CURRINS 555: Teaching Language Arts, Grades 4-8

Course Description

This course addresses language arts instruction for diverse middle level learners.  It includes concurrent teaching experience.  This course includes content related to the knowledge and skill indicators for the MCEA program.

Course Objectives

1. To demonstrate understanding of language arts as interactive/transactional processes and apply this understanding to assessment and instruction. (UWM-WI Teaching Standards 1, 4, 8)  Link to assessment:  Genre Study, Response Journals

2. To demonstrate understanding of the diverse nature of early adolescent (grades 4-8) learners’ literacy development.  (UWM-WI Teaching Standards 2 and 3)  Link to assessment:  Classroom Profile, Response Journals, Genre Study

3. To plan and implement instructional strategies included in a balanced literacy framework in motivating ways to meet the needs of diverse learners. (UWM-WI Teaching Standards 1, 3, 4, 5, 7 and 10)  Link to assessment:  Genre Study

4.  To utilize on-going assessment as a tool to monitor growth and development and to guide instruction. (UWM-WI Teaching Standards 4, 7, and 8)  Link to assessment:  Classroom Profile

5.  To select and apply appropriate adolescent literature in planning for language arts learning experiences.   (UWM-WI Teaching Standards 4, 7, and 10)  Link to assessment: Genre Study.

6. To demonstrate understanding of yourself as a reader and writer.  (UWM-WI Teaching Standard 9)  Link to assessment:  Writer’s Notebook, Writing Project

7.  To begin to develop a critical, questioning perspective around issues of power and privilege that shape urban education and our role in it. (UWM-WI Core Guiding Principle, UWM-WI Teaching Standard 5 and 10)  Link to assessment:  Reading Response, Writer’s Notebook

8. To improve ability to assess and instruct through reflection (self-monitoring and self evaluation.) (UWM-WI Teaching Standard 9)  Link to assessment:  Genre Study

Course Texts

Bear, D. R., Invernizzi, M., Templeton, S., & Johnston, F. (2007).  Words their way: Word study for phonics, vocabulary, and spelling instruction.  Columbus, OH:  Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall.

Curtis, C. P. (2000).  The Watsons go to Birmingham – 1963.  New York:  Laurel Leaf.

Tompkins, G. E. (2011).  Teaching writing: Balancing process and product, 6th edition  Upper Saddle River, NJ:  Columbus, OH.

Course Projects

1.  Classroom Profile (50 points) – This project is designed to be a classroom simulation that will allow you practice in analyzing data from a medium-large group of students in order to determine the instructional needs of the group.  This project will involve a combination of group and individual work as 3 phases as follows:

  1. Data Collection:  You will work in a group of 4-5.  Each member of the group will attain writing samples and spelling inventories from 2 or more students.  Each student will analyze the data they gather.  Each group member will provide the group with a writing sample and a complete 6 trait analysis for each student sample AND a copy of the spelling assessment and completed feature guide for each student.  The group will be provided class time to compile this data into one classroom profile for writing and one for spelling.  You will be encouraged to gather both formal and informal data on the students included in the classroom profiles.
  2. Data Analysis: At this point, you will work individually to analyze the writing and spelling classroom profiles in order to determine the instructional needs for this group of students.  Grade-alike groups will meet to compile data on in the first third of the semester.  You will bring copies of your students’ writing and analysis AND copies of your students’ spelling assessment and feature guide to class on this date.
  3. Identifying Instructional Support:  Once the instructional needs have been identified, you will identify 2 instructional strategies for writing and 2 for spelling that would be appropriate for the students in the profile.

In the end, you will submit the following:

  1. The Data.  You will submit the classroom profiles for writing and for spelling and any informal data collected.
  2. The Final Report.  The final report will include your analysis of the classroom profiles and describe in some detail the instructional support you believe appropriate for the group.  In this piece you will justify the instructional support as well.  

2.  Genre Study (85 points) – This project designed to provide you with an opportunity to understand how you might go about planning a unit of study for writing.  In that regard, it will be a process that will unfold over the course of the semester.  Some of the components of this project will be completed individually (I), others as a group (G).  As a class we will explore the following genre:  narrative (including stories and personal narrative), expository or informational, persuasive, and poetry.  The components are as follows and will be explained in detail in class and in the course support packet:

  1. Immerse yourself in the genre.  (I) You will read 2 books from the assigned genre and write annotated bibliographies entries and (G) combine them into a group list.  (10 pts)
  2. Identify key features of the genre.  (I) While reading in the genre, make note of features of the genre evident in the selection.  (G) As a group compile a list of key features common across selections. (10 pts)
  3. Write in the genre.  (I) You will write at least one sample in the genre you are studying, revise and edit the piece, and compose a reflection on your writing process.  (25 pts)
  4. Develop essential questions/key understandings.  (G) During group meetings, you will write at least 2 essential questions and 2 key understandings that could be used to guide student learning during a study of your genre.  (5 pts)
  5. Develop an anticipation guide.  (G) As a group you will develop an anticipation guide that could be used with students at the beginning of a study of your genre.  (5 pts)
  6. Identify mini-lessons for the genre.  (G) As a group you will identify a list of mini-lessons that could be included in a study of your genre.  (10 pts)
  7. Conduct a mini-lesson.  (G) Your group will write up and lead your remaining classmates in a 20-minute mini-lesson in your genre.  (15 pts)
  8. Contributions to the group.  Each of your group members will be asked to assess your contributions to the group based upon the degree to which you met established deadlines, contributed work of an acceptable quality, and contributed to group discussions and decision-making.  Your score will be an average of the assessments received from teach group member.  (5 pts)

3.     Lesson Plans (70 points) – You will fully develop and 2 lesson plans that focus on writing and implement them in your field placement.  Your lessons will be of the following types:  writing in response to reading, writing in the content area, writing in a genre/trait.  You will write these lessons individually, but may coordinate them with your field placement partner or not, depending on the situation in your field placement.  These lessons may derive from your genre study or not, depending on the situation in your field placement.  One lesson must involve a mentor text and both lessons may NOT focus on conventions.  Each final lesson will be submitted with a reflection. Lesson plans are due April 23, 2012 or April 30, 2012.  You have the option of submitting your final lesson plans electronically to D2L or in hard copy in class.  In either case the due dates are the same.

4.     Writer’s Notebook (20 points) – For five weeks in the middle of the semester I will be modeling writing instruction by establishing a writing workshop within our classroom.  In order to help you better understand the writing process, I will engage you in regular writing lessons that will require you to write.  You will keep this writing in a Writer’s Notebook similar to one you may require your students to keep.  In order to organize your writer’s notebook, you will need a ½ inch 3 ring binder OR a 2 pocket/3 prong folder and dividers (5 divisions).  You will be required to include the sections Writings in Progress, Mini-lesson Notes, and Published Pieces.  The remaining two sections you will choose for yourself.  Much of the writer’s workshop notebook will be completed in class.  If you are not in class, you will be unable to make an entry in your writer’s notebook and will not be able to earn the corresponding points for that day’s writing. 

5.     Reading Response (20 points) – This project has two purposes:  1) to allow me to check in on your understanding of the reading and 2) to allow you to experience multiple ways of responding to reading.  Each week you will respond to the assigned reading according to the schedule outlined in the syllabus.  The types of response include the following:  double-entry journal, graphic organizer, online quiz, entrance slip, and RAFT.  These responses will be completed prior to coming to class. Responses due weekly.

6.     Final Exam (40 points) You will select from one of the following two final exam options:  revising the pre-test you took at the beginning of the semester OR elaborating on the graphic organizer completed throughout the semester.  

7.  Professionalism (15 points) – You are expected to be active in the learning community created during class meetings each week.  Elements that will be considered in this part of your grade include attendance, preparedness, active participation in all class activities, and providing critical feedback to classmates.



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