Category Archives: EN20 2018

Conflict & PEACE!

There are 5 main elements to a good story. Just because you have been such a wonderful class this semester, I’m going to share one of my very favourite lessons. If you’re lucky, you may even remember this one for years to come (like the grade 11 students sitting in my room at lunch who reminded me to show you this)

Watch this! (actually, watch it a few times to make sure that it has time to permanently embed into your brain!)

Today we’ll focus on one of those elements: CONFLICT


You will have to write about conflicts in our next “novel.” To do it, however, I want you to try to use PEACE!



Put those together and you’ve got yourself a recipe for success on your next assignment AND your final EXAM!


April Raintree Chapters 2–7

These chapters focus on the diverse experiences and developing identities of both April and Cheryl as they grow up in foster homes. The question of parents’ rights to their child’s health and well-being form an important sub-theme in the novel. Here are some questions to guide the thinking through this part of the story. You will need to include details from ALL 5 chapters, so make notes as you read. These answers should look more like a long paragraph and not just a couple of sentences.

Please answer in (MULTIPLE) COMPLETE SENTENCES and include PAGE NUMBERS and possibly quotes from the book.

1) Compare Cheryl and April’s foster-home situations and consider how the experiences of each shapes her own views about her personal and cultural identity. (/5)

2) April’s experiences with the DeRosier family provide an insight into some of the major issues regarding foster care.

Explain how you think the system either helped or harmed these girls. What do you think needs to be done to protect children’s health and well-being in the foster care system our country/province? Think about what kinds of supports & assistance/monitoring might have helped the girls and/or the families they are placed with. (/5)

3) Give examples of prejudice or discrimination that Cheryl and April experience in either their foster homes or schools and describe their reactions to these situations.

What experiences have you had or seen that show prejudice and discrimination? Even if you’re lucky enough to never have been directly discriminated against, you’ve certainly seen some things at school or out in public, or perhaps you have a friend who’s told you stories. Explain how your reactions to these experiences were similar or different. (/5)

Residential Schools

“My mother didn’t always drink that medicine, not as much as my father did. That’s when she would clean the house, bake, do the laundry and the sewing. If she was really happy, she would sing us songs and at night she would rock Cheryl to sleep. But that was one kind of happiness that didn’t come often enough for me. To prolong that mood in her, I would help her with everything, chattering away in desperation, lest my own silences would push her back into her normal remoteness. My first cause for vanity was that out of all the houses of the people we knew, my mother kept the cleanest house. She would tell her friends that it was because she was raised in a residential school and then worked as a housekeeper for the priest in her home town.” (pg. 2-3, April Raintree.)

April’s mother, like most Aboriginal children of her generation, had to go to one of Canada’s residential schools. Those schools are part of a period in our history that is sometimes hard to believe and it wasn’t spoken about for a long, long time. As I was growing up, nobody ever told me anything about these schools, and some of them were still running at the time. Your generation is the first that is finally getting a look at the terrible conditions and circumstances at those schools.

These things are hard to talk about and hard to listen to, but very important. Many families today, including families at our school, were directly impacted by having a family member attend one of these institutions. An entire generation of people grew up being terribly mistreated, and those effects are far-reaching.

Sometimes we brush off events like this or The Holocaust or wars like the one we’re reading about as being so far in the past that they don’t impact us today. If it happened a long time ago, what’s it got to do with me today? Well, a lot, actually. Relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians was so badly damaged that it will take a long time to recover and truly accept each other. I’m proud to be part of what will hopefully be a change in that to come.

Today I will ask you to react to what we see, hear, and discuss, and consider how it affects all of us today.

In 2016, a famous Canadian named Gord Downie, leader of one of Canada’s most popular rock bands, The Tragically Hip, released a project called The Secret Path, which brought to life the story of a boy named Chanie Wenjack who died while trying to escape the nightmare of the school that he was sent to.

You can view the project here if you wish:

Here are some survivors speaking out about their experiences:

You will write for me a thoughtful response explaining your thoughts about these schools from both a historical and current perspective. Your response should touch on topics such as:

  • Why do you think those schools were allowed to exist for SO LONG?
  • What would this have been like for someone involved (either a student, family member, or even a teacher or member of society back then)?
  • What do you think the lasting legacy of these schools is?
  • How does this situation impact us today?

April Raintree Chapter 1 Reflection

In Search of April Raintree is a personal narrative. April is the narrator, and she gives us our first glimpse into the earliest memories of her life and family. The picture she paints is very bleak. It may, however, give some insight into the possible reasons for April’s actions later in the novel. Here are some questions to guide the thinking through this critical first part of the story. Please answer IN COMPLETE SENTENCES WITH PROOF from the book (quotes AND page numbers!)

  1. Describe the hardships of the young girls that demonstrate the harsh insensitivity and/or discriminatory attitudes of their family, government agencies, and the church. (i.e. what do her family, the government agencies, and the church do that is insensitive or discriminatory?)
  2. The narrator introduces many stereotypes regarding First Nations peoples. These biases and assumptions seem to be already internalized by April even though she is only six years old. What things happen that show that she already understands and has learned to live with racism? Discuss how April’s feelings about her race might impact her future choices and identity.
  3. The author depicts a close and supportive relationship between April and Cheryl. This relationship forms the dramatic tension through which other events in the text are explored. What might happen to the girls that could make this relationship strained or weaker? What could happen that would strengthen it?

April Raintree Chapter 1

Today we are beginning our next novel, April Raintree.

The theme of this book largely revolves around April’s search for her identity.

As we go through, I want you to keep track of a few things:

For the characters of April and her parents (you can choose mom, dad, or both), I want you to list all of the details found in the book including:

  • Physical
  • Behaviour/Actions/Reactions
  • Thoughts/Emotions/Beliefs/Intentions (mental/emotional characteristics)
  • (these can be point form. There are A LOT of things that you could/should write from THROUGHOUT the chapter, not just the first few pages.)

And I also want you to tell me your opinions/reactions to the characters, and explain why you feel this way. What do you think of these people? (This needs to be thoughtful, insightful, and in complete sentences! Put some thought & effort into this. One or two sentences WILL NOT be enough. This is a longer answer question.)


Mystery Unit: Final Essay

You will write a 5 paragraph essay on a topic associated with our Mystery unit. Each paragraph is expected to be a MINIMUM of 5 sentences, with an overall minimum of 25 sentences. It should be NEATLY written or typed (preferred!). You will be expected to follow the essay format that was explained previously (see your opinion essay and my pizza essay as examples.)

Possible topics:

  • Main/most important characteristics of the mystery genre
  • Famous detectives/stories in the mystery genre
  • Iconic aspects of the Sherlock Holmes character
  • Differences between Sherlock Holmes portrayals (text, tv, movie)
  • Similarities between Sherlock Holmes portrayals (text, tv, movie)
  • Differences between famous detectives (Sherlock Holmes, Monk?, ?)
  • Similarities between famous detectives (Sherlock Holmes, Monk?, ?)
  • Other topics are possible, but should be discussed with & approved by Mr. Robson

Remember to start by coming up with your THESIS sentence FIRST, then your TOPIC sentences (mini-thesis for each body paragraph.) Discuss your topic/thesis/process with Mr. Robson as you go!

EN: Mystery Essay Rubric
4 sentence general introduction /1
Provable thesis: opinion + 3 facts covered in body /1
3 body paragraphs x 5 sentences /1
Each paragraph begins and ends with thesis /1
Paragraphs are focused and help prove the thesis /1
Conclusion starts with thesis, ends off general /1

Make sure you review our previous discussion about how to plan and write an essay and follow that same process here.

It’s a Mystery! Elements of a Genre.

First, some background on our most famous mystery solver:

Sherlock Holmes is a fictional private detective created by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Known as a “consulting detective” in the stories, Holmes is known for his proficiency with observation, forensic science, and logical reasoning that borders on the fantastic, which he employs when investigating cases for a wide variety of clients, including Scotland Yard. –

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created the fictional detective, which became one of the most famous characters in all of English literature. Together with his partner Dr. Watson, Holmes was able to solve even the most difficult mysterious cases by careful observation and keen deduction.

Next, here’s a video with LOTS of examples of mysteries that you may have seen on TV or in the movies. It also explains a lot about types of mysteries and how they’re made mysterious. Admittedly, there’s a lot of information given out rather quickly, but I think it’s interesting enough to look at:

There are 6 main elements of a mystery that we’ll look at: Mysteryelements

Please fill out the following sheet: ElementsofaMystery (.pdf)

Mystery #1:


As you read through the stories of his adventures, try to pick out clues that might help you to figure out the answer to the mystery!


Take some time and try to put together the pieces of the mystery and see if you can figure it out. When you think you have it, read the next part.


Analyzing Mood and Tone

Writers us specific words, forms, and devices to create a tone and mood in their work. The most effective writing is one that can make the reader feel or at least understand a certain mood. Poetry is especially linked to mood and tone. Here’s how:

Look at this poem and consider the tone and mood that are created by the poet:

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Describe the mood of this poem. With its mood in mind, why do you think army recruiters used this poem to inspire young men to join up at the start of The Great War?



Describe the mood of this poem. What words & devices does the author include that help create that tone & mood? Pick out some examples and explain why they’re used and what the effect is.

Songwriters also use tone and mood in their lyrics and music.

Dulce Et Decorum Est-MRyan

Look at the mood/tone of this song. How does it make you feel and how does the writer accomplish this?

This song is obviously inspired by the poem. Discuss the connection between the two. What is similar/different in the poem and song? Explain.


Generals Die In Bed Chapter 12: Vengeance

Please answer all of the following questions thoughtfully in complete sentences on loose-leaf. Make reference to the book WITH PAGE NUMBERS as often as possible.

  1. What is the motivation behind the new battle techniques that the men are practicing?
  2. What is propaganda? (you may need to look this up) How might the story told to the soldiers of the Llandovery Castle be used as propaganda?
  3. What double message is given to the soldiers about taking prisoners?


Vengeance – revenge

Blighty – a minor wound that was just serious enough to get a soldier off the line

Barrage – bombardment

Ordure – manure

Subaltern – lower ranking officer

Cockney – a native of the East end of London, England, with a distinctive accent

Generals Die In Bed Chapter 11: Arras

Please answer all of the following questions thoughtfully in complete sentences on loose-leaf. Make reference to the book WITH PAGE NUMBERS as often as possible.

  1. Why do the soldiers loot the town of Arras?
  2. Find and explain 3 examples from the chapter (other than the looting) where the soldiers act more like animals than men. Why do you think this is happening?
  3. Why do the men eventually return to order so peacefully?


Harangue – a long, sometimes angry speech

Sated – very full, satisfied

Bedlam – confusion and chaos

Looting – stealing, usually by mobs