Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Glossary Index

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abstract
A summary of a research report, typically in the range of 40 to 250 words. It is meant to capture the essential information found in the research report, so it generally has sentences devoted to introduction, methods, results, and conclusions. Abstracts contain important key words used for searching through the scientific literature. Review articles, oral and poster presentations at scientific meetings, and grant applications will also often have abstracts.

blended learning
The integration of traditional teaching and learning with online learning to enhance students’ knowledge and motivation. Providing students with opportunities to create representations of their understanding with technology can motivate them to learn and to share their ideas with others. Students learn through a combination of teacher instruction and feedback with the use of the Internet and particular technology that support disciplinary content.

close reading
A reading strategy that provides opportunities to analyze text ideas, text structures and features, language use, and author’s purpose. The goal is for students to engage in a deeper understanding of text ideas and to connect those ideas with their existing prior knowledge. Close reading is particularly useful to students when reading complex text, as it focuses on a short piece of text or passage within a larger text to analyze and evaluate important ideas. The key strategy for close reading is rereading the same text for different purposes. With each rereading, students gain a deeper understanding of text ideas, the way they are constructed and communicated, and the author’s purpose.

disciplinary literacy
A concept that highlights the differences among the various texts used in different disciplines and the specialized reading practices required for comprehension and critical analysis of ideas within each. Some of these differences include specialized vocabulary, types of language used to communicate ideas, text structures, text features, and sources of information within and across disciplines. Each discipline represents knowledge and the ways of producing and communicating that knowledge differently, resulting in a diverse approach to reading and comprehending text ideas.

experimental science
Disciplines or subdisciplines of science that involve manipulating variables in controlled lab settings in order to establish cause and effect and mechanistic understanding of natural phenomena. Experimental science can be contrasted with historical science, such as aspects of geology and paleontology, where efforts are focused on understanding events and processes that occurred in the past. Much of modern science combines historical and experimental approaches.

explicit instruction
A model of instruction in which teachers make learning visible to students and provide opportunities for group and independent practice. Explicit instruction is the foundation for the gradual release of responsibility and cognitive apprenticeship models of teaching and learning. The teacher begins by modeling and demonstrating a particular skill or practice and then allows students to practice with the teacher or peers, moving to independent application. The goal is to teach students to identify an appropriate strategy for learning, to understand how to use it, and to know when to use it for successful learning.

figure legend
A very concise text that accompanies a figure (table, data plot, graphic, photo) and helps the figure stand alone and be interpreted by the reader without requiring that accompanying text in the main body of the article be read.

formative assessment
Ongoing, authentic, and diagnostic assessments of student learning and growth as they engage in specific tasks and practices of a discipline throughout a unit of study. The purpose is to inform teachers of student progress and to use the results to revise and plan subsequent instruction. Therefore, the assessment/instruction connection is inherent in formative assessment and valuable to both teachers and students. Formative assessments can be anecdotal records, quizzes, observations, reviews of ongoing work, or notes on student conferences.

metacognition
The knowledge and control readers have over their understanding and the purposeful self-regulation of their learning through the use of specific reading strategies. Metacognition requires two essential processes for monitoring comprehension: 1) an awareness of what is and is not understood, and 2) knowledge and application of specific strategies required for successful comprehension.

new literacies
The expanded view of literacy in today’s global digital world, as students consider the Internet as another literacy tool for learning. New literacies are critical to reading and writing in different disciplines. “New literacies are especially important to the effective use of content area information on the Internet. They allow us to identify important questions, navigate complex information networks to locate appropriate information, critically evaluate that information, synthesize it to address those questions, and then communicate the answers to others.” (Leu, Leu, & Coiro, 2004. Teaching with the Internet K–12: New literacies for new times (4th ed.). Norwood, MA: Christopher Gordon, p. 1).  

parsimony
When interpreting data, the principle of starting with the simplest explanation, based on the most likely causes, and using that interpretation as an operating hypothesis until further evidence rules it out. One of the main functions of parsimony is to make it harder for researchers to ignore evidence that discounts their pet theories. Parsimony also helps in determining what the next most valuable experiment would be.

performance-based assessment
Performance-based assessments (which are often summative assessments) provide students with opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge within a new, multimodal, or unique context. It is an authentic assessment of student learning because students are applying their knowledge and skills to a new situation. These assessments might involve creating a poster for a particular era in history, developing a PowerPoint presentation on a mathematical process, writing a blog on a science issue such as climate change, or presenting a speech given by a character in literature.

portfolio
The collection and interpretation of evidence of student learning, including the efforts, progress, and achievements in reading and/or writing within a discipline. A student portfolio will include various samples of written work (with or without teacher feedback) and student self-reflections collected over time. Portfolios enable teachers to evaluate growth in learning using multiple work samples representing different writing situations and different points in time. Portfolios may include samples of student writing during a unit, self-assessments of performance, journal entries, essays, reading logs, diagrams and visuals that illustrate learning, lab reports, and explanations of math or science processes.

precision
A term that describes the resolution of the recording instruments used in collecting quantitative data. It is not possible to measure at a finer grain than the instrument is capable of, and data should not be reported beyond that resolution.

prior knowledge
The accumulated knowledge from previous life experiences that affect the way readers approach and interpret a text. Often referred to as “schema,” prior knowledge is based on previous experiences, readings, viewings, and learning that affect the way readers approach and interpret a text. It is a critical factor in effective reading comprehension that results when readers connect their prior knowledge to new learning and revise their understandings.

qualitative
Data and evidence based on observations that do not include numerical measurements and are not, strictly speaking, subject to statistical analysis. Qualitative data are likely to be subjective, meaning different observers of the same phenomena might differ in what they record. Qualitative data can be made less subjective by repeated observations by multiple researchers. Single occurrence observations, referred to as anecdotal, are generally avoided.

quantitative
Data that are the result of counting and measuring and are thus subject to statistical tests of the shape, distribution, and significance. However, quantitative data are not intrinsically more dependable than qualitative data.

research report
A formal document reporting scientific findings. For students, the most familiar form of a research report is the lab reports they write based on their own lab exercises. Throughout these units, the term “research report” or “formal research report” is used to describe the published scientific literature. In practice, scientists refer to published scientific reports using various terms. The most popular term is just to call it a “paper,” as in, “Have you read my latest paper?" Other common terms are journal article, technical report, and, simply, “article.”

rubric
A scoring guide used to assess student performance of a particular assignment based on specific objectives and outcomes of a unit of study. The components of a rubric will reflect learning expectations and, often, numerical scores for assessing student performance along a continuum of mastery. Providing a rubric to students before they engage in an assignment will assist them in understanding the purpose and goals. Rubrics may contain elements of content learning as well as reading and writing strategies used to learn the content.

scaffolding
The temporary and changing support a teacher or more capable peer provides as students engage in learning a strategy or performing a task. Scaffolded instruction is inherent in the gradual release of responsibility and cognitive apprenticeship instructional models, in which the teacher assumes varying levels of support, as needed, with the goal of students’ successful independent use of a literacy practice for maximum learning.

scientific claim
A firmly established conclusion that is typically established by multiple lines of evidence and represented by an entire body of supporting literature rather than by a single research report. Scientists do not frequently use the term, favoring hypothesis and conclusion. In education, the term is used help students understand how to frame a conclusion that is supported by evidence.

summative assessment
Assessments that evaluate student learning at the end of a unit of study. The purpose is to assess what students have learned and to compare this learning with the benchmarks, standards, or goals of the unit. These assessments are often more formal and may take the form of exams, projects, written papers, or oral presentations.

text complexity
The relative difficulty and challenges of reading and comprehending a text based on text, task, and reader factors. The complexity of a text is measured by three factors: 1) qualitative measures (levels of meaning, organization of ideas, clarity of language conventions, and knowledge demands);2) quantitative measures (readability level, including word and sentence length, and text cohesion); and 3) reader and task (knowledge the reader brings to the task, including prior knowledge of content and knowledge of critical reading practices, purpose for reading, and motivation).

text features
Texts, especially expository texts often used in the disciplines, may contain specific cues that highlight or clarify ideas presented in the body of the text. The purpose of specific text features is to support readers in reading and understanding the text. They may emphasize important words through the use of different font types and sizes, bolded words, or italics. They may illustrate key ideas with visuals such as diagrams, charts, maps, or photographs. Or they may provide support in locating text information, including table of contents, index, or glossary. Recognizing and using text features before, during, and after reading will enhance comprehension of text ideas.

text structure
Text structure refers to the organizational pattern authors use to present their ideas and to clarify their purpose for writing. Narrative text has one basic structure that includes setting, characters, problem/conflict, plot/episodes to resolve the conflict, and resolution. Expository text often uses one or more text structural patterns to present information. The most common structures for exposition are: 1) description (main idea and details); 2) sequence; 3) compare/contrast; 4) cause/effect; and problem/solution. Identifying the text structure will assist readers in understanding important ideas during and after reading.

wiki
A collection of webpages and functions that allow a community of users to share information in multiple formats, including text, graphic, and video. Members or users of the wiki can read and post content and comments, usually organized by threads and typically focused on a larger project or subject. In contrast to blogs, wikis are generally owned by a stakeholder community rather than an individual.

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