Let's plan the road trip: Where do we start and we do we end?


Week 1 Goal

The goal of Week 1: Planning is for you to have thought through what is expected of you as a leader, and what you expect of your learners. Over this section, you will formulate and record  ideas (Course Outline Worksheet Step 1) , and edit those ideas into an overview (Course Outline Worksheet Step 2). You will turn the overview into a course structure next week.

If you are co-teaching, collaborate with your team. This can look like video calls with the team to hash out ideas, or delegating parts and then working through those concepts together. I am not going to pretend co-teaching is easy, but this process will help create a common focus for discussion.

The key to having an effective class is knowing what result you want. I encourage you to allow this part to be an organized mess. Use paper dedicated to one topic for getting your ideas out. You can clean up these ideas when you use the worksheet. 

Print these papers to give yourself an organized area to write:

Activate that Schema

Find and read your official course description from the registrar, state standard, or district. If your institution does not have a description, I encourage you to create one; think of it as the underpinning of your course. 

From the description, ask yourself, “What is the one thing I want my student to remember at the end of this course?” At this point in time, it is okay to have competing answers, but you will work to find the one goal.

Once you have identified that one key takeaway, list the smaller ideas and concepts that support that idea. You are now formulating the scaffolding you will use to bring students to success.

What you have in front of you are the elements you need to build a course that will meet your and your students’ needs:

  • The official course description of your class,
  • A list of key concepts that students will walk away knowing, and 
  • Ways those key concepts are supported.

Step 1: Define your Course and your Goals

So now let’s organize those thoughts with Step 1 of the Course Outline Worksheet:

  • Read and transfer the official course description to the worksheet.
    • This will help you internalize it and ask yourself if you are meeting this need.
  • Think of your key concepts and make a mission statement for your class.
    • This is your mission statement, not your students’. How will you know you’ve succeeded as the instructor?
  • What are ways students will demonstrate their understanding to you?
    • Draw upon your past experience as an instructor; this is the space to state your ideal of projects, tasks, worksheets, etc.

This has been a lot of work. You have reviewed what is expected of the class and your expectations for yourself as the instructor. You’ve started the process. I recommend taking a break for a day or two, and then beginning Step 2: Build a Road.

Step 2: Build a Road

You’ve given Step 1 time to breathe. Let’s move onto Step 2. Review your mission statement: Is it accurate? Does it reflect your overall goal of what a student will walk away knowing and learning to do?

List your goals for the course: What are you expecting to see from your students? Do not feel like you can only have 3 or 5 goals. Don’t limit your instruction to a set number of goals; create as many as you like. I do recommend a minimum of 3.

Look at your overall mission statement and goals, and ask yourself what students will need to know to get to that point. What will students learn at the end of the course? What do they need to know at the beginning of the course? Once you know those two things you can figure out what you expect students to learn by the middle of the course.

And now let’s work on expanding from the beginning to the end of the course. Use one line for each week of your term (i.e. 6 lines for a 6-week term, 16 lines for a 16-week term, etc.), and add your beginning, middle, and end goals in their positions (“end” should appear in the next-to-last line). The last week of the class is saved for review, assignment completion, testing, etc.

What are topics your students need to know to move from beginning to middle? Write these on the empty lines. Similarly repeat the process for the middle to end of your course.

And now, simmer. Let it rest. Let it breathe. Set it in a place you can see it and maybe add your ideas of what you expect students to be doing in those weeks. But that’s a big maybe.

Your goal at the beginning of this week was to organize your ideas and plan your class, and you have done that. Enjoy the results of your hard work, and I’ll have more for you next Thursday, July 9th.


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