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How do you design your own course?

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If you want to design a course for high school, how do you go about it? How do you decide how many books to include, or how many extras or what to require for assignments? I'm sure there is a huge variety of answers to that question, but I'm looking for a basic framework of how to go about it, so a variety of examples would be helpful. Do you pick a spine, add a few supplements, require a few essays and that's it? (If it helps any, I'm thinking about a half credit elective in an area of interest.)

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That is pretty much how I did it. I would pick a spine and schedule it across a semester or year so I know how much they need to cover each week. Then I looked at supplements such as other books, labs, movies, etc that I want to include and schedule them into the time that similar material is being discussed. Depending on the course, I might schedule papers, projects, or tests as well. I then go back and try to make sure it all distributes with a relatively even work load, giving some extra time to chapters that I think might be challenging or that have a lot of supplements and others a bit less until it all seems like it will fit.

Then the semester hits and I rearrange as necessary. ?

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For a literature course I designed, I chose 9 books to cover in 36 weeks (four weeks each). Then I found study guides and interesting resources we could use. Then I required two assignments like author biographies, context papers, or analysis essays on each one. We would watch a movie after reading the book if there was one.  I was pretty flexible based on interest and I think eliminated one book towards the end. 

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It depends. For a science course, I pick a textbook, select practice problems as assignments, come up with labs (or buy a kit).

For our integrated literature/history studies, I chose a history text as a spine, works of literature to read, and a copious amount of Teaching Company lecture courses. Kids chose their own writing assignments.

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For us, it really depends on the subject.  We don't necessarily use textbooks.  I usually go through resources with my kids and let them select the resources that they want to use.   The whats that we do also depends. The whats may not resemble anything even close to a "normal" traditional school's list of assignments or they may be similar.  

For example, we have already started back to school for the yr.  My 11th grader is doing  the 2nd 1/2 of world history and is reading through the 2nd half of the Time Life series History of the World.  She is also watching Great Courses' Foundations of Western Civilization 2. (She did the first 1/2 of the course last yr.)  We add in a few additional books as well.  We spend a lot of time discussing the reading/lectures and every few weeks she completes a research assignment on a topic we have covered.

For a lit class I designed around the movie Inception, we read several books, read the script, analyzed the movie, and there was not a single essay written.  Their assignments were project based around perception.  One of the books we read was Flatland.  We also spent time reading the myths centered around Ariadne and the Minotaur and its Labyrinth. 

With the exception of traditional science and math sequences, I take complete license in creating courses that cover content in a way that I believe serves the purpose of studying it in the first place.  My kids spend a lot of time writing essays,  researching topics, analyzing, etc.   So, I did not feel compelled to comply with a prefab definition of what a literature course should "be." Our course was exactly what I meant it to be. 

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I just finished designing an American Lit course for my son (rising 9th grader).  I started by researching what novels, novellas, poems, and short stories were typically covered in an American Lit class and then narrowed down to a list that I felt was actually doable (not too much and not too little).  I found study guides online for most of it and I had Memoria Press's American Literature Poetry and Short Stories set already.  I decided how much writing I wanted him to do and then, using a spreadsheet, broke down the work over 36 weeks.  I printed it and put it in a binder as a checklist along with the study guides for each work covered.  He will have four essays (one each quarter) as well as several smaller writing assignments.  It's all spelled out for him in his binder what the expectations are for him each week and what the due dates are.

I almost didn't tell him that I designed the course and was going to create a free Weebly website, etc. with a fake instructor profile and an email address to send the work to hoping he'd balk less than it being for Mom ? He caught onto me, though, before I could do that...lol

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It really depends on the subject (and also what other courses the student is doing at the time).  Some classes lend themselves to reading lists, some to writing assignments, some to discussion, some to projects.  If the class is in an area of the student's interest, I would often ask the student to make a first run at designing a course that would meet his or her own educational goals.

 

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1. Develop Scope and Sequence (the map and compass of your course). 2. Evaluate and procure resources 3. Determine what *types* of assignments will help student achieve the goals in the scope and sequence 4. Decide what methods you will use to evaluate if student has met the goals 5. Schedule out day-sized chunks of work for the student allowing for more time than you think (eg I plan for about 75 days for a semester because life happens, things take longer than I thought, or opportunities arise we want to take advantage of) 6. During the year put your “day sized chunks” into your schedule one week at a time.

If I’m designing my own usually spell out what i want (scope and sequence) first and then find resources to use.  However there are occasions where there is a resource we find first (eg TGC has a Sci Phi - Philosophy in Science Fiction - course that dd is interested in) and we take the resource and decide what to add to it and assignments for learning and evaluation.

How to decide on assignments should reflect 2 things - what skills (eg literary criticism paper; science experiment design; oral presentation, etc) you have set as goals in your scope and sequence and what things you want them to use to learn (eg research paper; read a biography of famous scientist, etc) content.

Also consider assessments. How will you evaluate what skills and content knowledge they have learned? Don’t just test to test, but evaluate based on the intended outcomes from your scope and sequence.

I always take input from my kids - as much as possible - because it’s their education!  I usually do this first and then consult with them throughout planning (eg would you rather read X or Y for this class?).

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As others have said, it depends.  For my daughter's 1/2 credit Ancient Egyptian language course I looked into how many hiragana/katakana/kanjii a Japanese class (or any other syllable/symbol based language) would assign, she had to learn basic grammar and acquire the ability to form basic sentences in writing and speech.  We used the book by Sir Gardiner as well as some newer ones.

For geometry next year we will work through Juergensen and I will assign the chapter tests as a means of assessment.  I only assign grades for tests.

German: I am a native speaker and my kiddos grew up with the language.  We primarily read literature and articles across the spectrum, discussed them in German and every so often they had to write some basic essays or letters to Grandma.

Medieval History: we watched Philipp Daileaeder's Great Courses lectures and they wrote a few longer essays on them (usually the essays were analysis or compare/contrast, I didn't bother with biographies, we focused on politics and culture to show how Europe became what it is today. 

Literature of War for English: picked books who either had war as a theme or were written by a soldier.  Discussed, wrote a few essays.  This one really was more a combined history/English credit.  I had the essays looked over by someone else though because I refuse to grade English essays.

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