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Students need tons of support. We know first hand how overwhelming comprehension can be.  That is why our industry guru is centralizing the tools you need under one umbrella.  Lose the paper and say hello to digital educational content.     Ready to practice the language skills? On this page we cover: characterization, theme, summary writing, main idea, compare and contrast.   

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are Language Skills

The strategies good students

use to break down information so that main ideas are understood and interpreted. 

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1.Summary Writing

2. Context Clues

3.Author's Purpose


5. characterization


7.Cause and Effect 

8. Tone & Mood


10.Compare & Contrast

What is Characterization?


Show what the character looks like physically, is thinking mentally and how the character speaks.


Summary:  The doctor just told Jake he will never be able to run again. 


Assignment 1

(show how Jake responded to the news in three sentences)

Sadly, Jake refused to speak or even leave his room.  All he did was pace the room.  Then he exclaimed, “I wasn’t chosen but you all know I deserved to win” he broke down crying. 



Assignment 2

Hello, answered Jake.

Son I have some terrible news cried his daddy. 

What is it? asked Jake dreadfully. It’s your mother she was shot to death four hours ago.  (show how Jake responded to the news in three sentences)


On that day Jake's life changed forever and he was never the same again. 


Assignment 3

(Show Tom's reaction in three sentences) Tom looked down and saw paint on his new shoe’s and his Ralph Lauren shirt. 


  1.  Sentence 1:

  2.  Sentence 2:

  3. Sentence 3:  

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What is context clue?


There are four types of context clues: synonym, antonym, example and comparison and contrast. 


Type 1:  Antonym Clue

Example 1:  Although Tom was anxious about the test Tina was not worried at all.


Using the antonym clue, the word anxious in this sentence above means:     

A. forgetful                B. worried          C. calm      D.   not worried

Type 2:  Example Clue

Example 2:  Projectiles include those items that are shot forward such as a cannon shell, bullet, or rocket.

Using the example clue, the word projectiles in this sentence means:

A. things put down        B. things shot forward   C. things hurt    D. things broken


Type 3:  Synonym clue

Example 3:  His rancor, or hatred, of his brother has caused him to live his life as a lonely person.


Using the synonym clue, the word rancor in this sentence means:

A.     love  B.     generous            C.     tolerance  D.     hatred


Type 4: Explanation Clue

Example 4:  We could tell by the rotten smell, that something putrid was in  our trash can.

Using the explanation clue, the word putrid in this sentence means:

A.     ample        B.     alive  C.     rotten          D.   appealing


Type 5: Comparison and Contrast Clue

Context clues that show comparison include like, as, similar, and in the same way. Contrasts may be signaled by words such as but, although, however, and on the other hand.


Example 5

Sandra’s happy face was luminous, like the rays of the sun.

The clue word like in this sentence tells you that luminous means “shining” or “giving off light.”

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quoting versus paraphrasing - YouTube

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Identifying the Theme in Literature

Identifying the Theme in Literature

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Golden Fairy Tale Classics - Little Red Riding Hood (iPhone & iPod)

Golden Fairy Tale Classics - Little Red Riding Hood (iPhone & iPod)

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How to Paraphrase

Paraphrasing  Steps 

Step 1:   Underline the important ideas.

Step 2:   Next, write synonyms for the underlined words in the sentence. 

Step  3:  Last, incorporate the new words in your rewrite.


1.  Perry Christie warned senior public servants that the Bahamas is in one of the most difficult and challenging economic periods in its history.


Paraphrase Example 

Perry Christie advised Government workers that the financial hardships the Bahamas is currently experiencing is the worst of its kind. 


2.  The Prime Minister warned that it will cost money for the government to introduce its new initiatives to maintain law and order.  [2]




3.  During the budget debate Mr. Christie spoke about being optimistic that there can be  a turn around in the economy.  [2]




4.  Dr. Patterson said, other challenges to the administration of justice in sexual assault cases include getting cases tried in a timely manner, and treating victims with sensitivity.  [2]


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What is Theme?

It is the big idea the writer is trying to communicate through a poem, song, essay, or story.  

Theme:      Life lesson, meaning, moral, or message about life or human nature that is  communicated by a literary work.  A theme is not a word, it is a sentence. You don’t have to agree with the theme to identify it.



Examples:  Money can’t buy happiness.

Don’t judge people based on the surface.  

It is better to die free than live under tyranny



Directions:  Read the following passage and identify the theme of each short story below. 


Passage 1


In his sophomore year of high school, Michael Jordan tried out for the varsity basketball team at Laney High School in Wilmington, North Carolina.  But at five feet and eleven inches tall, the coach believed that Jordan was too short to play at that level, so Jordan was cut from the team.  Jordan didn’t let this obstacle defeat him.  In fact, it pushed him to work even harder.  He trained vigorously and grew another four inches the following summer.  When he finally made the varsity squad, Jordan averaged 25 points a game and went on to become one of the greatest basketball players in history. 


What is the theme of the story?

What happens in the story that leads you to believe this?


Passage 2


Katie Clean invited Messy Missy to her house to work on their biology project, but Katie Clean had no idea what a visit from Messy Missy entailed.  First of all, it was raining and Messy Missy neither bothered to take her boots off nor thoroughly wiped them on the doormat.  Then Messy Missy ate a bag of hot chips on Katie Clean’s white bedspread without asking, and Messy Missy is a sloppy eater, so hot chip powder got all over the bedspread.  Katie Clean tried to be polite and ignore Messy Missy’s sloppy behavior, but then Messy Missy threw her chip wrapper on the floor.   Offended, Katie Clean pretended that she was sick and asked Messy Missy to leave.  The next day Katie Clean asked the teacher if she could work by herself.  After explaining her situation, the teacher allowed Katie to work alone.  Messy Missy would have finished the assignment by herself, but she spilled grape soda all over her assignment.


1.  What is the theme of the story?


2. What happens in the story that leads you to believe this?



Passage 3

Tammy and Sammy were both students in Mr. Morton’s reading class.  Mr. Morton wasn’t too strict about deadlines, and Sammy took advantage of that.  He did all of his homework in his other classes but never bothered to complete Mr. Morton’s reading assignments, figuring that he could complete them later.  Tammy, on the other hand, completed each assignment Mr. Morton assigned the night that he assigned it.  She had to stay up a little later, but she didn’t want to get a penalty for turning in her reading work late.  Tammy knew reading was a core subject and that she had to keep “C” average for the entire year or she would have to go to summer school.  When the end of the quarter came, Tammy and Sammy had both planned on going to the Enchanted Castle amusement park, but Mr. Morton called Sammy’s mother, and she grounded Sammy until he turned in all of his work.  That weekend was horrible for Sammy.  He stayed up until 2:00 AM each night and still couldn’t complete all of the assignments.  The whole while, Tammy had a great time eating pizza at Enchanted Castle, watching movies late at night, and enjoying her weekend free of stress and pressure.  At the end of the quarter, Sammy was lucky to squeak by with a “C” minus in reading while Tammy earned an “A.”  Sammy still hasn’t learned his lesson and probably won’t complete this activity either.


What is the theme of the story?


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Author's Purpose


Author’s usually have a purpose in mind when they write. The author’s language and style of writing can help you figure out his or her reasons for writing.  Four common  reasons for writing are: 



Convince readers to think or act a certain way



To explain or give information about something



To create a mood, or feeling, through description


To amuse, interest, or scare readers, or make them feel sadness or joy

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Summary Writing

A summary is a short statement in your own words that tells the main ideas of an article or the most important parts of a story.  A summary for an article should tell the main ideas and leave out unimportant details.   A summary for a story should tell the important parts, such as the goals of the character, how they tried to reach these goals, and whether they succeeded. 


Steps for  Writing a Summary

  1. Read the material first.

  2. Find a sentence that states the main idea. 

  3. Look for other import facts and details to add.

  4. Occasionally, you may want to quote directly from the article or passage.  Use quotations marks when you do. (do so sparingly)

  5. To summarize a long piece of writing, write the main idea of each paragraph.  Then combine these main idea sentences into a single paragraph. 


Directions:  Circle the best summary for each paragraph below.


Paragraph 2

Have you ever turned red when embarrassed or pale when frightened?  The circulation of your blood can change with your emotional state.  When you are embarrassed, signals from your brain trigger the release of hormones that cause the walls of your arteries to relax.  This relaxation allows more blood to flow into the capillaries near the surface of the skin.  As a result, the skin becomes red and hot.  Other emotions, such as fear, have the reverse effect.  The walls of the arteries contract.  Less blood than normal reaches the capillaries, and the skin grows pale. 


a. The circulation of your blood can change with your emotional state. 

b. Some people think that when you get embarrassed, you turn red but I do not believe in that.

c. Your emotions can contribute to various reactions in your body.

d. None of the above

Paragraph 3

The Saint Bernard is a breed of dog that originated in Europe.  It is believed that Roman soldiers brought a large Asian dog with them to Europe.  The Saint Bernard stands about twenty –seven inches high at the shoulder and weighs up to two hundred pounds.  In 1880 the dog got its name for the hospice of Saint Bernard of Menthon in the Alps.  Since the 1600s the dog has been used to rescue people.  It has been used to help rescue people lost in snowdrifts in the Alps. The Saint Bernard has a keen power of scent and sense of direction.  It uses these abilities to detect people and lead rescuers back to safety.  Saint Bernards have helped rescue people in dangerous situations. The have helped rescue thousands of people.  


a. The Saint Bernard is a dog that stands about twenty-seven inches at the shoulder and weighs up to two hundred pounds.

b. The Saint Bernard is a helpful dog.

c. The Saint Bernard is a breed of dog that originated in Europe.

d. They have helped to rescue thousands of people

Paragraph 4

Have you been to Yosemite National Park?  The U.S Congress created this park in 1890.  It is a magnificent park.  It was created largely because of the efforts of John Muir, the founder of the Sierra Club.  Muir was born in Scotland in 1838.  At the age of 11, his family moved to Wisconsin.  In 1867, he suffered an eye injury that left him temporarily blind.  He regained his sight after a month of blindness.  Then he decided to devote his energies to enjoying nature.  He walked from Indianapolis, Indiana, and to the Gulf of Mexico, which was some one thousand miles.  In 1868, he settled in the Yosemite Valley in California.  He herded sheep and came to love the region that he would later help to preserve. 

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