ED 440, The Teaching of English

Links to:

  1. Course Calendar
  2. Sample Assignments: Unit Plan Assignment, Unit Overview and Rationale, Website Development, and Discussion Lesson

Syllabus, ED 440: The Teaching of English

Many thanks to those who have come before me, in particular Chandra Alston and Danielle Lillge, for their inspiring many components of this curriculum.

ED 440: The Teaching of English
Fall 2012

Instructor: Liz Homan
Office: 2030 (JPEE Suite)
Email: lizhoman@umich.edu
Office Hours:Friday 9am-11am or by appointment
Class Meetings: Fridays, 12-3pm

I will use email and GoogleDocs extensively to communicate with you and to post and receive assignments and documents for class. Be sure to let me know if Internet access will be a problem for you during the course. Weekly readings, handouts, etc. will be posted on GoogleDocs and accessible through our course GoogleSite prior to class. It is your responsibility to check GoogleDocs regularly.

Course Overview

In this course, we will begin a conversation about the purposes for teaching English in public schools with diverse populations. We will cover the teaching of reading, speaking and listening, language, and writing in various media. We will discuss the principles that inform our teaching and explore models of how these might play out in classrooms. Ultimately, I want to help you develop principled practice; that is, I hope your teaching will reflect principles about teaching and learning that are rooted in research and what we know about effective teacher practice.

The teaching of reading requires both an understanding of general and ELA-specific reading strategies. You have begun to build this understanding in your ED 402 class. We will build on those understandings by investigating our own English-specific reading practices, those of students in our placements, and how to best support students in becoming better readers of the multiple texts they will encounter in and out of English classes.

As we know, most English courses revolve around whole class discussions as a means of developing student understanding and assessing student comprehension of texts. As such, English teachers must learn how to facilitate discussions that allow access to all learners, actively engage students, and expand their understanding of the content being discussed. Therefore, we will focus on developing our own speaking and listening skills while simultaneously working to develop instructional strategies to help our students do the same.

Research studies conducted by my colleagues here at The University of Michigan found that teachers whose students consistently improved on standardized tests focused on the teaching of writing. With current dismal scores on writing assessments, and the incorporation of writing on college entrance exams, there is more focus on the teaching of writing – and thankfully so. We will investigate the phases of the writing process, how the process can be supported using various writing technologies, and how best to support students as they move through each phase. What do you teach and how do you teach it? How do you conference or give feedback to every student? During our time investigating writing, we will also think about how to teach grammar in the context of writing.

NOTE: Although we will be using and considering English content in this course, this is not an English course. This is a course focused on the teaching of English. It is not enough to be really good at reading, writing, speaking, or listening. It is important that you understand and be able to do those things, but your main objective is to teach your students these skills.

Required Texts

1. One recently published (since 1990) Young Adult novel of your choice
2. Understanding By Design
All other readings will be posted on GoogleSites/GoogleDocs

NOTE: You will be videotaping yourselves at several intervals for methods and practicum. The IT department has flip cameras available for check out. Other courses are also engaging in video records of practice and therefore you will not be the only ones looking to check out flip cameras. If you have access to a camera or can afford to purchase one, I would suggest that you do so. THIS IS NOT A REQUIREMENT FOR THE COURSE. However, an inability to get a camera to videotape is not a valid excuse, either. Dates for videoing will be set well in advance and as future teachers you will need to manage such issues as reserving limited equipment for your class use. You should also become familiar with the camera you are using to make sure it records correctly, and is positioned to capture the instruction.

Major Assignments

Assignment 1: Professional Website Development. You will each create an online space, using either WordPress or GoogleSites, in the first two weeks of class. You will use this site to post resources that you find, to reflect on your teaching, and to submit your unit plan assignments. The purpose of this assignment is to help you think about ways to integrate emerging web-based technologies into your classroom and your professional life as a teacher. The goal is also to help you develop a web presence and to allow you to consider the teaching persona you project in your work as a professional educator.

Assignment 2: Reading Lesson. You will teach a mini-lesson on an assigned reading strategy during practicum. For this assignment, you should draft a lesson plan and prepare to receive feedback from the instructors and your peers. This will be your first enactment of the mini-lesson and we will use this time to help you consider your strengths and places for growth. After teaching a mini-lesson on a reading strategy in your practicum, you will analyze the video of your practice, and reflect on your use of the mini-lesson structure, including your clarity of purpose for the lesson, connecting to and eliciting students’ prior knowledge, your modeling of the strategy, and engagement of students during guided practice. This reflection should include the specific strengths of your instruction, places you see for growth, and questions you have about the experience.

Assignment 3: Unit Plan Overview. Your unit overview will give an outline of the YA unit you will develop over the course of this semester. The unit plan overview should include your Essential Question (EQ), Learning Targets (LTs), and a rationale for the use of the EQ and LTs with the YA text you’ve chosen. This unit should be designed as if you were going to teach it to the students in your current field placement. Hence, you should use the Common Core Standards for the grade level you are currently working with to develop your learning targets. You will choose learning targets for each of these areas: reading, speaking and listening, grammar, and writing. When thinking of these learning targets, focus on what students will know or be able to do after moving through your unit. Also consider what your novel is useful for teaching. This assignment will become a part of your YA Curriculum Unit. Key Resources: Wiggins and McTighe; Hillocks; Wilhelm; Common Core Standards.

Assignment 4: Writing prompt. Develop a writing prompt to be used as the culminating assignment for your YA Unit. Based on the writing needs of the students in your current placement, you will design a writing prompt that will allow students to demonstrate their learning of the LTs you have chosen for your unit. This assignment will become a part of your YA unit plan.

Assignment 5: Mini-lesson on writing. Create mini-lesson that focuses on an aspect of writing that students need in order to complete your writing prompt successfully. This learning goal for this lesson should be something pivotal to the completion of the writing task and include the aspects of a mini-lesson we’ve covered together in class (modeling, guided practice, etc.). This assignment will become a part of your YA Curriculum Unit. Due March 9
**rehearse mini-lesson in practicum and receive feedback from peers on practice

Assignment 6: Gateway Activity. Develop a gateway activity that focuses student attention on a main learning goal (Hillocks, 1995). This will be the opening activity to your YA unit. Many gateway activities focus either on the EQ, or the bigger ideas of the unit, or a specific LT that is core to the unit. Due March 16

Assignment 7: Unit Calendar. Design a 6-week unit of study based on the reading, speaking and listening, and writing needs of students in your current placement. The calendar should include the LT that is the focus of the day, the activities (lectures, mini-lessons, guided practice, independent practice, role plays, skits, group work, small group or whole class discussions, SSR, etc) that will be a part of the day’s lesson and any HW assigned. The activities should include enough description that it is clear what is happening during the day’s lesson. (Examples will be examined in class and available on GoogleDocs). This assignment will become a part of your YA Curriculum Unit. Due March 23

Assignment 8: Two consecutive lesson plans. Two (2) consecutive lesson plans should also be included with one focusing on either the teaching of a specific reading, or speaking and listening strategy. This assignment will become a part of your YA Curriculum Unit.

Assignment 9: Discussion Lesson Reflection and Video Clip. After investigating the facilitation strategies of veteran teacher, Yvonne Hutchinson in class, you will choose a specific facilitation strategy we’ve discussed in class and use it during a whole-class discussion in your placement and video tape this discussion. After the discussion, you will reflect on your facilitation of a whole class discussion in your placement focusing on how well you used the strategy to facilitate the discussion, what other/different strategies might you have you used and why, places for growth, including a discussion of the questions asked, response to student answers, etc. Due April 6

Assignment 10: YA Curriculum Unit. Your final assignment will be to revise and resubmit each part of the unit plan previously drafted. In addition, you will also submit a rubric for your writing prompt. The unit should include your unit overview, gateway activity, calendar, two consecutive lessons, writing mini-lesson, writing prompt, and rubric. Due April 17
Written reflections: For written reflections, you are expected to examine your own performance of practice. There is a natural tendency to avoid discussing the challenges you faced or things that did not go well. However, part of the process of growing is to identify and consider concrete and specific ways of addressing these areas. Failure to examine areas of struggle or uncertainty will reflect negatively in your grade. At the same time, in order for a written reflection to be “thorough,” it must also address your successes and areas you have grown. Bringing in our class discussions and readings as you propose your next steps is also important in demonstrating your understanding of how theory impacts practice.

Reading commentaries: Reading for an education class is not like reading for an English class. As you read, you should synthesize the main points of the article, post answers to the reading questions given in the syllabus calendar, and prepare your own questions. Typically, we will spend some time each week discussing the reading in small groups and/or as a whole class. For each week’s readings, I have included reading questions to help scaffold our whole class discussion of the readings. You should post brief answers in your googledocs collection by 8am Friday. These should be complete answers but no more than ½ to ¾ of a page is necessary in most cases to answer the questions.

Professional Expectations

As you’ve probably already noted, you will receive a grade for professional expectations. I have delineated here what I mean by this term and the aspects that will contribute to your grade.

Attendance: You are expected to attend every class session. There will be days when we will not meet as a class and I will meet individually with you to discuss specific pieces of your unit plan. I will offer times during that week of class to meet. These meetings will take place in my SEB office, Room 2014. These meetings will be in lieu of our class meeting.

Punctuality: You are expected to arrive to class on time and to submit assignments on time. We will begin each class 10 minutes after the hour to allow for transition between classes. Unless otherwise stated, all assignments are to be posted on the course GoogleDocs collection before class begins (before 12pm on the Friday an assignment is due).

Participation: You are expected to listen actively to the perspectives of others and share your own. Sharing your ideas in class is critical for our learning. I recognize that it is easier for some people than others to speak out in class. Though you are not expected to talk all the time, you are expected to participate consistently and thoughtfully.

Electronics Etiquette: I love to use laptops, smart phones, and other hand-held devices as much as you probably do. That is precisely why I feel strongly about having some explicit expectations about their use in class. Common sense demonstrates, and research is now showing, that we are not as good at multi-tasking with electronic devices as we may think. I ask that electronic distractions (facebook, email) be avoided during class time except during break (get your fix!). You are welcome to use your computers to workshop assignments, to discuss readings, etc… but I reserve the right to revoke your computer privileges during class discussions if you prove unable to focus on the task at hand. Having your email or Facebook browsers open but minimized has the potential to distract – keep your browser closed unless you are accessing GoogleDocs, please. There are always exceptional circumstances and technologies – please see me with specific concerns that you’d like to discuss, and we’ll make arrangements that work for us all.

Assig. # Assignment Points Percentage of Grade
Reading Commentaries 100 10%
Professional Expectations 50 5%
1. Website Development and Maintenance 100 15%
2. Reading Mini-Lesson 100 10%
3. Unit Plan Overview and Rationale 100 10%
4. Writing prompt 50 5%
5. Writing Mini-Lesson 50 5%
6. Unit Plan Gateway Activity 50 5%
7. Unit Plan Calendar 100 10%
8. Unit Lesson Plans 50 5%
9. Discussion Lesson Reflection and Video Clip 50 5%
10. Unit Plan Dec. 14 200 15%
Total 1000 100%

*These are draft submissions. I understand that this is your first time engaging in this kind of planning. Full credit will be given for submitting all parts of the assignment and following the criteria for submission.Electronic Submissions: Submit all assignments on GoogleDocs in your work folder (titled with your first name), which is only shared with me. Label your files with your uniqname, assignment number, followed by ED440 (e.g., lizhomanAssignment1ED440.doc). If an assignment includes many parts, please combine them into a single document for submission rather than submitting several documents. Please do not email assignments. Reading commentaries should be labeled with your uniqname, class week number, followed by ED440 (e.g., lizhomanWeek1ED440.doc).

To save to your folder in GoogleDocs: you have a couple options.

1. See the drop-down arrows next to “collections shared with me” on the left? After uploading your document, Click on those until you reveal your personal submission folder. From your “home” screen, drag your reflection over to your folder and drop it in. That will automatically share it with me.

2. After uploading your document, click on it to select it. Then, go up to “More” in the navigation bar at the top. Choose “organize.” Select your personal folder (you might have to extend “collections shared with me” to find your folder).Video Submissions: You will submit video recordings of enactments to accompany the documents you submit on GoogleDocs. We will be using GoogleDocs for our video sharing. I have established a “ED440 Video Submissions” folder on GoogleDocs in our class collection and have shared that collection with you. Please label your videos with your name and the date you videotaped your practice. When possible, CLIP videos to a manageable size (GoogleDocs will overload!). Just show us the part that’s most important to you or that you focused your reflection around. If you need help clipping, come see me.Grading: Everyone begins this course with a perfect score; failure to meet the above expectations will result in the lowering of your score. If you know in advance that you will be unable to meet any of these expectations at any point during the semester (will miss a class, need an extension), please to notify me by email or in class to discuss your circumstances and possible accommodations/ arrangements (getting handouts from a class you will miss, planning an assignment extension date). If you are unable to submit an assignment on time, contact me by email preferably no later than 48 hours prior to the due date to discuss adjusting the deadline. I understand that emergencies arise and life happens. Extension requests that are received after mid-day Wednesday (for a Friday due date) will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

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