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Course Schedule Planning

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sticky notes on large posters

Designing your course schedule is about more than simply lining up dates and deadlines.  It's a complicated process of considering the arc of the quarter, the way each assignment builds on the next, and the ways in which we can help scaffold those assignments for our students.

Plan Your Schedule Around Assignments

You might design the schedule in terms of units for each major assignment (give each major assignment a title that you use consistently in all related handouts).  Doing so will allow you to fit the assignment sequence into a manageable timeline.  You can begin to flesh out your schedule by selecting the final due date for the first assignment you have designed.  Then work backwards and fill in how you will get the students to that final due date. 

You can begin this exercise in working backwards by asking a few key questions:

  • What special skills are required for the completion of the assignment, and how can you help students acquire or practice these skills?
  • What preliminary exercises and discussions will prepare students for completing this particular assignment?
  • What readings and other exercises will help students carry out the assignment?
  • What features of the assignment would be best discussed with the whole class? 
  • Where in the assignment process will individual conferences with be most helpful?

As you draft your schedule, you should also prepare formal assignment handouts, peer review sheets, and evaluation criteria for each major writing task.  This will substantially decrease your workload during the quarter and allow you the flexibility and time to make any necessary changes.  Echoing rhetorical terminology and language in various handouts helps students understand how different parts of the writing process are related, and reinforces the terms and strategies we want them to use effectively.

Even as you plan out the quarter, remember to be flexible. Your schedule will undoubtedly change once you get to know your students and their writing practices.

Considering Samples

In general, for PWR 1, most instructors follow one of the following scheduling models:

image of course planning tables

PWR 2 varies more widely in its design, largely because of the flexibility of the genre-modes assignment, but the graphic below offers some insight into ways you might organize that course (with different genre-mode options presented in the bottom row).

course planning table

See also detailed examples of PWR 1 Course Schedules