Penn GSE

Teacher Education Program

The middle level education program integrates a developmental framework with an understanding of the upper elementary curriculum and content-specific pedagogy aligned with the Common Core State Standards. Middle level teachers take an advanced methods course in the spring to develop their content-specific pedagogical skills. We offer certification in Reading/Language Arts/Literacy, Math, Science, and Social Studies.

Program of Study

Summer: Coursework Special Topics, and Fieldwork

The focus of summer work is learning about the contexts for learning in the neighborhoods in which student teachers will be placed.


Special Topics:

In the summer, student teachers learn about early literacy practices with children.

Summer Fieldwork:

Students participate in an early elementary community field placement spending 35hours while taking courses.

Fall: Coursework Special Topics, and Student Teaching

In the fall, student teachers focus on learners and learning as students develop child studies and lessons in each of the content areas.


  • EDUC 520, Literacy in the Elementary/Middle School Classroom
  • EDUC 521, Science in the Elementary/Middle Level Classroom
  • EDUC 523, Social Studies in the Elementary/Middle Level Classroom
  • EDUC 531, Math in the Elementary/Middle Level Classroom
  • EDUC 515, Field Seminar in Elementary/Middle Level Schools
  • EDUC 540, Teaching Diverse Learners

Special Topics:

Click here to learn more about our Special Topics Seminars.

Student Teaching:

Students are placed with carefully selected mentor teachers and are clustered within schools where they spend 2 full days each week beginning the week before school officially begins so that they can become familiar with the classroom and the school. Each student teacher is placed in a middle school placement (grade 4-6) and has a Penn Mentor (field supervisor) who visits weekly, observing and providing support, responding to reflective journals, and leading site meetings with the school teams.

Spring: Coursework Special Topics, and Fieldwork

In the spring, the focus is on curriculum, as students develop an integrated unit of study for their class and move on to the final section of the program where the focus is on Praxis. In lieu of a master’s thesis, students design a web-based portfolio addressing a critical issue that rises from their teaching and supporting their arguments with artifacts from their teaching experience.


Special Topics:

Click here to learn more about our Special Topics Seminars.

Student Teaching:

Beginning when schools reopen in early January, student teachers spend five full days in their content-specific classrooms (grades 6-8) as the students assume full responsibility for their classroom teaching.

Pennsylvania Grades 4-8 Certification

Upon successful completion of all components of the teacher education program, including clearances, pre-requisite coursework, all required courses, and student teaching, students receive faculty recommendation for instructional 1 certification, which is awarded by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. PDE requires that all applicants for instructional 1 certification be either US citizens or permanent residents and be willing to submit a form indicating intention of applying for US citizenship.

All applicants for the middle level certificate must have completed a minimum of two English courses (one a writing course and one a British or American literature course) and two math courses. In addition, a number of courses related to the certification subject are required. Upon admission, we work with students to determine if they need additional courses to satisfy these certification requirements.

While we offer faculty recommendation for Pennsylvania certification, many of our students obtain Pennsylvania certification and then move to other states or countries. There is a NASDTEC Interstate Agreement to facilitate movement by teachers among states. We recommend, therefore, that students obtain Pennsylvania certification even if they plan to teach in other states.