Author Archives: Chelly Wood

About Chelly Wood

I am a school librarian with an English degree, and I like to write books. I've also designed commercial doll clothes patterns, and I make stop-motion videos with dolls. My literary agent is Elizabeth Kracht of Kimberley Cameron and Associates.

How to #teach proper nouns vs common #EnglishEd #Education



Image shows a generic bathroom icon for a male bside a photograph of a teenage boy named Devin. This image comes from

Please visit for more tips and tricks for English and reading teachers.

I’ve been an English teacher for more than 20 years. Recently I’ve become a school librarian, but I have lots of great tips and tricks to share. Here’s a simple strategy for teaching proper nouns vs. common ones:

It’s a proper noun if it names the person (Rick Riordan), place (Pacific Ocean), thing (Play Dough) or idea (Civil War). In these cases, the noun must be capitalized. In these cases, you can imagine something very specific in your mind–a person with very realistic facial features, a specific location on a map, a label on a can, or a uniform worn by the soldiers in that specific war.

It’s a common noun if it doesn’t name the person (guy), place (ocean), thing (toy) or idea (war). In that case, you can’t imagine any faces, places on a map, company labels, or specific battles with soldiers in uniform.

So the rule is otherwise stated thus: if you can’t picture the individual item, it’s not a proper noun (don’t capitalize it). If all you’re getting in your mind is a vague image, like the bathroom sign for the men’s room (see image above), it’s not proper.

Another way to teach it is to remind the student that a proper noun is a proper NAME. But I like it best when we use the vocabulary they will see on the state standardized test: proper noun.

Can you point to the specific ocean found on a map or globe if I just say “ocean”? If not, it’s common. So being able to find a place on a map is another way to determine that it’s proper. You don’t have to visit the Pacific Ocean to picture it in your mind; it’s just a matter of being able to find the NAME on a map.

For more helpful tips and tricks for teaching parts of speech, please visit that area of the menu above, right here on English

How to #Teach the Basics of the #5ParagraphEssay With a #Thesis Graphic Organizer


Handout for Teaching Introduction to Thesis Statements and the Five Paragraph Essay FormatIn our school district, students are first introduced to the fundamentals of a five paragraph essay in the sixth grade. It’s a brand new concept to them, so I teach them the most basic thesis, which uses three main points, before we embark on the writing of our first five-paragraph essay.

If you’re unfamiliar with this method of organizing an essay, it’s pretty simplistic. The writer chooses a topic like, say, pets for example. Then he/she writes a thesis that is designed to prove which of the three kinds of pets is the best. So I might have  a thesis that looks something like this:

If I had my choice between horses, cats, and dogs, I’d choose dogs as the ideal family pet.

Now the writer embarks on the creation of an essay that proves this thesis. He/she must include an introduction (which typically precedes the thesis), a paragraph about the first main point (horses), a follow-up paragraph on the second main point (cats), and a paragraph in which they praise the third main point (dogs). Finally, they re-state the thesis with a summary at the start of the final paragraph and wrap the whole thing up with a couple of sentences of conclusion.

This is, at its foundation, a persuasive essay. It’s a tough thing for concrete-operational learners to grasp–the fact that an essay, with a person’s opinion embedded in its body, can follow a specific structure. Yet this format is used for public speaking quite universally. So it’s an important skill to teach and to have students learn.

For today’s post, I’m sharing the Thesis Statement Graphic Organizer that I use whenever I’m starting my unit on persuasive five-paragraph essays. I hope you’ll find it as helpful as I have, for simplifying the essay for those concrete-operational learners.

Once they’ve finished filling out the organizer, you can even have them cut this graphic organizer into strips, lining up their pieces in this order:

  • on top: the thesis
  • next: topic one’s list of facts
  • next: topic two’s list of facts
  • next: topic three’s list of facts

Now have them write a re-stated thesis with a summary, cut it out, and stick it at the bottom. Each of these pieces will represent a single paragraph in their essay. This is a particularly helpful exercise for tactile learners.


(This is a re-post of an older post on thesis statements.) If you like my free printable worksheets, game ideas, and educational videos, please show your appreciation by liking, tweeting, and pinning! Thanks!

#EnglishEd: How to Teach Apostrophes

Image shows an example of how to teach apostrophes, demonstrating that an apostrophe acts as a divider to show possession. is the URL pictured in the bottom right corner  of this pictograph. If you visit English Emporium, it offers an explanation for how to use the pictograph to make the apostrophe concept make sense to your students.

Please visit for great tips and tricks on how to teach concepts for English and reading.











This pictograph shows how to teach apostrophes in a way that students will understand and retain. Draw the pictograph on your whiteboard or show this pictograph on your projector. Explain that the apostrophe acts as a divider.

Let’s start with the red divider. The red divider shows that only one cow “owns” the spots we’re talking about.

The yellow divider shows that multiple cows “own” the spots.

Now that you’ve shown your students this pictograph, erase part of the “divider” line or project the following image:

Image shows an example of how to teach apostrophes, demonstrating that an apostrophe acts as a divider to show possession. is the URL pictured in the bottom right corner of this pictograph. If you visit English Emporium, it offers an explanation for how to use the pictograph to make the apostrophe concept make sense to your students.

Please visit for great tips and tricks on how to teach concepts for English and reading.

The arrow still points to the owner of the spots.

For more examples and helpful tips on teaching apostrophes, please visit my apostrophes page, right here on English Emporium.

#EnglishEd Vocabulary for #Teaching #Othello

slave ship in alex haley's roots historical accuracy literary devices roots the saga of an american family

Image: iClipart

Here’s a straightforward list of vocabulary words I used when teaching Othello in my sophomore English classes. Hopefully you’ll find something useful here:

  • Rhetorical Question
  • Parenthetical Citation
  • Analysis
  • Opinion
  • Evidence
  • Quotation
  • Setting
  • Internal Conflict
  • External Conflict
  • Rising Action
  • Climax (in the literary sense)
  • Falling Action
  • Resolution
  • Author’s Theme
  • Symbolism
  • Foreshadowing
  • Irony
  • Plot Diagram

If you’re having your students write essays on a Shakespeare play, don’t forget to revisit my page on quotation marks. Once there, scroll down to “Quoting a Source,” for tips on teaching students how to quote a work of literature correctly.

Vocabulary for Teaching Epic Poetry and World Poets #Poetry #Poets #EnglishEd

Image shows portraits of Shakespeare, Robert Burns, John Keats, Goethe, Edgar Allen Poe, Robert Browning, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and John Milton

Image: iClipart

When I was teaching sophomore English, the curriculum emphasized world literature rather than American literature. I tried to focus our study of poetry on world poets, with a whole section devoted to the epic poem.

Today I’m sharing with you, my fellow educators, the vocabulary words I covered during my quarter on epic poetry and world poets:

  • Allude
  • Literal Interpretation
  • Figurative Interpretation
  • Motif
  • Mood
  • Plot
  • Narrative Poetry
  • Epic Poetry
  • Point of View
  • Satire
  • Symbolism
  • Style
  • Metaphor
  • Simile
  • Alliteration
  • Cultural Identity
  • Historical Significance
  • Overtones
  • Saga
  • Trickster
  • Legend

Hopefully you’ll find this list helpful for your own classroom study of world poets.

List of Nonfiction Vocabulary Words #Reading #Literacy #Education

Image shows a news article in a traditional newspaper. offers a free digital online English Handbook

You may wonder what qualifies me to offer up a list of nonfiction vocabulary terms. In the 20+ years that I’ve been employed as an educator, I have written reading curricula that has been used by two different school districts, and I’ve taught nonfiction literacy to fifth through eleventh graders.

Furthermore, when the state of Idaho established its first state-wide standardized tests, the materials I was using at that time were collected for the creation of our standardized tests, since the school where I was working at the time was one of 20 schools selected and surveyed for state-wide curricular analysis.

So now that we’ve established that I’ve got the credentials to create a nonfiction vocabulary list worth sharing, here’s the list of vocabulary terms I use when teaching nonfiction:

Nonfiction Vocabulary for High School English:

  • Inference
  • Explicit
  • Implicit/Imply
  • Point of View
  • Author’s Purpose
  • Author’s Motive
  • Author’s Bias
  • Authenticity
  • Propaganda
  • Primary Source
  • Thesis
  • Summary
  • Details
  • Biographical
  • Autobiographical
  • Chronological Order
  • Works Cited vs. Bibliography
  • Paraphrase
  • Plagiarism
  • Quotation
  • Parenthetical Citation
  • Angle Brackets vs. Square Brackets (and their purposes)
  • Writing Prompt
  • Endnotes
  • Footnotes
  • Superscript
  • Ellipses (and how they’re used when quoting a source)
  • Nonfiction Graphic Novel
  • Rhetoric
  • Evidence
  • Formal Outline

Nonfiction Vocabulary for Middle School Reading Classes:

  • Wikipedia
  • Hyperlink
  • URL
  • Worldbook Encyclopedia
  • Guide Words
  • Reference (the section in a library)
  • Dewey Decimal Classification System
  • Front Matter
  • Title Page
  • Subtitle
  • Publisher’s Information (and where it’s located in a book)
  • Table of Contents
  • Textbox
  • Caption
  • Illustration
  • Graphic
  • Graph
  • Chart
  • About the Author
  • Back Matter
  • Appendices/Appendix
  • Index
  • Timeline
  • Diagram
  • Biography
  • Autobiography



#Medieval #ResearchPaper Topics for #Teachers @

Image of a scanned list of medieval research topics, ranging from Joan of Arc to farming during the middle ages.

Visit for more free lesson plans and worksheets for English teachers and librarians.

Here’s my list of medieval research topics. If you’re an English or history teacher, you may find this and my other research-paper related blog posts helpful:

Hopefully there’s something useful in that stack of stuff I’ve used over the 23 years that I worked as an English teacher. If you like my free, printable worksheets, lesson plans, and activities, please show your appreciation by pinning these on Pinterest, tweeting about them, and/or sharing them through other social media. Just be sure to mention where you found them!