EDUC 304 Syllabus

EDUC 304: Problems and Principles of Secondary Education

The University of Michigan School of Education

Winter 2014, Tuesdays 4-6 p.m.

Room 2218 School of Education Building

Instructor: Merideth Garcia

Phone: (cell) 512-917-6058


Office: 4204A School of Education

Office hours: M 4-6 or by appointment

Course Description

Student teaching is a demanding, intense, and very public learning experience, and it will enable you to engage with the challenges and satisfactions of teaching more fully than ever before. This seminar is designed to do more than help you merely “survive” the student teaching experience; its purpose is to help you grow in skill, understanding, and judgment as you put your learning to use.

With the Unit Plan Project as its centerpiece, this seminar will function as a professional workshop, providing an invaluable venue for collaboration and reflection with a community of your peers. Our focus will be three-fold: 1) exploring connections between your previous coursework in the School of Education, your current EDUC 445/446 classes and your day-to-day experiences as an apprentice educator; 2) engaging in critical discussions of issues related to the secondary English classroom; and 3) delving deeply into the challenges and complexities of effective planning, including the analysis of students’ work as a window into learning more about one’s own teaching. I look forward to working with you this semester and witnessing your growth as a teacher.

Course Goals

Our goals in this seminar are:

  • exploring connections between your previous coursework in the professional course sequence and your day-to-day experiences as a beginning educator
  • engaging in critical discussions of problems of practice related to the secondary classroom and school/community contexts
  • examining the challenges and complexities of effective planning (including course, unit, and lesson planning), enactment of planning, and the analysis of student work as a window to learning more about your own teaching.


Workshop Participation: Because this seminar is grounded in a spirit of teamwork, it is essential that you come prepared to collaborate productively with your colleagues. Naturally, you must attend all of the seminar meetings, but I additionally expect you to assume the responsibilities of a professional in this setting: to bring all designated materials to be reviewed during each workshop; to listen carefully to seminar participants; and to offer feedback and ideas respectfully and thoughtfully. Missing more than two seminars will result in a significant grade adjustment and missing 3 or more seminars will result in a failing grade in this course. Your active, consistent participation is vital to the success of this seminar.

Unit Plan Project (UPP): This project will help you to practice and develop the habits of mind that enable teachers to design units that promote all students’ learning. In most cases, your unit will be approximately two to five weeks long, and will be taught during the 10-12 weeks in which you will have lead teaching responsibilities. First, you will make your planning process visible by developing a fully detailed teaching plan; you will next implement the plan, reflecting on its effectiveness through daily annotations; then you will study students’ final products as a guide for pedagogical revisions and a stimulus for deeper pedagogical understanding. The project culminates in your consideration of a “big question” that you and your field instructor will choose together, as well as a final “Discovery Conversation,” or an extended one-on-one discussion of what your students’ final products taught you about your teaching of the unit and the students’ learning during the unit.

Weekly Reflections: You will post a weekly reflection (300-800 words) on your experiences in your placement drawn from your observations and the annotations you make to your daily lesson plans. Once during the semester, you will be responsible for reading the reflections of your classmates and crafting a “meta-post” that quotes and comments on the posts of your peers.

Professional Portfolio: I will share with you a list of required elements which will include a teaching philosophy, resume, transcript, teaching evaluations from MT, FI, classroom students and parents, letters of recommendation, relevant and significant artifacts of your unique teaching experiences and, possibly, photos and video. Drawing upon the materials that many of you have already drafted, we will focus on ways to create and/or reshape the portfolio so that it effectively documents and represents your unique strengths and interests as a teacher—and serves you well on the job market.

Course Evaluation

You will be evaluated based on your active, consistent participation in our seminar meetings, as well as on the quality and completion of course assignments. You must be in attendance at every seminar other than for excused absences which must be communicated before the seminar (see program handbook for absence policy). Missing more than two could result in a failing grade in this course. Education 304 is taken for a letter grade. To be recommended for secondary certification, you must earn a “C” or higher in this course.


You are a member of a professional preparation program. This seminar is both a professional and academic course. You are expected to demonstrate the professional standards of educators regarding timeliness, personal presentation, and general conduct. These standards may be different from the norms of general university student culture.

You will be assessed by your ability to demonstrate professionalism both in the field and in the academic setting. This includes: turning in work on time (both to your MT and FI); being on time to seminar and your placement; actively participating in seminar and activities at your placement; communicating honestly with your FI and your MT regarding planning, absences, and the progress of you and your students; and maintaining professional relationships with your students, colleagues, cohort members, MT, and FI.

Integration with ED 445/446

This semester, in addition to ED 304, you are enrolled in two 1-credit courses for ED 445/446: Topics in Professional Education (Teaching Students with Exceptionalities and Technology in Education). To make your learning experience as cohesive as possible, the consultants for these courses will be working as part of our team and may be joining us in seminar to discuss these topics with you. In addition, ED 304 assignments, such as lesson plans, unit plans, and observations will reflect integration of these topics.


Observations of your teaching by your supervisor are something that you will experience multiple times a year as an early career teacher. During student teaching, your field instructor will observe you four times over the course of the semester, and the procedures will be similar to those that you will experience in your professional career. Observations are to be spaced out appropriately over the course of the semester and scheduled with both your MT and FI with significant notice.

NOTE: 48 hours prior to each observation you will submit an elaborated lesson plan to your FI and MT. This lesson plan format will be similar the one that you used in both ED 402 and Methods. Submitting these plans in advance will allow your FI the opportunity to provide you feedback on your lesson prior to the observation so that you may make appropriate revisions.

Following your observation, you, the FI, and your MT will debrief your observation.

Following your debriefing conversation and review of your FI’s observation write-up (which you will receive soon after your observation), you will submit a lesson reflection memo to your FI. This memo will include your reflection on what you learned about your teaching and your students from the observation, as well as identify one problem of practice you would like to work on in coming weeks. You will also annotate your original lesson plan in light of your reflection upon your teaching. The lesson reflection memo and annotated lesson plan will be due within one week of your observation. Please post it in google docs and share it with your MT.

It is imperative that observations be scheduled with significant notice and the lesson reflection memo and annotated lesson plan be received within one week following your observation. Failure to receive lesson plans may result in cancellation of the observation by your FI. Delay in or failure to complete any of these steps will result in the loss of points for the course and, potentially, threat of not passing EDUC 304.


For disability – In accordance with University of Michigan policy, I am happy to provide accommodations for students with learning disabilities and will protect the confidentiality of students’ individual learning needs. Please email me by the second week of the term so I can schedule a confidential appointment to discuss approved accommodations.

For religious observances – If a class session or due date conflicts with your religious holidays, please notify me of which dates will pose a conflict no later than the fourth week of class so I can make alternative arrangements. In accordance with U-M policy on religious/academic conflicts, your absence will not affect your grade in the course.

For other special circumstances – If there are extenuating circumstances that impact your success, please contact me ASAP to schedule an appointment.


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