Program Glossary 

Commonly used terms in the Integrated Learning Specialist Program community.


ACOE: Alameda County Office of Education

CP: Critical Pedagogy Critical Pedagogy applies the tenets of critical racial and social theory and neuroscience to the educational arena, taking on the task of replacing the ways schools reproduce inequality and justice with equitable and just practices. It positions students and learners as subjects of the instructional process, rather than objects. Also known as critical educational theory.

Related theories: progressive education (Dewey); student-centered education; multicultural education, social justice education, culturally relevant pedagogy (Ladson-Billings, Banks); culturally sustaining pedagogy (Alim, Paris); reality pedagogy (Emdin); engaged theory (hooks); culturally revitalizing pedagogy (Lee and McCarty).

CRT: Culturally Responsive Teaching

IL (the department): Integrated Learning
housed within Alameda County Office of Education. The IL Department stewards arts-centered integrated profession- al development opportunities, conferences and campaigns for educators and students.

IL (the framework): Integrated Learning The process of making connections across concepts, disciplines and expe- riences so that information and skills can be applied to nov- el and complex issues or challenges. This holistic approach to teaching and learning focuses on making connections between the academic realm and the learner’s world.

ILSP: Integrated Learning Specialist Program A program of the Integrated Learning Department of Alameda County Office of Education. The ILSP is a series of professional development courses for educators based on research-based frameworks from Project Zero (Harvard’s Graduate School of Education). Courses develop in teachers the skills to create imaginative, integrated lessons weaving arts habits and practices across subject area and topics of study.

MLV: Making Learning Visible Practice that focuses on using documentation as a central pillar of individual and group learning. MLV was inspired by the innovative educational philosophy that originated in Reggio Emilia, a small city in Italy. MLV is the practice of observing, recording, interpreting, and sharing the processes and products of learning through a variety of media in order to deepen and extend that learning. MLV can look like illustrative learning portraits, quotes from students, teachers and members of a school community, pictures, reflections on learning processes, and examples of student work.

NGSS: Next Generation Science Standards K–12 science content standards developed by states to improve science education for all students.

PZ: Project Zero A program established by philosopher Nelson Goodman at the Harvard Graduate School of Edu- cation in 1967, Project Zero began with a research focus on understanding learning in and through the arts.

SHoM (pronounced ‘show-m’): Studio Habits of Mind Research-based dispositions of visual artists applied to the world of education. SHoM behaviors drive studio practice. Re- searchers from Project Zero studied the methods, moves and behaviors in high-quality visual arts classes and discovered eight skills or habits common for successful, striving professionals. SHoM provides a vocabulary and a lens that can be used across subject area and topic of study to build the habits of mind of successful professionals in a given field.

TfU: Teaching for Understanding An educational theory based on the cumulative research of Howard Gardner, David Perkins and their colleagues at Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Project Zero. At the heart of teaching for understanding lies a basic assumption that schools can and should educate students towards understanding (the idea that learning should take students beyond what they already know). According to David Perkins, six priorities for understanding are:

  • Making learning a long-term, thinking-centered process.

  • Providing for rich on-going assessment.

  • Supporting learning with powerful representations.

  • Paying deep attention to development factors and complex needs of learners.

  • Developing consciousness of the purposes, structures and logic of TfU in classrooms with students.

• Providing multiple ways for students to perform their understandings and make connections to real-world situations.

UGs: Understanding Goals Primarily, but not always, in question form, UGs are public goals shared to spark class- room creativity. They can be thought of as more expansive versions of traditional classroom learning targets. UGs are posted clearly in learning environments and referred to regularly for whole group reflection on how learning is progressing and understanding is being developed, and what revisions to the goals might be necessary. UGs can often be formed through the dimensions of understanding.

VT or VTS: Visible Thinking or Visible Thinking Strategies An initiative developed by researchers at Harvard’s Project Zero and collaborators in various schools across the country, visible thinking is rooted in the practicality of using thinking routines and documentation as classroom learning tool. VT includes tools for democratizing the process of learning and integrating the arts.

Pedagogy and Frameworks

Integrated Learning Framework This holistic approach to teaching and learning focuses on making connections between the academic realm and the learner’s world.

Arts-centered Learning Deep and broad learning through arts methods and lenses. Experiential, personal, aesthetic, creative inquiry-based learning that entails artistic investigation, interpretation, invention and aesthetic response through creation of an artwork.

Arts Integration Outcome of arts-centered learning. Multidimensional integration addresses and utilizes all four dimensions the disciplines; Substantive integration dives deep into what matters: concepts, overarching ideas and meaning making. Integration also fosters holistic under- standing of the ways things fit together.

Arts-centered or Arts-based Research The systematic use of the artistic process, the actual making of artistic ex-pressions in all of the different forms of the arts, as a prima- ry way of understanding and examining experience—by both researchers and the people that they involve in their studies.

Research Workbooks More than a journal or sketchbook, modeled on field study books; a thinking/learning wall in book form.

Constructivist Learning Indicates that learners con- struct their own understanding and knowledge of the world through experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences. Learning occurs through the lens of the learner; it begins and is shaped by what the learner already knows; it is an active interpretation of new information and experience.

Contemporary Integrative Arts Practice Art making that employs cross-disciplinary inquiry methods, processes and thinking strategies to engender creative, aesthetic responses in an art form (performances, images, writings, sounds and objects). Contemporary art is also often defined as art made after 1980.

Culturally Responsive Pedagogy Using the cultural knowledge, prior experiences, and performance styles of diverse learners to make learning more appropriate and effective for them; CRP teaches to the strengths of learners.

Inquiry-based Learning Begins with posing questions, problems or scenarios—rather than simply presenting es- tablished facts or portraying a smooth path to knowledge. The process is often assisted by a facilitator.

Generative Topic A subject matter that students consider, wonder about, analyze and investigate. American phi- losopher and educator John Dewey (1916) wrote of “generative knowledge” in his argument for the kind of education that emphasizes knowledge with rich ramifications in the lives of learners. Generative topics can be framed as ideas, themes, big picture concepts and even wonderings. Here are some examples of teachers’ generative topics:

• What is a living thing? Most of the universe is dead matter, with a few precious enclaves of life. But what is life in its essence? Are viruses alive? What about computer viruses (some argue that they are)? What about crystals? If they are not, why not?

• Civil disobedience This theme connects to adolescents’ concerns with rules and justice, to episodes of civil disobedience in history and literature, and to one’s role as a responsible citizen in a nation, community, or, for that matter, a school.

Ongoing Assessment How are ongoing assessments built into the hour by hour, day by day, week by week learning experiences so that necessary revisions in instruction and discovery of unanticipated outcomes are surfaced and acted upon? Participants attach a variety of assessment strategies to each learning engagement to better inform their own teaching practice and see the moments
of understanding or misunderstanding for their students. This allows educators to make the necessary, just in time, adjustments to learning engagements. How do the ongoing assessments, at the same time, propel student engagement and next steps in learning, while providing powerful information for educators about their next teaching moves? See Teaching for Understanding (TfU) and David Perkin.

Throughline Like a necklace cord holding in place a string of generative topics, a throughline can be framed as a question or larger conceptual topic that provides pathways for students and teachers to make connections between self, the subject area or topic of study, and the society in which they live. They are big, whole-discipline, or whole-life themes and/or creative inquiries that provoke mutuality and interdependent thinking and learning.

Performance of Understanding An aspect of Teaching for Understanding (TfU), performances of understanding are arts-centered, integrated assessment tools that affirm

the idea that understanding a topic of study requires the ability to “perform” knowledge in a variety of thought-de- manding ways. A performance of understanding often looks like a learner able to explain, muster evidence, find examples, generalize, apply concepts, analogize and represent knowledge in a new way. Understanding performances serve as both formative and summative assessment tools.

Educators define specific activities and assignments for students to develop, deepen and demonstrate their under- standing of learning goals.