications, and three other strands, lettered B, C, and D. Strand B has two associated learning continua, one that provides an elaboration of the mandatory learning associated with Overall Expectation B2 from Grades 1 to 4, and another that describes the progression of mandatory learning associated with Overall Expectation B3 from Grades 1 to 9. Taken together, the overall and specific expectations represent the mandated curriculum.
The overall expectations describe in general terms the knowledge and skills that students are expected to demonstrate by the end of each grade. The specific expectations describe the expected knowledge and skills in greater detail. The specific expectations are organized under numbered subheadings, each of which indicates the strand and the overall expectation to which the group of specific expectations corresponds (e.g., “B2” indicates that the group relates to overall expectation 2 in Strand B). This organization is not meant to imply that the expectations in any one group are achieved independently of the expectations in the other groups, nor is it intended to imply that learning associated with the expectations happens in a linear, sequential way. The numbered headings are used merely as an organizational structure to help teachers focus on particular aspects of knowledge, concepts, and skills as they develop various lessons and learning activities for students.
In the language curriculum, the overall expectations outline standard sets of knowledge and skills required for understanding and using the building blocks of language, understanding and responding to texts, expressing ideas and creating texts, and making language and literacy connections in a diverse range of contexts. For this reason, the overall expectations remain the same from Grades 1 to 8. The curriculum focuses on developing the foundational knowledge and skills in the early primary grades. As students progress into the middle and later elementary grades, these skills are reinforced and refined by increasing the complexity of the texts they work with and the tasks they perform over time. This approach reflects and accommodates the progressive nature of language learning.
The specific expectations reflect this progression in knowledge and skill development through changes in the wordings of the expectations and through the introduction of new expectations, where appropriate. The progression is captured by the increasing complexity of the teacher supports (see below) associated with most expectations and by the increasing specificity of language and literacy knowledge and skills, the diversity of contexts in which the learning is applied, and the variety of opportunities presented for applying it. Note that all the skills specified in the early grades continue to be developed and refined as students move through the grades, whether or not each of those skills continues to be explicitly required in an expectation.
Specific expectations are often accompanied by supports such as examples, teacher prompts, and/or instructional tips. The examples are meant to clarify the requirement specified in the expectation, illustrating the kind of skill or knowledge, the specific area of learning, the depth of learning, and/or the level of complexity that the expectation entails. Teacher prompts are sample guiding questions and considerations that can lead to discussions and promote deeper understanding. The instructional tips suggest instructional strategies and authentic contexts for the effective modelling, practice, and application of language and literacy knowledge and skills.
Teacher supports, such as the examples, teacher prompts, and instructional tips, are optional supports that teachers can draw on to support teaching and learning, in addition to developing their own supports that reflect a similar level of complexity. Whatever the specific ways in which the requirements outlined in the expectations are implemented in the classroom, they must be inclusive and, wherever possible, reflect the diversity of the student population and the population of the province.