This curriculum handbook was created by middle and high school teachers in the Capistrano Unified School District to serve as a resource for students, teachers, and parents. It evolved out of a recognition that when schools and the communities they serve work together, students reap the benefits.

Divided into three sections, this document is intended to serve as both a guide and a foundation upon which students and teachers can build to meet the expectations of our Common Core State Standards. Section One addresses grammatical concepts, defines literary terms, and features academic vocabulary that builds student understanding. Section Two presents explanations, graphic organizers, templates, guidelines, and scoring rubrics. Finally, Section Three provides a variety of resources to support student learning.

As the state testing board requires students to engage more comprehensively in the reading and writing process, students are asked to read a variety of texts more closely, draw inferences, and write more critically. It is our hope that this handbook serves as a tool to guide all stakeholders in our community toward these goals. The teachers of CUSD have an unwavering commitment to providing rigorous and engaging lessons that contribute to every student’s academic success and a sincere desire to prepare students to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world.


“You can make anything by writing.” ― C.S. Lewis

CUSD Writing Handbook Committee Members:

Neil Anderson, VAPA Coordinator

John Baker, SJHHS

Michelle Balogh, Capo Virtual

Michele Barnaby, MFMS

Laura Barnett, MFMS

Brittany Branning, FNMS

Annette Bushkin, LFMS

Annalee Cappello, LFMS

John Castle, NHMS

Dave Chamberlain, Math Curriculum Specialist

Laurie Cummings, LFMS

Kim Curry, MFMS

Kylie Dul, SCHS

Jennifer Eckert-Toler, SCHS

Becky Friedland, Science Curriculum Specialist

Denene Freeman, NHMS

Nina Glassen, History-Social Science Curriculum Specialist

Alex Gottdank, MFMS

Frank Greger, CVHS

Amanda Hatcher, LRMS

Johanna Heavlin-Martinez, AVMS

Lisa Hoover, LFMS

Jeanette Jimenez, CVHS

Kimberly Jindra, LFMS

Chris Jones, LRMS

Katie Nicol, DJAMS

Robin Mairs, DHHS

Darla O’Leary, K-8 Instructional Coach

Dennis Orgeron, LFMS

Candace Ploskina, DHHS

Virginia Reischl, ELA Curriculum Specialist

Meredith Ritner, LRMS

Aslan Saul, AVMS

Gene Stender, CVHS

Elizabeth Triana, THS

Diane Tucker, SJHHS

Mark Quest, DJAMS