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Arlington Public Schools

Teaching & Learning: Curriculum - English Language Arts Writing


Grades 6-8 Glossary

Glossary - Grades 6-8

Argumentation: A speech or writing intended to convince by establishing truth. Most Argumentation begins with a statement of an idea or opinion, which is then supported with logical evidence. Another technique of argumentation is the anticipation and rebuttal of opposing views.

Character: A person who takes part in the action of a story, novel, or a play. Sometimes characters can be animals or imaginary creatures, such as beings from another planet.

Characterization/Character Development: The method a writer uses to develop characters. There are four basic methods: (a) a writer may describe a character's physical appearance; (b) a character's nature may be revealed through his/her own speech, thoughts, feelings, or actions; (c) the speech, thoughts, feelings, or actions of other characters can be used to develop a character; and (d) the narrator can make direct comments about a character.

Climax: The high point, or turning point, in a story-usually the most intense point near the end of a story.

Conflict: In narration, the struggle between the opposing forces that moves the plot forward. Conflict can be internal, occurring within a character, or external, between characters or between a character and an abstraction such as nature or fate.

Description: The process by which a writer uses words to create a picture of a scene, an event, or a character. A description contains carefully chosen details that appeal to the reader's senses of sight, sound, smell, touch, or taste.

Dialogue: Conversation between two or more people that advance the action, is consistent with the character of the speakers, and serves to give relief from passages essentially descriptive or expository.

Essay: A brief work of nonfiction that offers an opinion on a subject. The purpose of an essay may be to express ideas and feelings, to analyze, to inform, to entertain, or to persuade. An essay can be formal, with thorough, serious, and highly organized content, or informal, with a humorous or personal tone and less rigid structure.

Exposition/Expository Text: Writing that is intended to make clear or to explain something using one or more of the following methods: identification, definition, classification, illustration, comparison, and analysis.

Figurative Language: Language that communicates ideas beyond the ordinary or literal meaning of the words.

Image/Imagery: Words and phrases create vivid sensory experiences for the reader.

Informational/Expository Text: Nonfiction writing in narrative or non-narrative form that is intended to inform.

Irony: The contrast between expectation and reality. This incongruity has the effect of surprising the reader or viewer. Techniques of irony include hyperbole, understatement, and sarcasm.

Main Idea: In informational or expository writing, the most important thought or overall position. The main idea or thesis of a piece, written in sentence form, is supported by details and explanation.

Myth: A traditional story passed down through generations that explains why the world is the way it is. Myths are essentially religious because they present supernatural events and beings and articulate the values and beliefs of a cultural group.

Narration: Writing that relates an event or a series of events; a story. Narration can be imaginary, as in a short story or novel, or factual, as in a newspaper account or a work of history.

Perspective: A position from which something is considered or evaluated; standpoint.

Persuasion/Persuasive Writing: Writing intended to convince the reader that a position is valid or that the reader should take a specific action. Differs from exposition in that it does more than explain; it takes a stand and endeavors to persuade the reader to take the same position.

Plot: The action or sequence of events in a story. Plot is usually a series of related incidents that builds and grows as the story develops. There are five basic elements in a plot line: (a) exposition; (b) rising action; (c) climax; (d) falling action; and (e) resolution or denouement.

Rule of Three: The number three (3) recurs especially in myths, folk literature, and fairy tales. For example three characters, three tasks, repetition of an event three times.

Setting: The time and place of the action in a story, play, or poem.

Short Story: A brief fictional work tat usually contains one major conflict and at least one main character.

Short Story Structure:

  • Exposition
  • Rising Action
  • Climax The high point, or turning point, in a story-usually the most intense point near the end of a story.
  • Falling Action
  • Climax

Symbol: A person, place, or object that represents something beyond itself. Symbols can succinctly communicate complicated, emotionally rich ideas.

Theme: A central idea or abstract concept that is made concrete through representation in person, action, and image. No proper theme is simply a subject or an activity. Like a thesis, theme implies a subject and predicate of some kind-not just vice for instance, but some such proposition as, "Vice seems more interesting than virtue but turns out to be destructive." Sometimes the theme is directly stated in the work, and sometimes it is given indirectly. There may be more than one theme in a given work.

Thesis: An attitude or position taken by a writer or speaker with the purpose of proving or supporting it. Also used for the paper written in support of the thesis.

Transformation: The change in a character in appearance or form by magic. For example Cinderella was transformed by her godmother after midnight.


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