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CI 5461 Course Syllabus

Page history last edited by Jessie Dockter Tierney 14 years ago






CI5461:  Teaching Composition in the Secondary School

Spring 2009, 2 Credits

Peik 48, 1:25 – 4:25

Instructor: Jessica Dockter

Email: dock0059@umn.edu

Course Wiki: http://ci5461teachingwriting2009.pbwiki.com

Mailbox: 150 Peik Hall

Office: 33 Peik Hall

Office hours: By Appointment

Phone: 612-750-1825



As a young teacher, I yearned for the day when I would know my craft so well, be so competent, so experienced, and so powerful, that I could walk into any classroom without feeling afraid.  But now, in my late fifties, I know that day will never come.  I will always have fears, but I need not become my fear—for there are other places in my inner landscape from which I can speak and act.



Parker Palmer The Courage to Teach



I am apprenticed to two crafts I can never master: writing and teaching.



Donald Murray Expecting the Unexpected



Course Overview:



As the words above reveal, teaching and writing are practices we never master.  The teaching of writing in particular is a special craft, one that varies according to the teacher, student, and situation. Although there are various approaches to writing and its instruction, this brief eight-week course will focus mainly on the process method for teaching writing.



The process method believes that writing can be taught when instruction focuses on the process of writing and not just the product.  As teachers, this means that our role is not just to assign writing assignments, rather we must create opportunities to practice and model the various thinking processes related to composing ideas such as: brainstorming, organizing, crafting, elaborating, revising, and presenting our ideas for ever-changing audiences. With this in mind, our course goals include:



  • To explore the different thought processes involved in the process approach both as a writer and a teacher
  • To become familiar with the new ways of thinking or “new literacies” related to digital writing
  • To examine different writing formats and their purposes (5 ¶ essay vs. multi-genre papers)
  • To work collaboratively with other teachers in order to experience various teaching and learning styles





Course Texts:

(Available at Coffman Union Bookstore)



Required texts:

·        Dornan et. al. (2003).  Within and Beyond the Writing Process in the Secondary English Classroom

·        Romano, Tom. (2000).  Blending Genre, Altering Style: Writing Multigenre Papers

·        additional readings will be available on WebCT or handed out in class



Choice texts for book study (book study assignment explained below):

·        Anderson, Jeff. (2005). Mechanically Inclined: Building Grammar, Usage and Style       into Writer’s Workshop

·        Fletcher, Ralph. (2006). Boy Writers

·        Lane, Barry. (1993). After the End: Teaching and Learning Creative Revision

·        Jago, Carol. (2005). Papers, Papers, Papers

·        Gilmore, Barry. (2008). Plagiarism: Why It Happens, How to Prevent It







Integrating technology 

This course involves extensive use of technology.  It does so primarily through use of free software sites for creating professional weblogs, a course wiki and, if you choose, a Voice Thread composition (see related links below).  This requires that you have access to the internet.  Internet can be accessed on campus in various sites including the Peik Hall computer labs and Curriculum Library.  Please contact me with any questions.





Course Assignments (Each is described in more detail in the pages to follow):



1.         Course Participation:           ……………………………………………     30 %

in-class discussion and attendance                                                 

professional weblog maintenance

course wiki contributions


2.         Book Study    ……………………………………………………………….     30 %

                        book session (class presentation)

                        wiki chapter



3.         Digital Literacy / Multigenre Project        …………………...          40%

                        iMovie/Voice Thread or Multigenre Paper

                        Post-Production Reflection essay (600-800 words)





1.       Course Participation:


In-class discussion and attendance     

Meeting only eight times, our time together is brief.  It is important that you attend all classes and read the course readings in order to contribute to class discussion.  Should an emergency or personal event occur that inhibits your ability to come to class, please let me know in person or by email.



Professional Weblog Maintenance = 3 weekly tasks.

In order to help you engage with the course readings in a multimodal fashion and build up a variety of related resources that will help you in your future teaching, each or you will develop of professional weblog (hereafter blog). After creating the blog, weekly maintenance will involve posting an entry, resource link, and response (comment) to another classmate’s blog.  The entry should relate to the course readings via personal reaction and/or ways that you might incorporate the ideas into teaching, societal reflections, argument weaknesses, etc. The resource link is a link to another website or blog that you feel relates to the readings and may be helpful in your future teaching. This link can be embedded within your entry or come at the end of your entry.  Make sure to include a sentence or two describing the site that you’ve linked and how it might be useful in your teaching. In addition to maintaining your own blog, you must respond to another class member’s blog posting.  The response can relate to whatever aspect of the entry, resource link or readings that you feel is noteworthy.



Blogging resources

(See syllabus on course wiki for live links to these and many other resources):


·         http://www.rebeccablood.net/portal.html#what Famous blogger Rebecca Blood’s guide to all things blogging related Set-up and maintenance of blogs (all the blog services below are free):

·         http://blog.lib.umn.edu/uthink/start.phtml UofMN Uthink blogs

Sponsored by UMN library, this blog service has no advertisements and features Movable Type software. User guide for Movable Type http://blog.lib.umn.edu/uthink/howto.phtml

·        http://edublogs.org/  blogs for teachers and students. I’ve read about many teachers using this service, but I’ve never used it myself.

·        http://www.blogger.com/startBlogger start up page.  This service offers many template/presentation options.



Course Wiki Contributions

In addition to maintaining an individual blog, we will also build together a course wiki as a space to post online resources and share other ideas related to writing and writing instruction.  Each week a group of students will be responsible for reading everyone’s blog entries and selecting one blog entry and four “resource links” (see above) to share with the class.  This group will then present these “Wiki-Worthy” links and entry to class and post them on the course wiki with a short annotation of the content and teaching highlights that can be found at the sight/space.



Also included on the wiki will be the book study wiki chapters. See additional information below on what is required for the book study wiki chapters. Hopefully, by the end of the course, we will have created an online space that everyone can use as a resource for future teaching.



The free wiki software we will use for this course is pbwiki. Go here to create a wiki http://pbwiki.com/



2.      Book Study



With three to four classmates, you will select an additional text that relates to your specific interests in writing instruction (see choice options listed above).  As a group, you will read, discuss, and analyze this text for its usefulness.  There are three main components to the book study:

1)     Select an excerpt of your book for the class to read. This reading is due to your classmates the Monday before your session.

2)     Lead a session (1 hour) in which you share what you have learned from the book and help us to come to a better understanding of the selected excerpt (Please note: This session is NOT meant to be a lecture, wherein your group summarizes the book; save that for your wiki chapter.  Instead think of the session as an interactive lesson plan, one in which you illustrate the book’s main ideas through engaging us in activities, discussion, role-play, etc.)

3)     Collaboratively write a wiki chapter to be posted to the course wiki. This is due the same day as your lesson.



To ensure timely discussion and completion of book study tasks, group members should establish a reading schedule and times to meet outside of class.



Wiki chapter content requirements:

In order to partake in a more collaborative form of digital writing than blogging, each group will write a wiki chapter. A wiki is a user-friendly web page that multiple people can contribute to and edit. When writing this wiki chapter, consider your audience to be teachers who are searching the web for input on content related to your book.  While your purpose is not to “sell the book,” you will want to provide content that could inform readers both on the worth of the book and its instructional suggestions. Chapter content requirements include:



  • An overview page

This page provides general information about the book: title, author, bibliographic information of the book, short summary, powerful quotes, images, video, etc.



  • A book review page

The book review should be no more than 300 words (online writing thrives on brevity). While some summarizing of the book is fine to include, the main portion of the review should focus on the strengths and weaknesses of the book’s content for classroom teachers.  Visit the Indiana Writing Center’s “Writing a Book Review” for additional writing tips and a sample book review. http://www.indiana.edu/~wts/pamphlets/book_reviews.shtml



  • List of links page

This page should include a list of at least 6-8 links to related resources.  The resources can be websites, teacher blogs, online listings of recommended books, video, podcasts, ready-to-use teacher and/or writer resources, related readings.  Feel free to include anything that you think relates, exemplifies, or extends the central ideas of your book. Also, please include brief annotations of these links, a detail that makes your wiki chapter more “user-friendly.”

(For examples of brief annotations see: http://mwpmosaic.pbwiki.com/Links)



  • Surprise page ??

While not required, feel free to include other pages you feel would be helpful for teachers.



For some example book study wiki chapters go here: http://squirrelseatwiki.pbwiki.com/FrontPage



3.      Digital Literacy / Multigenre Project



iMovie / Voice Thread / Multigenre Composition:

The goal of this project is to introduce you to new technologies applicable to literacy, and to challenge you to think about literacy beyond traditional reading and writing assignments. Working individually or in groups of no more than three (if you choose the digital approach), you will concentrate on some aspect of literacy and present your findings to the class by creating an iMovie, Voice Thread, or Multigenre composition.  This project is wide open; the topic should be selected based on your interests and needs as writers and teachers.  You may want to create a piece that is informational and directed at some specific aspect of literacy, or you may choose to create a piece that is more metaphorical, artistic or self-expressive of your own personal literacy practices and ponderings. More information on creating iMovies or Voice Threads will be presented during the second half of this course.  While you will be given some time in class to talk with fellow group members, most of the work for this project (filming, writing, editing, etc.) will be done out of class.  You or your group will share your iMovie/Voice Thread / Multigenre Project during our “Festival” on the last day of class. The following are some project ideas, but I encourage you to come up with your own original designs:



  • Digitize your favorite novel or children’s book, adding sounds, music and voice narration to create a multimodal piece.
  • Create a video essay of the UofMN campus, your student teaching location, or some other “cultural” space that has its own unique set of practices/codes of conduct for making meaning.  What kind of literacy is being taught through the layout of the campus/school and the design of the buildings?
  • Create a film/Voice Thread / Multigenre paper that focuses on a sense of place and how space affects you personally. 
  • Film a documentary of a person in your life with whom you communicate frequently. This may be a grandparent who often tells you stories, or a niece who is learning to speak. This documentary could explicitly focus on how this person has influenced your understanding of literacy. Or, you could address issues of literacy in your post-production reflection on the process.
  • Visit a park, mall, playground, family restaurant, or teen sports event. Observe and record the actions and interactions of the children, teens and adults and analyze the kinds of literacy being practiced and learned.
  • Create an iMovie/Voice Thread of an important event in your life solely with photographs and music, similar to a slideshow.  You might include text to supplement information, or you could incorporate multiple voices to narrate the event.
  • Interview an important literacy professional, i.e. Language Arts teacher, Media Specialist, Curriculum Specialist, ELL teacher etc., your supervising teacher and create a documentary iMovie using voice-over narration.
  • Write, act and film a fictional drama about any topic you choose.  It may incorporate a current controversial topic in literacy, or it may take on a more autobiographical focus.
  • Choose an event that is occurring during this course that you would like to record with digital video.  Film and edit a documentary using iMovie.  (e.g. presidential caucuses, school play or sports event, a friend’s birthday/retirement party, etc.)
  • Choose a piece of writing you have developed over the course of this semester (i.e., cultural memoir, poetry, etc.) and create an iMovie/Voice Thread that blends text, music and video together.



Post-Production Reflection Essay

After composing the digital or multigenre piece, you will write a short essay (600-800 words) describing your process of composing meaning using multiple modes of expression such as sound, image, linguistic, video, etc. or multiple genres of writing.  Every individual will write an essay, whether the composition was composed as a group or individually. 



Some questions to consider when writing this reflective essay are included below.  Feel free to take up a single question or a combination of several in your essay.  In whatever idea you choose to take up for the essay, please include reflections from your own experience composing digitally and how that experience has shed light on these questions.



› How were traditional definitions of “literacy” challenged in your experience composing this multimodal / multigenre piece? (In terms of “literacy” review readings from last semester or see Dornan et. al pgs 12-15)

› How was the composition of this piece different from experiences you’ve had with more conventional forms of “writing”?  What aspects of this “digital writing” or multigenre writing were easy for you?  What aspects were difficult?

› What observations do you have on the relationships between literacy and

media/technologies in terms of composing meaning? In other words, in what ways did you observe or participate in the new literacy skills Jenkins (2006) describes (e.g. “performance,” “appropriation,” and “collective intelligence”)?

› What new spaces for authorship and representation are made possible with the

emergence of these “new” technologies? (e.g. in YouTube & Voice Thread) Whose ideas are represented in these spaces? In what ways?  And, for what purposes? 

› What are the implications for educators and/or policy makers?  In other words,

what are the new roles of schools, after-school programs, and other spaces of learning in supporting the literacy learning of children and youth?




Digital Literacy Project Resources:



·        To set-up and learn what a Voice Thread is, visit here à http://voicethread.com/#home

Course Schedule:

Session/ Date


(subject to revision)

Texts & Assignments

(To be completed for the adjacent class period.)











Course Introduction

  • Writing:

Memorable Writing Experience

  • Discussion: What is “good” writing?
  • Digital Writing: “Usability”













Process Writing



  • Mini-lessons
  • Writer’s Workshop








¨ Dornan et. al  (chapters 1 & 3)

¨ Romano (pp. ix-86)



On WebVista:

¨ Atwell (1987), Ch. 3




Set up blog. Link to course wiki (by Wed. 1/28)

1st blog posting, resource link, response

Decide on book and group for book study











Creating Meaningful Assignments



  • In-class debate on 5P Essay
  • Multigenre Papers








¨ Dornan et. al  (chapter 5)

¨ Romano (pp. 88-172)



On WebVista:

¨ Gillespe, J. (2005) -- or -- Larson (2008)

¨ Wesley (2000)

¨ Novick (2000)




Blog: 2nd blog posting, resource link, and response











Grammar & Revision



Book Study Presentation Group #1




¨ Dornan et. al  (chapter 4)



On WebVista:

¨ Harper, L. (1997)

¨  Fulwiler, T. “A Lesson in Revision”



¨ Book Study Reading Group #1




Blog: 3rd blog posting, resource link, and response















Response & Assessment



Book Study Presentation

Group #2




¨ Dornan et. al  (chapter 7)

¨ Adger et. al  (chapter 6: “Dialects and Writing”)

¨ Book Study Reading Group #2




Blog: 4th blog posting, resource link, and response











Digital Writing



Book Study Presentation

Group #3





¨ Beach et al. (2008) “Why Teach Digital Writing?”

¨ Jenkins (2006) White Paper selections (4):

  • Intro. p. 3-4
  • Performance p. 28-31
  • Appropriation p. 32-34
  • Collective Intelligence p. 39-43



¨ Book Study Reading Group #3




Blog: 5th  blog posting, resource link, and response











Book Study Presentations

(groups #4 & #5)



Digital Writing



Critical Writing






¨ Kadjer, S. (2007) “Unleashing Potential with     

    Emerging Technologies” 

   -- Or --

  Selfe, C. (2007) “Toward New Media Texts: Taking up  

   the Challenges of Visual Literacy.” Writing New Media

¨ Heffernan (TBD)



¨ Book Study Reading Group #4



¨ Book Study Reading Group #5




Blog: 6th blog posting, resource link, and response













Digital Literacy Project Presentations



Course evaluations




Digital Literacy iMovie/Voice Thread

Post-Production Reflection Paper






































































































































Course Objectives Linked to the Minnesota Board of Teaching Standards for Effective Teaching Practice



Standard 1-Subject Matter: understands the central concepts, tools of inquiry, and structures of the discipline he or she teaches and can create learning experiences that make these aspects of subject matter meaningful for students.

-          understands current theories of writing instruction; able to define strengths and weaknesses of each model and implications for teaching.

-          understands and develops strategies for teaching a range of writing genres, using an inquiry-based approach.

-          understands elements of the rhetorical context: subject matter, purpose, audience, text structure, attitude.

-          understands theories and research on the effects of teaching grammar.



Standard 2-Student Learning: understands how students learn and develop, and can provide learning opportunities that support their intellectual, social, and personal development.

-          understands how students learn to develop in their writing through purposeful writing tasks and extensive practice in social contexts.

-          able to provide "reader-based" feedback to pupils’ writing.

-          able to chart changes in students’ writing as evident in their portfolios.



Standard 3-Diverse Learners: understands how students differ in their approaches to learning and creates instructional opportunities that are adapted to learners from diverse cultural backgrounds and with exceptionalities

-          identifies and explains individual differences in writing ability due to differences in reading ability, writing apprehension, attitude towards writing, learning styles, knowledge about or interest in a topic, and self-image of self as “writer.”

-          determines how students’ cultural backgrounds influence their writing in terms of linguistic variation, cultural and community uses of oral and print literacy, and familiarity with a range of writing genres.



Standard 4-Instructional Strategies: understands and uses a variety of instructional strategies to encourage students’ development of critical thinking, problem solving, and performance skills

-          develops and models activities for elements of the composing process.

-          develops and models activities for inquiry-based projects that involve writing across modes and genres.

-          devises activities designed to foster links between reading and writing instruction.



Standard 5-Learning Environment: uses an understanding of individual and group motivation and behavior to create a learning environment that encourages positive social interaction, active engagement in learning, and self-motivation

-          creates a writing community in which students write for and to each other as well as other outside audiences.

-          develops strategies for using peer conferencing as an instructional and community-building tool.

-          employs group process, role play, and other activities to foster a sense of a writing community.

Standard 6- Communication: uses knowledge of effective verbal, nonverbal, and media communication techniques to foster active inquiry, collaboration, and supportive interaction in the classroom

-          uses the Internet as a resource and medium for writing.

-          draws on visual and aural resources to foster writing activities



Standard 7-Planning Instruction: plans and manages instruction based on knowledge of subject matter, students, the community, and curriculum goals

-          develops “guided” writing assignments based on prewriting/informal writing activities.

-          develops interdisciplinary, “writing-across-the-curriculum,” writing activities that consider differences in disciplinary perspectives

-          draws on standards to develop classroom activities



Standard 8- Assessment: understands and uses formal and informal assessment strategies to evaluate and ensure the continuous intellectual, social and physical development of the learner.

-          evaluates students’ writing based on knowledge of secondary students’ writing and revising processes.

-       understands different types of writing assessments/issues of validity and reliability.

-       able to devise writing performance assessment criteria and rubrics.

-       understands the characteristics of the Minnesota Basic Skills writing tests.

-       understands the purpose and characteristics of portfolio evaluation of writing.



Standard 9- Reflection and Professional Development: is a reflective practitioner who continually evaluates the effects of her/his choices and actions on others (students, parents, and other professionals in the learning community) and who actively seeks out opportunities to grow professionally.

-          uses informal writing to reflect on assignments and work with pupils in terms of strengths and areas for further improvement.

-          participates in professional development opportunities, including the fall workshop sponsored by the Minnesota Council of Teachers of English.



Standard 10-Collaboration, Ethics, and Relationships: communicates and interacts with parents/guardians, families, school colleagues, and the community to support students’ learning and well-being.

-          uses small-group discussions, and the WebCT discussion exchanges to collaboratively develop teaching ideas and provide feedback to each others’ teaching.

-          collaborates with teachers and peers at field site.



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