Elementary Teaching Curriculum

Elementary Teaching Curriculum

Candidates focused on Elementary Teaching take a set of foundational courses designed to explore overlapping historical, political, and social systems that make up the current educational context and upon which the practice of teaching is layered. Students investigate the social contexts of education; foundations of learning in a new language; neurodiversity in the inclusive classroom; and critical perspectives on learning and human development while also exploring their own identities and biases.

Content area methods courses help students understand the skills and pedagogical approaches needed to be an effective classroom teacher while the Theory and Practice sequence lets them reflect on and process their clinical experiences with the insight and support of seasoned practitioners. The teacher-candidate experience culminates in an action research master’s project that draws together theory, content area knowledge, and the student’s clinical experience.

The Master of Science in Education concentration in Elementary Teaching is designed for those interested in pursuing their Professional Educator’s License (PEL) for elementary grades 1-6. All coursework and requirements necessary for an elementary school endorsement are completed over the course of the program. Courses are small, interactive, and include fieldwork in remarkable K-12 schools in the Chicagoland area. All of this happens at Northwestern’s School of Education and Social Policy, one of the top-rated schools of education in the United States.

Elementary teaching students with sufficient undergraduate background in English, mathematics, science, or social science may also pursue an optional Middle Grades endorsement for their PEL which will also allow them to teach in seventh and eighth grade classrooms.

Degree Requirements

 
  • MS_ED 402 Social Contexts of Education
  • MS_ED 405 Child and Adolescent Development
  • MS_ED 410 Foundations of Learning in a New Language
  • MS_ED 421 Content Area Reading and Writing for Elementary Teachers
  • MS_ED 427 Educating Exceptional Children
  • MS_ED 411 Elementary Science Methods and Content
  • MS_ED 412 Elementary Social Science Methods and Content
  • MS_ED 423 Elementary Literacy Methods and Content
  • MS_ED 426 Elementary Math Methods and Content
  • MS_ED 477 Theory and Practice of Teaching: Elementary
  • MS_ED 487 Elementary Student Teaching (2 units)
  • MS_ED 406 Research and Analysis in Teaching and Learning I
  • MS_ED 406-1 Research and Analysis Seminar (0 units)
  • MS_ED 407 Research and Analysis in Teaching and Learning II

Potential electives include:

  • MS_ED 409 Classroom Communication
  • MS_ED 413 Problems in the Philosophy of Education
  • MS_ED 428 Dynamics of Middle School
  • MS_ED 436 Instructional Design and Assessment
  • MS_ED 438 Teaching with Technology
  • MS_ED 451 Topics in Teaching and Learning
  • MS_ED 466-469 Middle Grades Methods and Content
  • An approved graduate-level Weinberg course. In order to be considered graduate-level, a course must appear in the graduate course catalog. All 400-level courses are graduate-level. Many, but not all, 300-level courses can be considered graduate-level.

Descriptions of Required Courses

MS_ED 402 Social Contexts of Education

This course focuses on the social and contextual influences of education from a learning, teaching, research and policy perspective. We will examine the role or race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality and identity in the ways individuals and groups influence and are influenced by our education system. You will be asked to deeply evaluate your own beliefs, thoughts and assumptions about the influence of these socio-cultural factors and consider their implications for your own professional and personal development. This class must be taken prior to Theory and Practice of Teaching (MS_ED 477).


MS_ED 405 Child and Adolescent Development

The course provides an overview of developmental concepts from birth to adolescence. It also examines the interplay of biological factors, individual differences, cultural experiences and relationships among cognitive, social, emotional and cultural aspects of development and learning. Class participants explore the types of environments that best enhance growth and development during these stages of life. This class must be taken prior to Theory and Practice of Teaching (MS_ED 477).


MS_ED 406 Research and Analysis in Teaching and Learning I

This course helps students work towards completing their Master's Project and develop questioning and discussion skills that are useful in many teaching-learning contexts. Class goals include forming a question to be addressed by the Master's Project, describing the rationale for the question, and starting a literature review on the topic.


MS_ED 407 Research and Analysis in Teaching and Learning II

This course helps participants refine the reflective skills educators need to work in complex social institutions such as schools, businesses, and nonprofit organizations. Students also will develop effective approaches to identifying and solving problems and discuss questions encountered in elementary and secondary schools, administrative, higher education and corporate settings. Students present their Master's Projects in this course.


MS_ED 410 Foundations of Learning in a New Language

The course explores historical, political, sociocultural, and educational practices that impact linguistically and culturally diverse learners in American schools. Topics include historical and current federal and state laws regarding learning of English as a new language, foundations of first and second language acquisition, child development, sociocultural theory, and comparative international language instruction. Major instructional models are discussed, with a deepened appreciation for factors contributing to sustained student achievement. This course can be applied towards an endorsement in English as a Second Language on a Professional Educator License. It is recommended to take this class prior to Theory and Practice of Teaching (MS_ED 477).


MS_ED 411 Elementary Science Methods and Content

This course prepares participants to teach science in the elementary grades by thoroughly analyzing science content and Next Generation Science Standards and the latest approaches to methodology and pedagogy. Hands-on practice and field experiences supplement work on elementary science content, lesson and unit planning, and doing laboratory work with children. Topics include the fundamental principles and interrelationships among various areas of science (life, physical, environmental, earth and space), the scientific method and investigation to solve problems, and how to engage students in acquiring new knowledge.


MS_ED 412 Elementary Social Studies Methods and Content

This course prepares participants for teaching social studies in the elementary grades. The broad range of social science content will be addressed, including history, geography, culture, economics and citizenship, with connections to Illinois, the United States and the world. Participants will learn about and practice the latest methods for instruction and engaging students in a deep exploration of the social sciences, as well as how social studies address Common Core State Standards.


MS_ED 421 Content Area Reading and Writing for Elementary Teachers

The course is designed to help teachers develop an understanding of specific strategies that readers must use to achieve deep comprehension of content material with a focus on elementary grades. Students 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 course participants 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. It is recommended to take this class prior to Theory and Practice of Teaching (MS_ED 477).


MS_ED 423 Elementary Literacy Methods and Content

In the course, participants will gain an understanding of the cognitive foundations of reading comprehension, current theory and practice related to literacy, and their influence on methods of instruction and assessment. This includes an emphasis on the interrelationships between reading processes and language learning as well as personal writing experiences, writing in various genres and management of writing workshops.


MS_ED 426 Elementary Math Methods and Content

The course provides an overview of mathematical topics taught in elementary and middle school. Course participants learn in small groups and reflect on their own and children's learning. Pedagogical contexts for the mathematical concepts are provided. Review of research on children's conceptions of various mathematical topics, leading to a fuller comprehension of teaching and learning mathematics.


MS_ED 427 Educating Exceptional Children

This course examines the unique characteristics of exceptional children — physiological, intellectual and social-emotional — along with etiological factors. The course also examines trends in legislation and educational programming and approaches to instruction for students with disabilities. This class must be taken prior to Theory and Practice of Teaching (MS_ED 477).


MS_ED 477 Theory and Practice of Teaching: Elementary

The course encompasses a 10-week period of part-time experience and observation under the direction a classroom mentor. It is performed at a Chicago or Chicago-area elementary school, is organized in conjunction with a subject-specific methods tutorial, and is accompanied by a weekly seminar. The seminar portion of the course is designed to enrich the observation experience for elementary teaching candidates. Through whole class and small group discussion, course participants will have opportunities to share their observations, questions and reflections. Each week the course will address various topics of teaching and learning that will help prepare course participants for student teaching.  Prerequisites: MS_ED 402 Social Contexts of Education, MS_ED 405 Child and Adolescent Development, and MS_ED 427 Education Exceptional Children. If possible, it is also recommended to take MS_ED 410 Foundations of Learning in a New Language and MS_ED 422 Content Area Reading and Writing prior to Theory and Practice.


MS_ED 487 Student Teaching Seminar: Elementary (2 credits)

Student teaching helps teacher candidates develop skills essential for successful professional educators, including the use of theoretical knowledge to inform professional practice and the cultivation of questions rooted in practice to illuminate the meaning of theory. The seminar portion of the course is designed to enrich the student teaching experience for elementary candidates through whole class and small group discussions. Readings, assignments and guest speakers will enrich the course and provide participants with opportunities for reflection, sharing and problem solving of issues encountered in the classroom.


Contact Us

Master of Science in Education School of Education & Social Policy

618 Garrett Place
Evanston, IL 60208
Northwestern University

Phone: 847/467-1458

Email: msedprogram@northwestern.edu