EDU 452 Syllabus

EDU 452—Teaching English in Grades 7-12 (4 hours undergraduate credit)

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



Smagorinsky, P. (2008). Teaching English by design. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Writing Instruction That Works: Proven Methods for Middle and High School Classrooms, Arthur N. Applebee and Judith A. Langer, Teachers College Press/ National Writing Project 2013 
ISBN-10: 0807754366 (pb)
ISBN-13: 978-0807754368 (pb)

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


Thomas, P. L. (2005). Teaching writing primer. 

Conventional Language, P. L. Thomas

*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 452 Teaching English in Grades 9-12 (formerly ED-52)
Prerequisite: EDU-221 (ED-21)

Explores two of the major components in the secondary school English curriculum: language and composition. Emphasis placed on teaching the writing process. Examines strategies needed to learn from text materials included in the English classroom. Should be enrolled senior year concurrently with EDU-350 (ED-50). 4 credits.

Goals and Objectives

Coordinated with NCTE Program Standards (2012)

Content Knowledge

I. Candidates demonstrate knowledge of English language arts subject matter content that specifically includes literature and multimedia texts as well as knowledge of the nature of adolescents as readers.
[ ] Element 1: Candidates are knowledgeable about texts—print and non-print texts, media texts, classic texts and contemporary texts, including young adult—that represent a range of world literatures, historical traditions, genres, and the experiences of different genders, ethnicities, and social classes; they are able to use literary theories to interpret and critique a range of texts.
[ ] Element 2: Candidates are knowledgeable about how adolescents read texts and make meaning through interaction with media environments.

II. Candidates demonstrate knowledge of English language arts subject matter content that specifically includes language and writing as well as knowledge of adolescents as language users.
[ ] Element 1: Candidates can compose a range of formal and informal texts taking into consideration the interrelationships among form, audience, context, and purpose; candidates understand that writing is a recursive process; candidates can use contemporary technologies and/or digital media to compose multimodal discourse.
[ ] Element 2: Candidates know the conventions of English language as they relate to various rhetorical situations (grammar, usage, and mechanics); they understand the concept of dialect and are familiar with relevant grammar systems (e.g., descriptive and prescriptive); they understand principles of language acquisition; they recognize the influence of English language history on ELA content; and they understand the impact of language on society.
[ ] Element 3: Candidates are knowledgeable about how adolescents compose texts and make meaning through interaction with media environments.

Content Pedagogy:
Planning Literature and Reading Instruction in ELA

III. Candidates plan instruction and design assessments for reading and the study of literature to promote learning for all students.
[ ] Element 1: Candidates use their knowledge of theory, research, and practice in English Language Arts to plan standards- based, coherent and relevant learning experiences utilizing a range of different texts—across genres, periods, forms, authors, cultures, and various forms of media—and instructional strategies that are motivating and accessible to all students, including English language learners, students with special needs, students from diverse language and learning backgrounds, those designated as high achieving, and those at risk of failure.
[ ] Element 2: Candidates design a range of authentic assessments (e.g., formal and informal, formative and summative) of reading and literature that demonstrate an understanding of how learners develop and that address interpretive, critical, and evaluative abilities in reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing, and presenting.
[ ] Element 3: Candidates plan standards-based, coherent and relevant learning experiences in reading that reflect knowledge of current theory and research about the teaching and learning of reading and that utilize individual and collaborative approaches and a variety of reading strategies.
[ ] Element 4: Candidates design or knowledgeably select appropriate reading assessments that inform instruction by providing data about student interests, reading proficiencies, and reading processes.
[ ] Element 5: Candidates plan instruction that incorporates knowledge of language—structure, history, and conventions—to facilitate students’ comprehension and interpretation of print and non-print texts.
[ ] Element 6: Candidates plan instruction which, when appropriate, reflects curriculum integration and incorporates interdisciplinary teaching methods and materials.

Content Pedagogy: Planning Composition Instruction in ELA

IV. Candidates plan instruction and design assessments for composing texts (i.e., oral, written, and visual) to promote learning for all students.

[ ] Element 1: Candidates use their knowledge of theory, research, and practice in English Language Arts to plan standards- based, coherent and relevant composing experiences that utilize individual and collaborative approaches and contemporary technologies and reflect an understanding of writing processes and strategies in different genres for a variety of purposes and audiences.
[ ] Element 2: Candidates design a range of assessments for students that promote their development as writers, are appropriate to the writing task, and are consistent with current research and theory. Candidates are able to respond to student writing in process and to finished texts in ways that engage students’ ideas and encourage their growth as writers over time.
[ ] Element 3: Candidates design instruction related to the strategic use of language conventions (grammar, usage, and mechanics) in the context of students’ writing for different audiences, purposes, and modalities.
[ ] Element 4: Candidates design instruction that incorporates students’ home and community languages to enable skillful control over their rhetorical choices and language practices for a variety of audiences and purposes.

Learners and Learning:
Implementing English Language Arts Instruction

V. Candidates plan, implement, assess, and reflect on research-based instruction that increases motivation and active student engagement, builds sustained learning of English language arts, and responds to diverse students’ context-based needs.
[ ] Element 1: Candidates plan and implement instruction based on ELA curricular requirements and standards, school and community contexts, and knowledge about students’ linguistic and cultural backgrounds.
[ ] Element 2: Candidates use data about their students’ individual differences, identities, and funds of knowledge for literacy learning to create inclusive learning environments that contextualize curriculum and instruction and help students participate actively in their own learning in ELA.
[ ] Element 3: Candidates differentiate instruction based on students’ self-assessments and formal and informal assessments of learning in English language arts; candidates communicate with students about their performance in ways that actively involve them in their own learning.
[ ] Element 4: Candidates select, create, and use a variety of instructional strategies and teaching resources, including contemporary technologies and digital media, consistent with what is currently known about student learning in English Language Arts.

Professional Knowledge and Skills

VI. Candidates demonstrate knowledge of how theories and research about social justice, diversity, equity, student identities, and schools as institutions can enhance students’ opportunities to learn in English Language Arts.
[ ] Element 1: Candidates plan and implement English language arts and literacy instruction that promotes social justice and critical engagement with complex issues related to maintaining a diverse, inclusive, equitable society.
[ ] Element 2: Candidates use knowledge of theories and research to plan instruction responsive to students’ local, national and international histories, individual identities (e.g., race, ethnicity, gender expression, age, appearance, ability, spiritual belief, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and community environment), and languages/dialects as they affect students’ opportunities to learn in ELA.

VII. Candidates are prepared to interact knowledgeably with students, families, and colleagues based on social needs and institutional roles, engage in leadership and/or collaborative roles in English Language Arts professional learning communities, and actively develop as professional educators.
[ ] Element 1: Candidates model literate and ethical practices in ELA teaching, and engage in/reflect on a variety of experiences related to ELA.
[ ] Element 2: Candidates engage in and reflect on a variety of experiences related to ELA that demonstrate understanding of and readiness for leadership, collaboration, ongoing professional development, and community engagement. 


* Please note that candidates should be prepared to prepare and submit a full portfolio of all required work by the end of the Senior Block session.

Click links for explanations:
  1. Conference Presentation
  2. Linguistics and Literacy Portfolio
  3. Planning and Assessment Portfolio
  4. Teaching Observations/Evaluations
  5. Text Reading/Reaction Logs
  6. Unit Work Sample
Tentative Schedule

Appendix 2
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.