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Category Archive for 'Syllabus'

I’m heading back to our Annual Writing Retreat tomorrow, to talk about Syllabus Building and Assignment Sequencing again. My top three points for this presentation are:

  • Start at the back end, and know your goals.
  • Build forward, adding challenges and difficulties to achieve those goals.
  • Make your pedagogy transparent to your students.

Last fall, I followed this last advice to the extent that I shared part of my presentation to the faculty with my students and discussed with them the way I structured the course to achieve specific goals.

In an optional journal entry, some of my students discussed whether or not we had met our goals. Here is one of my favorite comments:

We achieved all these goals! Wow, we did learn a lot in this class, didn’t we? In retrospect, I am so glad I got into this seminar and wrote/revised papers every week because they really shaped me as a writer. We achieved Goals #1, 2, 6, and 8 through posting online discussions, Goals #2, 3, 4, 5, and 7 through writing papers, and Goal #9 through participating in class discussions and giving oral presentations. I definitely learned how to compare and contrast between the novel and the film and to compare three different things in a paper. We all did an awesome job in our digital media projects, and of course, after Jane Austen dance dinner, we can call ourselves dance masters :)

Syllabus for this course is here.

Building Assignment Sequencing

I’m preparing a presentation on Sequencing Assignments for our Annual Writing Retreat. I plan to chart the Trajectory of an Assignment,
which shows an assignment starting at the informal writing phase and moving through multiple drafts to self-critical awareness on the part of the student. I will, also, demonstrate Building an Assignment Sequence by showing five increasingly difficult First-Year Seminar paper assignments building.jpgI have used with my Jane Austen & Film First-Year Seminar.

My best advice for Assignment Sequencing:

  • Start at the back end: know your goals.
  • Build forward, adding challenges and difficulties to achieve goals.
  • Make pedagogy transparent by discussing with students the reasons behind the assignments.

This last is often overlooked, but I find when I share with students the deliberate reasons for my assignments, they become more deliberate in their decisions about their own papers.

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