College of Education

We develop quality educators to teach, lead, and serve in local and world communities

These educators are

Inquiring: Scholarly, reflective, and research-based
Ethical: Fair, accurate, and consistent
Collaborative: Participatory, inclusive, and supportive
Decision-Makers: Informed, deliberative, and effective



ED 321

Dr. Nancy G. Patterson

920 EberhardCenter 331-6226


Content Area Literacy

Course Description
Instructional Methods
Course Activities
Knowledge Base
Flex Points
Group Demonstration

Course Description

This course is designed to help pre-service teachers understand the complexities of literacy in the content areas and to equip them with theory and research that will help them make meaningful decisions regarding the nature of literacy events in their classrooms. The course will set out a theoretical framework upon which students can build strategies that will help prepare them for the multilingual, multicultural, and multilevel classrooms they will encounter during their student assistantship semester, student teaching, and their professional careers.



Words, Words, Words by Janet Allen, Tools for Teaching Content Literacy by Janet Allen, and Teaching the Best Practice Way: Methods that Matter, k-12 by Harvey Daniels and Marilyn Bizar.



Attendance is required. Students may keep one professional obligation, however, such as parent/teacher conferences, but need to notify the professor prior to that date. Deadlines are somewhat flexible, but students are expected to be reasonable in how they address the deadlines for this course. The final project deadline is far less flexible because of university deadlines, and students will be expected to turn their projects in on the due date. Students will also need to post to the course e-mail discussion list each week, so students will need an active e-mail account that can be accessed regularly. The listserv deadline each week is not flexible. Students will be expected to honor all copyright laws.


Unit standards for this course:

Michigan Department of Education

National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education

Program Standards

 Danielson’s Framework for Teaching, Domains 1-4; Council of Learned Societies in Education, Foundations Standards

Michigan Certification Standards for the Preparation of All Secondary Teachers in Reading Instruction ( B – Basic Understanding)

Course Standards

More than ever, teachers today are expected to articulate what they are doing in the classroom and why they are doing it. Teachers should be able to articulate knowledge about literacy development and related instructional and assessment strategies and able to demonstrate and reflect on the use of this knowledge at a fundamental level of competence acceptable for teaching. (An example of basic understanding would be to apply the knowledge and assess results.)

Course Performance Outcome: Danielson (3—Classroom Environment: communication, questioning/discussion, engagement, feedback, flexibility and responsiveness)

Course Performance Assessment: Literacy lesson that includes elements showing Danielson outcomes and reflects Michigan standards for secondary content literacy


 Instructional Methods

Discussion, small group work, presentations, writing, reading, direct instruction.

 Course Activities

Students will respond to their readings via a “blog,” a weblog. They will also prepare a reading demonstration in a small group and present it to the class. The demonstration will include a theory and research piece that explains why the demonstration should be used in the classroom, as well as some suggestions for how the demonstration can be adapted for different grade levels, subject areas, and diverse populations. In addition, students will write two papers—a literacy philosophy paper and a literacy autobiography. At the end of the term, students will turn in a cumulative portfolio, divided into sections, each of which will include a brief reflective essay in each section.


Course Requirements

Students will:

Evaluation Criteria

Attendance: 10 points will be deducted for each unexcused absence

Literacy Autobiography 100 points

Philosophy Paper 100 points

Blog 130 points

Portfolio 100 points

Group Demonstration 100 points

Note: To earn an A in the course, students must get an A on each activity, including attendance. This means that all blog reflections must be posted prior to the weekly class session. Students will have an opportunity to revise any papers that have not earned an A if they choose.


Students will receive a grade for each activity. The final grade will be based on the average of those grades. The following scale will be used for each activity:

95-100 A

90-94 A-

89 B+

85-88 B

80-84 B-

79 C+

75-78 C

70-74 C-

69 D+

65-68 D


Course Objectives

In this course students will be able to


Knowledge and Theoretical Base

This course will be taught from a transactive theoretical foundation that is premised on the idea that knowledge is constructed, not transmitted, and that literacy involves a transaction between the reader/writer/listener/speaker/viewer and text. It is also based on the idea that text comes in many forms, written, iconic or imagistic, and oral. This is a much more intellectually challenging perspective, and will serve as a model for the ways in which pre-service teachers can ground their classroom practice. Transactive classrooms privilege student questioning and decision-making processes while providing a structure and support for the intellectually challenging activities that take place in the classroom. Transactive classrooms also respect the varied learning styles and cultural and linguistic diversities that students bring to the classroom community. The texts that students will encounter will come from current research and theory regarding literacy and schooling.

Burke, Jim, Tools for Thought: Helping All Students Read, Write, Speak and Think, Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. 2000.

 Burke, Jim. Reading Reminders: Tools, Tips, and Techniques, Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2000.

Daniels, Harvey, Literature Circles: Voice and Choice in Book Clubs and Reading Groups, 2 nd ed. Portland, ME: Stenhouse, 2002.

Daniels, Harvey, Marilyn Bizar, Methods that Matter: Six Structures for Best Practice Classrooms, Portland, ME: Stenhouse. 1998.

Dornan, Reade, Lois Matz Rosen, Marilyn Wilson, Multiple Voices, Multiple Texts: Reading in the Secondary Content Areas, Portsmouth, NH: Boynton Cook, 1997.

Vacca, Richard T., Jo Ann L. Vacca, Content Area Reading: Literacy and Learning Across the Curriculum, 7 th ed. Boston, MA: Pearson, Allyn, and Bacon. 2005.

Wilhelm, Jeffrey, Tonia Barker, Julie Dube Hackett, Strategic Reading: Guiding Students to Life-long Literacy, 6-12, Portsmouth, NH: Boynton Cook, 2001.

Zimmerman, Susan, and Ellen Oliver Keene, Mosaic of Thought: Teaching Comprehension in a Reader’s Workshop: Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1997.


Course Calendar (subject to change)

Week 1, August 29- Sept. 2


Week 2, Sept. 6-9

Week 3, Sept. 12-16

Week 4, Sept. 19-23

Week 5, Sept. 16-30

Week 6, Oct. 3-7

Week 7, Oct. 10-14

Week 8, Oct. 17-21

Week 9, Oct. 24-28

Week 10, Oct. 31-Nov. 4

Week 11, Nov. 7-11

Week 12, Nov. 14-18



Come to class having read pages 67-94 in Words, Words, Words

Week 13, Nov. 21-25



Come to class having read pages 67-110 in Words

Week 14, Nov. 28-Dec. 2

Week 15, Dec. 5-9


Flex Point Assignment

If students need to gain extra points either because of absences or other difficulties, they may earn extra points through a variety of additional activities. These can include:


Group Demonstration Criteria


Literacy Lesson

Students will present a lesson in their content area that asks student participants to transact with a piece of text and that integrates at least four of the six language arts (reading, writing, listening, speaking, viewing, and representing). The lesson should be designed for a typical secondary class period, about 45-55 minutes. It should provide ways for diverse students to access prior knowledge, to support them as they engage in a particular oral, written, and/or visual text, and to allow them to extend their experiences through further transactions. Presenters must take into consideration such diversity issues as gender, ethnicity, discourse, development, and learning. Presenters will be expected to provide an appropriate piece of text and any other materials necessary for the lesson. In addition, presenters will need to provide a step-by-step explanation of the lesson and the research and theory that explains why the lesson, its literacy components, and its assessments are grounded in best practice. Presenters will be expected to think beyond more traditional assessment practices they may have experienced as students and look instead at students’ interaction and engagement, success at individual tasks in the lesson, etc.

At the close of the lesson, presenters will also be expected to reflect on ways in which the lesson itself can be assessed and improved and what presenters might do differently. Part of the reflection should consider the ways in which presenters adapted the lesson as it progressed based on student responses. (Did presenters decide to spend more time on a given element? Did they collapse certain elements? Did they alter an assessment or textual piece based on student engagement or feedback? Did they make changes in any other materials based on their sense of what students needed at any point in the lesson?)

It is important to point out that through the course of planning and teaching this lesson, candidates will be engaged in an inquiry into best practices and the theory and research that supports that. They will collaborating with peers in order to decide the best ways to address such issues as diversity, democratic classroom practices, cooperation, and the on-going assessment of not only students, but the lesson itself.

Philosophy Paper Criteria

 The philosophy of literacy paper must include the following elements

Helpful Websites: (science) (math)