Early Literacy Training Modules



This glossary defines terms related to early literacy development and the teaching of reading and writing. It is included in the appendix of the LAUSD Early Literacy Training Modules.

[A] [B] [C] [D] [E] [F] [G] [H] [I] [J] [K] [L] [M] [N] [O] [P]
[Q] [R] [S] [T] [U] [V] [W] [X] [Y] [Z]

Authorís Chair. A technique for encouraging students to share personal writings. The teacher and the students designate a specific chair or area in which the author reads his/her piece and elicits responses from the audience.

Balanced Literacy Program. A comprehensive, balanced literacy program is developmental, child-centered, meaning-centered, and experiential. It includes: an explicit skills program, a rich-literature component, all of the language arts processes (listening, speaking, reading, and writing), an early intervention program, on-going diagnosis that insures accountability, and a quality school library.

Choral Reading. A technique for teaching reading in which all students read simultaneously. Often, rounds of reading occur around the same book, song, poem, or chant.

Comprehension. Critical Thought. When students seek meaning in experiences with text or media they interpret and clarify on an individual basis. Comprehension is interchangeable with new insights, with fact-specific skill imprints, and with higher levels of contextual awareness.

Conditions of Learning. A term coined by Brian Cambourne (1970) that refers to the circumstances, or conditions, that are present for learning to occur.

Collaborative & Cooperative Learning. Collaborative learning is interactive where adults and students share the different kinds and levels of responsibilities based on both short and long range needs or goals. They work together to plan and define tasks, to suggest alternatives, to predict, confirm and evaluate outcomes, to make critical decisions and solve problems, and to debrief or assess processes and products as a way for determining the next steps.

Cooperative learning is a formal, heterogeneous learning group model where the adult usually controls group size, configurations, purpose for the group activity, and approximate length of time each group will exist. Small groups of students work interdependently and each student contributes to achievement of the task objective. A cooperative learning approach encourages students to think critically about whatever tasks they are asked to implement and evaluate. The adult usually defines group expectations and provides tools and needed support for taking the task from an initial introduction through its implementation and completion.

Cueing systems. Cues used by the reader to draw on or gain meaning from text. They include: semantic (background knowledge/experience), syntactic (knowledge of language patterns), and graphophonic (knowledge of letters and sounds).

Directionality. The ability of an emergent reader to perceive up from down, right from left, front from back, and the perception of the differences of each.

Domains of Writing. A term used to describe different types of writing such as informative/practical, descriptive, analytical, creative, etc.

Echo Reading. A technique for teaching reading where a teacher or student read the text and a second person/student repeats the same reading. When used with students with reading disabilities, the teacher stands behind the student, reads the text into his/her ear and the student then ìechoesî the reading. See also Shared Reading.

English Language Development (ELD) - A technique used to develop English language for English learners.

Genre. A term used to classify literary works such as poetry, fairy tales, historical fiction, mysteries, etc.

Graphic organizers. Graphic organizers are visual devices teachers and students create for recording, clarifying, and classifying information. They come in all shapes, sizes, and configurations and have a variety of labels and purposes, such as: Character maps, clusters, flowcharts, semantic maps, story boards, timelines, webs, Venn diagrams, word banks, word maps, and word walls.

Graphophonics. A term used to refer to the relationship between symbols (letters) and sounds.

Graphophonic Knowledge. The ability to listen to the sounds in words and then write down letters for those sounds.

Guided Reading. An approach to teaching reading where children are placed homogeneously into fluid reading groups of 4-6 children. Each student has his/her own copy of the reading text or book so that the teacher may guide children through talking, reading, and thinking their way purposefully through the text. Children are made aware of strategies that can be used in gaining meaning from text. For children in the beginning stages of reading development, guided reading serves as a way of ìlearning to readî, and for more fluent readers, guided reading assists them in ìreading to learn.î

Guided Writing. A technique used for teaching writing where the teacher guides the writing process and encourages students by giving explicit feedback that refers to the structural or language features required in the text form.

Independent Reading. When a student reads materials on his/her own.

Language Experience Approach (LEA). An approach to teaching language in which studentsí personal experiences are transcribed and used as materials of instruction for listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

Literacy. The ability to inject oneís own thoughts and intentions into messages received and messages sent, and to transform and then act upon aspects of the world via spoken and written words. Literacy is using the processes of language authentically.

Literature-based instruction. The use of literature throughout the curriculum for directed and in-depth instruction as well as for recreational and motivational reading.

Literature Circles. A technique to teach literature in which small, temporary discussion groups are chosen and formed to read the same story, poem, article, or book. In the group, each member prepares to take specific responsibilities in the upcoming discussion. The teacher facilitates the selection of reading materials and monitors each groups progress.

Modeled Writing. A technique for teaching writing which allows the teacher to demonstrate a range of skills, processes, and strategies for writing.

Morphemes. The smallest unit of meaning in written language which involves both semantic and syntactic information.

Morphemic knowledge. The ability to use known words to spell new, or unknown words.

Phonemes. The smallest unit of sound in spoken language.

Phonemic Awareness. The understanding that spoken words and syllables are themselves made up of sequences of elementary speech sounds.

Phonics. A method of teaching reading that stresses symbol-sound relationships.

Phonological Awareness. The ability to manipulate sounds and recognize that language is made up of individual words, that words are made up of syllables, and that syllables are made up of phonemes.

Primary Language. The first personal and social language a child learns to speak.

Read aloud. An integral component of a balanced literacy program where students are read to on a daily basis so as to foster an appreciation for reading. This process provides a rich context in which children experience complex language structures, descriptions, story lines, and plot development while facilitating the development of higher levels of thinking and vocabulary building.

Reading. The act of constructing meaning from print using previous knowledge and knowledge of language.

Reading Workshop. A technique in teaching reading where a pre-determined block of time is set aside for reading activities. The session begins with a mini-lesson by the teacher, moves into an activity period where students read individually selected books, respond to books, or confer with the teacher, and ends with a sharing session.

Running Records. A reading assessment technique where the teacher selects a text of 100-150 words. The student is asked to read the text, and the teacher records and analyzing the studentís reading behavior so as to match program instruction with student assessment.

Shared Reading. A teaching technique or approach which gives all students access to understanding and information in print. The teacher and students read together, interacting with the print and learning from it and each other. Other terms for shared reading include read-along, co-operative reading, assisted reading, and unison or choral reading.

Shared Writing. A technique for teaching writing where the teacher and student work together to create a piece of writing. The teacher scribes for the children and models the writing process.

Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English (S.D.A.I.E.). An approach for teaching English learners that uses English as a medium of instruction for subject matter classes such as art, music, physical education, mathematics, science, and social science. Various techniques are employed to make the English academic input comprehensible to the English learner.

Stages of Reading. The stages of reading describe the studentís progress and ability to interact with and process print. The stages can be categorized as emergent, early, and fluent.

Stages of Writing. The stages of writing describe the studentís progress and ability to communicate ideas through the use of print

Stages of Spelling. The stages of spelling describe the studentís progress and ability to spell conventionally.

Writerís Workshop. A technique for teaching writing where a pre-determined block of time is set aside for writing activities. The workshop begins with a mini-lesson by the teacher, moves into an activity period where students write individually , respond to othersí writing, or confer with the teacher, and ends with a sharing session.

Writing. The act of using written language to communicate.