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New Beginnings: Writing with Fluency, First Edition
Diane Fitton, Monroe Community College
Barbara Warner, Monroe Community College
Syllabus

Constructing a Syllabus

As important as selecting an effective textbook for your developmental English class is constructing a meaningful syllabus. The syllabus communicates to students why the course is taught, what the course is about, what students are expected to learn, and when and how they will be evaluated.

For at-risk students enrolled in a developmental-level English course, it is particularly important to construct a carefully written syllabus that delineates the course content and procedures, establishes a positive tone for the class, and conveys your commitment and enthusiasm for the course. When students have specific information about the course, they have an understanding of what to expect and what is expected of them.

A well-prepared syllabus is comprised of four major sections: basic information, course description, course policies, and course schedule.

1. Basic Information
Course information
Instructor information
Text and materials
2. Course Description
Purpose of course
Learning goals
3. Course Policies
Attendance
Grading
Assignments and tests
Academic integrity
Special needs
4. Course Schedule
Daily or weekly schedule of topics/assignments
Dates of quizzes and tests
Due dates for papers and major assignments

1. Basic Information

Course Information
Course title, course number, credit hours, location of classroom, days and hours, current year and term.

Instructor Information
Your name, title, office location (and where to leave assignments), office hours, office telephone number (and best times to call), and email address.

Texts and Materials
Title, author, date (and edition), publisher
Type(s) of notebook (spiral, three-ring binder) and folders; dictionary; thesaurus; computer disks

2. Course Description

Purpose of Course
Include the course information as it appears in your college catalog as well as an explanation of the course's relevance and importance to success in college.

Learning Outcomes
Share with your students what you want them to learn by the end of the semester by stating the learning goals for the course. Refer to the Learning Objectives on page one of this manual for a list of learning performance objectives.

3. Course Policies

Attendance
State your policy regarding class attendance. If your department and/or college has an attendance policy, state that policy as well.

Grading
Describe how you calculate grades. If you expect active participation, state this. How will it be evaluated? Will you evaluate participation in group activities? If so, how? Try to anticipate questions.

Explain the college policy regarding grades in a developmental-level course. Is the grade averaged in the student's grade point average? Is the grade inputed for financial aid? Is there a minimum grade to be recommended for the next course?

Assignments and Tests
Be specific. What are your expectations? How is homework evaluated? What is the format of tests? Since assignments and tests affect grades, explain missed work and make-up policies, so there are no misunderstandings during the semester. For instance, if a student is absent, is the assignment considered late? Be explicit in explaining your policy. If extra credit is an option, mention this in your syllabus.

Academic Integrity
The syllabus should define behaviors that constitute dishonesty, cheating, and plagiarism. If the topic is treated in detail in the college handbook, it is usually sufficient to refer students to that handbook. Otherwise, clearly outline your policy to explain subsequent consequences.

Special Needs
Indicate that students with diagnosed learning disabilities and/or physical limitations should identify themselves privately to you so that you can be aware of ways in which you can assist them and make appropriate arrangements for support services.

4. Course Schedule

Below are suggestions for determining your schedule of assignments.

Use the academic calendar.
To construct a tentative sequence of course topics, activities, and assignments begin by consulting the academic calendar to mark off holidays, course midpoint, and special college events.

Prioritize the development of basic skills.
Keep in mind that in a developmental English class, there will be some students developing their skills, while others are remediating their skills. As you consider the learning outcomes for your course, ask yourself: What assignments, classroom activities, and pedagogical approaches will help students understand material and master new skills? New Beginnings has a variety of activities from which you can select. As you cover less, you may uncover more.

Be flexible.
A schedule of assignments and activities must be flexible. Write in the syllabus that the schedule is tentative and may change. Consider scheduling an open day to account for extending time to work on a particular skill, take advantage of a teachable moment, hold individual or small group conferences, as well as compensate for class cancellations and other unforeseeable circumstances. Prepare a weekly open-ended schedule that lists the sequence of course topics, the preparations, and readings.

Decide class assignments and homework assignments.
Use variety in assigning exercises. When students have worked on sentence exercises at home, they benefit from comparing their completed work with others; on the other hand, when students work on exercises in class, they learn from one another by thinking out loud.

Below are fifteen and ten week schedules that include the ten chapters from New Beginnings. In planning a schedule for a remedial/developmental English course, factor in your students' reading and writing levels, their ability and willingness to complete assignments out of class, and their interests. Oftentimes, a good schedule is a combination of being "teacher and student-driven," i.e., pushing your students to progress while being sensitive to their capabilities. For that reason, the first few weeks in the semester will help you determine the sequence of chapters and your choice of chapter strands.

Fifteen Week Schedule for New Beginnings

Week 1
Course introduction
Writing sample
Pretests
Ch 1  Auto Racing
Connecting reading with writing

Week 2
Ch 1  Connecting reading with writing
Working from sentences to paragraph

Week 3
Ch 1  Working from sentences to paragraph
Writing from experience
Writing from resources
Ch 2  Food
Connecting reading with writing

Week 4
Ch 2  Working from sentences to paragraph
Writing from experience
Writing from resources

Week 5
Ch 3  Animal Communication
Connecting reading with writing
Working from sentences to paragraph
Writing from experience

Week 6
Ch 3  Writing from resources
Ch 4  Weather
Connecting reading with writing
Working from sentences to paragraph

Week 7
Ch 4  Writing from experience
Writing from resources
Assessment and writing conferences/ write-in-class paragraph

Week 8
Ch 5  Civility
Connecting reading with writing
Working from sentences to paragraph
Writing from experience

Week 9
Ch 5  Writing from resources
Ch 6  Attire
Connecting reading with writing
Working from sentences to paragraph

Week 10
Ch 6  Writing from experience
Writing from resources
Ch 7  The Changing American Scene
Connecting reading with writing

Week 11
Ch 7  Working from sentences to paragraph
Writing from experience
Writing from resources

Week 12
Ch 8  American Folklore
Connecting reading with writing
Working from sentences to paragraph
Writing from experience

Week 13
Ch 8  Writing from resources
Ch 9  The American Outdoors
Connecting reading with writing
Working from sentences to paragraph

Week 14
Ch 9    Writing from experience
Writing from resources
Ch 10  The Information Age
Connecting reading with writing

Week 15
Ch 10  Working from sentences to paragraph
Writing from experience
Writing from resources
Final Writing Conference/ Exam


Ten Week Schedule for New Beginnings
Week 1
Course introduction
Writing sample
Pretests
Ch 1  Auto Racing
Connecting reading with writing
Connecting reading with writing
Working from sentences to paragraph

Week 2
Ch 1  Writing from experience
Writing from resources
Ch 2  Food
Connecting reading with writing
Working from sentences to paragraph
  Writing from experience
Writing from resources

Week 3
Ch 3  Animal Communication
Connecting reading with writing
Working from sentences to paragraph
Writing from experience
Writing from resources

Week 4
Ch 4  Weather
Connecting reading with writing
Working from sentences to paragraph
Writing from experience
Writing from resources
Assessment and writing conferences/ write-in-class paragraph

Week 5
Ch 5  Civility
Connecting reading with writing
Working from sentences to paragraph
Writing from experience
Writing from resources

Week 6
Ch 6  Attire
Connecting reading with writing
Working from sentences to paragraph
Writing from experience
Writing from resources

Week 7
Ch 7  The Changing American Scene
Connecting reading with writing
Working from sentences to paragraph
Writing from experience
Writing from resources

Week 8
Ch 8  American Folklore
Connecting reading with writing
Working from sentences to paragraph
Writing from resources
Writing from experience

Week 9
Ch 9  The American Outdoors
Connecting reading with writing
Working from sentences to paragraph
Writing from experience
Writing from resources

Week 10
Ch 10  The Information Age
Connecting reading with writing
Working from sentences to paragraph
Writing from experience
Writing from resources
Final Writing Conference/ Exam


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