• Glossary


    Action Research
    Systematic investigation by teachers of some aspect of their work in order to improve their effectiveness. Involves identifying a question or problem and then collecting and analyzing relevant data. (Differs from conventional research because in this case the participants are studying an aspect of their own work and they intend to use the results themselves.) For example, a teacher might decide to give students different assignments according to their assessed learning styles. If the teacher maintained records comparing student work before and after the change, he would be doing action research. If several educators worked together on such a project, it would be considered collaborative action research.

    Alternate Route
    This is an alternate certification process that permits qualified individuals lacking education credentials to earn them in the public schools under a mentoring program and become licensed teachers. It allows talented people to enter teaching after they have worked in other careers.

    Articulation Meetings
    Most often refers to meetings and dialogue between grade levels or buildings.

    Authentic Assessment
    assessment that measures realistically the knowledge and skills needed for success in adult life. The term is often used as the equivalent of performance assessment, which, rather than asking students to choose a response to a multiple-choice test item, involves having students perform a task, such as serving a volleyball, solving a particular type of mathematics problem, or writing a short business letter. There is a distinction, however. Specifically, authentic assessments are performance assessments that are not artificial or contrived. Most school tests are necessarily contrived. Writing a letter to an imaginary company only to demonstrate to the teacher that you know how is different from writing a letter to a real person or company in order to achieve a real purpose. One way to make an assessment more authentic is to have students choose the particular task they will use to demonstrate what they have learned. For example, a student might choose to demonstrate her understanding of a unit in chemistry by developing a model that illustrates the problems associated with oil spills.

    A weblog is simply a Web page built using weblogging software that allows viewers to interact directly with the page. For instance, when a user surfs to a weblog, he or she can add comments to the page directly-without having to install software on the machine or having to route content through email.

    Bloom's Taxonomy
    A classification of educational objectives developed in the 1950s by a group of researchers headed by Benjamin Bloom of the University of Chicago. Commonly refers to the objectives for the cognitive domain, which range from knowledge and comprehension (lowest) to synthesis and evaluation (highest). The taxonomy has been widely used by teachers to determine the focus of their instruction and is probably the original reference of the term higher-order thinking.

    Brain-based Teaching
    Approaches to schooling that educators believe are in accord with recent research on the brain and human learning. Advocates say the human brain is constantly searching for meaning and seeking patterns and connections. Authentic learning situations increase the brain's ability to make connections and retain new information. A relaxed, nonthreatening environment that reduces students' fear of failure is considered by some to enhance learning. Research also documents brain plasticity, which is the brain's ability to grow and adapt in response to external stimuli.

    Educational programs designed around the assumed characteristics and needs of the child, rather than of parents, teachers, or society.

    Concept Map 

    Any of several forms of graphical organizers which allows learners to perceive relationships between concepts through diagramming keywords representing those concepts.

    Common Core State Standards

    In June 2010, the New Jersey State Board of Education and the New Jersey Departmnet of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).  The standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and experts, to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare our children for college and the workforce.

    An approach to teaching based on research about how people learn. Many researchers say that each individual "constructs" knowledge rather than receiving it from others. People disagree about how to achieve constructive learning, but many educators believe that students come to understand abstract concepts best through exploration, reasoning, and discussion.

    Cooperative Learning
    A teaching strategy combining teamwork with individual and group accountability. Working in small groups, with individuals of varying talents, abilities, and backgrounds, students are given one or more tasks. The teacher or the group often assigns each team member a personal responsibility that is essential to successful completion of the task.
    Used well, cooperative learning allows students to acquire both knowledge and social skills. The students learn from one another and get to know and respect group members that they may not have made an effort to meet in other circumstances. Studies show that, used properly, cooperative learning boosts student achievement. Schools using this strategy report that attendance improves because the students feel valuable and necessary to their group.

    Core Curriculum Content Standards
    Includes standards for the seven academic and five workshop readiness areas adopted by the State Board of Ed. These standards communicate the common expectations for student achievement throughout the 13 years of public education.

    Critical Thinking
    Logical thinking based on sound evidence; the opposite of biased, sloppy thinking. Some people take the word critical to mean negative and faultfinding, but philosophers consider it to mean thinking that is skillful and responsible. A critical thinker can accurately and fairly explain a point of view that he does not agree with.

    Critical Friends Group
    As members of a reflective learning community, teachers create opportunities to challenge their own practice as well as that of their peers. Teachers engage in a process through which they hone their skills by examining student work in a supportive, problem-solving group. They gain a deeper understanding of the link between their instruction and their students' learning. The analysis is systematic and collaborative.

    Curriculum takes content and shapes it into a plan for effective teaching and learning. It is more than a general framework, it is a specific plan with identified lesson in an appropriate form and sequence for directing teaching. It specifies the activities,and assessments to be used in achieving its goals.

    Data-Based Decision Making
    Analyzing existing sources of information (class and school attendance, grades, test scores) and other data (portfolios, surveys, interviews) to make decisions about the school. The process involves organizing and interpreting the data and creating action plans.

    A form of reflection immediately following an activity.

    Differentiated Instruction
    A form of instruction that seeks to "maximize each student's growth by meeting each student where she is and helping the student to progress. In practice, it involves offering several different learning experiences in response to students' varied needs. Learning activities and materials may be varied by difficulty to challenge students at different readiness levels, by topic in response to students' interests, and by students' preferred ways of learning or expressing themselves."

    Disaggregated Data
    Test scores or other data divided so that various categories can be compared. For example, schools may break down the data for the entire student population (aggregated into a single set of numbers) to determine how minority students are doing compared with the majority, or how scores of girls compare with those for boys.

    DFG (District Factor Group)
    This is a system that provides a means of ranking schools by their socio-economic status. There are eight groupings starting with A which designates the lowest socio-economic level. These groupings allow comparison of districts with similar profiles for purposes of state aid and assessment information.

    Enduring Objectives
    The big ideas, the important understandings that will anchor the unit or course. The term enduring refers to ideas that we want students to retain after they've forgotten the details. The objectives should have enduring value beyond the classroom, engage students, require uncoverage, and reside at the heart of the discipline.

    Essential questions
    Basic questions, such as "What is distinctive about the American experience?" used to provide focus for a course or a unit of study. Such questions need to be derived from vitally important themes and topics whose answers cannot be summarized neatly and concisely.

    Graphic Organizer
    Graphic organizers are visual frameworks to help the learner make connections between concepts. Some forms of graphic organizers are used before learning and help remind the learner of what they already know about a subject. Other graphic organizers are designed to be used during learning to act as cues to what to look for in the structure of the resources or information. Still other graphic organizers are used during review activities and help to remind students of the number and variety of components they should be remembering.

    Guess and Check
    The guess and check strategy is exactly what it sounds like: you make a guess and then check to see if it is a solution. The idea is that with each successive guess you get closer to an answer.

    Guided Practice
    Guided Practice is a form of scaffolding. It allows learners to attempt things they would not be capable of without assistance. In the classroom, guided practice usually looks like a combination of individual work, close observation by the teacher, and short segments of individual or whole class instruction. In computer based or Internet based learning, guided practice has come to mean instructions presented on the learner's computer screen on which they can act. This action may be to perform some task using a program that is running at the same time, or it may be to interact with a simulation that is embedded in the program or web page.

    Guided Reading
    Structured reading where short passages are read, then student interpretations are immediately recorded, discussed, and revised. Guided Reading is an essential part of an early literacy program. In guided reading, the teacher guides small homogeneous groups of students in reading leveled texts in order to build independence, fluency, comprehension skills, and problem-solving strategies. The teacher often begins by introducing the text and modeling a particular strategy. Then students read to themselves in quiet voices as the teacher listens in, noting strategies and obstacles, and cuing individual students as needed. Students then discuss content, and share problem-solving strategies. Guided-reading materials usually become increasingly challenging and are often read more than once. The teacher regularly observes and assesses students' changing needs, and adjusts groupings accordingly. Guided reading allows a teacher to provide different levels of support, depending on the instructional needs of the students.

    Guided Study
    A 1-12 program that provides students who are struggling in one or more academic areas with small group support.

    Heterogeneous Grouping
    Intentionally mixing students of varying talents and needs in the same classroom (the opposite of homogeneous grouping). The success of this method, also called mixed-ability grouping, depends on the teacher's skill in differentiating instruction so that all students feel challenged and successful. Advocates say heterogeneous grouping prevents lower-track classes from becoming dumping grounds and ensures that all students have access to high-status content. Opponents say it is difficult for teachers to manage, hampers the brightest children from moving at an accelerated pace, and contributes to watering down the curriculum.

    Higher-order Thinking
    Researcher Lauren Resnick has defined higher-order thinking as the kind of thinking needed when the path to finding a solution is not specified, and that yields multiple solutions rather than one. Higher-order thinking requires mental effort because it involves interpretation, self-regulation, and the use of multiple criteria, which may be conflicting.
    Teachers who seek to develop students' higher-order thinking abilities engage them in analyzing, comparing, contrasting, generalizing, problem solving, investigating, experimenting, and creating, rather than only in recalling information. Other terms used to refer to higher-order thinking include critical thinking, complex reasoning, and thinking skills.

    HOTS (Higher Order Thinking Skills)
    In the simplest sense, higher order thinking is any thinking that goes beyond recall of basic facts. The two key reasons to improve higher order thinking skills are first, to enable students to apply facts to solve real world problems, and second, to improve retention of facts. In addition to the basic meaning of "higher order thinking skills" HOTS is also used to refer to a specific program designed to teach higher order thinking skills through the use of computers and the Socratic Method to teach thinking skills.

    The practice of educating all children in the same classroom, including children with physical, mental, and developmental disabilities. Inclusion classes often require a special assistant to the classroom teacher. In a fully inclusive school or classroom, all of the children follow the same schedules; everyone is involved in the same field trips, extracurricular activities, and assemblies.

    Infused/integrated Technology
    Technology is integrated into a curriculum when students and teachers are using a range of tools, both traditional and modern, to make learning more authentic, meaningful to the learning, and successful. A technology-rich curriculum usually results in powerful collaborations between students, students and experts, and powerful collaborations between teachers. It also will involve a more intimate relationship between the student and information as students can analyze, experiment with, and manipulate digital content. Finally, students, using appropriate technologies, can engage in constructing their own knowledge by designing and building unique and valuable information products."

    Integrated Curriculum
    A way of teaching and learning that does not depend on the usual division of knowledge into separate subjects. Topics are studied because they are considered interesting and valuable by the teachers and students concerned, not necessarily because they appear in a required course of study. Both integrated curriculum and interdisciplinary curriculum are intended to help students see connections, but unlike an integrated curriculum, an interdisciplinary curriculum draws its content from two or more identifiable disciplines.

    Interactive Writing
    In interactive writing, the teacher helps groups of students compose and write text together, usually on large chart paper. With guidance from the teacher, individual students take turns writing, as classmates offer ideas and suggestions. Students practice writing strategies and skills modeled by the teacher, including letter formation, phonemic awareness and phonics, and concepts about print. Interactive writing is sometimes called "sharing the pen."

    Interdisciplinary Curriculum

    A way of organizing the curriculum in which content is drawn from two or more subject areas to focus on a particular topic or theme. Rather than studying literature and social studies separately, for example, a class might study a unit called The Sea, reading poems and stories about people who spend their lives on or near the ocean, learning about the geography of coastal areas, and investigating why coastal and inland populations have different livelihoods. Effective interdisciplinary studies have the following elements:

    • A topic that lends itself to study from several points of view.
    • One or more themes (or essential questions) the teacher wants the students to explore.

    Activities intended to further students' understanding by establishing relationships among knowledge from more than one discipline or school subject.
    Interdisciplinary curriculum, which draws content from particular disciplines that are ordinarily taught separately, is different from integrated curriculum, which involves investigation of topics without regard to where, or even whether, they appear in the typical school curriculum at all.

    Invented Spelling

    The way young children write some words when they have not yet mastered all the conventions of English spelling. Most children, if encouraged to write when they don't yet know how to spell every word, will try to use simple phonetic principles. For example, they might write "muthr" for "mother" or "reed" for "read." Some language arts specialists say invented spelling is a natural, positive way for children to learn to write. Critics think children should be expected to spell correctly from the beginning.

    "Know, Want to know, Learn" Students identify what they know about a topic, what they want to know,and after reading or instruction, identify what they learned or would still like to learn.

    Learning Centers
    Individual stations where individual or paired students explore resources. Designed to extend knowledge introduced in whole group instruction.

    Learning Styles

    Differences in the way students learn more readily. Scholars have devised numerous ways of classifying style differences, including cognitive style (the way a person tends to think about a learning situation), tendency to use particular senses (seeing, hearing, touching), and other characteristics, such as whether the person prefers to work independently or with others.
    Advocates interpret research as showing that teaching underachievers in ways that complement their strengths can significantly increase their scores on standardized tests. For example, strongly auditory students learn and recall information when they hear it, whereas kinesthetic youngsters learn best through activities such as role playing or floor games.

    Least Restrictive Environment
    A phrase used in the Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA) to describe the type of setting schools should provide for students with disabilities. The phrase is generally understood to mean that such children should be assigned to regular, rather than special, classrooms to the extent that they can profit from being there and do not interfere too much with the education of others. 

    Learning Centers/Work Stations
    Learning centers and work stations are designated areas within the classroom where students explore activities and practice skills and strategies, in small groups or alone, while the teacher is working with other students. The teacher models each activity first and then invites children to explore the center. Through center routines, children learn to work independently and cooperatively while developing specific skillsildren in general.

    Learning Community
    Several characteristics can be considered when determining how school cultures operate as learning communities. These characteristics are: philosophy, governance and activies (Easton, 2002)It implies a collaborative rather than a competitive culture Distribution of power and authority

    Lesson Study
    A 100 year old Japanese teaching tradition credited with playing a key role in the success of Japanese education. Lesson study teams up teachers to collaboratively create lessons, teacher the lessons, observe their peers, and constantly revise and rethink their instructional strategies.

    Literature Circle
    A Literature Circle is a student centered reading activity for a group of 4-6 students at any grade level. Each member of a circle is assigned a role which helps guide the group in a discussion of the title they are all reading. Literature Circles provide an opportunity for students to control their own learning; to share thoughts, concerns and their understanding of the events of the novel.

    The practice of placing students with disabilities into regular classrooms. The students usually also receive some assistance and instruction in separate classrooms, often called resource rooms. (Programs in which students with disabilities spend all or nearly all of their time in regular classrooms are called inclusion or full inclusion programs. Mainstreaming is also known as partial inclusion.)
    Experts say successful mainstreaming requires regular communication and cooperation among teachers, students, and parents. Individualized Education Programs need to be jointly developed, thoroughly understood, and carefully followed. The classroom teacher may need special training and assistance from the special education staff. Mainstreaming is also more effective when regular students are given information about their peers with special needs.


    Learning materials designed to help students understand abstract ideas by handling physical objects. An abacus is a mathematics manipulative.

    Mental Arithmetic Techniques

    Techniques to allow students to approximate answers to math problems. Mental math or mental arithmetic is important to allow students to be able to recognize when the answers they obtain using calculators are accurate.

    Metacognition is "thinking about thinking." Learners monitor their own thought processes to decide if they are learning effectively. Taking a learning styles inventory, then altering study habits to fit what was learned about preferences would be an example of a metacognitive activity. Metacognition is the awareness individuals have of their own mental processes and the subsequent ability to monitor, regulate, and direct themselves to a desired end. Students demonstrate metacognition if they can articulate what strategies they used to read and understand a text. Metacognition helps readers monitor and control their comprehension on an ongoing basis and adjust their reading strategies to maximize comprehension. (Adapted from Harris and Hodges. The Literacy Dictionary, 128.) (See Self-Monitor.)


    The mini-lesson is part of Writers' Workshop and provides a short (5- to 10- minute), structured lesson on a topic related to writing. Topics are selected by the teacher and based on student need or curricular areas. These topics address aspects of the writing process or procedures for independent Writing Workshop time.

    Coined by Ken Goodman in the mid 1960s, a miscue is any departure from the text when reading orally. Use of miscue instead of "error" suggests that mistakes are not random, but occur when the reader tries to use different strategies to make sense of text, and emphasizes that not all errors are equal -- some errors represent more highly developed reading skills than others. Miscues can be analyzed to suggest what strategies the reader is using or lacking, and what kinds of additional instruction might be helpful. (See Miscue Analysis.)

    Miscue Analysis
    Miscue analysis is a way of closely observing, recording, and analyzing oral reading behaviors to assess how the reader is using specific cuing strategies, like the use of syntax, semantic information, and graphophonics. The teacher uses a specific code to record actual reading. Miscue analysis is usually done with an unfamiliar, long text, followed by a taped retelling. Scoring and analysis is more complex than with a running record, and is usually done at a later time. While running records are most often used with beginning readers, miscue analysis can be used for more advanced readers.

    Multidisciplinary Curriculum
    Refers to curriculum in more than one discipline or subject area. People may use this term and related ones differently, but, in general, a multidisciplinary curriculum is one in which the same topic (e.g., harmony) is studied from the viewpoint of more than one discipline (e.g., music, history, and literature). For example, students may study weather using a variety of disciplines. They might study the current science behind measuring air pressure, learn about the history of weather prediction, and read and write poetry about weather.

    Multiple Intelligences
    A theory of intelligence developed in the 1980s by Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University. Gardner defines intelligence broadly as "the capacity to solve problems or fashion products that are valued in one or more cultural setting." He originally identified seven intelligences: linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. He later suggested the existence of several others, including naturalist, spiritual, and existential. Everyone has all the intelligences, but in different proportions.
    Teachers who use a multiple-intelligences approach strive to present subject matter in ways that allow students to use several intelligences. For example, they might teach about the Civil War using songs from that period or teach the solar system by having students physically act out the rotation of planets around the sun.

    NCLB (Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA))

    U.S. legislation passed in 1965 that provided large amounts of federal aid to states and local districts as part of the larger War on Poverty. ESEA must be reauthorized periodically by the Congress. The most well-known provision of ESEA is Title I, which targets funding to schools with high concentrations of economically disadvantaged children in order to improve their educational opportunities.
    The 2002 version requires that states administer annual tests in Math and Reading for all students in grades 3 through 8 and grade 11; schools failing to produce sufficient improvements in student test scores will be subject to sanctions. Advocates of these testing provisions argue that they are necessary to ensure that all children receive a quality education; others argue, however, that such tests are not an accurate measure of educational quality and that the accountability provisions will compel teachers to teach to the test, narrowing the curriculum and focusing on rote learning.

    PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career)
    In the spring of 2010, NJDOE joined PARCC.  This is a consortium of 23 states and Washington, D.C. working together to develop a common set of K-12 assessments in Language Arts and Math alligned to the Common Core State Standards.  These new K-12 assessments will mark students' progress and provide teachers with timely information to inform instruction and provide student support. As of 2018-2019 school year, this assessment is referred to as NJSLA (New Jersey Student Learning Assessment).

    The art of teaching-especially the conscious use of particular instructional methods. If a teacher uses a discovery approach rather than direct instruction, for example, she is using a different pedagogy.

    Peer Mediation
    Programs in which students assist other students to work through problems without resorting to violence. In such programs, selected students-or sometimes all the students-are taught conflict resolution skills: how to negotiate problems in a nonviolent way. Designated mediators may then patrol school grounds, especially playgrounds, and intervene when they see a conflict or the threat of a conflict.

    Peer Editing
    Students read and give feedback on the work of their peers. Peer editing is not only useful as a tool to improve students' analytical skills, but also provides students with an alternative audience for their work.

    Performance Assessment
    A form of assessment that is designed to assess what students know through their ability to perform certain tasks. For example, a performance assessment might require a student to serve a volleyball, solve a particular type of mathematics problem, or write a short business letter to inquire about a product as a way of demonstrating that they have acquired new knowledge and skills. Advocates believe such assessments-sometimes called performance-based assessments-provide a more accurate indication of what students can do than traditional assessments, which might require a student to fill in the blank, indicate whether a statement is true or false, or select a right answer from multiple given choices.
    Evaluating students through task performance can be more time-consuming and therefore more expensive. Most large-scale assessments (such as state testing programs) use this form of assessment sparingly, if at all. But many educators believe it is worth the extra cost because it provides a more accurate and realistic picture of student learning.

    Phonemic Awareness
    Phonemic awareness is one small part of phonological awareness. Spoken words are made up of individual sounds (phonemes) that can be heard and manipulated. For example, the word for has three phonemes, help has four; cane has three phonemes, as does same or make. Phonemic awareness activities include listening for, counting, and identifying distinct sounds (not letter names); hearing, matching, adding, chopping off, or rearranging sounds; and separating or blending sounds to make words. Phonemic awareness can be taught explicitly or indirectly through games, manipulative activities, chanting, and reading and singing songs and poems


    The relationship between the basic sounds of a language (phonemes) and the way those sounds are represented by symbols (letters of the alphabet). Many people see phonics as a method of teaching reading that begins with the study of individual letter sounds (44 basic sounds in English), progressing to words that contain those sounds, and only then to reading the words in stories. This approach, which might be described as systematic phonics, is opposite in theory and technique from the whole-language approach, which involves learning skills in the context of meaningful reading and writing. Most school reading programs are a compromise between these extremes. Teachers teach sound-letter correspondences but also have students spend part of their time on related reading and writing activities.


    A collection of student work chosen to exemplify and document a student's learning progress over time. Just as professional artists assemble portfolios of their work, students are often encouraged or required to maintain a portfolio illustrating various aspects of their learning. Some teachers specify what items students should include, while others let students decide. Portfolios are difficult to score reliably and may be a logistical problem for teachers, but advocates say they encourage student reflection and are a more descriptive and accurate indicator of student learning than grades or changes in test scores.

    Problem-based Learning
    An approach to curriculum and teaching that involves students in solution of real-life problems rather than conventional study of terms and information. Developed in leading medical schools, problem-based learning begins with a real problem that connects to the student's world, such as how to upgrade a local waste treatment plant. Student teams organize their methods and procedures around specifics of the problem, not around subject matter as such. Students explore various avenues before arriving at a solution to present to the class. Teachers report that students using problem-based learning become more interested in their studies, more motivated to explore in-depth, and more likely to see the value of the lesson. Problems are chosen for their appropriateness and power to illuminate core concepts in the curriculum. They must be carefully selected to ensure that students learn the intended content.

    Reading Recovery
    An individualized reading-skills program for students who are having difficulty learning to read. Teachers are trained in a year-long course that emphasizes a whole-language approach (reading within context rather than phonics) and integrates reading, writing, and listening techniques. Students who don't improve are eligible to receive 30 minutes of one-on-one instruction daily for up to 20 weeks.

    Reading Workshop
    Reading Workshop is an instructional strategy as well as an organizational framework for language arts instruction. In the workshop, students participate in three broad areas: a mini-lesson conducted by the teacher, independent reading time, and sharing time. Often times during the independent reading portion of the reading workshop, teachers will meet with students individually or in small groups to reinforce reading strategies or skills.

    Specific descriptions of performance of a given task at several different levels of quality. Teachers use rubrics to evaluate student performance on performance tasks. Students are often given the rubric, or may even help develop it, so they know in advance what they are expected to do. For example, the content of an oral presentation might be evaluated using the following rubric:
    Level 4-The main idea is well developed, using important details and anecdotes. The information is accurate and impressive. The topic is thoroughly developed within time constraints.
    Level 3-The main idea is reasonably clear and supporting details are adequate and relevant. The information is accurate. The topic is adequately developed within time constraints but is not complete.
    Level 2-The main idea is not clearly indicated. Some information is inaccurate. The topic is supported with few details and is sketchy and incomplete.
    Level 1-A main idea is not evident. The information has many inaccuracies. The topic is not supported with details

    Running Record
    A running record is a process in which a teacher listens to a student read orally from a text in order to assess the student's reading ability. The teacher will take notes on a running record form as the student reads aloud. .

    Service Learning

    Provisions for making community service part of the school's educational program. At the high school level, this means awarding school credit for such service. Students usually work on site at such locations as soup kitchens, recycling centers, homeless shelters, and community hospital fairs. Some high schools require that students earn a certain number of credits in service learning in order to graduate.

    Shared Reading
    Shared Reading is an interactive reading experience that occurs when children join in the reading of a big book or other enlarged text as guided by a teacher or other experienced reader. The book must be suitable for the children to be able to join in or the experience changes to a Read Aloud. It is through Shared Reading that the reading process and reading strategies that readers use are demonstrated. The experience is an enjoyable one shared by the children. Shared Reading provides excellent opportunities to demonstrate concepts about print and features of books and writing. In this risk-free environment, a most important purpose of Shared Reading is that children can learn to perceive themselves as readers.

    Spiral Curriculum

    An approach to curriculum design that provides for periodic revisiting of key topics over a period of years, presenting them in greater depth each time. Contrasts with mastery learning, which assumes that a topic should be taught thoroughly and mastered before students move on to something else.

    Thematic Units
    A unit of study that has lessons focused on a specific theme, sometimes covering all core subject areas. For example, the theme of inequality may be explored by studying the caste system in India and slavery in the American South. It is often used as an alternative approach to teaching history or social studies.

    TIMMS (Third International Mathematics and Science Survey)
    This is an international comparative study designed to provide information about educational achievement and learning contexts for participating countries in mathematics and science in grades 7 and 8.

    Students think individually, then pair (discuss with partner), then share ideas with class.

    Understanding by Design
    A approach to curriculum design that emphasizes the six facets of understanding with a focus on student engagement in exploring and deepening their understand of important ideas.

    Wait Time
    How long a teacher waits after asking a question can influence the quality of responses provided by students. Increased "wait time" also leads to increased confidence in students and improvements in classroom discipline.

    Whole Language
    A technique for teaching language arts that emphasizes the reading and writing of whole texts (sometimes beginning with picture books) before analyzing words and individual letter sounds. Advocates believe it instills a love of reading more than a strictly phonetic approach, which begins with drilling and memorizing the basic vowel and consonant sounds. Although some reading specialists are bitterly divided over the merits of whole language versus systematic phonics, most schools offer a combination of both-some putting more emphasis on reading for meaning, some on component skills. Some programs differentiate instruction according to individual student needs. Research studies indicate that whole-language practices work well with children who are visual, holistic learners.

    Writing Process
    The writing process describes the steps writers take when they compose both formal and informal pieces. The steps include planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. During the prewriting or planning stage, children select topics, collect related information, discuss ideas with other students or the teacher, take notes, and even draw. Children then begin to write one or more drafts, expanding and clarifying ideas with each draft. Often, children read their writing aloud to another student or the teacher to help in revising the draft. Students then edit their final draft for writing conventions, including spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and grammar. Editing can be done independently or with a partner. The final step, publishing, can be in the form of a bound book, an oral reading of the piece, or writing displayed on a bulletin board. Young children often "publish" their books during Author's Chair.

    Writing Workshop
    Writing Workshop is an instructional strategy as well as an organizational framework for language arts instruction. In the workshop, students participate in three broad areas: a mini-lesson conducted by the teacher, activity time, and sharing time. In the workshop strategy, students hold most of the decision-making power regarding material to be written. The teacher participates as more of a coach or facilitator during workshop time.