Education | Communication in the Classroom
F203 | 5122 | Steve Nichols
F203 Course Description:
Because communication is pervasive and easily taken for granted, it is
also easy to forget its importance. Think for a moment. When do we not
communicate? Does anyone else have to be present for communication?
The difficulty in answering these questions is the extent to which
communication pervades our lives. It is hard to imagine an activity
more common, flexible, emotional, intellectual, useful, creative,
clear, or ambiguous than communication.
It is obviously a big subject. There are many examples of
communication, and many ways to study it. In this course, we will
study communication from the point of view of education. Among the
questions we will ask are: What is communication, and what is
education; how does communication contribute to learning; what are the
components and kinds of communication; how do they function in
classrooms and schools; what is the relationship between communication
and community; how does communication promote safety and the
resolution of conflict; how can teachers communicate effectively with
We will pursue these and other questions by means of discussion,
demonstration, practice, readings, observation, written reflection,
and examination. In other words, you will find many ways to discover
communication in education. If this course is successful, many of the
ways you discover communication will be ways of your own creation.
Thus, you are encouraged to seek truth, learn boldly, participate,
risk, and take responsibility for your own and other's education.
An E-mail Account is required for this course and should be checked
regularly, as important course information is sent frequently from
1 VHS videotape
Morse, P.S., Ivey, A.E. (1996). Face to face: Communication and
conflict resolution in the schools. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press,
A course packet is available at Collegiate Copies, on 3rd street,
which is next to Mother Bear's and Bloomington Bagel. The Course
Packet contains the following required readings for the course.
Signif. Other Paper 2% 4pts.
Reading Inquiries 10% 20pts.
Reading Quizzes 15% 30pts.
Film Reflection 2% 4pts.
Guest Speaker Ref. 2% 4pts.
Combined Reflection 4% 8pts.
Mid-term Exam 25% 50pts.
P/T conference proj. 20% 40pts.
Student Presentation 15% 30pts.
Participation 5% 10pts
Total Possible 100% 200pts.
Modes of Evaluation/Assignments and Classroom Activities
1. Significant Other Assignment. After reading the Morse reading,
think of a teacher from your K-12 experience that touched your life in
a special way. This teacher may have
made you feel special, or may have helped you through a particularly
hard time, or have given you hope. Write 1-2 page paper about this
teacher. What did they teach? What was it about this teacher that you
appreciated so much and that made them so significant in your memory?
What personal characteristics or qualities did they have that you
valued? Prepare to share these stories in a discussion with your
classmates on Jan. 17th.
2. Reading Inquiries. Whenever there is an assigned reading for the
class, the instructor will provide you with several questions to ask
yourself as you read the article. The purpose is to give you some
guidance toward what to look for in the article, what important points
to consider, and how such issues might be addressed by you when you
are a teacher. We will talk about each reading in class, so be
prepared to share your thoughts on them. There are 9 reading inquiries
possible and you are responsible for turning in 8 of these. You decide
which ones you will turn in. These are not accepted after being late
three days and are subject to the point deduction system set forth
below if they are late. A grading rubric will be given to you as a
guideline in responding to these assignments.
3. Reading "Pop" Quizzes. There will be 5 pop quizzes throughout the
Since there are 9 readings for the course, this means you will be
quizzed over 5 of them. Since you do not know which of the 5 readings
that I will quiz you on, it's important to come to class prepared
(i.e., having ready every article or chapter thoroughly) to answer a
few questions about the reading. Unless there is a doctor's excuse, or
some other serious excused absence with documentation, missed quizzes
aren't allowed to be made up.
4. Film Reflection. There are several in-class films throughout the
semester. A one-page reflection paper is due on the regular class
meeting following a class film. For example, if we watch an in-class
film on Monday, the reflection will be due on Wednesday. If we watch a
film on Wednesday, the reflection is due on Monday. The purpose of
this is to have the student reflect on the film and how they see the
concepts relating to the classroom. Was the film important to you? Was
it a waste of time? What about it, specifically, was good or bad? How
did it affect you? The reflection should be no more than 1 page,
double-spaced. Though 2 or more films are scheduled, you are only
responsible for turning in 1 film reflection. Extra credit will not be
given for turning in more than 1. Students have the option of deciding
which one they turn in. A grading rubric will be given to you as a
5. Guest Speaker Reflection. There is one guest speaker scheduled for
the course. A reflection paper is due on the class day following the
guest's visit. The purpose is to have the student reflect on what the
guest shared and how they see the lecture relating to the real world
of teaching. Was the lecture valuable? What specifically was good or
less helpful? How did it affect you? A grading rubric will be given to
you as a guideline in responding to this assignment. The reflection
should be no more than 1 page, double-spaced.
6. Combined Reflection paper. There is a film scheduled for April 18th
and a related speaker's panel scheduled for April 23rd. The combined
reflection paper is due on April 25th. This combined movie and
speaker's panel reflection paper shouldn't exceed 2 pages in length.
If you miss the panel or the movie and it is unexcused, you forfeit
from half to all of your points for this reflection paper. A grading
rubric will be given to you as a guideline in responding to this
7. Mid-Term Examination. There is a required mid-term examination on
Monday, March 5th. Questions will be comprised of course reading
material, in-class films, and course lecture.
8. Parent/Teacher Conference Video Critique Projects. You will conduct
two mock parent-teacher conferences and they will be videotaped in
class. This project will ask you to watch your conferences a couple of
times at home, and then to write a reflection paper on what you saw to
be your strengths and weaknesses. That is, what would you do
differently next time around? What did you do well? What did your
peers say about your skills while in the role of teacher? How do the
two conferences compare? How helpful/valuable was this experience for
you? You will reflect on questions such as these and your answers
should include terms/language from your readings and class
discussions. A grading rubric will be given to you as a guideline in
responding to this assignment. The project should be between 3-5
pages. Due April 11th. Turn in video with paper.
9. Student Presentation. On April 9th, 11th, or 16th, you will be
asked to give a presentation with a peer from the class. You will need
to have your topic (Deadline: February 21st) and presentation ideas
(Deadline: March 21st) approved by me well in advance. You and your
partner will e-mail me to schedule a time to meet with me outside of
class to discuss your topic and ideas. The topic can be anything under
the umbrella of classroom communication. You have total freedom here
as long as I deem it relevant to the class or you can make a case for
it to be so. A rubric will be given to you by March 21st, that I will
be using to grade your presentations. Each presentation will be
approximately 30 minutes in length.
10. Participation. As is apparent in the course title, this class is
all about communication. Much of the value of this course lies in what
we can communicate together in class and in the field. The
participation component will be comprised primarily of your
participation in classroom discussions. For example, on dates that
readings have been assigned, students are expected to discuss the
readings in order to earn participation points, and not engage in
anecdotal stories that are not directly related to the readings.
Students who do not communicate verbally in class will have their
participation grade lowered accordingly. I have had several students
from last semester calling my house after grade reports were sent home
wondering why they didn't get a higher grade…since according to their
calculations their grade should have been higher. In each case, the
difference they had not taken into account was their participation
grade, which was lowered substantially due to their non-participation
in class. I did not change any of their grades as a result of their
calling. Please don't let this happen to you.
Attendance in class is required. You must notify your instructor in
advance of any absence; your instructor WILL lower your final grade by
one-half letter after 3 absences. Your grade will be lowered one
entire letter grade after 6 absences. This point deduction pattern is
cumulative for over 6 absences.
You are strongly encouraged to participate in class, and I believe
such participation will lead to better learning for all. Students will
also be asked to provide the instructor with periodic feedback. This
will entail a brief written statement of any questions, comments,
and/or suggestions you may have about the particular class session or
Important Notes Regarding
Make-Up Work and Absences: I will not give a student any information
regarding a missed class until I receive an excused absence slip
(e.g., doctor's notification, etc.). I will not do the extra work
unless it is excused. Therefore, if you miss a class and it is not
excused, you will need to get any information about what was missed
from your peers in the class, if they are willing to provide it. This
includes copies of hand-outs, information that will be on the test,
etc. Get this information from your peers and not from me, unless
excused. (Excused absences consist of a doctor's note, death in the
family, sports-related event if you are on a non-intramural team,
etc.) You get the picture.
Late Assignments: In order to remain fair to all students, ALL late
submissions of work will have a point deduction. If the paper is
turned in within one day of the due date, it will be subject to a 15%
point deduction, if it is turned in within two days, it will receive a
30% point deduction, if it is turned in within three days, it will
receive a 45% point deduction. After three days, it will not be
accepted, unless there is an excused reason. Bottom line, get things
turned in on time. This has not been a major problem in the past and,
therefore, I don't expect it to be so this semester.
Anonymity: Assignments may be turned in with social security numbers
rather than names, for any students who prefer to do so.
Mechanics (Spelling/Grammar): All written work should look
professional. Avoid colloquialisms or slang. Present yourself
professionally in all written work. Use a professional voice. I will
mark grammar errors, and if they are excessive and/or obstruct
meaning, I will consider these errors in determining grades. Improving
your communication skills includes work on writing skills.
Misspellings or poor grammar could cost you a job offer if found on a
cover letter or resume. I am your last bastion to the free world to
catch writing problems and correct them. If excessive problems become
a pattern, I may require you to visit the Writing Center for all work
turned in. Planned Schedule of Course*
*As the instructor of this course, I reserve the right to make changes
to this schedule as needed.
I will inform each student of any changes at the earliest date
possible in class or via email.
Jan. 8 Orientation and Community Building
Jan. 10 Community Building (continued)
Jan. 15 NO CLASS MEETING in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Jan. 17 Community Building (continued)
Have Read: 1) Kohn, The classroom as community (pp. 101-119)
Assignments Due: Significant Other Assignment AND Kohn Reading Inquiry
Jan. 22 Communication Attitudes: Empathy, Unconditional Positive
Regard, and Genuineness
Have Read: 1) Locke & Ciechalski, Communication techniques for
teachers (pp. 33-47) and 2) Kottler & Kottler, Adjusting to multiple
roles (pp. 1-11)
Assignment Due: Reading Inquiry from Locke & Ciechalski AND Kottler &
Jan. 24 Lion's Den – movie/discussion (also will discuss Stages of
Jan. 29 Lion's Den – movie/discussion
Jan. 31 Class Discussion
Have Read: 1) Ryan & Cooper, Who are today's students? (pp. 428-459)
Assignments Due: Reading Inquiry from Ryan & Cooper chapter AND Film
Reflection over Lion's Den, if you choose this film.
Feb. 5 Teacher Expectations Discussion
Have Read: McIntyre & O'Hair, Teacher expectations and judgments (pp.
236-245, as well as 250-251)
Assignment Due: Reading Inquiry over McIntyre & O'Hair chapter
Feb. 7 Stereotypes
Have Read: Sue & Sue, Cross-cultural communication/counseling styles
Assignment Due: Reading Inquiry over Sue & Sue chapter
Feb. 12 Person-first Language – and activity
Feb. 14 Communication Skills
Have Read: Chapters 2 and 3 of Face to Face book (pp. 11-31)
Assignment Due: Reading Inquiry over Ch's 2 & 3
Feb. 19Communicative Skills
Have Read: Chapter 4 and 6 of Face to Face book (pp. 32-46 and 52-60)
Assignment Due: Reading Inquiry over Ch's 4 & 6
Feb. 21 Review/Practice the communication skills with vignettes/role
DEADLINE: Topic for Student Presentations by this date
Feb. 26 Reality Therapy in the Classroom – movie/discussion (selected
Feb. 28 Mid-term Review
Assignment Due: Film Reflection over Reality Therapy, if you choose
Mar. 5 Mid-term Examination
Mar. 7 Guest Lecture—Amy Woods, Middleway House
Have Read: McIntyre & O'Hair, Complying with statutory requirements:
Reporting suspected child abuse or neglect (pp. 326-329).
Assignment Due: Reading Inquiry over pp. 326-329.
Mar. 12 NO CLASS MEETING – SPRING BREAK!!!
Mar. 14 NO CLASS MEETING – SPRING BREAK!!!
Mar. 19 Parent/Teacher Conferences
Have Read: Kottler & Kottler, Communicating with parents (pp. 90-110)
Assignments Due: Reading Inquiry over pp. 90-110 AND Guest Reflection
Paper from Amy Woods presentation.
Mar. 21 Parent/Teacher conference videos, discussion of projects,
assign to 1 of 2 days, clarification of p/t conference projects
DEADLINE: Should have ALREADY met with me outside of class by this
date to have your presentation ideas approved.
Mar.26 Parent/Teacher Conference projects DAY 1
Mar. 28 Parent/Teacher Conference projects DAY 2
Apr. 2 Parent/Teacher Conference projects DAY 3
Apr. 4 Parent/Teacher Conference projects DAY 4
Apr. 9 Student Presentations
Apr. 11 Student Presentations
Assignment Due: Parent/Teacher Video Critique Projects Due (include
the video with your paper critiques)
Apr. 16 Student Presentations
Apr. 18 It's Elementary – movie
Apr. 23 Speaker's Panel
Assignment #1 Due: Come up with a Good-bye Activity you will want to
use in your classrooms. Share the idea with the class. We'll talk more
about this in class.
Assignment #2 Due: It's Elementary movie and Speaker's Panel Combined
Reflection Paper (no more than two pages double-spaced).
Apr. 30 No Class—No Final Examination—Enjoy the Holiday Break!