Elizabeth Chiseri-Strater English 322
Offfice 114 McIver Tue/Thur 2-3:15
email@example.com McIver 138
“Writing is not life, but I think that sometimes it can be a way
back to life.”
Gaines, Earnest. A Lesson Before Dying.
King, Stephen. On Writing
Sebranek, Meyer, Kemper. Writers Inc.
This course is designed specifically for future teachers of English at the secondary level. It focuses on how to teach writing by introducing future English teachers to a range of theories and practices for using writing in language arts classrooms. The overall goal is for participants to develop a coherent philosophy of literacy instruction based on the course readings, researched topics, fieldwork experiences, and self reflections about writing and its connection to learning.
A number of assumptions shape and inform the ability to become a teacher, what Donald Schon calls, the “reflective practitioner” who is someone who learns her art and skills through the processes of doing it. Our course will model the kinds of writing activities and teacher responses that might take place in a secondary school classroom so that we can experience these for ourselves: writing in different genres, doing informal and formal writing, practicing teacher evaluation, integrating media and technology, and designing writing curriculum. I believe that teachers of writing need to write themselves. To that end, we’ll organize a reading/writing community where we will practice the stages of the writing process; drafting, responding, revising, and compiling portfolios. Since reading, writing, listening, and speaking are essentially social acts, they gain the most meaning through dialogue and conversation with others. Writing teachers need to model their own communication skills in their classrooms by adapting their curriculum for the range of styles and diverse cultural backgrounds they will find in their students.
As educator Deborah Meirs says: “There is neither prescription for action
nor checklists for observation to assure intelligent and responsible teaching.
All that can be offered are guiding theory and abundant examples.” My
hope is that this course will provide both theory and practices.
The specific learning goals for this course can be explicitly stated as the following skills:
A. Understand the relationships between the theories of writing and teaching
writing to classroom practices of students and teachers in a variety of context,
including student diversity and learning abilities.
B. Explore methods of combining areas of literacy (reading, writing, speaking) into a coherent program of instruction
C. Reflect in writing on their reading, writing, and learning practices, their potential students, and their realizations about education and language instruction across the course
D. Learn and practice the stages of process writing (invention, drafting, revising, editing and publishing)
E. Learn the differences between small groups and collaboration, and practice strategies for both, particularly in writing groups, in group presentations, and in class activities
F. Write in a range of genres and for various purposes (journal writing, freewriting, essays, case studies, lesson plans, evaluative responses, letters/email to instructor, creative writing genres, writing about literature, and writing portfolios)
G. Learn and practice multiple forms of informal writing along with their purposes and benefits (reading responses, dialectical journals, listing, freewriting, brainstorming, mapping, one minute writings, etc)
H. Experience and learn about various forms of teacher response to writing and writing assessment
I.. Experience and learn about various forms of teacher research (observation, ethnography, interviewing, educational studies and reports, case studies, and theory-
practice articles etc.)
J. Account for various media and technology options, student learning styles, and student language and cultural diversity when discussing and planning teaching methods
K. Design reading and writing activities for the high school English classroom (including literature) that reflect the NC Standard Course of Study
COURSE RITUALS: ROUTINES AND RULES
Attendance/ Participation: This class is totally dependent upon participation, involvement, and immersion. Therefore attendance counts (no more than three missed classes). You are expected to be ON TIME and be prepared to contribute to the ongoing class discussion, and to be engaged with the class writing and peer response activities. You are expected to know everyone’s name and use them–a skill you will need when you become a teacher yourself. Since this course is about becoming part of the teaching profession, you will be expected to conduct yourself professionally. Our class will write our code of conduct together.
“ A day in which I don’t write leaves the taste of ashes.” Simone de Beauvoir
You will keep a journal/notebook, daybook/ learning log for this class to be used for a variety of purposes. Sometimes your journal will include in-class writing exercises and notes from your peer response groups. Other times you will be asked to write letters to specific audiences, myself included, but most often it will be used primarily to react to the wide range of readings and ideas you will encounter in the course. Each time you read a chapter or article, you will write about it in your journal. These responses should not be just “summaries” of the readings but show an attempt to weave connections between your own ideas and the readings. You should expect to write two pages of handwritten response to each day’s readings, or assigned journal topic. Journals are intended for developing fluency and for thinking aloud with yourself and making connections between what you are reading and understanding. You may write your entries in letter format (to a peer, a past teacher, a principal or school board member, dialogue format, double entry journal, fiction or nonfiction prose style. Your writing should be legible or on a computer and you should leave some room for me to respond. You may use your journal for your mid-term exam. Each student will be asked to sign up to take class notes for one day.
Evaluation/grades Since as a teacher you will be involved in the process of
evaluation yourself and you will be asked to evaluate student writing on the
Praxis exams, we will practice may different types of evaluative criteria in
this course. Your evaluation will be based on ungraded informal writing, several
formal papers, a mid-term exam, a mini-lesson and a writing portfolio. Your
journal will be collected several times and accounts for a portion of your
final grade as does your collaboratively taught mini-lesson. Your writing portfolio
which will include several papers that will go through the processes of peer
review, conferencing, and revision will be the major part of your final grade.
For your portfolio you will be asked to reflect on and evaluate the work you
have done for the entire course by considering your own class participation,
the quality of your written work, and your overall understanding and commitment
to the ideas and materials of the course. You may ask about your grade at any
time during the course.
READING AND WRITING OUTLINE
Part 1: A Writer Teaches Writing
8/17 Introductions to the course and one another (Graves exercise)
8/19 Discussion of memorable teachers (Graves exercise)
Journal Writing: Respond to--Why Write? Why teach writing? Describe yourself as a writer.
John Hersey advises: To be a writer is to sit down at one’s desk in the chill portion of every day, and to write”
8/24 Literacy Circles
Reading: E-Reserve, Roskelly and Kuntz, Introduction, Preface to Unquiet Pedagogy
Journal Writing: Respond to the idea of an” Unquiet Pedagogy” in classrooms
8/26 Getting Started with Writing: Artifact Exchange
Writing: Revision/extension of teacher memory (2-4 pages)
8/31 Writers on Writing
Reading: First half of Stephen King
` Journal Writing--a letter to Stephen King about some idea in his book.
9/2 Forming Writing Communities
Reading: E-Reserve, Elbow and Belanoff, Sharing Writing and Linda
Flower, “Writer Based Prose”
Journal Writing: Response to these two articles
9/7 Sharing with Self and Audiences (Rhetoric)
Reading: Finish Stephen King book
Writing: Extend Artifact Exchange and bring copy for partner
Journal entry on King, second half of book.
Generating Personal Writing
Writing: List 5-10 possible topics for Family Story paper
Reading: E-Reserve chapters from Stone’s Black Sheep and Kissing Cousins
9/14 Writing Workshop
Writing: Draft of teacher memory or artifact exchange to be shared
Reading: Writer’s Inc. on “Cooperative Group Skills”
9/16 Writing as Composing
Reading: E-Reserve Chapter 6, Unquiet Pedagogy
Writing : Two pages of response about what is important for a future English teacher Journals Due
“Writing, more than any other task, brings one face to face with important
human responsibilities.” John Gage
9/21 Writing Theorists
Writing: Group Notes for short in class presentations
9/23 Writing Workshop
Writing: Draft of family story to be shared
Part Two: Reading/Writing Connections
Conferences will be scheduled this week to discuss drafts of family stories
9/28 Making Connections
Reading: First fifty pages of A Lesson Before Dying
Journal Writing: Write about yourself as a reader, your history, tastes, memories
and about an artifact or quote in the novel
9/30 Writing Workshop
Writing: Revision of Family Story due to be shared and handed in.
10/5 Writing About Literature
Writing: Create a writing assignment based on the novel, A Lesson Before Dying
Reading: 50 more pages A Lesson Before Dying
10/7 Writing Workshop
Writing: Revision of your writing assignment on the novel to be given to a peer
Reading: Complete the novel
FALL BREAK: NO CLASSES OCTOBER 12
10/14 In-class mid-term exam
Writing: Complete your peer’s writing assignment and write a critique of it.
After fall break we will create the rest of our syllabus together based on your needs as a group. Some of the topics we will cover will be teacher as researcher, responding to writing, grading and portfolios, the Praxis exam, multi-genre research papers. You will also experience some actual teaching of writing as your group will prepare a mini-lesson based on Writers Inc. to teach to the rest of our class.
By the mid-term you may ask for your grade in progress based on: your participation in class and groups, your formal writing assignments: teacher memory, artifact exchange, family story, and writing assignment for A Lesson Before Dying. You will also have an in-class midterm exam and a journal to be folded into your evaluation. You do not have to ask for a grade a midterm.