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The standard of teaching practice talks about enhancing the learning environment with a variety of curriculum resources.
 
The Ontario Unit Planner is a resource that helps the teachers to plan their units. It comprises curriculum resources, electronic database, planning and writing tools making it a complete tool for the teachers to help in designing their unit plans. The Planner enables teachers at all levels of experience to design, share, adapt, and manage excellent plans, units, and course profiles for classroom use.
 
Following is a report on the Ontario Curriculm Unit Planner, its usefulness and drawbacks.
 

Ontario Curriculum Unit Planner is a very good tool for designing unit plans. It guides the way to teachers in designing and planning the unit according to the Ontario curriculum expectations. The resource documents talk about the overall and specific expectations in details of teaching Language and other subjects. The Teaching Learning companion gives variety of strategies to help the teachers design instructional units. This is useful and very practical as the Ontario teachers have compiled it and is field tested. This database can be used by the teachers while using the unit planner software by clicking on specific icons. The whole companion can be printed too. The database gives a checklist for the different strategies. These strategies are explained with illustrations. This is a great help to the teachers to plan their unit and teach in class. The database takes care of the learning styles of pupils too.  The assessment companion is to help teachers assessing the students. It is reminded again and again that these companions and the content has to be taken as suggestions and can be modified depending on the circumstances. As it says in the planner, "While every effort has been made to provide appropriate information for educators, the database is not intended to be a definitive treatment of the topics it includes. Its contents should be read as suggestions, not prescriptions. To help educators who find themselves in a variety of circumstances, the database includes references to supports and applications that may not be available to all practitioners." The purpose of assessment should be to improve student learning. Assessment and evaluation is based on the provincial curriculum expectations and the achievement levels outlined in the program planning and assessment document and in the curriculum policy document for each discipline. Different strategies for assessment given in details help to assess the students to improve learning.

 

The unit planner is field tested and has been released after teachers' feedback. It comprises curriculum resources, electronic database, planning and writing tools making it a complete tool for the teachers to help in designing their unit plans. The Planner enables teachers at all levels of experience to design, share, adapt, and manage excellent plans, units, and course profiles for classroom use. To support the design of effective units, the Planner provides teachers with a common format for consistent decision making, three planning templates – from simple to sophisticated, easy access to a comprehensive library of resources, flexibility in entering information in any order, analysis tools to check progress, commissioned sample units by teachers for teachers.

The Planner project provides new ways to implement curriculum in Ontario. The common Planner CD-ROM allows teachers to install the Planner application on their personal and school computers and create units and profiles in a consistent format.

 

Unit Planner is easily available to the teachers.  As it has been stated, the purpose of this planner is to design, share, adapt, and manage plans and units for classroom use. A remarkable feature of the planner allows the teachers to communicate and share their ideas. Managing is made easy by providing ways to store and retrieve work electronically, check progress in quantifiable ways, copy or delete personal work and that of others, organize all resources for every unit. The companions also help the teachers in many ways including them to create the black line masters. You could create a new unit or edit an existing unit. The Planner helps the teachers to design, draft, copy, print, and share units in both pencil-and-paper and electronic formats. Not only this, it connects the teachers to the unit planner website where they can get help.

 

The planner almost trains a teacher in a step wise manner to design a unit. It is especially helpful for the new teachers. It explains the preplanning, expectations and teaching/learning strategies. Designing units and programs/profiles is made easy by the Planner’s structure, which reflects the elements of expectation-based design. One of the important features of this planner is that it helps the teachers to determine meaningful connections to other subject areas/expectations. Exemplars help teachers to get help in designing their unit based on the curriculum expectations. The links on the website connect the teachers to different useful education related websites. The link page itself is a tool to help the teachers. The support section tries to solve the doubts of the teachers if any.

 

This is an amazing tool for the teachers (especially new teachers) to help them in designing their unit plans. But the software seems cumbersome and needs to be toured again and again to get a hang of it before actually starting to use it. The task applications are a wonderful way of searching example unit plans according to the need of the students and teachers. There could be more such tasks and examples added to this.

 

 

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Manoshi Chatterjee