Application for Elementary Language Arts

Return to: BX Application, Standards Matrix, Syllabi, Form_XX, Dept. of Education, University

BX Program Summary Narrative

·         Describes the philosophy, rationale, and objectives of the specialty program and explains how the program is consistent with the philosophy, rationale, and conceptual framework of the unit.  

The elementary language arts teaching certification programs within the discipline of English are designed to provide students with a strong grounding in literature, language and literacy, and communication studies combined with pedagogical theory and practice.  This combination, which results from parallel and interrelated coursework in both English and Teacher Education, enables students to proceed as teachers who can deliver and apply content area knowledge through the best practices and methods appropriate to the elementary learning environment.

As mentioned above, the English program consists of three areas of emphasis:

  • Literary studies.  Coursework in this area provides a broad knowledge of American literary history, issues of literature and culture, genres, creative writing and theater, and  involves extensive practice, critical analysis and research.  Additionally, the English program for elementary certification includes coursework in the history and critical analysis of children’s literature and the application of this literature to the K-12 classroom environment.
  • Language and literacy studies.  Coursework in this area provides a solid grounding in the acquisition and development of language and literacy and the conventions of modern English grammar. In addition, all English majors in both teaching and non-teaching programs are required to complete two years of coursework in a language other than English to further both their general literacy and provide additional perspective on language structure.  This two year requirement represents an additional year beyond the single year of foreign language required by the University for B.A. degrees.
Communication studies.   All students in the University are required to complete two courses in written composition designed to develop writing fluency and critical awareness of writing purpose and audience, and one course that provides practice in oral communication as well as knowledge of a range of theories and practices in verbal and nonverbal communication settings and contexts.  Additionally, the English elementary language arts program provides coursework in composition theory and pedagogy, including, critical responses to student and peer texts.  Courses in Interpersonal Communication, genres (including media), and theater, explore alternative and non-verbal forms of communication.


The combination of these three emphases is intended to produce graduates who are culturally literate in the content area, critically aware, and fluently articulate.  The pedagogical theory, method, and practice courses provided by Teacher Education and that accompany content area courses enable graduates to translate and apply their content knowledge and ability to effective teaching.

The English-elementary language arts program is consistent with the aims and approaches of the Teacher Education unit in modeling and fostering the structural elements of research, reflection, response, content, pedagogy, professional disposition, and engagement in and management of diverse and participatory learning communities that constitute the framework for the practice of professional education.

Content knowledge: Students accomplishing their language arts programs need to acquire a sufficient level of skills and competence in both the processing (reading, listening, critical thinking) and the productive (speaking, writing, articulation) domains. In addition, they need to be exposed to texts, visuals and interactive situations to enhance their application and cultural awareness and ability to interpret and analyze various classical achievements of  language arts in various cultures in a historical and culturally sensitive context.

Pedagogical knowledge: Students with a majors and minors in language arts need to be familiar with some of the most prominent theories, with the most efficient teaching methods and techniques as well as with the best classroom practices of teaching. Students should understand the multidimensional nature of learning and learners, and the necessity of developing their own teaching approach along with a wide array of pedagogical instruments. Through experience with and the analysis of various instructional techniques and technologies, teaching materials and assessment tools, candidates in language arts should be prepared to become exemplar professional educators.

Professionalism: Teachers provide invaluable service in society and function as models for future generations. Therefore, all teacher candidates must obtain a solid foundation of values and ethical principles. In addition, they must understand the importance of professional integrity and active self-reflection. Finally, they need to acquire the ability to provide constructive criticism and to respond well to criticism.

Learning communities: Schools and classrooms are venues for candidates to learn and grow as participatory members of their local community and the global society. The themes of caring, responsibility, cooperation, tolerance and respect are woven into the curriculum of the language arts program. By offering an opportunity to study abroad, the language arts program exposes its candidates to a learning experience both inside and outside the classroom.

The School of Education Vision Statement states that we are a community of learners bound by the shared values that exemplify excellence in the professional education of teachers.  The School of Education Mission Statement affirms that we are committed to provide opportunities for research, reflection and response in the education of teachers.  We achieve these opportunities through situated and contextual learning experiences, and in the foundations for the development of content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and professional dispositions.  We value a commitment to learning communities, and are dedicated to meeting the diverse needs of learners. 

In keeping with the Conceptual Framework the School of Education summarizes its mission in the motto: EDUCATING TEACHERS FOR TOMORROW’S SCHOOLS
PERSONALWith respect and understanding for individual differences and shared heritages
NATURAL  For whom learning is an ongoing lifelong process, and
 With high academic and professional standards

We believe that the act of teaching and learning involves a framework of research, reflection, and response.  We see these elements as an evolving cyclical process, a pathway that learners and leaders of learning must employ to create powerful knowledge bases, develop as participatory members of a democratic society, and establish and maintain environments conducive to learning. The process of research, reflection, and response is focused upon four areas that we believe are the essential elements of expert teaching.  These areas include: content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, professional dispositions, and learning communities.  At the center of the process of acquiring and applying the skills and knowledge of professional practice we place the learner. 

We see the learner as inclusive of all stakeholders in schooling and education

What is

Research:  Expert teachers understand the need to maintain a current perspective on the numerous facets of education.  A professional educator strives to engage in the study of pedagogy, examination of the literature related to teaching and explore avenues for the transformation of theory to practice. The act of research is often precipitated by observed events in the classroom and school.  When dilemmas arise, expert teachers ask questions and then seek answers through research.

 Reflection:  John Dewey stated “The active, persistent, careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in light of the grounds that support it is reflective thought” (1933, p.9).  Expert teacher are continuously reflecting upon their practice.  Engaging in critique, they look at the elements of teaching as well as their whole practice within the contexts in which pedagogy is engaged.  The act of reflection requires the teacher to question their behavior, their beliefs as determinants of practice, and carefully consider the responsibility of being a leader of learning.

 Response: The act of engaging in pedagogy should be responsive.  To implement change or modifications in one’s practice to better facilitate learning is a key element in the repertoire of an expert teacher.  Response however is not change for the sake of change.  Response is the act of planned change given careful research and reflection.  The professional educator employs change in relationship to perceived need, then after review of literature and active research within the classroom, supported by careful reflection, the teacher implements the change.  The expert teacher then monitors the response, actively engaging in continued research and reflection to better their pedagogical practice.

 Content Knowledge: Teachers need to be broadly educated in the liberal arts and sciences, and be able to knowledgeable of the interdependence of the disciplines. They must be able to analyze and synthesize ideas, information, and data and make applications of knowledge in inquiry, problem-solving, and critical thinking. The professional educator must be an effective communicator, possessing the skills and abilities of listening, speaking, writing, and reading.  

Pedagogical Knowledge: Professional educators must have the knowledge to effectively engage individuals in the learning process.  In order to engage in teaching excellence they must posses a strong understanding of cognition, the multidimensional dimensions of learners and learning, and demonstrate the skills of research, reflection, and responsive pedagogy.   Via an understanding of human growth and development, a variety of instructional techniques, assessments, materials and technologies, and an abundance of practical experience in classrooms, teacher candidates should be able to mature as exemplar professional educators.

 Professional Dispositions: Teachers are stewards of society.  They are the models and guides of future generations. In light of their influence in classrooms and schools, all teachers and teacher candidates must model the ethics, values and dispositions of professional educators. They should be able to engage in active reflection, self-critique and accept constructive criticism from others.  The developing professional educator should invite and respect others' points of view and incorporate reasonable suggestions from peers and experts.  Teachers and teacher candidates should be committed to life-long learning and the belief that all candidates can learn.  

 Learning Communities: Schools and classrooms are microcosms of society, and as such are the venues for candidates to learn and grow as participatory members of the community.  The themes of caring, responsibility, democracy, and stewardship are woven into the fabric of curriculum as teachers and teacher candidates take on the role of facilitators of environments conducive to learning while modeling tolerance, dignity, participation and shared decision making.

·         Describes the sequence of courses and/or experiences to develop an understanding of the structures, skills, core concepts, ideas, values, facts, methods of inquiry, and uses of technology.  

The core sequence of the literary component of the English Language arts curriculum begins with an Introduction to Literary Studies and proceeds through a two-semester historical survey of American literature to genre and diversity and Children’s Literature studies.  The literary core is complemented by courses in Creative Writing, Speech and Drama Productions, and Interpersonal Communication for  investigation and practice of creative expression and non-verbal communication. The Children’s Literature course has a pedagogical component, the English course Responding to Writing addresses writing pedagogy, and Teacher Education courses in Emergent Literacy and English/Language arts methods instruct students on cognitive development and pedagogical practice.

All courses in the English curriculum are writing-intensive and require a variety of written assignments where students continue to develop writing competence in addition to content knowledge and critical ability. 

The language component of the curriculum consists of a course in English grammar, which is complemented by two years of foreign language study.  Foreign language is broadly interpreted to include ancient languages such as Old English and Attic Greek and Latin as well as modern languages other than English.

In addition to studies within and related to the English and Education curriculum, students are given a broad foundation in liberal arts and sciences through the University’s General Education curriculum

Formal admission to the School of Education teacher certification program also requires (in addition to university general education requirements of one year English, one semester of speech, one year of social sciences, on year of humanities and a course in student diversity), the following items:

·         Describes how candidates are prepared to utilize a variety of instructional approaches to address the various learning styles of students.  

While English, Communication and Theater courses in the elementary Language arts program model a variety of teaching approaches, student learning styles are a significant topic addressed in the professional education core sequence, especially in TE250 Student Diversity and Schools and EDUC301 Learning Theory and Teaching Practice.  In TE301 candidates analyze various approaches to teaching and learning and the decisions which teachers make in applying theory to diverse classroom situations.  EDUC411, Elementary Language arts Methods Across the Curriculum, extends these topics to the classroom and provide a discipline specific context for continuing these discussions while candidate’s field placements are focused on instructional practice in their specialty.

Course materials include elements that address strategic competence and provide candidates with suggestions on how to learn to learn, which in this case involves the process of becoming efficient foreign language learners. Supplementary materials are selected and regularly updated from a range of print and electronic sources to prepare students to meet the MTTC exam standards.

Student learning styles are a significant topic addressed in the professional education core sequence, especially in EDUC250 Student Diversity and Schools and EDUC301 Learning Theory and Teaching Practice.  In EDUC301 candidates analyze various approaches to teaching and learning and the decisions which teachers make in applying theory to diverse classroom situations. 

·         Describes any differences that may exist between elementary or secondary preparation to teach in each major or minor area (e.g., instructional resources, field placements, instructional techniques), if applicable.  

Language arts is only available as an elementary endorsement.

·         Describes how the program incorporates gender equity, multi-cultural, and global perspectives into the teaching of the subject area.  

Gender, cultural ,ethnic and racial diversity among students and faculty and the critical sensitivities applied to studies in the subject area both model and foster appreciation of diversity issues and perspectives.  Courses within the English curricula (e.g., Literature and Culture) and Education curricula (e.g., Student Diversity and Schools) specifically address these matters.

EDUC 250, Student Diversity in the Classroom, is a course designed to prepare all teacher candidates at Lake Superior State University to address issues of gender equity and multicultural perspectives in a classroom.. 

 All teacher certification candidates are required to take EDUC250 Student Diversity and Schools, a course designed to prepare all teacher candidates at Lake Superior State University to address issues of gender equity and multicultural perspectives in a classroom. Discussion of the multicultural perspectives in the preparation of teachers is initially covered in EDUC250 “Student Diversity in the Classroom”.  While this is a required course in the professional education sequence, and thus required in Language arts teaching program, it is not a course taught through the Language arts department or faculty.    The PRPE index page has the syllabus for this course, and others in the professional education sequence, it is directly from this link: Professional Education Courses.  EDUC250 objectives include to

"study ...the forms of diversity found among students and how these differences affect students' participation in school. History and philosophy of American schools are also studied as are the legal responsibilities and rights of teachers and school districts. Student study cooperative learning, questioning techniques, make school visits and plan and tutor elementary or secondary students as part of a 15-hour fieldwork component.”

In-class assignments and assigned readings include this example which addresses the stated course objective to “Explain the meaning of diversity in schools and describe ways that schools may respond to diversity”


·        Describes how the program prepares candidates to use multiple methods of assessment appropriate to this specialty area.

Courses in the specialty area employ a variety of assessment approaches and instruments, ranging from conventional assessment by quiz or exam, to course projects and presentations, to journals and portfolios, reflective, self-assessing essays and student course evaluations.  Education courses, including courses related to the specialty area, not only model assessment practices but specifically address assessment strategies and practices.  Field experience further exposes candidates to assessment methods