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Educational Definitions




ability grouping  Placing students into groups based solely on their achievement on a test.

accessibility A general term used to describe the degree to which a product, device, service, or environment is accessible by as many people as possible. Accessibility if often used to focus on persons with disabilities and their right to access entities, often through the use of assistive technology.

academic standards  Statements that provide a clear description of the knowledge and skills students should be developing through instruction.

accommodation  A device, material, or support process that will enable a student to accomplish a task more efficiently.

action learning  A process in which a group of people comes together more or less regularly to help each other learn from their experience.

ADHD  Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. This is a condition in which an individual has difficulty sustaining attention, focusing on information, and frequently demonstrates hyperactive behavior.

adult learning  The art and science of helping adults (androgogy) learn.

advance placement (AP) A program in which secondary school students in the United States can pursue advanced courses that are generally eligible for college credit. Participating colleges grant credit and/or advance placement to students who obtain high scores on the AP examinations.

affective learning - The process by which learners gain an ability to deal in a positive way with their emotions and values.

analysis  A level of questioning in which students break down something into its component parts.

androgogy The art and science of helping adults learn.

anecdotal records  Narrative descriptions of student behavior or performance.

anticipation guide  A teaching strategy that encourages students to use their background knowledge about a topic before reading about that topic.

application  A level of questioning in which students take information and apply it to a new situation.

assessment  Gathering information about the level of performance of individual students.

assistive technology A term that includes assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices for people with disabilities and also includes the process used in selecting, locating, and using them. Assistive technology promotes greater independence by enabling people to perform tasks that they were formerly unable to accomplish, or had great difficulty accomplishing, by providing enhancements to or changed methods of interacting with the technology needed to accomplish such tasks.

attitudinal assessment  Determining the attitudinal or emotional growth of your students.



backward mapping A design technique in which the culminating task or performance is determined. Working backwards, foundational knowledge, deeper understandings, and performance skills are determined to be taught and in what order so students can accomplish the target task or performance.

basic facts The combination of numbers in addition and multiplication in which both addends or both factors are less than 10.

behavior modification plan Grounded in the principles of behaviorism, a behavior modification plan, sometimes known as a contract, delineates specific steps a student will take to change his behavior. Rewards and consequences for each behavior are clearly spelled out in the contract.

benchmarks  See performance standards.

bilingual  An individual's ability to speak his or her native language as well as an additional language fluently.

block scheduling  Longer academic periods (primarily at the high school level) that allow students to pursue a subject in more depth. Periods may range from 70 to 140 minutes in length.

bodily-kinesthetic intelligence  This intelligence focuses on physical activities; eye/hand coordination; and the ability to move around through dance, plays, or role-playing activities.

brain-based learning  Approaches to schooling that educators believe are in accord with recent research on the brain and human learning.

brainstorming  Generating lots of ideas from many individuals.

buzz session  A temporary group of students formed to discuss a specific topic.



CD-ROM  A computer disc of digitized sounds, activities, and/or pictures.

charter school  A school operated as a for-profit enterprise.

closure  The final instructional activity in a lesson plan.

chunking The process of organizing information into familiar manageable units. Short-term memory has a capacity of about "seven plus-or-minus two" chunks. It is theorized that it is possible to effectively increase short-term memory for low-information content items by mentally recoding them into a smaller number of high-information content items.

cognitive learning  The process by which learners acquire knowledge, beliefs, facts, and thinking skills.

cognitive load

comprehension  The way in which ideas are organized into categories.

constructivism  The way knowledge is created in the mind of a learner. This theory of learning, derives from the theories of Jean Piaget, suggest individuals actively construct new knowledge from their experiences by building upon and modifying prior knowledge and experience.

content courses  Teacher preparation courses that focus on the specific content of factual information about a subject (chemistry, social studies, algebra). College students in secondary teacher education programs most often take these courses.

cooperative learning  A process that involves students working in teams to accomplish a common goal, under conditions that promote positive interdependence, individual accountability, face-to-face interaction, appropriate use of collaborative skills, and group processing.

copyright  The registration with the Library of Congress that protects a book or other printed material from unfair and/or unauthorized duplication.

creative thinking  Generating new ways of looking at a situation.

criterion check  A point in any lesson at which the teacher stops and checks to see if students understand the material up to that point.

critical thinking  The ability to analyze information.



DEAR/SSR A reading program in which students select what books they want to read during a designated reading time when all students read at the same time. When a student finishes a book, he or she may conference with the teacher or a volunteer about the book.

deductive thinking  Going from the general to the specific. See also inductive thinking.

dehydration  A reduction of water content.

differentiated instruction  a form of instruction that offers several different learning experiences in response to students' varied needs.

dimensions of learning  The five basic elements of any teaching/learning situation: confidence and independence, knowledge and understanding, skills and strategies, use of prior and emerging experience, and critical reflection.

direct instruction An instructional method that is focused on systematic curriculum design and skillful implementation of a prescribed behavioral script.

disruptive behavior  Any behavior that interferes with or impedes a teacher's ability to teach and students' abilities to learn.



educational technology  Any instructional aid or media teachers use to support the teaching and learning process.

elaboration  The expansion of an idea or thought.

elementary teachers  Teachers who teach preschool up through grade 6.

English as a second language (ESL)  Students who speak English as a second language as provided special instructional techniques. These techniques address integrating language and content acquisition (SDAIE).

evaluation  A method of determining if students learned what they were taught. It is usually conducted at the end of a lesson.

experiential learning The engagement in some activity, reflection upon the activity, critical analysis for some useful insight from the activity, and incorporation of the result through a change in understanding and/or behavior

extrinsic motivation  When an individual is motivated by outside factors or other people (as opposed to being motivated from within).



flexibility  The skill of drawing relationships between seemingly unrelated ideas (How are a brick and a book similar?).

fluency  The ability to create a lot of ideas.

formative evaluation  Evaluation that takes place between the introduction of material and its conclusion.

free lunch  A student's meal which is completely subsidized by government funds.



gifted students  Students who demonstrate high levels of imagination, curiosity, and intelligence.

graphic organizer  A chart, outline, or web of ideas or concepts visually organized into groups or categories.



heterogeneous groups  Groups of students of mixed abilities.

high-stakes testing  When students take standardized tests, the results of which are rewarded in some way (graduation, for example).

homeroom  The classroom a secondary student attends in the morning (or at the end of the day). Attendance is taken, announcements are made, and forms are completed in this room.

hypertext Text displayed on a computer or other electronic device with references (hyperlinks) to other text that the reader can immediately access, usually by a mouse click or key press sequence. Apart from running text, hypertext may contain tables, images, and other presentational devices. Hypertext is non-linear and is either static or (prepared and stored in advanced), or dynamic (continually changing in response to user input).

hypothesis  An assumption, interpretation, or guess based on currently available information.



IDEA  Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This is the name given in 1990 to what was formerly known as Public Law 94-142 (the Education for All Handicapped Children Act).

IEP  A document that outlines specific learning objectives for a student and how those objectives will be carried out.

inclusion  Involving all students in the educational setting that best meets their needs.

inductive thinking  Going from the specific to the general. See also deductive thinking.

inquiry learning - A dynamic approach to learning that involves exploring the world, asking questions, making discoveries, and rigorously testing those discoveries in the search for new understanding.

in-service teacher  An individual who has been hired by a district and is actively teaching.

INTASC  The Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium. This a group of state education agencies and national educational organizations who work to reform the preparation, licensing, and professional development of teachers.

intelligence  The ability to use knowledge.

intermediate teachers  Teachers who teach forth, fifth, and sixth grade.

interpersonal intelligence  The ability to work effectively with other people.

intrapersonal intelligence  The ability to understand one's own emotions, goals, and intentions.

intrinsic motivation  Motivation that comes from within the individual.



knowledge  The facts and data of a subject.



laws of learning  Basic laws or rules by and through which learning occurs.

learning center  A self-contained section of the classroom in which students engage in independent activities.

learning disabled students  Those students who demonstrate a significant discrepancy between academic achievement and intellectual abilities in one or more areas.

lecture  Sharing information with students verbally.

lesson plan  An outline of goals and objectives, activities designed to help students achieve those goals, and objectives and ways to assess whether students have actually reached those goals and objectives.

lifelong learning Learning through the life cycle, from birth to grave, and in different learning environments - formal and informal.

listserv  A list of e-mail addresses maintained by a group or organization. E-mail can be sent electronically to everyone on the list by any member of the list.

locus of control  The degree to which individuals perceive they are in control. There are two types: external (people motivated by others) and internal (people motivated from within).

logical-mathematical intelligence  The ability to reason deductively or inductively and to recognize and manipulate abstract patterns and relationships.

long-term memory A system for permanently storing, managing, and retrieving information for later use. Items of information stored as long-term memory may be available for a lifetime.

looping the practice of moving groups of children up from on grade to the next with the same teacher.



magnet school  A school that specializes in a specific subject area.

manipulatives  Physical materials such as cubes, blocks, or balls that model mathematical concepts.

mastery learning A theory that proposes that all children can learn when provided with the appropriate learning conditions in the classroom.

memory  The way we recall previously learned or previously experienced information.

mental imagery  Creating pictures or images in one's own mind.

mentor  An experienced teacher who assists a new colleague.

metacognition The process of thinking about one's own thinking. Metacognition can take many forms. It includes knowledge about when and how to use particular strategies for learning or for problem solving.

methodology  The way(s) in which information is shared with students.

methods courses  Teacher preparation courses that focus on the methods, ways, procedures, or strategies of teaching (the “how-to's” of teaching).

modification  Changes in the instruction, course content, or outcomes for special needs students.

motivation  An emotion or psychological need that incites a person to do something.

motivational opening  An initial activity or motivational devise in a lesson designed to get students' attention or tap into their background knowledge.

MP3  Moving Picture Experts Group Audio Layer 3. This is an audio compression technology that provides high-quality sound in a very limited space.

multimedia  A combination of technologies to create an instructional program or experience for students.

multiple intelligences  A theory that postulates that human beings have eight separate intelligences (rather than a single IQ score) that determine how they learn.

musical-rhythmic intelligence  Sensitivity to the pitch, timbre, and rhythm of sounds and the elements of music.



naturalistic intelligence  The ability of individuals to recognize plants and animal lives and to have an appreciation for nature.

needs assessment A systematic process for determining the needs of a defined population; the process of research needs, available services, and service gaps by population and geographic area.

neural forest  The connections that occur between brain cells. The more connections, the thicker the neural forest; the thicker the neural forest, the more we know about a specific topic.

neuron  A brain cell.



objective  A statement of a specific, measurable and observable result desired from an educational or interpretive activity or experience; a stated expectation about audience, behavior, condition, degree that will result from a learning experience.

originality  The creation of singular and unique ideas.

outcome-based education OBE specifies the "outcomes" that learniners should be able to demonstrate upon leaving the system. These outcomes are derived from a comjunity vision of the skills and knowledge that learners need to be effective citizesn. OBE focuses educational practice on ensuring that learners master those outcomes, and it asserts that all learners can succeed.



paraprofessional  An individual (usually uncertified) who works with a teacher in a classroom setting.

parent-teacher conference  A face-to-face meeting between a teacher and one or both parents (or guardians) of a student to discuss the student's academic performance and any concerns either party might have.

pedegogy The art and science of helping children learn.

performance  The ability to effectively use new information in a productive manner.

performance assessment  When students demonstrate their mastery of material through a “hands-on activity” (assembling an electrical circuit, for example).

performance standards  Statements that describe what it will take for a student to demonstrate mastery of a standard.

phonemic awareness  A recognition that spoken words are composed of several individual sounds.

phonics  A recognition of sound-spelling relationships in printed words.

planning time  Time during the day when a teacher does not have students and can plan lessons and other activities.

portfolio assessment  A collection of materials designed to demonstrate progress over time.

praise  Verbal comments that recognize individual students.

prediction  An educated guess about something that may happen in the future.

prior knowledge  The knowledge a learner already has about a topic or subject. It is the past knowledge a learner brings to a new learning situation.

problem based learning (PBL) An instructional method that uses indepth and  rigorous classroom projects to facilitate learning and assess student competence. Students use technology and inquiry to respond to a complex issue, problem, or challenge. PBL focuses on student-centered inquiry and group learning with the teacher acting as a facilitator.

probing  A series of teacher statements or questions that encourage students to elaborate on their answers to previous questions.

problem-based education/learning An interdisciplinary instructional strategy that engages learners in investigating complex, real-world enviornmental issues and problem-solving as the context for teaching and learning.

problem-solving  The ability to identify and solve problems by applying appropriate skills systematically.

process evaluation  The way students go about learning. It may or may not be related to what they learned.

product evaluation  A formal test that occurs at the end of a lesson or lessons.

professional learning communities (PLCs) The teachers and administrators of a school form continuously seek and share learning and then act on what they learn. The goal of a professional learning community is to improve the knowledge and skills of teachers and administrators to increase student success. This is accomplished when teachers and administrators in a school continuously seek and share learning and act on what they learn.

project assessment  When students design a project that illustrates a specific principle (science fair projects, for example).

prompting  Assisting students in thinking beyond their response to a question.

psychomotor An attribute of human experience that describes behaviors, skills, actions; often used to describe learning objectives and/or outcomes.



reciprocal teaching An instructional activity in the form of a dialogue between teachers and students regarding segments of text.

regalia  Three-dimensional objects used for instruction.

reduced lunch  A meal that is partially subsidized by government funds.

remediation  A teacher comment that helps students reach a more accurate or higher-level response.

round robin  A small group setting in which each student shares information.

routines  Ways of managing the classroom; an established set of expectations.

rubric  A document that describes varying levels of performance (from high to low) for a specific assignment.

rule of two-thirds  In a traditional classroom, 2 3 of class time is taken up by talking, 2 3 of that time is taken up by teacher talk, and 2 3 of the teacher talk is telling or disciplining.



scientific method This method refers to a body of techniques for investigation phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.

search engine  A computer program designed to find websites based on keywords you enter.

second language learners  Students whose primary language is not English. They are learning English as their second language.

secondary teachers  Those teachers who teach in grades 7 through 12 (in most states).

section 504  A civil rights law that requires that institutions not discriminate against people with disabilities.

self-efficacy An individual's self-belief in his or her ability to succeed in specific situations or tasks.

sensory memory The ability to retain impressions of sensory information after the original stimulus has ceased. Items from sensory memory are transferred to working memory for processing or to be discards as unnecessary.

simulation  An activity in which students are given real-life problem-solving situations. The emphasis is on student decision-making.

special needs A term used in clinical diagnostic and functional development to describe individuals who require assistance for disabilities that may be medical, mental, or psychological.

specials  Classes usually designated as nonacademic. They typically include art class, P.E., library time, and music class.

stakeholders A person who has a vested interest in a place, program, issue, or process.

standards  A description of what students should know or be able to do.

standards-based teaching  When teachers use activities and lessons to ensure that students master a predetermined set of requirements or standards.

stimulus  An event that causes something else to happen or take place.

stress  What people experience when a situation challenges their ability to effectively cope.

stressor  An event, circumstance, or situation that causes stress.

summative evaluation  Evaluation that occurs at the end of a unit of study.

synapse  The place where electrical and chemical connections are made between one brain cell and another.

synthesis  The combination of knowledge elements that form a new whole.

systems analysis  Analyzing the parts of a system and the manner in which they interact.



task orientation  The degree to which a teacher provides learning opportunities (as opposed to dealing with management issues) for students.

taxonomy  An orderly classification of items according to various levels (low to high, small to large).

teacher burnout  The time in a teacher's life when the demands and expectations of the job exceed one's perceived ability to accomplish them.

teacher's guide  A supplement to a textbook which includes a collection of teaching materials, lessons, ideas, and activities to help you teach the subject.

team teaching A group of instructors work purposefully, regularly, and cooperatively to help a group of students of any age to learn.

textbook  A collection of the knowledge, concepts, and principles of a selected topic or course.



universal design This process refers to a broad-spectrum of architectural planning ideas meant to produce buildings, products, and environments that are inherently accessible to the able-bodied and the physically disabled. In instructional design, universal design refers to accessible design for all learners including physically disabled students.



verbal-linguistic intelligence  The ability to use and produce language effectively.

visual-spatial intelligence  The ability to create visual images in the form of drawings, designs, maps, puzzles, mazes, and other creative items.



wait time  The time between the asking of a question and the solicitation of a response.

working memory The ability to actively hold information in the mide needed to do complex tasks such as reasoning, comprehension, and learning. Working memory tasks are those that require the goal orientated active monitoring or manipulation of information or behaviors in the face of interfering processes and distractions. The cognitive processes involved include the executive and attention control of short-term memory which provide for the interim integration, processing, disposal, and retrieval of information. Working memory is temporary and limited.

writing process A process that focuses on how writers draft, revise, and edit texts. Generally the writing process has five stages: prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, publishing.



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