This course is designed to help students acquire and demonstrate the cross-curricular literacy skills that are evaluated by the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT). Students who complete the course successfully will meet the provincial literacy requirement for graduation. Students will read a variety of informational, narrative, and graphic texts and will produce a variety of forms of writing, including summaries, information paragraphs, opinion pieces, and news reports. Students will also maintain and manage a portfolio containing a record of their reading experiences and samples of their writing.
Students will make connections between their faith and their literacy skills. Students will have an opportunity to reflect on the different types of texts in the Bible and the importance of demonstrating their Christian values in their writing. Students are encouraged to rely on Jesus’ teachings as they overcome challenges and to appreciate their God-given gifts and skills.
This course is entirely online and does not require nor rely on any textbook. The materials required for the course are:
- A scanner, smart phone camera, or similar device to upload handwritten or hand-drawn work
- A digital video camera, a web camera, or similar device to record and upload video recordings
- A computer microphone, smart phone microphone, or similar device to record and upload audio recordings
Teaching and Learning Strategies:
As in other courses, teachers will use their professional judgement to decide which instructional methods will be most effective in promoting the learning of core knowledge and skills described in the expectations. However, because students in this course will have significant gaps in their literacy skills, direct instruction, support, and practice are necessary for student success.
No single instructional approach can address all the curriculum expectations or meet all the needs of each learner. Teachers should therefore select instructional strategies and classroom activities that are based on an assessment of students’ needs, proven learning theory, and best practices. In this course, teachers should introduce a rich variety of activities that integrate reading and writing expectations and provide for the explicit teaching of knowledge and skills.
The ability to work both independently and collaboratively is important for success in the workplace and postsecondary education and is equally relevant in the context of family and community. It is therefore important for students to have opportunities to develop their language skills and knowledge in a variety of ways: individually and cooperatively; independently and with teacher direction; and through the study of examples followed by practice. Students must be able to demonstrate that they have acquired the specified knowledge and skills.
Students taking this course may be doubtful that they can acquire the literacy skills they need to function effectively at school, at work, and in other everyday contexts. In seeking to meet the needs of these students, teachers should try to create a positive classroom environment that gives students the confidence to take risks as they learn and that continually encourages them to persist and improve. To help students build confidence and to promote learning, teachers should use the approach of grouping students for purposes of instruction and support. Groupings should be flexible and should change as students’ literacy skills improve. Students may be grouped in a variety of ways, including the following:
- by instructional need (e.g., group students who need to practise a specific reading or writing strategy);
- by ability to read texts at a comparable level of challenge (e.g., select texts on the same topic but at different levels of difficulty, and group students to read the texts that are appropriate to their skills);
- by shared interest in particular topics or issues (e.g., group students to generate ideas as a team before they write on a topic of shared interest);
- for purposes of effective collaboration (e.g., group students who can provide support for one another as they learn).
An important way to build reading and writing skills is to recognize and build on the strengths in oral language, in English or a first language, that many students bring to the course. When students discuss their prior knowledge of a topic or type of text before they read, they build a foundation for understanding that gives them the confidence to read a variety of texts. Similarly, the quality of students’ writing improves and they become more competent as writers when they talk about their ideas at all stages of the writing process (e.g., discuss writing topics before they write; read and share their works in progress; offer suggestions to other writers for revision and editing).
Oral language experiences in large and small groups also provide opportunities for students to clarify their thinking about what they have read and to share these understandings with others – to “make visible” the often invisible reading strategies they use to understand texts. In addition, opportunities to use oral language help students to expand their vocabularies, thereby improving their fluency in reading and their ability to express themselves clearly and effectively in writing.
As they enter the course, students might not see themselves as readers, since many feel daunted by the complexities of the print texts they encounter in school. In reality, most students do read some types of texts regularly in their daily lives – for example, websites and e-mails. Teachers should use such familiar types of texts as a starting point to introduce students to strategies and skills they can use to understand a greater variety of informational, narrative, and graphic texts and relate them to their own knowledge and experiences. Students’ ability to read is greatly enhanced when they recognize a text as having authentic relevance to their interests and aspirations, in terms of the issues it raises and the information it contains. Teachers should therefore include a balanced selection of text forms (informational, narrative, and graphic, in both print and electronic media) at different levels of challenge, and should include texts on a range of topics that concern and interest students (e.g., on personal, social, health and safety, and career and workplace issues).
Students see themselves as writers when they have choices about the topics and purposes for writing, when they go through the process of generating and organizing ideas and information and conferring with others about ideas and style, and when they become accustomed to consulting resources such as grammar guides and dictionaries to help them revise, edit, and polish their writing. Although the OSSLC requires students to produce writing on demand, developing assigned topics and using specified forms, it also provides scope for students to go beyond the specifications of the OSSLT. Teachers should use the relative flexibility this course offers to provide regular and frequent opportunities for students to practice writing primarily but not exclusively in the identified forms, on a range of self-selected topics, and for a variety of purposes.
Reading and writing skills are complementary and mutually reinforcing. For this reason, many of the expectations in the Reading strand require students to demonstrate their learning through activities that also involve writing. Similarly, many of the expectations in the Writing strand require students to demonstrate their learning through activities that also involve reading. Teachers need to support and enhance these connections by introducing a rich variety of classroom activities that integrate reading and writing and that provide opportunities for students to develop and practice these skills in conjunction with one another.
Assessment and Evaluation Strategies of Student Performance:
Every student attending Christian Virtual School is unique. We believe each student must have the opportunities to achieve success according to their own interests, abilities, and goals. Like the Ministry of Education, we have defined high expectations and standards for graduation, while introducing a range of options that allow students to learn in ways that suit them best and enable them to earn their diplomas. Christian Virtual School’s Assessment, Evaluation, and Reporting Policy is based on seven fundamental principles, as outlined in the Growing Success: Assessment, Evaluation, and Reporting in Ontario Schools document.
When these seven principles are fully understood and observed by all teachers, they guide the collection of meaningful information that helps inform instructional decisions, promote student engagement, and improve student learning. At Christian Virtual School, teachers use practices and procedures that:
- are fair, transparent, and equitable for all students;
- support all students, including those with special education needs, those who are learning English, and those who are First Nation, Métis, or Inuit;
- are carefully planned to relate to the curriculum expectations and learning goals and, as much as possible, to the interests, learning styles and preferences, needs, and experiences of all students;
- are communicated clearly to students and parents or guardians at the beginning of the school year or course and at other appropriate points throughout the school year or course;
- are ongoing, varied in nature, and administered over a period of time to provide multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate the full range of their learning;
- provide ongoing descriptive feedback that is clear, specific, meaningful, and timely to support improved learning and achievement; and
- develop students’ self-assessment skills to enable them to access their own learning, set specific goals, and plan next steps for their learning.
For more information on our assessment and evaluation strategies, refer to Section 6, Student Achievement, in the Course Calendar.
Program Planning Considerations: