7th/8th Language Arts Important Information

  • Spain Trip 2017

    Posted by Jennifer Valera at 2/1/2016

    Spain 2017

    You are invited on the trip of a lifetime!!! Hurry, there are only a few spots left. Please attend an informational meeting at Aspire in room 204 on Tuesday February 2nd at 6pm.

    If you are unable to attend but would like information about the trip please email Ms. Valera at jvalera@nthurston.k12.wa.us


    Comments (-1)
  • Literary Devices

    Posted by Jennifer Valera at 11/24/2015

    Below is an academic vocabulary list of literary devices that will be discussed and assessed throughout the school year. 


    Literary Devices


    Personification-A type of figurative language in which a nonhuman object or animal is given human characteristics.  “Mushroom are meek, yet slightly sinister creatures.”

    Simile-A figure of speech that makes a direct comparison between two unlike things using like or as.  “Trains pass with windows shining like a smile full of teeth.”

    Metaphor-A figure of speech that makes a direct comparison between two unlike subjects.  “Time is a jet plane.”

    Imagery-Words or phrases that appeal to one or more of the five senses.  Writers use imagery to create a specific effect, to emphasize key words or to imitate sounds.—to show how their subjects look, sound, smell, taste and feel. “The sound begins again: The siren in the night.  The thunder at the door.  The shriek of nerves in pain.  The keen crescendo of faces split by pain.  The wordless, endless wail only the unfree know.”

    Literal Language-Language where words are used strictly as the dictionary intends.

    Figurative Language-Language where words are used to express meaning in fresh, colorful and interesting ways.

    Hyperbole-Exaggeration for effect.  Writers use hyperbole to create humor, to emphasize particular points, and to create dramatic effects.  “His jaw dropped to the floor and his eyes bulged out.”

    Alliteration-The repetition of initial consonant sounds.  It is often used to create a musical or rhythmic effect, to emphasize key words or to imitate sounds.  “Helplessly hoping her harlequin hovers near by, awaiting a word.”

    Onomatopoeia-The formation of words by imitating sounds.  Hiss, crash, buzz, neigh, ring and jingle are examples.

    Idiom-A figurative expression that has a meaning all its own.  Examples:  Go play in the street.  She has a soft heart.  You drive me up the wall.  You’re pulling my leg.  Lend me a hand.

    Allusion-A reference to a person, place, thing, literary work, or work of art which invites comparison to an element in a piece of literature.  Allusions often come from the Bible of Mythology and writers often expect their readers to be familiar with the things to which they refer.

    Symbolism-A symbol is anything that stands for or represents something else.  Symbols are usually concrete object or images that represent abstract ideas.  Doves symbolize peace; a heart symbolizes love; flag symbolizes patriotism; chains symbolize slavery, oppression and eagle symbolizes freedom.

    Allegory-A story, poem or picture that can interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning.  Aesop’s fables are examples of allegories.  Meaning is similar to that of Allusion.

    Flashback-A transition scene that interrupts the chronological sequence of an event of earlier occurrence.  Going back in time to tell a separate event.

    Foreshadowing-In a literary work, the use of clues that suggest events that have yet to occur.

    Point of View-The perspective or vantage point from which a story is told.  The three most common points of view in narrative literature are first person, omniscient third-person and limited third person.  (Narrator is a character and tells the story).

    Irony-Name given to literary techniques that involve surprising, interesting and amusing contradictions.  Verbal irony occurs when words are used to suggest the opposite of their usual meaning.

    Cliffhanger-Plot device in which the end is curiously abrupt so the main characters are left in a difficult situation without offering any resolution of conflicts.  Suspense is created so that readers are left to ask, “What will happen next?”’

    Comments (-1)
  • Second Quarter

    Posted by Jennifer Valera at 11/20/2015

    Second quarter is off to a wonderful start. Students are reading the novel Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes. While students read, they are keeping a novel study guide in their composition books. Students are also keeping a list of figurative words and phrases. Every Monday is novel guide check off day, so students will have a grade for keeping their novel guides up to date.  


    Below is a copy of the study guide.  To see which sections are covered each week, check Class Assignments and Handouts.




    In your composition book keep a list of figurative words and phrases--those not meant to be taken literally. Figurative language uses words in fresh, new ways to appeal to the imagination. Figurative language includes similes, metaphors, extended metaphors, hyperbole, symbolism, alliteration, and personification. What is impossible or difficult to convey to a reader through the literal use of language may be highly possible through the use of figurative language.

    As we read, answer the following questions in a thoughtful, complete manner using Q&A. Use text based details when possible. Keep these answers in your composition book along with your figurative examples. Use names and headings to help organize your work in a meaningful way.

    Wes p. 3

    1. Write a character description of Wesley “Bad Boy” Boone.
    2. Why did Bad Boy choose to write a poem instead of the essay the teacher assigned?
    3. What was the teacher’s reaction to “Bad Boy’s” poem?
    4. Who inspired Bad Boy to write this poem? Why was he inspired by this man?
    5. Find a poem by Langston Hughes to share with the class.
    6. What piece of irony gives voice to Wesley’s words?

    Tyrone p. 7

    1. Write a character sketch of Tyrone Bittings. Why is he so angry?
    2. “White folk! Who they kidding? They might as well go blow smoke up somebody else’s you-know-what ‘cause a Black man’s got no chance in this country”. Explain how Tyrone feels.
    3. What is Tyrone’s advice for finding happiness in today’s world?
    4. Tyrone is pretty down about everyone and everything until something happens that changes his outlook. What is it?

    Continue to list figurative words and phrases in your composition books

    Chankara p. 12

    1. What is Chankara Troupe’s reaction to Tyrone’s rap?
    2. Why in particular is she upset?
    3. Write a character sketch of Chankara.
    4. What is the truth Chankara talks about in her poem?
    5. “Today I’d tell him a woman ain’t no punching bag.” What is Chankara talking about? Do you think this is a universal problem?


    1. Why does Tyrone say Chankara’s poem made no one want to follow her?
    2. What does Chankara’s poem inspire Tyrone to do?
    3. What can you infer about his view on this issue?
    4. Has his life ever been touched by this issue? Explain.

    Raul p. 18

    • Raul says, “People just don’t get it. Even if I never make a dime—which, by the way, ani’t gonna happen—I’d still have to paint.” Explain.


    1. What is Raul fighting against?
    2. What touch of humor does he add at the end of the story?
    3. Write a character sketch of Raul.
    4. Name the type of poem Raul created.
    5. What was the main idea of Raul’s poem?


    • How did Tyrone unconsciously stereotype Raul?


    1. Did Tyrone understand what Raul was saying? Give evidence.

    Diondra p.24

    1. What do Diondra and Raul have in common?
    2. How are they different?
    3. What new information about Raul do you find out in Diondra’s entry?
    4. In what way is she being stereotyped?
    5. What is the significance of the basketball jersey hanging out of the garbage can?
    6. Write a character sketch of Diondra.


    1. What can you infer from Tyrone’s entry?

    Devon p.29

    1. What is Devon’s problem here?
    2. Do you think it’s a “code” people at Aspire abide by?
    3. In what way is Devon insightful?
    4. What is his realization at the end of his entry?
    5. What causes him to come to this conclusion?
    6. What does he do about it? Why does he choose this method?


    1. What does Tyrone acknowledge in his entry?

    Lupe p.34

    1. What is happening with “Open Mike Fridays”?
    2. What do we find out about Devon in Lupe’s entry? Do you think he is aware of this?
    3. What does Lupe think might be a solution for her loneliness? Do you think other girls may think this way? What is your opinion of this idea?
    4. Who do you think Lupe is referring to in her poem?

    Gloria p.40

    • Why and how has Gloria’s life changed?


    1. How do you think knowing about this might change some ideas Lupe has?
    2. What is ironic about the last two lines?
    3. What appears to be a common theme in the lives of these teenagers? (More than one is possible).
    4. In her poem what does Gloria mean when she says,” …when gravity kicked in.”
    5. Do you think Gloria would like to change her life? Support your answer. How do you think you would handle a similar situation?


    1. Does Tyrone see Gloria’s situation realistically? Explain.

    Janelle p.46

    1. Do you believe Janelle’s perception of herself is accurate?
    2. Why does Janelle find it easier to talk about personal issues at Open Mike Fridays?
    3. Explain the title of Janelle’s poem.

    Leslie p. 51

    1. What is Leslie’s story?
    2. What is she talking about in her poem?


    • Why did Tyrone assume Leslie’s poem would be lame?


    1. What mistake was he about to make?

    Judianne p.58

    1. What is her opinion of herself?
    2. What does she have going for her?
    3. What’s her situation at home?
    4. What is cocoon a metaphor for?


    1. .What is Tyrone confused about?

    Lupe p. 65

    1. What message has Gloria sent to Lupe since the last time we heard from her?
    2. What insight did Leslie share with Lupe about Lupe’s situation?
    3. At the end of the entry, what idea of Leslie’s has taken hold?

    Tyrone p. 69

    1. Why do you think Open Mike Friday is getting so popular?

         Janelle p. 70

    1. What makes Judianne change her attitude when she’s talking with Janelle?
    2. What “truth” does Janelle know?


               Tanisha p.74

    1. What does Tanisha have that other girls are envious of?
    2. Does it make her life easier like the other girls think?
    3. What is she trying to say in her poem?


    1. What insight does Tyrone have about Tanisha?

    Devon p. 82

    1. What is Devon’s definition of stereotyping?
    2. How is Devon going to start putting into practice what he talked about on p.31?
    3. What is Devon’s message in his poem?


    1. What is Tyrone’s opinion of Devon’s poem?

    Sterling S. Hughes p.87

    • Can you figure out what a fret is without using a dictionary?


    1. What allusion does Sterling refer to in his entry?
    2. What is his nickname and why did he get it?
    3. How does he deal with the kids who “bug” him?
    4. What does Sterling mean when he talks about “putting God and the street in the same sentence”?
    5. Who is the “He” in his poem?

    Diondra p. 95

    1. What is Tanisha doing at the beginning of her entry?
    2. How has she changed since her last entry?
    3. In her poem, what is the “city pool” a metaphor for?

    Tyrone p. 101

    1. What is Tyrone thinking about for next year?
    2. Who does he run the idea past?

    Amy p. 102

    1. Write a brief character sketch of Amy
    2. .Why does she say she wants to be “stone’?

    Tyrone p.107

    1. Does Tyrone relate to Amy’s poem? In what ways?


    1. What is Sheila doing at the beginning of the entry--literally?
    2. Do the rest of the kids understand? Give a TBD
    3. Explain what she is trying to do?

    Tyrone p.115

    1. Does Tyrone understand where Sheila is coming from?


    1. What is Steve’s dream?
    2. What is endangering it?
    3. Give an adjective to describe what you infer about his parents?
    4. Give a couple of adjectives to describe Steve?
    5. What is happening at Open Mike this Friday?
    6. What is Steve’s message in his poem?
    7. Contrast Steve’s attitude to Amy’s.

    Tyrone p. 121

    1. What does Tyrone reveal in the first paragraph of his entry?

    Raynard p.123

    1. Why does Raynard say,”…everyone thought I was three degrees below a moron”?
    2. Why does Raynard say he used to agree, too?
    3. In his poem you find out why. Did you have some kind of clue before? What was it?


    1. What is one benefit of Open Mike Fridays?
    2. Why does Tyrone object when Steve stands up to their cipher?
    3. What does he find out?

    News at Five p.130

    1. What message does each boy give?



    1. What does Sheila still feel is her problem?
    2. What is Wesley’s message to her?
    3. What does he suggest she do?


    1. Does Tyrone think Open Mike Friday is working for Sheila?

    Janelle p.140

    1. What is the change in Janelle?
    2. How has she overcome her self-consciousness?


    1. What are two positive things Tyrone says about Open Mike Fridays that get quoted in the newspaper?
    2. Give a specific example from the book that proves this is true.

    Lupe p. 146

    1. What goal is Lupe talking about in her entry?
    2. How has this changed since we first met her?
    3. What is “clean drawer” a metaphor for?

    Diondra p.152

    1. Do you think Diondra left the art college brochures out on purpose? Why?
    2. What is she hoping will make her father change his mind and support her decision?
    3. Do you think parents ever put this kind of pressure on kids to make certain choices? Give an example.
    4. What is Diondra’s message to her dad?

    Porscha p. 1157

    1. What is Porscha afraid she has inside of her?
    2. What is she afraid might happen?
    3. What did you learn about Tyrone in Porscha’s entry?
    4. Explain why you think Porscha writes the last line of her letter?
    5. On p. 139 what does the line “Poetry just may be a way to do that” mean?

    Tyrone p. 162

    1. What does Mr. Ward do to surprise the kids on the last day of school?
    2. Where is Open Mike Friday held on the last day of school?
    3. Who gets up to speak when Mr. Ward calls on one of the group to explain what they’ve been doing to the whole crowd?
    4. What’s the gist of his message?
    5. What are Mr. War’s plans for next?
    6. Will Tyrone be there?
    7. Write a character description of Mr. Ward. Include your opinion of him as a teacher.

    Post reading questions:

    • What does Open Mike Fridays accomplish?
    • Why did the author choose Tyrone as her primary narrator/speaker?
    • What do eyes symbolize in this novel?
    • How does Diondra change over the course of the novel?


    1. Which character did you like the most? Why?


    Comments (-1)


Last Modified on February 1, 2016