Glossary

AJAX progress indicator
  • Academic Language
    The vocabulary and ways of speaking that are used in school subjects (distinct from social language).
  • Academic (or Educational or Content) Standards
    The goals set for readers at various educational levels that describe what skills they should possess; standards are set to guide educators' instructional design.
  • Accent
    A common term for the differences between the ways in which speakers pronounce words. These differences are often the result of phonemic variations between dialects.
  • Active Listening
    A strategy for building rapport where the listener engages with the speaker by asking relevant follow-up questions or expressing sympathy in response to what’s said.
  • African-American Vernacular English
    (AAVE) A dialect of the English language spoken by many African Americans and Black people in the United States. As a dialect, AAVE has systematized rules including grammar and syntax.
  • Alphabetic Principle
    The relationship between written text (letters) and the spoken word. Letters and combinations of letters are a code that represent individual phonemes (see below).
  • Antonym
    A word meaning the opposite of another word. Antonym is the opposite of synonym.
  • Assets-Based Pedagogy
    A type of teaching that views and affirms students' differences as strengths rather than as obstacles to their learning achievement.
  • Auditory
    Related to hearing–using sensory inputs from the ears (or a cochlear implant) to notice sounds.
  • Best Practice
    An effective method for doing something, especially when the method is supported by evidence.
  • Blending
    The ability to take a sequence of distinct phonemes and "blend" or re-combine them into the sound of a whole word.
  • Cloze Exercise
    A fill-in-the-blank instructional method that asks students to supply a missing word (or words) in a sentence. The words before and after the missing word provide clues about what the missing word could be.
  • Cochlear Implant [COKE-lee-er]
    A surgically implanted device that connects a microphone to the cochlear nerve (the nerve for hearing), helping people with hearing-impairments to better process sound.
  • Coherence
    The way in which a text's parts (e.g., sentences, paragraphs, chapters) fit together logically.
  • Cohesion
    The way in which a text's vocabulary and syntax work together to give the text meaning.
  • Communication
    Any means of sending or receiving information. Spoken language and written language are both forms of communication. But so too are gestures, images, and many other things.
  • Compound Word
    Two (or more) words joined together to create a single new word with a meaning that differs from the meaning of the words that are combined. For example, sun combined with block becomes sunblock and book combined with bag becomes bookbag.
  • Culturally Responsive Pedagogy
    The use of instructional content and methods that draw on and honor students' differences, especially in terms of their race, ethnicity, and culture.
  • Decoding (or sounding out)
    Translating printed words into spoken words. Students match letters and sounds and recognize the patterns that make up syllables and words.
  • Dialect
    A different form of a language spoken by a specific group. Differences can be between word choice, pronunciation, and even grammar.
  • Dyslexia
    Difficulty with word recognition, spelling, and decoding that is unusual relative to a student's other skills.
  • Ellipsis
    A cohesive device where repeated words are omitted.
  • Engagement
    A technical term for the amount of time and attention a reader devotes to a text. Strong engagement by a reader tends to produce better reading comprehension.
  • English Learner (EL)
    A student whose primary language is not English but who is learning to rely on English in classroom settings.
  • Enthusiasm
    A reader's motivation to finish and understand a text. Fun can be part of enthusiasm, but not all of it–it's possible to be enthusiastic about texts that aren't necessarily fun!
  • Expression or Expressiveness
    The way readers change their voices to reflect meaning and nuance in the words they're reading aloud. Elements of expressiveness include volume, pace, pitch, and timing.
  • Expressive Language
    The use of language (speaking or writing) to say something. The opposite of expressive language is receptive language (see below).
  • Fading
    The gradual removal of an instructional support or "scaffold."
  • Figurative Language (or Figure of Speech)
    Language that uses roundabout ways of speaking to communicate more than (or something different from) what the literal words mean.
  • Fingerspelling
    A way of representing the written letters of a language using hand-signs. Fingerspelling helps people with hearing impairments develop phonemic awareness.
  • Flexible Grouping
    Teaching students in small groups organized on the basis of the commonality of their skills and needs.
  • Fluency
    Fluency is the culmination of reading instruction–the ability to read effortlessly and accurately at a normal speed. In most cases, fluency means that a reader also understands what he or she is reading.
  • Grapheme
    The smallest unit of a system of writing–the way symbols are written to represent the sounds, or phonemes, of a language.
  • Guided Oral Reading
    An instructional method that involves helping a student read a passage orally, with the instructor or a peer also participating. The instructor provides feedback and encouragement to help the student read the passage more fluently.
  • Guided Silent Reading
    An instructional method in which an educator provides instructional scaffolds to help students derive meaning from texts they read silently.
  • Hand-Eye Coordination
    Matching up the use of hands and eyes. What the eyes see, the hands grasp. Young children develop this ability over time. Some children experience delays in this development.
  • Hard-Wired
    Neurological connections that exist naturally and do not need to be taught.
  • Heart Words
    Words we know by heart that are intentionally taught because they occur frequently; words with irregular spellings are often useful heart words.
  • Homophones
    Words that sound alike, such as "night" and "knight." Homophones may have different spellings, which show the difference between phonemes and graphemes.
  • Hyperbole
    A figure of speech involving exaggeration.
  • Idiom
    Words and phrases that have taken on a particular meaning different from the literal meaning of the words themselves. "Break a leg" is an example of an idiom meaning "good luck."
  • Inference
    Making a judgment about a text's meaning that goes beyond the facts the text plainly states.
  • Interest
    Interest describes what's at stake for a reader in a text. Texts that have some importance to a reader carry more interest for him or her, and that interest stimulates enthusiasm and engagement.
  • Interventions
    Specially designed lessons for individual learners or small groups that need extra help.
  • Learning Progression
    The steps involved in learning a complex skill.
  • Lexical
    Having to do with words. Lexical differences in a dialect refer to different word choices between groups of speakers. For example, in some parts of the US, people say "soda," and in other parts of the country people say "pop."
  • Loanword
    A word that enters a language directly from another language, usually as a result of historical contact between people speaking those languages.
  • Morpheme
    The smallest unit of meaning in a language.
  • Morphology
    The study of words' structure.
  • Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS)
    A framework enabling educators to identify and support struggling learners. MTSS has three levels, or tiers, of support. Educators plan ways to support struggling learners (interventions) and ways to measure if the strategies are working, starting at Tier 1. If students don't reach their(...)
  • Non-Verbal Communication
    Elements of communication that do not rely on spoken language. These include gestures (or signs), facial expressions, tone of voice, body language, and other means of communicating.
  • Oral Language
    Talking and listening, that is, language made by speaking and understood by listening.
  • Oral Reading
    The act of reading aloud.
  • Orthographic Mapping
    The process of a reader connecting the spelling of a printed word automatically to its pronunciation and meaning.
  • Phoneme [FOH-neem]
    The sound made when a letter, or group of letters, is spoken.
  • Phoneme-Grapheme Mapping
    An evidence-based practice for helping students draw the connection between the sounds we hear and the letters that represent those sounds.
  • Phonemic Awareness
    Knowing that small units of sound (called phonemes [FOH-neems]) make up words, including written words.
  • Phonetic Decoding
    Finding the meaning of an unfamiliar word by translating letters and groups of letters back into the sounds they represent, connecting the sound of the word to the words stored in one's verbal vocabulary, and realizing the word's meaning. See sound-symbol clues below.
  • Phonics
    A method of teaching reading and writing by connecting the sounds of language with the spelling patterns that represent them.
  • Phonological Processing
    Using sound (phonemes) to interpret spoken or written language.
  • Pragmatics
    The rules for how we use language socially. These include gestures, eye contact, and other attributes related to non-verbal communication (see above).
  • Print Awareness
    Knowledge of how to use a book, including how to hold it, turn pages, show pictures, and read text.
  • Pronoun
    A word that can function in place of a noun (e.g., he, she, it, them).
  • Prosody
    Patterns of stress, pace, rhythm, and intonation that are especially evident when a text is read aloud.
  • Readers' Theater
    A guided oral reading technique in which a group of students reads a text as if it was a script, "rehearsing" and then "performing" their parts. This technique improves fluency in a fun and collaborative way.
  • Receptive Language
    Taking in spoken (or written or signed) words—the opposite of expressive language. “Receptive” means you are “receiving” the words, by listening or perhaps by reading.
  • Rhetorical Question
    A question asked in order to state an opinion rather than solicit a response.
  • Scaffolding
    Things that support learning.
  • Scarborough's Rope
    A diagram of the reading process that shows each part of it as an intertwined thread of a larger rope. The more tightly wound the rope, the better a student reads.
  • Science of Reading
    An understanding of reading that relies on scientific evidence, often from psychology or cognitive science.
  • Scope (of Instruction)
    The different types of skills or concepts in a curriculum.
  • Segmenting
    Recognizing and distinguishing the sound-components, or phonemes, of a whole word.
  • Semantics
    The meaning of language as conveyed by words, phrases, and sentences. It does not address smaller units of meaning like morphemes (see above). Semantics includes vocabulary or lexicon (see below).
  • Sequence (of Instruction)
    The specific order of lessons in a curriculum.
  • Sight Words
    Words a reader recognizes almost automatically due to advanced decoding skills. Sight words are stored in our memory so we don't have to stop and figure them out.
  • Signing
    A visual language based on hand signals that replace oral speech and listening for some people, especially people who are deaf. In the United States, most people who sign use American Sign Language (ASL). In some high schools, ASL counts as a foreign language.
  • Simile
    A figure of speech that directly compares two things using words such as "like" or "as."
  • Simple View of Reading
    The view that reading comprehension consists of recognizing and then understanding words.
  • Slang
    Informal language used by particular groups. Some slang becomes widely adopted.
  • Sound-Symbol Clues
    Finding the meaning of an unfamiliar word by connecting symbols (graphemes)to the sounds they represent (phonemes).The word-sounds connect to words that are part of the reader's oral vocabulary, so the reader realizes the word's meaning. After much practice during early reading development,(...)
  • Spaced Practice
    An educational model where short lessons (or practice sessions) occur frequently over a long period of time. It contrasts with massed practice, that is, instruction with longer lessons that occur infrequently. Evidence demonstrates that spaced practice is more effective for learning than(...)
  • Standard American English
    The dialect of English commonly taught in schools in the United States. This is the dialect most often used in professional settings. It is distinct from the many regional dialects of American English.
  • Strategic Reading
    A planning process that helps students comprehend texts by giving them tools for before-reading, during-reading, and after-reading activities that will help them understand what they read.
  • Structural Analysis
    Finding the meaning of an unfamiliar word by identifying the root word, word parts such as prefixes (beginnings) and suffixes (endings), and the word's construction. Structural analysis works best with longer words.
  • Substitution
    A cohesive device where a repeated word is replaced with another, usually simpler, substitute.
  • Syllable
    A word part that includes a single vowel sound only.
  • Syntax
    The rules for how to arrange (spoken or written) words in a given language.
  • Teaching (Designing) to the Edges
    Fitting instruction to the real skills and needs of students instead of to an imaginary average student who does not actually exist.
  • Telegraphic Speech
    A form of abbreviated language used by children as they develop oral language. “Abbreviated” means short. For instance, “want cookie” means, “I want a cookie.”
  • Text Conventions
    The practices related to written text that most people who read and write English agree on. People understand them when they see them, and they use them in their own writing. For example, everyone agrees that a period goes at the end of a complete thought to make it a sentence. They agree that(...)
  • Text Features
    Various parts of a text, including text conventions; structural components (e.g., paragraphs, headings); and added supports (e.g., tables of contents, textboxes).
  • Universal Design for Learning
    A way of teaching aimed at reaching all students by using flexible and adaptable methods that engage many different parts of the brain.
  • Vocabulary (or Lexicon)
    The body of words known to a person. Vocabulary can also refer to all words in a particular language or even within a particular subject.
  • Word Families
    Groups of words that share the same combination of final phonemes and thus rhyme. For example, "cat" and "hat" are both part of the "-at" Word Family.
  • Word-Meaning Clues
    Hints about the meaning of unfamiliar words that are revealed by their structure.