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A phrase with a complete subject but only a part of a predicate (verb), such as "her head slightly lowered over her homework." A complete sentence would be "Her head was slightly lowered over her homework." Sometimes there is only a subject and participle. Absolutes are especially helpful when shifting a description of a whole to a description of its parts.


The repetition of initial consonant sounds at the beginning of two or more words of a sentence or line of poetry; used to draw attention to words or ideas or to create music with the language.

Anchor Paper

A student paper that is an example of a score point described on a rubric.


A short narrative account of an interesting or humorous incident or a short narrative used as an example in expository or persuasive writing.


A repetition of vowel sounds without the repetition of consonant sounds (e.g., dance, clap).


The expected readers of a text.

Author's Chair

One student shares his or her writing orally with the entire class. This student then asks other students to either share a comment on what they thought or ask a question about the writing. Use of an authors chair gives children feedback on their writing, models conferencing, and develops a sense of community for writing.

Author's Craft

Choices an author/poet makes regarding elements such as organizational patterns, vocabulary, images, symbols, and point of view to produce a desired effect.


Thesis or main point, especially in persuasive writing.

Class Anthology

Collection of writing submitted by individual class members.

Cluster Or Word Web

A prewriting strategy where the writer maps thoughts about a topic using lines or arrows to show how ideas are related -- intended to suggest an organizational pattern for main ideas and supporting details.

Cohesion (Cohesive - Adj.)

Logical connectedness that holds parts of text together.


Conversational, informal language.

Conjunctive Adverb

Adverbs that are used as conjunctions to join two complete sentences (e.g., moreover, however, therefore, furthermore, indeed, nevertheless, but, consequently).


Repetition of consonant sounds, particularly at the ends of words (e.g., to kick the black rock).

Content-Specific Writing

Using writing as a tool for learning or writing within the common language of a discipline (e.g., writing in history or science, using the conventions appropriate to the discipline).


Rules of standard English usage, capitalization, punctuation, paragraphing, and spelling; common features that have become traditional or expected within a specific form or discipline.


Understanding that print progresses from left to right and top to bottom.

Double-Entry Log

A form of learning log or journal in which a student keeps notes on the left side of a double column and then responds, asks questions, analyzes the topic, or relates the information to other ideas on the right side.


Verb - compose, Noun - preliminary version of a piece of writing.


Preparing writing for final draft by checking spelling, punctuation, capitalization, usage, paragraph indentation, neatness, and legibility.

Environmental Print

The print of everyday life (e.g., the symbols, signs, numbers, and colors found in McDonald's, Wal-Mart, Exxon, Pizza Hut, and 7-Up and on websites), offering excellent entry points for young children to begin to learn to read, write, and do math.

Extended Metaphor

A metaphor continuing throughout an entire text; often used to create unity or rhetorical effect.

Figurative Language

Word images and figures of speech not meant to be taken literally; used to enrich language (e.g., simile, metaphor, personification).


Interruption in the chronological sequence of a narrative to tell about a related event from an earlier time.


A literary technique where the author gives hints or clues about an event before it happens.

Form Or Genre

Organization of specific types of writing within a general category of purpose/mode (e.g., if the form is editorial, then purpose/mode is persuasive or possibly expository; if the form is a tall tale, then purpose/mode is narrative).


Most often used to refer to layout or visual presentation of text.

Free Writing

A prewriting technique in which the writer drafts quickly, without stopping, editing, or self-correcting, to discover what he or she knows, thinks, or feels.

Graphic Organizer

A visual representation of knowledge, concepts, and ideas and their relationships within an organized frame (e.g., concept maps, word webs, story boards).

I-Search Paper

Student poses a question to guide his or her personally motivated inquiry, develops a search plan that identifies how information will be gathered, and follows a search plan and gathers information (often through interviews). He/she then drafts, revises, edits, and publishes report. The ISearch report includes: My Search Questions, My Search Process, What I Learned, What This Means To Me, and References.


Figurative language used to produce mental pictures and appeal to the senses.

Informational Or Expository Writing

Writing that has as its primary purpose explanation or the communication of details, facts, and information.

Learning Log

A journal or notebook in which a student records questions, problems, and thoughts about a particular subject, idea, or concept as it is studied or learned.

Listening Trio

Group of three students, one of whom reads his or her paper while the other two offer feedback during peer revision.

Literary Devices

Techniques used to convey or enhance an author's message or voice (e.g., idiom, figurative language, exaggeration, dialogue, and imagery).

Literary Writing

Creating original writing rather than analyzing or synthesizing the writing of others (e.g., poetry, short stories, novels, plays, scripts).

Mentor Text

Text models that exemplify elements of the writer's craft that students can explore and practice.


A figure of speech indirectly comparing two essentially dissimilar things; used to create new connections for the reader (e.g., The fog creeps in on little cat feet.).


A type of writing determined by the writer's purpose; often used interchangeably with purpose (e.g., If the writer's purpose is to explain, then the mode is expository.).


Emotional atmosphere (e.g., suspenseful, peaceful, mysterious, terrifying) created by the writers purposeful choice of vocabulary, pacing, and details.


Presentation of a series of events in a purposeful sequence to tell a story, either fictional or factual.

On-Demand Writing

Timed writing, often a first draft with minor revisions that demonstrates student's ability to apply writing strategies and skills independently on a single task in a limited time. Often the purpose, audience, topic, and form are specified in a common prompt.


Words that imitate the sounds of movement, animals, or objects (e.g., buzz, hiss, clicketyclack) where the word's pronunciation suggests its meaning.

Onset And Rime

Onset is the part of a word that precedes the vowel; rime is the part of the word after the initial consonants. It includes the vowels and final consonants (e.g., bat, cat, fat).


A unit of meaning signaled by indenting the first word or by inserting a line space between sections of writing.

Parallel Structure

The repetition of phrases and sentences that are syntactically similar (e.g., phrases all starting with verbs in the same tense).


Restating the meaning in own words, retaining all of the ideas without making an interpretation or evaluation.

Patterned Poetry

Poetry based on a prescribed syllable count, parts of speech, or shape (e.g., diamond or diamante poem).

Patterned Sentences

A construction used as a base to create new sentences or when young writers substitute a word while keeping the rest of the sentence the same (I like pizza. I like snowflakes. I like whales.).


Point of view; the perspective from which the author writes (e.g., first person, third person).


Writing that convinces the designated audience to support a point of view, make a decision, or take an action.

Persuasive Devices

Logical and/or emotional appeals in order to move an audience to action (e.g., imagery, rhetorical questions, parallelism, emotive language).


The smallest unit of sound in a spoken word that makes a difference in the word's meaning.

Phonetic Spelling

Spelling according to the sequence of sounds instead of according to spelling rules (e.g., fon instead of phone).

Point-By-Point Comparison

A structure that discusses two subjects together, within the same paragraph, around one criterion of comparison.


A purposeful collection of student work that exhibits to the student (and/or others) the student's efforts, progress, or achievement.


The thinking and planning the writer does before drafting, including considering the topic, audience, and purpose; gathering information; choosing a form; determining the role of the writer; and making a plan.


A final draft shared (written or orally) with an audience, large or small; displayed publicly; sent to a newspaper, contest, or magazine; or posted on a wall or website.


A poem or stanza within a poem that consists of four lines, often with alternating lines rhyming (abab).

Read-Around Group

During peer revision, a small group of students take turns reading their pieces and receiving feedback from the rest of the group.

Reading Response Journals

Booklets where students keep personal reflections about their reading. Response journals can include lists of words to learn, goals for reading (e.g., number of books or pages read), things they do well as readers, predictions made prior to and during reading, thoughts, pictures, feelings, questions, or connections to other texts. Responses can be made before, during, and after reading.


Writing does not follow a linear process. The act of composing involves prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. Writers often perform these acts many times in a different order as a piece is completed. As authors write, they think a little, write a little, and go back and cross out something already written or add something. They also may reread and think some more. In this recursive process, writers do NOT have to start at the beginning -- they can start with the easiest or most difficult part.

Research Report

An expository account of an event or findings about a topic that a student has researched.


The ending of a story where the conflicts are resolved and loose ends are tied together.


The process of reworking or reseeing writing, which includes considering changes in audience, purpose, focus, organization, and style. It includes elaborating, emphasizing, clarifying, or simplifying text (adding, deleting, reordering, or substituting).

Rhetorical Question

A question where an answer is not expected; often used in persuasive writing to involve the audience and create interest.


Criteria for evaluation and descriptions of evidence for meeting that criteria. A rubric allows for standardized evaluation according to specified criteria.

Run-Together Sentence

A sentence in which two independent clauses are written together without any punctuation to separate them, as if they were a single sentence.

Shared Writing

Teacher leads class or group in composing a text, with teacher scribing for the students so they can focus on composing the text. The teacher may lead the class to explore various text types, construct more complex sentences, edit, and proofread. The class is encouraged to contribute to the construction of the text.


A figure of speech directly comparing two essentially dissimilar things; the comparison is signaled with like or as; used to make writing more vivid, fresh, or interesting (e.g., "like ancient trees, we die from the top").

Sound Devices

Use of assonance, consonance, alliteration, rhyme, and rhythm to produce the musical cadence in poetry.

Spatial Organization

Pattern for ordering descriptive writing where items are arranged according to their physical positions or relationships (e.g., front to back, left to right).

Story Frame

Graphic organizer used to plan the development of a story or visual/multimedia presentation.


Determine what is important in the text, condense this information, and put it into one's own words.


The way words, phrases, and clauses are combined to form sentence order (e.g., In English, subject-verb-object is a common pattern.).


Pulling together ideas or information to create a new idea or to develop a common framework for understanding.


A graphic organizer composed of two columns with a heading for each column across the top and a dividing line between the columns.


Content or vocabulary directly related to specific knowledge or information in a career or interest area.

Technical Writing

Type of expository writing most often used to convey information and give directions for technical or business purposes.

Tertiary Sources

Third-level sources (e.g., research summaries).


Words, phrases, or full sentences that establish logical connections between sentences, paragraphs, and sections of a piece of writing; often used to signal relationships between ideas.

Two-Syllable Rhyme

(Also called double or feminine rhyme): Rhyme that happens in two syllables of a word rather than in one (e.g., yellow, fellow).


Language of a particular dialect or region.


The sense of the person behind the writing (e.g., serious, honest, compassionate, or angry); writing that captures the correct level of distance, formality, or personality for the purpose of the writing and the audience.

Word Bank

Storage place for learners to keep written words that they have learned. Students can refer to the word bank as they are writing or editing to find out how to spell a word.

Word Wall

A systematically organized collection of words (usually alphabetically and sometimes by topic) displayed in large letters on a wall or other large display place in the classroom. It is a tool to use, not just a display. Word walls are designed to promote group learning and be shared by a group of students.

Writing Continuum

An articulation of developmental stages of written language growth as well as a source of information about the competencies that students are expected to learn. The descriptors list specific behaviors that are typical of development at particular ages or grades.

Writing Guide

Expectations and guidelines for writing in general or for writing particular types of papers or assignments.