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49 Antietam St, Devens, MA 01434    (978) 772-3293    (978) 772-3295

Parker Glossary

An introduction to Parker's jargon

  • Parker Glossary: words and phrases which Parker people use as shorthand; perhaps mystifying to a newcomer
  • Advisory: a group of about 10-12 students that meets with an advisor (a Parker faculty member) daily for various amounts of time
  • Authentic Assessment: judging student work for its applicability to the solution of real-world problems
  • Chalk Talk: a group "discussion" carried out in silence, with participants writing their thoughts on whiteboard or a large piece of paper
  • Coach: the teacher when he or she is working with individuals or small groups as they complete their projects
  • Community Block: a period in which students and faculty work to benefit and/or provide service to the community (Parker and the wider world) and foster active and engaged citizenship among Parker community members
  • Community Congress (CC): a legislative committee of students, each representing his/her advisory, or a percentage of the whole student body. There are also teacher representatives.
  • Connections: structured time for sharing one's own news in a faculty meeting or an advisory in order to help participants focus and be ready to engage with the business of the class, meeting, or lesson
  • Cooperative Learning: working on projects with others
  • Critical Friends Group (CFGs): a group of faculty who are focused on improving their teaching practice to improve student achievement and advance whole school change
  • Democratic Decision Making: governance by a wide group, supplemented by an even wider group of advisors
  • Divisions: three sections of the school, each with certain requirements that each student must achieve in order to progress and ultimately graduate; divisions roughly equate to traditional grade levels, but students advance to the next level based on their ability to meet a given set of standards rather than their age
  • Documentation: record of something that has been done
  • Domain: Parker's four areas of knowledge: Arts and Humanities; Math, Science, and Technology; Spanish; and Wellness
  • Dyad: a pair of teachers who handle one class or break it up as needed
  • Essential Question: a broad question around which a large part of a year's work is organized; a question that helps to focus work across the domains; In 2004-05, the school's Essential Question is, "What is universal, what is unique?"
  • Essential Schools: members of the Coalition of Essential Schools, a national school reform organization built around a short list of shared beliefs (The Ten Common Principles)
  • Exhibition: a public presentation of student work, usually with an accompanying piece of written work; explanation and defense by a student of his or her work
  • Experiential Education: projects and trips designed to help students learn from them
  • Feedback: a response to an idea or a piece of work; comes in "warm," "cool" and other varieties
  • Gateway
    • (n.): a series of exercises that a student traverses to progress to a new division
    • (v.): to advance to the next division
  • Habits of Learning: qualities and characteristics identified as important to effective learning; the eight habits of learning at Parker are Inquiry, Expression, Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Organization, Attentiveness, Involvement and Reflection
  • Individual Educational Plan (IEP): required by the state for students with diagnosed special educational needs, developed with Student Services staff
  • Inquiry: organizing curriculum around questions and investigation
  • Internships: periods of work that are designed around learning through experience
  • Just Beginning/ Approaches/ Meets/ Exceeds: how a student's work is judged against the standards of her Division, indicating where she is in her progress towards a Gateway
  • Justice Commitee (JC): Similar to the CC in representation but different in purpose; they make decisions on student disciplinary issues and serve as the judicial branch of Parker governance
  • "Less is More": the idea that one learns deeply by spending significant time on a relatively narrow subject, then applying its insights; shorthand for the second of the Ten Common Principles
  • Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS): a series of standardized, mandated tests administered to all public school students at various grade levels
  • Personal Learning Plan (PLP): a student's individual academic and social goals for a certain period of time, worked out with his or her parents and advisor as a guide to his or her work
  • Personalization: the assumption that each student will thrive best if taught in the way that are most effective for her or him
  • Planning Backwards: deciding what an admirable graduate of Parker would "look like," then building into the six-year education the factors which will help each student to get there
  • Portfolio: a collection of one's written, oral (audio and videotapes) and artistic work, available for assessment
  • Process Folio: a work in process that forms a basis for a faculty roundtable discussion
  • Protocol: a step-by-step tool for examining problems or dilemmas arising from teachers' and students' work
  • Reflection: looking back on an experience to decide what it means, usually done in journals and in cover letters
  • Rights and Responsibilities: guideposts for the student's moral growth, as assessed by himself and others
  • Roundtables: small discussions, especially used by individual students and teachers presenting their work to their peers
  • Rubrics: guides for students in determining how they have attained the expectations for work within a skill area
  • Service Learning: work for others or for the environment that emphasizes the social and academic benefits for the worker as well as for those being helped
  • Socratic Seminar: discussions based on commonly known texts that emphasize wide participation
  • Standards: agreed-upon goals in various skill areas that are appropriate for all students; also refers to goals set for an individual student for a particular reason
  • Standardization: the idea that each student is the same and will progress at the same rate
  • Task Forces: small groups of faculty and students gathered for purposeful and specific work
  • Tune: the habit of asking clarifying questions and giving warm and cool feedback when assessing another person's ideas or work
  • Workshops: classes with intense instruction and practice of specific skills
  • Whip: the practice of asking each member of a class or meeting to give a short response to a question
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