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English 4840 (1002) Foundations of Teaching Writing


Meeting time: TTr 8:00-9:15 (Spring 2017)

Email: aconway@bgsu.edu

Dr. April Conway


441 East Hall



Office Hours:

MWF 1-2 p.m. (and by appointment). Note: I will also be available during this time via Skype/email/Canvas messaging.

Catalog Description

ENG 4840. Foundations of Teaching Writing (3). Historical and contemporary traditions that have led to the pedagogy and theories of teaching writing to adolescents. This course offers specific material and practice in writing assessment, writing assignments, developing writing groups, peer assessment and information about process involved in teaching writing to adolescents. Prerequisite: Junior standing.

Course Description and Goals

What do you remember about learning to write? How does one teach writing? If you were asked to describe yourself as a writer, how would you respond? In what ways might your experiences as a student (past experiences with writing, reading, learning and so on) influence how you choose to teach writing? We will spend our time together this semester investigating these and other questions. We’ll devote ourselves to reading about, thinking about, writing about, researching, and discussing various approaches to teaching writing (also referred to as writing pedagogy).

This course is designed around activities meant to engage and challenge each of us as we explore the many facets of teaching writing to middle grade and high school students.

Upon completion of the course, then, you should feel confident

identifying, understanding, and critically reflecting on current theoretical and pedagogical approaches to the teaching of writing;

integrating theories and practice in the development of writing curricula;

developing appropriate teaching strategies for different aspects of composing, including prewriting, drafting, revision, editing, and publishing that reflect best practices in writing pedagogy;

developing appropriate strategies for responding to, assessing, and grading student writing;

Fall 2016


developing curricular materials that implement Ohio’s Academic Content Standards for the English Language Arts with respect to teaching writing; and,

understanding writing as a social, political, and rhetorical act.

Required Texts and Computer Access

You will need regular, extended, and reliable access to various online resources for English


Annenberg Video Series In the Middle and Developing Writers (http://www.learner.org/workshops/workshop_list.html)

Our English 4840 Canvas Site

English Language Arts Content Standards for Ohio Schools. (http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Ohios-Learning-Standards/English)

NCTE/IRA English Language Arts Standards (http://www.ncte.org/standards/ncte-ira).

A (electronic or hard copy) notebook for regular, informal in-class writing. Note: you’ll want to keep all informal, in-class writing until the close of the semester.

Various assigned readings (Posted to Canvas as attachments to individual discussion forums.)

Two books by Kelly Gallagher:


Write Like This: Teaching Real-world Writing Through Modeling & Mentor Texts (ISBN: 9781571108968)


Teaching Adolescent Writers (ISBN: 9781571104229)

Recommended, but not required (readings from this text are provided on Canvas):


Zemelman, Steven, and Harvey Daniels. A Community of Writers:



Writing in

the Junior and Senior High School . (ISBN 978-0-435-08463-9 / 0-435-

the Junior and Senior High School. (ISBN 978-0-435-08463-9 / 0-435-


Course Requirements and Grade Distribution

Please Note: I post complete assignment descriptions for all projects to Canvas

Major Assignments

Attendance and Participation

Attendance and active participation are critical in this classroom. Class time will be devoted to discussion, writing, peer review, collaborative learning, and other activities, so if you miss a class, some of these things cannot be made up. In addition, we will use both face-to-face and online spaces to interact with each other. Please meet with me immediately if you are concerned about how to best meet this requirement.

In short, the success of the course is extremely dependent upon active student participation; that is, on you. We will learn much about the course content and our approaches to writing


Course design adapted from Dr. Lee Nickoson

Fall 2016


pedagogy through thoughtful interactions with each other. As a classroom community, we count on everyone to be present in class and actively participating. Everyone will need to complete informal and formal assignments before the deadline in order to ensure timely peer response and, more practically speaking, to receive credit.

Participation grades for the course break down as follows:

0-3 missed posts or assignments to be eligible for an A;

4-6 missed posts or assignments, eligible for a B;

7-9 missed posts or assignments, eligible for a C;

10-12 missed posts or assignments, eligible for a D.

Thirteen or more missed informal response posts will result in a failing participation grade for the course.

As you can see from the descriptions of course assignments, I will ask everyone to engage in many informal, peer-to-peer discussions of various topics including, but not limited to, those that stem from the required readings. Each of us is expected to participate as carefully, critically, and reflectively involved respondents to our 4840 colleagues.

I realize that personal issues may arise and you may need to miss class. For that reason, I allow four (4) absences without penalty, but every absence over four lowers your final grade by a letter. It is important to realize that I do not distinguish between excused and unexcused absences. An absence is an absence.

Informal Responses/Questions for Discussion

In addition to reflective teachers of writing, we should also be reflective students of writing. So we’ll be writing regularly this semester. Most of the writing will be informal responses you’ll post to the discussion board on Canvas. These informal but significant texts will be based on reading and/or writing you’ll engage throughout the course. I want to encourage you to think of these responses as way to thoughtfully interact with the ideas, questions, and concerns presented in various class discussions and texts. In addition, many of these responses will be used to jot down early ideas for your major assignments, too.

Remember: The goal of these short assignments is to get you thinking—about writing and how we might effectively teach it to specific audiences and with specific purposes in mind. There are no right or wrong responses to or questions on the material presented, then. Rather, we’ll read (and I’ll assess) the responses and questions by the perceived level of thought and care they represent. For reading/viewing responses this means clear and specific engagement and references to the text(s). Though I assess for quality of engagement and thought over quantity, aim for a minimum 250 word count per response. (Complete/incomplete)

Interview/Response Project

What can we learn about teaching writing from current practitioners? What advice might they have for us? This project provides an opportunity for you to interview a current composition teacher about her pedagogy and present a summary of and response to what you learn (five-to- seven double-spaced pages). (See Canvas assignment for complete description.)



Course design adapted from Dr. Lee Nickoson

Fall 2016


Collaborative Pedagogy Project

What are some of the greatest obstacles facing writing teachers, and what are some strategies for confronting, overcoming, or effectively managing those challenges? For this project, you and a 4840 colleague will select what you feel is a key challenge to effective writing pedagogy and propose strategies for meeting that challenge. Another option is to develop a 50-60 writing lesson and teach this lesson to the class as though we were your students. You’ll have fifty-sixty minutes of class time to inform us on the topic and its relevance for teaching writing. (See Canvas assignment for complete description.) Should the independent student be unable to

present in class with a 4840 colleague, she can write a 5 page paper addresses a key challenge to effective writing pedagogy.

Unit Lesson Plan Project

How does what we read or view for class transfer into actual classroom practice? How might we make the concepts work for us? Think of this as a hands-on imagining of applying theories of teaching writing to practice. You’ll identify, develop, and articulate a specific unit plan (seven-to-eight single-spaced pages). (See Canvas assignment for complete description.)

Reflective Narrative/Philosophy of Writing Pedagogy Project

How do you see yourself as a writing teacher? How do you want your future colleagues and students to view you, and why? We will discuss possibilities for and the parameters and expectations of the project in more detail as the course progresses, but I will ask you to identify your approach to teaching writing in the context of the reading, thinking, and writing you’ve done for English 4840. (You might think of this as an open-book, take-home final exam.) (Five- to-seven double-spaced pages.) (See Canvas assignment for complete description.)




Total 100%

Late Assignments All assignments must be completed and submitted by the scheduled deadline (see course schedule). If for some reason you are unable to meet the scheduled deadline you are responsible for negotiating a new deadline with me in advance of the date assigned. To request a revised deadline for an assignment, you need to e-mail me in advance of the original assignment deadline asking permission for an extension, clearly stating the reason that you need the extension, and proposing a new deadline. In other words, please keep me informed. Late informal assignments will not receive credit.

Revision Policy As we will read this semester, writing tends to improve when writers are provided opportunities to revisit and revise their work. In order to enact this best practice, I offer you the opportunity to revise the Interview/Response and/or Unit Lesson Plan (formal, graded projects due prior to the conclusion of the course). You have until December 15 to revise. Grades assigned to revised project drafts replace those assigned to earlier drafts.

Course design adapted from Dr. Lee Nickoson

Fall 2016


Online Gradebook I will maintain an online grade book for the course on Canvas. Please email me if ever you have questions/comments/concerns about the information posted.

Email Policy Please email me if you have any questions and need assistance with anything. If you email me, I will email you back, ordinarily within 24 hours. However, please do not expect an email from me before 8 a.m. and after 5 p.m. on weekdays and not at all over the weekend. Additionally, if you don’t receive my email reply, this means that I did not receive your message and that you should discuss the content of your email with me personally.

Technology Concerns In addition to saving your work often and in more than one place. I recommend you back up your work, too. There are several free backup services online (e.g., Dropbox.com). It may also be a good idea to email your drafts to yourself, or save it to an external hard drive.

Non-Sexist Language In keeping with the latest style guidelines in most professions, I ask that we work to avoid sexist language both in our oral and written communications: male pronouns refer specifically to males; female pronouns refer specifically to females. I would suggest alternating between “she” and “he.”

Accessibility Statement Disability Services provides equal access and reasonable accommodations to students with disabilities attending BGSU. Students wishing to discuss their eligibility for such accommodations are encouraged to contact the office at phone: 419-372-8495, fax: 419-372- 8496, or email: dss@bgsu.edu.

We each have different learning styles and preferences and will be challenged more when those styles and preferences aren’t met. I have tried to design this course with that in mind so that you will have opportunities to learn and present your work in the way you prefer. For instance, you will write informal responses in this class; if you work better making a video or audio response instead of a written response, you have that option. If you require an accommodation, please see the note in the paragraph above. In addition, all students have access to support services, including the Learning Commons, which can offer feedback for all of our writing assignments.

University Policies

Academic Honesty The Academic Honesty Policy is designed to enhance and sustain an environment of ethical and principled intellectual pursuit, consistent with the core values of the University. This policy is based on respect for intellectual property as well as for one another. Academic honesty is essential to the academy.

Course design adapted from Dr. Lee Nickoson

Fall 2016


Please refer to BGSU’s current Student Handbook (available online) for more information regarding BGSU’s academic honesty policies and penalties for violations. These policies and penalties apply to our class.

Religious Holidays It is the policy of the University to make every reasonable effort to allow students to observe their religious holidays without academic penalty. In such cases, it is your obligation to provide me with reasonable notice of the dates you will be absent. Should you need to miss a class due to a religious holiday, understand that absence from class does not relieve you of responsibility for completing work. Consult with me well before you leave for the holiday to find out what assignments will be due while you are absent, and you should have the assignments turned in to me prior to missing class.

University Closure Due to Bad Weather In most cases, the University will not close for winter conditions unless the Wood County Sheriff’s Department declares a Level 3 emergency. Closing information will be communicated through BGSU’s AlertBG text system, BGSU e- mail notification, BGSU’s website, and Toledo’s Television stations. (Note: You can sign up for AlertBG by signing into MyBGSU and clicking on the AlertBG tab at the top of the page.)

Course design adapted from Dr. Lee Nickoson

Conway | 1

English 4840: Foundations of Teaching Writing

Course Schedule-Spring 2017 (Tentative)


CVS = Canvas TAW = Teaching Adolescent Writers WLT = Write Like This A Community of Writers (also found on CVS)

Note: Please bring the assigned reading to the class meeting. Have your reading response already posted to Canvas by same the class meeting.


Assigned Readings and/or Videos Due

Assigned Informal Response(s) Due by Class Time/Topics Covered in Class





(Post to Canvas)

(Upload to


Week 1



Welcome to 4840: Foundations of Teaching Writing!


January 10

-Note that you will have an interview/response project due before too long. I’d encourage you to (1) read the assignment description carefully (see Canvas site) to get a sense of what it will demand, and (2) you contact and arrange a date/time to interview someone who is or has recently taught writing. The sooner the better on this.


-Please review course description and policies document, syllabus, and other docs posted to our Canvas site. You’ll want to be familiar with the goals and requirements of the course as soon as possible.

-Read “Running with the Literacy Stampede” (TAW, 1-23).

-Post an informal


January 12

response to the reading

-Bring any questions you have about the syllabus and any other course materials

Week 2



-Read “Climate in the Classroom” from

-Post response to


Conway | 2

January 17

CoW (CVS). -Review assignment descriptions for both the Interview/Response Project and the Collaborative Pedagogy Project.


-Post response to video.

-Visit Write in the Middle Workshop 1:

-Post brief description of plan for completing the interview project.

Creating a Community of Writers (<http://www.learner.org/workshops/m iddlewriting/prog1.html>). Review “Key Practices to Observe” (left sidebar) and view video (50+ minutes).


-Read “The Wizard of Oz Would Have Been a Lousy Writing Teacher” (WLT

-Post response to readings.

January 19



-Read “Overcoming “The Neglected ‘R’” (TAW, 25-46)

-Read sample essay for Interview/Response Project

Week 3



-Read “Revising the Writing Process:


January 24

Learning to Write in a Digital Word” and “Composing Multimodal Assignments” -Watch “Teaching Writing in the 21 st Century” (http://www.learner.org/workshops/hs

-Post response to reading and video.


-Read sample interview: Peter Elbow

-Post one response to Elbow interview in which you place it in conversation with the arguments presented in “The Challenge”

-Post developing thesis/main points of your interview project.

January 26

(CVS) and “The Challenge” from CoW (CVS).

Conway | 3

Week 4



-Visit Write in the Middle Workshop 2:

-Post response to video. -Begin drafting interview project. -Post response to reading.

January 31

Making Writing Meaningful (<http://www.learner.org /channel/workshops/middlewriting/ prog2.html>). Review “Key Practices to Observe” and watch video.

-Read “Beyond the Grecian Urn” (TAW




Students Teaching: Brooke and Tom -Continue drafting interview project

-Post emerging draft.

February 2

Week 5



-Complete interview project. -Read “Defining the Process Paradigm” from CoW and “Teach Writing as a Process, not a Product” (CVS).

-Submit Interview Project. -Post response to reading

February 7


-Read “Prewriting” from CoW (CVS)

-Post response to readings (Prompt: Do a (focused) free response on the question “What is your philosophy of teaching writing?”)

February 9

Week 6



-Read “Elevating Student Writing” (TAW

-Post response to reading.

February 14


-Read “Beyond Fake Writing” (TAW 89-118)



-Visit NCTE’s ReadWriteThink (http://www.readwritethink.org/index.a sp) and review site. -Visit the Ohio Department of Education’s (ODE’s) Content Standards for Language Arts and review site. - Visit and review NCTE/IRA English Language Arts Standards

-Post response to sites: How can/do these state and national resources prepare you to teach writing?

February 16



Week 7


Conway | 4


Students Teaching: Marie and Shelby


February 21


-Review the 3 sample Unit Design Project (UDP) saved as:

-Post response to


February 23

JT_UnitPlan_comments.docx EB_UnitPlan_comments.docx MS_UnitPlan_comments.docx under Unit Design Project Module on (CVS) -Visit and review NCTE Professional Knowledge for the Teaching of Writing

sample UDPs and NCTE site

Week 8



-Revisit your informal response— “What is your Philosophy of Teaching Writing”—post and revise to further develop content and polish format and style.

-Post revised philosophy of teaching writing (1-2 paragraphs).

February 28

-Read “The Importance of Purpose and Audience” (TAW 119-140)

-Post response to reading.

-Post first two lesson drafts for UDP


View Workshop 8: Teaching the Power of Revision http://www.learner.org/workshops/mid

-Post final three lesson drafts for UDP -Post responses to 3 (pre-assigned) peer section drafts.

March 2

Week 9


Spring Break


Enjoy your break!

March 6-10

Week 10



-Read “Peer Writing Groups” (CVS) and “Using Peer Review to Improve Student Writing”

-Watch “Conversations Among Writing Peers” http://www.learner.org/workshops/writ

-Post response to readings/video -Continue revising and developing Unit Design Project.

March 14


-Continue drafting project.

Conway | 5


-Post introductions and challenges/pitfall section drafts for UDP.



-Complete Unit Design Project. -Read “Using Assessment to Drive Better Student Writing” (TAW 141-168) and “Standards and Assessment for Digital Writing”

-Submit Unit Design Project. -Post response to reading.


March 16




Week 11



-Read “Responding, Evaluating, Grading” from CoW (CVS).

-Post response to readings. -Post response to video.


March 21

-Visit Developing Writers and view Workshop 6: Providing Feedback on Student Writing (http://www.learner.org/workshops/hs



Students Teaching: Bryce and Kristen


March 23

Week 12



-Draft one-to-two paragraph description of your philosophy of responding to and assessing student writing.

-Post philosophy.


March 28


-Read “Sample Student Essay for Response 1. Docx” (CVS).

-Post response (margin and end comments): sample student essay.


March 30

Week 13




-Post a rough plan for how you might like to approach the project. Also post the elements you think should be included in the rubric for the assignment; this may also include thoughts about what type of rubric you think best serves this assignment (holistic, primary trait, analytic) and why.


April 4

-Re-read the assignment sheet for the Reflective Narrative.

Conway | 6


-Read introduction from Right Words, Right Places and “In Praise of the Humble Comma” (CVS).

-Post Response

April 6

Week 14



-Read online sources (posted as links on Discussion Board) for teaching English language learners Guest speaker(s)

-Post response to readings. -Post 1-2 questions you have for guest speaker(s) about teaching writing to English language learners.

April 11


Students Teaching: Chelsea and Greg

-Continue building reflective narrative project.

April 13

Week 15



Students Teaching: Abby and Anna

-Continue building reflective narrative project.

April 18


Students Teaching: Collin and Gabrielle

-Continue building reflective narrative project.

April 20

Week 16



-Read Neman Teaching Students to Write “The Personal Teaching Approach”

-Post Response

April 25


-Final Presentations (if schedule requires) -Continue building reflective narrative project.

-Post developing draft.

April 27

Finals Week

Final Mon., May 01 8:30-10:30:


Reflective Narrative Projects due today; Presentations given during final

If there are more presentations than time allows, presentations will begin the previous week.