English 426

ENGL 426
Teaching English in the High School

Catalog Entry

 ENGL 426. Teaching English in the High School
Two hours lecture (2).

Prerequisites: CORE 101 and CORE 102; admission to the Teacher Education Program.
Corequisite: Junior clinical field experience or “blocking.”

This course provides instruction in the methods of teaching English language arts in the secondary school. It is designed to allow students to explore student-centered approaches to teaching literature and language and to practice designing lessons and making long-range plans. Meeting two hours weekly, the course satisfies licensure requirements for English majors intending to teach at the secondary level. It does not satisfy English major requirements but is a requirement in the professional education core.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

Students will enroll in English 426 during the fall prior to student teaching. They take the course concurrently with the “blocking” or junior clinical field experience. The course provides students with approaches to teaching language and literature that are firmly grounded in theories of learning and literacy, giving them the tools for becoming effective secondary English teachers. They will investigate nontraditional materials and methods, develop unit plans and lessons, examine materials available from publishers and school systems, and discuss ways to align classroom objectives with Virginia Standards of Learning.

The course will introduce students to particular pedagogical approaches and give them the opportunity to incorporate these approaches into unit plans and lesson plans. For example, students may be introduced to the reader-response approach to teaching literature, perhaps reading parts of Louise Rosenblatt's Literature as Exploration. They would then develop specific plans for using this approach with literary selections.

The course also introduces students to various curriculum materials available to the teacher of English language arts and provides them with opportunities to analyze and evaluate those materials. Students will examine teaching materials available from publishers and school systems, and explore ways that the world wide web can enhance classroom teaching.

Throughout the course students will explore issues of professionalism, including a commitment to keeping abreast of developments in the field of education. To that end, students will read and react to articles and books dealing with various aspects of the teaching of English language arts. The course provides students with information about appropriate professional organizations and encourages them to become student members of such organizations as the Virginia Association of Teachers of English and the National Council of Teachers of English. Those student memberships allow students to receive the Virginia English Bulletin and the English Journal, two professional publications whose articles may be part of the course's textual materials.


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

The course may include small group collaboration, demonstration, individual and group presentations, minilesson planning and teaching, and formal and informal writing. The course is designed so that students are actively involved in their learning. They will talk and write often on issues related to teaching the English language arts. Learning opportunities may include, among others, the following:

  • Reader Response Logs: Students may be asked to read from professional journals and books dealing with issues related to teaching literature and language. The response logs provide a means through which students can reflect on their reading and make connections between professional reading and the practical applications of this reading. Students may be asked to focus both on the theoretical and practical implications of their reading in response logs.
  • Observations: An important part of this course involves having students analyze observations completed in conjunction with their junior clinical field experience (“blocking”). Reflection log entries may be required of students on each day of observation in their assigned placement. Students may be asked to focus on particular classroom interactions (teacher wait time, teacher’s responses to correct and/or incorrect answers, teacher interactions with males/teacher interactions with females, numbers of males and females volunteering during class discussions, etc.). They will be expected to explain what they learn from the observations and how they intend to carry this new knowledge into their work as teachers.
  • Minilessons: Students will prepare lesson plans focusing on some aspect of the English language arts and then teach segments of these plans within classrooms where they are “blocking.” Typically 10-25 minutes in length, a minilesson provides an opportunity for prospective teachers to consider issues involved in the preparation of units and lesson plans and to practice presenting short lessons before assuming the responsibility for teaching an entire class period. Students may be asked to prepare pre-planning logs in which they consider different teaching options prior to actually organizing their specific lesson plans. Students may be asked to prepare detailed lesson plans for each mini-lesson, and they may also be asked to prepare a post-teaching evaluation in which they reflect in writing about their teaching effectiveness.

Unit Plan with five accompanying lesson plans: Students will be asked to prepare a unit plan with five detailed lesson plans focusing on some area of the English language arts.


Goals and Objectives of Course

Upon successful completion of the course, the student will be able to:

  • define issues related to teaching, to the teaching profession, and specifically to the teaching of the English language arts;
  • identify pedagogical principals and theory that underlie sound English language arts instruction;
  • observe and analyze the teaching and interactions within a secondary classroom;
  • apply nontraditional materials and methods for teaching the English language arts;
  • integrate components of the English language arts—reading, writing, listening, and speaking—when designing lessons;
  • develop lesson plans and unit plans;
  • synthesize information from articles, textbooks, and previous courses and relate it to actual classroom practice;
  • describe teaching materials available from publishers and school systems;
  • describe a wide range of teaching resources available on the world wide web;
  • describe the value of professional organizations.


Assessment Measures

Assessment measures may include:

  • Written observations/reflections
  • unit plans and lesson plans
  • reading log
  • planning log
  • article critiques


Other Course Information


Review and Approval

October, 2009