English Language Arts 5-8 Overview

At the elementary level in Manitoba, media-related objectives can be found in foundational outcomes for speaking, listening, writing, reading, and, most frequently, under viewing and representing.

Viewing and Representing

Many students are avid and sophisticated consumers of visual media, and their familiarity with visual forms may facilitate literacy with other forms. Through experience, students may have an implicit understanding of visual media conventions – the unspoken agreements between directors and audiences about the way meaning is represented (for example, how the passage of time is conveyed in a television program). Teachers can make use of this knowledge by creating links between conventions in visual media and similar conventions in written texts.

Viewing and representing are language arts in their own right. Students need to learn the techniques and conventions of visual language to become more conscious, critical, and appreciative readers of visual media, and more effective creators of visual products. Students need to be shown that what a camera captures is a construction of reality, not reality itself. Students need to learn how to decide what is real and what is simulated. They need to learn that images convey ideas, values, and beliefs, just as words do; and they need to learn to read and interpret the language of images. Many contemporary authors, in fact, use the term reading to describe the process of decoding and interpreting visual texts.

Films and video productions increase students’ experiences, much as written texts do, and they offer similar opportunities for discussion. Films also provide rich opportunities to explore the similarities and differences between visual and written language. Students may examine the effects of visual language cues: composition, colour and light, shadow and contrast, camera angles and distance, pace and rhythm, and the association of images and sounds. They learn to identify point of view by following the eye of the camera. Whether interpreting a painting or a poem, the “reader” may look at or be taught to appreciate elements such as pattern, repetition, mood, symbolism, and situations or historical context. Students may enhance their own products and presentations by using visuals with written text and/or sound.

Studying strategies used by authors and illustrators helps Middle Years students become conscious of the effect of visual elements in texts. Illustrations interact with words to enrich comprehension and can influence students’ interpretations of setting or of characters. Illustrations may show things that words do not or they may express a different point of view from what the narrative does. The medium used for illustration is a cue to meaning. Visual cues such as colour, tone, shape and texture, line, and composition all contribute to the viewer’s construction of meaning.

Students may use visual representation for both informal and formal expression. Just as they talk and write to explore what they think and to generate new ideas and insights, Middle Years students may sketch or doodle. Drawing or sketching may, in fact, be the first and most natural way for some students to clarify thinking and generate ideas. They may also use tools such as frames, maps, webs, and other graphic organizers to comprehend parts and their relationships. Visual tools are especially useful because they can represent the non-linear nature of thought and show relationships among ideas.

Students may use representation to express their mental constructs of the ideas, theories, or scenes in written texts. Events, ideas, and information may be depicted in graphic organizers, storyboards, murals, comic strips, or collages. After studying visual media, students make informed use of design elements in developing charts, slides, posters, and booklets. Other creative forms of expression, such as music, drama, dance, or mathematics, can be means of representing students’ understanding of a topic or a concept. The inclusion of representing as a language art extends the means by which students can communicate and demonstrate their learning in authentic ways.

Grades 5 to 8 English Language Arts:A Foundation for Implementation.
Manitoba Education and Training

On the left menu you will find outcome charts containing media-related learning outcomes from the English Language Arts curriculum, with links to supporting resources on the MediaSmarts site. As many of our lessons can be adapted to suit different grade levels, specific lessons may be listed for more than one grade. Teachers should also note that individual lessons often satisfy a number of learning outcomes.