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PLANNING YOUR COURSE A DECISION GUIDE
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258 Creating Significant Learning Experiences, Nature of the subject convergent or divergent stable or rapidly changing. Student characteristics Prior knowledge attitudes maturity and so on. Zacher charactoistics Knowledge of and feelings toward subject and students. teaching philosophy experience and so on, Special pedagogical challenge What is the special challenge to teaching this. subject well, 2 WHERE D O YOU WANT TO GO, What are your learning goals for the course Ideally what would you like. students to get out of this course Some possibilities. Foundational knowledge Understanding of key content facts principles. concepts and so on, Application Thinking skills other physical and intellectual skills managing. complex projects, Integration Connecting ideas information realms of life and so on.
Human dimension Knowing how to interact with oneself and with others. Caring Making changes in one s feelings interests and values. Learning how to learn Learning how to keep on learning after the course is. 3 HOW WILL THE STUDENTS AND, YOU KNOW IF THEY GET THERE. How will you know if the students have achieved these goals What kinds. of feedback and assessment would be appropriate, See Exhibit A 1 at the end of this appendix for one way of developing. appropriate kinds of feedback and assessment for different kinds of goals. For each general goal specified here what information can you gather. that will tell you and each student about individual progress toward that. goal About how well the whole class is learning, For which goals are paper and pencil evaluations sufficient Which need. reflective writing Performance assessment, What kind of feedback and assessment can you provide that will go be. yond just providing a basis for the grade and will actually enhance the. learning process, 4 HOW ARE YOU GOING TO GET THERE.
Select or develop learning activities that reflect the principles of active. How will students acquire the content that is the necessary information. What kinds of doing and observing experiences do the students. need Can you create rich learning experiences that allow students to. pursue several learning goals simultaneously, What kinds of reflective dialogue will help them make sense of the. content and connect it to their own lives Can you develop multiple. forms of such dialogue one minute papers weekly journals end of. term learning portfolios, 5 WHO AND WHAT CAN HELP, Find resources. See Exhibit A 1 at the end of this appendix as it can help identify the. resources needed for each learning goal, What resources will the students need and can you get to support each. of the learning activities listed in Decision 4 These may be people. places or things including media, Intermediate Phase Assembling the. Components into a Dynamic Coherent Whole, The next three decisions create the basic plan of learning activities Sometimes.
Decision 6 creating a course structure will be done first sometimes 7 build. ing an instructional strategy I am presenting 6 first because it often but not. always makes more sense to start there, 6 WHAT ARE THE MAJOR TOPICS IN THIS COURSE. Create a thematic structure for the course, Identify the four to seven major ideas topics or themes in the course. Place them in an appropriate sequence, If possible make sure the ideas build on one another and result in a. culminating project that integrates the ideas topics or themes. 7 WHAT WILL THE STUDENTS NEED TO DO, Identifjr the specific learning activities necessary for the desired kinds of. learning and put them into an effective instructional strategy. 260 Creating Significant Learning Experiences, An instructional strategy is a combination of specific learning activities.
in a particular sequence usually laid out over a one to three week span. Each individual activity should build synergistically on students past. learning activities and prepare them for future activities. Examples of instructional strategies, Continuous series of lectures and reading assignments interrupted. once or twice by a midterm exam Sequence of student activities hear. Series of reading reflective writing and whole class discussion. assignments sequence repeated for each topic Sequence of student. activities read write talk A variation of this would be read. talk write, Start with some field or lab work observations followed by readings. and whole class discussions Sequence of student activities do or 1ook. read talk Write ups of lab or field work are sometimes included. Lectures followed by field work or lab observations Sequence of student. activities hear see or do, Have students do assigned readings followed by mini tests done indi. vidually and in small groups then move on to group based applica. tion projects Sequence of student activities read individual and group. tests practice doing with feedback, Work through a series of developmental stages lasting four to six. weeks apiece build some knowledge and skills work on small ap. plication projects and then work on larger more complex projects. Sequence of student activities know build know how4o DO. Contract for a grade that is set up an agreement along the lines. of read text and pass exams to get a C add a research paper to get. a B do extended project as well as a research paper to get an A. It can be useful to create a diagram that illustrates the desired sequence of learn. ing activities A diagram of one possible sequence might look like the one in Fig. 8 WHAT IS THE OVERALL SCHEME OF LEARNING ACTIVITIES. At this time you need to dynamically integrate the course structure and the. instructional strategy for the whole course, Planning Your Course 261.
It can be helpful to create a diagram of the course structure and the in. structional strategy and then find ways to enhance the way these two com. ponents work together An example of such a diagram might look like the. one in Figure A 2 The diagram in the figure is just an example of one. possibility It would obviously need to be adjusted to fit the circumstances. of any given teaching situation, Good course designs and plans provide for both daj zntiation and integra. tion of learning, FIGURE A 1 SAMPLE CASTLE TOP DIAGRAM. In class Test on, Lecture problem Exam, activities solving. Out of class Problem, activities solving Review, FIGURE A 2 STRATEGY AND STRUCTURE LAYOUT. Major Topics Instructional Strategy, Out of class blocks of time.
Out of class, semester or term, Out of class, Out of class 1. 262 Creating Significant Learning Experiences, The differentiation can be reflected in variety in the type of learning. activities from day to day within each topical block of time and in. development in the complexity and challenge of the learning from. topical unit 1 through 4, The integration should be reflected both within each topical unit. of time and in the progression through each of the topical units. At the conclusion of this process you should be ready to lay out a week. by week schedule of activities for the whole term Exhibit A 2 at the. end of this handout can be useful in laying out the entire schedule or. sequence of activities for the whole course The form assumes three. class sessions per week You can adjust it as needed for courses with. different time formats As you do this there is a helpful sequence of. questions to ask, What activities need to come fist that is how should the course begin. What activities do you want to conclude with that is how should the. course end, What should the sequence of activities be in the middle of the course.
Developing the design or plan for the course is very important It is also. important though to remember that it is only a plan Like all plans it. needs to be flexible and subject to change as it is implemented. Final Phase Taking Care of Important Details, 9 HOW ARE YOU GOING TO GRADE. Develop your grading system, It should reflect the full range of learning goals and activities Remem. ber You do not have to grade everything but make sure you do grade. some instances of every kind of learning you want students to retain. The relative weight of each item on the course grade should reflect the. relative importance of that activity, 10 WHAT COULD G O WRONG. Debug the design by analyzing and assessing this first draft of the course. General criteria for a good course design, Is it based on an in depth analysis of the situational factors. Does it include higher level learning goals, Planning Your Course 263.
Do the feedback and assessment activities reflect the principles of. educative assessment, Do the teaching and learning activities include active learning. Are the four components well integrated, Possible mechanical problems. Will the students have time to do their out of class assignments. Will they be able to obtain the necessary resources For instance. how many students will be trying to obtain reading material in the. library reserve at the same time Are there enough copies for all. 1 1 LET STUDENTS KNOW WHAT YOU ARE PLANNING, Now write the syllabus Include at least the following points. General management information instructor office hours phone and. Goals for the course, Structure and sequence of class activities including due dates for major. assignments tests and projects, Text and other required reading material.
Grading procedures, Course policies attendance work turned in late make up exams and. 12 HOW WILL YOU KNOW HOW THE COURSE IS GOING, HOW IT WENT. Plan an evaluation of the course itself and of your teaching performance. What kinds of midterm and end of term feedback will you need. What specific questions do you have about, The degree to which your goals for the course were achieved. The effectiveness of particular learning activities. Your ability to interact effectively with students. What sources can give you the information you need to answer these questions. Videotape or audiotape of the class sessions, Student interviews or questionnaires. Outside observers, Test results, Planning Your Course 265.
EXHIBIT A 2 SEQUENCE OF LEARNING ACTIVITIES, Sessions per Week. PLANNING YOUR COURSE A DECISION GUIDE henever teachers plan or design their courses they are in essence making a series of decisions aimed at creating a design which in this case consists of a plan of activities for what the teacher and students will do in a course This guide identifies the several decisions involved in designing a course places these decisions in an appropriate sequence

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