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Cal State L.A.



“’Tis the good reader that makes the good book”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Laura Garrett
M/W 4:20-6:00 KHB4018
Office: E & T 608
Office Hours:  M/W 12:00-1:15, 3:20-4:10
Campus Phone:  (323) 343-4156
English Dept: (323) 343-4140

Course Description

Prerequisites: English major with senior standing; field experience and concurrent enrollment in 1 unit ENGL 398 required for students seeking certification of subject area competency through the Single Subject Teaching option.

Catalog Description: Instructional strategies for teaching forms of literature to middle and high school students. Development of teaching portfolio and assessment of interpretive and critical skills.

Learning Objectives: English 494 introduces students to the basic pedagogic practices involved in the teaching of literature and helps students develop their own philosophy of teaching and begin to develop their own portfolio of best teaching practices.

This capstone course for credential students explores ways in which students can apply the skills they have developed throughout their English program to secondary classroom instruction.  Students will develop individual teaching philosophies and pedagogical techniques, drawing on reader-response theory, case studies, and their own experience.  The course provides students an opportunity to assess and improve their own abilities to analyze literature, to locate through research the resources necessary for deepening their knowledge of literary texts and for extending their pedagogical repertoires, to communicate clearly and effectively the results of their research both orally and in written form, and to plan classroom assignments that will promote student learning and meaningful engagement with literary texts.  Students will reflect on the goals of literary study, consider theoretical approaches to interpreting literature that are appropriate for secondary students, and discuss canon formation, censorship, literacy, and the nature of “English” as a discipline in its past, present, and future forms.

Course Requirements: If you are a Credential-option student, this course requires concurrent enrollment in English 398-02.  This requires a Certificate of Clearance and 12 hours of Field Experience at area schools.  If you have not already done so, please visit the Teacher Preparation Advisement Center in Library Palmer Wing 1040A as soon as possible.

There is much reading and writing in this class.  You will need to be diligent about planning ahead and completing your tasks on time.  Listed below are the required assignments for this course:

  1. Seminar Topic Presentation (40 points—20% of total)
  2. Teaching of Literature Philosophy and Pedagogy paper (40 points—20% of total)
  3. Lesson Plan and Presentation (40 points—20% of total)
  4. Field Experience Reflection (20 points—10% of total)
  5. Young Adult Novel Report (10 points—5% of total)
  6. Six Reading Responses, Reading Journals, Quickwrites (30 points—15% of total)
  7. Attendance and participation. (20 points—10% of total)

To pass this course all assignments (papers and exams) must be legitimately attempted.  Plagiarism (see description below) does not constitute a legitimate attempt of the assignment.

English Education Self-Awareness

In our class sessions we will implement the following pedagogical “tools”:


Grading Policy: The distribution of points for the individual assignments in this course is listed in “Requirements” above. For the quarter, 200 points are possible, and course grades are based on standard percentages (i.e.90% and greater is some version of an A, 80-89% is some version of a B, and so on). Plus and minus grades are used in the class.

Please note that these percentages are used when all work is attempted.  In order to pass this course the writing assignments, presentation, journals and final all must be legitimately attempted.  Plagiarism does NOT constitute a legitimate attempt of the assignment.

Cell Phones and Pagers: Please turn off all cell phones, televisions, laptops, MP3 players/iPods, and any other electronic communication and/or entertainment devices before coming to class.

Contacting the Instructor: Email is the most effective way of communicating with me outside of class and my office hours. However, be reasonable. If you email me at 2:00 AM, the morning before a paper is due, don’t expect a response.  At least, not a civil one.

Attendance: In many ways, this class is the beginning of your professional life as a teacher. Therefore, we will use professional teaching standards existing in the field for our attendance policy. Typically teachers receive one sick day for every 30 days of school. Therefore you will have one absence that you may take with no effect on your grade, though you will not receive credit for work submitted in that class unless you have it delivered to my mailbox that day. Please regard me as your principal and call me at my office before class if you need to be absent.  If you do NOT call, your absence will be unexcused.

Teachers also typically receive one personal day per year to be used in the event of a verifiable family emergency such as a sickness or death in the family. Therefore, you may negotiate with me for a second absence in case of an emergency. Absences falling outside these parameters will result in a lower course grade. (In a school district they deduct your pay and benefits.) I would strongly counsel students missing more than two classes, under any conditions, to drop the course. Following English Department policy, any student who misses more than 20% of class meetings (three classes) will not be allowed to take the final.  In our case, that means you will not be allowed to present your lesson plan or turn it in.  Of course I am willing to discuss individual circumstances with you.

I expect you to be in the classroom and ready to work when class begins at 4:20pm, just as you will be expected to be at work and ready to go when the opening bell rings. Being even a minute late is being tardy, and two tardies may be considered as an absence.

Written Assignments: Please note the following carefully when preparing your written assignments for this class:

·         Written assignments must be typed following standard formatting practices for college writing—use a readable type style (12 point type), indent paragraphs, double space between lines, and use one inch margins. Any style guide will contain information on formatting your written assignments for submission.

·         Before handing in written assignments, edit and proofread your work carefully.

·         Do not use plastic covers or report folders or title pages on your written assignments. Each assignment, though, should have your name, the course number, the date, and my name on separate lines (double-spaced) in the upper left corner of the first page. If the paper has a title, center it on the first page, after the above information.

·         Use page numbers and place them in the upper right corner of the page. If you are uncertain how to have word processing software generate the correct page number in the header of your document, ask someone in one of the labs.

·         Be consistent in your use of a citation format.  MLA is preferred.  For information on MLA, please see the campus library’s MLA style guide (available in the library or online).

Late papers are not accepted. The assignment due dates are distributed on the first day of class, and the assignments are made available often weeks before they are due. If you miss a paper deadline, please talk to me.

Academic Dishonesty/Cheating: Collaborating with others is encouraged when you are planning your papers, reviewing each other’s work, preparing for presentations or for exams. Study or reading groups can be effective ways to study and learn. However, when you write your papers, the text needs to be your own.

You must carefully observe the standard rules for acknowledging the sources of words and ideas. If you make use of a phrase or a quote or if you paraphrase another writer’s words or ideas, you must acknowledge the source of these words or ideas telling us the source of these materials. APA and MLA style differ on the exact format of this attribution, but the simple version is the name of the author and the page number (if appropriate) in parentheses at the end of the sentence containing the use of the source material. If you fail to acknowledge properly the source of your text, you will receive a zero on the assignment and be reported to the Student Disciplinary Officer.  If you are not sure what to do, if you get stuck, if you have questions, it is your responsibility to get help from me.

If you plagiarize or otherwise misrepresent the source of your work, you will receive a zero on the assignment and be reported to the Student Disciplinary Officer.  You will NOT be allowed to make up the assignment.


The following texts are required for this class:

Burke, Jim. The English Teacher’s Companion: A Complete Guide to Classroom, Curriculum, and the Profession. New York: Heinemann, 2007.

Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter. New York: Penguin, 2002.

Kelly, Joseph, ed. The Seagull Reader: Poems. 2nd edition. New York: Norton, 2007.

Kelly, Joseph, ed. The Seagull Reader: Stories. 2nd edition. New York: Norton, 2007.

Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet (Folger Shakespeare Library). New York: Washington Square Press, 2004.

The required readings listed below are available on the course website.

Alsup and Bush, “Scenarios for Teaching Secondary English Language Arts” from But Will It Work with Real Students? (online)

Ensrud, “Getting at What They Want to Know: Using Students’ Questions to Direct Class Discussion” from Inquiry and the Literary Text: Constructing Discussions in the English Classroom (online)

Gellis, “Master Questions and the Teaching of English” from Inquiry and the Literary Text: Constructing Discussions in the English Classroom (online)

Hillocks, “Preface” to Reflective Teaching, Reflective Learning (online)

Johannessen and Kahn, “Engaging Students in Authentic Discussions of Literature” from Reflective Teaching, Reflective Learning (online)

Schmit, “Practicing Critical Thinking through Inquiry into Literature” from Inquiry and the Literary Text: Constructing Discussions in the English Classroom (online)

Optional: For anyone interested, I will be happy to recommend a writer’s handbook, style books or other resources, and many fine ones are available in the student bookstore.

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Last Update: 03/31/2009