Brandi J. Clark

Writer and Educator

Help! I Have to Teach Language Arts: A Language Arts Survival Mini-Course Part 9


Welcome back

If you need to catch up here are the links to the other lessons 1, 2, 34 , 5 , 6 , 7 and 8.

At this point we have covered design of the program of studies.

6 Language Arts and 5 General Outcomes and many specific outcomes.


The program of studies (in all subject areas) should be front and center as you plan your school year. In all subject areas look at the other grade levels and not just your own.

It is important to see what students have learned and where they are going.

When I started my teaching career, all teachers were given a hard copy of ALL the Programs of Study.  Curriculum changes were inserted into the binder and old ones were removed.

The binder was HUGE, OBVIOUS…it screamed…LOOK AT ME!

I think we lost this important physical presence when the Program of Studies binder ceased to be handed out and the online documents were made available.

Because if you don’t know to look online…YOU DON’T LOOK ONLINE!

At this point, you have been polite.

I know you are thinking….

Coach Brandi…you know how all the subject areas have units?

We like this because it helps to structure our year.

We like this because we can check things off as DONE.

We like this cause we can choose reporting outcomes.

But Coach Brandi…ELA …what is THAT thing?

There are five general outcomes…Can you just teach one general outcome over two months?


Then what can you do?

Such great questions!

The best answer I can give is group the outcomes. In order to group the outcomes, you need to figure out what can bind them together?

Today’s Lesson: Know how to group your specific outcomes.

Grouping means, to find something to glue/bind/connect to the outcomes.

Here are some examples.

Is it a writing form? (Description)

Is it a writing product? (Poetry)

Is it a theme? (Identity)

Is it a reading strategy? (Making Connections)

Is it content area project? (Small Crawling and Flying Animals Zine)

Is it a maker project? (Create a life cycle and attach Maki Maki)

Is it a web 2.0 tool? (Blogging)

Is it an author study? (David Shannon)

Is it historical fiction? (Alberta – grade 4)

Is it memoir?  (When I Was Five)

Is it a biography? (Terry Fox)

Is it a “How to…”? (How to make a circuit  – grade 5)


I will give you an example. Back in 2009 I was blessed with the task of creating a planning binder in all the subject areas.

It was a committee and so I took the English Language Arts  lead.

First I choose a reading strategy, a writing trait and product that could be connected.

It makes sense to start September with making connections as the reading strategy.

September is the month that you are getting to know students and the students are getting to know you.

Most of the reading strategy resources are organized with a  breakdown of reading strategies by units/chapters or months.

For example, check out the following resources.

Reading Power and Nonfiction Reading Power

Strategies that Work

Reading with Meaning

This resources and many others can provide the actual lessons and books to use.

Next attach the outcomes.

Grade 1 – September-Making Connections

  • Ÿshare personal experiences that are clearly related to oral, print and other media texts (1.1)
  • Ÿuse previous experience and knowledge of oral language to make connections to the meaning of oral, print and other media texts (2.1)
  • Ÿshare personal experiences and family traditions related to oral, print and other media texts (5.1)

Grade 2 -September -Making Connections

  • connect own ideas and experiences with those shared by others (1.2)
  • Ÿuse knowledge of how oral and written language is used in a variety of contexts to construct and confirm meaning (2.1)
  • Ÿconnect personal experiences and knowledge of words, sentences and story patterns from previous reading experiences to construct and confirm meaning (2.1)
  • Ÿuse knowledge of the organizational structures of print and stories, such as book covers, titles, pictures and typical beginnings, to construct and confirm meaning (2.1)
  • Ÿconnect situations portrayed in oral, print and other media texts to personal and classroom experiences (2.2)

Grade 3 – September – Making Connections

  • Ÿconnect prior knowledge and personal experiences with new ideas and information in oral, print and other media texts (1.1)
  • Ÿconnect own experiences with the experiences of individuals portrayed in oral, print and other media texts, using textual references (2.2)
  • Ÿconnect portrayals of characters or situations in oral, print and other media texts to personal and classroom experiences (2.2)
  • Ÿdiscuss, represent or write about ideas in oral, print and other media texts, and relate them to own ideas and experiences and to other texts (2.2)*
  • Ÿdescribe similarities between experiences and traditions encountered in daily life and those portrayed in oral, print and other media texts (5.1)

Next match a writing trait

Most schools are familiar with the 6 plus 1 writing traits. Ruth Culham would be the guru in his area.

Check out the resources here.

What matches well with making connections?


Next I went and gathered up outcomes that matched ideas.

But I didn’t just want an idea focus so also attached a writing product/form – the Writer’s Notebook.

A writer’s notebook can be used all year long.

Here is a video on setting up a notebook.

Ralph Fletcher is a notebook guru. Here are his resource links.

Aimee Buckner is also a notebook guru. Here are her resource links.

Here is Aimee’s video – Why…notebooks?

This video shows the variety of notebook entries.

This is an excellent video for junior high. You can modify it for younger grades.

Penny Kittle is a guru for grades 6-12.  Here is the link to her book. She provides handouts for teachers.

Here are the outcomes I attached to writing.

Grade 1 – Writer’s Notebook

  • add details such as labels, captions and pictures to oral, print and other media texts (4.3)
  • generate and contribute ideas for individual or group oral, print and other media texts (2.4)
  • Ÿtake turns sharing ideas and information (5.2)
  • Ÿillustrate and enact stories, rhymes and songs (2.2)

Conventions/Mechanics Focus 

  • use a displayed alphabet as an aid when writing (2.1)
  • capitalize the first letter of names and the pronoun “I” in own writing (4.2)

Grade 2-Writer’s Notebook

  • Ÿtalk about how new ideas and information have changed previous understanding (1.1)
  • Ÿexpress or represent ideas and feelings resulting from activities or experiences with oral, print and other media texts (1.1)
  • Ÿexpress thoughts or feelings related to the events and characters in oral, print and other media texts (2.2)

Conventions/Mechanics Focus:

  • Ÿprint legibly and efficiently, forming letters of consistent size and shape, and spacing words appropriately (4.1)

Grade 3 – Writer’s Notebook

  • Ÿexperiment with ways of generating and organizing ideas prior to creating oral, print and other media texts (2.4)
  • Ÿcontribute ideas and information on topics to develop a common knowledge base in the group (5.2)
  • Ÿtell or write about favourite parts of oral, print and other media texts (2.2)

Conventions/Mechanics Focus:

  • Ÿspace words and sentences consistently on a line and page (4.1)
  • Ÿuse capital letters appropriately in titles of books and stories (4.2)

Coach Brandi…do you have grades 4 -6?

Yes! Please contact me for those!

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 how to group the specific outcomes

How do you plan to group your outcomes?

Can you think of ways to match up a reading strategy with a writing form? Another subject area?

Please contact me if you are struggling with this.

I don’t mind…seriously!

Trust me…everything else makes sense if you know how to group the specific outcomes.

Until Next Time,

Coach Brandi!

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