Give Your Traditional Syllabus a Needed Makeover!

“In an effective classroom students should not only know what they are doing, they should also know why and how.” – Harry Wong

Many of us will be starting our classes soon! Give your learners the gift of the unexpected by revamping the syllabus. Chances are their other teachers will have the same old syllabus. As we know many learners won’t read it, because it is too long and the design is boring. Plus, the best kind of learning is when we meet the unexpected. Time to do away with the traditional syllabus and make it more engaging for your digital learners. The syllabus is the guide to the curriculum, materials, and procedures. Below, find ways to ensure learners do much more than give it a brief glance.

Get your copy of The 30 Goals Challenge, Learning to Go, or Hacking Digital Learning. Ask me about training your teachers,!

Ideas & Resources

  • Transform the syllabus into an infographic.
  • Place students in pairs or small groups to visualize a section of the syllabus with memes, comics, or illustrations.
  • You could even try transforming your syllabus into a comic. See this example here.
  • Try sketchnoting your syllabus. See this example here. Add links with Thinglink.
  • Gamify your syllabus! I actually did this for one of my Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC).  Transform activities into missions. Find out more about mission minded learning in my new book, Hacking Digital Learning Strategies: 10 Ways to Launch EdTech Missions in Your Classroom. Give digital badges or set it up to where students can level up on a leaderboard!
  • Make it more engaging with links or  transform it into a hyperdoc. Start with this free Google Syllabus Template, then include links to resources, tools, and assessments related to the assignment. Think of it as a map of the learning adventure in your classroom and each assignment is a link to a new path of exploration.
  • Create a syllabus skeleton! Peeragogy is a flexible approach to digital learning in which the teacher and students use technology to apply knowledge together.  One way to encourage co-learning is to create a basic outline of what you need to cover within a proposed timeline instead of the typical syllabus. See this free template. As a class fill in the details of activities to learn the concepts.
  • Want to get your learners to read the syllabus? Then try a digital scavenger hunt or Bingo.

Challenge: Try any of these tips to revamp your syllabus.

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Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell is a teacher trainer, instructional designer, adjunct professor, and the author of The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers: Small Steps to Transform Your Teaching and Learning to Go: Lesson Ideas for Teaching with Mobile Devices, Cell Phones and BYOT. She has been recognized by the ELTon Awards, The New York Times, the Ministry of Education in Spain, and Microsoft’s Heroes for Education as an innovator in the movement of teacher-driven professional development and education technology. Recently, she was named Woman of the Year 2014 by Star Jone’s National Association of Professional Women and awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, the Twitter chat that spurred over 400 teacher chats. She has trained teachers and taught learners in over 25 countries and has consulted with organizations worldwide such as UNESCO Bangkok, The European Union aPLaNet Project, Cultura Iglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, and VenTESOL. She shares regularly via, Twitter (@ShellTerrell), and Her greatest joy is being the mother of Rosco the pug.

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