Alternative Curriculum Reporting

It is that time of year again when everyone gets to do their favourite part of teaching….. Report card writing!! Woohoo!!

When I began my job as a teacher of students with Developmental Disabilities three years ago, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to write on my student’s reports. All of my students were working towards Alternative expectations on their IEPs and the reporting on the goals was much different than I was used to doing.  It was the first time that I developed Alternative Expectations (expectations that are developed to help students acquire skills that are not in the Ontario curriculum) and the first time I reported on them at the completion of first term. The ministry of Education explains that “for the vast majority of students, these (alternative) programs would be given in addition to modified or regular grade–level expectations from the Ontario curriculum.” In my students case, they have completely alternative IEPs.

In Ontario, there are five categories of Exceptionalities: Behaviour, Communication, Intellectual, Physical and Multiple. Some of these categories have more than one exceptionality under its umbrella, resulting in a total of twelve exceptionalities as outlined by the Ministry of Education. My students who have a Developmental Disability fall under the Intellectual umbrella along with Giftedness and Mild Intellectual Disabilities.

After consulting with parents, guardians, previous IEPs, Occupational Therapist reports, Speech and Language Reports, other staff and Psychoeducational Assessments,  I created goals that my students focused on for the first term of school. For some students, the goal changed many times throughout the term as we made it more challenging or complex because the child mastered the initial goal. For other students, the goal had to be altered completely to meet their changing needs. When preparing to write the report card, I gathered all the assessment that we as a team had gathered and used the evidence to write a comment that reflected the student’s progress.

After three years in my role, I am no expert by any means, but maybe the comments I have used may help give you some ideas of how to start.

Here are some comments for some areas of the Alternative Curriculum:


_____ regularly initiates conversation with students online and in the classroom. ___ is working on listening closely to others responses and respond to questions that they have asked. ____ is beginning to be able to express her feelings in detail in the classroom.

_________continues to be able to communicate confidently with staff and students online and in person. ___ has improved in his ability to add his own thoughts and questions to conversations and no longer relies on a model to share his experiences and interests. _______ began Speech and Language online sessions in the Winter of 2020 with a focus on improving ______’s articulation. He has adjusted well to the format of the focused sessions and is very committed to improving.

_________ has improved a lot in her ability to express how she is feeling throughout the day at school. She is able to ask for breaks when she is tired or thirsty and confidently shares when she is having a difficult morning. Her ability to express her feelings has helped her to be more focused in class. ______ has gained more confidence throughout this school year and is now able to ask for assistance from multiple people in the classroom.


_______ had a very successful term two. He was able to stay calm and focused by using his strategy board when he felt anxious with minimal prompting from staff. During online learning, he used some deep breaths when he felt overwhelmed and remained very calm and focused.

With minimal teacher support, ________ has made significant improvements in her/his self regulation when upset or frustrated.  The use of a calming space with student selected staff, allowed ______ time to use tools to help manage her emotions throughout the day. Using a first then choice board, _______ was beginning to comply with more requests throughout the day.

Fine Motor/Gross Motor:

________ printing has improved this term. It is more clear and easy to read. ___ spent much of the term writing for specific purposes such as letters to all of her friends at home. ____ is able to use scissors well to cut paper activities and is working on completing lacing activities accurately. Currently, he is able to lace straight lines consistently and is working on lacing curved shapes.

________ is completing 3 to 5 laps of the interior of the school every day on his bike. He rides the bike with fluid motion and lots of energy. _______ with consistent support and encouragement is beginning to go up and down the stairs of the school 3 times a week.

Functional Academics:

______ can count to 100 with 80% accuracy. She sometimes need assistance with the numbers 60, 70 80 and 90. She is able to demonstrate one-to-one correspondence up to 20. When __________takes her time, her accuracy increases and she is able to demonstrate one-to-on correspondence up to 20

____ has expanded his list of words that he can recognize in a variety of texts. The words include, but are not limited to: a, and, big, blue, can, funny, go, here, I, is, in, it, jump, little, look, me, my, play, red, run, said, see, the, to, up, we, yellow, you. ____ is also able to sound out unfamiliar short words with 86% accuracy. _____ loves to write and happily learns new words to write every week.

______  showed great commitment to learning some new sight words this term. She identified them 90% of the time using the Olwein method of instruction which worked very well for her. She also thoroughly enjoyed playing games with the words. She can identify the 5 sight words Cars 3, school, colour, her name and run in a variety of contexts. ______ was also able to trace and copy many personally relevant words for a variety of purposes such as writing letters to her friends who are learning at home.

______ can say the numbers in order from 1-12. She can recognize the numbers 1, 2 and 3 100% of the time and can identify 4 and 5 50% of the time. She is able to demonstrate 1- to-1 correspondence on the numbers 1, 2 and 3 with 50% accuracy.

Social Skills:

_________ requires consistent redirection and cues to treat others with respect and kindness. With these supports has begun to show improvement. She continues to respond well to reminders and will use phrases such as “thank you or you’re welcome” when prompted.

_______ awareness of personal space has improved consistently this year. ______ has used visual tools/cues to check how close she can sit beside someone during whole class gatherings

Report Cards – FSL Comments

To date, I’ve written two posts (here and here) with sample comments for the Learning Skills section of the Ontario report card. Those are arguably the most difficult comments to write, but I’ve also found French language comments to be challenging. I change my style and choices every year, it feels like, so these are by no means perfect, but I thought some of you may like to see some of the comments I use for reporting on French Immersion and Core French. Use bits of these, adapt them, share them – these are here for your reference and to help you out!


Program: Middle French Immersion (year 2) – Term: Progress Reports – Profile: Progressing With Difficulty (D-level)

(NAME) is making some progress in the grade 5 Middle French Immersion program, although she requires considerable encouragement to engage with the class during instructional time. With frequent support, she is beginning to speak in French with her teacher and peers. She should strive to make use of in-class supports (e.g., anchor charts, notes, word wall) to assist her with her learning. Continued reading at home (preferably aloud) will help her to develop stronger reading skills.

In subjects where the language of instruction is French, (NAME) consistently needs one-on-one assistance to understand the material being taught and complete her work. Going forward, she would benefit from developing listening strategies to help her understand what is being taught (such as listening for key words, watching the speaker, using visual supports).


Program: Middle French Immersion (year 2) – Term: Progress Reports – Profile: Progressing Well (C-level)

(NAME) is progressing well overall in the grade 5 Middle French Immersion program. With one-on-one or small group assistance, he is usually able to demonstrate an understanding of the material discussed in class. He makes good connections between what he is learning in class and his personal experiences. Oral communication is an area of need for (NAME) as he requires frequent support when speaking spontaneously. He would benefit from using a variety of speaking strategies (e.g., hand gestures, visual supports, rephrasing) to communicate his ideas without substituting English words. (NAME)’s writing strategies are developing well, and he makes good use of classroom resources (e.g., Word Reference, anchor charts, notes) to complete his work.


Program: Middle French Immersion (year 2) – Term: Progress Reports – Profile: Progressing Well (B-level)

(NAME) is progressing well so far in the Middle French Immersion program. He is beginning to speak with more confidence in rehearsed situations, such as prepared presentations. When speaking, he is usually able to communicate his thoughts and ideas effectively, although he sometimes needs encouragement to persevere in French when the vocabulary is less familiar. He can work on improving his communication skills by using speaking strategies (e.g., using gestures, finding another way to say a word, using anchor charts) to avoid resorting to using English in class.


Program: Middle French Immersion (year 3) – Term: Progress Reports – Profile: Progressing Very Well

(NAME) is progressing very well so far in the Middle French Immersion program. She is a highly effective communicator and speaks with confidence in both spontaneous and rehearsed situations. When writing, she is able to use the self-revision checklist (POMMES) to correct any errors in her text. She can work to improve her speaking skills by striving to speak only in French during class time.


Program: Middle French Immersion (year 3) – Term: 2 – Profile: Significant difficulty, little progress

(NAME) continues to demonstrate significant difficulty in French-language subjects. She has missed a large amount of French instruction time this term due to late arrivals and absences, which has hindered her development as she has missed many opportunities to practice her French skills in class discussions and group work. (NAME) is reluctant to speak French in class, rarely even using common phrases such as asking to use the washroom, though with encouragement she will sometimes form short sentences when speaking to teachers. She consistently requires one-on-one support to understand lessons. When reading, she shows surface-level understanding of texts at the Grade 6 level when supported by the teacher or her peers. Engaging (NAME) in French subjects has been a challenge this term, as she often needs reminders to stay on task. (NAME) will need to put much more effort into French subjects next year in order to catch up to where she should be. Her immediate focus should be on developing her oral communication skills, particularly speaking.


Program: MFI (year 3) – Term: 2 – Profile: B level

(NAME) demonstrates a high degree of comprehension during listening activities and discussions. She is able to follow complex instructions without assistance from her teachers.  When speaking, (NAME) usually communicates her thoughts and ideas clearly. She is developing a good accent and pronounces most familiar words correctly. Overall, she speaks with some ease in spontaneous and rehearsed contexts. Going forward, she would benefit from building her confidence when speaking, which would help to develop her intonation and fluency.  (NAME) is developing good writing skills. She has a wide vocabulary and is able to apply most conventions with success when creating written texts. When given feedback, she is generally able to apply that feedback and make revisions to her writing. When reading, (NAME)’s decoding and comprehension skills consistently meet the grade 6 expectations. She generally identifies the main idea and important details in a text, though at times she requires some encouragement to provide evidence from the text to support her ideas. (NAME)  is encouraged to continue reading French books at her level over the summer to continue developing her reading skills.


Program: MFI (year 3) – Term: 2 – Profile: A level (shockingly similar to the B level comment… to show you how I adapt it but don’t overdo workload by completely changing wording)

(NAME) participates actively in all aspects of the French program. She demonstrates a high degree of comprehension during listening activities and discussions. She is able to follow complex instructions without assistance from her teachers.  When speaking, (NAME) nearly always communicates her thoughts and ideas clearly. Her confidence allows her to speak with considerable fluency in both spontaneous and rehearsed contexts. She is developing a good accent when speaking and pronounces most familiar words correctly.  (NAME) is a strong writer. She makes great use of a wide vocabulary and a good understanding of French conventions to create a variety of written texts. When given feedback, she is able to apply that feedback and successfully make revisions to her writing.  Overall, (NAME) is a strong reader in French. When reading independently, her decoding and comprehension skills exceed the grade 6 expectations. She identifies the main idea and important details in texts with ease. (NAME) is encouraged to continue reading French books over the summer to continue developing her reading skills.


Program: Core French – Term: 1 – Profile: Strong academics, good engagement

(NAME) participates actively in all aspects of the Core French program. She has strong communication skills and consistently speaks in French during class activities. She has demonstrated leadership in the classroom by helping her peers when she is able to. When writing, (NAME) makes good use of classroom resources (e.g., dictionaries, models, anchor charts) to complete tasks independently. Going forward, she is encouraged to speak in French with her peers during class time to further develop her skills.


Program: Core French – Term: 1 – Profile: Good academics overall, solid B-level achievement

(NAME) is an active and enthusiastic participant in Core French activities. She uses many comprehension strategies (e.g., context clues, mots amis) to help her understand what she is hearing and reading. Using models, she can produce a variety of text types with familiar vocabulary and sentence structure. She often tries to use new vocabulary in her writing and enjoys finding new ways to say something. Overall, her oral communication skills are developing well, though she would benefit from making more of an effort to only speak in French during class activities. When speaking spontaneously, she can usually communicate her thoughts and ideas clearly. That said, she has a tendency to switch to English if she is not certain how to say something. For next term, she is encouraged to persevere and try to finish her thoughts in French without reverting to English.


Program: Core French – Term: 2 – Profile: Good effort but lower achievement, C/D level

It has been a pleasure to teach (NAME) this year. She is always ready to learn and approaches Core French activities with enthusiasm. She has made some progress with her communication skills in French this year, although she continues to need considerable assistance to complete reading and writing tasks in particular. She is starting to make good use of listening strategies to follow along with lessons and complete tasks using simple French vocabulary. (NAME) typically needs reminders to use classroom resources to help her complete her work, such as word walls and models. For next year, she is encouraged to work toward participating more frequently in class discussions and striving to use what she has learned in the classroom on a more consistent basis.


Program: Core French – Term: 2 – Profile: Limited French exposure before this year, good progress, B level

It has been a pleasure to teach (NAME) this year. He is always ready to learn and approaches Core French activities with enthusiasm most of the time. He has learned many useful listening strategies which have helped him tremendously in the class. With some assistance, he is able to understand lessons, follow instructions, and complete tasks using simple French vocabulary. He is learning quickly and puts great effort into using the language skills he has learned on a daily basis. He makes good use of classroom resources such as word walls and dictionaries, although he occasionally needs help finding the correct words to put his ideas into writing. For next year, he is encouraged to work on adding expression to his French reading now that he recognizes most common spelling patterns.

More Learning Skills Comments!

One of the most popular posts I have written over the past few years was a collection of Learning Skills comments I put together. It continues to get views and comments regularly, but like most of us, I cringe when I look back on what I wrote three or four years ago. They’re not bad comments, I just feel like I’ve learned so much since then.

So I’m back! With more comment samples for you! You’re free to use these – modify them, mix and match them, grab one or two sentences, whatever you like! These are here to help you and give you an idea of how one teacher in Ontario writes their comments. I’ve also posted some FSL comments for the Core and Immersion teachers out there.


Profile: strong learning skills, good leadership qualities, regularly engaged in class, working on developing more confidence

It has been a pleasure having (NAME) as part of our classroom community this year. She is an enthusiastic, hard-working student who always strives to do her best. During lessons, she listens attentively and regularly offers her insights, although at times she seems unsure about her answers. As her confidence builds, her active participation increases, and she should be very proud of her accomplishments to date.

When working independently, (NAME) makes good use of alternative workspaces (e.g., the library, the hallway) to provide her with a quiet space for working. While she occasionally allows herself to get distracted by socializing with her peers, a quick reminder is often all that is required to return her attention to the task at hand. She makes good use of success criteria and learning goals to ensure that her work is meeting expectations. 

Collaboration is one of (NAME)’s strengths. She often takes on leadership roles when working with peers, such as organizing what needs to be done and creating a plan to ensure the group is successful. Her kind, open-minded personality allows her to work with any student without issue. On the rare occasion that conflict arises, she is always able to find a solution without assistance.

(NAME) has become a strong role model for her peers. Her dedication and cheerful disposition are great assets to our school community. Keep up the great work!


Profile: weaker learning skills, not fully engaging in French Immersion program, finds academic demands challenging, tends to shut down when encountering difficulty

(NAME) is a kind, compassionate student who is beginning to develop more confidence in his abilities. When he feels certain that he is on the right track and understanding the material, he is an active participant in class discussions. Much of the time, however, he requires frequent reminders from teachers and peers to engage in respectful listening behaviour, as he is often chatting with friends or playing with objects during lessons. Given that he often seems to feel overwhelmed by the expectations of the Middle French Immersion program, particularly during subjects where French is the language of instruction, he would benefit immensely from listening more attentively to his teachers and peers.

(NAME)’s independent work has been inconsistent this term. Much like during class discussions, when he feels confident about his abilities, he is able to complete his work with some support and extended time limits. Most of the time, however, he is quick to become frustrated if he encounters difficulty. Once this happens, even with encouragement and one-on-one support, he often refuses to complete his work. Next term, he is encouraged to seek opportunities to work with his teachers (such as sitting at the round table during independent tasks) where they can more easily check in with him and assist him with his learning.

Collaboration is similarly inconsistent for (NAME). He is most successful when working in groups created by the teacher, as he is less likely to become distracted by socializing. When working with friends, however, he needs frequent reminders to return his attention to the task at hand. He would benefit from reflecting and making careful choices about who he chooses to work with for collaborative tasks.

(NAME) is developing some self-regulation strategies to assist him with his learning skills and habits. When he chooses quiet workspaces away from friends or makes use of classroom tools like noise-cancelling headphones, he is more successful. He is encouraged to continue making use of these accommodations over the second term to help him focus on his learning.



Profile: strong learning skills, good leadership qualities, tends to go overboard on projects

It has been a pleasure to teach (NAME) this year. She is a cheerful, kind student who demonstrates great curiosity for learning. She is an active participant in class discussions and collaborative tasks, quick to make connections and think critically about what she is learning. Her leadership, reliability, and flexibility have all been wonderful additions to our classroom community.

Collaboration is one of (NAME)’s strengths. While she strongly prefers to work with her friends, she is able to work with most students without conflict. Her conflict resolution skills are well-developed and she is generally able to resolve any interpersonal conflicts without needing to involve her teachers. She is a good leader who tries to ensure that all members’ ideas are included in the planning of group tasks.

When completing projects, (NAME) is usually quick to come up with creative, outside-the-box ideas to extend her learning. That said, sometimes these ideas become too large or complex to complete within the given timeframe. When this happens, she has a tendency to ask for additional time rather than adjusting her plans. Next year, she is encouraged to plan in such a way that she can adjust and scale back the plan rather than requesting extra time, as additional work time for one project results in lost time for other instruction.

All the best next year, (NAME)!


Profile: student who tends to rush, engages in discussion on topics of high interest, needs to work on collaboration

It has been a pleasure having (NAME) as part of our classroom community this year. She is a creative, enthusiastic student who always brings a unique perspective to our class discussions. She participates actively in most class discussions, although at times requires reminders to put away her book in order to give her full attention to the lesson. 

When working independently, (NAME) is at her best when she is highly engaged in a task, such as tasks involving environmental issues. When her interest in the topic is high, she puts significant effort into her work and eagerly shares her knowledge with her peers. Conversely, when the topic is less interesting to her, she has a tendency to rush through her work in order to finish quickly and move on to something new. Overall, she takes feedback well when it is about specific criteria that she overlooked, but she is reluctant to go back to add more detail or expand on her thoughts. She would benefit from taking time to review her work, ensuring it is detailed and meets the success criteria for the task.

When collaborating with others, (NAME) strongly prefers to work with her close friends and requires considerable encouragement to engage fully in other groupings. She occasionally needs redirection to stay on task during group work, as she sometimes goes to find her friends’ groups to chat. She is encouraged to approach collaborative work with a more open mind next year, as she is a valuable group member with a wealth of knowledge to share.


And a few other snippets you may find useful:

During independent work periods, (NAME) can generally be counted on to stay on task, though he needs occasional reminders not to get caught up socializing with his peers. His willingness to seek assistance or clarification has increased since the beginning of the year, and we hope that he continues to come forward when he needs guidance with a task. Though his resilience is improving as the year progresses, (NAME) continues to become frustrated with himself when he finds a task difficult. Once this happens, he is sometimes receptive to teacher assistance and feedback to help him work through the task. Next term, he would benefit from taking advantage of opportunities to work nearer to his teachers (such as at the round table) during independent work periods to provide him with opportunities to check in more regularly while working.


(NAME)’s greatest area of need this term has been in developing positive collaboration skills. She strongly prefers to work with her friends and is reluctant to fully engage in group tasks with some students, sometimes going as far as to ask to work on her own or switch groups rather than work through conflict. She is highly motivated to do well, which sometimes leads to clashes with other students when they have different plans for how to approach a collaborative task. Next year, she should continue to work on “guiding from the side” by helping her group to stay focused and on task while also allowing her peers’ ideas to take the spotlight more often.


I’ll also try to put together some of the comments I’ve written for other subjects, particularly things like French. I find it can be very challenging to know where to begin with Language comments for French Immersion – especially for smaller programs like the one I teach (Middle French Immersion). Hope these are useful to someone out there!



Professional Judgement-Report Cards

I belong to a few Facebook groups for teachers. It is a great place for the sharing of resources, ideas and for suggestions on how to handle conundrums about classroom management. As teachers across the province write report cards, a few of the questions posted on these groups had answers to them that relied on teacher’s Professional Judgement.

Professional Judgement is enshrined in our central collective agreement and defined as:

Professional Judgement” shall be defined as judgement that is informed by professional knowledge of curriculum expectations, context, evidence of learning, methods of instruction and assessment, and the criteria and standards that indicate success in student learning. In professional practice, judgement involves a purposeful and systematic thinking process that evolves in terms of accuracy and insight with ongoing reflection and self-correction.


Some of the Facebook questions that I have seen recently are below, along with some suggestions of publications that you can use in your discussions around professional judgement with your administrators.

My principal has requested personalized comments for my students. I teach over 400 students. Help!”

This is a place where teachers can use their professional judgement. Having personalized comments does not mean that every student needs to have a different comment. This term, through my data I have collected, I can see that 6 students in my class are really strong at generating ideas in the creative process, but are still working at revising their musical compositions. Therefore, those six students will all have the same comments. Another group of 5 students can create a piece of music effectively and play it with good technique. They will have the same comment. In most of my classes that translates to about 4 or 5 comments per class. Some students get their own comments if their strengths and next steps are different than everyone else’s. Students on IEPs will have their own comment, but may be the same as another student working on similar goals. Refer to the Professional Judgement Matters Series for further details.

My principal has told me that I am not allowed to use an “I” for the student even though I have only seen the student twice in music class, due to an IBI schedule.”

Growing Success clearly lays out that it is within the teacher’s professional judgement when to use an “I”.

“For the report card, teachers will use their professional judgement to determine when the use of “I” is appropriate and in the best interests of the student. For example, teachers may find it appropriate to use “I” when evidence of a student’s achievement is insufficient because the student has enrolled in the school very recently or because there were issues or extenuating circumstances beyond the student’s control, such as protracted illness, that affected his or her attendance and/or ability to provide sufficient evidence of achievement of the overall expectations.” ( Growing Success pg.42)

This term, there were many instances where I used an “I” for insufficient data on the report card. It is very common for some of my students to take 2 or 3 months off of school somewhere between November and March to travel. I have students who have been ill for many days throughout the term and others who have just arrived. All of these situations would make the use of an “I” quite clear according to the Growing Success document. In other instances, if students have not completed a lot of work for the term and you have insufficient data, both you and your administrator may question the use of an “I” versus an “R”. I direct you to the Report Cards-Questions and Answers on the EduGAINs site in order to help you answer this question. Question 40 explains in what circumstances an “I” or an “R” could be used.

My principal wants me to fill the entire Learning Skills Box”

It is really important to focus on quality over quantity. In speaking with some of my homeroom teacher colleagues, they have spoken about the various lengths of learning skill comments that may exist within the class. Some students may need longer Learning Skills explanations to clearly outline their next steps. Other students may require less explanation. Use your professional judgement. The Growing Success Document outlines the following:

“In the space provided for anecdotal comments, the teacher will elaborate on the student’s demonstration of the skills and comment on “strengths” and “next steps for improvement”. (Growing Success Pg. 55)

At no point does it say that you must fill the entire box.

ETFO has a great series called Professional Judgement Matters that you can refer to when questions arise. Topics include: diagnostic assessments, reporting, evaluations, IEPs and Kindergarten reporting.