English Language Arts A30 Module 2

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English Language Arts A30

Module 2

Lesson 7

Throughout its history, the Canadian West has evoked strong images in the minds of those who visited, settled in, or sometimes simply wrote about, the region. These people saw in the West what they wanted or were conditioned by their cultural milieu, to see. At different times they perceived a West that was a wasteland, a pristine wilderness, a source of national greatness and imperial grandeur, a utopia, a harsh and cruel land, or a mystical region shaped by the attitudes and beliefs of its people. Each of these images held sway for a period of time and then gave way to a new image, resulting in changing images of the Canadian West.
Daniel Francis


As a student of language arts and communication processes, in Lesson Seven of the English Language Arts A30 course, you will have the opportunity to:

  • read a variety of written materials.

  • record responses in a response journal.

  • view and respond to visual art.

  • recognize and understand symbols in visual art and literature.

  • recognize and understand literary characteristics of biographical and autobiographical writing.

  • recognize and understand organizational patterns in

nonfiction writing.

  • recognize and understand standard and journalistic writing styles.

  • understand and write a précis and a paraphrase.

  • write a character sketch.

  • present an oral book review.

  • build vocabulary.


Newspaper article

“Two Saskatchewan residents named to Order of Canada”

By Barb Pacholik, Leader-PostDecember 30, 2008


“Louis Riel” by Steven Michael Berzensky, (Sundog Highway)

“Nohkom, Medicine Bear” by Louise Bernice Halfe (Sundog Highway)

Non-Fiction Books

(Choose one)

The Concubine’s Children Denise Chong

Deemed Unsuitable R. Bruce Shepard

Gully Farm Mary Hiemstra

Halfbreed Maria Cambbell

The Secret Lives of Sgt. John Wilson Lois Simmie

Lesson Seven - Canada: Diverse Landscapes and People


What is your image of Canada? What is your image of Western Canada? Do you think Saskatchewan is the “Land of the Living Skies”? In past lessons we discussed how writers help us form perspectives about Canada and its regions. Ideas, emotions, attitudes, and perspectives about Canada and its regions can also be expressed in a variety of ways through visual art. Visual art is a vehicle of communication and learning. All people have a creative side – some people express themselves through the language and tools of art while others enjoy examining the work of visual artists. Painters, photographers, sculptors, architects, craftspeople and many others are visual artists. In this lesson you will respond to visual art and read about the experiences of a visual artist and learn a bit about the role of folk art in Canadian culture. You will also respond to the nonfiction book you chose to read in Lesson Two of this course and have the opportunity to review the book for your listening audience.

Visual Art – Enrichment of a Culture

Visual art is a vital component of culture. The culture of Canada is enriched through the participation of many diverse peoples. Culture is a term that is used to explain the way of life of a group of people. Art provides a commentary about relationships between people and their connection with their environment. Artists acquire ideas and inspiration for art through their interaction with the land and with the people or society.

Works of art use a visual language and our observation of them often results in deeper awareness of the landscape, other people, and ourselves. The elements and principles of design are used by the visual artist to convey personal messages. The visual language of art can tell stories and convey experiences that are beyond words, often creating pleasure.

Every year millions of Canadians participate in artistic activities. If we think of the arts and culture as a single industry, it is the country’s fourth-largest employer. Taken together, the visual and performing arts - publishing, broadcasting, motion pictures, sound and video recording, and cultural institutions, like libraries - make up an important part of our national economy. More significantly, the arts contribute to our quality of life and further define cultural pluralism inherent in being a Canadian.

The arts connect us, and yet many Canadians face barriers to full participation in the arts. Recent advances in telecommunications have brought Canadians – and all peoples – closer together, yet Canada, in relative terms, is a huge and regionalized country. Many artists in rural and small-town settings continue to have difficulty in reaching audiences and in accessing art and cultural institutions.

Canada’s cultural and visible minority artists face even greater barriers to their success. Or, from a different perspective, Canadian audiences face barriers to their full appreciation of the contribution that cultural minorities have to offer.

Most fine art and cultural concepts in Canada today are founded on British and European traditions. Partly as a result, it has been difficult for many Canadian artists whose work is rooted in other cultural traditions to participate fully in the arts in Canada.
There are new voices in the arts in Canada today, many voices that for too long have remained unheard. These voices may change the way we make art. Canadian art has grown from a tradition of artists who promote difference. For example, in order to express a sensibility native to Canada, the Group of Seven had to reach beyond the conventions of the European artistic establishment. J.E.H. MacDonald’s The Tangled Garden, when exhibited in London in 1916, was dismissed by critics as an “offensive, radical gesture” because it was not in harmony with the traditional subjects and approaches of European art at the time.
Who is the Group of Seven? Have you heard of the Regina Five? In your response journal list the members of either group and provide a short explanation of their contribution to visual arts in Canada. You may have to do some research in order to provide the list of names and the explanation. Canadian encyclopedias and the Internet are two tools which can help you in your research.
Following is an article about art and how the artist has contributed to the culture of Canada. As you read the article reflect on the following questions:
 What do you consider to be art?

 Are there artists living in your community?

 Do you know any Saskatchewan visual artists?

 Can you name several well-known Saskatchewan artists?

 Do the arts contribute to your life in any way?

 Is it possible for one visual representation to capture all the diversity of peoples in Canada?

The following article is on a well know Regina artist, David Thauberger, and is about his being awarded the Order of Canada for his contribution to Canadian art. “

Read the article found at the following website.


About the artist

Read more about David Thauberger at the following website.


For those of you interested in visiting a virtual museum, go to www.virtualmuseum.ca.

For those of you who may wish to find out more about First Nations' art and artists in Saskatchewan at http://www.sicc.sk.ca/native_arts/

You may also want to visit the sites listed below to view and to read about Canadian art.









The web sites listed are but a few of the many that display the work of visual artists and craftspeople in Canada.

In your response journal write your first reaction to the newspaper article on David Thauberger being awarded the Order of Canada.. You may already know what you want to say. If not, here are some possible ways to begin your first reaction.

  • I found this article to be interesting/uninteresting because….

  • The way I express myself is….

  • My community should/should not support the arts because….


In your anthology Sundog Highway the are a number of visual images. View all of them and then in your response journal complete the following steps.

  • Select the picture that has the most emotional impact on you.

  • State the title of the picture and the artist’s name.

  • Provide three reasons for your choice.

  • Examine the artist’s style. In a few sentences tell why you think the artist chose to present the images in a realistic manner (as they would appear in real life) or symbolically (images intended to create psychological impact).

  • Name the section of the book where the picture has been placed. In a few statements explain how effectively the picture supports the section. Provide three reasons for your opinion.

Be sure to read the "Artist Biographies and Statements" which can be found in the back pages of your anthology.


A symbol is a specific thing that may stand for an idea, a value, a person, or a way of life. For example, red sometimes means danger. The lion often symbolizes monarchy. A symbol communicates an abstract idea in a concrete way. Symbolism is used most often in the arts, especially in literature and in the visual arts.

A country’s symbols reflect the values and aspirations that are shared by all its citizens. What are the visual symbols of Canada?
One symbol of Canada is our coat of arms.

You can see the coat of arms at the following website


The design of the coat of arms is historical. The shield displays the arms of England, Scotland, Ireland, and France to symbolize the nation’s founding peoples. Underneath the four quarters, on a white field, is a sprig of three maple leaves to indicate the new nation of many peoples. These leaves were originally green. In 1957, however, the leaves officially became red, a common autumnal colour, and thus were in accord with Canada’s national colours, red and white. The crest and the shield’s supporters are strikingly similar to the royal arms of Great Britain. The motto, “A Mari Usque Ad Mare” is in Latin. It means “From Sea to Sea.” This motto is taken from the Bible, the King James version, Psalm 72:8, “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.”

If you were asked to design a coat of arms for Canada today what would you include? Would your design reflect the values and aspirations that are shared by all its citizens? If so, how would you accomplish this?
Some families have their own coat of arms. What symbols would you include if you were to design your own coat of arms?

If you were asked to design a coat of arms for Canada today what would you include? Would your design reflect the values and aspirations that are shared by all its citizens? If so, how would you accomplish this?

Some families have their own coat of arms. What symbols would you include if you were to design your own coat of arms?

Name another symbol that represents Canada besides the coat of arms. In a sentence or two state the meaning of the symbol. If you need help identifying a national symbol and its meaning, a Canadian encyclopedia and the Internet are two tools that can help you in your research.

For those of you with access to the Internet you may want to visit http://www.pch.gc.ca to learn more about Canada’s symbols.

Symbols in Literature

The discussion, thus far, has been about visual symbols. Symbols are also used in literature. In literature a symbol is given through a word or a phrase to signify an object or event which, in turn, has a range of meanings beyond itself. Think about a time when you threw a rock into a pool or a lake. A symbol is like a rock dropped into a pool: it sends out ripples in all directions, and the ripples are in motion. Who can say where the last ripple disappears?

Some symbols are conventional or public; thus, the cross, the eagle feather, and the dove are terms that signify symbolic objects of which the further significance is determined within a particular culture. In China, for example, the cross, the eagle feather or the dove may have no significance for a reader. For a Canadian reader, however, each one of these terms would have significance and the Canadian reader would understand larger meanings of these terms.
What does the cross symbolize for you?

What does an eagle feather symbolize for you?

Writers, like all of us, use such conventional symbols. Many writers, however, also use private or personal symbols. Often they do so by exploiting preexisting and widely shared associations of certain concepts with an object, event or action. For example, there is a general tendency for us in western culture to make the following associations:

  • a peacock with pride

  • an eagle with a heroic endeavor

  • an owl with wisdom

  • the rising sun or the season of spring with birth

  • the setting sun or the season of winter with death

  • climbing with effort or progress

  • descending with surrender or failure

Symbols allow writers to deepen and enlarge the meaning of their writing. Symbols can add depth to a piece of writing by compressing ideas. By using a symbol a writer can say a lot in a few words. A story about a young girl, for example, in which she takes a bit from an apple, is symbolic of the Garden of Eden and Eve's move into knowledge from innocence. Compressing ideas by using the symbol of the apple-eating adds meaning to the story without requiring the writer to go into detail about how the girl grows into knowledge from her former innocence.

In your response journal name a person from the nonfiction book you have read for this lesson. Name a symbol that would represent this person.

Read the poem “Louis Riel” by Steven Michael Berzensky in your anthology, Sundog Highway. As you read the poem, consider the following questions.

 Who is Louis Riel?

 What does the rainbow signify?

ead the poem “Nohkom, Medicine Bear” by Louise Bernice Halfe in your anthology Sundog Highway. As you read the poem, consider the following questions.
 What is the symbol in this poem?

 What things are associated with this symbol?

Read the biographical entries and statements of both poets in your anthology.

Biography and Autobiography

Biographies and autobiographies tell stories of people’s lives. They may be brief accounts of a particular period of time or they may be booklength accounts of entire lives. You have read one nonfiction book from a list of five for this lesson. All five books are either biographical or autobiographical.
The titles of the five books are:
The Concubine’s Children

Deemed Unsuitable

Gully Farm


The Secret Lives of Sgt. John Wilson

A biography tells the true story of someone’s life. The subject of the biography does not write it. For example, a story of Pierre Elliot Trudeau, as told by someone else, would be a biography because Trudeau did not write the story. A biography uses third person

point of view.
In an autobiography, the writer tells the true story of his or her own life. For example, the story of Karen Kain’s life, if written by Karen Kain, is an autobiography. An autobiography uses first person point of view.

Is the book you chose to read in Lesson Two a biography or an autobiography?

Biographers and autobiographers are obliged to present factual information because they attempt to portray the true story of someone’s life.
Biographers must piece together the facts of someone’s life, often after that person has passed away. As a result, they use a variety of sources of information to obtain as complete a picture of their subject’s life as possible.
Though some biographical information can be obtained in libraries, the subject of the biography or his surviving family members often allow access to private sources of information. Testimonial information from people who knew the subject or their personal records may also provide valuable insight into the character of the subject. Some possible sources of information are listed below.

Public Information

Private Information

  • newspapers

  • magazines

  • public records

  • videotaped newscasts

  • audiotaped radiocasts

  • encyclopedias

  • historical documents

  • church records

  • court transcripts

  • other biographies

  • printed work created by the subject

  • personal journals

  • bank records

  • receipts

  • letters

  • legal records

  • home audio or video tape

  • emigration documents

  • oral history

  • interviews with the subject of the biography

  • interviews with people who knew the subject

In Lesson Four you began to work as a biographer as you began the process of writing a story about a person you consider to be a hero. What is the source of your information?

One of the most reliable and personal sources of information for a biography or autobiography is the subject’s personal journal, created over a period of time and perhaps spanning the subject’s entire life.

A journal is a private place in which a person writes informally and freely. A journal is more than simply a diary where people record factual information about daily activities. Journal entries are most often commentaries on activities, experiences, and events. Journals are also places where thoughts can be recorded. A journal may take several forms such as a hand-bound book, an old note pad, or a computer file. Journal entries are usually dated.

The wealth of information that personal journals can provide for biographers includes the following:

  • details or impressions of daily events

  • plans or wishes for the future

  • imaginative ideas (e.g. stories or inventions)

  • reactions to local, national, and international news

  • memories or reflections about past events

  • thoughts about friends, family, or the state of the world

  • memorabilia (e.g. magazine or newspaper clippings, ticket stubs, photographs)

Journals often provide private and personal details of a person’s life.

Writers of autobiographies use many of the same resources as biographers plus their memories which may or may not have been written in a journal.
The purpose an autobiographer or a biographer has for writing will flavour the finished product in many ways. The writer may choose to focus on a particular time period or aspect of the subject’s life. The writer may choose to omit some details that do not contribute to the overall effect desired. For example, Mary Hiemstra, in Gully Farm, writes only about her family’s reasons for leaving their home in Britain, their voyage by sea and land to a new home, and the daily struggle to survive the loneliness and physical hardships of the family’s first year on the farm. Lois Simmie’s biography, The Secret Lives of Sgt. John Wilson: A True Story of Love & Murder, recounts the events leading up to and following a gruesome murder.
What is the author's purpose for writing the nonfiction book you have read for this lesson?

Standard and Journalistic Writing Styles

You may remember that in Lesson One style was defined as how writers or speakers say whatever it is they have to say. Style refers to how a writer or speaker uses word choice, sentence structure, figurative language, literary devices, and other features such as paragraph structure.

A story told in standard style is described as fictional prose writing. Prose writing is writing that occurs in sentences and paragraphs as opposed to poetry, which occurs in stanzas.
The purpose of standard novelistic style is to entertain the reader through a story that contains a suspenseful plot and/or an interesting development of character. The action in a novel builds to a climax, or highest point of action. Sentences in a novel emphasize the meaning of the story, and so, may be short to indicate exciting events, or long to indicate complex reflection. Novels are usually organized by order of time, though they may include other organizational methods if some description or explanation is required. Standard narrative writing includes realistic details and, often, dialogue.
A story told in journalistic style is nonfiction prose writing. News stories in journals or newspapers are factual, nonfiction writing written to inform a particular audience. A news story is a factual, objective, and often brief report on a recent event or an interesting issue.
A news story has an attention-getting headline that states the main idea of the story. The opening paragraph or lead contains the story’s main or most important idea. The rest of the news story deals with lesser information. Even sentences within a news story tend to place the most important element before secondary information. Sentences and paragraphs are most often quite short and many direct quotations are used.
The body of the news story answers who, what, when, where, why, and how accurately. News stories are most often organized by time order, descending order of importance, or by main idea and details.
Terms such as literary nonfiction, creative nonfiction, and new journalism have been used to describe a type of nonfiction writing that uses the same suspense, richness of expression, and ingenuity of style as traditional fiction writing. A dramatization of the facts of an eighty-year-old murder case is an example of literary or creative nonfiction.
The book you read for Lesson Seven is an example of literary nonfiction because it is based on the true story of a real person. Each book in the list from which you have selected a title to read for this lesson presents biographical or autobiographical information about a person or persons in an interesting narrative form. The purpose of each book is to be both informative and pleasurable to read.
Many newspapers and magazines carry biographies and obituaries of well-known people.

An obituary is a published notice of death. It often mentions members of the deceased’s family and the time and date of funeral services. Often it pays tribute to a person’s life and his or her contributions to community.

Would an obituary of a well-known person, which appeared in a reputable newspaper or magazine be fiction, nonfiction, or literary nonfiction?

Reading Nonfiction

Modern nonfiction writing often employs many elements of fiction writing. In fact, much contemporary nonfiction uses traditional elements of fiction writing such as plot and suspense. However, most contemporary nonfiction uses typical organizational methods, methods such as you use in your own nonfiction writing. Which pattern or method of organization is chosen depends upon purpose and audience. Recognizing patterns or methods of organization will help you to become actively involved with the material you read in order to understand and remember it more easily. By recognizing patterns in writing, you can find models for your own writing.

Methods of Organizing Nonfiction Prose

Three methods of organizing nonfiction prose are chronological, spatial, and logical.

This method or pattern starts with the earliest events or steps and proceeds to the most recent. If the book you read for this lesson has a chronological pattern, you could use one of the following graphic organizers to map the events in the book.

This method or pattern starts with the nearest and goes to the farthest, moves from top to bottom, or from left to right. It is unlikely that the book you read would have this as its predominant method of organization. This pattern is usually found in description and in exposition, such as directions and explanations. The author of the book you read may have used spatial patterns in certain parts of his or her book when describing a person or a place. You could use one of the graphic organizers below to map these sections of the book.


There are a few logical patterns or methods of organization that a writer may use to present his material.

Specific details such as facts, statistics, examples, quotations, and so on are often used in persuasion and argument to support a general idea or assertion. These details are usually presented directly in a deductive manner. Occasionally they are presented more indirectly using an inductive approach.

  • In a direct (deductive) approach, a writer makes an assertion or a general statement and follows it by giving supporting evidence and finally a logical conclusion.

  • In an indirect (inductive) approach, a list of supporting details or evidence is used as preparation for a general statement.

If the book you read for Lesson Seven has a direct (deductive) or an indirect (inductive) pattern, you could use one of the following graphics to map the argument that the author has presented.

The logical pattern emphasizes how ideas relate to each other and offers the writer a variety of ways to organize ideas. When writers want readers to see the relationship between two ideas or assertions, they might want to use one of the following methods of organization.

In a Problem-and-Solution pattern, a problem is stated, solutions are proposed and the end result(s) are stated. Did the book you read have this type of pattern in it? If so, you could use one of the following graphics to map this pattern.

In a Cause and Effect pattern, an event or issue is stated and then the writer presents the causes. Cause and effect is important in fiction writing. In short stories and novels one event causes another; this is essential in a plot. As mentioned earlier, modern nonfiction writing employs many elements of fiction writing. If the book you read for this lesson has a cause and effect pattern you could use one the following graphics to map that method of organization.


Idea 1 Idea 2

_________________ ____________________






 _______________  _______________

 _______________  _______________

 _______________  _______________

n a Comparison and Contrast method of organization, two ideas, items, characters, or events are being compared and contrasted. As with the spatial pattern, comparison and contrast is unlikely to have been the predominant pattern of the book you read for this lesson but some parts of the book could have been organized using this method. A couple of ways to map this organization is to use one of the graphic organizers below.


Item 1

Item 2





A long piece of nonfiction writing, such as a biography or autobiography, may have all of these patterns of organization. One of these patterns, however, is usually dominant. Which pattern is dominant in the book you read?

Reading to Infer Tone

Another way to become actively involved in your reading is to recognize the author’s tone. Every writer has some sort of emotional involvement with the subject he is writing about. The author’s feelings about a topic and his audience will determine what kinds of words he will choose to describe a subject and the way the material is presented. If a writer were giving directions on the assembly of a video game system, he would use a matter-of-fact tone. If he were writing a persuasive essay on the effects of pollution on wildlife, he would use an authoritative tone. An author's tone can be sympathetic, serious, amused, worried, angry, or sarcastic, to name only a few.

What tone would you use if you were to write an autobiographical essay about your childhood?

Tone in literature refers to the writer’s attitude toward the subject.

It is easy to understand tone if one compares tone in writing to tone of voice. How would the speaker’s tone of voice change in each of the following illustrations of the same statement?

“That’s a great idea!”

(sincere, complimentary tone)

“That’s a great idea!”

(confused, uninterested tone)

“That’s a great idea!”

(angry, sarcastic tone)

“That’s a great idea!”

(obsequious, fawning tone)

Perhaps the tone of voice used conveys information about the speaker’s feelings toward the subject without directly stating it. What are the author’s feelings toward his or her subject in the book that you read for this lesson?

Tone in writing also conveys information about the author’s feelings toward the subject without making direct statements.

Summarize Main and Supporting Ideas

A third method of becoming actively involved in your reading is to summarize the main and supporting ideas in a piece of literature. You can capture the essence of a paragraph, or a chapter in a book in a paraphrase or a précis.

Paraphrasing and précis-writing are also valuable tools when researching to write an essay or studying for an examination.


Restating the sense of a passage to mould it for our own verbal and intellectual comfort is called paraphrasing.

Guidelines to follow when writing a paraphrase.

  1. Read and reread the original carefully to get its full meaning. Understand both literal and implied meanings. Isolate subordinate ideas and determine how they are related to the central idea.

  1. If archaic words, obscure allusions, geographical references, and other words and phrases present difficulties, consult a dictionary or other reference for meanings.

  1. Use your own words to express the sense of the passage. Reshape phrases and ideas which are unfamiliar to make their meaning clear to you.

  1. Be objective and include all of the author’s ideas no matter how much you may disagree with him.

The following example provides you with a model for writing a paraphrase.

Original: Shakespeare’s reversal of black and white as symbols of good and evil are at the centre of the play. The hero Othello is black and has a white soul, whereas the villain Iago is white, but has a black character. This contrast works so well dramatically because the original meanings and symbolism of the colours were etched in the audience’s minds. The impact of Shakespeare’s images upon his audiences, and his skillful weaving of highly emotional themes into the play, indicate their importance in the society for which he was writing.

- excerpt from Deemed Unsuitable

Paraphrase: In Shakespeare’s time and place white meant good while black meant evil. In his play, Shakespeare turned these two symbolic colours around. These two colours became the focus of the drama. The hero of the play was black outside and white inside while the villain was white outside and black inside. This worked well in the drama because it was exactly the opposite of what Shakespeare's audiences firmly believed. The shock of the audiences and the emotional themes of the play reveal the importance of the black and white symbolism in the culture in which Shakespeare lived.


A précis is a reduced version of an original composition. In a précis the basic thoughts of the original are retained in miniature along with the tone. The original author’s exact meaning is scaled down, but no important details are omitted. No interpretation or alteration should be interjected by the précis writer.

Guidelines to follow when writing a précis.

  1. Read the original carefully. Determine its key ideas. You may wish to underline or highlight them.

  1. Reread carefully. Note how the author has organized his material.

  1. Look up in a dictionary any words that are not perfectly clear to you.

  1. Decide what can be eliminated in the original.

  1. Using as many of your own words as possible, write a rough draft linking these main ideas and eliminating unimportant details.

  1. Omit figures of speech, repetition, examples, interjections or words inserted for emphasis.

  2. Change direct speech (that which is in quotation marks) into indirect speech.

  1. Keep the general tone of the original.

  1. Rewrite the rough draft of the précis.

A précis is usually about one-fourth to one-third the length of the original.

The following example provides you with a model for writing a précis.
Original: One inescapable influence on all people in Canada is climate. The relentless discipline of winter fashions a strong character. The rhythm of changing seasons, nowhere so clearly accentuated, encourages a fresh intelligence and an abundant energy.
Précis: Climatic changes have a positive influence on the intellectual and physical well-being of Canadians.

Response Journal
Choose the Group of Seven or The Regina Five
List members.
Group's contribution to the visual arts in Canada

Newspaper Article

First reaction to article on David Thauberger being named a member of the Order of Canada : You may already know what you want to say. If not, here are some possible ways to begin your first reaction.

I found this article to be interesting/uninteresting because . . .

The way I express myself is . . .

My community should/should not support the arts because . . .

Viewing Visual Art

Title of picture which had the most emotional effect on you.

Three reasons for your choice.

Tell why the artist might have chosen to present the images in a realistic or symbolic manner.

Name the section of the book where the picture has been placed.

The picture supports this section because __________________________________


Three reasons for your opinion.


One symbol of Canada other than the coat of arms is ________________________.
This symbol stands for _________________________________________________

Nonfiction Book

Name of one person in the nonfiction book you have chosen for this lesson.


Symbol that would represent this person.


Note: These response journal pages will be submitted with Assignment Eight.

English Language Arts A30 Lesson 7

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