English 629

ENGL 629
Critical Approaches to Teaching Lit.

Catalog Entry

ENGL 629. Critical Approaches to Teaching Lit.
Credit hours (3).

The course provides prospective teachers of literature with an examination and application of current theory research and practice in the teaching of literature. In a field experience portion of the course, students will design lesson plans and apply particular approaches to teaching literature with students in local middle, high schools, or college classrooms. They will design a Unit of Literature Study for classroom use.


Detailed Description of Course

Topics to be addressed include:

  • What is English? Defining the subject area by looking at the historical background of the teaching of Literature in the United States.
  • What is “literacy”? How the definition of literacy has changed through history and how that affects the teaching of English language arts.
  • Theories of Reading and Literary Analysis including recent research on integrated English language arts; Transactional Theory of Reading; Writing to Learn Theories, etc.
  • The Canon—How literary works and authors get on the list of “the best literature” How the canon has changed and why.
  • The place of Young Adult and Contemporary Literature in secondary English language arts classrooms.
  • Virginia Standards of Learning—how do these affect instruction in secondary schools? How can teachers help students meet these standards, pass the tests, and still offer meaningful learning experiences to their students?


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

The course is a workshop in which students work in large and small cooperative and collaborative group settings. Students research specific topics on the teaching of literature and present the results of their research in formal presentations. Students write Units of Study for specific literature. These units must include writing-to-learn activities, audio-visual materials, and computer technology. The unit or parts of it will be taught in a local secondary English language arts classroom.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

The fundamental goal of this course is to provide students with research-based practices in the teaching of literature and to familiarize them with types of literature taught at the secondary level. Students who have successfully completed this course will be able to:

  • Analyze current research and theory in literature studies, especially in terms of implications for teaching literature in 6-12 English language arts classrooms;
  • Use major sources of research and theory with the field of reading comprehension and literature instruction
  • Use methods that facilitate students’ abilities to use a wide range of comprehension strategies in order to interact with and analyze texts;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing, and thinking are interrelated;
  • Use methods that facilitate students’ use of “Writing to Learn”
  • Work within public school classrooms to propose both elements of course design and effective assignments that have a clear and defensible theoretical grounding;
  • Align reading/literature studies with state standings;
  • Understand how students’ reading abilities are influenced by classroom environment and the teacher’s openness to multiple interpretations of literary works;
  • Design a unit plan for students of varying reading levels and stages of development;
  • Recognize the impact upon literature instruction of students’ cultural and social differences;
  • Use available technology at various stages of the reading/literary analysis process;
  • Use teacher-researcher models of classroom inquiry


Assessment Measures

Student learning will be assessed in collaboration with professor, student and peers. Possible assessment tools may include assignment rubrics, quality of unit and lesson plans, effectiveness of implementation of unit plans, and quality of presentations. Students will assemble a portfolio of course work documenting learning from course.


Other Course Information

Texts might include: What is English? by Peter Elbow ; Changing Our Minds by Miles Myers; The Reader the Text and the Poem by Louise Rosenblatt; Envisioning Literature: Literary Understanding and Literature Instruction by Judith Langer; and Bridging English Chapter 5 by Milner and Milner. Articles from current and past Educational Journals addressing various aspects of teaching all genres of literature; reading in the content area; multicultural literature's place in English language arts classrooms; how to incorporate technology in English language arts classrooms in regards to teaching literature; the reading writing connection, etc.


Review and Approval

VPPA 3/16/05