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Planning a Class with Backward Design

Planning a Class with Backward Design
It’s easy to switch into automatic pilot mode when it comes to planning a course. It goes something like this: (1) we look at the topic of the course we’re assigned to teach, (2) we select enough essential/canonical/anti-canonical reading material to fill out fifteen or so weeks, and then (3) we plot that reading onto a calendar. Instant Syllabus! I found myself falling into this very mode of course design recently, as I began planning an upper-level science fiction class for Fall 2011. That was it. So what’s the problem with this method? In their excellent book Understanding by Design, Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe call the process of designing courses around learning goals “the backward design process.” For example, they offer a three-stage diagram of the backward design process that looks deceptively simple: Identify desired resultsDetermine Acceptable EvidencePlan Learning Experiences Imagine a set of three concentric rings. These questions are a far cry from what should we read? Related:  Creating a college syllabus

David Foster Wallace’s mind-blowing creative nonfiction syllabus: “This does not mean an essayist’s goal is to ‘share’ or ‘express herself’ or whatever feel-good term you got taught in high school” English 183D is a workshop course in creative nonfiction, which term denotes a broad category of prose works such as personal essays and memoirs, profiles, nature and travel writing, narrative essays, observational or descriptive essays, general-interest technical writing, argumentative or idea-based essays, general-interest criticism, literary journalism, and so on. The term’s constituent words suggest a conceptual axis on which these sorts of prose works lie. As nonfiction, the works are connected to actual states of affairs in the world, are “true” to some reliable extent. If, for example, a certain event is alleged to have occurred, it must really have occurred; if a proposition is asserted, the reader expects some proof of (or argument for) its accuracy. Expenses There are no required textbooks 1 and I will provide free Xeroxes of all outside readings. Total Writing Workload for Class (1) Let’s say 24-39 pages of finished, high-quality nonfiction. Class Rules & Procedures Essays = 60%

Creating ← The Graphic Syllabus Graphic Syllabi Structures Now that you have collected and categorized your course syllabus components, it’s time to get creative and start sketching your graphic syllabus! There are numerous possible logics for structuring your syllabus. Your course may easily (or with a little tweaking) fit into one of these structures: This is not an exhaustive list and you may see the flow of your course syllabus in a different way. Consider these six different ways to layout one single concept. The next step is choosing a diagramming tool to graphically display your syllabus. A list of tools is available in Implementing.

Creating a Syllabus | Faculty Central Below you will find some helpful information and resources to use when creating your syllabus. Polk State College Procedure Polk State College Procedure 1001 contains guidelines for communicating course information to students. The procedure clearly outlines the elements instructors are required to include in their syllabus. Procedure 1001 Contains all guidelines related to communicating course information to students including the list of required syllabus elements. Syllabus Checklist Contains required syllabus elements as indicated in Procedure 1001 formatted as a handy checklist. Learning-Centered Syllabus Faculty are encouraged to develop and utilize a learning-centered syllabus. “A learning-centered syllabus includes more, rather than less, information. A learning-centered syllabus includes all of the information that a student needs in order to be successful in a particular course. References Grunert O’Brien, J. (2008). Like this: Like Loading...

Syllabus Design Center for Teaching Advancement and Assessment Research Phone: (848) 932-7466 Fax: (732) 932-1845Directions All Rutgers faculty and instructors are expected to develop a comprehensive and detailed course syllabus for each course. All syllabi should be posted on or linked to the department's own website by the first day of class. (Expanded Course Descriptions should be posted to the Online Schedule of Classes when registration begins for the upcoming term.) A good syllabus will provide students with a roadmap for the semester, help them plan their class work and study calendars, and provide them with the specificity they need to help them complete their work with a full understanding of what you expect of them. You should approach the syllabus as a teaching tool as important as the textbook; the syllabus is where you lay out your expectations of what students should gain from the course and how their level of achievement will be assessed. Basic Information:

How to Improve Your Teaching With the Course Syllabus Did you ever have a student misunderstand an assignment, express surprise that you had considered attendance important, or want an explanation of how you grade after the final exam has been scored and the semester is over? If, like most teachers, you receive a few such remarks every semester, you already appreciate the need for clarity in your communication with students. One of the best ways to clarify such communication is through your course syllabus. One of the easiest ways to improve your teaching is to increase the communication effectiveness of your syllabi. The Purpose of a Course Syllabus The course syllabus serves at least seven basic purposes (Rubin, 1985). Helps Plan and Clarify Your Course The very process of writing a well-constructed syllabus forces you to crystallize, articulate, organize, and communicate your thoughts about a course. Try inviting a person who has no expertise in your academic area to critique your syllabus. Introduces You to Students 22 Lessons Learned

UDL-Universe: A Comprehensive Universal Design for Learning Faculty Development Guide - In addition to advocating innovative instruction and multiple modes of representation, engagement, and expression, UDL encourages the use of “accessible” and “usable” course materials. These are documents saved in electronic formats (e.g., doc, rtf, pdf, html) and formatted to enhance their usability for the largest possible audience. A single presentation method can prove limiting, for example, when providing a course syllabus. Since a print copy can only be used in one mode (that is to say, it must be seen to be read), it is inaccessible to students who possess visual impairments. The same syllabus, however, saved in an electronic format, can be read aloud by screen reader software and translated into Braille, which can in turn be printed or read at the computer using a refreshable Braille keyboard (available at many campuses). Accessible Images Some people think that graphics are bad for accessibility. Accessible Text Audio Video

A Syllabus Tip: Embed Big Questions April 16, 2012 By: Barbi Honeycutt, PhD in Instructional Design Much has been written about the course syllabus. It’s an important tool for classroom management, for setting the tone, for outlining expectations, and for meeting department and university requirements. It’s an essential document in a higher education course, but do your students read it? And if they do read it, do they see the real purpose of the course beyond the attendance policy and exam dates? Here’s one strategy that will not only encourage your students to read the syllabus, but it will also allow you to stimulate discussion, create curiosity, and assess students’ knowledge on the first day of class. Step 1: After you create your syllabus, go back to and take a closer look at your learning outcomes for the course. Step 2: After you have written at least one discussion question for each of your learning outcomes, think about which sections of your syllabus relate to each of the outcomes. Dr.

Getting students to read the syllabus with a Syllabus Quiz - GeoEd Trek I would like to start with a true story… one semester, a faculty member finds an assignment turned in by a student matches word-for-word an assignment from another student. That faculty member follows her institution’s procedures for suspecting a violation of academic integrity – having a conversation with the student, submitting a report to the academic integrity committee, etc., etc. The student protests the charge of cheating, and a hearing is held with the committee, student and faculty member. This is where I stop and say… WHAT??? Parkes & Harris (2002) state that a syllabus should serve three major purposes: (1) serve as a contract, make clear what the rules are; (2) serve as a permanent record for accountability and documentation functions; and (3) serve as a learning tool to help students become more effective learners in a course. I have read and understand the format of this course and the policies described in the syllabus. Syllabus Quiz from FaCIT Media on Vimeo.

Getting Students to Read the Class Syllabus by Sandy Chapman Professor Hatch's mantra: When in doubt: read the syllabus…. Read the syllabus: It is a lot of trouble to prepare such a detailed syllabus. Students are expected to read this syllabus in its entirety. This syllabus and the addendum contain essential information. I have read this syllabus and agree to the schedule and procedures stated therein. Print name:__________________________ (Signed) ________________ Student ID:______________ Date:___________ These examples are excerpted from real syllabi posted on the Web. Reading the Syllabus Aloud More than one professor has resorted to reading the syllabus aloud during the first class meeting. Signing on the Line One simple method is to treat the syllabus like a contract, as illustrated in the last example above, and have students sign on the bottom line. Computer Responses Have students read the syllabus and send one question regarding it to the group forum on the class web site. Cooperative Group Questions Syllabus Homework Source:

Extreme Makeover, Syllabus Edition | Tona Hangen There’s chatter today among some of my digital humanities folks about creating swizzly digital CVs: see for example one of the gurus of Digital Campus, Found History‘s Tom Scheinfeldt’s post from last May, “New Wine in Old Skins: Why the CV Needs Hacking,” followed by Adam Crymble’s borderline-smug post today, “My CV is Better Than Yours.” I suppose this website is something like a CV, if you bother to click between the “Writing” and “Projects” pages, but I’ve no desire to emulate Crymble’s faux-newsletter design – it would (alas) probably be considered simply gimmicky in my neck of the woods. A syllabus, now: that’s another matter. Talk about graphically challenged! I’ve been tweaking the content of the syllabus for a couple of years now, but was looking for a way to arrange or present it that was less linear, less text-y, more visually engaging, more like a magazine or a website. This past semester I conducted a week-long experiment during our unit on the Civil Rights Movement.

The First Day Wiki How Did This Happen? Never thought I’d append “wiki” to a post, but here we are. Here, approaching the dead center of August, I’m getting Google hits along the lines of “first day geometry lesson” and I don’t have content to show for it. So I’m posting some of my first day procedures, which are by no means authoritative. Here’s my contribution, both for general ed and for math classes: General Ed If you’ve gotta do a syllabus, do it different from their other classes. So sketch out what you want to talk about on one page. Example here: and then what I read from: After that, I go through several, get-to-know-you activities. You can have some good times mid-year by showing student self-portraits to the class and asking them to identify the student by her roughly drawn outlines. Math Classes You buy some styrofoam cups. You say, how many stacked cups would it take to reach the top of my head? You take bets from the groups. You pass out a ruler and three cups to each group and you facilitate.

Creative Approaches to the Syllabus There’s no denying that syllabus bloat is a real phenomenon. Every semester, it seems, there’s a push to put more and more in the syllabus. And there’s no denying that it can sometimes be useful to treat the syllabus as a meaningful resource for the whole semester. However, as Barbara Fister complained at Library Babel Fish this morning (via Mary Churchill), the syllabus is increasingly seen not as a resource, but something everyone skips without reading–Terms of Service agreements : When you add all those rules to the traditional stuff – course description, the list of assigned texts, the class-by-class schedule, and information about major assignments – these documents get incredibly long and complex. . . . And even as the syllabus has bloated beyond all recognition, its basic format has been basically unchanged: the professor’s contact information/office hours, a description of the course, some policies, and a course calendar. Do you have a creative syllabus? Return to Top