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Teaching Reading: A Balanced Approach for Today's Classrooms
Pamela Farris, Northern Illinois University
Carol Fuhler, Iowa State University
Maria Walther

Activating prior knowledge  The knowledge a reader brings to the text based upon background and experiences. Activating this knowledge is an important step in the reading process as readers connect what they already know with what they are learning.
Aesthetic  A type of reading in which attention is focused on the idea and feelings being evoked.
Alliteration  The repetition of the initial sounds in neighboring words or stressed syllables.
Alphabetic principle  The assumption that each speech sound of a language should have its own distinctive letter representation.
Alternative assessment  The use of student work or observation of student behavior to measure student performance on learning tasks.
Analogy-based phonics  Teaching children how to decipher unknown words by looking for patterns in known words and using those patterns to figure out other words.
Analytic phonics  Teaching children the rules and generalizations to help them analyze words.
Anecdotal record  A description of behavior such as notes written by the teacher regarding student performance.
Antonym  A word that is opposite or nearly opposite in meaning from another word.
Assessment  The process of gathering data in order to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of student learning.
Attention deficit disorder (ADD)  A developmental disorder involving one or more of the cognitive processes relating to orienting, focusing, or maintaining attention.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)  A student with ADD plus hyperactivity. The child demonstrates inattention, impulsivity, and deficits in rule-governed behavior. Not to be confused with natural squirming of childhood.
Authentic assessment  The use of means of assessment other than standardized tests to measure student performance.
Autistic  A severe developmental disorder in which the individual is so self-centered as to be largely or completely unable to judge reality.
Autobiography  A factual account of someone's life written by that person.
Balanced reading approach  Knowledge and application of a wide variety of reading instructional practices and materials in which the teacher selects and implements the best method for each student in the classroom. It includes the use of phonics with beginning readers along with comprehension strategies based upon student needs and interests.
Ballad  A narrative form of poetry that describes love, courage, or the supernatural and is written in stanzas; may be accompanied by music.
Basal reader  The leveled reading text in a reading program that contains a variety of genre (traditional tales, fantasy, poetry, realistic fiction, historical fiction, biography, and informational selections) of reading material for students.
Basal reading series  A collection of student texts and workbooks, teacher's manuals, and supplemental materials for developmental reading and sometimes writing instruction in the elementary and middle school grades.
Behavior modification  A technique to change behaviors by systematically rewarding desirable behaviors. Undesirable behaviors are either disregarded or punished.
Benchmark  The expected achievement level of a reading or writing skill that the typical student at that grade level will be able to successfully reach.
Big book  Oversized books that provide an opportunity to share text and illustrations with a large group of children in ways that one might share a standard sized book with an individual child.
Biography  A factual account of someone else's life; in an authentic biography almost all of the facts can be documented. If fictionalized biography, facts are interspersed with some fictional material.
Book talk  A discussion of a book by a teacher, librarian, or student to introduce it to other potential readers.
Bottom-up approach  Theorists supporting this approach suggest that in the reading process, the text is of prime importance. Learning to read begins with the smallest elements-the letters-and moves sequentially to larger and larger pieces until sentences are mastered and text is comprehended. Accurate sequential processing of words is a key factor in this approach.
Bull's-eye writing  Like the small center of a target, this type of informal expository writing focuses on the key points or ideas of a topic, capturing them in concise thoughts.
Cause and effect  An expository text structure that involves an association between a cause and the resulting effect(s). For example, the text might discuss a decision that resolves a problem and students examine the ensuing effects.
Children's literature  A body of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry that is written especially for young people up to the age of fourteen. It also includes titles that were originally written for adults but children have made them their own.
Codeswitching  An individual's change from one language to another during oral or written communication such as combining Spanish and English.
Cognitive behavior therapy  An approach used with ADD and ADHD students to get them to reward themselves internally for doing desired classroom behaviors.
Common School Movement  Trend that occurred during the early and middle 19th century in the United States which established state agencies to control local schools and aimed to use public schools as instruments of government policy to solve social problems. All children had the right to a free, public education. One-room schools were built in rural areas to serve students in grades 1–12.
Comparison and contrast  An expository text structure in which an author explains how two items, events, people, or places are alike and different; a useful graphic organizer to use with this text structure is the Venn diagram.
Concept books  A child's first informational book, usually describing various dimensions of an object, a class of objects, or an abstract idea. Some concept books include ABC books, color books, counting books, and shape books.
Concept muraling  Presenting via overhead transparency or PowerPoint presentation a single visual with six to eight illustrations representing different concepts for a unit of study. The concepts represent the most significant objectives to be learned by the students during the unit.
Concept of definition map  This is a word map strategy that is most helpful for students in middle grades and above; it is used to illustrate the kinds of information needed to define a word. Background knowledge is activated as a part of learning new words by creating a visual picture of the word that addresses questions like what is it, what is it like, and what are some examples?
Context clues  Context clues are bits of information collected from the sentence containing an unknown word, or from surrounding sentences in an effort to decipher the meaning. Use of context is most effective when the clues are clear and closely positioned to the word in question.
Criterion referenced tests  The assessment of performance on a test in terms of the kind of behavior expected of a person with a given score (e.g., driver's license exam).
Decodable texts  Stories where the majority of the words are based on clear sound–letter relationships.
Decoding  Breaking down words by the sound–letter relationships.
Description  A prominent expository text structure in which an author points out specific characteristics, details, or features of a topic under study and provides clear examples of each one.
Developmentally appropriate practices  The use of concrete, hands-on, age appropriate activities that meet the individual learning needs of the student. This learning occurs in a carefully prepared environment where student choice, active exploration, individual and small group work are encouraged. Worksheets and workbooks are discouraged.
Developmental reading program  Reading instruction, except for remedial, for elementary and middle school students. Reading these materials is directed by the teacher.
Differentiated instruction  Based on research describing how students learn, differentiated instruction focuses on how students are both alike and different. Teachers study student differences in understanding concepts, learning modalities, and interests, and then plan accordingly to allow for different learning rates and to structure tasks of varying complexity.
Directed Listening-Thinking Activity (DL-TA)   A structure used to build comprehension for students as they listen to a story read aloud, make predictions, and then listen to confirm or correct those predictions.
Directed Reading Activity (DRA)  A teacher directed step-by-step method for facilitating comprehension during a reading lesson. It includes the following sequence of activities: preparation, guided reading, skill development and opportunity to practice, and enrichment activities.
Directed Reading-Listening Activity (DR-LA)   A structure used to build comprehension for students as they listen to a story read aloud, make predictions, and then listen to confirm or correct those predictions.
Directed Reading-Thinking Activity (DR-TA)   An adaptable strategy for teaching reading that involves three key steps: predicting, reading, and confirming or adjusting predictions. It is an effective method for teaching students to predict outcomes and draw conclusions.
Discovery/inquiry learning  A student-directed inquiry approach where students, faced with a relevant question to answer or problem to solve, work in small groups in an inductive process to reach a solution.
Double entry journal  An informal writing tool, this variation on the typical journal requires the students to use two pages or two columns to organize their information. The left-hand side may contain notes, diagrams, ideas, lists, vocabulary, and so forth. The right-hand side is used for reflections on the content, explanations, or even questions to be clarified. These journals work equally well across the curriculum.
Drop Everything and Read (DEAR)  A time during the day where children are given the opportunity to read books they choose at their independent level.
Eclectic teaching  Using a wide variety of instructional strategies depending on student abilities, needs, and interests.
Embedded phonics  Teaching children about sound–symbol relationships in the context of real reading.
Emergent literacy  Development of the association of print with meaning that begins early in a child's life until a child reaches the stage of conventional reading and writing. The focus is on the ongoing development of literate behaviors in real-life settings where the child is engaged in purposeful reading and writing activities.
English language learners  Individuals who are acquiring English and who have another native, first language.
Environmental print  Print and other graphic symbols, in addition to books, that are found in the physical environment, such as street signs, food products, television commercials, and the like.
Envisionment  The process of getting into a book in which a unique textworld is built in the reader's mind based upon that individual's life experiences.
Epic  A long narrative poem about a heroic person whose actions reflect the values of the culture in which the epic originates; may have been passed down by word of mouth originally. The language is often quite sophisticated as in Homer's Iliad.
Evaluation  The process of testing, appraising, and judging achievement, growth, product, process, or changes usually relying upon both formal and informal measures.
Explicit meaning  The reader can quickly locate a piece of information because it is directly stated in a sentence of the text he is reading.
Expository text  Nonfiction, informational books or magazines that are written for the purpose of providing information on a topic or an explanation. It is more dense than narrative writing, filled with facts, and may include photographs, maps, graphs, and other visual aids to help readers better understand the text.
Expressive vocabulary  This is a category that includes both speaking and writing vocabularies, those vocabularies that enable an individual to communicate her thoughts to someone else.
Fable  A short narrative or tale told in verse that ends with a clear moral which has been illustrated through the actions of the animal characters.
Fairy tales  A type of folktale that is filled with magic and enchantment. They are based on some fundamental truth like courage and hard work being rewarded while evil is punished.
Fantasy/modern fantasy  A genre of picture books or novels that contains an imaginative, unreal element; may involve magic or the supernatural. In traditional fantasy, the author is unknown, while in modern fantasy, the author can be identified.
First reader  The initial hardback book in a basal reading program.
Flexible grouping  The teacher forms temporary instructional groups based on students' learning needs and concepts that the teacher wants to teach. Types of groups include whole group, teacher facilitated small groups, cooperative groups, partners, and individuals.
Fluency  Freedom from word identification problems that might hinder comprehension in silent reading or the expression of ideas in oral reading.
Folktales  Stories of the oral tradition that have been passed down through the generations; every culture has its tales with similar themes appearing across cultures. Folktales are often well known within a culture because of repeated storytelling.
Formal assessment  The collection of data using standardized tests or procedures under controlled conditions.
Formal expository writing  This writing involves researching a number of sources on a topic of choice. Carefully assembled and condensed information is then polished into a report and presented in a variety of ways in an effort to share the information gleaned.
Formative assessment  The continuing study of the process of change in an instructional program as it moves toward its goals and objectives by monitoring the learning progress of its participants.
FQR  An acronym for a study system that represents the terms fact, question, and response. Can be used with narrative or expository text.
Gender  Sex of individual students; may influence interests, classroom interactions, etc.
Genres  Categories used to classify different types of literature that have a set of similar characteristics (i.e., poetry, fantasy, folktales).
Graphic organizers  Visual pictures or diagrams used to show relationships between ideas in both narrative and expository text. Examples include semantic maps, Venn diagrams, concept murals, and pictorial maps.
Graphophonic clues  The system that deals with letters and the specific sounds those letters make; in our graphophonic system, a grapheme represents a letter, so there are twenty-six letters in the English alphabet. A phoneme is tied to sounds and represents the smallest unit of spoken language. There are forty-four phonemes associated with those twenty-six letters. You can understand this when you think of the fact that vowels make more than one sound depending on how they are used in a word and that a letter like "c" sometimes sounds like a "k" or an "s" in certain words.
Guided reading  The teacher works with a small group of students who are at a similar level in their development as a reader. The teacher introduces a carefully selected story to the students, then assists the children while they read it quietly and independently. The focus of the lesson is to help children develop the independent use of reading strategies.
Head Start  A federally funded educational program that began in the United States in 1965 to assist children from low-income families. Children between the ages of four and six are given support to stimulate their intellectual, physical, and emotional development so that they will have an improved academic and social performance when they enter formal schooling.
Herringbone (Fishbone) technique  A graphic organizer that aids learners in picking out particular information from an article or chapter to answer the questions who, what, when, where, how, and why.
High-frequency words  The words that occur most frequently in reading and writing. For example, the following ten words account for almost one-quarter of all the words we read and write: the, of, and, a, to, in, is, you, that, and it.
Historical fiction  The genre of literature in which story events are set in the historical past. Often the stories are realistic enough that they could have happened. Because some parts of them may actually be true, they give readers a sense of what it might have been like to live in another time and place.
Holistic  Teaching in which subject matter is kept intact rather than separated into parts for instructional purposes.
Holophrase  A single word used to imply a complete sentence. Example: "Juice" rather than saying, "I want more juice."
Homograph  The morpheme or word part "graph" is a clue to the words that fall into this category; it means a written element, so these words are written in the same way but are pronounced differently and have different origins. Example: bow (ribbon), and bow (end of a performance).
Homophone  The important morpheme is "phon," which refers to sound. Thus, these words sound the same but have different meanings; most often their spellings differ as well. Example: see and sea.
Implicit meaning  The reader must read between the lines to understand the author's message. This involves drawing on prior knowledge coupled with information provided by the author to come to a conclusion or draw an inference about the story.
Inclusion  A practice of keeping all children, regardless of their abilities, in the regular classroom, a microcosm of real life. Thus, students identified as having special needs are an integral part of the classroom routine. It is based upon the belief that professionals collaborating and students cooperating can provide the least restrictive learning environment as everyone involved learns together. In some more severe cases, the special needs student may have an adult aide who works with him or her for more individualized instruction.
Individual educational plan (IEP)  A plan created by the classroom teacher, special education teacher, speech therapist, building principal, and other support personnel for a student with special needs. It includes the child's present level of functioning, annual goals, short-term objectives, services needed, strategies for evaluation, the initiation date, and duration of services. The IEP is updated annually.
Inference  Making a reasoned assumption(s) based upon information in the text and a reader's prior knowledge; reading between the lines.
Informal expository writing  Ungraded writing that occurs in journals like learning logs or double entry journals which involves such activities as taking notes, brainstorming, drawing a quick graph, sketching, jotting down key ideas, or posing questions to be answered during the process of reading expository text or when reflecting upon it after reading.
Informational books  A genre of nonfiction books that contain factual writing about a variety of topics.
Inquiry learning  A student-directed inquiry approach where students, faced with a relevant question to answer or problem to solve, work in small groups in an inductive process to reach a solution. Also known as "discovery learning."
Interactive approach  Theorists support the belief that reading involves processing text, drawing on background knowledge, and applying one's language abilities in order to comprehend what is being read. Thus, both the reader and the text are vital to the comprehension process.
Interactive writing  Teacher and students share the pen to create a preplanned text. The goal of the shared pen is to focus on specific conventions of written language that need to be learned or reviewed.
Interdisciplinary teaching (unit)  The practice of combining all or a portion of the language arts (reading, writing, listening, speaking, viewing, and visually representing) across content areas in an effort to tie learning into a cohesive unit. It replaces the typical subject oriented chunking of a classroom day. Teaching using interdisciplinary units several times throughout the school year is a common practice in most school curricula because it is more efficient in terms of time.
Item analysis  The examination of item difficulty, item discrimination, and any analysis of performance on the various item response options of a test as they relate to the teaching objectives.
Journal writing  An independent writing activity where students record their thoughts and ideas usually in a notebook.
K-W-L Plus  A method that is used to develop comprehension of expository text through activating prior knowledge. It is based upon students answering three questions: What do I Know? What do I Want to Know? and What did I Learn? (K-W-L) This can be enhanced with K-W-L-Plus by summarizing in a paragraph or other writing experience what they have learned after the unit of study is completed.
Language experience approach (LEA)  An approach where the teacher acts as a scribe to record children's ideas in a group setting. Emphasis is on children's exact words.
Learning disability (LD)  A group of disorders manifested by significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, or mathematical abilities.
Learning logs  Used across content area classes, these logs incorporate informal writing as students focus closely on materials being read and note both responses and reactions, as well as questions, definitions, sketches, and the like, to facilitate their learning. They are an effective record of learning and help students evaluate their progress in understanding a topic, think about their learning, and even plan further learning.
Legend  A traditional story of the people often rooted in some bit of historical truth. Part of the oral tradition, it was eventually written down.
Linguistic reader  A beginning reading program based on highly regular sound–symbol patterns, temporarily substituted for the term "phonic" in the 1960s.
Listening instruction  Direct instruction in specific strategies for effective listening.
Listening vocabulary  The first vocabulary acquired by a young child consisting of words heard and reinforced in the environment around him by parents, family members, and caregivers.
Literacy  In its simplest terms, it is the ability to read and write. Coupled with that ability, however, is the knowledge of how to use one's skills to communicate effectively in our print-rich society. There is a range or continuum of literacy skills beginning with those who are illiterate and cannot read or write. The next step moves to functional literacy, which refers to the skills or abilities required to use print adequately from day to day. Those with advanced literacy skills display the ability to engage in higher level thinking using reading and writing. Literacy skills can extend into other areas such as math, technology, and the visual arts.
Literacy play centers  A carefully designed space where children explore literacy through meaningful situations.
Literature anthology basal  A basal reading series that uses real, published literature usually in its original format.
Literature-based instruction  A curriculum in which literary works, usually trade books, are the dominant materials for instruction, especially in the language arts.
Literature circles  A small discussion group of three to eight students who read selected books or novels independently, then meet to discuss their feelings, reactions, and responses to the text. It is an effective way to increase comprehension and to encourage engagement and responses to literature.
Making words  A multilevel activity where children make a variety of words from six to ten individual letters, when arranged correctly to spell a big word. Once the words are made, children sort them based on their spelling features.
Manuscript handwriting  Print handwriting.
Metacognition  Being aware of one's own mental processes: monitoring one's comprehension, understanding when it is failing, and making appropriate adjustments. Good readers have this ability, while poorer readers are often not aware of their difficulties or how to remediate them.
Metacognitive practices  Include a series of steps internalized by learning to monitor their own understanding of materials and to regulate their thinking by taking corrective action when they notice confusion about text materials being read.
Metaphor  Comparing one object to something else without the use of like or as; e.g., "a mountain of a man."
Meter  The cadence or beat of a poem.
Morning meeting  A gathering of all students with the teacher to go over the events that will occur that day.
Morning message  A shared writing experience where the teacher and her students work together to create a short message about the day's events.
Morphemes  Basic units of meaning that make up words; they may be "bound," which means they must be attached to a base word to have meaning (like prefixes or suffixes), or they may be "free," which are words that make sense on their own.
Multicultural literature  A growing body of literature, both fact and fiction, that reflects the diverse values, attitudes, customs, beliefs, and ethics of various cultures who call America their home.
Myth  A story that originated in the folk beliefs of many cultures; it typically shows supernatural forces at work to help explain a natural phenomenon or the mysteries of life.
Narrative text  A story, actual or fictional, expressed in writing.
Norm referenced test  A test that relates the performance of a single individual to that of a specific group usually based on population subgroups.
Onset  The onset of a single syllable or word is the initial consonant(s) sound. Example: The onset of the word man is /m/. The onset of the word green is /gr/.
Organizational patterns  Students can learn to decipher expository (informational) text if they recognize the common structures an author follows to relate the information. Common organizational structures include description, sequence, comparison/contrast, problem/solution, and cause/effect.
Patterned writing  Students use standard sentence speech patterns of oral English to record ideas. They fill in a sentence or groups of sentences with missing words. These sentences are commonly referred to as frame sentences.
Pedagogy  Examination of teaching methods, materials, and problems.
Phoneme  The smallest unit of speech that corresponds to letter(s) of an alphabetic writing system.
Phonemic awareness  An understanding that spoken language contains a series of individual sounds.
Phonics  A way of teaching reading and spelling that stresses symbol–sound relationships, used especially in beginning instruction.
Phonogram  Also known as word families, phonograms end in high-frequency rimes that require only a beginning consonant to make a word. For example, ay, ill, ot, and ug are all high-frequency phonograms.
Phonological awareness  The appreciation of sounds as well as the meanings of spoken words.
Poetic text  Prose or poetry.
Portfolio  Aselected collection of a student's work that may be used to evaluate learning progress.
Potential marginal vocabulary  This type of vocabulary is made up of all the words a child may be able to understand by using context clues or structural analysis; it is difficult to determine the size of this vocabulary because it will vary with each learner and his or her primary grade instruction and the time spent broadening vocabulary through wide reading. This vocabulary is important in upper elementary and middle school learning.
Pourquoi tale  Folktales that attempt to explain why something in nature, like animal behavior or physical event, is the way it is.
Preprimer  In a basal reading program, a booklet used before the first reader to introduce students to features in texts and books.
Primer  The first formal textbook in a basal reading program, usually preceded by a reading readiness book and a preprimer.
Print concepts  The "rules of the road" to reading a book including book orientation and print direction. Which way do you hold a book? Where do you start? Where do you go next? Where do you start to read on a page?
Problem and solution  An expository text structure or organizational pattern used by an author to describe a particular problem and then suggest a probable solution to that problem.
Psycholinguistics  The interdisciplinary field of psychology and linguistics in which language is examined.
Question-answer relationship (QAR)  A comprehension strategy that invites readers to examine questions and the information needed to answer them at four levels in two categories. The "in the book" category includes questions that are "right there" or require "putting it together." The "in my head" category involves questions that are "on my own" and "the author and me."
Read a Book Because It's Terrific (RABBIT)   A time during the day where children are given the opportunity to read books they choose at their instructional level.
Read-aloud  The teacher reads or rereads a story to the class.
Reader's theater  An oral presentation where the text is presented by two or more children reading aloud from a script based upon a picture book or novel.
Reading comprehension  The active process of constructing meaning from written texts resulting in a rich, deep, and thoughtful reading experience.
Reading readiness  The readiness to profit from beginning reading instruction. This term has now been replaced by "emergent literacy."
Reading readiness  The belief that a child has to reach a certain level of maturity or possess a certain number of skills to profit from formal reading instruction.
Reading vocabulary  A vocabulary that is developed more rapidly once a child begins school; it may develop simultaneously along with writing vocabulary. Reading vocabulary typically extends both writing and speaking vocabularies.
Reading workshop  A workshop format where reading strategies are taught and practiced in the whole group, in small groups, and independently.
Realistic fiction  A genre in which the stories mirror real life; the characters and plots are believable and possible.
Receptive vocabulary  This vocabulary includes one's listening and reading vocabularies, the words an individual understands.
Reciprocal teaching  A teaching strategy that includes a type of cooperative learning in which the teacher and small groups of students work together to improve comprehension; four key strategies are used: predicting, questioning, clarifying, and summarizing.
Remedial reading  Specialized reading instruction, usually individualized or in small groups, adjusted to the needs of a student who does not perform satisfactorily with regular reading instruction.
Response theory  The theory that explains how readers interact with text to form a transaction or unique personal connection based upon their own memories, feelings, and thoughts. Both the reasons for reading and the context in which the reading occurs affect this interaction between reader and book.
Rhyme  Identical or very similar recurring final sounds in words usually at the end of lines of a poem.
Rhythm  The pattern or beat of a poem.
Rime  A rime is the unit composed of the vowel and any consonants that follow within the syllable. For example, the rime unit in man is /an/. The rime in green is /een/.
Rubric  A set of criteria used for evaluating a behavior.
Running record  An assessment of the text reading designed to be taken as a child reads orally from any text.
Scaffolding  The support, guidance, and instruction provided by a knowledgeable adult to assist a student in learning a new skill, solving a problem, or carrying out a task that could not be accomplished successfully alone. This support is gradually withdrawn as the child becomes more accomplished at the task.
Schema  A system of abstract structures stored in the memory that represents objects, topics, or relationships; a unit of organized knowledge that could be likened to a file folder on a specific topic. The topic may be broad in nature like "weather" or narrow in scope like "straight line winds." The plural of schema is schemata.
Schema theory  The cognitive learning theory that explains how knowledge is arranged in a complex information management system in the brain. Active readers integrate new knowledge into older, existing knowledge as learning deepens and expands.
Science fiction  A genre of literature in which narrative stories are set in a future time; imaginary technological inventions or extensions of today's technology are an integral part of the story.
Second language learners  Individuals who acquire a second language in addition to their native, first language.
Self-selected independent reading  A time during the day where children are given the opportunity to read books they choose at their independent level.
Semantic features analysis grid  A way to connect old and new by gained knowledge of words and related concepts by graphing common or interesting traits of words that fit into the same category on a grid.
Semantics  The meaning of language; students often use the context of a sentence to figure out the meaning of an unfamiliar word.
Semantic word map  A diagram or a graphic picture of concepts using lines and ovals or boxes containing information related to the word under study; the visual relationship between parts enables some students to see how words related to one another.
Sequence  An expository text structure that is common in narrative text in which an event unfolds in chronological order or in a series of steps; a noted successive order among ideas or events.
Shared reading  A group reading and discussion of a text, generally on a large chart or in a big book, that involves focused teaching of the vital concepts of print, comprehension strategies such as predicting, and other skills related to reading. Students participate and get the feeling of reading.
Shared writing  Similar to the language experience approach (LEA) because the teacher acts as a scribe, but the focus is on the composing process and on creating a text that children can later read. The emphasis is on the message or story.
Sight words  Frequently occurring words that are so familiar to a reader that they are recognized immediately without a need to decode them.
Simile  Making a comparison using "as" or "like."
Speaking vocabulary  The second meaning vocabulary that a child learns; words included in this vocabulary are learned by imitating family members and/or caregivers.
SQ3R  An acronym for a study system that represents the terms survey, question, read, recite, and review. It is especially effective when learners are working with expository text.
Standardized reading test  A reading test with specified tasks and procedures so that comparable measurements may be made by testers working in different geographical areas. Typically, norms are made on a reference group (a large number of students from a region or the entire country) and provided as a comparison group for local test results.
Standardized test  A test with specific tasks and procedures so that comparable measurements may be made by testers working in different geographical areas.
Standards  Specified requirements that must be met.
Story grammar  Hierarchical rules or psychological structures that specify relationships between parts of a story; people use knowledge of story grammars to create and remember stories.
Story map  A visual representation of a story that provides an overview including characters, setting, the problem, and resolution or ending.
Strategic reader  A reader who applies and adapts conscious and flexible plans to particular tasks and texts.
Strategy  A specific activity or procedure used to construct meaning and understand the text. Strategies are typically used before, during, or after reading.
Structural analysis  A way of investigating new words by breaking them into recognizable or meaningful parts (morphemes) to try to grasp their meaning.
Structured writing  Students learn the structure of specific types of writing: narrative, persuasive, and expository. They learn how to organize and develop these pieces, then write on a specific topic or prompt.
Summative assessment  The final evaluation, usually quantitative in nature, of the degree to which goals and objectives of a program have been met.
Sustained Silent Reading (SSR)  A time during the day where children are given the opportunity to read books they choose at an independent level.
Synonym  A word that has nearly the same meaning as another word like coarse/ scratch/rough.
Syntax  The order of language and how language works. Example: the subject of a sentence usually precedes the verb.
Synthetic phonics  Teaching children how to blend individual letters together to form words.
Tall tales  Tales that are included in a country's folklore whose characters are larger than life. North American tales feature characters like Pecos Bill and Paul Bunyan and his ox, Babe, with their daring deeds, humor, and superhuman efforts to tame the West.
Telegraphic speech  The use of short and precise words to communicate. Example: "More juice" rather than "I want more juice."
Text sets  Sets of books related to a common theme that are at varying reading levels.
Think-alouds  A way of modeling for students how you, as the teacher, think as you read selected text. To demonstrate, the teacher talks out loud to make her thinking visible as she reads the text aloud.
Top-down approach  Theorists who support this model or approach to teaching reading believe that the reader is of primary importance rather than the text. Meaning is made by drawing on one's background knowledge, ability to use language, and the expectation of what is going to be read. Teaching from the whole story to its parts.
Traditional literature  A wide range of literature that contains a variety of stories, proverbs, rhymes, and jingles that come from the oral tradition; the original authors are unknown.
Transaction  A key event in reader response; a unique interaction between a reader and the text that is influenced by one's background experiences, personal feelings, the context in which the reading occurs, and the reasons for reading.
Trickster tale  A part of the offerings of folklore; nearly every culture has its share of tricksters who try to outwit others with their cunning. Native American tricksters include Coyote and Raven, for example. Sometimes they succeed, while at other times they are tricked in return.
Webbing  A type of graphic organizer that helps students put words into recognizable categories.
Whole language approach  Reading and writing instructional approach that involves using real, relevant materials. Skills are taught when needed during "teachable moments."
Wide reading  Perhaps the most productive way to build vocabulary; students practice reading and work attack skills as they read a variety of materials including fiction and nonfiction texts both in school and out.
Word consciousness  Refers to an interest level in words that is both cognitive and affective as motivated students continually add to their pool of usable vocabulary.
Word study  An instructional technique that helps a child examine the way words are constructed and apply this knowledge to reading and writing.
Word wall  A space in the classroom with the alphabet posted where the teacher displays and practices (this is the key) the high utility words students need to know in order to read and spell automatically. The words may be outlined with a black marker to emphasize their shape.
Writing vocabulary  This is the smallest of the four key vocabularies because people tend to use fewer words in writing than they do in speaking or when reading. While it may begin before school, it is developed primarily in school.
Writing workshop  The teacher guides students through mini-lessons as well as individual and small group conferences. Students choose their own writing topics and write independently. The children are encouraged to share their writing with others.
Zone of proximal development  The term coined by Vygotsky; this is the difference between what a child can actually do on his own today, determined by his ability to solve problems, and what that same child can do under the guidance of an adult or more capable peer to reach his potential developmental level.