John O'Connor

John O'Connor

Adjunct Lecturer , Master of Science in Education


John S. O'Connor currently teaches at New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois. He has taught for 25 years in a wide variety of settings, including the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, Pennsylvania State University, urban public and parochial schools, an adult literacy center, and a maximum security prison. O'Connor has written two books on teaching (This Time It's Personal, NCTE, 2011; and Wordplaygrounds, NCTE, 2004), and was named a Golden Apple Teacher of Distinction in 2007. 



Year Degree Institution
AB, Philosophy/English University of Chicago
MAT, English University of Chicago
PhD, English University of Illinois at Chicago



MS_ED 422

Reading and Writing in the Content Area This course is designed to help middle school and high school teachers develop an understanding of specific strategies that readers must use to achieve deep comprehension of content material. We will explore cognitive foundations of reading comprehension and their influence on methods of instruction and assessment, as well as the interrelationships among reading processes and language learning. Theory and practice relationships will be explored as students experience and learn about: text structure, use of background knowledge, comprehension connections, inferencing, strategies for active engagement, socio-cultural influences on reading, reading/writing relationships, text sets, and assessment of content reading. As a methods course, we will also discuss the elements of good teaching, the theory and history of teaching, curriculum design, instructional methods, and the developmental needs of adolescents.

MS_ED 428

Dynamics of Middle School Curriculum The objective of this course is for students to understand and explore the dynamic environment of middle schools and young adolescents, and to consider the impact of middle school principles, structures and practices on classroom learning and instruction. Students will examine the unique characteristics of middle school learning and the educational needs of young adolescent learners, and they will compare and contrast a variety of middle school models, including policy statements, visions and reform proposals. Students will share and consider their personal experiences, and those of the entire class, as they investigate the many and varied issues that impact any middle school and its community. Major topics include public policy issues, adolescent development, standards and curriculum, measures of intelligence, learning differences, school structure and culture, instructional relationships and strategies, literacy and reading in the content areas, the development of critical thinking skills, culturally responsive and equitable practices, interdisciplinary instruction, assessment methods, middle school leadership, and technology. Given the important transitions and cognitive milestones that occur during the middle school years, we will consider efforts to strike a balance between rigorous curriculum standards and developmentally appropriate modes of learning. We will consider the views and proposals of many of the parties with an interest in middle grades reform, and students will be given an opportunity to research and share their knowledge of particular subjects.


Teaching Reading in the Content Area


Dynamics of Middle School Curriculum Identifying and understanding the effects of middle school dynamics (such as principles, structures, and practices) on classroom learning and instruction. Focuses on the development and social problems of children in grades five through eight. Required for middle school endorsement and enrollment in type-10 programs.

Last Updated: 2015-09-30 22:22:19