Course Proposal and Unit Design

Course proposal and unit design

1)  Description

See separate assignment sheet. The Course Proposal and Unit Design project is the culminating project for the course, drawing together everything you have been learning about curriculum design as well as the theory of writing instruction. For this project, you will propose a themed 1310 or 1320 course that meets the basic objectives of the writing program by engaging students in readings, activities, and questions all designed around a specific, relevant topic of interest. You will choose the nonfiction text for the course and any other readings that might be appropriate. A syllabus and assignment schedule are required for the project, along with a detailed two-week unit plan laying out the objectives, assignments, assessment plan, and daily activities for one of the units from the course. In addition, each of you will turn in a justification providing supportive reasoning for each of your curricular decisions. I will be looking for engaging and effective curriculum design, as well as for evidence that you have thought seriously about the readings and materials of the 5550 course and are attempting to put some of these ideas into practice.

2)  Due: Mon., Dec. 5

3)  Details

·  The entire project needs to be turned in within a binder or folder that contains each of the parts that are detailed below

·  Course proposal (5-6 pages). The proposal gives you space to provide a broad overview of the goals and objectives of the course you are creating as well as the desired understandings that you hope to achieve in your curriculum design. In the proposal, you will need to explain what you are aiming to accomplish, highlight your main strategies for how you will go about creating the learning environment in practice, and set up the theoretical and philosophical background for your individual assignments, activities, and lessons. In addition to this overview, you also need to provide a justification for why your proposed course will be effective in helping students attune to writing. Consider your chosen topic—why is it relevant and strategic? What about your chosen secondary readings—in what ways do they promote students’ understanding of writing? Overall, the justification needs to give readers the sense that you have deliberately plotted every detail of your course and considered every minute of your unit plan. All arguments should clearly reflect what you are learning about pedagogy and theory in composition studies. I will be looking for evidence that you have moved beyond a basic competency in setting up a passable writing classroom to a more sophisticated understanding of the high stakes of writing instruction and the complexities of writing pedagogy. Your course proposal should persuade me of the thoughtfulness and effectiveness of your choices. Draw on your own classroom experiences, but also on information you gather from others and on your research into composition pedagogy and theory. Keep in mind that this document may be read by future writing instructors as they look to build up their own teaching practices.

·  Unit Plan. The Unit Plan needs to provide a complete breakdown of 4-6 class periods within a two-week section of your proposed course. Each class period should have at least 2-3 distinct modules, and detailed explanations should be given for each activity and each module used during the unit. Additionally, all descriptions should give insight into how each aspect of your lesson fits strategically within the overall unit and course design. Make sure that you provide an objective for each pedagogical element as well as a brief description of the content that will make up the work of the unit. Give enough context so that anyone reading could easily understand what you are trying to achieve and what setup is required for each activity/module. Use the design process from Understanding By Design to frame your plan, and keep in mind that your audience will include future instructors who will be looking over your lesson plans without the same background in composition theory that you are undertaking in 5550. You may choose to plan for either a MWF or a T-TH class.

·  Assignment Sheet. Your unit needs to have at least one major assignment that involves writing. The assignment sheet you provide will give students a clear sense of the goals you have set out for them as well as the parameters for the assignment that you will be assessing. Make sure that you cover basic expectations such as formatting, length, and any required elements that all students must complete. Additionally, give an overview of the assignment and a detailed explanation of the most important features you will be looking for. Remember that students often look over the assignment sheet just as they are beginning to invent for their topic, so make sure that your expectations are clearly visible. Include a short assessment rubric that explains what will “count” most in your grading of the assignment (see next item).

·  Assessment plan and rubric. The assessment plan and rubric needs to explain practically what you will be looking for as you assess the writing assignment for the unit. The assessment plan should follow the recommendations from Understanding By Design as well as other material on assessment we have covered this semester. You should explain in the assessment plan what you hope to accomplish through your particular approach to evaluation. If you are looking for certain competencies, how will you measure those competencies? What do you hope students will learn from the experience? Provide support that demonstrates your awareness of the consequences of your particular choices for assessment. Also, make sure that you give a detailed rubric explaining what will constitute successful and poor performances of your objectives. The rubric should look like the rubric from Understanding by Design, pages 178-179, with each objective reflected in a continuum from excellent to poor performance.

4)  Objectives: your unit design project should demonstrate that:

·  You can find a way to engage students in attuning to writing

·  You can successfully blend together larger course objectives with specific unit and daily objectives in your pedagogy

·  You engage in curriculum design with inventiveness, confidence, and solid planning

·  You understand the larger curricular goals of the writing program

·  You have a sense of how your own teaching preferences might be used to design a larger unit and how your ethos fits into the College Writing curriculum as a whole

·  Your sense of writing instruction is informed by theoretical conversations in rhetoric and composition studies

·  Each of your pedagogical decisions is supported by deeper research into the theory and practice of pedagogy

·  You can writing insightfully about your rhetorical and pedagogical choices to other instructors

English 5550 | Fall 2011 | p. 2