Draft Syllabus


DRAFTHUNTER COLLEGE DEPARTMENT OF CURRICULUM AND TEACHINGEDLIT 755: Literacy Instruction for Struggling Readers and Writers, Grades 5-12Hybrid OnlineSummer 2015, Mon & Wednesday (in-person), 7:10 – 9:10; Tuesday & Thursday online


Professor Deirdre Faughey
Office Hours By appointment
E-mail & Twitter dfaughey@gmail.com @deirdrefaughey
Website https://literacyinstruction2015.wordpress.com


Course Overview

This course offers an exploration of diverse cognitive, social, emotional, and cultural characteristics and how these manifest in learners’ literacy development. Course participants will discuss the educational needs of students who experience difficulties in acquiring literacy skills, as well as the literacy demands of the subject area classes in middle and high school for the purposes of assessing, intervening, and supporting struggling readers and writers in ways that are developmentally, culturally and linguistically responsive to their needs. The course offers techniques and strategies for helping struggling readers and writers expand their vocabulary, improve reading comprehension, enhance their writing abilities, and use critical thinking skills across the curriculum. Strategies for helping special needs students and English Language Learners will be emphasized, as will the use of technology within the classroom.


Hunter College School of Education Conceptual Framework

The goal of the School of Education is to prepare candidates who will demonstrate, through their professional commitments and practices, those multiple competencies that promote effective learning.

Evidence–Based Practices

The School of Education grounds its course content in the best field-based research and practice. Faculty review findings from their respective disciplines to provide our candidates with the strategies needed for effective instruction. Our candidates master the theory and practice of effective pedagogy in their subject areas, and acquire the tools for reflection on and improvement of their professional work. They achieve a solid foundation in the history, philosophy, psychology, sociology and methodology of education that enriches their teaching. Candidates gain expertise in analyzing and using assessment of student performance to guide their instruction and create optimal learning environments for students.


Integrated Clinical Experiences

The School of Education ensures that its candidates understand and experience the realities of school contexts. We establish strong connections with partnering schools in New York City and surrounding areas. We provide extensive fieldwork with supportive supervision in these schools. Our candidates engage in carefully sequenced and comprehensively assessed clinical experiences prior to their graduation.


Educating a Diverse Student Population

The School of Education provides its candidates with the critical skills and understanding necessary to be responsive to the multiple challenges of all learners: students with a wide range of backgrounds, cultures, abilities, and prior knowledge. We teach candidates to create humane and ethical learning communities in their classrooms and schools. They gain the ability to collaborate successfully with parents, families, community members, school faculty, and staff in order to provide this support.


Use of Technology to Enhance Learning

The School of Education prepares candidates with the practical and theoretical knowledge of effective and judicious uses of technology in a variety of school settings and for a broad spectrum of learners. Formative and summative assessments of our candidates’ technology competencies are a critical component of preparing them for tomorrow’s schools. We believe that appropriate uses of educational technology enhance learning, assessment, and communication.


Course Objectives

This course will provide evidence for meeting expectations in knowledge, skills, and dispositions in the course objectives listed below:


Knowledge: Pre and in-service teachers will understand…

  • The literacy demands of the middle and high school curricula.
  • Various strategies that struggling readers and writers will need to enhance their literacy development in subject area learning.
  • Adaptations, modifications, and accommodations that will increase students’ ability to gain literacy mastery across the curriculum.
  • The diverse nature and use of a variety of texts, including (but not limited to) textbooks, nonfiction, digital texts, poetry, and fiction.
  • The variety of literacies that are available to students including academic, critical, media, and social literacy.


Skills: Pre and in-service teachers will be able to…

  • Use appropriate tools to assess the literacy needs of struggling readers and writers.
  • Use a variety of intervention strategies to help improve students’ performance in reading and writing, particularly for English language learners and special needs students.
  • Use culturally responsive curriculum and pedagogy in authentic and empowering ways.
  • Differentiate literacy instruction and curriculum to meet the needs of diverse students.
  • Critique and improve learning environments, suggesting ways to adapt and design materials and use various teaching strategies and technology to encourage literacy development in order to help students gain subject area knowledge.
  • Use what students bring into the classroom, culturally and academically, as a way to activate prior knowledge and open up a larger world of literacy so that students are able to access a variety of texts and communicate in diverse ways.


Dispositions: Pre and in-service teachers will be able to…

  • Collaborate with others in order to provide optimal learning environments for all children in their classrooms.


Course Organization and Supporting Information

Writing requirements include reflections to the assigned readings and course material; informal assignments including self-reflections and a context/literacy demands analysis of your classroom and school; two lessons including one in reading or writing; and a revised unit plan that incorporates differentiated and culturally responsive instruction and curriculum with research-based literacy interventions and practices. A significant portion of the course is also to be learned and assessed through in-class demonstrations, whole class discussions, and collaborative group work.




Required: Beers, K. When Kids Can’t Read: What Teachers Can Do


You will select from the following and explore one of these texts with your PLC group.


Tomlinson, C.A. Integrating Differentiated Instruction and Understanding by Design

Daniels, H. & Zemelman, S. Subjects Matter

Harvey, S. & Goudvis, A. Strategies That Work

Tovani, C. I Read It, but I Don’t Get It

Anderson, J. Mechanically Inclined

Benjamin, A. Writing in the Content Areas

Daniels, H., Zemelman, S., & Steineke, N. Content Area Writing

Gallagher, K. Teaching Adolescent Writers

Urquhart, V. Teaching Writing in the Content Areas


* Articles to be assigned in-class and posted on class website.

Overview of Course Assignments and Responsibilities


  1. Context and Literacy Demands Reflection: This informal paper should include a discussion of your classroom and the kinds of reading and writing that are demanded within your school and classroom. What are students required to read and write? Who are your students? What are their strengths in reading and writing? What do they struggle with? What do you think they will enjoy and/or will be successful with? What are your goals based on students and the literacy demands? [3 pages] Due Monday, June 8th.
  2. Reading Lesson: Using a novel, short story, nonfiction text, or poem, you will create a reading lesson with pre, during and post strategies. You will then individually reflect on how you think this lesson will engage all of the students in your classroom. The lesson may be aligned with your unit plan. [Lesson plan—2 pages, excluding the text itself; reflection—1 page] Due Monday, June 15th.
  3. Writing Lesson: You will create a writing lesson that is part of a multi-paragraph writing assignment (essay, report, etc.). You will then individually reflect on how you think this lesson will engage all of the students in your classroom. The lesson may be aligned with your unit plan. [Lesson plan—2 pages; reflection—1 page]. Due Thursday, June 18th.
  4. Online Classes:
  • You are responsible for visiting our class website on the day of your online session and completing all work by midnight of that day. You will find a post with directions for how to participate in these online classes. Each online session is worth 1.25 class participation points. Failure to submit online coursework within 24 hours will result in a grade deduction. Failure to submit this work within 48 hours will count as an Absence.
  • Typically, an online class may entail some or all of the following:
    1. Reading an article or book excerpt
    2. Writing a comment, responding to a classmates’ comment, or sending an email to the professor or another student
    3. Watching a video or listening to a podcast
    4. Engaging in an interactive online activity
  • You are also responsible for engaging online in a Twitter chat (#hunterlit) on Thursday evenings from 8-9PM. If you can’t participate at this time, please let me know.
  1. PLC Presentations: You and your professional learning community (PLC) will provide a 20-minute group presentation on your instructional reading text. Your presentation should include an interactive activity that engages the class. Additionally, you will create a “take-a-way” handout or resource of the text to share with your peers [2 pages, double-side]. Presentation dates will be assigned during the first week of class.
  2. Revision to a Unit Plan: You will revise a unit plan, integrating differentiated and culturally responsive instruction and curriculum with literacy interventions and strategies. Due Tuesday, June 30th.
  3. Participation and Professionalism: Participation means attending and being engaged and prepared for both small and whole group discussions. Points will be deducted for absences, especially if you do not turn in the required make up work. Remember that missing more than two classes puts you at risk for failing the course. Professionalism: The use of electronics, tardiness or engaging in other such activities that may be deemed unprofessional will lead to deductions to your participation grade.


Course Evaluation

20%     Context and Literacy Demands Paper (20 points)

15%     Reading Lesson (15 points)

15%   Writing Lesson (15 points)
20%     Class participation: 10% In-person and 10% online – Informal Responses/Class website comments (20 points)

5%       PLC Presentations/Cliff Notes (5 points)

25%     Revised Unit Plan (25 points)



Class Policies

  • Late Papers: All assignments need to be completed and turned in on time or we lose the rhythm of our work together. Major assignments turned in late will be penalized one point for each day they are late.
  • Work Format: Assignments should be typed using 12-point font with one-inch margins and double-spaced. Please try not to go over the required page limit.
  • Access and Accommodations for Students with Disabilities: In compliance with the ADA and with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, Hunter is committed to ensuring educational access and accommodations for all its registered students. Hunter College’s students with disabilities and medical conditions are encouraged to register with the Office of AccessABILITY for assistance and accommodation. For information and appointment contact the Office of AccessABILITY located in Room E1214 or call (212) 772-4857 /or TTY (212) 650-3230.
  • Expectations for Written and Oral Proficiency in English: Students are required to demonstrate a strong command of English orally and in all written communications. The Hunter College Writing center provides tutoring to students across the curriculum and at all academic levels. For more information, see http://rwc.hunter.cuny.edu. In addition, the School of Education offers a reading/writing workshop during the semester to students who need additional work honing their reading and writing skills. To register for this course, students must obtain permission either from the Chair of Curriculum and Teaching or the Associate Dean.
  • Blackboard: Please be sure to check Blackboard for this course before coming to every class, as many pertinent materials will be available to you there.
  • Revised Work: Please read through your work carefully before submitting, making sure that you have met the assignment requirements. As educators, we must set a high standard for mastery of the mechanics, conventions, and grammatical structure of the language; therefore, proofread for spelling, grammar, capitalization, and punctuation prior to submission. If you receive a grade of a B or lower on an assignment, you are welcome to revise and resubmit it the following week for a higher grade.


Academic Integrity Statement

“Hunter College regards acts of academic dishonesty (e.g., plagiarism, cheating on examinations, obtaining unfair advantage, and falsification of records and official documents) as serious offenses against the values of intellectual honesty. The college is committed to enforcing the CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity and will pursue cases of academic dishonesty according to the Hunter College Academic Integrity Procedures.”


Attendance and Participation Policy

Attendance and active participation in class are expected and required. Students should be prepared to engage with colleagues in dialogue and debate. Absences and tardiness will seriously reduce your grade. If you are absent, please email me before class to let me know that you will not be in class and the reason for your absence. Before the next class, please also submit a written response to all the readings, summarizing the key points, asking questions, and reflecting on the content. It is also expected that you contact another student about other topics and/or issues that were discussed in class.


* NOTE: Students who miss more than TWO classes will be in jeopardy of failing the course (this includes online sessions).




The Tech Competencies, which all candidates in the School of Education must demonstrate prior to graduation, are listed below. Please be sure to use the assignments in this course as a way to complete these requirements.


Productivity: The competent teacher can…

  1. Produce and manage learning documents (creates standard educational publications such as parent newsletters and handouts for students)
  2. 2. Analyze quantitative data (completes administrative work such as putting student test scores into a spreadsheet and analyzing them, as well as preparing curriculum materials)
  3. Organize information graphically (uses graphic organizer programs, as well as general tools such as word processors or presentation programs, to create digital representations)

Research: The competent teacher can…

  1. 4. Use effective online search strategies (chooses the most appropriate research tools and databases, and applies the most effective search techniques)
  2. Evaluate and compare online information and sources (knows the difference between authoritative and untrustworthy sources, how to ascertain authorship, and how to find sources)
  3. Save and cite online information and sources (knows a variety of methods for bookmarking and saving online resources and uses accepted protocols for citing online sources)

Communication: The competent teacher can…

  1. Communicate using digital tools (uses email, instant messaging, mobile phones, and text messaging for communicating with students, parents, and colleagues)
  2. Collaborate online for learning (takes advantage of the tools listed above plus blogs, wikis, chats, audio and videoconferencing to bring outside resources into the classroom)
  3. Publish learning resources online (creates resources including a website, wiki, online posting of student projects, and podcasting)

Media: The competent teacher can…

  1. Differentiate instruction with digital media (has an awareness of assistive technologies for disabled students as well as an ability to use a computer to prepare all students)
  2. 11. Capture and edit images, audio, and video (uses digital still and video cameras, edits their output on a computer, and produces learning materials that range from simple slide shows to the archiving of student presentations and performances)
  3. Produce digital multimedia educational experiences (combines media from a wide array of sources into a useful presentation of academic content)

Presentation: The competent teacher can…

  1. Create effective digital presentations (uses common tools for preparing slide shows, videos, and podcasts)
  2. Deliver multimedia presentations (uses devices such as computers, projectors, and screens)
  3. Employ new media devices for learning (incorporates a variety of digital devises such as SmartBoards and iPods to extend learning opportunities for students outside of school)

Schedule of Topics, Readings, and Assignments


**Please note: The course content/schedule may change. Changes will be addressed as often as possible in advance, during class or via e-mail. Please be sure to check Blackboard and your e-mail the day before class to print out and read pertinent handouts or announcements.


Date Topic Assignments/Readings—Due Date of Class
Monday,June 1
What is literacy?

  • Who are you as a reader/writer?
  • “Introduction to Poetry,” by Billy Collins
Tuesday,June 2



What is effective literacy instruction?

  • Create Professional Learning Communities & select dates for presentations.
  • Read/watch Allington & Beers
On website:https://literacyinstruction2015.wordpress.com


Bring Scholes document to class (to be read in class).

Wednesday,June 3


How can we learn about our students as readers?

  • Reading assessment and evaluation
Read Beers, chapter 3
Thursday, June 4 (online) 


What does it mean to teach reading?  On website:https://literacyinstruction2015.wordpress.com


Twitter chat: #hunterlit at 8-9PM


Recommended: Read Beers ch. 3-6

Monday,June 8
What are the vocabulary demands of academic learning (school)? Context and Literacy Demands Paper due 

Read Kylene Beers, chapter 9

Tuesday,June 9 (online) How can reading and writing instruction reflect the knowledge the students bring with them from home? On website:https://literacyinstruction2015.wordpress.com


Meeting of PLC groups: Google hangout



June 10


What does reading look like?

  • Planning for active reading in the classroom
Meeting of PLC groups. 
Thursday,June 11 (online) How can teachers really know their students?How can knowledge of students drive instruction?

  • Planning for differentiated instruction
On website:https://literacyinstruction2015.wordpress.com


Twitter chat: #hunterlit at 8-9PM

June 15
What strategies can best help students improve as writers? Reading Lesson Plan due 

Read “Writing Next,” by Graham & Perin


PLC Presentations

Tuesday,June 16 (online)


 Working with English Language Learners


On website:https://literacyinstruction2015.wordpress.com


Read “Double the Work,” by D. Short & S. Fitzsimmons


PLC Presentations

Wednesday,June 17 (online)


Critical Literacy  On website:https://literacyinstruction2015.wordpress.com



PLC Presentations

Thursday,June 18 (online) Critical Literacy  Writing Lesson Plan due 

On website:



Twitter chat: #hunterlit at 8-9PM

Monday,June 22


Collaborations: School, Community, Families and BeyondTechnology and Digital Literacies PLC Presentations 
Tuesday,June 23 (online)



Unit Planning On website:https://literacyinstruction2015.wordpress.com


Wednesday,June 24 Final Reflections: What Is Left Unsaid? Uncovered?   Unexplored?  PLC Presentations 

Revised Unit Plan (due Tuesday, 6/30)




Allington, R. (2002). “Focus on Reading: What I’ve learned about effective reading instruction from a decade of studying exemplary elementary classroom teachers.” Phi Delta Kappan, (10)83, 740-747.


Au, Kathryn H. “Culturally responsive instruction as a dimension of new literacies.” Retrieved from: http://www.readingonline.org/newliteracies/au/

Graham, S. & Perin, D. (2007). “Writing next: Effective strategies to improve writing of adolescents in middle and high school.” Carnegie Foundation: Alliance for Excellence in Education. Retrieved from: https://bbhosted.cuny.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-12631778-dt-content-rid-6996459_1/courses/HUNTR_EDLIT_75500_001_201302/Articles/Articles%20on%20Writing/Carnegie%20Writing%20Adolescents.pdf

Schmidt, Patricia R. (2005). “Culturally responsive instruction: Promoting literacy in secondary content areas.” Learning Point Associates. Retrieved from: http://www.learningpt.org/literacy/adolescent/cri.pdf

Short, D. & S. Fitzsimmons. (2007). “Double the work: Challenges and solutions to acquiring language and academic literacy for adolescent English language learners.” Retrieved from http://www.all4ed.org/files/DoubleWork.pdf




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