Public School English Vocabulary

Recite the pledge
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This is an oath of allegiance to the United States. It is recited by the students and school staff each morning. During the pledge everyone stands and faces the American flag with their right hand over their heart. It is usually followed by the morning announcements. Below is the pledge:

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands: one Nation under God, indivisible, With Liberty and Justice for all.”

“The school requires all students to stand while they recite the pledge.”

Morning announcements
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Each morning, usually after the first or second class, the principal or the assistant principal will get on the school wide microphone and go over any important events or issues that have to do with school for that day. Some examples of things that are announced are schools sports scores, cancelations of after school activities and acknowledgement of individual student achievements.

“During the morning announcements we found out that the volley ball team won last night.”

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Periods
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At most schools the day is broken up into blocks of time in which the classes meet. A school day could be broken up into 9 periods. Each period would be about 45 minutes. Students are scheduled for a class, lunch or an elective during each period.

“I have math class during 2nd period.”

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Elective
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This is a non academic class that students take. These are classes that the students choose according to their interests. Some example “elective” classes are art, music, drama and theater.

“For my elective class this semester I’m going to take music.”

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Recess
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This is a time after lunch in which the students can play or socialize. The lunch period is usually split evenly between time in the cafeteria to eat and time outside or in the gym to play for recess. In high school this time is just free time to talk or do homework.

“During recess the boys played soccer.”

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Tardy Bell
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Throughout the school day there are bells that go off to let the students know that they need to be somewhere. There is usually a bell that sounds five minutes before the class starts and there is another one to indicate that the class has started. The bell that indicates that class has started is the “tardy bell”. Any student who enters class after this bell is tardy (late).

“Three students entered class after the tardy bell and they had to talk with the teacher after class.”

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Homeroom Teacher:
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In middle school and high school students have different teachers for different subjects throughout the day. The teacher whose class they have in the morning during the morning announcements is said to be their “homeroom teacher”. If the office needs to get the student any information or documents it will usually be done during this period. Attendance for the day is also done during this period.

“I got a letter from the office for my parents during my homeroom class.”

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Take Home Folder:
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In grades kindergarten through about 7th grade students carry a folder with them to each class. This folder lists their assignments and teachers can put an announcement or a message for the parent in there. Students are to take the folder home each night and the parent usually has to initial the folder to indicate that they looked it over. This is a way for teachers to communicate with the parents.

“My mom asked to see my take home folder to see if I had any homework.”

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Teacher’s Aide:
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These are employees of the school that help the teachers in the classroom. They do not actually teach a class and they are not required to have a teaching certificate or college degree. Teacher’s aides usually work with the special education program.

“The teacher’s aide will help Sara with her math.”

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Special Education:
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This is a program that is designed to help students with learning disabilities. The special education staff comes up with an academic plan for each student to help them succeed. Students in special education generally receive more one on one help. For the major subjects students in this program will be in a special classroom with teachers trained in special education techniques.

“The students in special education will be tested today on their math skills.”

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Resource Room:
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This is a classroom where students can receive extra help on any subject. If a teacher in a regular classroom has a student who is struggling he may send the student here. In the resource room there are teachers and teacher’s aides who help the students in any subject.

“If John is struggling with the math unit, send him to the resource room for extra help.”

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Progress Report:
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This is a report that shows the student’s grades at the midway point of the semester. It is not the official grade for the grading period, but it lets the parents know how their child is doing in each class.

“His progress report showed that he is failing math. He better study or he could get an “F” for the semester.”

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Report Card:
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This is an official document from the school that lists the student’s grades for the semester in each of his/her classes. Teachers in each subject submit the grades to the office at the school and the office creates the report card. This is sent to the student’s house by mail.

“If I get all good grades on my report card I will get a new bike.”

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Pop quiz:
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This is a quiz that a teacher can give that is not announced beforehand. Students can’t study for these quizzes because they don’t know when they will be. They are used to measure student understanding of the material covered in class.

“I can’t believe he gave a pop quiz today!”

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GT/Gifted and Talented:
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This is a program for students who are exceptionally intelligent and need instruction beyond the level that the regular classes provide. These students are usually taught in separate classrooms by teachers trained to deal with their needs. The school will have a testing program to determine if a student qualifies for this service. These programs are usually for the lower grades. By the time students get to middle school they take “Advanced Placement” classes to meet their needs.

“The regular education classes are too easy for Jim. He needs to be in the gifted and talented program.”

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Advanced Placement/AP Courses:
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These are courses that are offered in high school. They are college level classes for students who excel academically. These credits can go towards college in the future.

“I am going to take AP History my junior year.”

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To get left back:
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If a student does not do well academically during the school year he can be required to repeat the year. Teachers will meet towards the end of the year and decide if a struggling student needs to stay in the same grade next year or be “left back”.

“If you don’t start making an effort in school you are going to get left back.”

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Pep Rally:
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This is an activity in which all of the students gather in the gym of the school to cheer on their sports teams. The coach of each team will introduce the athletes and the cheer leaders perform and cheer. The school band plays music to get the crowd excited. Pep rallies usually occur the school day before a big game.

“You can scream as loud as you want at a pep rally.”

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Snow day:
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This is a day in which school is canceled due to a heavy snow. Students and parents find out about these cancelations by watching the local news.

“I was so excited that school was cancelled because of the storm. It was a snow day.”

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Try out:
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To join a sports team in middle school or high school students have to play in front of the coach to prove that they are good enough to be on the team. This is called “trying out”. The coach for a particular sport can only choose a limited amount of students to be on the team. During the try out day he will pick the best players.

“My daughter is going to try out for the soccer team next year.”

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Make the Team:
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If you are selected to be on the team after try outs it is called “making the team”.

“I hope I make the team this year. I really want to play volleyball.”

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Field Trip:
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This is when a group of students leaves the school during the school day to visit a museum or any other kind of learning institution. Many times parents will volunteer to go to help watch the kids. A school bus is usually used to transport the students.

“This year the students went on a field trip to the New York museum.”

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Cut Class:
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If a student does not go to a class that he is supposed to go to it is called “cutting class”. Students get in trouble for doing this and the punishment varies from school to school. High schools are usually the only ones dealing with this behavior since the students are old enough to drive and are given more freedom throughout the day.

“If you cut class again you are going to get in trouble.”

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Get a referral:
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When a student misbehaves a teacher may give him a referral. This is a written document sent to the principal’s office that details what the student did wrong. The principal will call the students into his office and decide what the punishment will be.

“John hit another student so he got a referral.”

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In School Suspension/ISS:
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If a student breaks a major school rule like fighting or throwing food he could be sent to “In School Suspension”. Students in ISS have to spend the entire school day in a separate room where they are not allowed to talk. During the day the students will work silently on their school work.

“After the fight I was given 3 days of ISS.”



Exercises for These Terms

  • Public School Vocabulary Listening Exercise
  • Public School Fill in the Blanks
  • Public School Word Order
  • Matching Public School Vocabulary