Some Considerations for Program Planning in Language
Teachers consider many factors when planning a language program that cultivates the best possible environment in which all students can maximize their language learning. This section highlights the key strategies and approaches that teachers and school leaders should consider as they plan effective and inclusive language programs. In addition, all of the general “Program Planning” sections on this site apply to this curriculum.
Instruction in language should support all students in acquiring the knowledge, skills, and habits of mind they need to achieve the curriculum expectations and be able to enjoy and participate in language and literacy learning for years to come. More information on instructional approaches can be found in the “Instructional Approaches” subsection of “Considerations for Program Planning".
High-quality, evidence-based instruction, coupled with a classroom environment that promotes joy, engagement, and motivation, is the key to students developing proficient language skills. Effective language and literacy instruction begins with teachers having an understanding of the scientific research related to language and literacy acquisition, knowing the complex identities and profiles of students, having high academic expectations for and of all students, providing supports when needed, and believing that all students are capable of becoming successful language learners.
Effective language and literacy instruction is grounded in scientific evidence and is student-centred and asset-based. It builds on students’ lived experiences, strengths, passions, interests, and language and cultural resources. It aims to build strong foundational skills while working to develop habits of mind such as curiosity, flexibility, and open-mindedness; a willingness to question and think critically; and an awareness of the value of literacy. It takes place in a safe and inclusive learning environment, where all students are valued, empowered, engaged, and able to take risks, reflect on their learning, and approach the learning in a confident manner. In such an environment, the sharing of literacy experiences as a literacy community is critical to building a sense of student belonging and motivation. Teachers use responsive instructional practices, including reading aloud everyday with fluency and accuracy, direct instruction, and guided practice, with ongoing assessment of learning to develop students’ skills.
Language is foundational to literacy and to learning in all other subject areas. Reading is one of the most fundamental learning and life skills. It affects all academic achievement and is associated with social, emotional, economic, and physical health. However, learning to read does not happen naturally. Reading is a process involving specific skills that need to be taught through systematic and explicit instruction, as outlined in the next section.
Evidence-Based Systematic and Explicit Instruction
This curriculum emphasizes that foundational language and literacy knowledge and skills need to be taught through evidence-based systematic and explicit instruction, often referred to as structured literacy.
Educators will also take into consideration that all students come to school with different prior early language experiences. Their use and understanding of oral language will be far more developed than their early reading and writing skills, which require a higher degree of explicit systematic instruction. Educators can use students’ existing oral language skills, developed through authentic interactions and relationships, to begin to intentionally develop the early literacy skills required to access and understand print.
Explicit instruction provides clear, direct, purposeful teaching of specific knowledge, skills, and strategies. It provides structured learning opportunities. It requires teachers to:
- explain the knowledge and skills;
- frequently model the use of the skills;
- verbalize thought processes, including the steps of learning the skills, strategies, or processes;
- provide opportunities for students to practice using the strategies and apply their knowledge and skills;
- mentor and monitor student practices;
- provide timely descriptive feedback based on ongoing assessment data to guide student practices until students can apply their knowledge and skills independently;
- frequently review previously taught concepts until students have achieved mastery.
Systematic instruction involves a carefully planned sequence for instruction of specific concepts, skills, and procedures, with the prerequisite skills taught first.
The term systematic is often paired with the term explicit in reading instruction to refer to employing instructional strategies that are evidence-based. For example, explicit systematic phonics instruction involves:
- clearly identifying a useful set of grapheme-phoneme correspondences;
- planning and introducing these correspondences in a consistent, logical instructional sequence;
- carefully scaffolding the introduction and instruction of grapheme-phoneme correspondences and phonic skills from simple to more complex.
Gathering timely and ongoing assessment data is crucial in identifying a student’s progress in acquiring the language and literacy skills being taught. It can also help teachers to tailor classroom instruction to meet an individual student’s needs, as well as support early identification of students who may require intervention beyond classroom instruction.
Structured literacy is an evidence-based approach to systematically and explicitly teaching phonemic awareness, phonics, word reading, spelling, fluency, vocabulary, listening and reading comprehension, and written expression. It is important to recognize that these skills do not exist in isolation and that students need to develop them simultaneously, with an understanding of how the skills are connected.
Structured literacy instruction involves consideration of not only what is taught, but also how it is taught. A structured literacy approach to language and literacy learning provides systematic and explicit instruction that is carefully sequenced based on the language skill progression. It cumulatively builds on previous knowledge, is adjusted to meet individual students’ needs, and is informed by ongoing assessment.
More information on systematic and explicit strategies to teach early reading can be found in the ministry publication Effective Early Reading Instruction: A Teacher's Guide, 2022.
Multimodal Literacy Instruction
Language instruction is not only about teaching the linguistic knowledge and skills involved in written and spoken communication; it is also multimodal, and involves engaging students’ multiple sensory modalities, from oral and visual to aural, gestural, and spatial. Multimodal literacy instruction focuses on the interplay among the different modalities as students receive information, make meaning, represent ideas, and express their thinking.
Multimodal literacy instruction highlights the diverse text forms, modes, and media used to communicate meaning in various contexts and communities. Recognizing that today’s students engage with texts in multiple modes, ranging from written, oral, visual, and audio texts to multimodal forms, as well as text forms and genres from various cultures, and in print and digital environments, multimodal instruction draws on a variety of teaching methods. These methods help students develop their ability to make meaning of the texts they encounter and to create texts to communicate meaning using various modes, media, forms, and technologies. Students connect their lived experiences and knowledge of various language and text conventions to make sense of texts in new ways. Multimodal literacy instruction also facilitates translanguaging – the use of different languages together – so that students who communicate in more than one language can naturally and fluidly use their multiple linguistic, literacy, and cultural resources to develop knowledge and skills in the instructional language.
Oral Communication Instructional Practices
The language program should provide rich opportunities for students to engage in both listening and speaking. Students need many opportunities to interact with others to understand how oral communication works (e.g., conversation, discussion, teamwork, oral presentation). To communicate effectively, they need opportunities to engage in effective listening, to demonstrate understanding of what is being said, and to consider various perspectives. Oral communication begins with all students being able to express their needs and wants as well as being able to present and share their ideas through commenting and questioning. Oral communication skills support students in discussing strategies for solving a problem, presenting and defending ideas or debating issues, and offering critiques of work produced by their peers. With practice and guidance, students gradually become able to express themselves clearly and confidently.
Oral communication instruction should focus on the identification and development of the skills and strategies students use to understand and interact effectively with others. It should also emphasize the use of higher-order thinking skills to stimulate students’ interest and engage them in their own learning. For all students to benefit from the opportunities provided for listening and speaking, differences in the norms and conventions associated with oral communication in different social and cultural contexts must be taken into account.
Teachers support students in developing the knowledge and skills to express their ideas and opinions by developing norms and language for respectful discourse, including how to present and respond to each other during discussions. They teach foundational knowledge and skills explicitly and systematically, model learning strategies, encourage students to talk through and reflect on their thinking and learning processes, and provide many opportunities for students to practise and apply their developing knowledge and skills across a variety of contexts and situations.
Universal Design for Learning and Differentiated Instruction
Students in every language classroom vary in their identities, lived experiences, linguistic resources, personal interests, learning profiles, and readiness to learn new knowledge and skills. Universal Design for Learning and differentiated instruction are robust and powerful approaches to support students in developing the foundational knowledge and skills that they need to become critical thinkers and problem solvers. To ensure that each student has opportunities to be challenged and to succeed requires teachers to attend to student differences and provide flexible and responsive approaches to instruction. Universal Design for Learning and differentiated instruction can be used in combination to help teachers respond effectively to the strengths and needs of all students.
The aim of the Universal Design for Learning framework is to assist teachers in designing language programs and environments that provide all students with equitable access to the language curriculum. Within this framework, teachers engage students in multiple ways to support them in becoming successful in their language learning. Teachers respond to students’ diverse learner profiles by designing tasks that offer individual choice, are relevant and authentic, provide graduated levels of challenge, and foster collaboration in the language classroom. Teachers also engage multimodalities to help students become resourceful and flexible learners. For example, teachers use a variety of media to ensure that students are provided with alternatives for auditory and visual information; they model the use of language conventions and vocabulary; and they highlight text patterns, text structures, text features, and stylistic elements of texts to support students in developing fluency and proficiency. Teachers create an environment in which students can express themselves in multiple forms. For example, teachers can improve access to tools or assistive devices that are necessary for learning; encourage the use of students’ first or other language(s); vary ways in which students can demonstrate their understanding of and respond to texts; support students in setting goals, planning, and organizing ideas and information for text creation using multimodal digital tools; and engage students in reflective practices throughout their language learning.
While Universal Design for Learning provides teachers with broad principles for planning language instruction and learning experiences for a diverse group of students, differentiated instruction allows them to address specific skills and learning needs. Differentiated instruction is rooted in assessment and involves purposefully planning varied approaches to teaching the content of the curriculum. Teachers will identify the areas of learning need and plan the instruction and learning that will address the needs of individual students. Teachers identify the products and the ways in which students can best demonstrate their learning, and consider how their learning is affected by the physical learning environment. Differentiated Instruction is student-centred and involves a strategic blend of whole-class, small-group, and individual learning activities to suit students’ differing strengths, interests, and levels of readiness to learn.
The Tiered Approach to Language and Literacy Instruction
The tiered approach to instruction is a proactive, preventative model designed to provide timely support for all students in order to prevent literacy difficulties from developing. It embodies principles of Universal Design for Learning and differentiated instruction and is most effective when implemented as a multi-tiered, system support. It uses specific instructional interventions of increasing intensity to address students’ needs. An effective evidence-based, systematic instructional approach supports the learning of all students, and is based on assessment of each student’s strengths, learning needs, and skill gaps. The goal of tiered instruction is to provide the least intensive support required for each student to meet grade-level expectations. Assessment research supports data-based decision making for instruction of each individual student and intensifying instruction for some students, as necessary.
The implementation of a tiered approach to language and literacy instruction is the responsibility of all classroom teachers as well as other educators. It is not specifically or only the responsibility of special education teachers. In the classroom, student progress is frequently monitored, and early and ongoing assessment data is used to identify skill gaps and determine the appropriate level and intensity of instruction. The intensity of instruction is increased in several ways: by reducing the group size; by increasing the degree of explicitness and individualization; by sequentially targeting skill gaps of greater number and/or depth; and by increasing the length (in minutes), frequency (per week), and duration (number of weeks or months) of instructional sessions, as needed. A tiered approach designed to address the diverse learning needs of students can be implemented as follows:
- Tier 1: Classroom-based assessment and instruction are planned for all students, with teachers applying the principles of Universal Design for Learning and differentiated instruction. Observation and progress monitoring are used to ensure that students who are experiencing difficulty are provided with more intensive instruction in a timely fashion. To plan and provide effective Tier 1 instruction, teachers are supported by other educators as needed (e.g., by grade-level teams).
- Tier 2: In addition to Tier 1 instruction and based on assessment data, teachers provide more intensive instruction and interventions in the classroom for small groups (three to five students) and/or for individual students experiencing learning challenges in particular or general areas of language and literacy. Students may be provided with Tier 2 instruction based on the number and/or depth of skill gaps identified in initial assessments, or if Tier 1 progress monitoring shows that they are not gaining the skills as expected. Student progress in response to this level of intensity is closely monitored, and instruction is adjusted as needed. Teachers collaborate with other educators as needed in order to provide effective support for the students.
- Tier 3: In addition to Tier 1 instruction and based on assessment data, teachers provide intensive support and intervention for very small groups (two to three students) and/or for individual students who are experiencing difficulties in particular areas of language and literacy, regardless of whether they have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or an identified special education need. Students may be provided with Tier 3 instruction based on the number and/or depth of skill gaps identified in initial assessments, or if Tier 1 or 2 progress monitoring show that they are falling behind. Precise and personalized assessment and instruction are often planned with the support of other educators, including a special education teacher, and student progress in response to this level of intensity continues to be closely monitored.
The tiered approach is meant to be fluid and flexible. For example, as students who are receiving Tier 2 or Tier 3 instructional interventions acquire the necessary language and literacy skills, instruction is adjusted accordingly to a less intensive tier of instruction. The intensity of the level of support at each tier is always based on ongoing monitoring of student progress, focusing on each student’s learning rate and level.
The tiered approach ensures responsive, timely, and effective instruction that improves student learning, reduces the likelihood that a student will struggle or develop language difficulties in the future, and facilitates the earlier introduction of more intensive interventions for students with significant learning difficulty, regardless of whether they have an identified learning disability or other special education need. It is important to understand that Universal Design for Learning and differentiated instruction are integral aspects of the tiered approach and of an inclusive language program. The learning needs of a significant majority of students, including students with special education needs, can be met using Tier 1 Universal Design for Learning and differentiated instruction principles and approaches, along with evidence-based, systematic, and explicit instruction. More information on Universal Design for Learning and differentiated instruction can be found in the ministry publication Learning for All: A Guide to Effective Assessment and Instruction for All Students, Kindergarten to Grade 12, 2013. Ministry guidance in Learning for All related specifically to reading instruction and assessment has been superseded by this curriculum.
Selecting Texts and Learning Resources
The language and literacy program builds on students’ prior knowledge, their cultures, and their language experiences at home and in the community. Effective instruction offers students choices, encourages a sense of agency in learning, and further motivates and engages students in language and literacy learning and in the development of self-efficacy. Students should recognize themselves in their language-learning experiences, in the literacy environment of the classroom, and in the broader physical surroundings of the school while also having the opportunity to enjoy reading a wide variety of texts and learning about diverse identities, abilities, experiences, families, cultures, and communities.
When educators plan for differentiated language and literacy instruction using various grouping strategies, they purposefully select texts and learning resources to support student learning in a rich, authentic, and meaningful context. They consider the following guiding questions:
- How are the selected texts and resources connected to and aligned with the curriculum expectations?
- Are the learning resources and texts reflective of the students’ various identities, interests, knowledges, lived experiences, and linguistic resources?
- Is the selection of learning resources, such as decodable texts used for decoding instruction, grounded in scientific reading research that follows an evidence-based scope and sequence? Are the resources developmentally appropriate to support students’ skill progression?
- For early readers with developing decoding skills, are texts carefully selected to provide opportunities for more advanced language learning through read-alouds of books with rich and diverse vocabulary, language structures, and content?
- What key factors are considered to determine text complexity? For example, are text structure, language features (e.g., conventions, vocabulary, sentence structure, level of cohesion), purpose, content and knowledge demands, and visual features and graphics all considered?
- Does the text selection include various texts forms and genres, by creators with diverse identities, perspectives, and experiences, including diverse First Nations, Métis and Inuit creators?
- Do the texts represent diverse perspectives and are they free of bias?
- Are there a range of texts available to engage various student interests, spark curiosity, and provide a sense of excitement and joy?
- Do the texts and learning resources provide students with opportunities to practice, extend, and consolidate language and literacy skills in meaningful and authentic ways?
- Are the texts and learning resources accessible to and inclusive of all students? Are they available in accessible formats? Can they be used with assistive technology?
- Are digital and media resources used to teach about students’ rights and responsibilities for online interactions, to develop their digital identity, and to support their learning to navigate online environments while managing their data, security, and privacy?
Classroom teachers are the key educators of students with special education needs and students with disabilities. They have a responsibility to create the conditions necessary to support all students in their learning, and they work collaboratively with special education teachers and other educators, where appropriate, to achieve this goal. Classroom teachers commit to assisting every student in achieving success according to their interests, abilities, and goals. More information on planning for and assessing students with special education needs can be found in the “Planning for Students with Special Education Needs” subsection of “Considerations for Program Planning”.
Principles for Supporting Students with Special Education Needs
The following principles guide teachers in planning and teaching language programs for students with special education needs and students with disabilities, and benefit all students in developing foundational language and literacy skills:
- All teachers play a critical role in student success in language and literacy learning.
- Language and literacy instruction is based on an asset-oriented pedagogical model that draws on the valuable funds of knowledge and the various identities, abilities, resources, and experiences that all students bring to their language and literacy learning.
- Early assessment of students’ language and literacy skills is important for providing instruction that prevents later learning difficulties. The ongoing assessment of foundational knowledge and skills of students with special education needs and disabilities is critical in informing the precision of the instruction and providing responsive tiered support.
- Teachers focus language and literacy instruction on the acquisition of foundational knowledge and skills as described in this curriculum.
- Engagement of multimodalities when interacting with various texts is fundamental to language and literacy learning in all grades. It empowers students to understand a wide variety of texts deeply and to make creative and purposeful decisions about how to communicate effectively to particular audiences.
- Teachers combine their pedagogical, content, and technological knowledge with a detailed knowledge of how individual students develop language and literacy skills, and of their strengths and interests, to design effective learning experiences.
- Teachers implement evidence-based approaches to address each student’s specific areas of learning growth and need, monitor their progress, build their self-efficacy, and meet their Individual Education Plan (IEP) goals, where applicable.
An effective language and literacy learning environment and program that is inclusive of students with special education needs and students with disabilities is purposefully planned with the principles of Universal Design for Learning and differentiated instruction in mind and integrates the following elements:
- employing student-centred strategies that actively build on students’ strengths, interests, and motivations to improve their language and literacy learning and increase their engagement, by:
- providing ample opportunities for them to communicate their wants, needs, thoughts, and opinions to others; to ask and respond to questions; and to demonstrate their learning using a variety of modes of communication (e.g., linguistic, visual, gestural, technologically assisted);
- encouraging the development of their critical thinking skills in literacy by building foundational knowledge and skills;
- using direct instruction to systematically and explicitly teach foundational knowledge and skills, and providing many opportunities for guided practice, descriptive feedback, modelling, and coaching;
- considering students’ individual use of language and communication modalities; for example, some students require the use of American Sign Language (ASL), Braille, or Augmentative and Alternative Communications Systems;
- providing required instructional, environmental, and/or assessment accommodations and/or modifications as specified in the student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP). Accommodations may include the use of learning tools such as sound walls and visual dictionaries, augmentative and alternative communication devices, and access to assistive technology such as text-to-speech and speech-to-text programs;
- teaching the foundational knowledge and skills of receptive and expressive communication while providing opportunities for students to practise specific and scaffolded grade-level skills in social situations (e.g., engaging in reciprocal interaction with others, verbally or non-verbally);
- supporting students in the development of executive function skills through scaffolding, modelling, and practicing the use of organizational tools, ensuring directions and explanations of strategies are clear and explicit;
- building an inclusive community of learners by encouraging all students to participate in various language and literacy class projects and activities;
- building family and community partnerships as well as partnerships between administrators, classroom teachers, and other teachers, particularly special education teachers, where available, to share expertise and knowledge of the curriculum expectations, develop language content in Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and systematically implement intervention strategies, and make meaningful connections between school and home to ensure that what the student is learning at school is relevant and can be practised and reinforced beyond the classroom.
English language learners are culturally and linguistically diverse students who are working to achieve the language curriculum expectations while they are acquiring English-language proficiency. An effective language and literacy program that supports the success of English language learners is purposefully planned with the following considerations in mind:
- Pedagogical approaches are multimodal and facilitate translanguaging, whereby students use linguistic resources from their full linguistic repertoires. They emphasize language learners’ rights to develop and use their first language and voices in the classroom to inform their learning.
- A multilingual classroom that encourages creative and strategic translingual practice enables students to use their linguistic repertoire in a fluid and dynamic way, mixing and meshing languages to communicate, interact, and connect with peers and teachers for a variety of purposes, such as when developing foundational literacy knowledge and skills and when making, creating, and communicating meaning through various texts and media. When students are engaged in cross-curricular learning tasks, translanguaging also supports knowledge transfer and affirms the cultural and linguistic identities of students.
- Culturally responsive and relevant pedagogy (CRRP) recognizes students’ various cultural and linguistic identities as critical resources in language and literacy instruction and learning. Knowledge of English language learners’ strengths, interests, and identities, including their social and cultural backgrounds, is important. These funds of knowledge are historically and culturally developed skills and assets that are central to creating a richer and more meaningful learning experience for all students and promoting a socially and linguistically inclusive learning environment.
- Cross-linguistic learning contexts enable students to draw on their languages, digital media, visuals, and mediating devices to develop metalinguistic awareness and to further their development and engagement in language and literacy learning.
- An initial assessment of newcomer students’ level of English-language proficiency is required in Ontario schools. Where possible, at least part of the initial assessment should be conducted in the student’s first language to gain a broader view of the student’s language and literacy development.
- Differentiated instruction is essential in supporting English language learners, who face the dual challenge of learning new conceptual knowledge while acquiring English-language proficiency. Designing language learning to have the right balance for English language learners is achieved through program adaptations (e.g., accommodations that utilize their background knowledge in their first language) that ensure the tasks are reflective of cognitive demands within the language curriculum and linguistically comprehensible and accessible to English language learners. Using the full range of a student’s language assets, including those in additional languages that a student speaks, reads, and writes, as a resource in the language classroom, supports their access to prior learning and language experiences, to develop metalinguistic skills, and increases their engagement;
- Working with students and their families and with available community supports allows students to create relevant and real-life learning contexts and tasks.
In a supportive language and literacy learning environment, scaffolding the learning offers English language learners the opportunity to:
- access their other language(s) (e.g., by using digital tools to access vocabulary and terminology in their first language and multimodal representations of concepts), background knowledge, and prior learning and language experiences;
- benefit from flexible language pedagogies that facilitate translanguaging, such as the use of and creation of dual language books as an instructional strategy;
- develop identity texts within classrooms. Identity texts are artefacts created by students that can be made by engaging a variety of modalities. These texts promote discussion about students’ cultural and linguistic backgrounds;
- learn new concepts and skills in authentic, meaningful, and familiar contexts;
- engage in open and parallel tasks to allow for multiple entry points for learning;
- work in a variety of settings that support co-learning and multiple opportunities for practice (e.g., with partners or in small groups, as part of cooperative learning, or in group conferences);
- access the language of instruction during oral, written, and multimodal instruction and assessment, during questioning, and when encountering texts, learning tasks, and other activities in the language program;
- use oral language in different strategically planned activities, such as “think-pair-share”, “turn-and-talk”, and “adding on”, to express their ideas and engage in literacy discourse;
- develop both everyday and academic vocabulary, including domain-specific vocabulary in context, through explicit instruction, through rephrasing and recasting by the teacher, and through using student-developed bilingual word banks or glossaries;
- practise using sentence frames adapted to their English-language proficiency levels to communicate their understanding, ask questions, express their ideas, and explain their thinking;
- use a variety of concrete and/or digital learning tools and engage multimodalities to demonstrate their learning and thinking (e.g., orally, visually, kinesthetically), through a range of representations (e.g., oral presentation, portfolios, displays, discussions, dramatization), and in multiple languages (e.g., multilingual word walls and anchor charts);
- have their learning assessed in terms of the processes they use in multiple languages, both during the learning and through teachers’ observations and conversations.
Strategies used to differentiate instruction and assessment for English language learners also benefit many other learners in the classroom, since programming is focused on leveraging all students’ strengths, meeting learners where they are in their learning, being aware of the language demands (e.g., the academic vocabulary) in the program, and making learning and thinking visible.
English language learners in English Literacy Development (ELD) programs in Grades 3 to 8 require accelerated support to develop both their literacy skills and their English language proficiency. These students have significant gaps in their formal education because of limited or interrupted prior schooling. Culturally responsive and relevant practices are fundamental in recognizing and connecting to the informal literacies these students may have. They may bring a deep knowledge of the local customs and ways of knowing in their home culture, oral language skills, and/or social skills. These students often require focused support over a longer period than students in English as a Second Language (ESL) programs. The use of the student’s oral competence in languages other than English is a non-negotiable scaffold. The strategies described above, such as the use of visuals, the engagement of multimodalities, the development of everyday and academic vocabulary, the use of technology, and the use of oral competence, are essential in supporting student success in ELD programs.
Supporting English language learners is a shared responsibility. Collaboration with administrators and other teachers, particularly ESL/ELD teachers and relevant community representatives, where possible, contributes to creating equitable outcomes for English language learners. Additional information on planning for and assessing English language learners can be found in the “Planning for English Language Learners” subsection of "Considerations for Program Planning”.
The language curriculum is strongly supported by the library learning commons. Teacher-librarians, where available, can help to nurture and develop a love of reading for learning and for pleasure, assist students in accessing information and in selecting appropriate texts, and guide students in experiencing various texts and media that are relevant to their lives. Teacher-librarians may receive training in developing library collections and/or collaborate with those who have expertise in developing collections that are culturally responsive and relevant, accessible, diverse, inclusive, and rich in Canadian content.
Teacher-librarians collaborate with classroom or subject-area teachers, such as language, math, or science and technology teachers, to create and plan rich literacy experiences for students, teach, and provide students with authentic information and research tasks that foster learning. They share the responsibilities of supporting equitable access to information for all students and the development of students' information literacy skills, including their ability to evaluate the relevance, quality, and credibility of information and to use it with responsibility and imagination. Additional information on the role of the school library and teacher-librarians can be found in “The Role of the School Library” subsection of “Considerations for Program Planning”.
The language curriculum was developed with the understanding that the strategic use of technology is part of an effective program. Technology can extend and enrich teachers’ instructional strategies to support all students’ learning in language and literacy. Technology can support and foster the development and demonstration of language learning.
The strategic use of technology to support the achievement of the curriculum expectations requires a strong understanding of:
- the language and literacy concepts and skills being addressed;
- high-impact instructional practices that can be used as appropriate to achieve the learning goals;
- the capacity of the chosen technology to augment the learning, and how to use this technology effectively.
Teachers will find various digital tools useful in their teaching practice, for student-centred learning, for whole class instruction, and for the design of curriculum units that contain varied approaches to learning to meet diverse student needs.
Technology can be used to support the processes involved in the language curriculum: to facilitate access to information (e.g., accessing relevant and credible web-based content); and to allow better communication and collaboration (e.g., working with peers in collaborative documents, connecting with experts, and communicating with teachers). Assistive technologies are critical in enabling some students with special education needs to have equitable access, meaningfully engage with curriculum material, and take part in classroom activities and must be provided in accordance with students’ Individual Education Plan (IEP), as required.
The use of technology in the language curriculum also provides opportunities for students to develop their transferable skills, including digital literacy. When using technology to support the teaching and learning of language, teachers consider the issues of student safety, privacy, and ethical responsibility, respect and inclusion, and student well-being.
Although the internet is a powerful learning tool, all students must be made aware of issues of privacy, safety, and responsible use, as well as of the ways in which the internet can be used to promote hatred. In all grades, students also need to be reminded of the ethical issues relating to plagiarism and appropriation. In a digital world that provides quick access to abundant information, it is very easy to copy the words, music, or images of others and present them as one’s own. Both blatant and nuanced forms of plagiarism and appropriation, as well as the consequences of engaging in them, should be clearly discussed before students engage in creating texts.
Teachers understand the importance of technology and how it can be leveraged to support learning and to ensure that the language curriculum expectations can be met by all students. Additional information can be found in the “The Role of Information and Communications Technology” subsection of “Considerations for Program Planning”.