Click for the Reading for All Learners site



Glossary of Terms & Links


Glossary: Beginning Reading

alphabetic principle. The assumption underlying an alphabetic writing system that each speech sound or phoneme of a language has its own distinctive graphic representation.
Link: TEA Staff Development Guide: Phonological Awareness (PDF) page 15
Link: TEA Staff Development Guide: Word Analysis (PDF) page 17
Link: NYSED: Essential Elements of Reading (PDF) page 10

automaticity. The ability to recognize a word (or series of words) in text effortlessly and rapidly. In math, it is the ability to conduct calculations effortlessly and rapidly. (See "fluency")
Link: TEA Staff Development Guide: Reading Fluency
capitalization. The act of writing or printing a particular word (e.g., a proper noun) and using an uppercase (capital) letter of the alphabet for the first letter of the word.
Link: Reading Scope and Sequences

concepts about print. Insights about the ways in which print works. Basic concepts about print include identification of a book's front and back covers and title page; directionality (knowledge that readers and writers move from left to right, top to bottom, front to back); spacing (distance used to separate words); recognition of letters and words; connection between spoken and written language; understanding of the function of capitalization and punctuation; sequencing and locating skills.
Link: California Reading Language Arts Framework

decodable texts. Reading materials that provide an intermediate step between words in isolation and authentic literature. Such texts are designed to give students an opportunity to learn to use their understanding of phonics in the course of reading connected text. Although decodable texts may contain sight words that have been previously taught, most words are wholly decodable on the basis of the letter-sound and spelling-sound correspondences taught and practices in phonics lessons.
Link: Reading For All Learners
Link: California Reading/Language Arts Framework: First Grade (PDF) page 4
Link: TEA Staff Guide: Word Analysis (PDF) page 3

decoding. A series of strategies used selectively by readers to recognize and read written words. The reader locates cues (e.g., letter-sound correspondences) in a word that reveals enough about it to help in pronouncing it and attaching meaning to it.

description. One of the four traditional forms of composition in speech and writing. Its purpose is to provide a verbal picture of a character, event, setting, and so forth.

description. One of the four traditional forms of composition in speech and writing. Its purpose is to provide a verbal picture of a character, event, setting, and so forth.

editing. The process of reviewing text in draft form to check for correctness of the mechanics and conventions of writing (e.g., spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and format.

encoding. transferring oral language into written language.

environmental print. Any print found in the physical environment, such as street signs, billboards, labels, business signs.

etymology. The study of the history of words

explicit instruction. The intentional design and delivery of information by the teacher to the students. It begins with (1) the teacher's modeling or demonstration of the skill or strategy; (2) a structured and substantial opportunity for students to practice and apply newly taught skills and knowledge under the teacher's direction and guidance; and (3) an opportunity for feedback. (see teaching functions).
Link: Research Into Practice: Teaching Functions

exposition. One of the four traditional forms of composition in speech and writing. Its purpose is to set forth or explain.

expository text. A traditional form of written composition that has as its primary purpose explanation of the communication of details, facts, and discipline- or content-specific information.

fluency. The clear, easy, and quick written or spoken expression of ideas; freedom from word-identification problems that might hinder comprehension in silent reading or the expression of ideas in oral reading; automaticity.
Link: TEA Reading Fluency Guidelines

formative evaluation. The gathering of data, during the time a program is being developed, to guide the development process.

genre. A term used to classify literary works, such as novel, mystery, historical fiction, biography, short story, a poem.

grammar. The system of rules for the use of language; the study of the collection of specific spoken and written conventions that exist in a language.

graphic organizer. A visual representation of facts and concepts from a text and their relationships within an organized frame. Graphic organizers are effective tools for thinking and learning. They help teachers and students represent abstract or implicit information in more concrete form, depict the relationships among facts and concepts, aid in organizing and elaborating ideas, relate new information with prior knowledge, and effectively store and retrieve information.
Link: Resarch Into Practice: Time Management: Example of a Graphic Organizer (PDF) page 3

guided student practice. Guided student practice serves as a bridge between activities designed to present new material and independent student practice. The guided student practice is integrated into activities designed to present new material. In math instruction, for example, guided practice could involve having the student practice one or several steps in the algorithm used to solve a single calculation or problem. In the more advanced stages of presenting new material, guided practice could involve the presentation of several math problems and the associated feedback procedures.

Guided practice and independent practice represent different points on a different continuum, so no absolute dividing point can be established to discriminate between the two related activities. Guided practice should be conducted in small steps and should be intensely supervised. It should prevent the development of consistent error patterns and inappropriate practices. This means that guided practice must be designed and implemented so that errors are identified and reteaching conducted immediately.

Researchers have stressed the need for students to practice their new knowledge or skill under direct teacher supervision. They note that New learning is like wet cement; it is easily damanged. An error at the beginning of learning can be easily set so that it is harder to eradicate than had it been apprehended immediately.

The research literature has consistently stressed the importance of appropriate amounts of guided practice for all learners, but nowhere is this guided practice more important than with low achievers. It has been noted that, The important element seems to be the provision of controlled practice with positive teacher feedback. The fact that certain members of the class will require more guided practice than others suggests that each lesson should contain a certain amount of time in which the higher-achieving students are working on independent practice, while the teacher is working closely with low-achieving students on guided practice.
The effectiveness of guided practice can be evaluated by measures of student success in independent practice. If students are at least 80 percent successful when they begin the subsequent independent practice, then guided practice has been appropriately conducted. (See scaffolding as a vehicle to provide guided practice.

independent practice. The phase of instruction that occurs after skills and strategies have been explicitly taught and practiced under teacher direction or supervision. Independent practice involves the application of newly taught skills in familiar formats or tasks and reinforces skill acquisition.

informational text and materials. Text that has as its primary purpose the communication of technical information about a specific topic, event, experience, or circumstance. Informational text is typically found in the content areas (e.g., science, history-social science) in grades four through twelve.

interactive writing. A shared writing experience used to assist emergent readers in learning to read and write. With help from the teacher, students dictate sentences about a shared experience, such as a story, movie, or event. The teacher stretches each word orally so that students can distinguish its sound and letters as they use chart paper to write the letter while repeating the sound. After each word has been completed, the teacher and students reread it. The students take turns writing letters to complete the words and sentences. The completed charts are posted on the wall so that the students can reread them or rely on them for standard spelling

learning center or station. A location within a classroom in which students are presented with instructional materials, specific directions, clearly defined objectives, and opportunities for self-evaluation.

listening comprehension. The act or ability of understanding what a speaker is saying and seizing the meaning.

literary analysis. The study or examination of a literary work or author.

literary criticism. The result of literary analysis; a judgment or evaluation of a work or a body of literature.

Matthew effect. The "rich-get-richer, poor-get-poorer" effects embedded in the educational process. The term is derived from Matthew's Gospel.

minilesson. Direct instruction on specific topics or skills. This direct and explicit instruction can also be conducted to benefit students who need more information or further clarification of skills or topics already taught. The lessons, or series of lessons, are connected to the broader goal of getting students to become independent readers and writers. They are presented briefly and succinctly on the assumption that such information will be added to the set of ideas, strategies, and skills to be drawn upon as needed.

morpheme. A linguistic unit of relatively stable meaning that cannot be divided into smaller meaningful parts; the smallest meaningful part of a word.

narration. One of the four traditional forms of composition in speech and writing. Its purpose is to tell a story or give an account of something dealing with sequences of events and experiences.

narrative. A story or narrated account of actual or fictional events.

onset and rime. Intersyllabic units that are smaller than words and syllables but larger than phonemes. The onset is the portion of the syllable that precedes the vowel (e.g., in the word black the onset if bl). The rime is the portion of the syllable including any vowels and consonants that follow (e.g., in the word black the rime is ack). Although not all syllables or words have an onset, all do have a rime (e.g., the word or syllable out is a rime without an onset).

orthographic. Pertains to orthography, the art or study of correct spelling according to established usage.

peer editing. A form of collaborative learning in which students work with their peers in editing a piece of writing.

persuasion. One of the four traditional forms of composition in speech and writing. Its purpose is to move a reader by argument or entreaty to a belief, position, or course of action.

phonemes. The smallest units of speech that distinguish one utterance or word from another in a given language (e.g., the /r/ in rug or the /b/ in bug.)

phonemic awareness. The insight that every spoken word is made up of a sequence of phonemes or speech sounds. This insight is essential for learning to read an alphabetic language because these elementary sounds or phonemes are represented by letters. Without phonemic awareness, phonics makes no sense; consequently, the spelling of words can be learned only by rote.

phonemic awareness instruction. Teaching awareness of words, syllables, and phonemes along a developmental continuum that includes rhyming, recognition and production, isolation, blending, matching of phonemes, segmentation, and substitution. Early phonemic instruction should focus on exploration of the auditory and articulatory structure of spoken language, not on letter-sound correspondences.

phonics. A system of teaching reading and spelling that stresses basic symbol-sound relationships and their application in decoding words.

predictable text. Reading material that supports the prediction of certain features of text. Text is predictable when it enables students to predict quickly and easily what the author is going to say and how the author is going to say it on the basis of their knowledge of the world and of language. Predictable books can also contain rhythmical, repetitive, or cumulative patterns; familiar stories or story lines; familiar sequences; or a good match between illustrations and text.

prewriting. The initial creative and planning stage of writing, prior to drafting, in which the writer formulates ideas, gathers information, and considers ways in which to organize a piece of writing.

primary language. The first language a child learns to speak.

print-rich environment. An environment in which students are provided many opportunities to interact with print and an abundance and a variety of printed materials are available and accessible. Students have many opportunities to read and be read to. In such an environment reading and writing are modeled by the teacher and used for a wide variety of authentic everyday purposes.

punctuation. The appropriate use of standard marks, such as periods, commas, and semicolons, in writing and printing to separate words into sentences, clauses, and phrases to clarify meaning.

reading comprehension. The ability to apprehend meaning from print and understand text. At a literal level comprehension is the understanding of what an author has written or the specific details provided in a text. At a higher-order level, comprehension involves reflective and purposeful understanding that is thought-intensive, analytic, and interpretive.

recreational reading. Voluntary or leisure reading for which students use self-selected texts that can be read comfortably and independently.

retelling. The paraphrasing of a story in a student's own words to check for comprehension. Sometimes, retelling can be followed by questions to elicit further information.

revising. The process of changing a piece of writing to improve clarity for its intended audience and make certain that is accomplishes its stated purpose.

scaffolding. The temporary support, guidance, or assistance provided to a student on a new or complex task. For example, students work in partnership with a more advanced peer or adult who scaffolds the task by engaging in appropriate instructional interactions designed to model, assist, or provide necessary information. The interactions should eventually lead to independence. (See guided instruction.)
Link: Resarch Into Practice: Teaching Functions (PDF) page 6.

schema. A reader's organized knowledge of the world that provides a basis for comprehending, learning, and remembering ideas in stories and texts.

self-monitoring. Students learn to monitor their own reading behaviors and use appropriate strategies to decode and comprehend text effectively.

Declarative–a sentence that makes a statement.
Exclamatory–a sentence that makes a vehement statement or conveys strong or sudden emotion.
Imperative–a sentence that expresses a command or request.
Interrogative–a sentence that asks a question or makes an inquiry.

sentence structure. The formal pattern or grouping of words that make up a sentence, are grammatically dependent on one another, and convey an idea or message.

sight vocabulary/sight words. Words that are read automatically on sight because they are familiar to the reader.

spelling. The forming of specific words with letters in the correct order according to established usages; orthography.

spelling, temporary/invented. An emergent writer's attempt to spell a word phonetically when the spelling is unknown. Temporary spelling is a direct reflection of the writer's knowledge and understanding of how words are spelled. By engaging students in thinking actively and reflectively about the sounds of words and their spellings, temporary spelling lays a strong cognitive foundation for both formal spelling and phonics. It does not, however, eliminate the need for learning how to spell correctly. Support for temporary spelling should be combined with formal instruction in spelling to move students toward rapid growth in word recognition and correct spelling.

Story frame/map. A graphic organizer of major events and ideas from a story to help guide students' thinking and heighten their awareness of the structure of stories. The teacher can model this process by filling out a chart on an overhead while reading. Or students can complete a chart individually or in groups after a story is read, illustrating or noting characters, setting, compare/contract, problem/solution, climax, conflict, and so forth.

story grammar. The important elements that typically constitute a story. In general the elements include plot, setting, characters, conflict or problem, attempts or resolution, twist or complication, and theme.

structured/guided practice. A phase of instruction that occurs after the teacher explicitly models, demonstrates, or introduces a skill or strategy. In this phase students practice newly learned skills or strategies under teacher supervision and receive feedback on performance. This critical interactive phase involves teachers and students.

summative evaluation. An overall assessment or decision regarding a program.

syllabication. The division of words into syllables, the minimal units of sequential speech sounds composed of a vowel sound or a vowel-consonant combination.

systematic instruction. The strategic design and delivery of instruction that examines the nature of the objective to be learned and selects and sequences the essential skills, examples, and strategies necessary to achieve the objective by (1) allocating sufficient time to essential skills; (2) scheduling information to minimize confusion on the part of the learner; (3) introducing information in manageable and sequential units; (4) identifying prerequisite skills and building on prior knowledge of the learner; (5) reviewing previously taught skills; (6) strategically integrating old knowledge with new knowledge; and (7) progressing from skills in easier, manageable contexts to more complex contexts. (See teaching functions.)

text difficulty. (relative to students ability):
1. The independent reading level is the level of reading material child can easily read independently with high comprehension, few problems with word identification, and an accuracy rate of 95-100 percent.
2. the frustration reading level is the level of reading material a child can read with an accuracy rate of 89 percent or less. At this level reading skills break down, fluency disappears, errors in word recognition are numerous, comprehension is faulty, recall is sketchy, and signs of emotional tension and discomfort become evident.

vocabulary and concept development. Instruction in the meaning of new words and concepts. Vocabulary instruction is most effective when specific information about the definitions of words is accompanied by attention to their usages and meanings across contexts. The development of an extensive reading vocabulary is a necessary phase of good comprehension.

web. A graphic organizer used to involve students in thinking about and planning what they will study, learn, read about, or write about within a larger topic. A teacher may begin with a brainstorming discussion of topics related to a particular theme and then represent subtopics through the use of a web drawn on the board. Webbing can be used to encourage students to consider what they know about each subtopic or what they want to know.

word attack (or word analysis). Refers to the process used to decode words. Students are taught multiple strategies to identify a word. This sequence progresses from decoding of individual letter-sound correspondences, letter combinations, phonics analysis and rules, and syllabication rules to analyzing structural elements (including prefixes, suffixes, and roots). Advanced word-analysis skills include strategies for identifying multisyllabic words.

word play. A child's manipulation of sounds and words for language exploration and practice or for pleasure (using alliteration, creating rhymes, singing songs, clapping syllables, and so forth).

word recognition. The identification and subsequent translation of the printed word into its corresponding sound, leading to accessing the word's meaning.

writing as a process (or process writing). The process used to create, develop, and complete a piece of writing. Depending on the purpose and audience for a particular piece of writing, students are taught to use the stages of prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing.