December 15

ELA 20: Instructional Essay Overview

Well, now I’d guess ELA has gotten a little interesting for you, right? Suppose you’re at this step in the course. In that case, that means you’ve been reading about romantic relationships and might have even had a blunt conversation within your group to ask people who represent others you’re attracted to the questions you really wanted to be answered. It usually gets interesting when we get to this part of the Adolescence half of the course!

And now you get to write an Instructional Essay –

  • It is Informal, so there’s no hard-fast rule on the format or outline for it.
  • It must be Instructional, which means it has to offer steps to the reader in order to follow through with something (How to be a third wheel, How to date your parents, etc)
  • With the step-by-step instruction, you’ll also have to have strong use and control of Transition phrases of sequence. 
  • The Tone must be sarcastic and witty; this is meant to be playful and comical
  • It must also have a Persuasive tone. This means you have to include language that is commanding, demanding, and like you fully expect readers to follow your instructions fully. Instead of saying “You should…” or “You could…” persuasive language choices include “You must…”, “You have to…”
  • And the Jargon language requirement will take some consideration. Jargon is language that’s really only used related to one topic. The words flambé, sauté, and infuse don’t work outside of cooking. Words/phrases like lay-up, dunk, and three-pointer are fairly obviously related to basketball. So you’re looking to pick a topic (cooking, hunting, basketball, hockey, cinema, etc) and compile a list of the phrases and words that are only related to those topics. Then you’ll carefully integrate them into your writing, like you’ll see in sample paragraphs.


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March 14

A3 Relationships That Influence

As the first part of this course looks backwards to childhood influences, this section in particular looks at the most likely people in society that support children.

Pg 1: Intro to Section Topic

  • Big Ideas
  • Stories are written that revolve around the relationships of young and old people together – consider who benefits more from these interactions?

Before Reading Either Story: Reminders on Theme vs Tone:

  • Theme is the moral of the story, the message an author wants to leave readers with. Theme can be a single word or a phrase that relates to the ideas developed in the story. Examples of themes include:
    • Vulnerability of people
    • Family relationships & conflicts
    • Struggles
    • Isolation & loneliness
    • Mentoring of old to young
    • Regret
    • The role of women in families
    • Here is a Huge List of Themes online
  • Tone is the mood developed in a story. By the events and language the author uses in the story, how is it intending to make readers feel? Tone is expressed as an “emotion”; if your tone answer isn’t an emotion, a feeling, you’ve misunderstood tone. Examples of tone include:

Pg 2: Studying Text #1: “The Rink” 

  • The “young troublemaker” (someone struggling to find their way) and an “elder mentor” (who can share wisdom) storyline – a common archetype, such as:
      • Dumbledore & Harry Potter
      • Obi-Wan Kenobi & Luke Skywalker
      • Mr. Miyagi & Daniel LaRusso
      • Mufasa & Simba
      • Master Shifu & Po
      • Genie & Aladdin
  • Example films: St. Vincent with Bill Murray. Older person less connected to others in society spends time with a younger person who could use a mentor in their life. Or Dennis the Menace, if you know that film!

    • ELA 20 The Rink – text_rotated to read
    • Symbolism in literature – a refresher.
      In literature, writers can often develop more meaning within the story by using a concept or object that comes to also represent other ideas. This is used in the story “The Rink”.

Examples of Symbolism developed in texts like Animal Farm and Macbeth:

Pg 4: Comprehension Questions for Text #1


Pg 5-6 Practice Integrating references into writing

Pg 7: Parent-child relationships: Text #2

  • a moment/memory that lasts for a child

Pg 8 What to watch for in this short story (active reading)

  • Flashbacks in Writing

  • Visual Example from the short story “Home Place”. The text in yellow is all flashback – the development of tension in the story all comes from past interactions between characters, instead of using current interactions to create that tension.
    All the text coloured in Purple (see pic below) is a flashback in this story. You’ll recognize the Present events of the story begin and end this story, but the bulk of tension exists is developed as past memories. (This is an ELA A30 text.)
  • Cause and Effect in literature

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March 1

ELA 20 A2 Section: Childhood Wonder & Imagination

If you recall, when you did the Childhood Mapping Activity, it hopefully trigger memories for you of when you were a child. That’s one of the enjoyable parts of this Course – the nostalgia it brings up of some of the happy experiences in your childhood development.

This next section aims to continue that process, specifically this initial beginning, by remembering what it was like during storytime. 

What was it like being read to as a child? Do you remember?

For example, it may have included:

  • lots of picture books
  • a comfortable location you and an adult usually settled in for reading
  • some favourite books you listened to over and over
  • an adult who may have read with character voices or sound effects
  • lots of interesting visuals and illustrations in the books, for a child to fixate on while they listened to the story
  • animals or non-living things that took on life or mystical/magical elements in the stories, like fairies or princesses cursed by witches
  • Unknown to you, it may also have included some darker, scarier elements, like in the fairytales where the parents took their kids to the forest so they could leave them there where a witch catches them, fattens them up, so she can eat them!
  • A memory of mine from youth – attending Reading Time at the Saskatoon Frances Morrison Library. There was a children’s reading room we had to duck under a small door to get into.
    Wild Libraries I Have Known: Frances Morrison Children's Library « Pickle Me This

To try to trigger for you what it felt like to sit and watch someone read to you a picture book, listen to the audio linked below: it includes our intro thoughts to this section and reading of the Big Ideas. 


Other examples of childhood imagination on display:

  • fairy gardens
    How to make a fairy garden - Laughing Kids Learn
  • elf on the shelf holiday traditions
    Easy and Effortless Elf on the Shelf Ideas | The Elf on the Shelf
  • kids playing behaviour modelled by adults
    Playing House," and What it Tells Us About Our Kids - Legacy of Hope Foundation
  • imaginative shows/characters that children believe are real
    Symbolic Play: Examples, Definition, Importance, and More




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March 12

ELA 20 Script Writing – Interview with fairy tale character

You’ve recently studied and analyzed an old-time, original fairy tale, one that was likely quite a stark contrast to the type of enjoyable and reassuring fairy tales you’re used to in more modern times.

Examples of the extremes of older, original fairy tales includes:Casey Affleck — Armchair Expert


  • Fairy tales where a woman hated/wanted revenge on a young, beautiful woman so they arranged for her to be killed and her heart cut out and brought to them
  • a fairy tale where a young potential bride was lured into a house where killers and rapists cut up a woman while she hid

Newer fairy tales, the ones we read to kids today, don’t include such gruesome and horrible storylines. And for good reason!

Your task in this assignment is to write the dialogue exchange between an interviewer and the main character of the original fairy tale you read. In that conversation, the interviewer wants to challenge the character on the messages and potentially dangerous influence their “story” would be to today’s kids. 

  • The Interviewer could be:
    • You, yourself
    • Ellen Degeneres
    • Oprah
    • Joe Rogan etc
    • Dax Shepard (Armchair Expert)
  • The Interviewed Person is the main character of your original version of the fairy tale you choose
    • you’ll have to draw parts of that character’s back story (where they live, who they’re related to, what they feared, their goals or hopes, what dangers were there against them, enemies and influences, etc)
    • Elements from this character’s story that you may challenge them on or question them about may include:
      • the message their story would leave with young boys about the roles males play in society
      • the message their story in particular would leave with young girls, about how girls should interact in their society (wait for a rescuer, be valued for beauty and virtue, etc)
      • the potential message shared about what is good in the world – beauty over being a good person, bravery over relying on others for help, maintaining power and riches, etc
      • what possible ideas could the original story leave with today’s kids about their relationship with their parents – that they could be left somewhere if their parents cannot afford to care for them anymore, that they could be targets of violence, that old people will want to hurt young people, etc
      • what types of individuals can be seen as heroes, only men? only young people? only the ones who use force and violence?

Resources for Planning: 

Script Writing Resources:

The interview conversation will be written out in Script Form with the goal it is performed as a Stage Play.

Image result for stage directions diagram



To see samples of short stage scripts, try these:

Image result for script writing stage play examples

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March 3

ELA 20 The Original Fairytales – Not What You’re Expecting

While you likely grew up thinking of fairytales as stories with a happy ending after heroes and heroines manage through a complicated problem, the original fairytales were stories intended to scare children into submission and doing what they were told. They were dark, included elements really not appropriate for children, by today’s standards, and are surprisingly different in their messages.

One of your tasks in this section is to select one of the original fairytales. You’ll read it to understand what they used to be like and analyze them for patterns or common messages. Then you’ll consider the comparison – how are they a different type of story than fairytales of the present?

Don’t believe me? Check out the Dark Side of the Grimms Fairytales (article)

Sites to find your original fairytale from are provided below.
Note: Make sure you select one that’s long enough that you’ll be able to analyze it for meaning and content. Some of the shorter ones won’t include enough to really consider. Check with me on your story choice if you’re uncertain.

Page 3 Question 5 Support: Developing Your own Critical Thinking Questions
You are also asked to develop some thoughtful questions for discussion, after studying your original fairy tale text. You are well-practiced at answering questions posed to you, but not as practiced at developing thoughtful, higher-level thinking questions yourself. Here, you have an opportunity to practice that.

You want to try developing more-advanced types of questions that would require someone to understand the text and apply it to their experiences and knowledge, rather than asking them questions for answers that can be found directly in the text.

Lower level questions are easier to answer: for example, list the characters in your story. (Remembering)

Higher level questions require more thought to answer: for example, explain why a character acted the way they did. (Applying)

Pg 4 Group Comparative Discussion: What are the similarities, differences, and characteristics in general of fairytales?

Here is a discussion recording you could use: six students compared the original fairytales they studied. (2022)

Pg 6 Inquiry Searching: Articles that support/refute your initial personal conclusion. 

  • You’re asked to research a bit online to find articles that inform you better on whether fairytales are good or bad for kids today. To do that search, to find those types of articles, it’s just about how you word your Google Search Question. For example, see the search questions below.

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February 14

ELA 20 Reflective Essay Writing – Resources

You’ve done a number of formal literary written assignments in recent semesters of ELA. This next essay will have a more-relaxed format and be less formal because it will rely on the reflection of personal, childhood memories.

Through this writing assignment, in particular, it will really test your use of transitions to smoothly guide your reader back and forth from past to present observations.

Sample Writing – Reflecting on Childhood Ideas From an Older Perspective: 
In this class video, I guide you through an author’s piece of writing called “Back to Wolf Willow” where the author shares what it was like returning to the place he lived as a child. In it are many of the transitions of Past to Present.

Some parts of this writing will require special attention including:
Handout with Advice to Consider

  • Transitions to consider for Past vs Present writing
  • Understanding to keep similar topics together in your paragraph – avoid jumping back and forth and back and forth between past/present within one body paragraph. Clump similar focuses together in the paragraph to keep the organization of ideas smooth/easy to follow for your reader
  • establish a pattern of steps in your body paragraph writing – adapt the pattern you typically use for body paragraphs to suit the requirements of this assignment in particular
  • There are also sample student paragraphs included ranging from less developed to more with feedback included for what is strong and weak in each. It may help you set goals for what to develop in your own writing.

Sample Student Paragraph – strong development









Introduction & Conclusion Writing (video guide & student samples)

A1.1 Reflective Essay 20 samples – intro concl only

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December 14

B6 ELA 20 “Initial Ask” Questions

Here are some written out questions to consider when reflecting on this text.
Note: If you have a copy of the text without page numbers, the first page is pg 40. 

  1. Pg 56-57 The Two Selves: The author mentions research giving evidence of people developing “two selves” – an online self and an in-person self. Why are there these two personas of people and what danger is there in it? Can you identify with this, having two selves yourself, or not? Explain.
  2. Pg 62 Spelling: The book talks about how spelling errors in early texts between potential romantic partners can be a turn off. Why do researchers think it matters so much in this digital world related to dating?
  3. Pg 63 Three Traits for a Successful Text: From the feedback they’ve gotten from people’s personal experiences, the author breaks down the three things required for a successful text message. What are they and why do these seem most important for giving the right impression?
  4. Pg 67 It’s written in the text that “the person who receives the last message in a conversation wins”. George Hormans established the classic sociological “Principle of Least Interested”, which implies that the person who is least interested in the relationship has the most power. Explain your understanding of this concept. Can you relate to this theory from your experiences? If not, explain why you think this happens.
  5. Pg 67 Wait Time: What observations does the author share about how people use “wait time” with potential romantic partners? What are some of the approaches/personal rules to implementing wait time? (wait two times as long or 1.25 times as long etc) Share whether you have your own type of rule or habit.
  6. Pg 68 Explain the advice Socrates gives to the young woman so she can better attract more of a man’s attention. From your perspective and experience, is there truth to this concept? Could it work as well if a man employed this technique as for a woman using it? Explain.
  7. Pg 69 “reward uncertainty”: Summarize the psychological concept explained of “reward uncertainty” and share how people can use it in their potential romantic relationships. Knowing this pattern of human behaviour, how can people use it to benefit themselves?
  8. Pg 76-77 When not interested – there is an ironic difference between the way people want to be treated when they are crushing on someone who isn’t interested back versus the way they typically respond to someone who is crushing on them but they don’t return the feelings.
    1. How do people typically say they would want a crush to let them know the crush isn’t interested?
    2. How do people end up typically letting others who are crushing on them know that they aren’t interested in return?
    3. What is ironic between these two approaches, based on the book’s explanation? Why do you think there is this difference? Have you seen this type of difference in your expectations of how you are treated versus how you treat others?

Extra Q: In general, what is your review of this book/chapter – how would you describe it to next year’s ELA 20 students and would you suggest they read it?

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October 30

ELA 20 Section A4 Documentary Choices (2018)

In this section, you’ll be considering how experiences are different for children and youth today compared to the experiences from decades ago. The impact and integration of technology used daily by children, for example, is a clear example of how times have changed.

Personal Judgement: Understanding the conflict with the cover of Girls’ Life magazine. Is the actual magazine cover on the left dangerous to girls and gender norms?

Facebook Comment Discussion on this Cover: If you’re not able to participate in a group discussion on the cover and whether it’s dangerous, you could skim the comments and see what the public thinks.











MagellanTV is offering $1,000 to watch 24-hours worth of true crime

Before Watching Your Documentary: you should approach a documentary differently than you approach watching a movie. If you’re not experienced with that difference, the following articles will help you understand the difference.

Several documentary choices are assembled for you to pick from. There are considerations to follow through with Before Viewing, During Viewing, and After Viewing.

  • Childhood 2.0: For the first time in history, mental illness and suicide have become one of the greatest threats to school-aged children.
  • Angry Kids and Stressed Out Parents: for the first time in history, mental health issues have surpassed physical health issues in youth
  • The Nurture Room: Documentary following the experience of young children with high needs as they are integrated back into schools. Not all child experiences in schools are typical.
  • You are not Alone: Documentary following young kids dealing with mental wellness and suicide issues.
  • A Dark Room: Canadian documentary looking at hockey culture, the stigmas developed, and the rise in concussions and mental health epidemic.
  • Beyond the Blues: Child and Youth Depression: Depression in children and youth is on the rise in Canada
  • Struggling for Control: Child and Youth Behaviour Disorders: A look at the causes, symptoms, and treatments of the most commonly diagnosed child behavioural disorders – ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, etc.
  • The Social Dilemma: Social media is consumed in large amounts by youth, but uses manipulative methods to impact their behaviours.
  • Generation Like: Product marketing firms use advertising techniques on youth and teens who are not consumer aware to understand how they are influenced by these pressures.
  • Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best? : Children and their parents are more-than-ever experiencing gender dysphoria and seeking Psychologist help. A controversial doctor claims children eventually overcome their desire for medical transitions.
  • Sugar Crash: Children are over-consuming sugar at rates never before witnessed. Documentary looks at the likely long-term effects to come.
  • It’s a Girl: The Three Deadliest Words in the World  : Explores gendercide in the world, the infanticide, abortion, and abandonment of millions of girls in the world.
  • Consuming Kids: Advertising worlds target children through their marketing techniques and it works. Wonder why there are so many kids in car commercials – kids sell cars.
  • Social Animals: (Trailer) Actual video is available on Netflix if you have an account. The hype and dangers of a social presence on social media, like Instagram.


Article Links from Section Handout: 



The Alarming Rise in Teen Mental Illness

With Teen Mental Health Deteriorating Over Five Years, There’s a Likely Culprit




Teach your kids to question what they read and watch. Teach them to question everything. - 3 Documentaries That Will Change The Way Your Kids See The World (That Are Available on Netflix & Amazon Prime) *This is a must-read for parents. Be sure to look at the additional community suggestions at the end of the post. Love this quote!


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