Mr. Huntley & Mrs. Covino



Team 72 – Grade 7

Roslyn Middle School

Room 110





Your English experience this year will make you a better reader and writer.

The following handbook will be your reference guide for the reading and writing that you will do.




Class Expectations



Mr. Huntley’s Website


Technology Policy

Writing – General Information

Writing – Craft and Conventions

Language and Craft

Narrative Writing

Essay Writing




Comma Usage

Sentence Basics

The Parts of Speech

Spelling Demons



Editor’s Marks


Reading – General Information


ELA Guide

Editing & Revision Checklist

Writing Topics



BE A GOOD CITIZEN! Be respectful and considerate to everyone at all times • Be enthusiastic about learning while demonstrating maturity and self-control Be an active participant in the lessonWork and play well with others.

BE PREPARED! Take necessary breaks outside of class time Know what is due every day and be aware of your long-term assignment schedule. • Read and follow instructions.


WRITING & PROJECT WORK includes drafting, editing, revising, and final submissions of long-term assignments, including essays, reading projects, writing projects, or creative projects.

HOMEWORK & DAILY WORK CHECKS assess written effort – elaboration, organization, craft, and neatness.  Assignments include in-class writing, homework writing, and reading analysis.

OTHER ASSESSMENTS include vocabulary quizzes, reading quizzes, and reading comprehension assessments

YOUR GRADE IS CALCULATED based on points earned out of total points possible

ENRICHMENT WRITING will be offered that may be rewarded with extra points, up to 10 points per quarter


Use a folder system on your computer or chromebook that helps you to keep track of your assignments. The easiest system for Google Drive will be a folder for each subject, and possibly subfolders for each quarter, unit, or topic.

Give each assignment you will be submitting an identifiable filename and title. The filename of the document and the title in the document (yes, you should have both, but they can be the same) should specify what the assignment is about.

Keep all notes and work for a long-term assignment in one document so that you can access all of your information in one place.

Google Drive is easy to search if you have distinct document names and titles.

    2. HUNTLEY’S GOOGLE CLASSROOM will be the central location for all English work. All daily assignments, instructions, videos, homework, handouts and other information will be posted on the stream.


In the event you need to contact Mr. Huntley about information posted on the website, send a direct message from Google Classroom or email him at jhuntley@roslynschools.org. Always use your district-issued email account to communicate with Mr. Huntley.

    1. HUNTLEY’S WEBSITE – mrhuntley.org
    2. HUNTLEY’S WEBSITE will be a supplemental resource for English class this year. Links to resources, videos and texts will be posted there. Student work galleries may be featured there. Bookmark the website so that you can easily access it.



WORK DUE SHOULD BE COMPLETED AND SUBMITTED BEFORE CLASS.  Poor quality or incomplete work will not be accepted.  Every paper submitted should have a document name, A TITLE and a PROPER HEADING in the upper left corner of the page:

First & Last Name




IF ABSENT, you are required to submit writing/projects and take tests/quizzes upon returning to class.  You are encouraged to visit Mr. Huntley and Mrs. Covino at the next scheduled Extra Help session or contact them directly via a Google Classroom message or email.


Your use of a computer or tablet in the classroom is subject to the building Guidelines for Technology in the Classroom. 

You must not use your class time to view videos, play games, or read materials that are not part of the lesson.

You should not listen to music during the lesson.

You should follow all rules of videoconference etiquette, including turning on your camera, muting yourself unless speaking, not interrupting others who are speaking, etc……


THE WRITING PROCESS:  One English goal this year is to write almost every day.  This begins with GATHERING topics and ideas, RESEARCHING topics, and DEVELOPING ideas.  Later, you will DRAFT, REVISE and EDIT a number of narratives and essays that will be submitted as assignments.  Some writing will also be PUBLISHED, meaning it will be formally submitted as a major assignment.  This is known as the writing process. Following this process will ensure your writing represents the full expression of your ability as a writer.

USING YOUR NOTEBOOK:  This year, you will spend a great deal of time writing in your notebook.  You must bring it to class every day.  You will be given writing work both in class and for homework.  Typically, you will write ten to fifteen minutes a day in class and/or for homework.  For most students, that is about one or two pages of writing.  Your notebook is the place where you will research, plan and develop your essays and stories.  You will also reflect on your own beliefs and experiences.  Most of your notebook work will end up contributing to major writing assignments that will be submitted.

PEER EDITING/SHARING:  On occasion, you will share your writing with other students.  During these sessions, you will only receive constructive suggestions.  You will never be graded based on peer comments.  Peer editing and sharing is an opportunity for you to share your writing with a different audience.  In addition, reading other students’ writing helps you to gain a new perspective on your own.

SUBMITTING WRITTEN WORK:  TYPED WORK must be neat, double-spaced and printed in black ink.  Use a standard font (such as Times, Helvetica, Calibri or Cambria) in standard size (11- or 12-point).  Do not include borders, colors, clip art, or word art.  WRITTEN WORK must be neatly written in black or blue ink on loose leaf paper and make proper use of margins and lines.  Always include a proper heading and title!

GRADING:  Your notebook work will be assessed based on written effort and individual progress.  Collected writing will be evaluated using a rubric that accounts for quality of content, organization and use of conventions (grammar).  Essays and long-term writing assignments that encompass the entire writing process are considered major assignments for the quarter.  For these projects, you may receive multiple grades, based upon multiple submitted drafts.  Published, final versions of writing projects should clearly indicate that you read the teacher’s comments and then revised and edited accordingly.


LANGUAGE & CRAFT:  A major goal for the year is to elevate your writing through incorporation of better vocabulary and sentence construction.  You will also work on improving grammar, usage, and mechanics.  We will spend time reviewing these skills, and Mr. Huntley/Mrs. Covino will write comments on your work to make you aware of your writing weaknesses.  With improved language, your writing voice will become more expressive and you will demonstrate more mastery of the craft of writing.

ABOUT ESSAY WRITING: Essay writing is about expressing ideas.  This year we will work on the following ingredients for a solid essay:

    • GATHERING our own ideas about a literary work
    • DEVELOPING some of those ideas into more insightful observations or arguments
    • RESEARCHING to gather evidence in support of our observations or arguments
    • DRAFTING essays in different forms for different purposes
    • REVISING, EDITING, and PUBLISHING essays to further develop your craft

ABOUT NARRATIVE WRITING:  Narrative writing is about storytelling.  This year we will work on the following ingredients for a great story:

    • Bringing CHARACTERS to life
    • Painting a picture of the SETTING with words
    • Using DIALOGUE to develop characters, show their emotions, and reveal their thoughts
    • Using ACTION to develop characters, develop conflict, and move a story forward
    • Using DESCRIPTION to show rather than tell about the characters, setting, and conflict
    • Using IMAGERY appealing to the senses as well as figurative language

TRANSITIONS:  Using TRANSITION WORDS in your writing can help you MAKE CONNECTIONS between ideas.  Refer to this list to find ways to make your ideas flow together more smoothly.

    • Concession and/or Emphasis: certainly, granted, indeed, in fact, it is true, naturally, of course
    • Connecting Opposites: although, and yet, at the same time, despite that, even so, even though, however, in contrast, in spite of, instead, nevertheless, notwithstanding, on the contrary, on the other hand, otherwise, rather, regardless, still, though, yet
    • Connecting Similar Ideas / Giving Further Information: after all, again, also, besides, equally important, for example, for instance, further, furthermore, in addition, in any case, in fact, in other words, in the same way, instead, likewise, moreover, similarly, specifically, such being the case, that is
    • Example or Illustration: as an illustration, for example, for instance, to illustrate
    • Summarizing Points: accordingly, actually, after all, all in all, all things considered, as a result, at any rate, be that as it may, beyond question, consequently, finally, for this reason, hence, in brief, in comparison, in conclusion, in other words, in particular, in short, in simpler terms, obviously, on the whole, that being so, that is to say, therefore, thus, undoubtedly, without doubt, whereas
    • Time Sequence: after a while, afterward, again, also, and then, as long as, at last, at length, at that time, before, besides, earlier, eventually, finally, first/ second/third/fourth, formerly, further, furthermore, in addition, in the first place, in the past, last, lately, meanwhile, moreover, next, now, presently, previously, shortly, simultaneously, since, so far, soon, still, subsequently, then, thereafter, to begin with, too, until, until now, ultimately

STYLE guidelines are the particular rules you are instructed to follow by your teacher, school, editor, or publisher.  Stylebooks can vary – the guidelines for New York Times writers are different from the MLA style guidelines you follow for college papers.  Perhaps the most famous disagreement in style relates to the “Oxford comma” (also called the serial comma): when listing three or more items in a sentence, should you place a comma before the coordinating conjunction (and, or, but)?  This year, I will let you decide for yourself, but don’t be surprised if you have teachers and editors who one day disagree with you!  Here are a few rules you will follow when you write for Mr. Huntley and Mrs. Covino:

    • Not words: &, +, b/c, u …please use “and,” “because,” “you”
    • Do not use “etc.” – please use “and more,” “to name a few,” or something similar
    • Spell out numbers one through ten, and any number beginning a sentence
    • Avoid over-use of exclamation marks (!)
    • Avoid beginning a sentence with a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or)
    • Avoid short, choppy sentences
    • Avoid sentence fragments and run-ons, especially in formal writing
    • Always include a title for submitted pieces of writing


    • Capitalize the first word of a sentence
    • Capitalize the names of persons, places, days, months, holidays, places of worship, names of deities, religious scriptures, schools, buildings, races, and organizations
    • Capitalize the first word of a direct quotation
    • Capitalize the title of a book, play, poem, article, or movie
    • Always capitalize the pronoun I


    • Use commas before the conjunctions and, but, or, nor, and so, in a compound sentence
    • Use commas between three or more items or phrases in a series
    • Use commas when writing dates and addresses
    • Use a comma after introductory elements in a sentence
    • Use commas to separate phrases or expressions in the middle of a sentence
    • Use a comma to separate an ending element from the rest of the sentence
    • Use a comma after a name followed by titles such as Jr., Sr., or M.D.
    • Use a comma after the salutation of a friendly letter and after the closing of any letter
    • When including a quotation in a sentence, (a) add commas before quotations begin, and (b) keep punctuation inside the quotation marks


    1. A SENTENCE is a group of words that expresses a complete thought.
    2. Sentences consist of a subject and predicate: (a) the SUBJECT names the person, place, thing, or idea that the sentence is about. In its simplest form, the subject is a noun or pronoun (person, place, thing, or idea) that the sentence is about; (b) the PREDICATE tells what the subject is or does.  In its simplest form, the predicate is the VERB that tells what the subject is doing or tells something about the subject.
    3. DECLARATIVE sentences make statements.
    4. INTERROGATIVE sentences ask questions.
    5. IMPERATIVE sentences give commands. In imperative sentences, the subject may be implied.
    6. PHRASES are groups of words that can act like a part of speech, such as a noun or verb.
    7. CLAUSES are larger groups of words and phrases that are combined to make sentences.
    8. An INDEPENDENT CLAUSE is a group of words that contains a subject and verb and expresses a complete thought. Standing alone, an independent clause is a sentence.
    9. A DEPENDENT or SUBORDINATE CLAUSE is a group of words that contains a subject and verb but does not express a complete thought. Dependent clauses often begin with words such as after, although, as, as if, because, before, even if, even though, if, in order to, since, though, unless, until, whatever, when, whenever, whether, and while.  A dependent clause cannot be a sentence.
    10. An APPOSITIVE is a noun or noun phrase that renames another noun right beside it.
    11. SIMPLE SENTENCES, also called independent clauses, contain a subject and a verb.
    12. COMPOUND SENTENCES contain two independent clauses joined by a coordinator such as and, so, or for.
    13. COMPLEX SENTENCES contain an independent clause joined by one or more dependent/subordinate clauses.
    14. COMPOUND-COMPLEX SENTENCES contain two independent clauses and one or more dependent/subordinate clauses.
    15. RUN-ONS are constructions that are too long and should be broken into more than one sentence. Multiple “ands” and “buts” are warning signs of a run-on.
    16. FRAGMENTS are phrases lacking one or more words needed to complete a sentence.


    1. NOUNS are people, places, things, or ideas
    2. Nouns are often the subject or object of a sentence
    3. Proper nouns are specific names and are capitalized

TIP: To identify a noun, first find the verb.  Then find what is doing the action expressed by the verb

    1. PRONOUNS substitute for nouns
    2. Pronouns are often the subject or object of a sentence
    3. They refer to a noun, or group of nouns, known as the antecedent
    4. Know the common kinds of pronouns – personal, indefinite, interrogative, demonstrative

TIP: If you can’t find a specific noun representing the subject or object, you should look for a pronoun

    1. VERBS express action or state of being
    2. Know the difference between action verbs and linking verbs
    3. Action verbs tell what someone or something is doing or thinking
    4. Linking verbs help to link a word to another word it describes or renames
    5. Understand that helping verbs are not verbs by themselves; they help conjugate an action or linking verb and are part of the verb
    6. Know: the forms of be, have, and do; common linking verbs; and common helping verbs

TIP: Identify verbs first in a sentence.  Then you can determine who or what is doing the action

    1. ADJECTIVES modify nouns or pronouns; they are “describing words”
    2. Possessive adjectives help identify ownership
    3. Proper adjectives are specific names used to describe someone or something
    4. Nouns and pronouns can be used as adjectives
    5. ADVERBS modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs
    6. Look for the “-ly” on the end of many adverbs
    7. Familiarize yourself with common adverbs
    8. Don’t forget that n’t = not and therefore is an adverb hidden in a contraction
    9. PREPOSITIONS begin phrases expressing direction, position, or location
    10. Familiarize yourself with common prepositions
    11. An adjective phrase is a type of prepositional phrase that modifies nouns or pronouns
    12. An adverb phrase is a type of prepositional phrase that mainly modifies verbs
    13. Prepositions always begin a prepositional phrase. If the word stands alone, it’s an adverb
    14. CONJUNCTIONS join words, phrases, and clauses
    15. Common conjunctions: and, but, or, yet
    16. Be familiar with others: for, nor, so
    17. INTERJECTIONS express strong feeling:
    18. Interjections are set apart from a sentence by a comma or exclamation mark
    19. Examples: Hey! Wow!  Hooray!  Oh!


Know the words you mean to use!

Homophones are words that sound alike, and many are commonly confused:

The classic troublemakers: Others to look out for:
its – belonging to it (possessive pronoun) accept / except
it’s – it is or it has (contraction) affect / effect
there – at a certain place (adverb) clothes / close
their – belonging to them (possessive pronoun) course / coarse
they’re – they are (contraction) dessert / desert
to – in a direction toward (preposition) loose / lose
too – excessively; also (adverb) piece / peace
two – a number (adjective) principal / principle
whose – belonging to whom (possessive pronoun) threw / through
who’s – who is (contraction) whether / weather
your – belonging to you (possessive pronoun) which / witch
you’re – you are (contraction) wood / would

A Collection of Often-Misspelled Words (add your own to the list!)

ache continue existence necessary scene
acquaint convenient experience neighbor seize
address cooperate fascinate neither separate
appearance cough favorite niece similar
assistant deceive foreign occasion straight
awful decision fulfill occur stretch
bargain dependent gradual opponent surprise
breathe difference grateful possess thief
business disappoint height potato unique
calendar discuss immediate process unusual
campaign drought interrupt pursue victim
ceiling dying judgment quiet weight
committee embarrass luxury receive weird
condemn environment minute recommend  
conscience especially mischief reference  
conscious exaggerate mystery relief  


When you revise, look at your writing again and consider the following:

For ALL writing, make sure:

    • You use a variety of sentence lengths and constructions
    • You use paragraph structure to organize your writing clearly
    • You have an intriguing title, or at least one that clearly expresses your idea/theme

For ESSAY writing, make sure:

    • Your thesis clearly states your idea
    • Your topic sentences focus on specific claims
    • You use evidence to support every claim
    • Your examples are well-elaborated and fully developed
    • Your writing is focused and does not stray from the topic
    • You use transitions to help your ideas flow
    • Your introduction focuses attention on your idea and/or interests your reader
    • Your conclusion reinforces your idea and ties your points together

For NARRATIVE writing, make sure:

    • You vividly describe everything you want your reader to imagine
    • You include action everywhere you want to bring a scene to life
    • You use dialogue to develop characters and express emotion
    • You name the important people, places, and things


When you EDIT, you correct or change the grammar, usage, mechanics, and spelling in your writing to ensure quality and clarity in your writing.  Look over your writing to:

    • Correct capitalization: beginning sentences, proper nouns, and the pronoun I
    • Correct punctuation: commas, end punctuation, use of quotation marks
    • Correct spelling: avoid spell check if you are unsure of a word…ask a human
    • Improve your choice of words: use a thesaurus to elevate your language
    • Eliminate fragments and run-on sentences
    • Check verb tenses and subject-verb agreement
    • Formatting: indent all paragraphs uniformly
    • Formatting: make all spacing, margins, fonts and font sizes uniform


When your teacher reads your draft, he or she will use the following symbols (or similar ones) to make note of editing that needs to be done.  The following marks will always be displayed in the room.


Publishing is the final step in the writing process.  A published piece is rarely perfect in the eyes of an author.  Publishing is a way of formally presenting your writing to your audience.  It might mean writing a “final draft” of an essay for a final grade.  It may mean posting an essay in a blog.  Or, it may mean preparing your writing to read to an audience.  Many writers are never satisfied with their published work.  Some even refuse to read their writing after it’s published!  What publishing allows writers to do is to let go of their writing so that they can move on to the joy of writing something new.


THE READING EXPERIENCE:  Your goal this year is to read every day.  We will read a few select texts as a class, and you will read several books you will choose for yourself.  We will spend time reading together, and you will spend time reading independently.  Typically, you will be reading fifteen to twenty minutes a day in class and/or for homework.  For most students, your pace should be about a page per minute, or 15-20 pages of reading.

USING YOUR NOTEBOOK:  When you read in class and at home, you will complete assignments in your notebook to express your understanding of the text.  You may raise questions, make observations, develop connections, or make predictions about what you read.  You may retell parts of the story to help you infer and interpret. You may uncover themes and symbols.  You may write a critique of a scene.  You may collect examples of beautiful sentences or new vocabulary.  Writing while reading helps you actively engage in the reading process.  One useful tool for writing about your book is a Post-It pad, which allows you to ANNOTATE (take notes in) your book as you read.  These Post-Its can be affixed to pages in your notebook.  Your notebook can also include charts, illustrations, and maps to help you analyze what you read.

Questions you might ask…

·       I wonder…

·       Who is…

·       Why did…

·       Where is…

·       How can…

·       I’d like to know…

Observations you can make…

·       I notice…

·       I am shocked by…

·       I’m fascinated by…

·       I’m surprised that…

·       Discuss the plot/action

·       Discuss character qualities

·       Discuss character development

Connections you can make…

·       I now realize…

·       This part made me feel…

·       A theme that I am noticing now is…

·       I really enjoyed this scene because…

·       This book is similar to another book…

·       Let me try to explain what I just read…

·       A character/scene/setting reminds me of…

Predictions you can make…

·       I bet the character will…

·       Later in the story, I predict…

·       I hope that ____ will happen because…

Thoughtful retelling you can do…

·       This is what I know so far…

·       An issue that has come up is…

·       This moment happened because…

·       What I think is happening now is…

·       The character is changing because…

·       What’s happening now is the result of…

·       I’ve changed my mind about something…

Charts or illustrations you can create…

·       Setting map

·       Event timeline

·       Quote analysis chart

·       Topic and detail web

·       Cause and effect chart

·       Character pressure chart

·       Compare/contrast T-chart

·       Character conflict/connection web

·       Character, setting, or symbol illustration

·       Graph changes in story intensity or emotion


Alliteration – the use of repeated consonant sounds to create melody, establish mood, call attention to important words, and point out similarities and contrasts

Allusion – calling an idea, event, place, or person to mind without mentioning it explicitly;” hinting at” something

Analogy – a comparison between two things based on similar components or structure

Anecdote – a brief interesting story, usually used to gain the attention and interest of a reader or audience

Annotate – add notes to a text giving explanation, comment, or insight

Anticlimax – a disappointing end to an exciting or impressive series of events

Autobiography – a life story told in first person (by the person who lived it)

Cause & Effect – the relationship and influence between events

Characterization – acquainting the reader with characters by describing physical traits and personality, showing speech and behavior, giving opinions and reactions to the character, or revealing the character’s thoughts and feelings

Chronological Order – the order of events through time

Citation – a quotation from or reference to a book, paper, or author in an essay or research paper

Claim – a point that a writer uses in support of a thesis statement; a claim is the topic of a body paragraph in an essay

Cliché – an overused or predictable phrase

Climax/Turning Point – the most exciting moment in a story leading to the resolution

Conflict – the struggle experienced by the main character in a story (Man vs. Man, Man vs. Himself, Man vs. Nature, Man vs. Technology, etc.)

Connotation – the idea or feeling a word invokes in addition to its literal meaning

Conventions of writing – the accepted way in which writing is done with regard to spelling, word usage, sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and capitalization

Craft – (v) to exercise skill in making something; (n) an activity involving skillful creation

Denotation – the literal or primary meaning of a word

Dialogue – conversation between characters used to provide background information, reveal character and character relationships, or to advance the story

Drafting – writing the first version of a narrative or essay, with more attention to the ideas and major themes, and less attention to the mechanics and structure

Dramatic Irony – a technique in which the full meaning of a character’s words or actions are clear to the audience or reader but not to the character

Editing – looking at written work to correct mechanical errors in punctuation, spelling, usage, sentence structure, and formatting

Elaboration – the act of adding more evidence, detail, and discussion to a piece of writing

Evidence – specific information in support of a writer’s claim; evidence can be paraphrased or directly quoted from a source; in a research paper or literary essay, evidence should cite a specific source according to established style guidelines

Exposition – the part of a story in which the background to the main conflict is introduced

Fiction – narrative that is not factual (true) which involves a conflict or emotional connection to the reader with the purpose to entertain rather than to perform

Figurative Language – language that describes something through comparison to something else (see metaphor, simile, hyperbole, onomatopoeia, and personification)

Flashback – a scene jumping to a time earlier than the main story

Folk Literature – the traditional stories of cultures originally passed down by word of mouth

Foreshadowing – a warning or indication of a future event

Genre – a category of artistic composition characterized by similarities in form, style, or subject matter (ex: drama, fiction, literary nonfiction, poetry); the term applies also to sub-categories as well – fiction can be divided into subgenres such as science fiction, historical fiction, and mystery, to name a few

Hyperbole – exaggerated, often entertaining statements or claims not to be taken literally

Imagery – descriptive or figurative language intended to appeal to the senses

Inference – a conclusion based on information and ideas presented

Inner Dialogue – the thoughts of a character expressed through a dialogue with himself or herself

Irony – expression of meaning contrary to what is expected 

Literary Nonfiction – stories about actual events and real people written in the style of literary fiction

Memoir – an autobiographical story that includes reflection and carefully chosen moments in someone’s life

Mentor Text – a literary work that models writing craft for a writer

Metaphor – a figure of speech in which two unlike things are compared; often an abstract subject is made clearer through comparison to something more concrete

Meter – in poetry, meter is the rhythm of the words measured by the “beats” of the syllables

Mood – the prevailing feeling expressed by a work of art

Narrative – a spoken or written account of events

Narrator – the person who tells the story

Nonfiction– factual writing that is about history, people, or other real topics

Notebook – a writer’s tool; a place where a writer gathers ideas to write about and explores those ideas through reflection or elaboration; also, a place for writing thoughts that help in reading comprehension

Onomatopoeia – words invented to represent sounds (zap, meow, crunch)

Paraphrase – to express the meaning of an author more briefly and concisely

Parody – a version or imitation of something created for humorous effect

Personification – a figure of speech in which human qualities are given to other things

Plot – the main events of a story

Point of View – the perspective from which a story is told: first person; second person (rarely); third person limited (showing the limited point of view of a character); third person omniscient (from the point of view of an all-knowing narrator outside the story)

Prose – written or spoken language in ordinary form, without metrical (poetic) structure

Publishing – the act of producing a formal version of a piece of written work

Realistic Fiction – fiction written to portray situations and conflicts that may happen in real life, or are inspired by real life

Repertoire – the whole collection of skills a person uses in his or her craft

Repetition – repeating of a word or phrase to create a sense of rhythm

Researching – the process of investigating a topic, gathering evidence, and coming to understand a topic before writing or presenting about it

Resolution – the point in a story when the conflict has been resolved

Revising – literally “looking at again” in order to identify areas for improvement and then making improvements

Rhyme – when words have the same sound at the end of lines in a poem

Rhyme Scheme – the pattern of rhymes in the lines of a poem (can be labeled aabb, abab, for ex.)

Rhythm – the measured flow of words and phrases, especially in poetry or music

Rising & Falling Actionrising action is the actions and interactions of characters that complicates a narrative and leads to the climax; falling action is the events that follow and result from the climax

Rounded Character – a character that has been fully developed by an author to be more human, complex, and interesting to the reader

Satire – the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in context of contemporary politics or current events

Setting – the place and time of a story; also, the overall mood of that place or time

Simile – a figure of speech in which two unlike things are compared; often an abstract subject is made clearer through comparison to something more concrete; similar to a metaphor, but using the words “like” or “as” with the result of achieving a weaker comparison

Stanza – a group of lines in a poem with connected meaning, comparable to paragraphs in prose (couplet – two-line stanza; triplet – three-line stanza; quatrain – four-line stanza, etc.)

Story-within-a-story – a device used by an author when a story is told within a larger, main narrative

Storyboard – a sequence of drawings, typically with directions and dialogue, representing the scenes planned for a story (usually for film or television)

Summary – a brief account of the main points or ideas of something experienced, read, or viewed

Suspense – a state or feeling of excited, anxious uncertainty created by a story

Symbol – a material object used to represent an abstract idea

Theme – the main point or idea being expressed by a piece of writing

Thesis – the controlling idea of an essay; the main point a writer is trying to prove

Timeline – a graphic representation of the passage of events through time

Tone – the general attitude of a piece of writing, as expressed by the author or narrator

Verse – a group of lines in a poem, or lines written in poetic forms. (rhymed verse is poetry that has an end rhyme and a regular meter; free verse is poetry that does not have a regular meter or rhyme scheme)

Works Cited – a page at the end of a research paper listing the books and other sources used in writing the paper


The New York State English Language Arts Assessment (NYSELA) is normally administered in the spring.  Updated information can be found at: http://www.p12.nysed.gov/assessment/

Most of your preparation for this assessment will involve regular close (analytical) reading of text and writing about what you have read.  We will spend part of the month leading up to the assessment reading “ELA-style” text selections and answering multiple choice questions.  We will also spend part of that month practicing the particular writing formats expected in the ELA assessment described below:

SHORT RESPONSES (“paragraph” responses)

    1. Your topic sentence should make an INFERENCE (draw a conclusion) based on the question or prompt.
    2. Then, support your inference with TWO SUPPORTING DETAILS in the form of paraphrased or quoted evidence from the text.

EXTENDED RESPONSES (“essay” responses)

    1. First, THINK about the prompt. Make sure you understand what you are being asked to write about.  Make sure you know what needs to be included in your essay.
    2. Outline or organize your extended response before you write it. BOX your answer to the question.  Write a clear, focused statement that answers the prompt you have been given. This is your thesis.
    3. Below the box in your outline, answer the Each bullet in the prompt will be a bullet in your outline.  Before writing your extended response, research each bullet to gather the evidence needed to support your points.
    4. Use your boxes and bullets to create a quick, focused INTRODUCTION.  Expand each bullet into BODY PARAGRAPHS.  Provide evidence and elaboration for each bullet.  Add a brief CONCLUSION


Quality Proficient Proficient Not Proficient Not Proficient




Insightful Literal Gaps in understanding No understanding


Elaboration, Evidence









Readable Disorganized Incoherent


Words, Sentences




Clear Elementary Confusing


Spelling, Grammar



Considerable mastery








Use this checklist to maintain a record of teacher comments on your English writing assignments.  First, write the name of the assignment in the box at the top of the column.  Then, for each of the categories below, tally the number of problems identified.  If necessary, add categories in the empty rows at bottom.                
CRAFT For each assignment, write YES or NO in boxes below.
LEAD (Essays) Do I create a sense of larger significance in the presentation of my claim/thesis?                

Does my writing have a logical, compelling structure?

NARRATIVE Is my storytelling (and retelling) vivid and engaging?                

Do I create an elegant, cohesive flow in my writing?

ELABORATION Is there insight and sophistication in the expression of my ideas?                

Do I create mood and tone with my word choices?


Do I include words that expand my vocabulary?


Do I use proper heading, margins, title, font/size? (pp. 5-6)


Did I avoid run-ons or fragments? (p. 8)


Do I spell challenging words correctly? (p. 10)


Do I avoid common word choice errors? (p. 10)

CAPITALIZATION Do I capitalize all nouns and first words in sentences? (p. 7)                
PUNCTUATION Do I include all necessary periods and commas, and avoid overusing commas? (p. 7-8)                
QUOTATION MARKS Do I use quotation marks correctly, especially in dialogue and citations?                
VERB TENSE Do I consistently use the proper verb tenses?                
NUMBER AGREEMENT Do I consistently use the correct pronoun to refer to singular and plural nouns?                


GROUPS Everyone makes connections to people around him or her.  While family is usually our “inner circle,” we also interact with circles of friends, teammates, campers, performers, gamers, and others.  Write about a group you belong to. 

MEMORABLE MOMENTS  Select one or more of the most interesting, most memorable moments from your life so far.  Tell a story other people should hear about…a story that doesn’t include everyday moments.

Special PlaceS  Describe a place that has special meaning to you.

LookING Back  Someday you will be your teacher’s age.  No, it’s not that old.  Write this piece in the form of a news report, a story, a letter to yourself, or a song.  It just can’t be a telepathic stream, or modern dance performance, even if those are the main forms of communication in the future.

Character Building  At some point in your life, you have accomplished something beyond what you thought was possible.  You impressed yourself and others.  As a result, you gained something…confidence, optimism, empathy, courage…something that made you a better person.  Tell the story of that experience and how it transformed you.

LESSONS FROM FAILURE  We all make mistakes in life.  It can be a poor choice of action or not taking action when you should have.  It can involve saying the wrong thing or not speaking up when you should have.  It might just be an experience where you “went for it” and came up short.  These mistakes are useful in reminding you what is most important in life.  You realize what you truly care about and what principles you believe in.  Through failure, you make improvements to our skills so that you can try again with more wisdom and skill.  Write about a life experience in which failure was an invaluable learning experience. 

Someone TO Admire  Award someone with the high honor of your admiration and gratitude.  Be creative if you want, and come up with an award to give them.

Recipe for Me  Write a symbolic recipe for yourself. This means your ingredients are not blood, muscle, bone, and a tuft of hair, but abstract qualities and personality traits like patience, friendliness, and humor.  What are the essential ingredients that create you?

PERSONAL Soundtrack  Create a soundtrack or playlist that tells the story of your 7th grade year, or your entire life so far.  Explain your choices.

NEW EXPERIENCE  Tell us a story about a new experience you have had this year.  Try to bring your reader into the adventure with you.

Personal Symbol  What one thing represents who you are?  Strip away the complex details.  What is the essence of who you are?  Tell us about this thing that says so much about you.  Tell about how you connect with this thing.  Show us everything about you with just one thing.


People I feel close to.  A time I felt intense emotion.  What am I proud of?  What am I embarrassed about?  Am I a participant or an observer?  How the weather affects me.  What terrifies me?  How I would describe myself to someone who cannot see me.  Some television commercials I really love or hate.  What do I consider truly beautiful?  The hardest part about growing up.  The perfect birthday celebration.  A person with a disability whom I know.  Something I have made/done that I am proud of.  My hero/role model.  A award of appreciation for someone who has helped me.  My favorite place in the world.  Physical strength vs. mental toughness.  If I had to choose to give up one important thing in my life, it would be…  A wonderful dream/terrible nightmare I have had.  Let me tell you about this amazing thing!  A description of my favorite meal.  A time I was most proud of myself.  Things that I admire about myself.  If I could be voted “most something,” it would be…  My favorite songs right now.  I will know that I have grown up when…  What makes me laugh?  The last time that I cried.  Playing detective.  An unusual ability that I wish I had.  How I feel about my religion.  What the world needs now is…  What I like to do to cheer up someone who’s feeling down.  Who makes my decisions for me?  A personal struggle of mine.  A childhood memory that I cherish.  What brings me peace?  Ways I have changed as a person in the past year.  If I had the chance to trade places with someone.  How I feel about war.  How I feel about poverty.  Laws that need to change.  What important lessons take place outside of school?  Can two opposite things be true?  Where would I most like to live?  A time I hurt someone’s feelings.  A time someone hurt my feelings.  If I had magic powers for one day.  How I would spend one million dollars in one day.  The things I could never live without.  Reasons to always strive to be a better person.  A time someone was able to cheer me up when I was down.  My favorite time of year.  The greatest vacation I ever had.  What I enjoy/dislike about being alone.  A loss I have experienced.  What will be remembered from the present time in 100 years?  Will it ever be possible for a machine to love and care for a person?  Someone I admire.  My extraordinary pet.  The strangest/most amazing/most beautiful place I’ve ever been.  A story using vocabulary words from book I am reading.  A tale of victory.  A tale of terror.  My future: a prediction.  My life as a movie: which actors would I cast; what stories would be told.  The sense am I willing to give up first.  Awards for people whom I admire.  An unbelievable true story I’ve heard.  A love story.  The importance of having no regrets in life.  The funniest story I’ve ever heard.  My greatest accomplishment this year, in or out of school.  Predictions about ports, about myself, about the country, about anything.  A great story about my parent’s childhood.  How responsible are children for their actions?  Something I’ve learned from a movie, book, or television show.  What do I know about the meaning and/or history of my first and last name?  A book or movie that dissatisfied me because of the way it ended.  A day in the life of my pet, as told by my pet.  The importance of friends.  The rules I have to follow.  The importance of second chances.  A quotation I like and why it has special meaning to me.  An interview with a friend or family member.  The ultimate party – describe the event and the attendees.  A letter to or from someone famous whom I admire.  The importance of family.  My earliest memory.  My most prized possession.  Three wishes I would like to make, and reasons why.  Will computers ever be as intelligent as humans?  What’s on my mind today?  What am I really excited or upset about?  My favorite story.  What I did today/last night/over the weekend/during my vacation…  What I love about my home.  A recipe for a perfect friendship.  My motto.  A story appropriate to a recent holiday or one coming up.  A new idea for a museum, store, or park.  A letter to my future self.  The recipe to make me!  What terrifies me?  A real-life adventure I had.  A weird but true experience I’ve had.  If I could time travel, this is where (and “when”) I would go.  The sports I am fanatical about.  Talents I have.  The soundtrack/playlist of my year (or life).  A place that is special to me.  Or any topic of your choice; let your imagination go to work!