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Literacy Practicum 217/517 & 320/520 PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 20 December 2006

Literacy Practicum for Language Arts (EDU 320/520) and Teaching Reading (EDU 217/517)

           The Literacy Practicum for Language Arts is a thirty-hour (e.g., ten classroom visits of three hours each, twenty visits for ninety minutes each [twice each week]) classroom experience with one teacher, with the majority of the time spent on literacy (reading, writing, speaking) activities.  Near the end of the practicum, you will teach one literacy lesson of 30-60 minutes.  Literacy Practicum students in the past have also had success splitting the weekly into two one-hour-and-thirty minute sessions or working with two teachers.  Both are acceptable options.             It’s a serious commitment of time and energy to your cooperating teacher and, especially, your public school students who will look forward to and count on your faithful attendance.  Of course, UNE students should not go to the public school classroom if they are ill.               UNE students will get the opportunity to work with some of the best literacy teachers in coastal Maine.  The public school faculty will be hopefully energized by the idealism and hunger to learn of the next generation of teachers.  The cooperating teachers will have an extra hand in the classroom to help out and meet the needs of their students.  At the classroom teacher’s direction, UNE students will assist the classroom teachers.   Principals will be able to observe firsthand potential future teachers for their school or their district. 

This experience has been some of the best weeks of my time here at UNE.  The thing I have come to love the most is the student’s willingness to learn.  – Dean Johnson, undergrad

 Backward Design Lesson Planning: Why is this learning experience important?  (i.e. What’s the point?)  1. To provide opportunities for you to reflect and clarify your thinking about teaching and learning as you observe, participate, and teach in a classroom at a grade level of your choosing, 2. To help you build rapport with one classroom of students and one teacher,3. To help you establish a long term relationship with a local school to improve your chances of being hired by that district or in districts known by your cooperating teacher and principal,4. To address Maine’s Standards One, Three, Four, Six, and Eight for Initial Certification.Standard One.  Demonstrates knowledge of the central concepts, tools of inquiry, and structures of the discipline(s) he or she teaches and can create learning experiences that make these aspects of subject matter meaningful to students.Standard Three.  Demonstrates a knowledge of the diverse ways in which students learn and develop by providing learning opportunities that support their intellectual, physical, emotional, and social development.Standard Four.  Plans instruction based upon knowledge of subject matter, students, and curriculum goals.Standard Six.  Creates and maintains a classroom environment which supports and encourages learning.Standard Eight.  Understands and uses a variety of formal and informal assessment strategies to evaluate and support the development of the learner. What will you know or be able to do or demonstrate when you are done? You will teach one lesson and reflect on your learning.               How will I know that (i.e. assessment)?  I will review your lesson plan and its reflection.  You will also lead a discussion about your experience based on the learning you have done.                Guidelines:  1. You will be in a local classroom for a minimum of thirty hours.  At the direction of the literacy practicum teacher, you will observe, participate, and teach.                         2. In consultation with your literacy practicum teacher and me, you will create and teach a literacy lesson plan (full two pages but no more) based on this format.   

On the top line, include your name, title of lesson, and targeted grade level     .


On the second line, write your Essential Question.


            A. One lesson objective based on the Maine Learning Results (Standard Four and Eight) (Describe what students will know or be able to do or demonstrate when they are done.  Begin the sentence thusly, “Students will…”  After the sentence, write a sentence or two how you will assess them to know that.)  Go to the State of Maine website at   http://www.maine.gov/education/lres/pei/ela102207.pdf   to learn more about the Maine Learning Results. 


            B.  A lesson initiation (Standard One) – This is also referred to as a hook, which is an active learning experience at the beginning of the lesson that gives students a reason to care about the learning for the day.  Hooks for each class build on student prior knowledge and may include: preliminary discussion, probing questions, an article from newspaper or magazine, reading done by students, a video clip, reading and thinking aloud by teacher and discussion, music, and role playing.  Put yourself in the classroom. What would you say specifically?

 C. The lesson development (Standard One)a. Describe the think aloud/write aloud modeling or shared writing you will do.  This will be the think aloud/write aloud or shared writing  you will do for the last class.b. Indicate the reading that you and/or the students will do

c. Identify the writing that the students will do. 


D. Daily assessment of learning (Standard Eight) –  Describe the informal assessment or formal assessment you will use to determine whether students have learned what you wanted them to learn.

 E. Diverse Learners and Modifications (Standard Three)

a. Gifted learners (Make the adaptation something more than giving the child more work.)

b. Special Needs learners (I am talking about learners one to two years below grade level, not severely handicapped students.  Assume there is no Ed. Tech in the room.) [Note pages 169-172 in Writing Essentials]


F. Address how you will create and maintain a classroom environment which supports and encourages learning.  (Standard Six) Consider the set up of the classroom, where students do their reading, writing, and discussing, and what groupings will be used.  Include some of the words you will say.  Comment on lighting and furniture as well as the verbal comments you will make to establish a safe setting for learning.  Describe the expectations you have for the students. 


G. Materials

 H. Two Cautions – Describe potential problems with this lesson and address how you will deal with those issues.   Make each caution that you use specific to the lesson. Your plan is tentative.

Ellen McEnaney, Middle School Teacher in Kennebunk

 Assignments:            1. An initial interview with the principal and literacy practicum teacher.2. One full-page, single-spaced reflections after week 4 for undergraduates and two such reflections after weeks 3 and 6 for graduate students.  The reflections should have three paragraphs: one for your observations and interactions in the classroom, a second for your analysis of the classroom learning and teaching, and a third about what you have learned about teaching and learning.   This is similar to the clinical experience response writing.              3. One midsemester 15-minute meeting with me.            4. One draft of lesson plan based on the above guidelines 5. One final lesson plan of the lesson taught that includes italicized comments about what worked and would you differently.  At the end of the final lesson plan, write one paragraph about your entire Literacy Practicum experience.            6. Set up an exit interview with the principal to talk about your experience            7. Let the kids and your cooperating teacher know when your last day is.  They, like you, need some closure to the experience.            8. Ten to twelve minute leading of a discussion based in three things you have learned and one question for our discussion (see below for details). Literacy Practicum Demonstration Guidelines at the end of the semester

1.      Give an introduction about your Literacy Practicum experience.

2.      Share three experiences from your experience that are evidence of the learning that you did.

3.      Come up with one discussion question about the teaching of writing.

4.      Provide a one page handout of pertinent information from your experience, which includes your three learnings and why they struck you as meaningful and one discussion question.  Bring at least three examples of student work from your assignment.  For the Language Arts class, provide an example from low, medium, and high performing student.

 Literacy practicum teacher responsibilities:____ Desire to mentor____ Willingness to share her/his classroom and students and involve the UNE student appropriately.____ Willingness to debrief and just chat with UNE student if there is time____ Willingness to help UNE student create an appropriate lesson and teach it____ (Optional) If asked and if appropriate, writes a letter of recommendation for the job-seeking portfolio of the UNE student.____ (Optional) If appropriate, have your students write “letters of recommendation” for the UNE student  Placements: 

JFK Memorial Kindergarten Center, 64 West Street, Biddeford, Maine  04005

Contact Principal Christina Manikas at 282.4134. Young School (K-2), 36 Tasker Street, Saco, Maine. 

Contact Principal Peter Harrison at 284.7053.

 Biddeford Primary School (K-3), 320 Hill Street, Biddeford, Maine  04005     Contact Assistant Principal Madeline Belanger at 282.8285.   

Eight Corners Elementary School (K-2) 22 Mussey Road, Scarborough, ME  04070 Contact Principal Anne Marley, AMarley@ec.scarborough.k12.me.us

 Kennebunk Elementary School (K-3), 177 Alewive Road Kennebunk, ME 04043  Contact Principal Sara Zito at szito@msad71.net    C.K. Burns School (3-5), 135 Middle Street, Saco, Maine 04072.  Contact Assistant Principal Carrie Lamothe at clamothe@saco.org 

Lunt School (K-2), 74 Lunt Road, Falmouth, Maine 04105     Contact Principal John Flaherty at jflaherty@fps.k12.me.us


Plummer-Motz School (3-4), 192 Middle Road, Falmouth, Maine 04105. 

Contact Principal Karen Boffa at kboffa@fps.k12.me.us

Saco Middle School (6-8), 40 Buxton Road, Saco, Maine. 

Contact Principal Rick Talbot at  rtalbot@saco.org  

 Thornton Academy Middle School (6-8), 438 Main Street, Saco, Maine 04072.  Contact Associate Headmaster Stephen Marquis at steve.marguis@thorton.saco.org 

Lyman Moore Middle School (6-8), 171 Auburn Street, Portland, ME 04103

Contact Principal Lee Crocker at crockl@portlandschools.org or 207.874.8150


Frank Jewett and Hanson Elementary Schools, Buxton, Maine. 

Contact Principal Don Gnecco at dgnecco@sad6.k12.me.us

Consult with me about a placement.  If you know a local teacher you would like to work with, let me know.   

It became like a second home to me, it is of course room 16, or 16 Bee Haven Lane at the Biddeford Primary School that I am talking about. When I first heard we had the chance to take this major commitment on I was a little skeptical at first, what with six classes, a job, and other commitments, but I am truly happy that I decided to take on the responsibility. I would say the experience as a whole was truly rewarding in many ways. The experience I was able to gain, hours logged in the field is an incredible thing. But my favorite part was definitely the opportunity to develop these working relationships with the students and staff. I was looked upon as an equal by the teachers I worked with, and the students really allowed me to become a meaningful part of all their lives. I was overwhelmed with the warmth and open arms by which I was welcomed, not only into the classroom community but also the entire school community. I not only saw my own room but I also saw assemblies, lunch, specials, and recess, as well as a special education behavior room. I was really taken aback with the willingness and excitement of the staff to have me be in their rooms. It was of course only second to the excitement I saw when the kids realized “Mr. Johnson” was going to be in the room today, and I am not looking forward to my last day, it will be bitter sweet for sure. – Dean Johnson

Initially, when the idea was presented to participate in a 30 hour Practicum, I thought, "how in the world am I going to do that?"  With two children of my own, working and attending UNE I couldn’t imagine how I could find the time.  Once I really took some time to think about how beneficial the learning experience would be, my outlook quickly changed.  I needed to find a way to make it work.  So I did, and I am so glad that I thought things through prior to making my decision.  This experience has proven invaluable.  I have had the opportunity to learn so much from a truly amazing teacher, it has also provided me with a clearer idea of the grade level that I wish to teach.  By teaching a lesson of my own, I feel as if it gave me a preview as to what my Student Teaching will be like, which can only be advantageous.  I also have strengthened my relationship with the school where I plan on doing my student teaching.   My Practicum teacher has even offered to be my "host" teacher when I do my student teaching.  Had I not participated in this experience I would have missed out on the many opportunities for hands on learning, and making community connections.  I sincerely hope that others that follow,  in Language Arts,  have the opportunity to be a part of such an amazing experience.  -  Tammy Moore

Overall, I could not think of a better experience and alternative to regular classroom observations. I have learned so much valuable information about teaching that I could never have learned just sitting in on a class and watching the teacher. I actually got the chance, first hand, to be the teacher! I really feel that this experience has only reinforced my passion for teaching. I think that you can be assured of this choice during a simple observation, but you really never truly know until you are actually teaching. With the literacy practicum I had more interaction with the students as well as the teacher than I ever had during an observation. The teacher was more than willing to do anything for me to help plan my lesson. She was so generous to make copies of things she thought I could use, even if it did not pertain to my lesson. She was thinking about my future classroom! I am so glad that I chose to complete the practicum rather than the observations. The experience was priceless and I feel like I am that much more prepared for my own classroom and being a real teacher! – Kassie BagleyThis literacy practicum, I think, has been invaluable to me.  As TCP students, we need clinical experiences to give us a breadth of experience across different grades and teaching styles.  Those clinical experiences only scratch the surface of classroom dynamics, though.  The literacy practicum adds depth to our understanding of classrooms that you couldn’t get from a hundred individual clinical experiences.  I’ve learned so much about classroom dynamics that I would have had to otherwise wait for my internship to experience.  I would recommend a good mixture of the two different experiences for all students in this program in the future.  It is tough for many students to give the time for a practicum, but the experience is definitely worth the sacrifice.  Thank you so much for this experience.  – Matt Clemens 

For this entire semester, my practicum has been my sanctuary. No matter what I have had going on that may have stressed me out, knowing that I had my classroom to visit every week has given me a sense of peace. I left every week moved and inspired by the students I have grown to love. After my experience today, I am more emotionally aware of how important it is for a teacher to create that sanctuary in her classroom for her students. Even though I have known in my head, through reading books and listening to professors, how important it is to maintain a classroom environment which supports and encourages learning; I now know in my heart. Instead of beating myself up over this fraction of time in an otherwise picture perfect practicum, I hope to use the learning I experienced today to become a better teacher. I made some wonderful connections at Plummer-Motz, and I am so grateful for the generosity of the entire staff from the principal to the custodian. They all showed me more support than colleagues at any paid job I have ever had. – Kirsten Durbrow

I feel the things learned during my practicum experience could in no way been “taught” through any workshop or within the class setting. The hands-on approach this experience entails bring you right to the heart of teaching—the kids.  You can’t have that contact and the insights it provides anywhere else.  I observed a fabulous teacher for over ten weeks seeing the true workings of today’s teachings.  Actually being part of the class and participating in it can’t be captured during a couple of observations.  An observation is just that, you observe the happenings.  During this practicum you have the benefit of making a connection with the teacher and her students along with actually teaching a lesson.  This teaching was an irreplaceable experience at this point in my education process along with a major confidence boost! – Michelle Perry


I have learned so much more than I ever thought I would in the literacy practicum.  I have only been with these children since February, but I feel like I know them and they are my kids too.  My teacher has been wonderful and so helpful anytime I have a question or need her help.  She has been very generous with letting me use her supplies to teach and has offered to let my try anything on her students and use them as my “guinea pigs” if I ever want to test a lesson or activity out.  I love being in her class and even though I only have one more day left to complete the practicum I am going to stay and help her out some days until I go home.  I am planning to go back next year as well and volunteer in her class to see how she manages the children and teaches them in the beginning of the year to get them to where they are now.  I think the literacy practicum is a great idea and I would highly recommend it to anyone who can do it.  It is definitely worth the time, even if you have to squeeze it in.  I am having a great time and I am not ready to leave! – Christine Wrage

  The Language Arts practicum was an invaluable experience.   Not only did I learn about academic curriculum, instructional strategies, and lesson plans, but I also learned about myself.  The practicum helped me develop a more focused view of the teacher I want to be in the future.  While being in the classroom, you gain a sense of purpose and satisfaction, knowing that you have the opportunity to truly make a difference in this world.  It was an overwhelming experience to be a part of the daily struggles, and successes of eighteen amazing individuals.  By participating in the practicum, you are able to get an honest view of what being a teacher is really like.  I was able to actively be involved with the class, by assisting the teacher, attending field trips, and teaching a lesson.  I also learned a tremendous amount about classroom management, which would be impossible to learn from a class or out of a textbook.  This hands on approach to learning would be beneficial to all aspiring teachers, and well worth the time.  I am grateful for such an amazing experience, which has expanded my knowledge of what it means to be an educator. – Brittany Esposito I worked in a fourth grade classroom with Mrs. Lorbeski at Riverview Elementary School in Gardiner, Maine.  The entire experience was incredibly enriching to me.  I was able to view students, establish relationships with educators and principals, and see first hand what practices are being used in relation to literacy.  I learned that children who struggle with reading and writing often can become excited about these subjects if they simply are able to connect these with things that they are interested in.  Writing about things that matter to them gives them a light in their eyes.  I also learned that successful teachers all seek to meet students at whatever level they are currently and do what is necessary to help them learn in their own way.  Different teachers accomplish this task in different ways, but they all share a genuine care for the learning that students do.  Finally, I discovered that I can do this teaching thing and that this is truly what I want to do.  Those “light bulb moments” as well as the challenging ones, both served to show me how glad I am that I am pursuing this vocation.  – Kelleen Longfellow Dan Rothermel, PhDDepartment of EducationUniversity of New England
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