Monday, September 24, 2007

Tools of the Trade: Class Syllabus

The first of the school year is a time for questions.

Teachers question how their students will react to new procedures and new, more intense curriculum.

Students question the teacher. Will you be stern or easygoing? How will we change classes? When is recess? When is lunch?

Parents also have questions. How much homework will my child have? Does my child have to bring home all of these books? Will you allow my child to visit the restroom when she/he needs to go? Can you move my child away from “that” kid with the reputation?
As the year progresses parents have more questions. Why is my child failing your class? We need extra credit. What can my child do? When is the test anyway? How can my child pass the test if we don’t know what to study?

Parent questions and my own desire to assist students to become responsible, independent learners gave birth to the class syllabus I present here.

Every year I have to tweak the syllabus due to system and administrator changes to various policies, but it has basically remained the same over the years.

The syllabus is handed out the first day of school. The first night’s homework is to share the syllabus with parents and to ask them to sign the slip. Slips are brought back to school and placed in my files. I have a file for each student I teach. Later in the year when I am invaribly called on the carpet because a parent complains to the principal because I haven’t let parents know anything about my class I can present the signed slip. In fact, I don’t even have to do that anymore. My principal has heard so much about my syllabus that when a parent makes THAT call to the office she immediately tells them, “Oh no, EHT has a syllabus. Check your child’s notebook.” The syllabus is stored in the student’s notebook all year so that it can be used as a reference when questions come up.

Here is part one of my syllabus. I’ll present part two tomorrow.

Syllabus for Social Studies
Grade Level: Fourth Grade

Teacher: EHT
Contact Information: School
School Phone
My school email

Mission and Goals: Our primary goal in Social Studies is to assist the student to become a productive responsible citizen. The Social Studies program includes the study of geography, political science, economics, behavioral science, and the humanities. Students will attack these domains by practicing the following skills---information processing, problem solving, civic participation, time and chronology use, reading maps, globes, graphics, and charts.

Sequence of Study: In fourth grade, students begin the formal study of United States history. At this grade, the four strands of history, geography, civics, and economics are fully integrated. Students begin their study of United States history with the development of Native American cultures and conclude with the antebellum period ending in 1860. The georgraphy strand emphasizes the influence of geography in early United States history. The civics strand emphasizes concepts, and rights during the formation of our government. The economic strand uses materials from the historical strand to futher understand economic concepts.

First 9-weeks (August-October): American Regions, Native Americans, Age of Exploration, and Early Colonies

Second 9-weeks (October-December): Colonization in America, American Revolution, Map Skills

Third 9-weeks (January-March): Constitution/American Government, Westward Movement, Civil War

Fourth 9-weeks (March-May): CRCT Review, Reconstruction, Big Business/Immigration

Textbook: Title (Publisher). Students are encouraged to keep the textbook in their book bag at all times so they can read during free moments. Students are highly advised to read at least one sub-section of the current chapter each night as a tool for success.

Textbooks, trade books, and other chapter books are furnished without cost to the student. The textbooks are the property of ______ School System. Students and their parents are held accountable for all that are lost or damaged. The school system must be reimbursed for lost or damaged books.

Student Requirements: Students should bring their book bag, agenda, textbook, social studies folder, pencils, and paper as well as any other items as assigned.

Agenda-Agendas will be provided to students to record homework assignments, long-term assignments, test dates, due dates for various assignments, and school events such as PTO. Students will find information posted each day in class to be written in the agenda. The first activity in social studies each day will be writing the posted “Agenda Notes” down. Agendas will be reviewed and signed by the teacher each day. Parents should go over the items listed in the Agenda each day to make sure every item is completed. Students are required to have their agenda at school each day. Agenda pages should remain in the agenda at all times. Replacement agendas are $5.00.

Notebook-Trapper Keeper/Zip-up type notebooks DO NOT work well with the types of assignments students will be given. Each student is required to have one (1) 3-prong/2-pocket folder for their Social Studies notebook. Students will be instructed regarding the maintenance of their folders. At NO TIME should anything be thrown away unless instructed to do so by the teacher. Students will be taking notes in class and completing various assignments. Everything will stay in the notebook. On test days students will turn in their notebooks for grading. A grading rubric is attached for student/parent review. Notebooks will NOT be accepted for grading unless they are housed in a 3-prong/2-pocket folder.

Are your eyes glazed over yet? Look for the rest of my syllabus tomorrow….

Related posts you might enjoy:

Keeping a Notebook: Elementaryhistoryteacher Style
The Moment
Interruptions: Do They Matter?


Miss A said...

Thank you for sharing this with us. As well as confirming some of the things I am doing with my freshman, you gave me some new ideas.

Marcus Patel said...

The first year of the school is always exciting. Thanks for this wonderful post and those new ideas.