English 581:  Language, Literacy, & Learning

Spring 2004, Northern Arizona University

T  5-7:30


Dr. Mary M. Juzwik


Web address:  http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~mmj34

Liberal Arts 131,  523-0550 (office), 213-9529 (home)

Office hours:  T, 12:30-1:30;  W  1-2;  and by appointment


Course Description


In this seminar, we will explore the relationships among language, literacy, and learning as they impact practices of English teaching at the secondary level. Central questions of the course include: What are the goals of language and literacy education in middle and secondary contexts? What insights are current research studies about language and literacy suggesting and debating? What kinds of people, in what kinds of contexts, doing what kinds of activities, does and/or should literacy education in secondary schools aim to produce? Further, we will explore methods and practices of teacher research that have addressed such questions. The course will require original research on self-selected topics in the areas of language and literacy.


Required Readings

*Alsup, J. & J. Bush (2003)  Conclusion:  Narratives from your classroom—Using stories to

facilitate reflective practice.  “But will it work with REAL students?”  Scenarios for teaching secondary English language arts.  Urbana, IL:  National Council of Teachers of English Press.

Brandt, D.  (2001).  Literacy in American lives.  Cambridge, UK:  Cambridge University Press.

Brookline Teacher Research Seminar.  (2003).  Regarding children’s words:  Teacher research

on language & literacy.  New York:  Teachers College Press.

Cazden, C.  (2001).  Classroom discourse.  2nd Ed.  Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

*Delpit, L.  (1995).  Skills and other dilemmas of a progressive black educator &  The

politics of teaching literate discourse.  Other people’s children:  Cultural conflict in the classroom.  New York:  New Press.

*Gee, J.  (2001).  Literacy, discourse, and linguistics:  Introduction and What is literacy? 

In Cushman, E., E. R. Kintgen, B. M. Kroll, & M. Rose (Eds.).  Literacy:  A critical sourcebook.  Boston:  Bedford.  (Originally published 1989).

Purcell-Gates, Victoria.  (1995).  Other People's Words:  The Cycle of Low Literacy

Cambridge, MA:  Harvard University Press

Vygotsky, L.  (1980). Mind in Society.  Cambridge, MA:  Harvard University Press.


*Reading available on-line through the Cline Library E-Reserve system.  All required books are also available on reserve at the Cline Library Circulation desk. 


One of the following:

Allen, J.  (1995).  It’s never too late:  Leading adolescents to lifelong literacy.  Portsmouth, NH: 


Atwell, N.  (1998).  In the middle:  New understanding about writing, reading, and learning. 

Portsmouth, NH:  Boynton/Cook.

Christian, S.  (1997).  Exchanging lives:  Middle school writers online.  Urbana, IL:  National

Council of Teachers of English Press.

Dilg, M.  (2003).  Thriving in the multicultural classroom:  Principles and practices for effective teaching.  New York:  Teachers College Press.

Fecho, B. (2003).  "Is This English?"  Race, Language, and Culture in the Classroom.  New York:  Teachers College Press.   

Gallas, K. (2003).  Imagination and Literacy:  A Teacher's Search for the Heart of Learning. 

New York:  Teachers College Press. 



Recommended Readings on Language, Literacy, and Learning

Bakthin, M. M. (1986).  Speech genres and other late essays.  Austin:  University of Texas


Baugh, J.  (1999).  Out of the mouths of slaves:  African American language and

educational malpractice.  Austin:  University of Texas Press.

Beach, R. & J. Myers.  Inquiry-based English instruction:  Engaging students in life and

            literature.  New York:  Teachers College Press.

Berthoff, A.  (1981).  The making of meaning:  Metaphors, models, and maxims for

writing teachers.  Upper Montclair, NJ:  Boynton/Cook.

Britton, J.  (1990).  Language and learning:  The importance of speech in children’s

development.  London:  Penguin.  (Original work published 1970).

Canagarajah, S.  (1999).  Resisting linguistic imperialism in the teaching of English. 

Oxford, UK:  Oxford University Press.

Cope, B. & M. Kalantzis (Eds.). (1993).  The powers of literacy:  A genre approach to

teaching writing.  Pittsburgh:  University of Pittsburgh Press.

Cushman, E., E. R. Kintgen, B. M. Kroll, & M. Rose (Eds.).  (2001).  Literacy:  A critical

sourcebook.  Boston:  Bedford

Dewey, J.  (1990).  The school and society and the child and the curriculum.  Chicago: 

University of Chicago Press.

Dyson, A. H. (2003).  The brothers and the sisters learn to write:  Popular literacies in      childhood and school cultures.  New York:  Teachers College Press.

Freire, P.  (1997).  Pedagogy of the oppressed.  New York:  Continuum.

Hagemann, J.  (2001).  A bridge from home to school:  Helping working class students

acquire school literacy.  English Journal 90 (4):  74-81.

Heath, S. B. (1982).  Protean shapes in literacy events:  Ever-shifting oral and literate

traditions.  In D. Tannen (Ed.) Spoken and written language:  Exploring orality and literacy (pp. 91-117).  Norwood, NJ:  Ablex

Heath, S. B. (1983).  Ways with words:  Language, life and work in communities and

classrooms.  New York:  Cambridge University Press.

Hull, G. & Schultz, K.  (eds.).  (2002).  School's Out! Bridging Out-of-School Literacies

with Classroom Practice.  New York:  Teachers College Press.

Moffett, J. (1968). Teaching the universe of discourse. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Murphy, J. (ed.) (2001).  A short history of writing instruction from ancient Greece to

modern America.  2nd ed.  Davis, CA:  Hermagorus.

Vygotsky, L. (1986). Thought and language. MIT Press. 

Professional Journals:  English Journal, Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, Journal

of Literacy Research, Language Arts, Linguistics & Education, Research in the Teaching of English, Voices from the Middle,


Required materials

Copy card ($5) for presentation hand-outs

Computer and printer


Assignments & Evaluation

1.  Attendence:  Because this class is designed to be highly interactive and participatory, and because it meets only once each week, your attendance is vitally important to the success of the class.  Consequently, more than one absence will lower your grade by one letter grade per absence


2.  Weekly Responses (30%):  Each week, you are expected to prepare a typed 2-page (500-word minimum) response to the reading for that week, making connections with previous class discussions, previous readings, and your previous experiences of the topic or theme.  Please note:  These responses will not be accepted late under any circumstances.  This response should do the following: 

a) show a deep level of thoughtful engagement with some aspect of the reading, rather than a surface skim resulting in glowing praise or scathing critique (although you are certainly entitled to express your praise or dislike for a reading, just do so in a thoughtful, rather than reactionary, way); 

b) engage in conversation with previous readings, class discussions, and/or your life experiences; and

c) pose questions that you would like to discuss further about the reading.

This response is designed to function as a scaffold to spark class discussion:  therefore, it is imperative that you have this assignment ready at the beginning of each class period.  Eleven weekly responses are due (out of 13 class periods in which readings are due), meaning that you may miss two responses without penalty.  Even when you choose not to write a response, however, you are expected to have completed the reading and come prepared for discussion. 


3.  Teacher Research Book Presentation (20%):  During the second half of the semester, you will be collaborating with one other person to prepare a 20-30 minute presentation about a book that explores issues of language and literacy through the methodology of teacher research.  This presentation should *not* be a chapter-by-chapter summary of the book.  It should be a creatively delivered, engaging, and highly informative presentation about the contents of the book you have read.  You are strongly encouraged to incorporate interactive methods—such as discussions and hands-on activities—in your presentations.  An informative hand-out should be prepared and photocopied for everyone in the class.  Both presenters are expected to read the book carefully from cover to cover.  All these books are (or will soon be) available at Cline Library.  They are also available through on-line vendors. 


4.  Final Research Project (50%):  You are responsible for proposing and carrying out a project in the area of language, literacy, and learning that involves original research;  a proposal to conduct original research in the area of language, literacy, and learning;  or a curriculum/unit/educational website design that is research-based.  This assignment is purposely open-ended, so that you can choose a problem and format that are important and engaging to you.  Below I will list some options that you may want to choose (these are not meant to be limiting, but rather to give you ideas about what you might pursue for this project).  Research papers should be 20-30 pages in length, and include a lengthy bibliography.  Proposals should be the same length.  Curriculum or other more applied projects should be 30-50 pages in length.  All projects should follow either APA or MLA citation style.

  1. A project that involves library research about a historical topic in language, literacy, and learning.  For example, you might want to learn more about the history of literacy education among African-American women during the period after emancipation.
  2. A manageable small-scale project that involves empirical research about a current problem in language, literacy, and learning.  For example, you might want to pose a question and collect data in a classroom where you are currently doing a practicum or working.
  3. A proposal for a larger scale teacher research (or other research) project to be carried out in the future.  For example, you might want to do background reading on a particular method  or problem in literacy education and propose to collect data during your first or second year of teaching on this problem.
  4. An applied curricular or web-based project, in which you base an innovative curriculum or unit design on recent research in language, literacy, and learning.


Timeline for Research

Step 1 (10%):  Project proposal.  Due 2/3/03

This should be a 1-2 page description of what you propose to carry out in your final project.  You should use this proposal to plan out the topic, the form, and the scope of your research project.

Step 2 (10%):  Presentation about project-in-progress.  Sign-up between 2/3 & 2/24.

This presentation should be 5-15 minutes and will inform the class of the topic of your research project.  This will enable the class to share resources with one another, as the semester unfolds.  

Step 3:  Rough draft of project (optional):  You may turn in drafts to me between 4/3 and 4/23,

and I will be happy to give you feedback

Step 4 (30%):  Final project DUE on May 4, during our final exam period—same day and time

as our usual class.













Course Schedule

*Please note:  This syllabus represents my best plan for the semester.  However, I do reserve the right to adjust the schedule as necessary, in response to students’ feedback or to the demands of the material.



1/13     Introductions


Dimensions of Language and Literacy

Defining Literacy

1/20     Read Gee, Literacy, discourse, & linguistics:  Introduction  & What is literacy?

(Please note:  class will start at 5:15 in observation of Dr. Short’s memorial service).

ü      Discuss Language & sociocultural context, Discourse, Primary/Secondary literacies, Learning/Acquisition, dominant/powerful Discourses

ü      Mini-lecture on proposal-writing


Literacy In & Out of School

1/27     Read Purcell-Gates, Other people’s words:  The cycle of low literacy, pp. 1-98

ü      Discuss orality and literacy, mismatch between home and school literacies

ü      Mini-lecture:  introduce teacher research as a way of learning about language and literacy in education


2/3       Read Purcell-Gates, pp. 99-200

ü      Discuss literacy in and out of school

ü      Discuss exclusion and access in literacy learning

ü      Work-in-progress presentations 1, 2, 3, & 4



Literacy, Economics, and Social Forces

2/10     Read Brandt, Literacy in American lives, pp. 1-72

ü      Discuss sponsorship as it shapes literacy

ü      Work-in-progress presentations 5, 6, 7, & 8


2/17     Read Brandt. pp. 105-207

ü      Discuss sponsorship of African-American literacy

ü      Discuss literacy and stratification in 20th century America

ü      Discuss literacy and education

ü      Work-in-progress presentations 9, 10, 11, & 12



Classroom Discourse & Student Learning

2/24     Read Cazden, pp. 1-9;  pp. 30-80

ü      Discuss teacher research in Cazden’s work

ü      Introduce classroom discourse:  IRE sequence, traditional vs. untraditional discourse, scaffolding, reciprocity,internalization

ü      Mid-semester evaluation


3/2       Read Cazden, pp. 80-182

ü      Discuss turn-taking, teacher questions, classroom organization, social relationships among students in the classroom

ü      Discuss differential treatment and cultural difference in the classroom

ü      Discuss technology, language & learning

ü      Teacher Research Presentation 1


3/9       Read Vygotsky, pp. 1-37, 52-57, 79-91, 105-119

ü      Discuss Zone of Promimal Development (ZOPED)

ü      Discuss language as sign, tool

ü      Teacher Research Presentation 2




3/23     Read Delpit, Other People’s Children (pp. 11-20;  pp. 152-166)

ü      Discuss the critique of Gee

ü      Discuss approaches to teaching standard English  

ü      Teacher Research Presentation 3


Teacher Research and Language, Literacy, & Learning


3/30     Read Alsup & Bush, on narrative teacher action research

            Reading TBA

ü      Define Teacher Research

ü      Discuss narrative and action research approaches to teacher research in language and literacy

ü      Teacher Research Presentation 4


4/6       Reading TBA from Brookline Teacher Research Seminar

ü      Discuss discourse/rhetorical approaches to teacher research in language and literacy


4/20     Reading TBA from Brookline Teacher Research Group

ü      Teacher Research Presentation 5

ü      Discuss issues of Standard English in teacher research on language & literacy


4/27      Reading TBA from Brookline Teacher Research Group

ü      Teacher Research Presentation 6

ü      Discuss cultural approaches in teacher research on language & literacy


5/4       Final Projects DUE