Types of Writing in Education

Research Papers

Students will research a specific topic that affects the education system and present their findings in a paper. Students should take a stance and present an argument. The best research papers explore controversial and relevant issues in the field of education. Research papers should be written in APA. Primary and secondary sources should be used (see sources section under general expectations). Headings are encouraged for this type of writing as a way of organizing the ideas of the paper. The expected length of the paper will vary depending on the assignment but they are typically within the 5-15 page range.

Reflective writing

Students are often asked to reflect on concepts they have learned in class or experiences they have had in their placements at local schools. These reflections are short and informal and use a personal voice. The goal of these assignments is for students to display critical thinking and tie together concepts they are learning in class with their own teaching philosophies. They should be able to demonstrate their understanding and engagement with course material. Students should not be writing about their opinions, thoughts, feelings and experiences alone. These are important aspects of reflective writing, but should be backed up with evidence from the material covered in class.

Lesson Plans

Students will be asked to create sample lesson plans. They will usually be provided with a template to fill out. These lesson plans should look professional and are an opportunity for the student to think creatively about the way they would like to teach in their subject area. 

  • Any instructor (a guest teacher, for example) should be able to use your lesson plan. Be clear and concise in your directions, using specific examples.
  • Different grade levels, and sometimes different courses, use their own templates for lesson plans. Respond to each prompt completely and in a consistent style.
  • Use backwards design: set your student learning objectives first, and then plan a lesson that will help students reach those objectives. Resist the temptation to base a lesson around an interesting activity that does not truly aid student learning.
  • Always plan a lesson around standards! Use the Common Core standards (new tab) for the grade level and content area you’re teaching. You might also use ISTE standards (new tab) for technology.
  • Be specific about the ways in which your lesson differentiates instruction for various types of learners. Some things to keep in mind: UDL, disability and learning differences, Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, etc.
  • If your plan incorporates technology, use the S.A.M.R. scale to explain and justify your use of technology to Substitute, Augment, Modify, or Redefine a learning experience. Make sure at least one element of technology use is student-directed rather than teacher–directed.
  • Make sure your assessment of student learning is meaningful and pertinent to the learning objectives.
  • Be flexible. Acknowledge that it will not necessarily go the way you want it to, even if you plan well; include a back-up plan. Use field experience as feedback to incorporate into your lesson plan.
  • Examples of lesson plans (new tab) written by local teachers.

Personal teaching philosophy

Students will also be asked to create a personal teaching philosophy. This document should sound both personal and professional. It should encapture the student’s own thoughts and beliefs about why they are interested in teaching and how they plan to reach their students. Teaching philosophies can go into great detail or be just a brief summary. Make sure to ask the student to find out what their professor is looking for.