Course Descriptions

  • Core Courses

    492.612 - Teaching Writing

    This core course is designed for teachers in all disciplines and at all grade levels who use writing in their teaching and who have an interest in exploring their own writing as well. Someone not currently in a classroom can also complete the course successfully. The course has three main goals: 1. To help participants add to their existing knowledge of teaching writing, focusing particularly on writing as process and the various methods and practices that focus on each individual stage of that process (prewriting, drafting, responding, revising, editing and publishing). 2. To encourage participants to reflect upon their current practices in teaching writing, helping them clarify for themselves their goals and methods in teaching writing, and to provide additional ideas and possibilities that might add to their existing “tool box”. 3. To allow participants to engage in their own writing and writing process, in order to experience both roles of writer and writing teacher, and to see how one’s own writing experiences can enhance one’s knowledge as a teacher of writing. In addition, participants will consider the relationship of reading and writing, will become familiar with leading theories and theorists on the teaching of writing, will share their ideas, their knowledge, and their experiences, and will be encouraged to adapt their learning to make it most useful to their individual teaching situations (grade level, discipline, student population, etc.).

  • Thesis

    492.700 - Thesis in Teaching Writing

    In this final capstone course, students work on defining and expressing their own theories and best practices in teaching writing, while at the same time developing and refining their own writing. Students create and revise an individual portfolio that includes creative or personal writing along with writing about issues, theories and practices in the teaching of writing. Thesis students also create and research a statement of inquiry related to their specific teaching interests and situation. Students refine all these writings during this course, working with other students and independently with the instructor and/or individual project advisors. All eight prior courses must be completed before a student may enroll in Thesis.

  • Elective Courses

    492.630 - The Power of Story: Teaching and Writing Narrative

    This course is designed for participants who wish to teach and write fictional, factual, and poetic narrative. The course covers elements of narrative, including plot, character, setting, tone, pacing, dialogue, and theme, plus the terms writers use to discuss and analyze narrative. Program participants learn how to introduce this language in their classrooms and to engage their own students in discussion about assigned reading and writing. Participants in this course write original narratives from prompts and discuss those writings in a workshop environment. Participants may also read narrative poems, short stories, one or more novels or novel excerpts, and one or more nonfiction narratives, with an eye toward how reading can inform and enrich the writing experience, as well as reading articles on teaching process and theory – including recent brain research concerning the value of narrative. This course also helps teachers understand the differences between factual and nonfactual writing, and how they can be separated or combined.

    492.632 - Teaching Creative Writing

    This course is designed for participants who wish to write and/or teach fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction. The course covers elements of writing in each genre, as well as the creative process and the similarities and differences between creative and other forms of writing. The course will also include readings in creative writing and lessons on how to use literature in a creative writing class. With the goal of integrating their writing and knowledge into their own classrooms, participants produce their own original creative writing and discuss it in a workshop environment. This course also may cover elements of playwriting and screenwriting.

    492.635 - Literary Nonfiction and Historical, Scientific, and Technical Texts

    This course includes the subgenres of exposition, argument, and functional text in the form of personal essays, speeches, opinion pieces, essays about art or literature, biographies, memoirs, journalism, and historical, scientific, technical, or economic accounts (including digital sources) written for a broad audience. The focus is on both reading these texts as writers and on writing in several of these forms. (The course would specifically address the Common Core objectives of writing informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content, and producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. However, it will be of interest to all teachers, regardless of whether they are involved with Common Core or not.)

    492.650 - Reading Like a Writer

    Participants in this class will develop the skills needed to engage in the close reading of fiction, non-fiction, non-peer-reviewed science and medical writing, and poetry in order to apply what they glean from close reading to their own writing. They will also consider how they can apply the techniques of close reading to the teaching of writing in their specific subjects and grade levels. Through the exercises and assignments in "Reading Like a Writer," participants will examine the various techniques writers use to compose their sentences, to establish syntactic relationships within paragraphs, to suit writing style to topic and purpose, and to relate syntactic structure and design to thinking and to the ideas specific writing projects intend to communicate. Through learning to "Read Like a Writer," participants will develop strategies for improving their own writing.

    492.651 - Special Topics in Reading: Multicultural Texts

    This reading course in the Teaching Writing Program covers fiction, nonfiction, and poetry written from a multicultural perspective. Texts are selected from a variety of genres aimed at various grade levels, and might include books such as Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian, James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, and Unsettling America: An Anthology of Contemporary Multicultural Poetry. Texts will be examined as models for writing and as works of current or classic literature. Course participants also present multicultural texts appropriate to the grade levels they teach.

    492.660 - Writing for Young Readers

    This course focuses on reading and writing stories and books for children and young adults. Readings include poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Participants read published writing geared toward young readers with an eye toward understanding techniques and approaches to writing for this particular audience. They also write their own works designed for young readers. The course goals are threefold: to focus on teaching students to read children’s and young adult literature; teaching students to write children’s and young adult literature; and teaching the teacher participants to write children’s and young adult literature.

    492.661 - Teaching Composition at the College and Community College Level

    This course is for students who wish to teach composition at the college or community college level. The course focuses on all stages of the writing process and examines ways to use writing in college composition. Specific subjects include designing a composition syllabus, selecting texts, responding to and assessing writing, and working with peer response groups. The course also reviews the teaching of remedial writing and techniques for teaching adult writers. This course is based on the pro-seminar in teaching composition that many graduate programs require for college composition instructors.

    492.662 - Teaching Reluctant Writers

    All educators will encounter students who struggle with writing. This course first focuses on the reasons student writers may be reluctant and then provides participants with a variety of methods to increase student participation and success in writing. Participants will learn about low-stakes writing, classroom relationships, the writing workshop methodology, and scaffolding for special education, English Language Learners (ELLs), and those who have developed an aversion to writing. Participants will be required to investigate methods by doing them and will develop a metacognitive stance by reflecting on articles and strategies. All participants will be required to work in writing workshop, including being a writer and responder in a peer revision group. The instructor will help students to differentiate for subject area and grade level and will provide a framework for developing a writing classroom that works for our most reluctant writers.

    492.663 - Writing Across the Curriculum

    In careers and classrooms, professionals and students use writing to communicate information, clarify thinking, and learn new concepts. Writing Across the Curriculum generally extends to two categories: Writing to Learn and Writing in the Disciplines. The first half of the course will focus on Writing to Learn, which is comprised of short, low stakes, expressive activities designed to help students think through a process, connect with a text, and personalize information. These lessons include learning logs, interactive notes, group writing, metaphors, found poems, and difficulty papers. The second half of the course will be dedicated to Writing in the Disciplines. These assignments are created to give students practice with the language conventions, patterns of thinking, and formats of specific disciplines. These sort of activities include proposals, presentations, articles, literature review, lab and field reports, and position papers. Participants in this course will experience Writing to Learn and Writing in the Disciplines firsthand. They will be able to experiment with both types of writing in their classroom contexts regardless of grade level or subject matter. This course is collaborative with teacher to participant commentary and peer feedback and review.

    492.682 - Neuroscience, Creativity, and Writing

    This course explores the latest research and practice in the effect of writing on the brain, and of the brain on writing. Students will read both theoretical texts and creative works that examine writing “under the influence” of various brain states, including typical variations throughout the writing life, as wells as variations correlated to physical and psychological brain changes. Virtual guest speakers, case studies, and multimedia experiences provide students access to cutting edge expertise in this fast-growing field. Students complete exercises and semester-long writing projects to develop methods to promote creativity and tap into deeper areas of the brain to aid their own writing and that of their students.

  • Residency Courses

    492.690 - Residency: Best Practices in the Teaching of Writing

    This 7-10-day residency will take place in conjunction with the Hopkins Conference on Craft, held each summer in Baltimore, MD, Washington, DC, or other locations. Teaching Writing students will join with students in the Writing and Science Writing Programs for readings, roundtables, field trips and other residency events. Teaching Writing students will meet for four to six hours each day in a face-to-face, classroom environment. Students will design and present a mini-lesson involving writing that they have used, or wish to use, in their own classrooms. Students will engage in discussions of theory and best practices in the teaching of writing, and will also participate in a writing workshop focusing on their own writing. One residency is required for M.A. candidates and is optional for those seeking the certificate.