Buzzwords in Elementary Education

Mar 15, 2011

Teachers and administrators often make use of language and definitions that are unique to their profession. Describing everything from classroom methods to reform efforts, this jargon can confuse people outside of the field. Here are some buzzwords in common use today within elementary education.

By Douglas Fehlen

elementary education buzzwords jargon school trends

Balanced literacy

Balanced literacy is an instructional framework designed to develop students' reading and writing skills. It is designed to engage learners at appropriate skill levels through the use of various individual and group literacy activities.

Blue Ribbon School

The U.S. Department of Education uses this designation to identify schools that 'are either high performing or have improved student achievement to high levels, especially among disadvantaged students.'

Charter school

Charter schools have played a prominent role in efforts to reform the U.S. public education system. These publicly funded schools are operated independently of regional school boards and often employ a unique pedagogical model.

Differentiating instruction

This education methodology analyzes students' interests, learning styles and academic strengths to determine appropriate lesson content, process and products. Flexible grouping is often used to help meet individual learning needs.

hands-on learning

Hands-on learning incorporates lessons that allow students to learn by doing. These activities often incorporate manipulable objects to reinforce abstract concepts while developing learners' critical thinking skills.

Multisensory instruction

Multisensory instruction incorporates two or more sensory modalities (such as auditory, visual, kinesthetic and tactile). This form of teaching can be especially important for students affected by learning disabilities.

elementary education buzzwords jargon school trends

No Child Left Behind

This controversial law, now a decade old, carries dramatic influence on public education. The accountability legislation calls for standards-based education reform in which schools use research-based materials and methods to improve student achievement and standardized testing to measure schools' success.

Race to the Top Fund

This program of the U.S. Department of Education provides competitive grants to states and school districts 'leading the way with ambitious yet achievable plans for implementing coherent, compelling, and comprehensive education reform.'

Response to intervention (RTI)

This education strategy emphasizes using continual learner assessment to offer data-driven instruction. Students struggling with content are provided with increasingly intensive academic interventions designed to improve their performance.


When students are learning about new concepts, they often require supports to aid their comprehension. Scaffolding is the idea of providing visuals, modeling knowledge or increasing motivation to help learners understand material.

Whole child education

This philosophy of education contends that children's cognitive growth is but one aspect of their development schools should be concerned with. It demands greater emphasis on ensuring proper social and emotional development in learners.

Learn more elementary education buzzwords by checking out these top education policy blogs.

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