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How to read Alberta Program of Studies
With September right around the corner, I have really been busy laminating, cutting and cutting some more. I even started to joke with my friends that I am absolutely nerding out! But I love it and I am happy with what I am doing! In becoming a teacher and then homeschool momma I have realized how much value comes in the planning stage. In order to create successful learning opportunities, we have to plan and do it well! It can’t be thrown together last minute. So one way to accomplish this planning stage because it truly is difficult to know where to start is to read the Alberta Program of Studies.
Use Alberta Program of Studies as a planning guide
Sometimes in the homeschool curriculum, it can be difficult to know where to start for planning. It kind of feels like you are trying to catch something in the dark if you don’t know what needs to be taught or learned. As a homeschooling momma, I will be following the Alberta Program of Studies because then I know that my girls are in line with what other students their age are learning. I know that the Alberta Program of Studies has recently changed and some topics that I feel are important will need to be taught that are missing. So I will fill in the gaps of where the girls’ interests, needs, and abilities lie. Just because we get to the elementary years doesn’t mean that we can’t still base our planning and learning around our littles. If you haven’t checked out my post of how to observe and plan based on a child’s interests, needs, and abilities you can check it out here!!
However, this post will get down into the nitty gritty of what the Alberta Program of Studies is all about and how to use it. If you click on this link, it will take you to the Education website for Alberta where you will see a bunch of guides. Kinder is a little different because it doesn’t include every subject so I will be using grade one as my example of how to read the Alberta Program of Studies for each subject.
How to navigate the site for the Alberta Program of Studies
You will find that they have a Tools for Parents section that breaks the studies down into more friendly terms for parents but to get to the nitty gritty of the information you want to know you’ll have to keep scrolling down to the specific subject you want more information on.
Although, the program of studies are all a little bit different in the way that they are laid out there are still some common basic concepts you will want to know and understand. The Program of Studies is first broken into General Outcomes, so the broad goal, and then you have specific outcomes, which would be the mini goals to get to the broad goals.
What are General and Specific Learning Outcomes? What does that even mean?!
I know, I know, it sounds super confusing so let’s break it down into simple terms. We can relate to those New Years Goals that we all set. I know a super popular one that I seem to set every year is to lose weight and get in shape. So our subject could be seen as Health because it relates to our bodies. Then we have two General Outcomes we want to accomplish, which are Lose Weight and Get In Shape. So with lose weight as our goal how are we going to do that? Are we going to count calories? exercise daily? follow a certain diet regime or program? drink more water? The answers to these questions would become our specific outcomes. So for me to lose weight I would want to focus on counting calories and drinking more water to begin with. Then I would want to implement some of the other things and that is how the specific outcomes work.
We could take counting calories even farther and decide how many calories we are going to have daily and weekly. We could then decide if exercising allows us to have more calories for our daily intake. So this relates to how general or specific you can actually get with your specific learning outcomes.
Let’s relate this to English Language Arts
When you click on grade one and scroll down you will find 5 General Outcomes. The first one being, “Students will listen, speak, read, write, view and represent to explore thoughts, ideas, feelings, and experiences.” So like losing weight this is our bigger goal. By the end of our learning task or opportunity or game or activity, this is what we want to see accomplished. Now that’s great to know that but how do we accomplish that? Well from our specific learning outcomes of course!!
Specific Learning Outcomes
Specific Learning Outcomes (SLO) are broken down into measurable skills. What do I mean by measurable? Well, I am glad you asked!! Measurable means that at the end of the lesson you are able to see whether or not the student or child is able to accomplish the task on their own with little help. So if we relate it back to losing weight and counting calories. In order to stay within our calorie budget, we would need to know how to make healthy food choices. It would mean that we understand that it is better to pick an apple over a bag of potato chips and that my friends is measurable. If we were asked which is the healthier choice we would be able to say apples because they have a lower calorie count and are better for you. So that is how it is with Specific Learning Outcomes.
They have a title for the SLO of 1.1 Discover and Explore and then they tell you how to accomplish that. One of the SLOs for 1.1 is “talk with others about something you have recently learned”. Is that measurable? Yes! Are you able to plan an learning activity or lesson from that? Yes! And so that my friend is how SLOs work!!
Don’t let it overwhelm you
Sometimes the Alberta Program of Studies can look absolutely overwhelming if you don’t know how to read it. But don’t let it overwhelm you. All you really need to know is to look for the specific grade find the General Learning Outcome, the specific learning outcome title and then the specific learning outcomes that can be measured or used to find out whether the child can accomplish the task at the end of your lesson or not. With teaching and homeschool, you just have to jump in with both feet and try your best.
Because oh puh-lease!! You’ve got this momma!!