The Visual Syllabus

It’s that time of year and I couldn’t be more excited for all that’s to come!

As we prepare for a new school year, one of the things we’re often doing is modifying or updating our class syllabus and expectations.  And often, despite our best efforts, these tend to have more blocks of text than we’d like, and our students stare at it and us blankly when we review it in the beginning of the school year.

Enter the “Visual Syllabus” or what I like to call the Syllabus-Gone-Infographic.  Infographics are effective ways of presenting information largely because of their layout and visual-quality.  Bottom-line, students might find themselves reading over it simply because it looks cooler or easier to read.  Plus, you can put a QR code on it that will link them to your website.

A New Classroom Poster?

AND if you have a really rad syllabus, who’s to say you can’t use your school’s poster printer to make a large laminated copy to display in your classroom?

A Few Examples:

So here are a few examples of teachers’ visual syllabi.

Many of these were created using piktochart, a free site to make infographics (that also has a PRO Version discounted for Educators) 

visual syllabus 1

To see this full infographic, click hereenglish 9, version 2 | Piktochart Infographic Editor.

visual syllabus 2

To see this full infographic, click here: 2014-15 Syllabus | Piktochart Infographic Editor.

visual syllabus 3

To see this full infographic, click here: English III Syllabus | Piktochart Infographic Editor.

visual syllabus 4

To see this full infographic, click here.

visual syllabus 5

To see this full infographic, click here: AP Literature | Piktochart Infographic Editor.

“Heaven or Whatever” by Shane Koyczan, a Spoken Word Video

So, it’s Monday.

And I’ve found that the best break for assessment-writing on any Monday morning, is poetry (or a poet) that inspires you.

So when I saw that Shane Koyczan, author of “To This Day,” penned and compiled another spoken word mini-film, I couldn’t help myself.

There are a few ways this poem/video can connect to what you’re teaching.  It can begin or engage a discussion about respecting beliefs (before or with any text where there is a difference in beliefs), serve as a nice intro to The Five People You Meet in Heaven, be a mentor text for Writing Workshop for memoir, personal narrative, or just a creative piece about someone they’ve lost or something someone important taught them, an example of a creative-writing/film teacher’s choice assessment from their perspective or a character’s, as a cinepoem example if you have them create their own (a project I used to do with Walt Whitman’s Drum Taps, if you’re interested), and . . . plenty more.

So here’s the video.  It’s worth every second of your day that it’ll occupy while you’re watching it and all those seconds it’ll resonate with you afterwards:

here’s the accompanying blurb from youtube: As a kid I was a terrible Catholic… as an adult I’m an okay atheist. I’ve seen religion do good. I’ve known people who were able to turn their entire lives around because they found God. That just hasn’t been my experience. I think, in this life, we search for what gives us comfort. For some people it’s a concept like Heaven, for others it’s something different. I make no claims that what I believe is the truth… it’s simply what I believe. I’m grateful that I was able to find some small measure of harmony with my granddad despite our conflicting spiritual paths… I guess that’s how I’ve learned to define respect.