HCMS English Handbook


English Handbook

The Quest for Literacy


Table of Contents

Table of Contents

The Purpose of this English Handbook

Helpful Links

HCMSApps Student Log-in


GOOGLE - Search Tips

MLA Format - Essay Structure

MLA Format - Works Cited

Accelerated Reader - Instructions

Close Reading

CER Rubric

Depth of Knowledge (DOK)

Question Stems & Levels of DOK

Comstock Vocabulary

Figurative Language Chart

Transitions & Signal Words

Synonyms for Commonly Used Words

Writing Tools

Three Kinds of Writing

Using Traffic Light Colors

Informal Paragraph Outline

Stretch Your Paragraph to an Essay

Plan Your Essay

Paragraph & Essay Templates

Topic Sentences & Thesis Statements

Adding a Lead


E’s - Elaboration


Argument Writing

Formats for Citation and Bibliography

Proofreading and Editing Symbols

CUPS: Capitalization, Usage, Punctuation, Spelling

Narrative Writing


Parts of Speech

Active Voice/Passive Voice

Figurative Language

Style, Mood, Tone

Point of View

The Purpose of this English Handbook

Because we believe in you, because we care about you, because we want you to have the best future and the best life, we have created this handbook for you.  This handbook gives you many tools to develop your English literacy skills as well as to inspire you to use reading and writing to enhance your ability to communicate your ideas, your feelings, your hopes, dreams and what you want to share with the world.  We are counting on you to become all you can be.  Let your light shine! Illustration of the sun with

Helpful Links

HCMSApps Student Log-in 


Crtl + c = copy

Crtl + v = paste

Crtl + x = delete

Crtl + z = undo

Crtl f = will open a box in the upper right corner, so you can find something on any page.

GOOGLE - Search Tips

  1. Use the tabs under the search bar to refine your search. Usually, you’ll see All, Images, News, Videos, Books, More (Maps, Flights Apps). If you want an image, click on Images. If you’re looking for a video, click on Videos.
  2.  When you’re looking for something specific, put quotation marks around the words. This tells the search engine to search for the exact words together.

  1. Use a hyphen to exclude words. For example if you want to search for all dogs except dachshunds, you’d search for dogs - dachshunds.


  1. If you’re not sure of all the words you need to search, you can use an asterisk (*) to hold the place of the missing word. For example, if you want to find the lyrics to the song “Bridge over Troubled Water” but you can’t remember whole title, you could search for lyrics for “Bridge over * Water”.

  1. Use words that a website would use. For example, instead of writing broken faucet, you would enter faucet repair.


  1. Use only the most important words in your search. Instead of typing in your whole question, type in the key words. For example, instead of typing What hotels are in Santa Rosa? You’d type Santa Rosa CA hotels

                         MLA Format - Essay Structure

When revising your essay, make sure your paper follows MLA style format. This page contains some general guidelines for the physical arrangement of your pages.  

The opening page to your essay should use the format shown below: 

Note: you should write the date with the day first (25 August 2017)

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Only the first page should include the whole heading and title. All margins--top, bottom, and sides--should be set to one inch (1") throughout the whole paper. Don't add extra spaces between the heading and the title, nor should there be extra spaces between the title and the body of the paragraph.

Use a reasonably-sized font: either 10 characters per inch or a 12 point font. And choose a font that is easy to read rather one that is decorative: "Arial," "Lucida," "Modern," "Palermo" or "Times New Roman" are some good choices. Scripted fonts are hard to read even if they do make your paper "look nice"; it is the content of the paper that is most important, and making it easy for your readers to understand that content   is always a good choice.

                  Pages that follow the opening page to your essay should use the format below:

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Instead of the full heading, pages that follow the opening page should use a header in the upper right corner: your last name and the page number. Do not add extra spaces between paragraphs--that is a business format. Instead, make sure to continue indenting paragraphs one-half inch (the usual tab default setting).

     MLA Format - Works Cited

Finally, if you have referenced outside sources, you must include a works-cited page to show your readers where you found your information; use the format shown below:

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The works-cited page at the end of your essay gives your readers the list of sources you actually referenced within your paper, allowing your readers to easily find those sources themselves. The works-cited page is NOT a bibliography, listing all of the texts you may have researched in preparing the paper.

Note that this page should have a header as well. And again, the page should be double spaced, including the citations.

The citation entries should be listed in alphabetical order by the authors' last names. If there are multiple authors, the proper format is as follows:

Enos, Richard Leo, and John M. Ackerman.

If there are two or three authors, give their names in the same order as on the title page; it is only necessary to reverse the names of the first author, but make sure a comma separates each author and place a period after the last author's name.

Or, if there are more than three authors:  Belenky, Mary Field, et al.

If there are more than three authors, you have a choice of format. You can choose to follow the format for multiple authors given above (which could result in a great deal of typing), or you can add "et al," meaning "and others" after the initial author's name. Just make sure to include the comma between the author's name and "et al" and to place a period after.

         Clarity should always be your guide; help your readers whenever possible.

Accelerated Reader - Instructions

1.        Take the STAR Reading Placement Test

2.        When you finish a reading book, take a Reading Quiz

3.        Look at your progress towards your reading goal.

4.         If you’d like A.R. to add a quiz, go to this website and fill out the form:

Close Reading

Here are some things to consider when you are reading closely and annotating text:

  1. The first time you read the piece, focus on finding the main idea and key details. Figure out what the text says and share with your partner.

  1. The second time you read the piece, select pieces of the text that are complex. Look for organizational patterns, vocabulary choices, figurative language, sensory detail, sentence structure, rhyme scheme, etc. You are analyzing the structure and the techniques used by the author in this section. Your goal is to understand how the text works.

  1. The third time you read the text, you’ll go deeper and may bring in outside material to help you understand the work. This is when you bring all of your analysis together in order to show a deeper understanding of the meaning of the writing. You are integrating your knowledge and ideas in order to understand what the text means.

When you read, try doing some of the following:

CER Rubric

Depth of Knowledge (DOK)


Question Stems & Levels of DOK

Comstock Vocabulary

Click HERE to link to the Comstock vocabulary list.

Figurative Language

Transitions & Signal Words

Used with permission of Santa Rosa Middle School

Synonyms for Commonly Used Words

Used with permission from Santa Rosa Middle School

Used with permission from Santa Rosa Middle School

Used with permission from Santa Rosa Middle School

Writing Tools

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Using Traffic Light Colors

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Informal Paragraph Outline

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Stretch Your Paragraph to an Essay


Plan Your Essay

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Paragraph & Essay Templates

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Topic Sentences & Thesis Statements

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Adding a Lead

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E’s - Elaboration

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Argument Writing

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Formats for Citation and Bibliography

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Proofreading and Editing Symbols

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CUPS: Capitalization, Usage, Punctuation, Spelling

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Narrative Writing

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Parts of Speech

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Misplaced and Dangling Modifiers

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Active Voice/Passive Voice

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Figurative Language

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Style, Mood, Tone

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Point of View

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Table of Contents