Brandi J. Clark

Writer and Educator

Help! I Have to Teach Language Arts: A Language Arts Survival Mini-Course Part 8



Welcome Back

If you need to catch up here are the links to the other lessons 1, 2, 34 , 5 , 6 and 7.

Today’s Lesson: Know your Illustrative Examples

The specific outcomes can be easy to understand…like this…

recite the letters of the alphabet in order (Kindergarten 2.1)


challenging like this…

integrate own perspectives and interpretations with new understandings developed through discussing and through experiencing a variety of oral, print and other media texts (Grade 9 – 1.2)

You may be thinking, I understand the wording in the last example but what would that look like in a classroom?

Well…I have exciting news!

There is an amazing set of documents (K- 9) put out by the Alberta Government that are called the ILLUSTRATIVE EXAMPLES. (I have provided links to them at the end of the post.)

You might be thinking…illustrative…does it have pictures?


No, it does not have pictures.

So what does illustrative mean?

Illustrative means… to illustrate…”serving as an example or explanation.”

The illustrative examples explain the specific learning outcomes at each grade level.

They provide snapshots or classroom vignettes of how that outcome might come to life in a classroom.

Here are two examples from grade 4

Consider others’ ideas (2.1) Illustrative Example
• identify other perspectives by exploring a variety of ideas, opinions, responses and oral, print and other media texts


  • Students talk about different experiences of living in western Canada as portrayed in the stories One Prairie Morning and Signs of Spring, the poems When I First Came to This Land and If You’re Not from the Prairie…, and accompanying illustrations.
  • After reading How Smudge Came, students talk about why Cindy wanted to keep the puppy and why the adults would not let her at first
Understand techniques and elements (2.3) Illustrative Example
identify how specific techniques are used to affect viewers’ perceptions in media texts
  • Students collect magazine pictures of food, and describe what makes the food look good; e.g., colour, arrangement, setting.
  • Students view book and magazine covers.  They then make a book cover for a favourite book that creates interest and provides information about the content of the book.
  •  Students view a familiar videocassette story and identify such specific features as long shot for the setting, close-up for dialogue, cut/fade for change of setting and voice-over for narration.


Even if you understand your specific outcomes, as said previously, the illustrative outcomes do provide ideas for how to unpack the outcomes with students.

In this specific outcome, examples are provided for student goal setting and self reflection in grade 2.

For example:

Set goals (1.1) Illustrative Outcome
recognize and talk about developing abilities as readers, writers and illustrators
  • A student discusses personal reading goals with the teacher and says, “This week I think I can read a different book every day.  At the end of the week …”
  • Students make comments to complete the sentence stems.

– I know I’m a good writer when …

− my story is easy to read.

− I use periods, commas and capital letters to give clues in my story.

− I use interesting shapes for my letters in scary stories, like when I wrote “Boo” big and shaky.

− I use comparisons in my writing, like when I wrote, “the giant was as big as a whale.”

• A group of students who have made a community map explain how the map helps in showing how to get from the school to the skating rink.

This last example should get you thinking more about goal setting and student reflection.  How can you use this specific outcome all year?

It’s worthwhile to revisit the illustrative examples, even if you have taught the grade level many times before.

I find the illustrative examples remind me of resources I have or things I used to do and should bring back to my classroom. Often there are examples that connect to the other curriculum areas, such as math, health, social studies and science.

Trust me, check them out!

Links to the Illustrative Outcomes

Here are the links to the illustrative outcomes. (Note: Though there is warning, the links are safe. Save the document in order to copy/paste, otherwise the copy function is disabled)


Grade One

Grade Two

Grade Three

Grade Four

Grade Five

Grade Six

Grade Seven

Grade Eight

Grade Nine


This marks the end of today’s lesson.

I know.

You want me to keep going.

But I want you to digest today’s learning.

Know the Illustrative Examples

Look at your grade level’s illustrative examples: What activities, skills, process or book titles can you add to your grade level toolbx?

Trust me…everything else makes sense if you know the Illustrative Examples.

Until Next Time,

Coach Brandi!

About Brandi Clark