I've always hated the Language Arts curriculum (in Alberta). It's so vague! Sure, it leaves lots of room for interpretation and teacher creativity, but I'm a math/science kind of person and really enjoy real, concrete learning objectives.
This year, as I am teaching grade 5 LA, I am again being creative in meeting my objectives.
General Outcome 1
Students will listen, speak, read, write, view and represent to explore thoughts, ideas, feelings and experiences.
This outcome alone has led to some fabulous, meaningful classroom discussions. The illustrative examples in the Program of Studies suggest all kinds of potentially meaningless activities to meet this objective. I have decided to have classroom discussion around material meaningful to my students. This is also based on the fact that my class loves to discuss!
By holding classroom discussions, the students must take turns talking, without interrupting another students' statement even if they really want to. They are also learning how to really listen to another person, even if you do not agree with them or think what they have to say is important or interesting. I believe these are skills that will set them up to be effective people in the work force, as well as in their personal lives.
Our topics so far have been based on issues that have come up in grade 5: controversy of makeup on girls and women; appropriate dating age; personal matters (minding your own business); differences; thankfulness, which ended up about women's rights.
At first I felt like I was wasting time a bit, but now I feel like I am actually teaching these children something meaningful and useful that they will use throughout their lives. They may not remember the discussion we have on the challenges the main character in our novel faces, but they will remember our meaningful discussions.