Welcome to our FTCE Professional Education (083) practice test and prep page. On this page, we outline the domains and key concepts for the FTCE Professional Education exam. It is a free resource we provide so you can see how prepared you are to take the official exam.
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FTCE Professional Education Test Information
The FTCE PET tests your knowledge of pedagogical and professional practices. You are required to take this test in order to obtain a professional teaching certificate in Florida.
The test has 100 multiple-choice questions.
It is computer-based (CBT) and must be completed in 2.5 hours.
First attempt: $150
A scaled score of 200 or higher is considered passing. An unofficial pass/fail score is given immediately after testing, and a detailed score report will be released within four weeks of testing.
In 2021, only 44% of first-time test takers passed.
In order to feel prepared for the test, plan to spend several weeks preparing. It is helpful to create a schedule for yourself ahead of time by breaking down the test topics into different weeks. This way, you will know you have enough time to study each topic covered on the test.
What test takers wish they’d known:
- Watch for questions that include the words “not” or “except,” which indicate that you need to choose the answer choice that does not apply.
- Keep an eye on the time and make sure you are able to complete the test in the 2.5-hour time frame.
- It is better to guess on a question you don’t know the answer to than to leave it unanswered.
Information obtained from the FTCE website: https://www.fl.nesinc.com/testPage.asp?test=PET
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FTCE Professional Education Content
The Professional Education Test has eight competencies:
- Instructional Design and Planning
- Student-Centered Learning Environments
- Instructional Delivery and Facilitation
- Assessment Strategies
- Professional Improvement
- Principles of Professional Conduct
- English Language Learners
- Literacy Strategies
So, let’s start with Instructional Design and Planning.
Instructional Design and Planning
Instructional design and planning questions account for 18% of the test.
This section tests your knowledge of designing and planning instruction. This includes but is not limited to:
- cooperative learning
- guided reading
- Bloom’s taxonomy
Let’s take a look at some concepts that may appear on the test.
Cooperative learning is a teaching strategy in which small groups of students work together on a task in order to improve their understanding of a concept. It is important that the groups are formed with students of varying ability levels (heterogeneous grouping).
Planning for effective cooperative learning experiences involves more than simply grouping students together while they work. Authentic and effective cooperative learning involves:
- face-to-face interaction between students
- individual accountability: each student is responsible for contributing to the group, and each student should be assessed independently
- positive interdependence: group members depend on one another in order to complete the overall task
- effective interpersonal and social skills
- group processing: group members should communicate ideas and evaluate progress together
Activities in any subject can be turned into a cooperative learning opportunity with intentional and well-thought-out planning. Providing students with many opportunities to learn cooperatively is important because cooperative learning has been found to:
- increase the retention of subject matter
- build positive relationships between students
- motivate students intrinsically
- encourage positive teacher-student relationships
- motivate students to stay on task
- improve students’ self-esteem
- help develop social and emotional skills
Let’s take a look at how cooperative learning might look in a third-grade lesson on inventors:
- Divide students into groups of four. Students are typically grouped heterogeneously for cooperative learning activities, meaning that each group should have students at different levels of understanding for the topic.
- Explain to students that they will be working in groups to research a famous inventor and create a presentation about their inventor.
- Review prior knowledge about inventors and assign each group a specific inventor to research.
- Assign specific responsibilities to each group member to encourage individual accountability. Different group members will research:
- the inventor’s childhood
- struggles or challenges the inventor faced
- the process of coming up with the invention
- the benefits of the invention or how it is used today
- Students are given time to research their topic and answer questions on a note-taking guide provided by the teacher.
- After researching their topic, students will meet with their group and share the information they’ve found.
- Group members will work together to select and design a method for presenting information on their inventor, such as a poster, video, or skit.
- Students will be assessed on their specific topic as well as on the final group product and presentation.
Guided reading is an instructional strategy in which a teacher provides differentiated reading instruction to small groups of students who have similar reading abilities. During a guided reading lesson, students in the group will all be reading the same text that has been selected by the teacher. The selected text should be at the students’ instructional level. This means that students should be able to read the text with some support, or could read it independently with approximately 90% accuracy.
While students read, the teacher will support them by prompting students to use problem-solving strategies to figure out unknown words, challenging sentence structures, and new concepts they have not been exposed to. The goal of guided reading is to improve fluency and comprehension, allowing students to become more independent readers.
Along with improving fluency and comprehension, guided reading also:
- improves students’ attention to details while reading
- expands academic vocabulary
- allows the teacher to observe students’ individual strengths and weaknesses
Guided reading should take place daily. Each lesson should take approximately 20 minutes but might be slightly shorter or longer depending on the grade level. Many teachers make an effort to see their lowest reading group daily. Teachers leading guided reading groups should:
- work with a small group (4-5 students) with similar reading levels.
- provide a brief introduction to the text and introduce any new vocabulary; this helps to activate students’ background knowledge and supports students as they attempt to decode new words while reading
- instruct students to read portions of the text while the teacher monitors accuracy, fluency, and comprehension
- allow students time to decode unfamiliar words before providing students with the word
- guide students as they determine the meaning of any new vocabulary words
- prompt, encourage, and affirm students while they are reading
- engage students in meaningful discussions about the topic they are reading
- model effective comprehension strategies throughout the lesson
Bloom’s taxonomy is a set of leveled models used to classify learning targets by complexity and specificity. There are six levels of Bloom’s taxonomy. They are listed in order from the lowest cognitive levels to the highest:
- Remember – recall facts and basic concepts
- Understand – explain ideas and concepts
- Apply – use information in new situations
- Analyze – draw connections among ideas
- Evaluate – justify or defend a stance/decision
- Create – produce new or original work
Bloom’s Taxonomy was developed in an effort to give teachers a common language when discussing and exchanging instructional and assessment methods. Learning targets can be created from the taxonomy, but more commonly, Bloom’s taxonomy is used to create assessments. Teachers should use all levels of Bloom’s taxonomy at different points in the lesson and during assessment.
Here are some examples of question stems for each cognitive level:
- Who ________?
- What ________?
- When ________?
- How ________?
- Describe ________?
- What is ________?
- What is the main idea of ________?
- What differences exist between ________?
- Retell ________ in your own words.
- How is ________ an example of ________?
- Why is ________ significant?
- Do you know of another instance where ________?
- Could this have happened in ________?
- Classify ________ according to ________.
- How does ________ compare/contrast with ________?
- What evidence can you present for ________?
- What would you predict from ________?
- What solutions would you suggest for ________?
- What ideas can you add to ________?
- What might happen if you combined ________ with ________?
- Design ________.
- Build ________.
- Create ________.
These question stems, along with many others, can be used during whole group instruction, formative assessments, summative assessments, cooperative learning, writing prompts, or projects.
Student-Centered Learning Environments
Student-Centered Learning Environments questions account for 15% of the test.
This section tests your knowledge of student-centered learning environments. This includes but is not limited to:
- academic contracts
- nonverbal communication
- assistive technology
Here are some concepts you need to know.
Academic contracts, or learning contracts, are completed by students and detail the commitments students are willing to make in order to succeed academically. Typically, students, teachers, and (sometimes) parents sign the contract.
Academic contracts can be created at any point in the year, but in most cases, teachers will create one with a student as an intervention if that student is struggling.
There are four parts to be included in an academic contract:
- Purpose statement – why the contract is being created
- Student commitments– actions the student will take in order to succeed
- Teacher commitments – actions the teacher will take to support the student’s goals
- Signatures – the teacher, student, and (sometimes) parent will sign the contract
Take a look at this example of an academic contract:
- Purpose statement: Jane Smith and Ms. Wilson are committing to the following so that Jane can successfully complete fifth grade. Jane’s goal is to complete each grading period with no grade lower than 70% and meet the standard on all exams.
- Student commitments:
- Class participation – I will ask one question or contribute one original idea every class period.
- Attendance – I will arrive at school on time and not have any unexcused absences.
- Assignments – I will do my best on every assignment. I will complete work in a timely manner and will ask for help or attend tutoring if I don’t understand.
- Teacher commitments:
- I will be prepared for class every day.
- I will provide engaging lessons.
- I will provide plenty of time to practice new skills.
- I will check in with Jane on each assignment and work with Jane in small groups at least two times per week.
- I will be available for tutoring twice a week.
Strong communication skills, both verbal and nonverbal, are essential for managing any classroom or group of children. Teachers use nonverbal communication to convey additional meaning during lessons and to affirm or correct students’ behavior.
Here are some examples of common nonverbal communication in a classroom:
- Eye contact: Making eye contact with students shows you are engaged in the conversation and also models good eye contact skills for students. It can also be used as a behavior management strategy when a student needs to be redirected.
- Body language: Body language can be used to show feelings, clarify ideas, or instruct students to do something. Body language is often used subconsciously, so it is important to be aware of the way your own body language might be interpreted.
- Proximity: Teachers can convey meaning by moving to various parts of the classroom in relation to students. For example, quietly moving to stand closer to a distracted student can sometimes be enough to redirect the student’s attention.
- Attention signals: Teachers use various signals in the classroom, such as holding up fingers, clapping a pattern, or ringing a bell to quickly get the attention of the entire class.
- Facial expressions: Facial expressions are used as a way to convey emotions and thoughts. For example, smiling at a student can show approval, while a serious expression can indicate that a student needs to make a change in their behavior.
Assistive technology, or AT, refers to any technology that is designed to help students who have learning disabilities. This can include physical or cognitive disabilities. Any device or piece of equipment that helps students with disabilities learn more effectively is considered assistive technology.
Assistive technology can make lessons, assignments, and learning experiences more accessible to students with disabilities.
Here are some common assistive technologies in classrooms today:
- Screen readers – used for students who are visually impaired. This software will read the student’s screen aloud for them to hear.
- Text-to-speech – software that reads documents aloud while students follow along. This is a great resource for students with dyslexia or disabilities that impair their ability to read.
- Word prediction – writing software that predicts what the student might want to write and offers a word bank of choices that the student can choose from when writing. This is a great tool for students who struggle with communicating their thoughts through writing.
- FaceMOUSE – software that turns a webcam into a mouse. Students with restricted movement can benefit from this because if they can control their head, they can operate a mouse without having to use their arms/hands.
- Video Magnifier– a video camera used to magnify work for students who are visually impaired. Students see the work in a much larger version on a TV-type screen.
Instructional Delivery and Facilitation
Instructional Delivery and Facilitation questions account for 18% of the test.
This section tests your knowledge of delivering and facilitating instruction. This includes but is not limited to:
- the community-centered teaching approach
- learner-centered classrooms
- feedback techniques
Here are some concepts that you may see on the test.
One approach to learning is the community-centered approach. This approach values community and relationships as learning tools. This means the classroom and school are seen as a community and that students and staff feel connected to the larger community, including neighborhoods, businesses, the country, and even the world.
The community-centered approach focuses on the students building social skills while learning from one another and their community. This approach also aims to connect learning experiences in school to life outside of school, providing students with real-world opportunities to apply their knowledge.
Look at this example:
A science teacher who is introducing the plant life cycle includes a research project about hunger in the community and how to grow various types of produce. The students then select and grow one type of produce and provide it to those in need.
Students will be much more engaged when they are shown how topics affect their lives and are given opportunities to work as a classroom community to affect their larger community.
Learner-centered environment refers to any classroom or school that addresses specific learning styles, needs, interests, cultural backgrounds, and goals of individual students or student groups. To do this, schools, educators, counselors, and other specialists may use a variety of methods, including:
- modifying assignments (especially individual/self-paced assignments)
- using a variety of instructional strategies
- allowing students choices while learning
- incorporating student interests
- using culturally relevant material
- fostering critical thinking skills
- encouraging group projects and collaboration between students
- encouraging student reflection
- using open-ended questioning during instruction and assessment
Techniques to Provide Feedback
Teachers have a unique responsibility to care for a student’s education and provide feedback in a constructive, educational way. Teacher feedback should be prompt, specific, and goal-oriented. Teachers should take great care in presenting feedback and should encourage student input as often as possible. Feedback in the classroom should be:
- Mostly positive – A good model is to give a compliment, give a suggestion/correction, and end with a compliment.
- Given quickly – Quick feedback helps the student connect their learning to the feedback more effectively than if the feedback is given at a later time.
- Sensitive to individual needs – Some students need to be pushed, while others need to be treated much more delicately.
- Focused on skills – Rubrics are great to target and give feedback on specific skills.
- One-on-one (at times) – Students look forward to having a teacher’s undivided attention, and using conferences to provide feedback also allows the student time to provide input.
- Provided verbally, non-verbally, or in written form – Students need consistent feedback throughout the learning process, but depending on the type of feedback or reason behind it will depend on the way it is delivered.
- Two-way – Allow students to give you feedback as well, so that you can model how to receive feedback in a positive way. Also, allow students to provide feedback to one another.
Assessment Strategies questions account for 14% of the test.
This section tests your knowledge of various assessment strategies to assess student learning. This includes but is not limited to:
- formative vs. summative assessments
- norm- vs. criterion-referenced assessments
- diagnostic assessments
Let’s take a look at some concepts that you may see on the test.
Formative vs. Summative Assessments
Students should be assessed with a variety of techniques, including formative and summative assessments. Let’s take a closer look at each of these.
- Formative assessments can be formal or informal and are used by teachers to monitor student progress throughout a unit. The results of formative assessments are used to adjust instruction and activities to meet the needs of students. Some examples of formative assessments include exit tickets, short quizzes, journal entries, and observations made during class discussions.
- Summative assessments evaluate student learning and mastery at the end of a unit by comparing the student’s score to a benchmark or standard. Summative assessments are typically more formal than formative assessments and can include unit tests, final exams, final projects, and standardized tests.
The main difference between formative and summative assessments is in when and how they are used. Formative assessments are used throughout a unit to monitor student progress and allow the teacher to adjust instruction as needed by reteaching, clarifying misconceptions, and creating individualized instruction plans. Summative assessments are used at the end of a unit to evaluate student mastery.
Norm- vs. Criterion-Referenced Assessments
Norm-referenced tests compare and rank students in relation to one another, typically by using percentiles. This type of test reports whether students performed better or worse than an average student of the same age or grade level. This is done by comparing scores to a selected group of test-takers of the same age and grade level who have already taken the test. For example, when you hear that a student scored in the 60th percentile on an assessment, this means that they scored higher than 60 percent of children at the same age or grade level on a norm-referenced test. Norm-referenced tests are often given at specific points in the year, such as the beginning, middle, and end. The results of these tests are sometimes used to create intervention plans or to identify students who may need further evaluation for a learning disability, such as dyslexia.
Criterion-referenced tests measure student performance against set criteria of learning goals or standards. This type of test compares students’ results to the learning standard, rather than comparing results to other students. Typically, students are given a score based on how many questions they get correct; their score can qualify as “pass/fail, proficient, below standard, met standard, exceeds standard, etc.”
A diagnostic assessment is a type of assessment that occurs prior to instruction. This allows a teacher to identify students’ individual strengths, weaknesses, and skills so that they can proactively plan instruction and intervention. Diagnostic tests can be given at the beginning of a new unit or at the beginning of the school year. Diagnostic assessments can be formal or informal. Diagnostic assessments can include:
- graphic organizers
- mind maps
- student surveys
- formal assessments
- KWL charts (know, want to know, learned)
Professional Improvement questions account for 12% of the test.
This section tests your knowledge of professional development and how to apply this in the classroom. This includes but is not limited to:
- anecdotal records
- parent-teacher communication
- teacher mentor programs
Let’s take a look at these concepts.
Anecdotal records are used by teachers to record observations of student skills, behaviors, and attitudes as they relate to mastering learning targets. Teachers use this information to plan and adjust instruction. Anecdotal records should be brief, objective, and focused. It is important to take notes during or right after an activity so they are as accurate as possible. These notes can be used during planning times, to provide feedback to students, and during parent-teacher conferences. The goal of anecdotal records is to:
- provide information about student progress
- keep ongoing records about instructional needs
- document significant behaviors
- provide documentation that can be shared with students, parents, or other educators as needed
Parent-teacher communication is an essential piece of a successful classroom. Communicating with parents builds positive relationships with families and keeps parents informed of their child’s learning. It allows both parents and teachers to work toward the common goal of positive outcomes for the child.
Effective communication should be:
- Initiated quickly – Make contact at the beginning of the school year to establish a positive and open line of communication.
- Made in a timely manner – Teacher or parent concerns should be communicated as early as possible.
- Consistent and frequent – Communication should be ongoing throughout the school year.
- Clear and useful – Provide clear, objective, and practical information that benefits parents.
- Documented – Teachers should keep documentation of what type of communication occurred, what was discussed, and the date of communication.
Different forms of communication include parent conferences, weekly newsletters, phone calls, emails, class websites, communication apps, and daily or weekly folders.
Teacher Mentor Program
Teacher mentor programs benefit first- or second-year teachers by providing them with a designated, experienced mentor teacher. The mentor teacher meets frequently with the new teacher, provides constructive feedback, and is available to mentees for any questions regarding behavior management, lesson planning, school or district protocol, parent communication, grading, etc. Providing mentors is important because it provides new teachers with a designated colleague to go to for questions rather than needing to ask an administrator or find the answer on their own.
Mentor programs improve teacher performance and impact student learning by:
- supporting/encouraging new teachers
- improving teacher retention rates
- creating and encouraging good habits and practices for new teachers
- building positive relationships between staff members
New teachers who feel supported, confident, and part of a team are much more successful in the classroom. Mentor programs also benefit veteran teachers by providing them the opportunity to learn new techniques and ideas from new teachers. For example, a mentor teacher might make a suggestion about using incentives as a classroom management strategy. The new teacher could then share with the mentor an incentive-based app that she used during student teaching. Both teachers benefit from sharing ideas in this exchange.
The mentor should be:
- an effective observer and communicator
- positive and encouraging
- constructive in critique
Principles of Professional Conduct
Principles of Professional Conduct questions account for 9% of the test.
This section tests your knowledge of principles of professional conduct for educators in the state of Florida. This includes but is not limited to:
- recognizing signs of abuse or neglect
- acceptable use policies
Here are some concepts that may appear on the test.
Recognizing Signs of Abuse and/or Neglect
It is important for teachers to be aware of the warning signs of abuse in children. Abused or neglected children may:
- seem withdrawn or depressed
- seem afraid to go home
- run away
- shy away from physical contact
- be aggressive
- wear clothing that covers their whole body, even in the warmer months (though keep in mind that this could also be a cultural practice)
- have unexplained burns, cuts, bruises, and/or broken bones
It is important that educators who suspect abuse look for patterns. A single sign may or may not indicate abuse, but a pattern of signs is serious and should always be reported.
If a child tells you about abuse:
- Be a good listener – Show the child you believe him or her, but don’t pressure the student into talking.
- Be supportive – Tell the child they did the right thing by talking to you.
- Remain calm – Reacting emotionally or speaking negatively about the abuser can scare the child.
- Document – Document as much of your conversation as you can as soon as possible.
- Don’t delay reporting – It is every school employee’s responsibility to report suspected abuse or neglect immediately; NEVER assume that someone else will report it.
If you suspect the child is in immediate danger, it is appropriate to contact the police. All other reports can be made by phone or online to the Florida Department of Children and Families.
Many times, neglect is harder to recognize than abuse because there typically are no physical marks from neglect; however, neglect is the most common type of mistreatment that children experience. Since neglect is typically an ongoing issue within a family, children who grow up being neglected don’t always recognize it as a problem and may not speak out about it.
A teacher should be concerned about neglect if a student’s emotional, physical, or medical needs are not being met. Signs of neglect in children can include:
- unmet clothing needs, such as clothes that are inappropriate for the weather
- stealing or hoarding of food
- substance abuse by an adult living in the home
- frequent school absences
- being overly tired or falling asleep in class
- poor hygiene or excessively dirty clothes
Acceptable Use Policy
An acceptable use policy details how school district employees and students should use district-provided technology and network services. Most school districts require that employees and students sign an acceptable use policy before being allowed to access the network.
Acceptable use policies outline acceptable and appropriate practices for provided technology and networks, which is important for the safety of everyone involved.
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of students’ school records. The law applies to all schools that receive federal money from the US Department of Education.
FERPA protects educational information and ensures that only people who have educational rights to a child (and the student themself if they are an adult) are able to access confidential records. This includes test scores, grades, diagnostic exam results, etc. A parent or legal guardian has the right to access their child’s academic and discipline records at any time.
English Language Learners
English Language Learners questions account for 7% of the test.
This section tests your knowledge of researched-based practices appropriate for teaching English language learners. This includes but is not limited to:
- second language acquisition
- language biases in standardized testing
- positive and negative language transfer
Let’s take a look at some concepts that may pop up on the test.
Second Language Acquisition
Students who are in the process of acquiring a second language will need a range of support. Support for these students can include scaffolding, error correction, explicit vocabulary instruction, differentiated instruction, gesturing, and peer learning. There are five stages of language acquisition that students will go through, and it is important that teachers are aware of those stages, as well as what type of support and instruction is appropriate at each stage.
Let’s take a look at the stages of second language acquisition, along with some support strategies to use at each stage:
Stage 1: Pre-Production
Known as “the silent period,” this stage is where ELLs may understand some words but are not yet speaking the new language. They may be able to convey an answer by drawing, pointing, or nodding. Some students in this stage will repeat words you say, but they are not producing language.
Strategies to use in this stage include gesturing, visual aids, using pictures to build vocabulary, asking yes-or-no questions, and partnering students with a buddy who speaks their language if possible.
Stage 2: Early Production
Students in this stage will usually speak in one- or two-word phrases, but these phrases will not always be used correctly. They might also use common social phrases.
Strategies to use in this stage include using pictures to build vocabulary, asking yes/no or either/or questions, and modeling correct language use.
Stage 3: Speech Emergence
Students in the speech emergence stage of language acquisition will ask basic questions and initiate short conversations with peers, although there will likely be grammar and pronunciation errors. Students in this stage are also able to understand basic storylines with the support of pictures and complete some content work with appropriate supports.
Strategies to use in this stage include visual aids, modeling academic vocabulary in sentences, and having students retell a story. Teachers can also provide graphic organizers, word banks, and fill-in-the-blank questions on assignments.
Stage 4: Intermediate Fluency
Students at this stage will have a broader vocabulary and will begin to use more detailed sentences when speaking and writing. They will be willing to express their opinions and will ask questions for clarification. Grammatical errors will decrease at this stage, and comprehension will be at or near the level of their peers.
Strategies to use in this stage include asking for clarification, paraphrasing student responses, correcting errors, and asking students to verbally elaborate on their thinking process.
Stage 5: Advanced Fluency
At this stage, students will be proficient or nearly proficient in the new language. Students in the advanced fluency stage will be fluent in speech, writing, and reading. Most students at this stage will exit the ELL support program but may still need support from teachers regarding specific academic language.
Strategies to use in this stage include pre-teaching specific academic vocabulary, providing ongoing feedback, and conferencing with students on written assignments.
Language Bias in Standardized Testing
Language bias in standardized testing refers to the fact that there are clear biases in testing against students whose primary language is anything other than English. It is important for educators to be aware of this because more and more students are in one of the stages of second language acquisition. Educators need to be able to differentiate between assessing a student’s mastery of a learning target versus a student’s mastery of the English language. At times, the two go hand in hand, but often they do not.
Positive and Negative Language Transfer
Language transfer refers to the influence of ELLs’ native language on second language production. This includes both positive and negative transfer.
- In positive language transfer, the influence of the native language leads to the quick acquisition of the second language. This can occur when two languages have a similar structure, or when words translated from one language to another have a similar spelling and pronunciation.
- In negative language transfer, the influence of the native language leads to errors and misunderstandings of the second language. This can happen when two languages have different structures or when languages have words that sound the same but have different meanings.
Typically, teachers are only concerned with negative transfer, because that is where corrections need to be made. Most languages share some similarities, but teachers need to be aware of how a student’s native language is transferring to English and promptly correct any negative transfer.
Literacy Strategies questions account for 7% of the test.
This section tests your knowledge of effective literacy strategies that can be applied across the curriculum. This includes but is not limited to:
- content area vocabulary
- higher-order critical thinking skills
Take a look at some concepts that may appear on the test.
Summarizing is an important skill that is used throughout all grade levels. Summarizing helps students learn how to connect central ideas in a meaningful way. Summarizing also improves comprehension and helps students retain more information as they read. In order to summarize, students need to be able to distinguish between the details and the main points in a passage of text.
Here are some questions to ask when helping students summarize:
- What was the text mostly about?
- What were the most important events or ideas from the text?
- What happened in the beginning, middle, and end of the story?
- What information is unnecessary?
Content Area Vocabulary
Vocabulary is the basis for instruction across all content and grade levels. Vocabulary instruction should not be separated and taught individually but should be built into the curriculum. This provides students with the proper context for words as well as opportunities to see how words are used. Incorporating vocabulary into a lesson expands students’ vocabulary and improves their understanding of specific concepts.
Here are effective instructional practices for developing vocabulary:
- Interactive read-alouds: Read-alouds, along with shared reading, give the teacher the opportunity to discuss vocabulary in any subject. During read-alouds, teachers can use intentional questions that are targeted towards new vocabulary words.
- Collaborative discussions with peers: These types of discussions allow students to apply vocabulary that has been taught within the context of a lesson.
- Graphic organizers: Graphic organizers allow students to make connections between related vocabulary words, such as synonyms and antonyms, or words that apply to the same topic.
- Teaching root words: Teaching root words enables students to make sense of other related words. By applying prefixes and suffixes to root words, students can expand their vocabulary in a variety of contexts.
Higher-Order Critical Thinking Skills
Critical thinking is the foundation for learning. Critical thinking goes beyond basic memorization and observation skills and happens when students evaluate content, create their own content, make connections between content, and apply their knowledge to new situations. Many times, Bloom’s taxonomy is used as a reference to determine what level of thinking is required by a specific activity.
Teachers can facilitate the development of higher-order critical thinking skills by consistently modeling their own thought process, creating lessons that encourage critical thinking, and asking thoughtfully planned questions that stimulate higher-order thinking.
Many times, a lesson that a teacher has used in the past can be adapted to encourage higher-order thinking. For example:
A fifth-grade science teacher is teaching the water cycle. In the past, she has used a lesson in which students list and define the terms associated with the water cycle. In order to improve the lesson and encourage the use of higher-order thinking skills, the teacher could instead ask students to evaluate how rising and falling global temperatures impact the water cycle on Earth.
The skill of evaluating is a higher-order thinking skill while listing and defining words is not.
And that’s some basic info about the FTCE Professional Education Test.Take the FTCE Professional Education Practice Test