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Undergraduate majors

Information For Undergraduate English Teaching Majors

This page is for those who are pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in English Teaching.  This degree meets requirements for teaching certification for grades 6-12 in Idaho.

Contents:

Course Planning (Four-Year Plan, Using Requirement Checksheets, Catalog Year Selection)

English Teaching Methods Courses ENGL 301, 481, and 381

Choosing English Electives (Advice on course selections)

Electives Outside of English (Advice on Comprehensive Literacy course, planning, Q&A on the lit requirements, Independent Study registration)

Education Courses (Information about the teaching “blocks” including block I and II internships, Q&A on placements, taking blocks I and II together, and standards)

Student Teaching (Information on placements, registration, applying for the certificate, and Q&A on the Praxis II, length of student teaching, student teaching requirements, single or dual option, supervision, summer student teaching, taking other courses during student teaching, withdrawal from student teaching)

Extra-curricular Activities

 

Course Schedule Planning Tips

USE A REQUIREMENTS CHECK SHEET

You can use a Requirements Check Sheet to record the courses that you have taken and to easily see which courses you have left to take.  Find, download, and print the check sheet by clicking on this link:

http://english.boisestate.edu/advising/obtaining-emphasis-checksheets-four-year-plans/

 

PLAN BACKWARDS

When you get about halfway through the degree and you are entering upper-division work, it is a good idea to make yourself a list or chart of your remaining semesters, allocating the courses you have left.  This is especially helpful if the Suggested Four-Year Plan does not fit your situation.

 

Start at the end with your final semester, which is student teaching.  Then fill in the second-to-last (penultimate) semester with the block 2 required courses and any electives you plan to take.   Continue to work backwards with your block 1 semester, then semester before that, and so on until you get to the present semester.  That should give you a good map of what is left.

 

CATALOG SELECTION

Requirements sometimes change from one year to another.  When you register, and when you apply to graduate, your web page tells the Registrar which catalog year requirements you want to follow.  Your transcript is compared to the requirements of that catalog.  You may choose any catalog from the past seven years, as long as you were a student during that academic year.  Usually it is best to choose one catalog and follow those degree requirements consistently.

 

English Peer Advisors know about the teaching program and can answer many questions that students have.  You can email them questions or make an appointment at: englpeeradvisor@boisestate.edu or englishadvising@boisestate.edu .

 

English Teaching Courses

Graduates of our program confirm that one of the strengths of our program is that students take three English teaching courses instead of just one required by other programs.  Taking a whole course on the teaching of writing, another on teaching the literature for secondary school, and a final course on how to blend these together in unit plans and lesson plans to maximize effective teaching and student learning, gives most graduates a solid foundation from which to enter the teaching career.

 

WHEN TO TAKE THE ENGLISH TEACHING COURSES

Finish most of your upper-division English/linguistics electives (18 credits) before entering the teaching blocks.  Most students have room for only 2-3 more English courses after they begin the blocks, which are the last three semesters of the undergraduate degree in English teaching.

ENGL 301 TEACHING ENGLISH COMPOSITION and ENGL 481 LITERATURE FOR JUNIOR AND SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL are co-requisites; you take them during the same semester.  In fact, they are usually scheduled back-to-back.  Take these courses during teaching Block I.  We want you to be thinking about how to teach English at the same time you begin to go out to work with kids in schools.  (These courses must be taken before you enter block II.)

Take ENGL 381 ENGLISH TEACHING during teaching Block II.  It is offered in both fall and spring semesters.  In this course you will construct a unit plan containing lesson plans. Take this course at the same time you take ED-CIFS 401 (Block II) and ED-LTCY 444 Content Literacy, after you have completed Block I, and after you have completed ENGL 301 Teaching Comp and ENGL 481 Lit for Jr/Sr High.

 

PROGRAM NOTE:

You will need to apply to gain entrance into the “teaching blocks” of the College of Education, as explained further down this web page.  But there is no additional application process in English Education.

English Electives

One of your requirements is to take 18 credits (6 courses) of English and/or linguistics electives.  Electives are your opportunity to explore new knowledge and control your own education.  For help with these decisions, talk with your academic advisor.  Here are some suggestions to keep in mind.

  • Take some American literature and some British literature at upper-division (300 or 400) levels.  The state requires at least one British literature and one American literature course, but more of both would be desirable.  For the state, these may be survey courses (such as ENGL 267 Survey of British Literature to 1790) or upper-division courses (such as ENGL 345 Shakespeare: Tragedies and Histories, or ENGL 359 British Novel: Beginnings Through Austen).
  • Take literature courses from a range of time periods and genres.  Don’t let your knowledge of literature be too narrow.
  • Consider taking some course work in multicultural or world literatures.
  • Take courses in a range of different kinds of writing, and try to become the most skillful and knowledgeable writer you can be.
  • Consider taking a Shakespeare course (ENGL 345 or ENGL 346).  If you teach secondary school English, you will probably teach some Shakespeare.
  • You must take LING 305 plus one other upper-division linguistics course.  These linguistics courses seem especially pertinent to teaching: LING 307 Linguistics in Education; LING 310 First and Second Language Acquisition; LING 321 Sociolinguistics; and LING 406 Psycholinguistics.

 

Electives Outside of English

Course work in academic minor fields that are related to English (such as theater, reading, speech, journalism, or history) can be a useful enhancement of knowledge and teaching preparation.

Teacher education courses will count toward the total number of required university credits (120).

Credits earned toward an academic minor or a teaching endorsement are considered electives.  An academic minor is an acknowledgement of additional coursework in a subject besides your academic major that is recorded on your transcript.  A teaching endorsement is designed to meet state requirements that certify you to teach the additional subject in schools, which an academic minor does not do.  Along with any minor teaching endorsement course requirements, you must also pass that subject area’s Praxis II test of content knowledge.

English and linguistics courses that you take beyond the courses you use to meet English degree requirements are considered to be university electives.

ED-LTCY 340 COMPREHENSIVE LITERACY.  If you plan to teach English language arts and/or reading at the middle level (grades 6-8), as soon as you have begun to teach you MUST take the state required Idaho Comprehensive Literacy course.  (Unfortunately, so far the focus of this course is only on early literacy at primary levels, but we hope the course will eventually become more “comprehensive.”)  If you know that this is the grade level for you, you should take this course now.

Consider taking a few additional courses to earn a Literacy Endorsement, which certifies you to teach courses in Reading (typically in middle grades) in addition to English or Language Arts.   You may use 9-12 credits in courses required for the English Teaching major toward the 21 credits needed for the Literacy Endorsement, so you can get a good head start on this one.

 

Questions and Answers

Q: Must I take both British and American literature courses before I take ENGL 481 Literature for Jr/Sr High?

A: No.  In order to take ENGL 481 you only have to have had two lit courses, although we strongly advise students to take lots more than two, and these don’t have to be specifically in British or American literature.  The British and American Literature requirement must be met by the time you graduate and when you apply for your teaching certificate after student teaching, since it’s both a graduation and state teaching requirement.

 

Q: What if I want to enroll for an Independent Study?

A: The idea of independent studies is to arrange for you to study something that is individual to you (and not other students) and that we don’t already offer as a class.  Once you think you know what you want to learn more about that we don’t have a class for, you go to an instructor whose area of expertise is closest to your interest and ask them.  Of course, they can say no; every teacher is busy and this is extra non-paid work for them.  So if your first request doesn’t go, modify it and ask someone else.

When you go to meet the professor to ask them, be ready to propose your project or study area–say what you want to learn more about, and why.  Then you and the instructor map out a plan that includes major readings and activities and assignments and due dates, and also regular meetings.

Before your first meeting, stop by the English department office and pick up a registration form for Independent Study so you can get your instructor’s signature.  You and the instructor together write a brief version of your plan on the form, which creates an informal contract between you.  Submit the form in the Registrar’s Office to enroll for the credit.

 

 

Teacher education courses will count toward the total number of required 128 university credits.

Credits earned toward an academic minor or a minor teaching certificate are considered electives.

English and linguistics courses that you take beyond the courses you use to meet English degree requirements may be used to meet university electives.

 

Education Courses and the Teaching Blocks

In order to take the required upper-division Education courses, you must be admitted to the Teacher Education Program.  On a four-year plan, you apply near the beginning of your first semester as a junior, and begin the “teaching blocks” the second semester of your junior year.  Do these things to get admitted:

  • Take and pass ED-CIFS 201 FOUNDATIONS OF EDUCATION with a C or higher.  (You need to earn a 3.0 g.p.a. in education courses 201 and 202.)  Your instructor will be interested not only in your academic performance, but also whether you have the attitudes, values, communication style, and other dispositions that will suit you to teaching.
  • Take and pass EDUC 202 EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY with a C or higher.  (You need to earn a 3.0 g.p.a. in education courses 201 and 202.) This is an online course.
  • Take and pass the Core Skills for Educators (Praxis I) test of basic writing.  Earn a score of 162 or higher.  Sign up at ets.org.  Take this test as soon as possible, preferably in your freshman or sophomore year.  It’s a simple writing test that checks for basic proficiency in composition and editing.  It will ask you to write a simple composition (i.e. five-paragraph essay) and complete some multiple-choice questions about basic grammar and usage.  Plan on 4-6 weeks before your score will be available after the test.  English majors do not need to take the math or reading Praxis I exams.
  • Earn a g.p.a. of at least 3.0 in all English and education courses and 2.75 overall.
  • Complete and submit the Application for Admission to Secondary Education, available online at: http://education.boisestate.edu/teachered .  Deadlines for submitting this application are the first Friday in February for fall semester placement, and the third Friday in September for spring semester placement.  The application process includes an interview.  In English Teaching we begin with a group interview and then follow up with individual interviews as needed.

Upon being admitted to the Teacher Education Program, you will enter the education “blocks.”  The “blocks” refer to three consecutive semesters in which some courses are clustered or blocked together as co-requisites.  These include internship time spent working in secondary schools.

Guidelines, policies, and requirements for teaching internships are explained in the Teacher Education Field Handbooks:

http://education.boisestate.edu/teachered/fieldguides.htm

 

BLOCK I

Block I is intended to be taken the second semester of your junior year, assuming you are on a four-year graduation schedule.  Take these courses at the same time:

  • ED-CIFS 301-TEACHING EXPERIENCE I (2 credit internship in a school-includes some observing and some teaching.)
  • ED-CIFS 302-LEARNING AND INSTRUCTION (4 credits)
  • ED-SPED 350-TEACHING STUDENTS WITH EXCEPTIONAL NEEDS AT THE SECONDARY LEVEL (3 credits)

For the teaching experience internships you will be assigned by the Office of Teacher Education to a school and mentor teacher.  (You may not arrange your own placement, but on your application you may let the office know if you have a particular request or special conditions to consider.)  Your job is to assist the teacher in teaching tasks that typically begin with routines like taking roll, giving quizzes, marking papers, and working with individual students or small groups as they do assignments.  Gradually you will take on more and more of the teaching responsibilities, and by the end of block I you should have taught several whole-class lessons.

For the Block I internship, you will work in the school for a minimum of 100 hours, which is about 7 hours per week.  (Most people work more than the minimum.)  Some of your time spent at home preparing or marking papers may be counted toward the 100, but no more than 20 hours (to prevent you being used as a grading slave).  Travel time does not count.  Time spent talking with teachers and students does count.

 

BLOCK II

Block II is intended to be taken the first semester of your senior year, the semester after Block I.  For Block II, take these courses at the same time:

  • ED-CIFS 401-Professional Year–TEACHING EXPERIENCE II (3 credit internship.)
  • ED-LTCY 402 CONTENT LITERACY FOR SECONDARY STUDENTS (3 credits)
  • ENGL 381 ENGLISH TEACHING: WRITING, READING, AND LANGUAGE (3 credits).  This is the Content Methods Course for English. (Some assignments in ENGL 381 are linked to the internship and Content Literacy course.)

For the Block II internship, you will work in the school for a minimum of 150 hours, which is about 10 hours per week.  (Most students do more than the minimum hours.)  Some of your time spent at home preparing or marking papers may be counted toward the 150 (no more than 40 hours), but travel time does not count.  While this internship may begin with some observation, this is mainly a teaching experience.  Work with your mentor teacher to assist in ways that put you in a teaching role as soon as possible.  This is your warm-up to student teaching.  (If all is well between you and your mentor teacher, you are likely to continue into student teaching with your same mentor teacher.)

During the first half of block II you should take the Praxis II in English Language Arts Content Knowledge, test #5038.  Register and schedule your exam time online at ets.org.  The test is mostly pretty hard multiple-choice questions (you are not expected to get them all right), with a section in which you write a short essay.  Manage your time during the test.  The passing score is 167 or higher.

 

Questions and Answers

Q: What does “Professional Year Teaching Experience” mean?

A: Some College of Education materials refer to the “Professional Year.”  The “professional year” refers to the Block II semester together with Block III, which is the student teaching semester.  The phrase is intended to convey the idea that in the final year of college, students should intensify their preparation to enter the teaching profession, particularly by intensifying their internship experiences.  However, you might not necessarily take these blocks during a school year, especially if you student teach in the fall.  In addition, for all practical purposes, in secondary teaching the professional experience begins with Block I, so it’s really a professional year and a half if you do the blocks consecutively, as you should.

 

Q: How do I get placed for my Block I teaching experience?

A: The Director and staff of Teacher Education in the College of Education will use your Application for Admission to Secondary Education Courses and Placements to locate a teaching placement for you.  If you have a preference for a particular teacher or school, or if you have circumstances that constrain your placement (like transportation problems), make a note on the form or attach a memo to it when you turn it in.

You may not get your placement preferences.  BSU always has a lot of students to place, and it is a big, complicated job to locate teachers who would like to work with an intern, in a school whose principal and other teachers would like to have our interns.  Be patient, and make the most out of wherever you land.

 

Q: Can I make my own placement?

A: No.  Never arrange your own student teaching placement.  It’s a very different situation if the university requests that you work in a particular school than if you do it yourself.  Teachers may not feel free to decline when you ask them yourself.  The principal wants to hear from only one official person at Boise State regarding all internship placements in his or her school, and you are not that person.  Also, Boise State may be making other requests for that school, and you have no way of knowing about those.  So make your requests through the Teacher Education office.

 

Q: What if my cooperating teacher does not teach like I will?

A: They probably won’t.  But that doesn’t mean that you cannot learn a lot from them anyway, and learn what works for you as you work with that teacher’s students.  Remember, though, that the classroom is the teacher’s and not yours (yet), so make sure that the teaching approaches you take in this classroom will fit in with what the teacher is doing, even if you might not do it this way yourself.  Learn from it, even if it’s learning what doesn’t work.  Your time will come.

 

Q: May I take both Block I and Block II in the same semester?

A: No.  Although blocks I and II require only 9 credits each, and conceivably a student could handle 18 credits in a semester, the block program assumes you should have internships of increasing intensity across three semesters.

 

Q: Are there standards in teacher education that I must meet?

A: Yes.  Just as there are state achievement standards for secondary school students, there are standards for new teachers to meet.  Some of these are broad, general principles that all teacher education students must meet, such as knowledge of adolescent development and understanding of pedagogical approaches like direct instruction or use of small groups.  In addition, there are standards specific to English teaching; for example, you must show that you can integrate writing, reading, and language instruction, and that you understand how language changes over time and is socially embedded.  You will have opportunities to meet these standards in your course work and in your internships.

 

Block III Student Teaching

Block III is intended to be taken the second semester of your senior year, after Block II.  If all is well, you will continue working with the same teacher and secondary school that you had for Block II. 

During student teaching you will gradually take over all responsibilities for classroom instruction.  As you become well established, your cooperating teacher leaves the room and for a few weeks you become the teacher, including preparation, teaching, and grading for all of the teacher’s classes.  You will put together a portfolio of work samples that show some results of your teaching along with your ability to assess student learning and to be a reflective practitioner.  In the end, the cooperating teacher writes a letter of evaluation that becomes the centerpiece of your job application file. 

Student teaching is a full-time commitment.  If possible, take no other courses during your student teaching semester, and take a hiatus from any jobs you might have.  Remember that your teaching career depends on getting an excellent letter of recommendation from your cooperating teacher.  Student teaching is not the place to cut corners. 

 

STUDENT TEACHING PLACEMENTS

The Office of Teacher Education handles all official aspects of student teaching, including placement.  It is likely that you will continue to work with your block II teacher if conditions allow that.  If you need to change, see the Director of Teacher Education.

REGISTERING FOR STUDENT TEACHING

For student teaching, you sign up for the grade level of your student teaching placement.

  • ED-CIFS 484 Professional Year – Teaching Experience III (middle school or junior high-16 credits) or ED-CIFS 485 Professional Year – Teaching Experience III (high school–14 credits).  Register for the number that fits your placement.  (The course number makes no other difference.)

(Block IV).  You may see references to a Block IV, which means a second student teaching experience for students who do dual student teaching, like P. E. majors who earn K-12 certification and must student teach both in elementary and secondary school settings.  Most English Teaching Majors do not do Block IV.  Successful student teaching in junior high or middle school will qualify you to apply for high school English teaching jobs, and visa versa.

ENGL 495 STUDENT TEACHING SEMINAR.  Depending on your catalog requirements, you may also need to register for ENGL 495 Student Teaching Seminar, a 1-credit FF Foundational Studies course.  In it you will collaborate on your student teaching plans and documents and reflect with other English student teachers on your teaching experiences and ideas.

 

Questions and Answers

Q: How long does student teaching last?

A: 16 weeks, the university semester.  You must student-teach at least during the weeks that BSU classes are in session, including finals week.  However, schools may begin the school year before the university does, resume sooner in January, or end the school year after the university semester session. During these gap times, we encourage students to consider working in the schools as this can provide great additional experiences.  This work, however, is only encouraged, not required.

 

Q: What are my requirements for student teaching?

A: Student teaching requirements and procedures are described in a handbook available at: http://education.boisestate.edu/handbooks.htm/

 

Q: Who supervises me during student teaching?

A: The Office of Teacher Education will assign a university supervisor or liaison to periodically observe and evaluate your teaching.  But your main supervisor is your mentor teacher.

 

Q: Can I student teach during the summer?

A: As a rule, no.  The student population in summer school is very abnormal; usually it consists of the lowest achieving students who need to make up failed credits, and the highest achieving students who want to make more room in their school year schedule for extra electives.  Often the middle of the bell curve is missing, along with normal school culture of a school year.  This kind of student teaching experience could compromise your readiness to begin teaching in a normal school situation, and it might also appear to be a disadvantage to an administrator examining your job application in comparison to someone who has student taught during the regular school year.   Besides, in summer there aren’t as many classes in which you could be placed.  Another complication is that for student teachers who need 16-week student teaching experiences, summer school may be too short.  If you still think you need to student teach during the summer, requests should be made to the Director of Teacher Education.

 

Q: Can I take a university course while I am student teaching?

A: We strongly advise you NOT to take a course while student teaching (but it can be allowed).  Before student teaching, you should complete all of your course work so that you can concentrate your full energy and attention on successful student teaching performance.  However, if necessary, you can be allowed to take an evening or weekend course during student teaching as long as the course is not fundamental to your teaching success (as ENGL 301, 381, and 481 are).  Consider that your priority will be successful student teaching, which requires a great deal of time and energy.  You must be willing to put your course work after this, and the quality of your course work may be at risk.  If you must take a class, consult the instructor and work ahead if possible.

 

Q: Can I withdraw from student teaching?

A: Yes, if you decide to withdraw early enough.  As a professional courtesy, six weeks’ notice should be given to your mentor teacher and school prior to the beginning date of your student teaching assignment so that they know in plenty of time not to expect you.  Other withdrawals follow university guidelines, but are strongly discouraged because of the commitments that student teaching implies.

The Office of Teacher Education also has the right to withdraw you from an internship setting if your professional performance is deemed a potential liability for yourself or others.  Procedures for involuntary withdrawal allow you a chance to tell your side of the story, but involuntary withdrawal is likely to negatively affect your transcript and career options in education.

 

Q: Do I need to pass the Praxis II test?

A: Yes, the State Board of Education requires all those who request a teaching certificate in English to take the Praxis II English Language Arts Content Knowledge, test #5038.  It is a multiple-choice exam with questions about works of literature, writing and rhetoric, and language and linguistics.  The passing score is 167 or better.  Register and schedule your exam online at ets.org and pay the testing fee.  If you do not pass the first time, you may re-take the exam, but you will not have final approval to student teach until you have passed.

Take the test early during your block II semester so that there is time for your test scores to get back to BSU.  (Allow about six weeks.)  You may not begin student teaching until the university receives your passing Praxis II score.

Extra-curricular Activities

When schools hire teachers, they often look for people who can supervise extra-curricular activities as well as teach classes.  Consider getting involved in activities that interest you.  Obvious choices include athletics, student government, drama, debate, or music performance, but there are also school clubs for such things as chess, skiing, or rodeo.  If you can coach a sport, your versatility may look more valuable in the job market.  Being a player in the sport is good, but if coaching appeals to you, consider earning the Coaching Endorsement offered by the Department of Kinesiology.  For information regarding the many opportunities for extra-curricular activities at Boise State, check the Student Activities desk in the Student Union.

English Majors Association/Sigma Tau Delta

The EMA is open to any English major and offers opportunities for students to develop valuable leadership skills and service experiences.  Sigma Tau Delta is the English majors’ honorary.  Membership is extended to students who have earned a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.33 for undergraduates of at least junior standing, and 3.5 for graduate students.  The two groups work together on projects and trips.

 

Working with adolescents

Obviously, work with adolescents will be useful experience for you and look good on your resume.  This work might include being a camp counselor, swimming instructor, coach, Big Brother-Big Sister, summer recreation counselor, church youth group supervisor or Sunday school teacher, drama clubs, and so on.

 

Publishing some of your writing

Publishing your writing suggests that you are practicing the skills you will teach.

 

Related Work Experience

Working in a setting where your writing, reading, communication, or interpersonal skills are used can be not only a good way to develop those skills further, but also a way to enhance your resume.