Modern Teacher Glossary

The following terms appear throughout Modern Teacher’s Professional Learning Framework.
Refer to this page any time you need help defining a common language for the modern learning environment.

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Essential skills students need to be prepared to live and work effectively in the 21st Century. For more details, reference your district’s 21st century skills framework.

21st century skills

A structure or tool to assist districts in curricular, unit and/or lesson design, integrating skills students are predicted to need for the future. 

21st century skills framework

The role of the modern teacher that designs lessons using best practice to plan for specific outcomes.


At different times. For instance, when students can respond to others in a digital discussion by posting on their own time. There may be a lag between posts.


Authentic, Real-World Contexts

Providing a framework for learning that intentionally brings into play real world, relevant problems and applications, multiple perspectives, ways of working, habits of mind, and community.

A digital conversation that takes place alongside an activity or event to ask question or discuss more in depth information.

Back Channel

Virtual stickers or awards that can be given to students to support achievements and anything else the teacher would like to reinforce.


Blended Lessons

A connected group of digital and face-to-face learning experiences with identified learning goals that students are working toward within a unit.

A series of lesson blocks connected by an authentic context for learning. It supports and connects a group of core content knowledge/standards and 21st century skills with the goal of building conceptual understanding.

Blended Units

The role of the modern teacher that gives feedback in a constructive and encouraging yet challenging manner to aid in reflection and improved performance to meet goals and desired outcomes.


These spaces allow teachers to work with individual students on specific learning goals. They should be located in a quiet area so student and teacher can reflect and speak without distractions.

Coaching Spaces

The way students make sense of or understand content


The process of gaining or acquiring knowledge through thought or experience. 

Cognitive Processing Task

In small groups students work together, usually without teacher facilitation, to search for understanding, meaning, solutions or to create an artifact or product of their learning.

Collaborative Groups

Student-led collaborative spaces are designed for discussion, problem solving, brainstorming and questioning. This space is used when students share feedback, solve problems, and/or discuss and work together to develop an understanding of content and skills.

Collaborative Spaces

The question is given by the teacher and students confirm what the experts say.

Confirmation Inquiry

Content area standards that are aligned vertically and horizontally across a K-12 continuum. There is clear evidence of what mastery looks like at each level so that students can learn at their own pace. The vertical alignment is the K-12 picture or progression of content across grade levels and the horizontal alignment is the grade level picture or progression of content across subject areas.

Content Knowledge (Standards)

Information about a specific topic which students may access or create from a variety of sources and formats

Content Resource 

Students learn by building their own understanding and knowledge of the world through experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences.  Lesson elements: engagement, exploration, explanation, elaboration, and evaluation.

Constructivist Pedagogy

Agreed upon competency or mastery expectations of core content knowledge/standards aligned over a student’s K-12 school experience.

Continuum Of Learning

The way students show what they know, understand or have mastered

Creative Products/Performances And Assessments

Customizing provides individualized learning experiences, based on data, to meet the readiness needs of each student.


Currently used in many industries, but just emerging in education, to collect data and “learn” individual needs and preferences. It then matches products, services, information, etc., that are highly personalized to individual needs.

Data-Driven Cognitive Technology

Any resource, in digital form, used to build student-learning experience that comes with a legal right to use. Examples include but not limited to photos, video, animations, illustrations, word or pdf documents, presentations or screencasts.

Digital Assets/Resources

An application that allows users to import and share media of all kinds to think and work creatively, complete projects, solve problems, and/or give and receive feedback.

Digital Media Album

Digital Learning Experience: A collection of digital assets/resources (videos, video segments, audio, images, interactive spaces, sites, apps, web links, etc.) that can be played back or accessed anywhere, anytime, and is connected to core content knowledge, utilizes collaboration/creation tools, and takes place in an online, digital learning environment.

Face-to-Face Learning Experience: Takes place in the physical learning environment and can occur with or without the use of technology and digital resource.

Digital Or Face-To-Face Experiences

Teacher leads the instruction and students in the group learn the same content and skills at the same pace.  Lesson elements: activate prior knowledge, teacher modeling, guided practice, independent practice, checking for understanding and closure. 

Direct Instruction

English/Language Arts


The role of the modern teacher that guides, equips, and provides opportunities for learning in the digital and face-to-face learning environments to accomplish outcomes and meet goals.


A classroom setting, both physical and digital, that allows for a variety of student groupings and for students to learn in ways that meets their needs.

Flexible And Adaptive Environment

A wide variety of formal and informal ways to check student learning and then use that information to formulate next instructional steps and goals.

Formative Assessment

The question is given by the teacher and students have freedom in design, procedures, processes and presentations of findings.

Guided Inquiry

Also called Essential Question. From Wiggins and McTighe (Understanding by Design, ASCD 2005) “Questions that are not answerable with finality in a brief sentence. The aim is to stimulate thought, to provoke inquiry and to spark more questions including thoughtful student questions, not just pat answers.”

Guiding Question

These spaces allow students to complete independent learning at their own pace. Students may use this space when they need to be in a quiet area, somewhat free from distractions. There may be a number of individual learning spaces in a classroom.

Individual Work Spaces

Standards written and published by educators to guide the work of transforming learning experiences through the use of technology. These may include but are not limited to state adopted technology standards or ISTE standards for students and teachers.

Industry Technology Standards

Students develop methods to answer questions, test and record their predictions and communicate findings to others. Science inquiry elements: introduction, question, wonder, consider and predict, develop, observe and record, discover and communicate.  Reading inquiry elements: curiosity, investigate and collaborate, reason, create, and communicate.  

Inquiry-Based Instruction

Students and/or teacher determine question to be answered and students use analysis, reasoning, creating to complete an authentic learning task.

Inquiry-Based Problem

Guideposts for students that indicate where they are in relationship to mastery. The Knowledge Map is parallel but also connected to the Continuum of Learning. While the Continuum provides a bigger picture of the learning sequence, the Knowledge Map provides detail about the content and skills required for mastery.

Knowledge Map

The first digital screen that the learner sees when logging in to a course, unit or lesson, organized so that the learner can easily navigate through the course or lesson.

Landing Page

Learner Profile

A document that the teacher, with student input, populates with individual learner preferences – intelligence preferences, learning styles, culture and more as needed.

The objective of the lesson; the learning the student should attain at the completion of the lesson or activity. Other common terms for learning goals are learning targets or learning objectives.

Learning Goal

Sequence of customized and personalized learning experiences, activities and/or tasks that a students uses to reach mastery of a learning goal or group of learning goals.

Learning PATH

May be created for a single standard or a group of standards and serve many purposes: set expectations of learning, provide a means to show where a student is in relationship to mastery, and inform the design and build of customized digital lessons for targeted instruction.

Learning Progressions

The standards, learning goals and guiding questions that the teacher uses to begin building the lesson.

LeSSON Foundation

Learning Management System that provides tools for teachers to organized digital curriculum, create online or blended learning experiences and track student progress. Examples are Schoology, Canvas, Blackboard, etc.


The role of the modern teacher that uses what has been architected along with student data to organize, plan, communicate and implement actionable steps in order to meet specific outcomes and build in accountability.


The process of being aware of one’s own thinking and learning.


The question is formulated by students and they then formulate procedures, processes and conclusions.

Open Inquiry

These spaces should provide for more quiet and focused learning between peers. Students should be able to interact, reflect and give feedback without distractions. This space is often used for creating, producing or completing projects or tasks.

Partner Work Spaces

The specific steps or elements of a lesson and the specific order of those elements used to build/scaffold or create learning for students.  It supports student ownership as they are working to meet the learning objective.


Personalizing of learning tasks gives students choice to meet individual student learning styles, preferences and interests.


A customized collection of digital content for future playback that is annotated to support your specific lesson, is intentionally aligned to a specific pedagogy, and has been designed to support the customization of learning in the classroom. 


Strategies used to carefully think through and plan instructional questions to add interest, motivation and rigor to lessons and activities.

Questioning Strategies

Depth of thinking about knowledge and its application that challenges students’ thinking in new and more complex ways. It is individual to each student’s needs and occurs when they are encouraged toward a sophisticated understanding of fundamental ideas.


A structure or tool built around the levels of rigor that supports teachers as they build questions, tasks or lessons. 

Rigor Framework

A model, introduced by Dr. Ruben R. Puentedura, to support teacher growth in leveraging technology to transform student learning experiences.

SAMR Model

Questions that support students by breaking the learning into smaller pieces and asking questions that help students move to the next level. Scaffolding meets the needs of individual learners, helping them to meet the learning goal.

Scaffolded Questions

Students have control of the time they need to complete a lesson or activity.

Self-Paced Lesson

A classroom setting, both physical and digital, that does not allow for a variety of student groupings and does not allow students to move and learn ways that meet their needs.

Static Environment

Structured Inquiry

The question is given by the teacher and students have some leeway generating their own conclusions.

Simultaneous, at the same time. For instance, when students participate in discussion or chat at the same time. There is immediate feedback from others.


Spaces used with smaller groups that may need targeted instruction. This space gives opportunities for students and teachers to engage in discussions, problem solving, brainstorming, questioning and/or re-teaching. This space is also used when students access or process information, create and/or collaborate and need assistance from the teacher.

Teacher-Facilitated Spaces

The focus of the teacher-led learning space is direct instruction of content and skills. The size of the group can vary depending on the instructional needs of the class. This space is also often used when conducting class meetings or discussing, sharing and summarizing connected topics.

Teacher-Led Instructional Spaces

Time – When students are learning

Pace – The time it takes students to reach mastery

Path – The sequence of learning experiences, based on interest, readiness or learning styles, that students engage in to reach mastery.

Place – Where student learn: brick and mortar locations both in the school building and outside of it, and digital spaces

Time, Pace, Path, And Place Learning

Unit Essential Question

Also called Guiding Question. From Wiggins and McTighe (Understanding by Design, ASCD 2005) “Questions that are not answerable with finality in a brief sentence. The aim is to stimulate thought, to provoke inquiry and to spark more questions including thoughtful student questions, not just pat answers.”

A place that students and teachers can use to digitally make announcements add information about news events, school activities, classroom projects and progress toward goals.

Update Or Newsfeed

A digital recording of computer screen content, perhaps with narration, used to help guide students through a course, lesson or activity.

Video Screencast