English Language Arts Curriculum Glossary
Students should understand and be comfortable using vocabulary specific to the English language arts curriculum. These terms will be employed frequently in the classroom as the teacher gives instruction and students discuss and perform tasks. Parents/guardians can help students become fluent with this vocabulary by using the terms when asking "What did you do today?"
Artifacts are products that are used for instruction or come out of instruction (e.g., charts, student work, Reader's/Writer's Notebook).
Charting refers to the process of creating written/pictorial displays (wall charts) to capture learners' thinking and understanding of what they are learning.
Crack open is a revision technique whereby students are asked to look for a moment (sentence, phrase, etc.) in their narrative writing where they have rushed over a scene, provided general statements, or told through exposition rather than shown through narration and description. Once they find the moment, students revise (or crack open) that moment to develop the scene further by giving descriptive details, showing rather than telling, adding dialogue, etc. (Adapted from Bill Roorbach, Writing Life Stories, Story Press, Cincinnati, OH 1998)
Culminating project refers to the final unit assignment. The culminating project is related to the overarching questions of the unit. Students are supported to work on and collect ideas for their project throughout the unit.
Disciplinary Literacy (DL) is an approach to teaching and learning that integrates academically rigorous content with discipline-appropriate habits of thinking. In DL, students become literate in a specific discipline by learning the big ideas and habits of thinking of that discipline simultaneously.
Entry slips are quick writes that students compose and hand in to the teacher at the start of class in response to tasks or questions posed by the teacher, usually based on the previous day's instructional goals or homework.
Exit Slips are similar to Entry Slips, except these are handed in at the end of the class, rather than at the beginning.
Formative assessment is assessment for learning. This type of assessment occurs throughout the course of the unit and is used to measure students' understanding of the unit's key concepts, content and skills. The data from formative assessments are used to adjust instruction and learning to meet the needs of students.
Gallery Walks refer to walks students do around the classroom in order to read, take notes on or respond to various classroom artifacts.
Inquiry-based discussions are whole group discussions in which readers discuss their responses to interpretive questions (WriteAbouts). The purposes of an inquiry-based discussion are to help readers:
- "try out" their answers and explanations using specific moments and evidence from the text.
- practice making interpretations supported with evidence from the text.
- rethink what they thought about the text.
- understand that readers can have different valid interpretations of the same text.
Interpretive questions are text-based, thought-provoking questions that stem from genuine inquiry. These questions can sustain multiple, varied responses based on evidence from the test. Interpretive questions are the focus of WriteAbouts and inquiry-based discussions.
Metacognition refers to thinking about one's thinking and how one learns. Students are asked to think metacognitively when they answer StepBack questions.
Models are examples of work, either oral or written, that support students producing similar work. Models include work by peers, the teacher, and/or professional writers. They are presented to learners to help them understand what the "real thing" looks like and are typically written using prompts similar to but not identical to the prompt for the task/assignment.
Overarching questions present the big ideas and key concepts of the unit as inquiry questions that reach across and connect all of the texts under study. These are revisited multiple times during a unit.
Pair/trio charting refers to charts created by students working in pairs/trios to represent their group work/thinking to the entire class.
Pair/trio sharing refers to students working in groups of two or three to share their responses tasks in order to establish academic conversations in a safe environment with high accountability to the task and the group members.
Patterned Way of Reading, Writing and Talking refers to DL ELA pattern of reading, writing about/like and discussing texts multiple times for different purposes, leading students from literal comprehension to higher-order thinking.
QuickWrites are short pieces of writing composed by individual learners in response to questions and tasks.
Read to Get the Gist is the first reading of the text in which readers read for literal comprehension.
Reader's/Writer's Notebook is a classroom tool for students to record their ideas and try out new techniques.
Reread for Significance involves having students reread or skim a text to identify moments that strike them significant to the text.
StepBacks ask students to metacognitively reflect on their learning by analyzing what they learned and how they learned in order for them to develop and track their understandings and habits of thinking.
Summative assessment is assessment of learning that occurs at the end of the unit, usually in the form of a culminating project.
ThinkAloud is a form of modeling in which the teacher or a peer thinks aloud as as/he is performing a task such as reading a text, gathering evidence to answer a question, writing a thesis statement, etc.
Whole group charting refers to classroom charts that teachers construct with learners on major content or ideas.
WriteAbouts are short pieces of writing students do in response to interpretive questions based on their reading.
WriteAlikes ask students to write like the texts, either in the style of the selection or in imitation of an author's sentence and grammatical structures.
University of Pittsburgh Institute for Learning, 2008