Finishing the Story of the Syllabus

Last week, I discussed considering what story you wanted your syllabus to tell. At that point, I had taken the ideas I learned from this site and developed a story line for the first half of my fall syllabus. My goal was to complete the story which I was able to do. In this post, I want to share the story in its entirety and talk about next steps in developing my online course.

The Story

The tale of my syllabus is as follows (Week Seven is where the new material picks up):

Week One: Adolescents’ culture and identities influence how they engage with reading and writing and shape their experiences in school.

Weeks Two and Three: Their culture and identities lead them to engage with a variety of literacy practices often not sanctioned by schools.

Week Four: Families and communities often shape and enhance both academic and personal (out-of-school) literacy practices.

Weeks Five and Six: Some students have drastically different experiences in school based on their culture, language, and how schools identify and position them.

Week Seven: As teachers, we can create instruction that is responsive and inclusive for literacy development and content learning.

Week Eight: Through technology, we can understand and engage students deeply and differently.

Weeks Nine and Ten: We can create contexts that promote a love of reading and writing.

Points to Note

First, the basics. Yes, the semester is longer than 10 weeks. I have 14 weeks mapped out on my master calendar. So why only 10 weeks here? Well, the first week would be the intro week. I might go back and add in something to the story that could be connected to some basic work I might have them do. However, I have not gotten that far in my planning. My goal at this point is to map out the big ideas and then chart the journey.

The last week is the end of the semester. While I have some ideas about what we might do that week, I am not putting any readings up. Again, could add in a sentence and finish the story line here but I’m not to that point yet.

One week is Thanksgiving week so I figured people could use that to catch up on stuff. The week before Thanksgiving has been left intentionally blank. I might develop this week later OR I might use it in some other manner. I have yet to figure this out. I like having an open week to allow for some wiggle room with our work.

Second, I actually tried to make the story an actual story. I tried to give it an arc and present both conflict and resolution. I want my students (teachers) to see the problems that exist in the issues we will be examining, but I don’t want them to feel hopeless. I want to make sure we consider solutions. Ideally, this will be a true journey.

What’s Next?

It’s interesting because so far I haven’t done anything that is specifically about teaching online. What I have done so far could be done in any context, and that’s an important point. I’m not saying that online teaching is the same as face-to-face (it’s not), but I am saying be mindful that you do know some things about teaching and how to develop a syllabus. Utilize that.

My next step is still old school stuff. I’m going to be connecting readings to the story in the syllabus. I’ll revise the story if needed. I’m also keeping a notebook where I draft ideas for my course and keep a running list of thoughts. I’m randomly writing down assignment ideas as they come to me. In no way will I use them all, but the notebook is a nice way to ensure I won’t forget them.

Once readings are done I will craft assignments. Some of my assignment ideas stemmed from readings I found. So if I use those readings, great. If not, the probably the assignment won’t make the cut. For now, things have gotten less overwhelming and more like what I am used to. But that’s going to change soon. Then the fun really starts!

One Year Ago

Two Years Ago

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