Language Arts


Course No. ED471w, ED571w

Do the learning experiences you offer students help them develop healthy senses of who they are? This course prepares elementary, intermediate and secondary language arts teachers to guide students to reflect comprehensively on their lives to date, discover what they value, and decide how they wish to make a difference in the world. Building on research into the developmental needs of young people, and my own classroom research on deepening the experience of learning, you'll learn ways to integrate student self-discovery into the reading, writing and conversation strands of your course. This course is well-suited for individual teachers and especially rewarding to take as a team of school site colleagues.

Working with the Personal Creed Project, you join your students as they develop the habit of reflection. Students and teachers come to understand who and what have shaped them, begin discovering and committing to their values, and learn to stand for something in the world. Adapted in schools and colleges around the country, the Personal Creed experience generates enthusiasm, self-knowledge, and the desire to contribute, while deepening academic committment and skills. This makes for unusually rewarding teaching.

In my classroom alone, over three thousand students have presented their personal creeds to their class communities. One wrote:

The creed reflections helped me organize all of the parts of my identity that were already there. It helped me both recall and truly recognize my influences and values and think about how I want to manifest those values in my life.          ~ Florence Zhao, class of 2022

A member of the first group of teachers to take this course as a team wrote on completion: 

What came from this course was a restructuring of education as a whole... I learned that self-reflection and value evaluation are key pieces in crafting well-rounded children.           ~ Kylinn Irwin, Central Elementary, La Grande OR, Spring 2021

Course text, used on Amazon: $20-30.

Find out more on John's website.

We advise you to review and download the course syllabus before registering. Syllabus
  1. Understand the developmental needs of your students, and how to nourish those needs;
  2. Engage your students with activities and projects to facilitate their developmental-stage need to build healthy senses of identity;
  3. Become familiar with research on how to cultivate an engaged mindset in learning;
  4. Use teaching and design strategies to help students gain the self-knowledge they need to navigate a healthy transition into adulthood;
  5. Learn to facilitate a community rite of passage in the classroom or online in which students reveal the influences that have shaped them, the values they have discovered, and the difference they wish to make as individuals and citizens in the world;
  6. Consider adapting the Personal Creed Project to fit your own teaching situation;
  7. Discover that teaching students to reflect on their lives is a powerful way to catalyze their engagement in writing;
  8. Begin designing a developmental arc of curriculum to balance your students’ academic progress with self-discovery.

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