English 402

ENGL 402
Teaching Writing: Theories and Practices

Catalog Entry

ENGL 402. Teaching Writing: Theories and Practices
Three hours lecture (3).

Prerequisite: CORE 101 and CORE 102.

The course teaches students the latest theories and practices governing the teaching of written composition. Students write expository essays, work in writing support groups, develop writing assignments, study the writing process and learn to respond to and evaluate student writing. Course required to satisfy certification requirements for English majors intending to teach at the secondary level.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

The course emphasizes the components of teaching writing, including the use of a process approach, writing workshops, and portfolios; developmental stages of writing; the connections between reading, writing, and thinking; how to respond to and assess student writing; and how to align writing instruction with state standards. Students write and analyze their own writing, sharing various conceptions of the composing process. As future teachers they make connections between current best practices in teaching writing and their own needs and habits as writers; they also examine the relationship between practical ideas for teaching writing and the theories of language and learning that under gird them.

The course includes a field experience that allows teacher candidates to teach writing groups in area public schools. Groups of teacher candidates work together to design units and accompanying lesson plans aimed at taking public school students through the stages of the writing process. The teacher candidates conduct writing groups and lead elementary, middle school, or high school students to publish an anthology of student writing.

In creating plans for writing instruction, teacher candidates are expected to understand the types of classroom environments that encourage writing and the types of tasks that are appropriate for students at different stages of affective and cognitive development. They learn various techniques for responding to writing, evaluating writing, and diagnosing writing problems.


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

ENGL 402 uses a variety of instructional strategies that may include any number of the following: discussion; collaborative group work; group presentations on aspects of writing instruction; lecture; web-enhanced instruction; informal writing activities such as in-class writing exercises, readers’ logs, journals or discussion questions; regular exchange of reading logs; peer writing groups; collaborative instructional planning, observation and practice teaching in area schools; individual or group conferences with the instructor about writing and/or classroom teaching..


Goals and Objectives of Course

The fundamental goal of this course is to provide students with research-based practices in the teaching of writing. Students who have successfully completed this course will be able to:

  • draw relationships between their own writing practices and theoretical models of composing;
  • study current research on a process approach to writing in order to understand its implications for writing instruction;
  • understand the rationale behind specific teaching practices;
  • demonstrate an understanding of how reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing, and thinking are interrelated;
  • recognize the impact upon writing instruction of students’ cultural and social differences;
  • demonstrate an ability to communicate effectively with parents about writing instruction;
  • work within public school classrooms to propose both elements of course design and effective assignments that have a clear and defensible theoretical grounding;
  • correlate unit and lesson objectives with Virginia Standards of Learning;
  • understand what types of classroom environments are conducive to students’ learning to write and what writing tasks are appropriate for students at different stages of development;
  • create learning environments that promote respect for and support of individual differences of ethnicity, race, language, culture, gender, and ability;
  • learn techniques for responding to writing, evaluating writing, and diagnosing writing problems;
  • use available technology at various stages of the writing process;
  • use Virginia Standards of Learning writing sample rubric to score sample student papers;
  • align writing instruction with state standards.


Assessment Measures

ENGL 402 uses a variety of assessment measures, which may include a number of the following:

  • informal writing activities such as readers’ logs, journals and discussion questions;
  • in-class group presentations;
  • examinations on the assigned readings;
  • a polished collection of writings generated through a process approach and responded to in writing workshops;
  • unit plan and lesson plans correlated with Virginia SOLs;
  • a letter explaining writing instruction and publication project to the parents of public school students;
  • scoring of student writing samples;
  • a portfolio documenting what the student has learned about writing and the teaching of writing;
  • school publication project documenting work with public school students;
  • reflection logs that illustrate teacher candidates' ability to think critically about their teaching.


Other Course Information


Review and Approval

October, 2009