Developing undergraduate course materials lets you demonstrate strategies for your teaching and for student learning

The major project for Mass Communication Teaching (MMC 6930) is developing materials for an undergraduate communications course. We’ve been working on that project since the second week of class when you met with me to discuss the course you were considering and how developing that course would fit with your teaching goals.

You’ll be turning in your syllabus – paper version – in class on Oct. 29. By the end of class, you will be posting at least a portion of your syllabus on your online portfolio.

Here are the parts of the syllabus that you will be turning in:

Proposal for course – You turned in your proposal on Sept. 17. Revise that proposal to reflect any changes you’ve made to the course, such as including prerequisites, and to add references to the syllabi you used for developing the course.

Syllabus – Your syllabus should comply with the expectations of a course syllabus set out by the University of Florida —

You also want your syllabus to reflect best practices as discuss in McKeachie’s Teaching Tips and What the Best College Teachers Do. That means having student learning outcomes that are connected with student assessment, an explanation of grading, and a variety of teaching and learning strategies. You want your syllabus to convey your organization and your interest in the course and the students. See the UF Resources page for links to other resources on campus that you will want to include in your syllabus.

Your syllabus should be based on UF’s schedule for Spring Semester 2013. Include a listing of each class meeting and what the reading assignment or other homework would be for the class. Also include due dates for major assignments and test dates. My personal preference is to speak directly to the students in the syllabus. Here’s an example from my syllabus for Multimedia Writing: “The lab instructors and I want to help you be successful in this course. If you need individual assistance beyond the help you receive in lab, it is your responsibility to meet with your lab instructor or me during office hours or set up an appointment for another time.”

Timeline – The timeline is a planning tool for you and would provide a foundation for developing a lesson plan for each class meeting. You wouldn’t give the timeline to your students. For each class meeting, include the student learning objectives and a brief explanation of what activities you’d include in class, such as presentation, working in teams, a minute paper, watching a video or listening to an audio file, or class discussion. Your overall course should reflect a variety of instructional strategies. I distributed a sample timeline in class.

Assessment activity – Develop an assessment activity that would be a significant portion of the students’ grade for the semester. This may be either an exam and answer key OR a major project with a grading rubric. The assignment should reflect best practices from the presentations made by Antionette Rollins and Chris Wilson.

Two lesson plans – Select two days (or one three-hour class) and develop lesson plans. The lesson plans should include student learning objectives, how you would begin the class and the class content. Your lesson plan can incorporate bullet points or phrases. The lesson plan should be complete enough that you could teach from it. For examples, if you are going to have a class discussion, you need to list the questions that you would use to guide the discussion. If you are going to have a slide presentation, include a handout of the slides. Select two days where you would have a major role in the class. So do not select a day when you are giving a test, having a guest speaker, or having group presentations. I distributed a sample lesson plan in class.

When you bring your materials to class, please organize them in this order and have a large clip, binder or envelope for them.

We’ll spent part of class on Monday reviewing classmates’ course packets and discussing the process of curriculum development.

McKeachie’s Teaching Tips and mind mapping help us consider issues involved in developing a syllabus

A major focus of class today was discussing how McKeachie’s Teaching Tips can provide advice on and insights into planning an undergraduate course.

First the topic was discussed in small groups of three or four. Then we reconvened as a class, and I used mind mapping on the whiteboard to look at the many issues that relate to curriculum development and, in particular, to planning a syllabus.

After about 30 minutes, we’d covered the board with issues ranging from selecting a textbook to grading to determining what teaching methods would be most effective.

We also discussed  how developing a syllabus and creating lesson plans at the university level are similar to and different from teaching and planning in K-12 and how that can be different in other countries, as we have class members from Argentina, Egypt, Germany and Korea.

In addition to thinking about McKeachie’s tips and syllabus planning, I hope the class members considered how they could use mind mapping in their own teaching.

I took the photos with my iPhone. This larger photo is composed of three photos, using the AutoStitch Panorama app.