Course Descriptions


  1. Required Courses for any Middle School Endorsement
  2. Required course Specifically for the Middle School Mathematics Endorsement
  3. Algebra Initiative
  4. Mathematics Content-Courses
  5. Science Content-Courses


Required Courses for any Middle School Endorsement


  1. Math 51200: Middle Grade Curriculum, Philosophy, and Instructional Methods

    Required for any Illinois Endorsement in the Middle Grades, this course will provide practicing teachers with further knowledge and understanding of the unique intellectual, social, emotional, physical, and developmental characteristics and needs of the young adolescent. Teachers will develop middle school lessons to be shared with their peers in this course and used with their middle school students in the future.


  2. Math 51300: Early Adolescent Psychology

    This class is required for any Illinois Endorsement in the Middle Grades. This course explores adolescent development through several lenses, including biological, cognitive, social, moral, and identity development. Adolescent risk-taking, self-concept, and self-esteem are reviewed. Historical and cross-cultural contexts will also be examined. Through open discussion, we'll also explore issues related to working with students who may have special needs or circumstances.

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Required course specifically for the Middle School Mathematics Endorsement

  1. Math 50600: Methods of Teaching Mathematics Grades 6 - 8

    This is a required course for State Endorsement in mathematics. Teachers will be given the opportunity to improve and refine their mathematics teaching practice at the middle school level through participation in and reflection on varied teaching and learning models informed by seminal research from the fields of mathematics education and cognitive science. Reflection on practice will be further informed through mathematics content-rich class activities using manipulatives, when appropriate, video case studies, analysis of student work with an emphasis on mathematical reasoning and with constant attention to standards-based teaching of middle school mathematics at the international, national, state, and local levels.

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Algebra Initiative

  1. Math 50900: Introduction to Algebra (Algebra I)

    This is the first of the three Algebra Initiative courses. This course can also be taken for the mathematics endorsement. It will cover the fundamental elements of algebraic thinking, including a deep exploration of the basic number systems and the rules of arithmetic, especially for the real numbers. It will also include the basics of set theory, linear relations, functions, coordinate systems, graphing, solving equations, estimation, and problem solving.


  2. Math 52200: Algebra II for Elementary School Teachers
    *Prerequisite: Math 50900: Introduction to Algebra or with special permission from the SESAME Office
    This is the second of three courses in the Algebra Initiative series. Some of the material covered will be linear functions, systems of linear equations, functions and their rate of growth, quadratic polynomials and the Quadratic Equation, graphing, inequalities, and word problems.


  3. Math 52300: Algebra III for Elementary School Teachers
    *Prerequisite: Math 50900: Introduction to Algebra or with special permission from the SESAME Office
    This is the third of three courses in the Algebra Initiative series. Some topics include inverses and radicals, polynomials, exponential and logarithmic functions, trigonometry, algebraic numbers. This course is also suitable for high school teachers.

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Mathematics Content-Courses

  1. Math 50300: Number Theory and the Core Curriculum

    This course is a survey of the fundamental number theoretic ideas encountered in the early and middle grades. We will take a rigorous approach to the subject, studying the arithmetic on the integers axiomatically. We will discuss topics including the Rules of Arithmetic, integer arithmetic, divisibility, the Division Algorithm, primes, greatest common divisors, the Euclidean algorithm, and modular arithmetic. These ideas will be explored through a combination of class discussions, problem solving, and homework, some of which will include proofs.


  2. Math 50400: Probability for Elementary School Teachers

    This course is an introduction to basic concepts in Probability and Statistics, from the elements of set theory and combinatorics through probability spaces and distributions. Emphasis throughout is placed on using and interpreting data and doing hands-on experiments with dice, cards, coins, words, and birthdays, all accompanied with a thorough discussion of underlying principles.


  3. Math 50500: Geometry and the Core Curriculum

    Topics include recognizing and composing shapes, learning more about polygons and their properties, measuring angles, and learning the angle theorem. This course also addresses coordinate geometry, volume and surface areas of 3D figures, transformation and symmetry, and much more.


  4. Math 50800: Computer Science

    Students learn the basics of a programming language (Java), and concepts in computer science, including variables, declarations, branching conditions, procedures, functions, and recursion. Students also learn to apply computer programming to problems in number theory and to study mathematical algorithms. Number theory is not a prerequisite for this course.


  5. Math 50900: Introduction to Algebra (Algebra I) for Elementary School Teachers

    This is the first of the three Algebra Initiative courses. This course can also be taken for the mathematics endorsement. It will cover the fundamental elements of algebraic thinking, including a deep exploration of the basic number systems and the rules of arithmetic, especially for the real numbers. It will also include the basics of set theory, linear relations, functions, coordinate systems, graphing, solving equations, estimation, and problem solving.


  6. Math 51000: History of Mathematics

    Some of the topics discussed in this course will cover the immense accomplishment of ancient Egyptians, Babylonian, and Greek mathematics including Euclid's "Elements" and the work of Archimedes. This course will investigate the different ways in which people have thought about and used mathematics in the past, and how they affect the student of present day mathematics.


  7. Math 51100: Calculus for Elementary Teachers

    This course is an introduction to the basic concepts in Calculus, including derivatives and integrals of functions of one real variable. Emphasis throughout is on hands-on numerical computations, which are eventually generalized into compact formulas. The main results concern polynomial functions and power functions, with as much extension as time allows. Results are presented from multiple points of view, in particular, using equations, graphs, tables, pictures, and practical applications to problems of motion and optimization. The notion of limit is treated intuitively, but given this limitation, we develop the concepts underlying important theorems such as the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus.

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Science Content-Courses

    Biological Sciences:
  1. Bios 50000: Cells and Multi-Cellular Organisms

    Through experiments and lecture, teachers will learn about the smallest living building blocks of life's cells. Then the course will discuss the development of cells into larger organisms and their function as a collective circulatory, respiratory, excretory, or reproductive system.


  2. Bios 50100: Evolution and Genetics for Middle School Teachers

    How do we inherent traits from our parents? This course will cover the biochemical origin of life, geologic time, fossil record, Darwin and the theory of Natural Selection, DNA and molecular components, methods of inheritance, pedigrees and karyotypes, gamete formation, mitosis and meiosis, Hardy-Weinberg Law, and gene frequencies.


  3. Bios 50700: Environmental Science for Middle School Teachers

    This is an introduction to Environmental Science. This course will focus on key principles that govern how nature works, the interaction between humans, society and ecosystems and current and potential solutions to environmental problems. We will extend the above concepts by applying them to ecosystems found in our own backyard, the Chicagoland parks and Chicago River plus Illinois Farms via two field trips and one guest speaker. You will receive a plethora of lesson plans that can be utilized in your classroom instruction or adapted to any grade level you may want to share them with. Note: We highly recommend that participants bring in their own laptop. It will be used to illustrate topics presented during class.


  4. Bios 50800: Plant Science for Middle School Teachers

    This is a course designed to reinforce and extend teachers' understanding of science by associating basic biological science concepts with relevant plant applications. This course will concentrate on the initiation and management of plant growth. Through in-class experiments and discussions, teachers will discover the processes of plant germination, sensory mechanisms, photosynthesis, respiration, metabolism, and reproduction. Experiments may include seed germination and rag dolls, water movement in plants, terrariums, and flower dissection.


  5. Bios 50900: Biochemistry for Middle School Teachers

    This course will concentrate on the molecules and compounds that are of major concern in biological systems: carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins and how they react and where they are found in plants and animals. Additionally, other organic compounds such as enzymes and hormones and how they react to maintain homeostasis within biological systems will be major topics. Photosynthesis, respiration, and fermentation are three biological reactions that will be discussed in detail. Teachers will receive many activities that are applicable to middle school science in the classroom.


  6. Bios 51000: Microbiology for Middle School Teachers

    Microbes are everywhere - on and inside you and other organisms and in extreme environments where other organisms rarely - or never - go. Microscopic as they are, they have a huge influence for the global environment (e.g. global cycles, climate, pollution), for agriculture (e.g., fertility of soil, cow productivity, health of plants and animals), industry (e.g., food and chemistry products, energy sources), and human health (e.g., infectious & possibly even chronic diseases). Microbes are also great for use in teaching, because they are involved in so many exciting and current topics, yet teaching about microbes allows students to learn the fundamentals of biology - such as cells, metabolism, genetics, evolution - and provides compare and contrast examples, which are critical for good learning. There are also many accessible microbial labs available, many of which are exploratory and involve experimental design.


  7. Bios 51100: The Physics and Chemistry of Biology for Middle School Teachers

    In this course we will investigate the multiscale and multidisciplinary nature of biomolecular systems. We will begin with an overview of several systems (the biological membrane, the HIV capsid, and the actin filament) which will be visited again in greater depth later in the course. Several topics from physics and chemistry will be reviewed, and while previous experience in these areas is useful, it is not essential for this course. In particular we will review the concepts of forces and motion, atoms and molecules, and the fundamentals of protein structure. The course will proceed to cover several special topics, including the role of shape in nature, the dynamics of the critically important filament protein actin, the assembly of the HIV capsid, and reshaping of biological membranes through lipid-protein interactions. The latter part of the course will also focus on the importance of computational tools in the study of biological problems, and will introduce the student to basic uses of some of these tools.


  8. Physical Sciences:
  9. Phsc 50000: Physics for Middle School Teachers

    This course will concentrate on mechanics - motion, velocity, free fall, gravitation, force, work and energy, momentum, and Newton's laws. Other topics include measurement, data collection, and thermal energy.


  10. Phsc 50200: Chemistry for Middle School Teachers

    Take this course to get a science endorsement while learning about chemical reactions and why they happen. What is the chemical reaction that occurs when you mix baking soda and vinegar? This course starts with states of matter, atoms, and elements, and eventually discusses acid/base, organic chemistry, and polymers.


  11. Phsc 50300: Astronomy for Middle School Teachers

    How big is the universe? Is there life out there? Teachers will learn about planetary motions, the nature of planets and stars, and their formation. This course will also discuss Mars as an abode for life, habitable zones around the sun and stars, and the Copernican Revolution.


  12. Phsc 50400: Materials Science for Middle School Teachers

    This class provides a general overview of materials science. We will focus upon applying fundamental chemistry, physics, and engineering concepts to the understanding of solids and explorations of liquid properties. The diverse array of topics to be covered includes atoms and molecules - the "building blocks"of materials, the physical properties of solids, an introduction to the specialized instrumentation used to study materials, topics in contemporary materials science, and linking materials science to curriculum content standards. We will also provide opportunities to directly engage with materials through hands-on activities. In this class we will 1) develop an understanding of the science of materials, 2) make connections between materials science and the world around us, and 3) explore the process of teaching and learning scientific inquiry through materials science.


  13. Phsc 50500: Earth Science for Middle School Teachers

    This course focuses on the basics of earth sciences. We'll look at all three components on the earth - the rocks, oceans, and atmosphere. For rocks, we'll study rock and mineral identification, plate tectonics, fossils and the geological time scale. Ocean discussion topics include ice ages and understanding ocean flow. Lastly, we'll discuss the composition of the atmosphere and the hot topics related to it: the ozone hole and global warming. The course will include fun readings and plenty of hands-on problems and labs you can take back to your classrooms.


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Seminars for Endorsement of Science and Mathematics Educators
5734 S. University Avenue · Chicago, IL 60637 · Phone: (773) 702-7389 · Fax: (773) 702-9787