LAI 512 Readings in Multicultural Literatures

Course Description: This course is experiential and is grounded in cultural, constructivist theories of response to literature. Students will read and respond to literary works representing multiple cultural perspectives. The intent is to give teachers and prospective teachers the opportunity to experience these literatures aesthetically as readers with the class functioning as a text discussion group. Each student will not only share responses, questions, problematic issues from their own readings of texts, but collaborate with the group to explore multiple possible readings for any given text. Another central goal for the class is to provide opportunities for each reader to examine his/her own responses and come to some understanding of how the differences in our readings come, in part, from differences in ourselves, differences in our cultures, construed broadly to refer not only to ethnicity, race, country of origin, but also (potentially) to religion, neighborhood, family, gender, social-economic group, and all manner of subcultures. Related to this goal is our ongoing inquiry into how authors construct texts out of their own sets experiences in cultural contexts. Issues of teaching multicultural literatures will be considered as they arise for the group as readers, but will remain secondary. Individual reading will allow students to read further in a culture of choice. Final projects will provide opportunities for examining course goals from a chosen topic or perspective.

LAI 515 Research on Literature Teaching and Learning

Course Description: The purpose of this course in research on literature and narrative is threefold: (1) to become competent, critical readers of interpretive research on the teaching and learning of literature and literacy, (2) to synthesize what we know from interpretive research in answer to selected questions about reading, teaching and learning literature, and (3) to engage in a small-scale classroom study to explore interpretive, particularly narrative, inquiry as a means of pursuing questions of teaching and learning. Emphasis throughout will also be on understanding the assumptions and theories underlying research on literature and narrative and drawing implications for teaching and learning in diverse classroom contexts. This class is appropriate for language and literacy masters and doctoral students interested in literature and narrative as important aspects of literacy learning.

LAI 516 Response to Literature

Course Description: In this course we will examine theories of response to literature and their implications for literature instruction. The central theoretical notion concerns how literary meaning evolves in the transactions between reader and text in particular social contexts. We will further develop this transactional model of literary responses with social, psychological, and cultural theories, including post-structuralist perspectives. A major focus will be on using these cross-disciplinary theories as tools for self-reflection to understand our own and others' responses to literature, construed broadly to include film and other media.

LAI 517 Advanced Methods of Teaching English: Teaching and Learning as Conversation

Course Description: In this course we will focus on social issues in the English classroom, particularly on talk as the source of learning and curriculum. The course has two intertwining purposes: (1) Exploring how we can approach the subject of English as ongoing conversation, with teaching and learning viewed as processes which unfold as students become active participants in those conversations; (2) Writing and discussing our own classroom narratives as an inquiry tool for understanding the possibilities and dilemmas posed by conversational classrooms. Our approach to the course will be based in social constructivist stances toward knowing and teaching. We want to problematize the idea of a "methods" course, by envisioning together socially based principles for teaching beyond specific "methods," but also by reseeing "method" as ongoing processes of narrative inquiry and developing teaching identity. We will begin by exploring the curriculum debate about what knowledge students need to learn in English classes, to critique traditional conceptions of knowledge and learning and consider alternative visions. We will read and discuss what "teaching through conversation" might mean in the secondary school, and consider how we might create classrooms that are inviting, energetic, explorative, and generative. We will read teachers personal and situated accounts of transforming their classrooms through their conversational communities; we will write and discuss our own personal and situated accounts to reflect on our collective understandings of classroom conversations and our own and our students thinking and growth as learners. In these activities, we expect to pursue such questions as: How can we construct contexts for authentic dialogue in literacy classrooms? How do we deal with the tensions that such honest engagements may generate? What beliefs and social practices might guide us as we work to unsilence and empower our diverse students and ourselves in conversational communities? This is an experiential, discussion-based course appropriate for all English Education masters students and other literacy education students with some teaching experience who are interested in sociocultural approaches to teaching literacy in the secondary school (possibly upper elementary school). The course is not appropriate for TEI students who have not done their student teaching.

LAI 518: Advanced Composition Workshop

Course Description: This is a writing course for teachers and prospective teachers who want to extend their own writing experiences with the social support of others in a writing workshop format. Our major focus will be an inquiry into our own lives through memoir writing, which could include family history, childhood stories, becoming and growing-up-as-a-teacher stories, coming-to-consciousness stories, situating-self-in-history stories, etc. We will draft more pieces than we revise and become aware of significant and everyday experiences and people shaping our sense of self, both personally and professionally. Looking across our stories, we will reflect on issues of growth and change, and on how experiences shape perspective. We will look for opportunities to submit these pieces for publication. There will be opportunities for other kinds of writing, as well, depending on student interests. Although the teaching of writing is not the focus of the course, we will be generating ideas, drafting, revising and editing our own writing using strategies and processes which are very helpful for students, too. We will share writing ideas and problems in presentations and in conversations, collaborating to form working writing groups. As we write, we will read published memoirs, titles to be selected by students, but the major text for the class will be the drafts and revisions produced by class members.

LAI 597 Vygotsky and Sociocultural Views of Instruction

Course Description: In this seminar we will examine theoretical and empirical work related to the social origins of thinking, knowing, learning, and doing. Vygotsky's conception of socially and culturally mediated cognitive development will be central to a review of research on the social-cognitive dynamics of classroom instruction and learning. We will explore the implications and applications of Vygotsky's approach, construed broadly as a theory of education grounded in activity and interaction, and its relation to other scholarly orientations, such as situated cognition, sociolinguistics, and liberation pedagogy. This focus will provide the means of critiquing how current educational practices constrain or facilitate development of student thinking and learning. Emphasis on the importance of sociocultural and sociopolitical contexts for instruction will include issues of language diversity, multiculturalism, and equity. This is a discussion-based course with the opportunity to pursue a final project on a topic or question of personal interest.

LAI 624 Research Practicum in English Education

Course Objectives: The participants of this course will serve as a research work group for two main purposes: (1) To engage in productive conversation about and analysis of the underlying assumptions about language, literacy, learning, and epistemology latent in research questions, methodologies, reports and (2) To engage in research activities (e.g., proposal writing, data collection, data analysis) related to questions of importance to the teaching of English. We will pursue both of these objectives by reading published work and our own in-progress work.

LAI 647 Advanced Qualitative Research Field Methods

Course Description: This course is experiential, allowing students to conduct a qualitative study in education on a topic of their choice and to better understand the assumptions of theory, method, and analysis guiding their choices. Students will propose and engage in one type of qualitative research, typically a microethnography, life history, case study, or action research project. Because students will have taken at least one other course in qualitative research (course prerequisite), our purpose will be to use that knowledge in a practical, supported way and to locate ones work within the research traditions and paradigms of the field. The class will function as a working research group which allows students to bring problematic issues from their own ongoing research projects to discussion. Our readings will focus on issues involved in the interconnected processes of framing a study, writing a proposal, considering ethical and political issues, collecting data, analyzing and interpreting data, and writing and presenting research for varied purposes.