Learning-Focused Glossary

  • Acceleration – A systematic implementation of specific instructional strategies to address the various needs of all students. Specifically the process involves measures taken before lessons to prepare students for learning, measures taken during lessons to support and challenge students, and measures taken after instruction to provide effective remediation and review.
  • Achievement – Performance on assessments (all types) including state and national assessments.
  • Activating Strategy – A student engagement activity used at the beginning of a Learning-Focused lesson. The purpose is to build or connect to prior knowledge, motivate, preview key vocabulary, and prepare students for learning.
  • Advance Organizer – An organizer is provided before the unit, lesson or task.  It may be used to provide the “big picture”, to guide a learning activity, or to outline steps in a process.  Acceleration uses all four types of advance organizers:  graphic representations (content or higher order thinking), expository (descriptions of content), narrative (story maps), and skimming information prior to the lesson.
  • Analyze/Reason– The third Level of Learning in the Learning-Focused Levels of Learning that incorporates the eight higher order thinking strategies emphasized in standards and on associated assessments.
  • Analyzing Relationships – Higher Order Thinking strategy in which students separate information into its parts and analyze the individual parts to see how they are connected.
  • Analyzing Viewpoints– Higher Order Thinking strategy in which students describe reasons for their viewpoint as well as the viewpoints of others.
  • Apply – the fourth Level of Learning in which students apply what they have learned in new contexts using thinking processes that combine multiple thinking strategies from Level 3. (See Analyze/Reason).
  • Assessment Prompts – Questions and prompts used as formative assessments after each Learning Activity in a Learning-FocusedLesson to check for understanding.
  • Assignment –a task in which students integrate content knowledge and skills with higher order thinking strategies and writing to demonstrate and deepen understanding of grade-level standards.
  • Benchmarking – process of evaluating something, comparing what you do against it, and developing and assessing how you can implement what you are doing to best meet the standards of the model.
  • Benchmark Assessments – assessments in the same format as standardized tests that are periodically administered and used to assess students’ grasp of standards taught.  These assessments are used to determine what support is needed to ensure necessary growth for success on standardized tests.
  • Collaborative Pairs – An organizational tool for the classroom in which students are grouped in pairs of two to actively engage their thinking about what they are learning.
  • Collaborative Planning – Teachers and/or administrators planning together towards a common goal. To reach their goal, they have created a collaborative climate of honesty, respect, and trust.
  • Common Assessments – Uniform assessments that provide consistent expectations, guide instructional decisions, and determine how well students learned the defined learning goals.
  • Compare and Contrast – Higher Order Thinking strategy in which students identify similarities and differences.
  • Comprehension – The ability to understand and gain meaning from what has been heard or read.
  • Comprehension Strategy – Specific strategies that are taught in order to support comprehension: main idea and details, text elements, sequencing, cause and effect, inference, compare and contrast, and fact and opinion.
  • Conferencing – An opportunity for adults to share, reflect, analyze, synthesize, evaluate, and apply. This is a critical aspect of follow-up and implementation of exemplary practices.
  • Consistent – Using research-based strategies in every unit or lesson every time.  (Example:  Use a graphic organizer in every lesson to lift out key ideas, or for students to summarize key learning at the end of every lesson.)
  • Construct Arguments -Higher Order Thinking strategy in which students provide proof to support a claim.
  • Continuous Progress – Always improving; continuing to implement new research-based strategies to increase teaching effectiveness and accelerate learning for all students.
  • Data Driven – Use of data to set goals for increasing achievement, creating a plan to reach the goals, and for monitoring progress
  • Decision Making – Higher Order Thinking Process in which students select the best choice among alternatives and defend that choice.
  • Deductive Reasoning – one of the eight Level 3 thinking strategies; it involves applying principles and rules to specific situations to reach conclusions.
  • Determine Patterns – Higher Order Thinking strategy in which students find patterns or themes in information and apply them to new situations.
  • Developing Readers – individuals who are learning to read. They understand the relationship between sounds and letters, simple word families, sight words, and how books work.
  • Differentiating – Accommodations made in order to meet the varied interests, learning styles and ability levels of all students.
  • Distributed Guided Practice – Practice is distributed throughout the teaching.  Example: The teacher demonstrates/models for 10 minutes.  Then the teacher stops and allows the students to practice while monitoring the practice. The practice continues for a few minutes. The same process of check, re-teach demonstrate, or go farther is determined again.  The teaching time decreases as practice time increases.  Practice is distributed throughout the lesson and not saved for the end of the lesson.
  • Distributed Summarizing – Summarizing by the students is distributed throughout the lesson.  Example: The teacher teaches/presents for 10-15 minutes and uses a collaborative paired activity for the students to summarize what has been taught for 1-2 minutes.  This structure is distributed at even intervals throughout lessons to allow students to summarize and to give the teacher an informal assessment to determine if the material needs to be re-taught or to go farther in the content.
  • Diversity – Differences in students based on a wide range of characteristics including ability, readiness, learning preferences, interests, ethnicity, socio-economic level, and/or gender.
  • Drafting Process – The first attempt of students to put ideas on paper.
  • Editing Process – The process where students check writing for misspelled words and grammatical errors.
  • Emergent Reader – An individual who is learning to read. These individuals are learning the basics, phonics, phonemic awareness, and how books work.
  • Emergent Writers – Students understand the purpose for writing but there is little or no topic development, organization, and/or detail in the writing; little awareness of audience or writing task.  Errors in surface features prevent the reader from understanding the writer’s message.
  • Engagement Strategies – strategies and practices to appeal to students’ emotions or make meaningful connections to get students interested in what they are going to learn or to keep them mentally focused throughout a lesson.
  • Equality – All students or schools receive the same opportunities, supports, and resources.
  • Equity – Students or schools are provided with supports and resources sufficient to meet their unique needs.
  • Evaluate – Higher Order Thinking strategy in which students judge the quality, value or importance of something based on established criteria.
  • Evidence-Based Strategies – Strategies identified through school evaluations that are used in high performing schools and not typically found in lower performing schools.
  • Exemplary Lessons – lessons which include exemplary practices and the top five research-based instructional strategies that most impact student achievement.
  • Exemplary Practice – Practices and activities that exist on a consistent and pervasive basis in exemplary schools and that can be replicated.
  • Exemplary School – A school with 90% or more its students on or above grade level on standardized assessments.
  • Experimenting – Higher Order Thinking Process in which students generate and test a hypothesis through experimentation.
  • Five-by-Five – A form of monitoring in which administrators make informal observations or have informal conversations with teachers for 5 minutes in each of 5 different classrooms every day.
  • Flexible Grouping – The way in which teachers group students according to the instructional needs of the students. The groups are flexible because once students master the skill they were lacking they move to another group for support in another area.
  • Fluency – A students’ ability to read independently and understand what is read using the cueing systems.
  • Fluent Writers – Topic is well-developed with rich details; organization sustains writer’s purpose and moves the readers through the writing.  There is effective use of varied language and sentence patterns where errors in surface features do not interfere with meaning.
  • Formative Assessments – the frequent, ongoing assessment process that takes place during instruction to provide teachers with feedback about student progress.
  • Frayer Diagram – An organizer used for teaching vocabulary which consists of four sections and usually includes examples and non-examples.
  • Graphic Organizers – A visual display that graphically organizes information.  Graphic Organizers lift out the key ideas of the lesson to assist students with organizing, storing and retaining information. Becomes an exemplary practice when a completed Graphic Organizer is utilized as a tool to assist students with completing an assignment or other task.
  • Generating Ideas -Higher Order Thinking Process in which students produce many varied and original ideas for solving a problem..
  • Higher Order Thinking Strategies – thinking strategies that focus on analyzing and reasoning to deepen students’ understanding of content and build connections for the retention, application, and transfer of knowledge and skills. There are 8 higher level thinking strategies in Level 3 of the Learning-Focused Levels of Learning.
  • Higher Order Thinking Processes – Level 4 Higher Order Thinking that incorporates multiple thinking strategies. The 5 processes are Decision Making, Problem Solving, Experimenting, Investigating, and Generating Ideas.
  • Independent Readers – fluent, independent readers.
  • Infer– to reach a generalization or conclusion based on observed patterns.
  • Inductive Reasoning –  series of observations, detect patterns, form a tentative hypothesis that we can consider, and finally develop conclusions or theories.  This is often the bottom up approach.
  • Instructional Coach – An educator (teacher) partners with teachers and school leaders to facilitate effective implementation of exemplary practices in the school to increase learning and achievement for students as part of continuous progress.  The coach assists teachers in efficient, effective instructional decision making through reflective practice and planning.
  • Investigating -Higher Order Thinking Process in which students conduct research to develop and justify a position on an issue involving contradictory information.
  • Learning Activities – the planned activities in which students learn the knowledge and skills needed to meet the Learning Goals of the lesson.
  • Learning-Focused – Learning-Focused provides innovative frameworks, strategies, and resources to increase teaching effectiveness and accelerate learning for all students. It is a model designed to assist systems, schools and teachers in using exemplary practices to increase learning and achievement.  It is a planning model that provides frameworks and tools for organizing, planning, assessing and designing instruction.
  • Learning-Focused Lessons – a exemplary lesson plan framework that connects exemplary practices and research-based instructional strategies to increase rigor and depth of learning.
  • Lesson Essential Question – Learning Goals aligned to state standards written in the form of a question that communicates these goals to students.  The Lesson Essential Question asks for broad understanding of the whole lesson.  Students should be able to answer the Lesson Essential Question at the end of the lesson. Essential Questions should be worded in student-appropriate language. The main purpose of Essential Questions is to have students summarize to provide evidence of learning.
  • Lesson Focus – the key concept being addressed in a lesson. While most lessons integrate more than one standard or parts of standards, there is typically a primary standard driving the lesson. The lesson focus is a word or short phrase that communicates the central idea of that standard.
  • Lesson Instruction – The part of the Learning-Focused lesson where concepts and skills defined in the Learning Goals of the lesson are learned and applied. It includes Learning Activities, Assessment Prompts, Graphic Organizer and the Assignment.
  • Levels of Learning – Learners progress through levels of learning with each level taking the learner to more depths of understanding and the capabilities to apply those skills and concepts in their lives.  The four levels of learning are:  Level 1, Recall; Level 2, Represent; Level 3, Analyze/Reason; and Level 4, Apply. Adapted from the New Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Marzano and Kendall, 2007.
  • Literacy-based Instruction– Students identify and use reading comprehension strategies and writing skills to learn about content.
  • Literacy Centers – Opportunities for students to practice and apply the skills based upon individual instructional and developments needs.
  • Mastery – The ability of students to analyze, explain, and use content purposefully in new or different situations; doing something substantive with content beyond merely echoing it.
  • Measurable Objective – Specific goal that clearly states what the outcome will be and how it will be measured.
  • Menu Strategy – strategy for differentiating assignments based on student learning preferences.
  • Mnemonics – Memory devices such as acrostics or acronyms that provide a systematic approach for organizing and remembering facts.  Mnemonics provide the tools necessary to memorize and recall almost any information.  A framework is created and new information is attached to the framework for remembering.
  • Modeling – Providing students with demonstrations of expectations which leads to understanding.
  • Monitoring for Achievement – Checking the quality or content of classroom instruction on a regular basis using “Look Fors” and “Ask Abouts.” Provides on-going data observations focused on the consistent/pervasive practices of the school.
  • Non-Verbal Representation – A graphic description of information such as a graphic organizer or a pictograph.
  • Peer Editing – Students work with a partner to check written product for errors in grammar and spelling.  Checklists may be used to guide students in this process.
  • Peer Revising – Students work with a partner to correct the written draft for organizational flow.  Questions may be visible and posted to guide students in this process.
  • Performance Assessment – Students demonstrate the knowledge and skills they have learned through a performance or product of some type, usually an authentic task.
  • Pervasive – A large percentage of the teachers within a school are collaborating and using exemplary practices throughout the school to raise student achievement.
  • Phonemic Awareness – the ability to hear and manipulate sounds in spoken words.
  • Phonics – The relationship between letters and sounds of written language.
  • Primacy-Recency Effect – a learner’s tendency to remember best what comes first, second what comes last, and least what comes in the middle of a learning experience.
  • Previewing – Providing students with the prerequisite background knowledge for learning the knowledge and skills in a lesson. It includes the use of Advance Organizers, Activating Strategies, and Vocabulary Instruction.
  • Problem Solving -Higher Order Thinking Process in which students develop a strategy for accomplishing a goal.
  • Q-A-D Organizer –  Question, Answer, Detail writing organizer.
  • Quality Writing Program – Components of a quality writing program includes:  the writing process, genres of writing, organizational structure, assessments (including rubrics), and connections to text, self, and world.
  • Question Stems – part of the question that can be used to create other questions.
  • Readiness Level – the actual level at which a student is performing based on prior learning and experiences related to the specific content.
  • Reading Cueing System – a system of cues or prompts that identifies and assist students with reading behaviors.
  • Reading Level – The level at which a student is reading based on the reading continuum.
  • Recall -The first Level of Learning in which students learn information to the degree that the information can be recalled from memory.
  • Represent -The second Level of Learning in which students can organize and explain information in their own words (summarize) or provide a graphic representation of the information such as with a graphic organizer, diagram, or model.
  • Remediation – Taking students back to curriculum concepts/skills that they have not mastered and re-teaching those concepts/skills in order for students to “get it” this time.
  • Research-Based Strategies – strategies proven by a multitude of research to help significantly raise student learning and achievement.
  • Results Driven – Begin with the end in mind and implement all strategies toward accomplishing that goal.
  • Rubric – An assessment tool for scoring performances or products.  A rubric consists of a fixed scale and a list of characteristics describing the indicators for each of the points on the scale.
  • Scaffold – A temporary strategy for providing support to learners enabling them to successfully complete a task.  Over time, the strategy is removed as the learner no longer needs the support.
  • Self-Selected Reading – Students have the opportunity to practice reading. Students choose books they want to read.
  • Signal Words – Words associated with particular types of thinking that connect ideas in text and indicate to the learner how to approach the reading or the task. Example: “similar to” is a signal word for comparison.
  • Standards Driven Curriculum – A curriculum developed by creating the standards for all students, and then back-mapping to create benchmarks needed to get students to that point. All instructional decisions are driven by the standards.
  • Story Maps- Story Maps are graphic organizers that teachers use when the curriculum has narrative text and teachers want to emphasize a literary element or genre.
  • Story Maps – Story Maps are graphic organizers that teachers use when the curriculum has narrative text and teachers want to emphasize a literary element or genre.
  • Structured Review – Periodic review of key concepts taught (scheduled every 4-5 weeks).  Students gather prioritized content information taught the month prior to the review and organize that information.  Then, students actively use their organized information, usually in the form of a test, game or Higher Order Thinking activity.
  • Summarizing – Stating the main points in a concise manner.  Learners must do the summarizing in order to construct meaning and to create a “schema” for the information to remember it longer.  At the end of the lesson, the students answer the Essential Question.  Teachers use the information to assess and determine re-teaching needs.  Summarizing should be distributed throughout the lesson and not just at the end.
  • Summary-Point Writing – As teachers teach a lesson, they stop at various times and have students to write a list, summary, description, clarification, explanation, etc. of something recently learned in this particular lesson.
  • Taught Curriculum – What is actually taught in the classroom.
  • Teacher Directed – Reading instruction using grade-level text. It usually occurs through whole group instruction.
  • Teacher-Directed Writing Lesson – Whole group lessons on grade level instruction based on the needs of the class with a specific writing focus.  Lessons developed provide students with opportunities to practice, review, and higher order thinking.  Follow-up conferences with students focus on the specific skill or strategy taught in the lesson.
  • Teaching Effectiveness – Planning and providing instruction using research-based strategies and exemplary practices focused on standards with consideration of the acceleration needs of students and a constant focus on data to guide instructional decisions.
  • “Teaching to the Strands” – explicit modeling, teaching, and application of the specific testing strands.
  • Teaching to the Strategies – explicit modeling, teaching, and application of the specific comprehension strategies.
  • Team-Based Planning – The concept of a group of teachers who hold something in common, planning together and at the same time.  They may hold students in common such as a middle school team, or they may hold a grade level in common such as a 4th grade team of 4 teachers who all teach 4th grade.  It also may be a high school team who teach the same course.
  • Tested 7 – The 7 Reading Comprehension Strategies that build understanding of text and are often tested on reading assessments.
  • Test Taking Strategies – tools, procedures or plans for taking a test.
  • Ticket Out the Door– A summarizing strategy that may be used at the end of lesson or for transition to another activity as distributed summarizing.  Students list key points and give it to the teacher as they transition (like a ticket).
  • Tiered Assignment-an engaging task, requiring a high-level thinking skill and focusing on key essential concepts, adjusted to provide students more support and/or more challenge so they can successfully complete it.
  • Transitional Readers – Individuals who are well on their way to becoming proficient readers. They know many sight words, understand how words and books work, the impact of punctuation on reading. Individuals at this stage need lots of practice especially on fluency.
  • Vertical Alignment– Curriculum that flows from one grade level or course to the next in a logical, consistent progression.
  • Vertical Teams – When a school has designated a group of teachers to be a team holding students in common across grade levels.  Example:  A kindergarten teacher, a 1st grade teacher, a 2nd grade teacher and a 3rd grade teacher hold students in common across 4 years (K to 1st to 2nd to 3rd).
  • Vocabulary in Context – consistent and pervasive research-based vocabulary instruction that allows for multiple exposures to words in context, with emphasis on Tier 2 academic vocabulary and Tier 3 content-specific terms.
  • Walkthrough– A member of the Administrative or Leadership Team spends time in each classroom at each level using “Look Fors” and “Ask Abouts” as a part of Monitoring. Often done as a “5×5” (five classrooms per day, five minutes each).
  • Word Work – Understanding how words work including phonemic awareness, phonics, affixes, word rules and patterns, and vocabulary.
  • Writing-Focused Block – A time set aside daily for teacher-directed writing instruction.  Students are given opportunities to take written products through the writing process by drafting, editing, revising, and publishing/sharing.
  • Writing Process – The goal of the writing process is to teach students how to write in order to communicate effectively.  The five steps are:  prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing/sharing.
  • Writing to Inform – (Also called Expository Writing) A writing assignment in which the main goal of the writer is to inform a reader about a topic or concept.
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