Language Arts: A Developmental Approach
As a school of education that draws from schools serving urban populations we are uniquely placed to help address long standing inequalities. Part of this effort must involve both teacher candidates and teachers seeking advanced degrees.
EDU 573 was one the first online class taught at Southern Connecticut State University. The class is offered as an elective in our gradauate program. Students in both the Master’s program and the Master’s plus certification program.
This requires a level of customization in order to provide pathways that valued the expertise everyone brought to the class. For example practicing teachers could submit a final project that addressed an instructional shift of the CCSS while teacher candidates submitted a portfolio of foundational skills.
EDU 573 Language Arts: A developmental approach covers the most formative years of literacy instruction. n the most effective language arts classroom students see themselves not as students but as authors and readers. Building this level of community is not easy. It requires an environment rich in literature, academic talk, and environmental print.Most importantly it takes a reflective educator who models living a literary life.
Given the large number of Master’s plus certification students in the class we cover:
- oral language and reading development
- emergent literacy
- concepts about print
- phonological awareness
- phonemic awareness
- literature response
- spelling development, assessment, and instruction
- writing instruction
I have taught two sections of EDU 573. The first time I offered the class is was a full thirteen week online class. We used Google Apps as our Learning Management tool. Students posted discussion questions to Google Groups. They write reflective posts on Google+.
My biggest innovation was in the use of video to support online teaching. Each week a different discussion director would host a live video recap of the module. Teachers would also record themselves delivering lessons. These videos would then be shared with the class.
The second time I taught EDU 573 it was also online but during a three week summer session. It was quite intensive. The class was taught using Known, a private social media network.
The second time around I really tried to customize the class for practicing teachers. There were different reading tracks based on certification. For example we read Gee, J.P. (2004). Situated Language and Learning. A Critique of Traditional Schooling.
We need to continue the development of online courses. Many students said they enrolled in the class because it was one of just a few classes that offered the flexibility they needed.
Since this class mixes both Master’s students and a Master’s plus certification I spent along time on language and not enough time on the art of language.
This means I have to spend a lot of time on basic skills in preparation of the Foundations for Reading Test. The accountability craze that has threatened K-12 schools for decades is now spreading into Higher Education.
I need to act as a counter weight to the destructive forces seeking to limit curriculum and encourage students to explore the Arts in language arts.
I hope to continue to model the teaching of writing. I need to build up lessons on early writing instruction as well as more narrative writing.