In the summer of 2003, Diana Cardenas and I attended the Title V workshop in order to improve the delivery of ENGL 3360 to underrepresented students, and also to improve the preservice teacher preparation for teaching nontraditional and at-risk populations.
ENGL3360: Current Approaches to Composition and Literature is a course designed to teach future teachers how to teach writing at all levels. It is a course taken by preservice teachers planning to teach Pre-K thru 12th, even those planning to teach math, history, and physical education. There are also occasional graduate students making up deficiencies in their undergrad preparation. We also get a few English majors who do not plan to teach, but strongly discourage them from taking the course, since it is so focused on teaching.
In the course, we hope to build the students' knowledge, materials, tools, and strategies to help them become an informed, confident, reflective teachers of literacy in their future/current position/degree.
Because of the wide range of professional paths and preparations of our students, and because we see their role as vital to the future of our community, we felt that anything we could do to improve their learning & preparation for teaching children would be beneficial.
In order to achieve these goals, we participated in a few activities:
- Met with elementary teachers from West Oso ISD regarding the TEKS,
- Attended discussions of Schoolteacher led by Isabel Arazia,
- Attended training workshops to use PowerPoint in the classroom in effective ways,
- Met with the ENGL 3360 teaching circle several times to reassess, redesign, and implement instructional strategies meant to improve student learning.
- Discussed with other participants of the workshop regarding how they involved their students.
The results of these processes include:
- A collaboratively-constructed syllabus (including course goals, readings, portfolio assignments, and the majority of the curriculum),
- A restructured, inquiry-drive pedagogy for the course "What Is a Good Guiding Question? Dan Traver,
- Improved faculty awareness and knowledge of the TEKS, uses of technology and challenges faced by underrepresented students in our public schools,
- An assignment that asked students to observe a teacher in the community.
In order to measure the effectiveness of these strategies, we distributed a survey of one ENGL 3360 class during the Fall 2003 semester. In the future, we plan to survey all the classes & the design the survey based upon student learning objectives.