Here are some links to official and non-official resources to explore the new Ontario Language 2023 Curriculum.
Official Resources developed by the Ontario Ministry of Education
You can download the new English Language Arts curriculum here.
English Language Arts Vocabulary and Definitions of terms
Here is the official glossary of terms provided by the Ministry of Education. So, if you’re not sure what “text form” or “clause” means, you can use these definitions and feel confident that you’re aligned with the new Ontario Language 2023 curriculum.
Why this matters:
Contrary to popular belief, the point of school is not to learn.
The goal of education at our stage of the game (Middle School language arts) is to prepare students for the 21st Century by teaching students how to learn.
The new Ontario Language 2023 Curriculum is a huge step beyond the old 2006 language curriculum (download official PDF) for many reasons. Here are three:
- It recognizes that we use 21st Century Learning skills (critical thinking, creativity, character, collaboration, communication, citizenship) to understand information.
- These 21st Century Learning skills are transferable – we can develop these skills to study literature and informational texts, but these transferable skills also work in other contexts (i.e. life, other curriculum subjects, jobs, etc)
- Language is no longer strictly limited to reading novels and writing essays. (This is a good thing. surviving and thriving in the real world means being being able to transfer our reading and critical thinking skills to credit card contracts, spam texts and emails, memos from our boss, deepfake ads on social media platforms, new and fake news articles / posts / ads that go viral.
The new Ontario Language Curriculum 2023 recognizes that printed text, digital texts, media texts, cultural texts, oral texts, and pretty much any form of information now falls directly across all strands.
(Previously “media texts” were separated as a separate strand, but now it’s incorporated everyone. This is now more in line with other jurisdictions like the Common Core State Standards in the US.)
The challenge is that change is hard, education is political, and parents, principals, and students may not understand why we are learning something in the classroom.
That’s why the Ontario Language 2023 Curriculum documents and glossary are so important.
As middle school teachers, we are required to teach the curriculum. In middle school (Grade 6, 7, 8), we have a lot of flexibility in how we teach the curriculum. And that means, going back to the official primary sources of information – in this case, the Ontario Ministry of Education.
Case Study: using Sudoku to teach literacy
Most people think Sudoku is math. It’s not. It’s logic and critical thinking. We simply use numbers, but we could just as easily have used letters, symbols, or emojis.
Sudoku puzzles, line charts, bar graphs, sports statistics, and computer code are all forms of text that we can study in English Language Arts.
A means of communication that uses words, graphics, sounds, and/or images, in print, oral, visual, or digital form, to present information and ideas to an audience.SOURCE: Ontario Language 2023 Curriculum – Glossary
We could explore Sudoku and connect it to the Ontario Language Arts 2023 Curriculum in a number of ways:
- Compare and contrast Sudoku as a text form with other “traditional” (i.e. novels, Shakespeare, textbooks) and “non-traditional” things (i.e. comic strips, web pages, text messages) that we learn from in an English Language Arts class. (Overall Expectation C1. Knowledge about Texts: … demonstrate an understanding of the patterns, features, and elements of style associated with various texts forms and genres)
- Learn how to play Sudoku and understand the rules from a handout or slideshow. (Overall Expectation C1. Knowledge about Texts: apply foundational knowledge and skills to understand a variety of texts, including digital and media texts…)
- Independently solve Sudoku puzzles and work your way through progressively harder puzzles. (Overall Expectation C3. Critical Thinking in Literacy: apply critical thinking skills to deepen understanding of texts… including digital, media… texts.)
- How does analyzing in Sudoku to figure out meaning (a valid solution) compare with analyzing a sentence or analyzing an essay to figure out meaning? (Overall Expectation A1. Transferable Skills: demonstrate an understanding of how the seven transferable skills (critical thinking and problem solving; innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship; self-directed learning…) are used in various language and literacy contexts
And, for those of us who only want to see Sudoku as something that belongs in math, and not in English Language Arts, the new Ontario Language 2023 Curriculum specifically requires us to do cross-curricular teaching:
A3. Applications, Connections, and Contributions: apply language and literacy skills in cross-curricular and integrated learning…SOURCE: Ontario Language 2023 Curriculum – Grade 8 Overall Expectations
Should we only study Sudoku in English Language Arts? Of course not.
Let’s bring this back to (student) mental health: Sometimes, we hit obstacles in life. Perseverance is the ability to pick ourselves up after we get knocked down.
If we think about perseverance strategies in life: nothing works for everyone all of the time.
But, the more tools we have in our toolbox, the more situations we’re potentially able to handle.
Using Sudoku in English Language Arts can be a great metaphor to understanding how learning skills are transferable. The way we analyze the numbers on a sudoku puzzle is the same way we break apart a novel to understand character development arcs which is the same way we look at different parts of a text message to unlock hidden meaning.