EDUC 440 Syllabus

EDUC 440 The Teaching of English
Fall 2014
Course Syllabus

Instructor: Merideth Garcia, School of Education, #4204A
Contact Information:; 512-917-6058
Class Meeting Day: Wednesdays Time: 1-4pm
Location: 2816 SSWB

Instructor’s Office Hours Day and Time: Office hours are held on Wednesdays from 4-5 pm and by appointment. To schedule an appointment, email the instructor.

Course Description:

This course is designed to develop the essential skills required for effective teaching of the English Language Arts in diverse secondary school settings. Students in the course will be introduced to key theoretical frameworks; however, the course is practice-focused and, as such, the majority of class learning activities and assignments will be devoted to the application of theory as skill for effective teaching. In doing so, the course will expose students to strategies that develop 6-12 students’ fundamental literacy skills that cross all domains of the English Language Arts. Special attention will be focused on the teaching of reading and writing to adolescents, especially those of diverse populations. However, strategies dealing with listening, speaking, and viewing will also be explored. Additionally, special topics pertaining to the integration of media and technology in the teaching of the English Language Arts will be covered. Throughout, students in the course will be challenged to think analytically and reflectively about their practice, particularly as is pertains to methodically identifying and addressing problems of practice.

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • design intentional and coherent lessons and units of learning that are standards-based, aligned, and likely to lead to high levels of student learning
  • analyze a problem of practice and test a research-/theory-based solution
  • analyze a writing prompt and assess students writing
  • execute essential teaching strategies for the effective learning of the English Language Arts

In short, this course aims to teach you a set of well-developed principles and to help you learn to apply them with good judgment.

Required Texts

Burke, J. (2012). The English Teacher’s Companion: Fourth Edition: A Completely New Guide to Classroom, Curriculum, and the Profession. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Any edition of Shakespeare’s Othello.

Additional articles will be posted on CTools.

Course Requirements

Assignment 1: Lesson Design – Digital Content Lesson (15%) – Design a digital demonstration of a single literary concept, reading strategy, or writing strategy that you will use to enact and facilitate a discussion about your assigned act of Othello. 2-3 pages plus the uploaded digital artifact.

Assignment 2: Enact/Facilitate a Discussion about Literature (15%) Using the lesson you designed for Assignment 1, you will lead a group of your peers in a discussion about your assigned act of Othello using key strategies for effective questioning, engagement, accountability, etc. You will also self-assess your enactment via a brief self-assessment. 1-2 pages.

Assignment 3: 3 Day Lesson Design/2 Day Teach – (15%) –Design a 3 day series of lessons that you will teach in your placement. You will teach two to three days of the lesson design. One day may be taught by your mentor teacher.

Assignment 4: Teaching Writing and Assessment of Writing (15%) Choose and analyze 3 writing prompts given by your mentor teacher to students. Gather 1 student’s responses to the prompts and write an analysis of both the prompt and the student’s performance as a writer citing evidence from their writing samples. 3-5 pages

Assignment 5: Unit Design (25%) – ‘Backward’ design a unit for the teaching of the English Language Arts of, at least, 3 weeks in length that you can actually enact during your practicum/field experience. The unit plan 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. You will choose learning targets for each of these areas: reading, speaking and listening, grammar, writing, and (perhaps) language. When thinking of these learning targets, focus on what students will know or be able to do after moving through your unit. The original draft of the unit design is worth 15% of your total grade. Toward the end of the term, you will revise this unit plan to reflect new learnings throughout the remainder of the term. This revision of the unit plan is worth an additional 5% of your total grade. 5-7 pages

Attendance, Preparation & Participation (15%) – Your preparation and active participation in class is critical to our collective understanding and growth, as well as your personal ability to construct meaning. Your participation is contingent upon your preparation. Therefore, your preparation and participation will be measured by your ability to cite textual samples from the course readings during discussions, active listening and speaking during courses discussions, and the completion of 5 blog posts on the course website.

You are expected to attend class on each day that it is scheduled to meet. If you have an emergent need (illness, etc.) that will require you to miss class, please contact me by email and text, in advance. You will be expected to make-up all absences. More than 1 absence can result in failing the course.


A letter grade as follows based on rubric criteria and assessment performance will be assigned:

A+=100 A=99-94% A-=93-90%
B+=89-87% B=86-84% B-=83-80%
C+=79-77% C=76-74% C-=73-70%
D+=69-67% D=66-64% D-=63-60%

Assignments should be submitted via Mbox, which is linked course’s website and CTools site. Late work will be deducted 10% for each day that it is late. Please using the following format for naming your files: LastNameFirstName_AssignmentName.pdf (or .doc, .ppt, etc.).

Personal Technology Use

Appropriate use of electronic devices is a part of your professional participation in our class. Using laptops or cell phones as tools for your learning is acceptable, as long as it is not distracting to you, your colleagues or your instructor. Examples of acceptable use of electronic devices include making records of your practice and consulting resources for work in class. Non-instructional texting, phone calls, social networking, shopping, and other non-instructional use of these devices during class is unacceptable, and will result in a reduction in your participation grade. If you are concerned about your ability to meet this professional expectation, please discuss your concern with me. Please let me know if there is an emergency that affects your need for using a phone during class time.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

If you are registered with the Office for Services for Students with Disabilities, please share your VISA (Verified Individualize Services and Accommodations) form with me at your earliest convenience. Some aspects of this course, the assignments, the in-class activities, and the way the course is usually taught may be modified to facilitate your participation and progress.

If you think you may need an accommodation to complete the requirements of this course, we can work with the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) to help us determine appropriate academic accommodations. SSD (734-763-3000; typically recommends accommodations through a Verified Individualized Services and Accommodations (VISA) form. Any information you provide is private and confidential and will be treated as such.

A Note on Plagiarism

Instructors are expected to report incidences of academic dishonesty to program administrators, who are then required to report them to Rackham Graduate School.  Rackham’s policy can be found at the following link: Specifically, section 10.2.2 of the policy defines plagiarism as follows:  
  • Representing the words, ideas, or work of others as one’s own in writing or presentations, and failing to give full and proper credit to the original source
  • Failing to properly acknowledge and cite language from another source, including paraphrased text
  • Failing to properly cite any ideas, images, technical work, creative content, or other material taken from published or unpublished sources in any medium, including online material or oral presentations, and including the author’s own previous work

Importantly, plagiarism can be intentional or unintentional.  It is expected that SOE graduate students accurate reference sources using APA style.


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