Tag Archives: professional development

Term of Art: Perceptual-Motor Skills

“perceptual-motor skills: In everything children do, the look, listen, and touch, and then make a perceptual judgment about the things they see, hear, and feel. It is this perceptual judgment that dictates the way they react to their world (what is seen, what is heard, what is felt). When perceptions are well developed, then reactions are more likely to be appropriate for each given situation.

Thre are six perceptual systems that take in information from the environment: visual (light), auditory (sound), tactile (touch), kinesthetic (muscle feeling). Olfactory (smell), and gustatory (taste). Perceptual-motor skills or behavior generally will involve perceptual input through more than one of these systems, and a complex sequence of motor activities.

Motor learning is an important part of childhood development. There is a natural developmental sequence of perceptual motor skill development, beginning very early with skills such as rolling over and sitting up, and proceeding to activities such as crawling, standing, walking, running, and jumping. As development progresses, the requirements for integration of perceptual systems and motor behavior grow more steadily subtle and complex.

Delays in the development of age-appropriate perceptual-motor skills may have significant and sometimes pervasive effects on school and social performance.”

Excerpted from: Turkington, Carol, and Joseph R. Harris, PhD. The Encyclopedia of Learning Disabilities. New York: Facts on File, 2006.

Isabel Allende

“Isabel Allende: (1942-) Chilean novelist, short-story writer, and journalist. Touted as the first major female figure in Latin America’s book of narrative fiction, she has become one of the continent’s best known and bestselling authors, but has been dismissed by some as an epigone of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and his school of Magic Realism. Born in Lima, Peru, she worked as a journalist in Chile. After President Salvador Allende, her father’s cousin, was deposed in 1973, she emigrated to Venezuela and then to the U.S. Her best-known novel is her first book, La casa de los espiritus (1982; tr The House of the Spirits, 1985); set in a nameless Latin American country, it is the story of several generations of the upper-class Trueba family. It was followed by the novels De amor y de sombra (1984; tr Of Love and Shadows, 1985) and Eva Luna (1987; tr 1988), and the short-story collection Cuentos de Eva Luna (1990; tr The Stories of Eva Luna, 1991). Later books include El plan infinito (1991; tr The Infinite Plan, 1993), the story of a Chicano lawyer in San Francisco, and Paula (1994; tr 1995), a moving account of her daughter’s illness and death.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.


“Nominal: 1. Relating to nouns: a nominal group. 2. A noun or pronoun: He and bridge are the nominals in the sentence He crossed the bridge. 3. An adjective functioning as a noun: the poor (poor people); the accused (the accused person). The terms nominal group and nominal clause mean the same as noun phrase and noun clause. A nominal clause is a finite or non-finite clause that resembles a noun phrase in the range of its functions; for example, as the subjects of sentences, That he can’t lift his arm in That he can’t lift his arm worries me, and Smoking cigarettes in Smoking cigarettes can cause cancer.”

Excerpted from: McArthur, Tom. The Oxford Concise Companion to the English Language. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.


“Prolixity (noun): Speech or writing that is wordy or lengthy, sometimes tediously; a tendency to long-windedness; verbosity. Adjective: prolix; adverb: prolixly.

Mann writes in a manner inimitable by anyone else; the density and prolixity of his novels would be intolerable in a writer who did not also possess his extraordinary sweep and complexity of mind.’ Robertson Davies, One Half of Robertson Davies.”

Excerpted from: Grambs, David. The Random House Dictionary for Writers and Readers. New York: Random House, 1990.


“Summerhill: A private English boarding school founded in 1921 by A.S. Neill to implement his belief in the value of eliminating all compulsion from children’s lives. The school was initially opened under a different name in Germany in 1921; in 1923, the school moved to a house called Summerhill in Lyme Regis in the south of England, where it enrolled five pupils. Enrollment was never more than a few dozen students, but the school gained an international reputation because of its radical belief in children’s freedom and Neill’s widely read publications. His book Summerhill was a bestseller in the United States in the 1960s and became required reading in hundreds of universities. Neill was a spokesman for the most permissive wing of the progressive education movement, proposing that children should be free to decide how to live, what to learn, and whether they wanted to learn. Neill believed that ‘the function of the child is to live his own life—not the life that his anxious parents think he should live, nor a life according to the purpose of the educator who thinks he knows best.’”

Excerpted from: Ravitch, Diane. EdSpeak: A Glossary of Education Terms, Phrases, Buzzwords, and Jargon. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2007.

Term of Art: Tracking

“tracking: A common instructional practice that assigns students to courses or curriculum programs with others who have similar academic goals or skills. Tracking often occurs as a result of student self-selection into programs or courses of varying levels of difficulty. In the past, tracking referred to the two separate paths that students chose to follow: college or a vocation. Currently, however, the term tracking is used to almost interchangeably with the term ability grouping and applies to all grade levels. As currently used, it refers to a decision by the school to place students in different classes according to their ability levels, the rationale being that it enables teachers to provide the same level of instruction to each group. This practice is criticized, however, by those who fear that students in low-level ability groups (or tracks) never gain access to challenging instruction.”

Excerpted from: Ravitch, Diane. EdSpeak: A Glossary of Education Terms, Phrases, Buzzwords, and Jargon. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2007.

Theodore Adorno

“Theodore Adorno: (1903-1969): German philosopher, one of the most prominent members of the Frankfurt School. With Max Horkheimer, he attacked the philosophical premises of the Enlightenment tradition. Steeped in Marxist theory, Adorno believed that capitalism turned culture into a ‘fetish,’ an instrument of repression; but contrary to Marx, he took a strongly pessimistic view of the long-term course of history. Instead of progress toward the freedom and fulfillment of all individuals, he saw increasing cultural and political enslavement to the capitalist economic system, aided by technology and ‘instrumental reason.’ He called this process the ‘dialectic of the Enlightenment.’ Adorno was haunted by the question of how intellectuals could perform a critical social role without being co-opted by exactly the forces that they sought to criticize; he worried that social criticism might become a part of the problem rather than a part of the solution.

Adorno, who studied composition under Arnold Schoenberg, also wrote extensively about music. Some of his more important works in English translation include Negative Dialectics (1966), Dialectic of Enlightenment (1972), Minima Moralia (1974), and Aesthetic Theory (1984).”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

Term of Art: Visual Perception

“visual perception: The ability to recognize and interpret visual information provided to the brain. Difficulties in visual perception are separate from and unrelated to impairment in the visual system that may diminish visual acuity or result in visual impairment or blindness. Visual perception involves the determination and discrimination of spatial information, as well as performance on tasks such as the discrimination of letters and words, geometric designs, and pictures.

Visual perception is an essential component of learning, especially in regard to reading development and to acquiring classroom information. Difficulties with visual perception may significantly affect and individuals ability to discriminate letters and words, and to work with mathematical information.”

Excerpted from: Turkington, Carol, and Joseph R. Harris, PhD. The Encyclopedia of Learning Disabilities. New York: Facts on File, 2006.

Tour de Force

“Tour de Force: (French, ‘Turn of Force’) As a literary term it may be applied to a work which provides an outstanding illustration of a writer’s skill and mastery; a sort of ‘one-off’ brilliant display. Among modern examples one might suggest: Hemingway’s short story The Short and Happy Life of Francis Macomber (1938); Arthur Koestler’s novel Darkness at Noon (1940); Orwell’s fable Animal Farm (1945); Anthony Burgess’s novel A Clockwork Orange (1962); Daniel Keyes’s short story Flowers for Algernon (1965); and Vikram Seth’s extraordinary ‘novel’ The Golden Gate (1986)—a narrative which consists of 590 sonnets in rhyming tetrameters.”

Excerpted from: Cuddon, J.A. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. New York: Penguin, 1992.

Alan Simpson on the Educated Person

“An educated man…is thoroughly inoculated against humbug, thinks for himself, and tries to give his thoughts, in speech or on paper, some style.”

Alan Simpson on becoming president of Vassar College (1963)

Excerpted from: Howe, Randy, ed. The Quotable Teacher. Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press, 2003.