I'm looking for a good resource to start learning 3d modeling. I'm looking for something that starts with the basics (e.g. terminology; what are quads, triangles etc.) before/while going into the actual modeling. Book, website, video, anything will do. I'm only concerned with the quality of the tutorials, how thorough they are. I have experience with texturing, level design and so on - but I've never created anything more than simple shapes/editing existing assets.
Check out some of these Blender tutorials by David Ward.
Learn theory before practice. Make sure you know what translate, rotate, scale, local, world, vertex, face, edge, UV, texture, specular, rendering, rigging etc means. Also make sure you understand the differences between various display modes (it took me a while to understand the difference between textured and untextured, especially in the start where you only use colors. This looks like a good glossary ( http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Blender_3D:_Noob_to_Pro/Glossary )
Do not look up tutorials like rigging before you have mastered an interface. I suggest going with a simple program first to understand the basics (like sketchup) then move up to a more full-featured software like Maya (avoid Blender to start with...many people will encourage you to learn Blender, but the fact is that if you learn Blender first, all the others will be difficult. Blender has a unique interface, very unlimited, whereas more "standard" packages are more rigid. Rigidness should not exist, but it is a standard.)
Learn standard Keyboard shortcuts (yes, they exist!) like W for move, E for rotate and R for scale...learn regular commands and what they do, like extrude, cut, soften, merge.
Then go for easy projects starting with Architecture tutorials (they are easier for beginners, mostly primitives), like a simple building. Then go for larger scale Arch tutorials like a city or a house with windows and a porch etc.
Then move to organic modelling, like face, hands, animals etc.
Then you can move to UVmapping, texturing, rigging, physics, particles, sfx etc! Good luck!
If you run through the Blender Noob to Pro series, you'll have a good foundation.
If you download the free 1-month trial of Maya, the Getting Started Guide is included, and will also provide a good foundation.
At the very least, one or both of those will give you the terminology you need to craft useful search phrases to find the rest of the topics you're searching for.
Check BlenderCookie for very good quality tutorials. From here you will find beginners tutorials to professional courses.
Just about any intro to 3D book will go over basics of terminology, so you should start by deciding which software you want to learn on. Despite the nearly religious fervor a lot of 3D artists have all the different options (3ds max, Maya, Blender, etc.) are about equally good for learning on, so just pick whichever is most convenient for you (eg. your school's computers already have it installed) and then go to the bookstore to get an intro book for that software.
Eventually you'll want to branch out in your learning and look at other tools, but from the very beginning you gotta pick one.
Take a peek at some of these tutorials by Neal Hirsig, all are short and concise video tutorials for 3d modeling in Blender, for an absolute beginner to Blender and likely to modeling. If you're unsure of a function or attribute name, just search Wikipedia for it-- learning the difference between a quad and a tri takes all of a few minutes at most.
I'am a beginner too. You can start here. It's got Autodesk 3ds Max and Unreal Development Kit (beginner to advance).