Center for Educational Innovation

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Part 4: Planning Class Sessions for Engaged Learning and Teaching

Typically the course calendar and syllabus narrative are constructed to serve as an accounting of topics, tasks, readings and due dates. However, by preparing these documents to make visible the links between course objectives and major assessments, and to create a framework – a scaffold – to support the day-to-day learning, you will provide for your students a valuable learning tool and for yourself a guide for mapping class sessions across the full semester. This segment of the Integrated Aligned Course Design Tutorial makes visible the processes for planning mindfully those key components that support the practice of Class Session Planning for Engaged Learning and Teaching.  The Planning Your Class Session Working Guide (Word) will guide you through the process.

STEP ONE: Review and Scaffold Course Assessments

  • List the major assessments panned for the course.   Briefly describe how you envision the assessments will work to guide, provoke and evaluate student learning.Section 1 of the Working Guide is designed to support generative, detailed thinking for this stage.
  • Scaffold the assignments into “chunks” – setting out expectations, specific steps, feedback processes, potential difficulties and resources available in addition to class resources. Then link this scaffold to your course calendar  to become aware of assignment pacing, feedback timing, and occasions when homework and peer work for assessment become in-class activities. Section 2 of the Working Guide is designed for this

STEP TWO: Set Out Learning and Teaching Activities via Course Calendar

Using Section 3 of the Working Guide, draft a full term course calendar to

  1. link overall learning objectives to weekly course concepts and content  
  2. plan work students will complete
  3. note potential teaching strategies that support targeted learning goals.

Think through two key questions regarding use of class time: What concepts central to this course may be difficult for students? What can I have students do in class so that we work through the difficulties together? Next, consider how you might useoutside class activities to engage students in their “first exposure” to a key concept, then how you can make use of interactive lecture and active processing and classroom assessment to work through those central and difficult points during class time. To consider ways of using class time to engage deep, high level learning see the resources listed under the In Class Learning resources below.

STEP THREE: Developing Class Session Plans

Consult the Classroom Patterns resource to begin constructing a general plan for class sessions. To maximize learning from outside class activities and to focus on aspects of mastery in class, consider which 2-3 ideas from the In Class Learning resources below you could incorporate as you conduct class sessions to support student learning and mastery of course objectives, concepts, and content.

Based on decisions made, begin to plot plans for upcoming Class Sessions. Section 4 of the Working Guide is designed to provide guidance in this process. For new and redesigned classes, take time to “front load” class session planning by plotting sessions from Day 1 through the first major assessment before the course begins. Adapt and extend the rest of the semester as you observe student progress and gather feedback on learning/teaching from students.


In-Class Learning

Supports for Learning and Teaching

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