Category Archives: Research, Resources, Helpful Websites

The Voice Project Videos/Articles

Here are a few videos/articles you can examine to help guide your research or inspire action.

1. (Don’t let being young stop you!!)
Natalie Warne did not let being too young stop her from running a successful campaign for the Invisible Children project In this talk, she calls on young people everywhere not to let age stop them from changing the world.

2. (Ending hunger now) to 9:20
Josette Sheeran, the head of the UN’s World Food Program, talks about why, in a world with enough food for everyone, people still go hungry, still die of starvation, still use food as a weapon of war. Her vision: “Food is one issue that cannot be solved person by person. We have to stand together.” Our generation is the first in history with enough resources to eradicate hunger worldwide. Josette Sheeran, the former head of the UN World Food Programme, shares a plan.

3. (Birke Baehr: What’s wrong with our food system)
11-year-old Birke Baehr presents his take on a major source of our food — far-away and less-than-picturesque industrial farms. Keeping farms out of sight promotes a rosy, unreal picture of big-box agriculture, he argues, as he outlines the case to green and localize food production.

4. Hyeonseo Lee: My escape from North Korea (recent topic, about international community, kindness of strangers)
As a child growing up in North Korea, Hyeonseo Lee thought her country was “the best on the planet.” It wasn’t until the famine of the 90s that she began to wonder. She escaped the country at 14, to begin a life in hiding, as a refugee in China. Hers is a harrowing, personal tale of survival and hope — and a powerful reminder of those who face constant danger, even when the border is far behind. Born in North Korea, Hyeonseo Lee left for China in 1997. Now living in South Korea, she has become an activist for fellow refugees

5. Dave Meslin: The antidote to apathy
Local politics — schools, zoning, council elections — hit us where we live. So why don’t more of us actually get involved? Is it apathy? Dave Meslin says no. He identifies 7 barriers that keep us from taking part in our communities, even when we truly care.

6. Mitchell Besser – Helping mothers fight HIV –
In sub-Saharan Africa, HIV infections are more prevalent and doctors scarcer than anywhere else in the world. With a lack of medical professionals, Mitchell Besser enlisted the help of his patients to create mothers2mothers — an extraordinary network of HIV-positive women whose support for each other is changing and saving lives. How can mothers with HIV avoid passing it to their kids? In South Africa, Mitchell Besser tapped a new resource for healthcare: moms themselves. The program he started, mothers2mothers, trains new mothers to educate and support other moms.

Give freedom to people in North Korea but not its regime

World and Local Issues

Here is a small list of different issues happening in the world.  There are also links to organizations (Locally and Globally) that are making an effort to help support those that are less fortunate. As your research the issues, answer the following questions:

What strikes you?

Were there any statistics that stood out to you?

What questions do you have about the issue?

How does this apply to your community?

After you read about the issues globally, go to KPBS and search about the topic locally

Find an organization in San Diego that helps with the issue that you would be interested in working with?

    What is the name of the organization?

    What issue are they helping with?

    What is their mission statement?

    How can you get involved?

Local Resources
Search KPBS for local news and issues in the San Diego community. Look under the “news” heading to find different news sections.

San Diego LGBT Community Center?
The San Diego Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center, Inc., (d.b.a., The Center) is the nation’s second oldest and third largest LGBT community center. The Center provides direct program services to the many different facets of the LGBT community, including men, women, youth, seniors, families, LGBT Latino community members and their families, and those struggling with HIV. Last year The Center provided more than 50,000 direct service visits to San Diego community members, and through its events, activities and advocacy, touched the lives of thousands more

A few Global Issues:
Using the links: Please remember to be resourceful! You may come across information that you do not understand, but try your best to figure it out before you seek help.  On most of the pages, there are links to videos and supplemental information.

Poverty and Hunger
Scroll down to find “Health Poverty and Inequality”


Human Rights
Womens’ Rights


2. Children’s Rights

Links to different issues regarding Human Rights.

      1.  Scroll through the page to find links to different environmental issues


Search Results for issues regarding education

Stand Downs

United Nations
United Nations Humanitarian Affairs –
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948, was the result of the experience of the Second World War. With the end of that war, and the creation of the United Nations, the international community vowed never again to allow atrocities like those of that conflict happen again.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) – works in 190 countries and territories to save and improve children’s lives by providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more.

Environmental Protection Agency
The EPA mission is to protect human health and the environment.

Voice Project Resources

Click here to get a list of different world issues.

Word Brainstorming

Word Brainstorming is a cool activity to perform with a class, individually or in a small group.  This year, “Word Brainstorming” has helped students find creative ways to spice up their figurative language.  Here is a brief snapshot of the process:

1. Take a sentence or phrase you need to “spice up” in this example we will look at the sentence “I am like the sun”

2. Write the word “sun” in a circle and write all of the words that you associate with “sun” The key is to write down as many words as you can.  If you are having trouble coming up with multiple words, branch off from the words that you associated with “sun.” Next, read the words that are branched off of sun until you can come up with a sentence like: “I am a luminous star” or “I am a warm blinding florescent shining light”

It even works with the Hunger Games: This student was thinking of writing “I am the Hunger Games” After word brainstorming she turned her sentence into “I am a jarring epic”


Here are some examples below:

Guns, Germs and Steel final paper

    Guns, Germs and Steel final paper
To end our study of guns, germs and steel you will combine everything we have been working on into one final paper.  Answer the questions using complete sentences and try your best to make sure there is a nice flow between sentences and paragraphs.   You may use the following websites as a guide. You can use all of the notes from the previous research you have completed (Notes from movies, previous research questions) information on crops: to the right sidebar for information on other crops)For information on Cattle: to the right sidebar for information on different types of animals)For information on Germs: information on Steel and Writing: information on geography:
  1. Paragraph 1
    1. What is Jared Diamond’s theory behind geography, guns, germs and steel? (You should be able to write 4 sentences – One sentence for each topic) Talk about what he believes about geography, guns, germs and steel and how they determine whether or not a civilization has a lot of “cargo”
  2. Paragraph 2 (Geography)
    1. Define geographic luck
    2. Compare the geography of the fertile crescent to the geography of the people of Papua New Guinea.
      1. How did the geographic luck of civilizations in the fertile crescent differ from the geographic unluck of the civilization from Papua New Guinea?
      2. How did geography influence the way the people of Papua New Guinea grew their crops?
        1. Talk about the difference in crops between the two civilizations.  It will be helpful to mention how difficult it was for the Papua New Guineans to plant their crops and compare it to planting wheat.
  3. Paragraph 3 (Steel) Conquistadors vs. Incas
    1. How did geographic luck influence the development of steel?
      1. Why were the people from Papua New Guinea slow to develop steel?
    2. What advantages did the conquistadors have over the Incas? and what lead to these advantages?
      1. Writing
        1. How did writing play a pivotal role in the conquistadors conquest of the Inca?
      2. Steel
        1. What steel weapons and technology did the conquistadors poses and how were they an advantage over the Inca?
      3. Horses
        1. How did horses give the conquistadors an advantage over the Incas in battle and in “image”
  4. Paragraph 4 (Germs) Africans vs. Europeans
    1. Why did the Europeans have a hard time colonizing Africa as they moved from southern Africa to the interior?
      1. Talk about farming and Animal life
    2. Why did the Europeans have immunity to the diseases they passed to the Africans?
      1. Talk about where the diseases came from and how geography played a role in the spread of diseases.
    3. How did germs play a role in the European colonization of Africa
      1. Describe some of the long lasting effects of germs in Africa
  5. Conclusion
    1. How has Guns, Germs and Steel changed your view on history? If it has not changed the way you think of history, please explain why.

The Nile River Valley Notes

Today students researched and read about the Nile River Valley.  Here are notes that students came up with in class.  The names of the students that contributed in class can be found next to the comments they made.

Notes from the Puma Peeps:

The Nile River is located in central Africa – Nancy

The great Nile River has two main sources – The White Nile and the Blue Nile. –  Garrett

The WHite Nile is the main stream, It flows from lake Victoria in East Africa.  It flows 3,500 north.

The Nile flows through six cataracts. They are rocky rapids. The cataracts made it harder to sail through the Nile River. – Garrett

The Nile travels through the land known as Egypt – jerry

Unlike the Black Land the red Land was a deadly place of hot burning sand. – Lydia

The land above the first cataract is called upper Egypt – Joseph

The land has a lot of jagged cliffs. -Anne

Over thousands of years the silt has built up to form a large river Delta

As the River slows down it drops silt or soil.  – Chandler

The yearly flooding of the NIle created the Black Lands. – Lydia

Near the end of the NIles journey it fans out into many streams and marshy areas.

About 3,000 years ago Egyptians wrote hynms to the Nile for bringing them life – Tristan

The Nile begins in Central Africa – Easton

It flows North to the Mediterranean Sea – Darryl

The river goes through 6 sets of rocky rapids called Cataracts – Natalia

The Nile has two main srouces the White Nile and the Blue Nile – Lily

The White Nile is the main stream. It flows out of Lake Victoria – Kevin

The blue Nile rushes down from the highlands of present-day Ethiopia – Genevie

The 2 rivers meet hartoum, in the country is now Sudan. – Brian

Sudean used to be called Kush or Nubia. – Easton

The cataracts made it impossible ti travel by sea. Brian

The Nile winds through the Sahara, a vast desert that covers much of North Africa – Savannah

Since the people of ancient Egypt couldn’t travel through the cataracts the never knew the source of the nile – Natalia

Beyond the cataracts the nile travels 700 miles through Egypt – Lily

Near the end of the journey the Nile spreads the Nile slows downs and fans out into many streams and marshy areas. – Tristan

This region is known as Upper Egyot becasue it is upsteam from the Mediterranean sea – Kevin

As the river slows it carries silt or soil that it has carried north from the Africn Highlands

Over thousands of years the silt has built up to form a large river delta. The nile delta forms the region known as lower egypt – easton

A delta is an area of soil depostied at the mouth of a river. Brian

A lot of the way the river flows through a narrow valley aligned with cliffs – Lily

A strip of fertile soil lines both sides of the Nile. The egyptians nmes their country Kemet, which means black lands – Renee

The red land was a place of Hot burning sand – Jasmyn

The yearly flooding of the NIle created the black land. – Natlia

The heavy rain fall contributed to most of the flooding – Darryl

The Egyptians could Double Crop, which is planting two crops on the same land twice. – Easton

The Nile was useful for fish and plants. – Natalia

Menes united the two kingdoms and wore a double crown of red and white. – Jasmyn

The Kings of the upper Egypt wore white and controllled the Nile River Valley and the Kings of lower Egypt wore red crowns and ruled the delta – Lily.

Notes from the Super sparkle ninja turtles from outer space:

The Nile has two sources the White Nile and the Blue Nile. – Luke

The Nile begins in Central Africa and ends in the mediterranian sea – Sierra

The Nile is 3,500 miles – Angel Z

The NIle travels 700 miles through the upper land of egypt – Leah

Egypt is the gift of the Nile. Caleb

Egypt could not have survived without the Nile – Leah

The Blue Nile and the White Nile meet in Sudan – Benny

There are 6 cataracts along the Nile they made it virtually impossible to travel the Nile – Angel

The interior of the continent is the area away from the sea/ coast – Diego

THe people of Ancient Egpyt never knew the source of the Nile.  – Luke

The Cataracts made it difficult to find the source of the Nile – Sarah

The Nile delta forms the region known as Lower Egypt. – Caleb

What is a Delta? – At the end of the river it gets mushy and turns into soil and plant crops.  – Leah

The Black Land is the rich, dark soil. – Sarah

The annual or yearly flooding of the Nile created the Black Land – Dominica

Without the Nile the Egyptians knew their world would be nothing but a sunbakd desert land of bring blue skies and dry sand – Rachel

The two main sources of the Nile are the WHite Nile and the BLue Nile – Deanna

The cataracts made it impossible for people to travel by sea to the interior of the content. – Gabriel

It’s the world’s longest river 3,500 miles North – Skylar

Ancient Egyptians never knew the rouce of the NIle – Noah

THe White Nile and the Blue Nile meet in present day Sudan – Malik

THe Blue nile rushes downs from the highlands of present day Ethiopia – Julian

THe WHite Nile is the main stream – Skylar

The White Nile flows from lake victoria in the East AFrica – Deanna

The Nile begins in Central Africa and flows about3,500 miles north into the meditarranean sea – Chris

Each spring heavy rainfall and melting snow pours into the river. – Steven

THe River was s ource of fish and useful plains – AZ

WHen the flood waters drained away, they left behind a layer of fresh soil that was ready to plan. – Benny

The Egyptians could Double Crop the rich soil – Caleb

Double Cropping is when they could raise two crops on the same land within a year – Shelby

Unlike the Black Land, the Red Land was a deadly place of hot burning sands – Sarah

The Kings of Lower Egypt wore red crowns and ruled the Delta – Steven

The King called Mens united the two kingdoms in about 3000 B.C – Jackie

THe Kings of Upper Egypt wore white crowns controlled the Nile River Valley – Angel

Egypt was united under one ruler who wore a double crown of red and white and was known as the Lord of Two Lands. – Benny

About 5,00 years ago Egypt was united under one ruler.


In ancient times this land was known as Kush or Nubia

THere are 6 cataracts. – Skylar

Near the end of its journey, the Nile slows down and fans out into many streams and marshy areas – Julian

Beyond the catract the nile travels 700miles through egpyt – gabriel

The Nile travels 700 miles beyond the catracts to the land that is now egypt.

As it slows, the river drops the silt, or soil, that is has carried north from the African highlands. – Noah

The Nile Delta forms the region known as Lower Egypt – Isaac.

Yearly flooding created the black lands – Lauren (summer, flood waters reached egypt.

The risch, dark soild was so important to the Egyptians that they names their country Kemet, which means “The Black Land”

Egyptians could couble crop the rich soil.  They could raise two crops on the same land within a year.

The redland was a deadly place of hot burning sand – Skylar

The Sahara was the redland. -Deanna

As settlements in the Nile grew two kingdoms developed – Chris

The kings of upper egypt wore white crowns THe Nile River Valley – Julian

THe king of lower Egypt wore red crowns and ruled the Delta – Gabe

Egypt was united under one ruler who wore double cfowns red and white and was known as lord of the two lands – Taniya

A king called Menes united the two kingdoms in about 3000 B.C

Show not tell: What the heck is that anyway?

                                                                                Show Not Tell:
What the Heck is That Anyway?

                                                                                                       by Shirley Jump

   “Don’t tell us that the old lady screamed.
Bring her on and let her scream.” — Samuel Clemens

We’ve all heard the phrase “Show, don’t tell” but may not know what it means or how to do it. It’s one of those elusive things that seem impossible to capture, even harder to get down on paper. However, there are a few tricks of the trade that can help.

First, you need to know the difference between TELLING and SHOWING. Telling is abstract, passive and less involving of the reader. It slows down your pacing, takes away your action and pulls your reader out of your story.

Showing, however, is active and concrete; creating mental images that brings your story — and your characters — to life. When you hear about writing that is vivid, evocative and strong, chances are there’s plenty of showing in it. Showing is interactive and encourages the reader to participate in the reading experience by drawing her own conclusions.

There are several signs to look for that will tell you that you are TELLING:

1. Those nasty adverbs: Basically, anything ending in -ly is an adverb. For example:

BEFORE: “You are such a jerk,” he said angrily.

First off, you should never modify “said” with an adverb. Second, keep adverb use to a minimum. They’re not evil little words that have to be avoided at all costs, but they should be kept to a minimum. It’s far better to SHOW he was angry:

AFTER: “You are such a jerk.” Dan slammed the phone book shut and threw it at the couch. The pages ruffled open, the names inside seeming exposed and vulnerable against the stark black leather. Dan got to his feet, moving so fast his chair skidded against the floor and dented the new drywall.

Do you see the details in the second example? Nowhere did I use the word “angrily” or even “angry.” I didn’t have to say he was mad. It’s pretty clear. In fact, I didn’t even have to say he said the words. By showing with his actions right after his dialogue, you know it’s him talking.

2. Not “To Be”: Avoid the forms of this verb — am, is, are, was, was being, will have been, could have been, et al. These not only put you in the passive tense much of the time, but they also tend to remove your reader from the action. Again, they aren’t evil words to be avoided at all costs (see I just used the verb myself) but if you can work your writing to make it stronger without the word “was” or any form of it, you’ll show more than you told.

BEFORE: The room was perfect. She saw it and was immediately transported back to her childhood because it had all the elements she remembered.

AFTER: She threw open the wide oak door and stepped into a past from twenty years ago. The bedroom she remembered, down to the last detail. Pink candy-striped walls with white trim. A thick white shag carpet, two plush maroon velvet chairs flanking a silent fireplace. An enormous canopy bed, draped with a sheer white veil. Linda pressed a hand to her mouth. What were the chances? Another room, just like the one she’d had, years ago, before she’d grown up and grown out of the one space that had brought her happiness.

I don’t have the word “was” in there at all. Granted, I took a little poetic license with the rules of grammar, but you can do that. You’re the writer. You can “see” the room now, though. You can feel it, too, I hope. You can see the details that bring her back to the past, rather than just being told that it does. This gives the reader something concrete to visualize and connect with.

Writing Exercise: Take this phrase: “It was hot.” Rewrite it without the word was. Better yet, don’t even use the word hot. Think of all the things you can use to describe heat. Make a list, if you want. Write a few sentences that SHOW the weather is hot.

3. Starting with As or -Ing: Again, as with all of the other examples, this is not a do or die rule either. However, in general, you should avoid starting a sentence with an “As” or “-ing” construction. “As she walked” or “Rapping at the door” are okay beginnings, but just okay. They’re again, telling, not showing.

BEFORE: Rapping at the door, Elaine made her presence known to the people inside the house.

AFTER: Elaine formed a tight fist with her right hand and pounded on the unforgiving oak. They’d hear her, or she’d break her hand letting them know she’d come to call.

Do you see the tighter imagery in the second example? The stronger beginning? Removing that -ing construction really helps. The same principle applies with “As” constructions.

4. Don’t just Look and Feel: Looked and felt are great words, but they certainly aren’t powerful and they certainly don’t show much. Go back to example 1. You could interchange “he looked angry” or “he felt angry” in the “he said angrily” part. Rewriting it without those words is much stronger. Telling the reader someone looks a certain way or feels a certain way is cheating the reader out of drawing her own conclusions. SHOW the reader and let her interpret.

Helpful Hint: Study movies. In movies, they can’t TELL you anything. Everything is visual, thus, shown. How do you know someone is upset, angry, happy, sad, frustrated, etc.? Watch movies and write down facial expressions, movements, actions, gestures, etc. Use these to describe your own characters when you’re writing. This is the best way to learn how to SHOW emotion instead of telling it.

Writing Exercise: Here’s an exercise for you to do with that — take a word: scary, weird, ugly, etc. And then tell what it looks like. What does scary look like? Weird? Ugly? Don’t say the baby was ugly (and you know, we’ve all seen one ugly baby in our lifetimes), describe it. Don’t say the man acted weird — tell us how he acted. SHOW us him in action.


Here’s a list of quick tips to keep in mind that should help you show, not tell:

1. Use specific details. The best are ones that are really specific. Is the car a Toyota or a Volkswagen? Is it cherry-red or apple-red? Does the man sit in a La-Z-Boy or a Barcalounger? Brand names help the reader identify with things better, too. Also, the more concrete your details are, the more your reader can get a visual picture. One way to do this is to take a simple sentence and increase it with details by adding to it (example from

  • My lawn was covered with leaves.
  • Leaves blew through my yard and piled up against the shrubs and fence.
  • A cold autumn breeze blew leaves through my yard. I stared out the window and watched them pile up against the sparse shrubs and worn out fence.
  • A cold autumn breeze blew leaves through my yard. Summer had ended and I would be the last one to leave the cabin. I sat alone, holding a mug of hot chocolate without drinking, and stared out the back window, watching the red, gold, and brown leaves pile up violently against the sparse shrubs and worn out fence. I had long since given up caring about anything.

2. Use sensory images: Add in all five senses. If you’re describing a beach, don’t just talk about the heat or the color of the sand; add in the smell of Coppertone, the feel of the sand beneath your toes, the sound of the seagulls, etc. The more you can create a world for your reader by adding sensory details, the more she’ll be drawn into your writing.

3. Use good comparisons for your metaphors – not clichés. Metaphors can be a great way to show (Ex: No wonder the dog barked all the time. She had all the courage of a ninety-pound knight about to undertake his first jousting match. From The Lady Had Nine Lives by Shirley Jump, TBA 2004). But you want to be unique. You don’t want to compare your things to the same tired old things that everyone else has used. When in doubt, use Shirley’s Rule of Six.

4. Vary Your Sentence Structure. Go back to the example with the bedroom and see how a varied sentence structure can keep the reader on her toes, paying attention to the writing. It’s also a great tool to use when you want to show suspense or fear (use shorter sentences) or draw out suspense (use longer sentences). Or emphasize a point with a sentence set out by itself.

Example: Her face was still soft, tinged with sadness, her gaze on some faraway spot. He wondered where her thoughts had gone and what could possibly be so bad in Claire’s life that she’d stand in the shower of a motor home and cry. The Claire he knew was stoic, optimistic. Never had he seen her upset or hurt, even when she’d fallen from the top of the monkey bars in third grade and skinned up her knees.

As a child, she’d been the Margaret to his Dennis. But as adults — The very things that had driven him crazy were beginning to spark his interest. No, not just spark. Inflame.

(Excerpt from The Bachelor’s Dare by Shirley Jump, Silhouette Romance, December 2003)

5. Use specific actions to make your point. Don’t say things like “he had a reputation for driving like a maniac” — show him driving like a maniac. Let us see him doing those things. Or, you can have other characters talk about him, too. Dialogue can be a great showing tool.

6. Use dialogue as a showing tool (duh! You knew that one was coming). Dialogue is wonderful for bringing out information. Don’t do the recap kind of dialogue “oh, don’t you remember, she’s your real mother because your sister had an affair with your father and then we all passed you off like a sibling” kind of thing. That’s information the other character would already know. However, you can do something like:

“I hate Julia.”

“She did the best she could,” Kenny said. “What choice did you expect her to make at fifteen?”

“A different one than pretending I was her sister, for God’s sake. All this time, I’ve grown up thinking I’m somebody else’s daughter.” Anne slammed the refrigerator door shut. Inside, the mayonnaise shuddered against the salad dressing. “If she was old enough to have a kid, she was old enough to admit the truth.”

Kenny shoved his sandwich away, as if the bologna no longer interested him. “This family is really good at secrets. If there was a Guinness record for the most lies ever told, we’d have it.” He sighed, then met her gaze. “Your father really is your father.”

7. Don’t pad it too much. Don’t overwhelm the reader with description either. You’re not writing a travelogue, you’re writing a story. Add enough details to give them a picture, then move on to the meat of your story. If you have several paragraphs in a row of description, chances are you’ve gone overboard. Try to work the description in with the dialogue and action instead so you can maintain your pacing and reader interest.

8. Don’t be afraid of telling sometimes, too. A mix of both showing and telling is a good idea. You don’t have to show every single thing in your book. Sometimes, a quick telling helps get through a slow part or provides a quick recap. The goal is to make the MAJORITY of your writing vivid and strong (i.e., showing) and keep the telling to a minimum.

Copyright by Shirley Jump

Keys for Writers: A Brief Handbook

I will start by saying, “I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!” I recommend buying this book from (You can click on and be directed to the book’s page on  I will use the third version in class.  This version can be purchased used for 1 penny on, I strongly recommend this purchase!) Here are the contents of the book.  We will use this book to help us grow as writers!  The majority of the grammar tips will come straight out of this amazing book!

Parts of Speech

Parts of Speech 

Words are classified into eight categories called parts of speech.  Here are parts of speech as listed in Keys for writers that you should know:

Nouns: Words that name a person, place, thing or concept – teacher, valley, furniture, Hindusim – are called nouns.  When you use a noun, determine the folloing: Is it a proper non, requiring a capital letter? Does it have a plural form? If so are you using the singular or plural form?

Pronouns: Words that are substitutes for a noun, a noun phrase, or another pronoun – She, his, those, themselves, whom, whoever, anyone – are called pronouns.  WHen you use a pronoun, determine the following: What word or words in the sentence does the pronoun refer to? Does the pronoun refer to a noun or pronoun that is singular or plural?

Verbs: Words that tell what a person, place, thing, or concept does or is – smile, throw, think, seem, become, be –  are called verbs, Verbs change form to refer to present or past time. Every clause needs a verb.  When you use a verb, determine the following; What time does the verb refer to? Is the subject of the verb singular or plural? Is the verb in the active voice or passive voice? What are the five forms of the the verb (sing, sings, singing sang, sung), and are you using the correct form?

Adjectives: Word that describe nouns – purple, beautiful, big – Are called adjectives.  An adjective can precede a noun (purple boots) or following a linking verb: Her boots are purple.  

Adverbs: Words that provide information about verbs, adjectives, adverbs, or clauses are called adverbs.  Many but not all adverbs end in – ly, efficiently, undoubtedly.  Adverbs provide information about “how” or “when”: very, well, sometimes, often, soon. Conjunctive adverbs – however, therefore, furthermore – make connections between independent clauses.

Conjunctions: Words that connect single words, phrases, and clauses are called conjunctions. Coordinating conjunctions –and, but, or, nor, so, for, yet– connect ideas of equal importance. Subordinating conjunctions – because, if, when, although, for instance – make one clause dependent on another.


Grammar PDF.  Please click here for a PDF that has Grammar Rules.  Please note that every other page is blank. Please note that the PDF comes from Keys For Writers.

Apostrophe rules are on page 35

There, They’re, Their

Its and It’s

1.  Sentences, Questions, Commands, and Exclamations: 

Declarative Sentences – Declarative Sentence make statements

Interrogative Sentences – Interrogative sentences Ask Questions

Imperative Sentences – Imperative Sentences give commands

Exclamatory Sentences – Exclamatory Sentences express surprise or some other strong emotion

2.  Types of Sentences:

Writers should add a variety of sentence structures to his/her writing.  A good way to do this is to mix simple, complex, compound and compound complex sentences.

A Simple Sentence contains one Independent clause (An Independent Clause = A subject, a Verb and it makes sense on it’s own)

Example: Kara raised her hand.

A Compound Sentence contains two ore more independent clauses connected with one or more Coordinating Conjunctions (Coordinating Conjunctions include: and, but, or, nor, so, for, yet), or with a semicolon alone, or with a semicolon transitional expression.

Example:  She raised her hand, and the whole class was surprised.

Example: She raised her hand, but nobody else responded.

Example:  She raised her hand; the whole class was surprised

A Complex Sentence contains an Independent Clause and one or more Dependent Clause ( A dependent Clause must always be connected to an independent clause.  If you begin a sentence with when, because, although, or some other subordinating conjunction, connect that clause to an independent clause. )

Example: (Dependent Clause) When she raised her hand, the whole class was surprised (Independent Clause)

Example: (Independent Clause) The whole class was surprised when she raised her hand (Dependent Clause)

A Compound-Complex Sentence contains at least two Independent Clauses and at least one Dependent Clause

Example:: (Dependent Clause) When she raised her hand, the whole class was surprised, and

(Independent Clause) the professor waited eagerly, as she began to speak (Dependent Clause)

3.  Sentence Beginnings:

There are plenty of ways for you to spice up the beginning of your sentences!   Here are a few variations that you can use to begin your sentences.  Try not to repeat a certain beginning to many times because it can become stylistic, which could bore readers.  Here are some examples:

Example 1 – Begin with a Dependent Clause or a Phrase

(Dependent Clause stops at comma) While my friends were waiting for the movie to begin, they ate three tubs of popcorn.

(Phrase ends at comma) While waiting for the movie to begin, my friends ate three tubs of popcorn

Example 2 – Being with an Participle or an adjective.  (A participle is simply a word that has characteristics of a Verb and Adjective) A sentence can begin with a participle or an adjective if the word is in a phrase that refers to the subject of the independent clause.

(Adjective) Aware of the problems, they nevertheless decided to continue.

(Past Participle) Forced to work late, they ordered a pepperoni pizza.