Betsy DelleBovi Activity Report

Betsy DelleBovi Activity Report

Summary Report of activities and results from undergraduate English Education course, Teaching Grammar and Language Structure to Teachers.

Betsy M. DelleBovi, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Adolescence Education, Canisius College

This report summarizes my activities as a faculty fellow under the direction and guidance of Dr. Ji-Hee Kim, Associate Professor in the Wehle School of Business at Cansius College and director of the very successful Entrepreneurship Program. After being invited to serve as a fellow, I met with Dr. Kim on several occasions to confer on various ideas for integrating entrepreneurship education into an English Education course -  "Grammar and Language Study for Teachers. This course provides instruction in the study of English grammar and language as a means to better prepare students to teach English Language Arts (ELA) in grades K-12. Its emphasis is on writing and language instruction as well as the history and functions of the English language. The connection between the study of Grammar/Writing and Entrepreneurship

 

 There is a very strong connection between grammar/composition skills and successful business ventures. As the written word is of primary significance in our professional societies today, young college graduates with English Education degrees can very effectively demonstrate strong abilities in the disciplines of English grammar and writing as prime candidates for success in a variety of business environments related to education. This is the premise my students and I began with. We read from a variety of sources; we had very fruitful class discussions of the definition of “entrepreneur” and how these definitions relate to the teaching profession. Students developed a comfortable understanding of what constitutes a successful entrepreneur. One of the most significant findings they arrived at was the similarities between effective teachers and effective entrepreneurs. They took a particular interest in the ideas of leadership, creativity, confidence and risk taking. As they have already studied these characteristics in the context of excellent teaching, it was very good for them to see that successful entrepreneurs portray these same abilities.

 

We furthered our study by reading and writing about specific career paths that entrepreneurs and classroom teachers can take. For example, many teachers enjoy the benefits of consulting practices that involve sharing their expertise with neighboring schools, universities and community organizations, as well as traveling to different parts of the country, delivering professional workshops on written communication skills. Strong writing skills are an on-going and significant area of concern to business owners and leaders across the country; those with these skills are under great demand.

 

By the end of the course, students had taken this early investigation and applied it to some real contexts. At the end of the course, they demonstrated their understanding of what entrepreneurial work involves and they saw themselves as potentials in this area.

 

The following is a list of activities we engaged in:

 

 

·      Students presented their findings from above activity to our class in formal presentations.

 

·      Guest speakers: We heard from Dr. Kim who described her work with the Coleman Foundation, her teaching in the Entrepreneurship Program at Canisius College and some of the projects her students (young entrepreneurs) have been and are engaged in.

 

·      Young entrepreneur from Buffalo, New York who works for The Benchmark Group, a commercial real estate business; his role as a professional consultant requires selling people on innovative ideas. He spoke about the personal characteristics that can lead to greater success in this kind of work.

 

·      Students brainstormed ideas about a class project, looking at professional work that involves the use of English teachers’ training.

 

·      Students arrived at a project “idea” by interviewing appropriate people on and off campus; they presented proposals for a project to the class, received feedback and pursued these projects.

 

Among those projects completed include:

 

Oral and written proposals for applying for a low-interest bank loan for a start-up home day care service.

 

An e-survey for a small demographic of parents who cannot financially afford to continue private education for their children, but who desire one-on-one home tutoring.

 

 

 

Outcomes: At the end of this course, students were able to: 

 

  • Define entrepreneurship from an educational perspective, focusing on the skills and practices required of those who seek to offer training in ELA outside their own classroom.

 

  • Define the characteristics of successful small business owners in educational and ELA teaching related fields.

 

  • Identify specific small business endeavors appropriate to those with teaching certification in ELA fields.

 

These outcomes were determined by students’ written work – in the form of essay writing and on their final examinations, as well as their oral discussions in class.

 

 

Summary: This was an eye-opening experience, not only for my students, but for me. Through the years, I have struggled with the counsel I offer  students who cannot find employment as classroom teachers. I have always had the general sense of other avenues for them to take, but my involvement as a fellow and this focused instruction has helped validate and place in more specific contexts these general views.

 

Currently, Dr. Kim and I are involved in organizing a professional development workshop through Canisius College’s Center of Teaching Excellence. Our goal is to share our ideas with our colleagues in this context. I run into my former students often and we continue talk about their future career plans and how this work has offered them confidence in continuing to pursue their professional interests as classroom teachers, but with a more broad understanding of their skills that can serve in a variety of contexts.  

 

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Canisius College

 

EDU415 Grammar and Language Study for Teachers                                               

Dr. Betsy DelleBovi, Associate Professor

Dept. of Adolescence Education

Fall 2010

Office: Tower706   Phone: 888-2264/ email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Office Hours: MW 1:00 – 2:30, T 1:00 – 3:00 and by appointment             

 

 

 

"Grammar and Language Study for Teachers” provides instruction in the study of English grammar and language as a means to better prepare students to teach English Language Arts (ELA) in grades K-12. Its emphasis is on writing and language instruction, as well as the history and functions of the English language.  The Writing Across the Curriculum movement has long been a reality for teachers in every subject area.  Students in grades K-12 are expected to write well in every content area.  Thus, teachers must have a strong background in their own abilities as writers and users of the English language. In this context, you must confidently be able to explain and model the use of the English language. For those pursuing teaching degrees in English Language Arts, a strong knowledge base of English grammar and language acquisition is a must.

 

An overriding assumption in this course is that you are students of grammar and writing yourselves, still learning many of the lessons you will likely teach in a very short time. To teach any subject effectively, be it writing or scuba diving, dance or photography, we must be aware of our own abilities before we are able to become aware of others'.  Thus, the course investigates how your ability to use the language of English grammar can enhance your own writing as well as your teaching of writing. 

 

The Entrepreneurship Focus: During this age of aggressive competition in teaching, many undergraduate Education majors look for coursework that can compliment their training in teaching and thus enhance their professional opportunities. Our study of grammar and language includes a concentration in how teachers with training in grammar and language skills can contribute this area of expertise to a wide array of educational business environments. Teachers need to believe in their discipline; they need to see it as a part of all literate citizens’ lives.

 

The word entrepreneur is derived from the French work entreprendre meaning to “undertake.” An entrepreneur is someone who takes on the challenge of organizing, managing and assuming the risks of a business (Donald Kuratko. Entrepreneurship: Theory, Process and Practice, 2009). By investigating some basic skills required of small educational business owners and employees, you will better understand the relationship between teaching and educational business ventures, and further your understanding of how teachers can pursue business opportunities with their education degrees.

 

Two examples: Child/Day care centers, professional tutoring ventures

 

With the current growth in American families, and our currently volatile economy that has forced stay-at-home mothers and fathers to go back to work, there is a greater need for child and day care centers and other similar childcare businesses. Developing a repertoire of skills that can lead to your successful business ventures such as the child/day care industry, as well as professional tutoring ventures, is hugely advantageous to young education professionals. An overview of what is involved in entrepreneurial efforts is an excellent way to discover the connection between the teaching profession and business career opportunities. 

 

 

What is the connection between the study of Grammar/Writing and Entrepreneurship?

 

There is a very strong connection between grammar/composition skills and successful business ventures. As the written word is of primary significance in our professional societies today, those like yourselves who effectively demonstrate strong abilities in the disciplines of English grammar and writing are prime candidates for success in a variety of business environments related to education. For example, many teachers enjoy the benefits of consulting practices that involve sharing their expertise with neighboring schools, universities and community organizations, as well as traveling to different parts of the country, delivering professional workshops on written communication skills. Strong writing skills are an on-going and significant area of concern to business owners and leaders across the country; those with these skills are under great demand.

 

For teachers, this can become a very financially lucrative endeavor, in addition to the professional growth it can offer. But many teachers lack the skills to develop a professional consulting business, even on the smallest scale. For teachers who work a 10-month calendar year, summer months are often times to explore avenues for supplementing income and complimentary professional activities. This knowledge of small business enterprises is very valuable in this context.

 

Goals/Learning Outcomes: At the end of this course, you should be able to: 

 

  • Discuss and analyze your writing as well as others’ with confidence by defining yourself as an academic writer: How do you compose sentences, paragraphs and essays? What are your “habits” as an academic writer? What are your specific strengths and weaknesses? Why do you prefer certain writing tasks over others?

 

  • Develop a functional use of grammatical terminology by learning to use grammar texts effectively and efficiently.

 

  • Apply grammatical terms to your writing as a way of improving your prose style.

 

  • Develop and demonstrate a mastery level understanding of English grammar and language instruction.

 

  • Understand the history of the English language and how this history plays a role in our current language use.

 

  • Define entrepreneurship from an educational perspective, focusing on the skills and practices required of those who seek to offer training in ELA outside their own classroom.

 

  • Define the characteristics of successful small business owners in educational and ELA teaching related fields.

 

  • Identify specific small business endeavors appropriate to those with teaching certification in ELA fields.

 

Required Text: 

 

The St. Martin’s Workbook. Sixth Edition. Lex Runciman. Bedford/St. Martin’s. 2009.

 

We will read from a variety of professional journals and other sources – these readings will be available online.

 

Logistics:

 

Attendance:  You are expected to attend every class session. Missing classes makes the work more difficult for you.  More than three absences will lower your grade one letter.  More than four absences will result in a grade of "FX."  If you are unable to attend class, please call my office.

 

Note:  Attendance means being actively involved in discussion. More on this below.

 

Reading and Writing Expectations:

 

 

Reading Assignments:  We will work through our text and supplemental readings simultaneously. The amount and quality of time you devote will be a key factor in how much you benefit from the course.  Read actively: in addition to highlighting and marginal notations, take copious notes; jot down questions/comments you would like to raise in class.

 

Writing:  You will be asked to write on a regular basis. Your writing will serve two purposes:  (1) to provide you the opportunity to expand your notes and marginal reactions to our readings and discussions into responses that help ensure your learning and (2) to provide you with practice in your own prose style. 

 

We will respond to your work critically, looking at both your ideas and your presentation.  As we progress in the course, you will develop a significant portfolio of writing which we will spend a considerable amount of time reacting to.

 

A note on evaluation:  Your grades for papers will be based on two major aspects, in no order of importance: 

 

(1) The depth and accuracy of your papers.  That is, given the particular task, I will examine how thorough your response is, how detailed and specific your reactions to the task are and how effectively you use outside readings to develop a particular paper.

 

(2) Your ability to articulate these ideas, given the rules of standard written English. This course is as much a course in writing as it is in the teaching of writing. I do not assume you've mastered the language.  You are here to become better writers, as well as to learn how writing is taught; this aspect of evaluation will hopefully work toward that goal.

 

We will spend a good deal of time discussing criteria for evaluating your papers as a way of examining the issue of evaluation in the teaching profession overall.  I provide here six traits to be used in examining and evaluating your writing:

 

1.  Ideas:  Clarity, detail, original thinking, and textual interest

 

2.  Organization:  Internal structure, logical sequencing, a captivating lead and a sense of resolution.

 

3.  Voice:  Liveliness, passion, energy, awareness of audience, involvement in the topic and a capacity to elicit a strong response from the reader

 

4.  Word Choice:  Accuracy, precision, phrasing, originality and sensitivity to the reader's understanding

 

5.  Sentence Fluency:  Rhythm, grace, smooth sentence structure, readability, variety and logical sentence construction

 

6.  Conventions:  Overall correctness, attention to detail and an editorial touch.

 

Regarding the particular breakdown of grades, here is a general account:

 

A=  a paper that goes beyond the task, either in content or in mastery of language use.  It is exceptional, "scholarly," and contains very few, if any, errors in mechanics.

 

B=  a paper that is very good; above average in content and mastery of language use.  It shows potential for scholarly work, but is not quite there.  A few errors in mechanics may exist, but only a few.

 

C=  a paper that is average - not  -- 'very good'-- and not  -- 'below average'; one that demonstrates the task in content and that demonstrates average use of standard written language.  A "C" paper has potential for improvement but has mechanical and/or stylistic errors.

 

D=  a paper that is below average in either content and/or language use.  It may be very brief and therefore void of depth; it may demonstrate severe problems in mechanics, or it may not address the question.

 

F=  a paper that fails to demonstrate any understanding of the task and/or standard use of language.

 

 

Evaluation: Your final grade will be based on the following:

 

Tests and quizzes: (approximately 6-8) –                               30%

Essays and other writing assignments (approximately 6)    30%

Entrepreneurship Project -                                                       20%

Attendance and participation -                                            10%

Comprehensive Final Exam -                                                  10%              

 

 

 

Course Calendar: A listing of readings, paper/assignment due dates and other important information will be posted on our Angel site during the second week of the term. All written assignments and tests will be announced in advance.

 

Let’s have fun and learn a lot from this course!