Writing p.1 TE 640: Assessing and Teaching Writing in Elementary Schools

Writing p.1
TE 640: Assessing and Teaching Writing in Elementary Schools
Spring 2014 NE-85
Tuesdays 4:00 pm-6:40 pm
Marva Cappello, Ph.D.
Phone: (619) 594-1322
Office: BAM 215
E-mail: [email protected]
Office Hours: by appt.
Course Overview:
This course offers teachers a broad perspective on the teaching of writing at the
elementary level. The class is designed to address three general strands of writing
pedagogy: process (includes methods and assessment), craft and convention. You will
participate in theoretical and practical readings and discussions.
I will present several approaches to writing pedagogy but it is only fair to equip you with
some of my underlying assumptions about writing. I believe writing is fundamental to
learning in all disciplines, yet should not be consumed by other content areas. Writing
deserves constant attention and direct instruction in every grade, beginning in
kindergarten. Writing is a crucial element of the language arts and takes differentiated
instruction. Writing curriculum must be appropriate for academically, linguistically and
culturally diverse student populations.
Course Objectives:
Students will learn to
1) teach writing through understanding literacy and language development.
2) assess writers’ strengths and weaknesses and then facilitate literacy growth through
informed and evidence-based instructional strategies.
3) choose effective instructional strategies which meet the needs of linguistically and
culturally diverse students.
4) explore the Common Core State Standards for Writing across the curriculum.
5) make critical decisions about content, structure, and assessment in language arts
6) find ways to integrate theory into practice.
Required Texts:
You will choose one of the following books for book club. Book Clubs must have at least
three participants.
Bradbury, Ray. (1996). Zen and the art of writing. Santa Barbara, CA: Joshua Odell.
King, Stephen. (2000). On writing. New York: Scribner Books.
Lamott, Anne.(1995). Bird by bird. New York: Anchor Books.
Steinbeck, John. (1969). The journal of a novel. New York: Penguin Books.
Welty, Eudora. (1942). On writing. New York: Random House.
Writing p.2
National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State
School Officers (2010). Common Core State Standards for English Language
Arts. National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief
State School Officers, Washington D.C. Free Download: www.corestandards.org
Additional articles provided by the instructor on Blackboard.
Recommended Texts:
Fearn, L. & Farnan, N. (2002). Interactions: Teaching writing and the language arts.
Strunk, W. & White, E.B. The Elements of Style
Assignments and Grading:
1) Participation (10 points):
Come on time and prepared for class having completed the assigned readings and the
appropriate literacy strategies. Your participation is vital to your learning and to the
success of the course. If you have an emergency and cannot attend class, please notify
your instructor.
2) Standards Based Writing Unit (30 points)
CCSS Anchor Standard 8. Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital
sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information
while avoiding plagerism.
CCSS Anchor Standard 9. Draw evidence from literary or information texts to support
analysis, reflection, and research.
You will create a unit for teaching writing in your classroom that grows from the above
CCSS for writing (Anchor Standards 8 & 9).
• Choose a topic for your unit from your grade level science, social science or other
curricular standards.
• Gather at least three relevant and varied texts to support students’ investigations. Assess
each text for credibility.
• Refer to your grade level standards to create a unit plan. Students must create a written
product whether it be a report of information, an opinion or evaluation, or biographical
3) Book Club and Displays (30 points)
Students will participate in Book Clubs organized around the titles listed above. Your
groups will keep a log of the reading and discussions each meeting as well as plan a final
project to share with the class. Each group will establish their own expectations as well as
pacing. The final project must demonstrate what you want to share from the book you
Writing p.3
4) Research Article Review (30 points)
You will write a 2-3 page article critique for an article that focuses on addressing one of
the essential ideas of this course (see below). You must choose a recent (post 2007) peerreviewed article that focuses specifically on the philosophical and/or methodological
aspects of writing or writing instruction. You will present your analysis to the class in a
(no more than) 15-minute presentation on your chosen date.
Written Critique: Please elaborate on the following components.
•Review article and create a summary (1/2 page) that highlights key, innovative or
interesting ideas.
• Comment on the review of the literature and survey the references.
Identify the key perspectives (theoretical or conceptual frameworks), the methods used,
and setting and participants.
•What are the findings/implications for writing instruction? How does this connect to
your own classroom or educational setting?
Presentation: Feel free to structure your presentation as best suited to the topic/article
explored. For example, you may create a power point, share student work, or engage us
in an activity.
Essential Ideas:
Self-selection vs. Prompts, Voice, Role of Grammar, Genre, Text Structure, Digital
Literacies, Disciplinary Literacies, Multicultural Writing Experiences
NOTE: In addition to these FOUR main course requirements, you will also be
responsible for completing the assigned readings posted on Blackboard as well as engage
in written experiences in and out of class.
Grading Grid
Writing Unit
Book Talk & Display
Article Review
10 points
30 points
30 points
30 points
100 points
Less than 64
I do not use a curve to grade. Everyone has the potential to earn an A for the course!
Writing p.4
Attendance and participation are essential since so much of this class involves peer
discussion. When individuals are absent, it not only impacts their learning, but also that
of their peers. Absences and tardies will lower your overall grade dramatically. If an
absence is unavoidable, you are responsible for calling others in the class and coming to
the next class fully prepared. Grades on late assignments will be negatively impacted.
Writing Style Guidelines:
It is not typical for me to correct your papers for grammatical errors. HOWEVER, I am
not your editor. I consider papers that have not been spell checked disrespectful. In
addition, I would prefer short, well thought out papers to long ramblings. With that in
mind, please follow these guidelines on all papers:
•Always include a title page with your name, date, course and contents.
•The paper clearly and explicitly meets the requirements of the assignment.
•The writing displays thoughtfulness and in-depth understanding of the concept(s) being
•The writing reflects use of standard English and appropriate conventions, with errors
only a practiced writer might inadvertently and infrequently make. Always use your spell
•Font should not be larger than 14 pt. Margins should not exceed 1 inch.
• Be sure to cite your sources. All formatting (e.g., references and citations) follow APA
Writing p.5