C I 495A: Pre K-4

Introduction to C I 495A

The PreK-4 field experience opportunity (often referred to as Pre-Student Teaching) is one of a block of four courses taken simultaneously. This block of courses (referred to as the Discipline Inquiry or DI Block) includes MTHED 420, SCIED 458, and SS ED 430W. During the majority of your semester, you will have MTHED 420, SCIED 458, and SS ED 430W on Monday and Wednesday, and will be out in the schools for C I 495A on Tuesdays and Thursdays. A Penn State University faculty member will serve as your supervisor for your field experience. This supervisor also serves as your instructor for the seminar component of C I 495A. Together with your supervisor and instructors from the three other DI Block courses, a cooperating teacher will mentor you. All of those in the program are dedicated to helping you have a successful experience.

C I 495A provides an opportunity for you to integrate ideas across the DI block as you explore the world of classroom teaching. This experience will direct you to examine the following questions:

  1. What does it mean to be a teaching professional and to establish professional relationships with teachers, students, and families?
  2. How can I use the tools of observation, writing, reflection, teaching, and research to learn to be a great teacher?
  3. How can I apply what I am learning in the DI Block (MTHED 420, SCIED 458, and SS ED 430W), as well as my experience in the LL ED Block and other related coursework, to improve my teaching?
  4. How can I know when I am teaching well?

The Penn State University Teacher Education Performance Framework guides our teacher education program. It is intended to achieve the desired outcomes in the following Domains of teaching:

  1. Planning and Preparation for Student Learning
  2. Teaching
  3. Inquiry and Analysis of Teaching and Learning
  4. Fulfilling Professional Responsibilities


C I 495A is graded on a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) basis. Satisfactory completion of C I 495A requires (a) satisfactory completion of all written assignments, (b) satisfactory contribution to weekly seminars, and (c) satisfactory performance within each of the four Domains as described in Appendix A: Assessment Form for 495A/B/C.

(Note: To earn or maintain Dean's List status, a minimum of 12 credits in courses that give letter grades must be earned each semester. You are not eligible for the Dean's List unless you are enrolled in 3 credits outside of the DI Block.)


The assignments for this course address the five areas of the Inquiry into Teaching and Learning Project (ITLP) listed below. These five areas of the ITLP are also used as the framework for assignments during the student teaching semester.

  1. Inquiry into the social and environmental context of the community where students live.
  2. Inquiry into the learning environment where children are schooled.
  3. Inquiry into the standardized and personalized curriculum of the school.
  4. Inquiry into how children learn.
  5. Inquiry into facilitating learning the in classroom.

These five areas of inquiry reinforce our program's focus on Discipline Inquiry, which is the hallmark of the DI Block semester.

List of Assignments

  1. The Learning Environment Paper

    The term Learning Environment is commonly used in education to address the development of a healthy climate for learning. This climate is affected by many things, including (a) the qualities of the teacher’s charisma and personality in the classroom, (b) the rules for student behavior, (c) the specific language the teacher uses with students, (d) the nature of the classroom community that develops under the guidance of the teacher, (e) the level and the quality of attentiveness that teachers maintain towards individual students, and (f) the types and varieties of learning opportunities—such as projects, problem solving, and use of technologies.

    The creation of a healthy learning environment is an ongoing process throughout your teaching career that requires continual fine-tuning. As a way of encouraging you to begin your thinking about the design of your own learning environment, you will write a response to one of the following essay questions taking from the Pennsylvania Teaching Application: (1) What are the most important qualities of an outstanding educator? (2) What is my philosophy of student discipline? (3) What is the importance of continuing professional development, and how should I plan to incorporate it throughout my career? (4) How should I integrate information technology (i.e., computers/internet) into the instructional process and curriculum? This assignment will be submitted to Taskstream.

  2. Lesson Planning

    One of the competencies you are expected to demonstrate in CI 495A is the ability to effectively plan, implement, assess, and document learning activities. The somewhat misleading, yet common term for this type of documentation is called a lesson plan. The process of planning directs you to identify the purpose of your activity (its goals or outcomes, or objectives), the materials you will need, and the processes you will use to assess the success of the lesson. In CI 495A, there is a lot of emphasis on lesson plan writing as it is our best way to assess your thinking about instruction. Teachers do not all plan the same way. They generally do not document their thinking as thoroughly as we require you to do as you write your lesson plans. The CI 495A Lesson Plan requires you to fill out a template that walks you through the steps that we require. During this semester you will submit a minimum of ten (10) lesson plans to Taskstream.

  3. Reading Response

    The difference between a teacher who becomes stagnant in thinking and one who truly grows in the profession is learning where ideas about teaching can come from. While you will learn much from your experience in the schools and much form the conversations you have with your DI Block members, to become a great teacher you must be open to a larger audience. One such source is in the writings of outstanding teachers, teacher-educators, researchers, educational policy makers, and public scholars. Your supervisor will make selections from our bank of reading selections and provide you with the reading assignment for the next seminar session so that you can complete the reading in a timely fashion. These readings will become a source for discussion in your weekly seminars. You are expected to have all assigned readings completed by the dates provided by your supervisor. Your supervisor will describe the ways you should be prepared to discuss the readings in your seminars.

  4. Video Recording Your Teaching

    You will be required to record yourself teaching twice during the semester. It is suggested you do the first video during the beginning of your field experience and the second video towards the end. After recording your lesson, write a written reflection on what you observed and how it will inform your future teaching. Your supervisor will have a list of specific items to look for during your recording.

  5. The Portfolio

    During this semester and the student teaching semester, you will be developing a teaching portfolio. The portfolio consists of artifacts. The artifacts are evidence of your best work. An example of an artifact might be a written lesson plan, a sample of student work, the notes taken by someone who observes your teaching, a reflection you made concerning something you observed going on in the classroom, of other evidence that addresses the items in the Performance Framework. As you consider the artifacts that will become your portfolio, you will submit a written justification for what makes this artifact important.

    Your supervisor will assist you in the development of your portfolio, including the generation of an inventory of appropriate artifacts. This portfolio will be invaluable to you when you prepare for the job interview. Taskstream provides a repository for your artifacts.  The 19 Performance Indicators listed on the Performance Framework serve as the categories for which your artifacts will be placed. At midterm, you will be expected to have completed 4 of the indicators, one in each category. At the end of the semester, you will have completed 8 indicators, two in each category. By the time you complete student teaching, you will have an artifact for all 19 categories.

Requirements and Documentation

  1. Grade Point Average: You must have earned a "C" or better in all prerequisite courses. (It is the student's responsibility to insure that all prerequisites have been met. If in doubt, contact your academic adviser.)
  2. Registration: You must be registered for all appropriate methods courses in addition to C I 495A.
  3. Clearances: On the first day of class, you must present your field experience instructor with photocopies of the following:
    1. Valid Act 34--Criminal History Clearance
    2. Valid Act 151--PA Child Abuse Clearance
    3. Valid FBI Fingerprint Clearance
    Department policy requires evidence of the above-noted clearances and verifications on the first class day of the semester. If you do not have valid clearances (that is, you have an offense listed), please see your supervisor. You must retain the original copy of each of the clearances and verifications noted previously. Photocopies only are to be given to field experience instructors and will not be returned.
  4. Liability Insurance: Verification of Professional Liability Insurance (Liability insurance must be current throughout the duration of the field experience.)
  5. Tuberculosis Test: Verification of a valid tuberculosis test.
  6. Guest Host Form (signed).
  7. Transportation: You must have, or have arranged for, transportation to and from your placement site.

Important Information

  • View Calendar
  • Download Fillable Field Experience form (doc)
    The Field Experience form contains a student teacher's name, local telephone number, the name of the field experience instructor, and the course information for the section of CI 495 that the student teacher is enrolled in. Student teachers are asked to list:
    • Their employment history (the three most recent experiences in which they taught or cared for children)
    • A clear description of the types of experiences they have had with children in a school setting (possibly including prior coursework, fulfillment of the 80 hours requirement, etc.)
    • Skills or interests that could help them assume their role as a teacher in the classroom
    • Personal characteristics they consider essential for an individual to become a successful teacher
    • Any activities, honors, or positions of leadership currently held (including community involvement, offices held in an organization, Big Brother/Big Sister program, etc.)


Students will be placed in classrooms within 70 miles of the University Park Campus. Transportation is the students' responsibility.

Contact Information

170 Chambers
(814) 865-1734
Daniel Thompson, Ph.D. - Coordinator of Field Experiences, dkt11@psu.edu
Alicia McDyre, Ph.D. - Coordinator of Elementary Field Experiences -