Showing posts from August, 2015

Writing a syllabus

Yesterday I put in a full day's work writing my syllabus and lesson plans for my Fall 2015 Developmental Writing class. It was grueling but satisfying, restricted but creative.

What's fun about this exercise is that it allows me to project my actions into the future and analyze the precise timing and order of instruction that will result in optimal learning for my students. Knowledge is usually cumulative, so my syllabus should be structured like a staircase, with each step adding skills and information.

Unfortunately, the staircase analogy fails to capture the zig-zagging nature of learning. It's next to impossible to explain one fact or piece of information without bringing other bits of knowledge into the discussion. Teachers famously go on tangents; students may make fun of the tangents and see them as flights of fancy or evidence of the teacher's inability to focus on just one thing, but in truth, the tangent is often more important than the original point.

Why? B…