Dictionary of Educational Jargon

From "ability groupings" to "wait time," we've got you covered!

If you are confused about all the different terms you have come across while preparing for (or starting!) a teaching job, this glossary will help you understand the jargon of your new profession. New teachers will find this resource particularly valuable.
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Dictionary of Educational Jargon

If you are confused about all the different terms you have come across while preparing for a teaching job, this glossary will help you understand the jargon of your new profession.

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Dictionary M-Z


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

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.

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.

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

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.

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


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.

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.

comprehension  The way in which ideas are organized into categories.

constructivism  The way knowledge is created in the mind of a learner.

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  Placing students into small groups and having them work together toward a common goal.

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.


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

dehydration  A reduction of water content.

differentiated instruction  Providing instruction according to the different ability levels in a classroom.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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TeacherVision Staff

TeacherVision Editorial Staff

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