EDU 350 Syllabus

EDU 350—Curriculum and Methods of Teaching in Grades 7-12 (4 hours undergraduate credit)

Instructor                   Paul Thomas, EdD
Office                         Hipp Hall 101 F
Phone                         294.3386
Class Room               TBD
Time                           TBD



*Zemelman, S., Daniels, H. & Hyde, A. (2012). Best Practice: Bringing Standards to Life in America's Classrooms (4th ed.). Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.


*Wormeli, R. (2013) The Collected Writings (so far) of Rick Wormeli 

Reaching and Teaching Students in Poverty: Strategies for Erasing the Opportunity Gap by Paul C. Gorski
ISBN-13: 9780807754573 
Publisher: Teachers College Press

*Texts will be assigned in part for multiple methods courses.

Vision Statement

The Teacher Education Program at Furman University prepares educators who are scholars and leaders.

Mission of the Program

Furman University prepares teachers and administrators to be scholars and leaders who use effective pedagogy, reflect critically on the practice of teaching, promote human dignity, and exemplify ethical and democratic principles in their practice.  Furman is committed to a program of teacher education that calls for collaborative, interdependent efforts throughout the academic learning community.

The teacher education program is anchored in the university’s commitment to the liberal arts—encompassing the humanities, fine arts, mathematics, and social and natural sciences as the essential foundation for developing intellectually competent educators.  Furthermore, candidates develop professional content knowledge, pedagogical skills, and dispositions through:

•  Mastery of subject matter
•  Understanding of philosophical, historical, and sociological foundations of education
•  Understanding of human development and its implications for learning
•  Understanding of social/cultural relationships
•  Understanding the interrelationship of curriculum, instruction, and assessment
•  Practice of critical inquiry and reflection on teaching and learning
•  Opportunities for leadership development
•  Opportunities to study and practice effective communication
•  Collaboration with peers and others

Course Description

EDU 350 Curriculum and Methods of Teaching in Grades 9-12 (formerly ED-50)
Prerequisite: EDU-221 (ED-21)

Various ways of organizing the curriculum in the secondary school, a comparison of traditional and nontraditional teaching methods, principles of learning, classroom organization, planning units and formal and informal evaluation. Should be enrolled spring semester of the senior year concurrently with the appropriate subject specific methods course. 4 credits.

Goals and Objectives

Key concepts and terms to be explored:

• classroom environment
• learning styles, brain research, multiple intelligences
• Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objections
• Maslow’s taxonomy of human needs
• understanding and appreciating student diversity
• unit/lesson planning
• instructional models and techniques
• individualizing and differentiating instruction for diverse learners
• motivating at-risk students
• assessing student learning
• state/national curriculum standards
• integrated curriculum/instruction/assessment models
• classroom management
• analyze/describe practicing teacher’s management plan
• appropriate and effective use of technology (including software)
• school-to-work programs

Field Experiences

Candidates will be placed in a year-long field experience during their senior year as part of the secondary certification process. That field experience will include an Early Experience and a Senior Block.

Early Experience

Candidates will be required to observe and assist their mentor teacher in Early Experience (dates provided by the Teacher to Teacher coordinator) during the opening weeks of school. The Early Experience is intended to provide teacher interns with an orientation to the community, district, school and the classroom placement that will serve as the teaching field site.  It builds on previously developed knowledge bases and experiences; encourages teacher interns to apply what they have learned in a reflective manner; and involves them in the day-to-day culture of a public school, teaching students with diverse abilities, learning preferences, experiences, and interests.

Specific objectives for the student teaching intern during the early experience include:

1. getting to know his/her school, its students, and the surrounding community
2. assisting the mentor teacher in whatever ways he/she deems necessary, including the teaching of mini-lessons, if possible
3. familiarizing him/herself with the "ADEPT performance standards" that constitute the ADEPT evaluation
4. discussing with the mentor teacher where in the curriculum he/she will begin teaching

Senior Block

Fall Term

During the fall term, secondary teacher candidates will be enrolled in courses at Furman University.  They will be expected to continue to make field visits to their placement school.  They will also attend seminars at Furman during Early Experience.

During the spring term (the "senior block"), secondary teacher candidates will return to their placement schools after several weeks of coursework on campus at the beginning of spring semester.  As the co-teacher, they will gradually assume all the teaching and administrative responsibilities of the mentor teacher.  These responsibilities will last the rest of the spring term, typically seven (approximately) weeks.  Teacher candidates will spend additional time spring term on Furman campus, where they complete their advanced methods courses and other course requirements (ex., UWS).  Additional seminars will occur throughout the academic year.

During the senior block, co-teachers will have one university supervisor who is primarily responsible for support and supervision.  Cooperating teachers are strongly encouraged to contact the university supervisor in a timely manner if any problems arise.  Typically, the university supervisor will confer with the cooperating teacher at most visits.  Additionally, other university faculty may visit periodically to assess specific aspects of the co-teacher's performance (e.g. assessment, integration of technology, classroom management, multicultural education).

Routine Feedback to the Co-Teacher
Cooperating teachers and university supervisors are expected to provide regular written as well as oral feedback to the co-teachers. Cooperating teachers will complete a weekly electronic evaluation. These should be shared among all three participants. Cooperating teachers and university supervisors should confer about their observations of, and feedback to, co-teachers.

Final Evaluations of the Co-Teacher
Cooperating teacher and university supervisor evaluations will be electronic and based on the Standards for Preparation of Educators Who Are Scholars and Leaders and ADEPT standards.  A three-way conference, based on ADEPT standards, will occur among the cooperating teacher, co-teacher, and university supervisor at the end of the term.


• Early Experience/Senior Block Reflections

During Early Experience and the Senior Block (TBD), submit reflections on your field experience; these should be submitted to your secondary methods and content methods professors. [A schedule will be provided.]

• Self-assessment/Video-taped Lessons

Candidates must video-tape 2 lessons during senior block—one early in the block and one late in the block. Candidates should then write a self-assessment that compares the two lessons.

• Text Reading/Reaction Logs

Read the assigned text(s) and maintain a reading log throughout your readings.  I highly recommend that you include in the log any notes on how the text reading offers practical information you can apply in the classroom; also, I recommend that you maintain a double-entry format—with your reading notes on the left of each page and a blank space to the right so you can jot relevant reactions and experiences during your field experience over the senior block placement.

• Unit Work Sample (UWS) [Concurrent with Content Methods course]

Using the UWS template and guidelines (to be provided), conduct and then submit a Unit Work Sample. Time will be allocated during the methods courses (spring) to plan the UWS. The UWS must be implemented during your spring placement. 


Assignments and expectations listed above have not been labeled with weights or percentages.  The work students complete in this course will be assessed cumulatively and holistically; individual assignments will not be weighted and averaged, as is traditionally practiced.  All work may be revised as desired by the student, as agreed upon by the professor, and as term time limits allow.

Work and commitments to this course should be of the highest academic and professional quality.  Late or incomplete work will be addressed at the end of the course—not on individual grades for individual assignments.  Further, individual grades for group work will reflect both the effort of each individual in the group and the ultimate quality of the group assignment.

Furman University, the Education Department, and the professor are strongly committed to students performing as scholars while in all their courses.  Such a commitment means that we expect the highest standards in written and oral performances—including a student’s understanding and application of academic honesty and scholarly documentation of all work.  In this course, students will be expected to follow American Psychological Association (APA; most recent edition) guidelines.  Help for writing, presenting, and documentation will be provided by the professor and additional documenting help may be found at either of the following—

All grading and evaluation procedures for this course may be discussed more fully by contacting the professor for a face-to-face explanation—though much of this will be covered as a natural part of the course content as well.

All grading policies of Furman University and Graduate Studies are in effect.

Policy Statement Regarding Late Assignments and Academic Honesty

Late Assignments
Each assignment is to be completed and turned in during the class session on the date that it is due. To insure late work will be accepted: At least one day prior to original due date speak to the professor to get permission for a later due date and set the day and time it will be turned in. If you are away from campus on an official college event (this includes athletes), it is your responsibility to turn in your assignment early or send it with a classmate the day it is due in order to receive full credit.

Academic Honesty
The Education Department believes that academic honesty is a serious concern. Acts of dishonesty include (but are not limited to) cheating, plagiarism, forgery, and misrepresenting commitments. Plagiarism, defined in the pamphlet Plagiarism and Academic Integrity at Furman University, is the "unacknowledged use of someone else's work is in effect an attempt to deceive one's reader into thinking it is one's own work." This includes using parts of commercially-prepared units of instruction instead of your own. Academic dishonesty includes handing in the same student product (paper, unit, lesson plan) for credit in two different classes without the approval of both instructors. Such acts will be grounds for appropriate disciplinary action and will be dealt with individually. They can result in an automatic "F" in the course and/or expulsion from the program. The policy is consistent with the College Academic Regulations in the Bulletin.

In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Furman University provides a range of services to allow persons with special needs (including learning disabilities such as ADHD) to participate in education programs. You must contact the Coordinator for Disability Services, Dr. Susan Clark, before the course instructor can address your individual needs. She can be reached at 294-2322.

Tentative Schedule

Rationale: Courses Taught by P. L. Thomas—
Welcome to the Occupation

Paulo Freire (1993) establishes early in his Pedagogy of the Oppressed, “One of the basic elements of the relationship between oppressor and oppressed is prescription. Every prescription represents the imposition of one individual’s choice upon another, transforming the consciousness of the person prescribed to into one that conforms with the prescriber’s consciousness” (pp. 28-29).

The course before you, your course, will be guided by some essential principles, beliefs, and research concerning the nature of learning and teaching along with the commitments I have to the dignity of each person’s humanity and to the sacredness of intellectual freedom within a democracy. The practices and expectations of this course are informed by many educators, writers, and researchers—many of who are referenced at the end. But the guiding philosophies and theories of this course can be fairly represented as critical pedagogycritical constructivism, and authentic assessment.

Now that I am in my third decade as a teacher, my classroom practices and expectations for students are all highly purposeful—although most of my practices and expectations are non-traditional and may create the perception that they are “informal.” For you, the student, this will be somewhat disorienting (a valuable state for learning) and some times frustrating. Since I recognize the unusual nature of my classes, I will offer here some clarity and some commitments as the teacher in this course.

In all of my courses, I practice “critical pedagogy.”  This educational philosophy asks students to question and identify the balance of power in all situations—an act necessary to raise a your awareness of social justice.  I also emphasize “critical constructivist” learning theory.  Constructivism challenges students (with the guidance of the teacher) to forge their own understanding of various concepts by formulating and testing hypotheses, and by utilizing inductive, not just deductive, reasoning. A constructivist stance asks students to recognize and build upon their prior knowledge while facing their own assumptions and expectations as an avenue to deeper and more meaningful learning. My practices avoid traditional forms of assessment (selected-response tests), strive to ask students to create authentic representations of their learning, and require revision of that student work.

Some of the primary structures of this course include the following:

• I delay traditional grades on student work to encourage you to focus on learning instead of seeking an “A” and to discourage you from being “finishers” instead of engaged in assignments. At any point in the course, you can receive oral identification of on-going grades if you arrange an individual conference concerning you work. However, this course functions under the expectation that no student work is complete until the last day of the course; therefore, technically all students have no formal grade until the submission of the final portfolio. One of the primary goals of this course is to encourage you to move away from thinking and acting as a student and toward thinking and acting in authentic ways that manifest themselves in the world outside of school.

• I include individual conferences for all students at mid-term (and any time one is requested), based on a self-evaluation, a mid-course evaluation, and an identification of student concerns for the remainder of the course. You will receive a significant amount of oral feedback (“feedback” and “grades” are not the same, and I consider “grades” much less useful than feedback), but much of my feedback comes in the form of probing questions that require you to make informed decisions instead of seeking to fulfill a requirement established by me or some other authority. Your learning experience is not a game of “got you”; thus, you have no reason to distrust the process. I value and support student experimentation, along with the necessity of error and mistakes during those experiments. My classroom is not a place where you need to mask misunderstandings and mistakes. I do not equate learning with a student fulfilling clearly defined performances (see Freire’s commentary on prescription above), but I do equate learning with students creating their own parameters for their work and then presenting their work in sincere and faithful ways.

• I include portfolio assessment in my courses, requiring students to draft work throughout the course, to seek peer and professor feedback through conferences, and to compile at the end all of their assignments in a course with a reflection on that work; my final assessments are weighted for students and guided by expectations for those assignments, but those weights and expectations are tentative and offered for negotiation with each student. Ultimately, the final grade is calculated holistically and based on that cumulative portfolio. All major assignments in this course must be drafted in order to be eligible for a final grade of “A.” The drafting process must include at least two weeks of dedication to the assignment, student-solicited feedback from the professor, and peer feedback. Assignments must be submitted in final forms in the culminating portfolio, but documentation of the drafting process must also be submitted with the final products. Any major assignments that do not fulfill the expectation of drafting will not receive a grade higher than a “B.” Revision is a necessary aspect of completing academic work.

Welcome to the occupation. This is your class, a series of moments of your life—where you make your decisions and act in ways you choose. Freedom and choice, actually, are frightening things because with them come responsibility. We are often unaccustomed to freedom, choose, and responsibility, especially in the years we spend in school. So if you are nervous about being given the freedom to speak and the responsibility for making your own choices, that is to be expected. But I am here to help—not prescribe, not to judge. That too will make you a bit nervous. I am glad to have this opportunity in your life, and I will not take it lightly. I would be honored if you choose not to take it lightly either.

Ayres, W. (2001). To teach: The journey of a teacher. New York: Teachers College Press.
Brooks, J. G., & Brooks, M. G. (1999). In search of understanding: The case for constructivist classrooms. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Dewey, J. (1938/1997). Experience and education. New York: Free Press.
Freire, P. (1993). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum.
Gardner, H. (1999). The disciplined mind: What all students should understand. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Gardner, H. (1991). The unschooled mind: How children think and how schools should teach. New York: Basic Books.
Greene, M. (1995). Releasing the imagination: Essays on education, the arts, and social change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
hooks, b. (1999). remembered rapture: the writer at work. New York: Henry Holt and Company.
———. (1994). Teaching to transgress: Education as the practice of freedom. New York: Routledge.
Kincheloe, J. L. (2005a). Critical constructivism primer. New York: Peter Lang.
Kincheloe, J. L. (2005b). Critical pedagogy primer. New York: Peter Lang.
Pinker, S. (1994). The language instinct. New York: Harper Perennial.
———. (1999). Words and rules: The ingredients of language. New York: Basic Books.
Popham, W. J. (2001). The Truth about testing: An educator’s call to action. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Popham, W. J. (2003). Test better, teach better: The instructional role of assessment. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Zemelman, S., Daniels, H., & Hyde, A. (2005). Best Practice: Today’s standards for teaching and learning in America’s schools (3rd ed.). Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.