In 2006, the students in ED 422 used this page to collect course syllabi from various sources. Each student posted a syllabus, usually from their cooperating teacher, and then reflected on what they thought they might keep and change about the syllabus if they were teaching the same course.

When you begin teaching, you will be expected to provide your students with a document that at least explains behavior and grading policies. These documents, and the students' reactions, can serve as examples that help you think of what you might want to include in your own.

Course Syllabi

Integrated Curriculum: Foundations of Science

The FOS sequence arranges topics in various disciplines around large themes and projects. For instance, in FOS-2 the first unit "Is Life Doomed to Extinction," is an eight week long study of evolution and biological diversity that includes plate tectonics, mass extinctions, and natural selection. The students write a research paper, make posters, get some lectures, do inquiry activities, and put it all together in a powerpoint at the end where they explain the connections between the different areas, and how they help explain the diversity of life we see here on earth.

FOS-2 is the second year science sequence (required), so the class is all sophmores. It is the heaviest on biology, but also includes earth science, chemistry.

FOS-3 is the third year science sequence (optional), most of the class are juniors with the occasional senior. It is the year that focus the most on chemistry, but also includes biology, epidemiology, ecology, and forensics. They focus more on organic chemistry than most high schools.
I like both of these syllabi because they lay out the grand plan for the year. Seeing the titles of the big units and their questions is much more exciting than a list of specific topics that I won't remember. Seeing that the last unit in the third year is Forensics, is more inspiring that knowing that I'll learn about organic toxins.I also like how only the rules and procedures specific to this classroom are included on only one side of the syllabus. This helps communicate certain information that they won't have heard in their social studies class, but it does not emphasize it more than the projects and topics that will be studied.

The downside is that as a teacher, I have no idea what studying nutrition actually means in the FOS context. They will do equilibrium, different nutrients, cell membranes, all kinds of chemical and biological topics that are related to understanding nutrition, but are not limited to calories and fats and carbohydrates.Iin general I think they are well done, not too long but still informative. I would modify them slightly by being a little more specific about some of the topics that will be covered under each big question. I am often surprised at what they fit into the projects.

Earth Science

This file contains an Earth Science syllabus I pulled up online (my CT doesn't use a syllabus) along with my review of the content included/not-included within the syllabus. -Courtney Wilmot

Diana Saunders
-Earth Science Syllabus
-Syllabus Review


This file contains two 7th grade life science syllabi, as well as a review. The first syllabus, which is reviewed, is from my mentor teacher, Mr. Pierce's classroom. It is very minimal. The second is a syllabus that I found on the web that has pictures and a more extensive content section, which gives the teacher more to talk about on the first day and establishes the classroom as knowledge-centered. It also provides sections on expectations, which establishes the classroom as learner-centered. My ideal syllabus would merge the best features of these two syllabi.
- Catherine Quist

Darcy's review of this syllabus is included in the document. - fogleman fogleman

Darcy's Syllabus Revision

This file contains the syllabus for a Biology I course that is given to 9th and 10th graders. My mentor is very strict when it comes to enforcing rules, and I would imagine that he feels the syllabus plays an important role in his classroom management. During the first day of the year my mentor spends nearly all of the class time going over rules, and therefore he puts them on the syllabus so that the students can always refer to them. My mentor also student organization to be very important, which is why he attaches a grade to keeping an up to date planner as well as an organized notebook. Lastly he spends a lot of time in this syllabus going over the new attendance policies that the high school is implementing this year because he felt that the new policies were confusing. One other point of interest that I would like to compare with other classrooms is the fact that he spends so little space on the syllabus on the material that they are going to be covering. -Matt Klaver

I asked my daughter's Biology teacher, Mrs. Friedlander, if I could include her "Guidelines for Success in Introductory Biology" in our collection of syllabi after she assigned it as homework for parents at the Greenhills open house. These guidelines are for ninth grade biology students (and their parents!), addressing classroom behavior, study skills, absences, written assignments, and finally grades. For each topic, several guidelines are offered.

I suspect that these guidelines have been refined over many years because they anticipate situations that students are certain to experience, e.g. using time effectively while waiting to play a home game. These guidellnes also communicate the teacher's academic values, some of which were identified in our readings as important features of effective learning environments. These include establishing a collaborative classroom (community-centered), a focus on understanding scientific ideas (knowledge centered) and science inquiry, and having students take responsibility for their learning and behavior (learner-centered; metacognition). At four pages, this set of guidelines is on the long side, and I suspect that its length also sends a message about the high expectations Mrs Friedlander sets for her ninth graders. - fogleman fogleman Sep 24, 2006

Reflection on Syllabus
I posted a set of four files that are equal to the four pages of a syllabus for a 9th grade Biology class. There are four separate files because I had to scan the hard copy and the file was not compatible with the PDF making program. In her course description, my CT decided not to include an introduction of herself as a teacher or as a person. While I have never seen any teacher do this in the past, I do like the idea of including an introduction of yourself and your values in that it gives the students and parents/guardians (since they do not see you in class every day) a sense of who you are. In this way, a classroom community of knowing each other can be fostered more easily. My CT gave her students a separate handout for Lab Safety, which they had to sign and return. My CT’s course description did not include a course topic outline or timeline. She mentioned that this is very difficult to do in much detail because one has to be very flexible as a high school teacher. I like the fact that my CT listed her broad goals for the course, this gives me as a beginning teacher an idea of some of the overarching aspects of Biology that are important to emphasize repeatedly. One thought that I had when I read the syllabus was that it was very dense. It seemed to me that it might be difficult for a student with limited reading ability to understand and process. The syllabus is very clear and straight forward. If I were writing my own syllabus, I would likely use the same categories and reword the way the ideas were presented. I definitely think that it is very necessary to have students as well as parents/guardians sign the course description. I like that my CT included tips for how to be successful (i.e. study strategies) in the course description. Of course it is then important to reinforce all of these ideas regularly because students are not likely to remember the entire course description after one look at it (especially if they are focused on grading policy or other aspects). The course description is very strict. This is a good thing because it is always better to start strict and loosen up rather then to try to become stricter, which never works. --Katharina Daub

Kristen Fancher

This is the biology syllabus for my mentor teacher Carmen Lawes' class. Ms. Lawes is very big on organization and discipline (when necessary) to keep the class running smoothly, and I believe this is outlined very well in her syllabus. I like that the students know exactly what to expect from her and that they have a place to refer back to in case they are absent and want to know the policies. Also, she lays out the main objectives for the course, which is important for students. This biology syllabus does a little better job than the chemistry syllabus of making the value of biology known to the students, even if their goals are not to be biologists. However, I would probably add more about how understanding biology will benefit the students in their everyday lives in hopes of getting them more interested in the subject right from day 1. Also, Ms. Lawes does have a "participation" section in the syllabus - she gives each student 100 participation points everyday, but she will take them away if you do not answer the question of the day, disrupt the class, or you are tardy or absent. If the syllabus were mine, I would have add more focus on participation with classmates in groupwork or lab work as well as participation by asking questions, in an attempt to make my "community-centered" and "learner-centered" goals more clearly defined. She very briefly mentions "participation in class discussion," but this would not be enough of a focus if it were my syllabus.

This is the syllabus from the Community High freshman science course (Foundations of Science I) of Madeline Drake. I find it interesting that it seems to me the syllabus was composed with more than just the students in mind as intended readers. I think this syllabus was also written so as to provide parents with some information about what the teacher will be trying to accomplish with her students throughout the year. Expectations for students, house rules, assessment, grading and extra help are all sections that contain practical information for students. However, the introduction and the description of Course Projects, at the end, are two sections that I find give students and parents deeper overviews of the Foundations of Science program as a whole. The introdcution goes into the history behind the development of project-based science at Community High. Also, the four larger guiding projects for the semester curriculum are described so as to illustrate the multidisciplinary nature of FOS. In fact, I interpret the course project descriptions to be like the FOS standards and benchmarks essentially. So the syllabus is really trying to convey a big picture rather than the minutiae of chapters to be covered, exam schedules, assignments etc. I'm sure the more abstract overarching quality of the syllabus is indicative of the very non-traditional, non-textbook based, project-based, multidisciplinary approach to science education at Community High as a whole, nonetheless, even if I teach at a school that is more traditional, I think that I will keep in mind inclusion of the broad intent of the courses and the motivation behind curriculum design to be included in my syllabi. I think when intending to write for parents, inadvertently these bigger concepts are included for students to see as well. I think too often these course design concepts are not shared with students, and yes, they may just go over their head, but it is worth including.
Jasmin Latif


(Irene Loo's Syllabus, posted by Victor Chen)
(Karen Fox's AP Chemistry Syllabus, posted by Victor Chen)
(Leslie Kellman's Chemistry Syllabus), posted by Victor Chen)

The first syllabus I posted is from my mentor's class, Irene Loo. Based on the copy of the guidelines I received from her, and just knowing how little she has changed over the years, I suspect she has had the same class guidelines for several years. Mrs. Loo is very discipline and classroom management-oriented, and I think her classroom policies reflect that. The policies state that Mrs. Loo is very strict when it comes to handing in assignments, taking tests on time, and generally emphasizing the responsibility of the student to ensure that he/she is keeping up in the class.

I like how Mrs. Loo emphasizes student responsibility in her classroom policy. However, I don't know if I would choose to emphasize it quite in the same way. She has a lot of boldface and underlined items in ther policy, and there are a lot of things that are mentioned 2 or 3 times (e.g. make-ups). Also, I think the format of her policy is rather dense, making it a little more difficult to read. Mrs. Loo does give a short quiz on her classroom policy, which forces her students to look over the policy at least once.
There are two sections I would like to have in my classroom policy that are not present in Mrs. Loo's. The first is a section on respect in the classroom - respect between students and students, and between the teacher and students. I think this is one of the most important features of a good classroom environment. The second section would be the grading policy. Mrs. Loo does talk about the grading policy in class, but it would be nice if the policy was stated in the policy handout as well.

(Course Outline for Ms. Spark's Science 2 class, posted by Anthony Thomas)
(Course Outline for Ms. Spark's Chemistry class, posted by Anthony Thomas)

Both outlines follow a similar pattern: Class Goals, Expectations, Material Needed, Grading Policy, Homework Policy, Labs, Projects, Tests, Notebooks and Final. Ms Sparks is very organized and has a fair number of web resources listing homework, a 2 week outline of the topic, reading and homework for each day, projects, practice problems on-line and other chemistry links. The keys to Ms Sparks’s philosophy are the Class Goals and Expectations. Here since this is critical I think she could have elaborated further. In the expectation section she discusses respect for self, respect for others and responsibility for one's action. I would add a statement about it is not required to be right but participation is required. She bolds the statement "I do not tolerate derogatory comments about others!" During Ms. Sparks first day she doesn't discuss her grading policies but refers students to the outline. I like how Ms. Sparks carefully lays out the grading rules in the outline. By making it clear how she will grade but not discussing it, it suggests that learning and not the grade is the key.

Kristen Fancher

This is the chemistry syllabus for my mentor teacher Carmen Lawes' class. Ms. Lawes is very big on organization and discipline (when necessary) to keep the class running smoothly, and I believe this is outlined very well in her syllabus. I like that the students know exactly what to expect from her and that they have a place to refer back to in case they are absent and want to know the policies. Also, she lays out the main objectives for the course, which is important for students. However, I feel like these objectives are straight out of a textbook, and that this will not sufficiently get students interested in the subject. If it were my syllabus, I would have more objectives that would allow students to see (hopefully) the value of chemistry, even if they have no desire to be chemists. Also, Ms. Lawes does have a "participation" section - she gives each student 100 participation points everyday, but she will take them away if you do not answer the question of the day, disrupt the class, or you are tardy or absent. If the syllabus were mine, I would have add more focus on participation with classmates in groupwork or lab work as well as participation by asking questions, in an attempt to make my "community-centered" and "learner-centered" goals more clearly defined. She very briefly mentions "participation in class discussion," but this would not be enough of a focus if it were my syllabus.

Chemistry Syllabus
Josh McCaman

My CT did not have an online syllabus so I just took one from a teacher on the internet to use here. The syllabus starts out by going over the classroom rules, and has a few basic rules such as be prepared and respect others. After that, the teacher states how she wants class started each day, which I think is a good way to get students to know your expectations right away. Then, the syllabus goes into the grading aspects, and how everything will be graded. This is good, because then if the students/parents have problems with grades, the teacher can refer back to the syllabus which she makes them sign. Finally, she gives an abscence policy, about how students should turn in make up work. All in all, I think this is a good syllabus as it addresses things that most people have questions on, such as how grades are determined and what the classroom rules are. While it describes the consequences for breaking one of the rules, I would like it to show what the consequences would be for breaking all the rules, that way the teacher would have something to fall back on. Other than that, the teacher does a very good job with her syllabus

Erin Gleason Syllabus Review:
Chem Syllabus - Gleason

I obtained this syllabus from Mrs. Corsini who teaches at Shrine HS in Royal Oak (also taught in Ferndale "for a hundred years"). It is an excellent syllabus, starting with an introduction to writing reports and the intimidating metric system. Starting at the basics, and baby-stepping into more difficult concepts, a good background is set (such as learning the elemental symbols) to prepare for bigger things. This is a very similar format to how I started my career in chemistry, and will use this as a building block for any courses I teach. Because she teaches at Shrine, discipline is not much of an issue, but I would include classroom and lab rules along with the course goals so students would constantly be reminded of safety issues constantly. I would also reserve a section for the end of the year (or maybe during the holidays) when the students would research and present current issues in chemistry, or possibly choose an activity to learn about (like what happens chemically when you eat a cookie). Other than those two issues, I would not change anything as this process worked on me (and all my nerdy friends).

Chemistry Syllabus

Natalie McC

I decided to look at a syllabus from a different school and from a different part of the country. With this syllabus, I like that the students know how different aspects from the class will be weighted (i.e. exams, homework, etc.). The syllabus is also good at outlining the rules, as there may be additions to school rules. Along with these, there is also a slip that students and parents must fill out and return, accepting the rules as outlined. What I believe I would add would be the different topics and ideas that will be covered in the course.


- Jewett's review of syllabus.
- Michelle Love's review of Eric Swager's syllabus

More Physics

Physics Rules! Well, yes it rules, but these are classroom rules

This syllabis is more of just a general classroom rule guide. It loosely covers how the students will be graded, but it does not set anything in stone. The thing I like the most about this handout is that it is short and sweet. It get's to the point and gets the main goals of the class across. I guess that would be my "keeper". The main thing I would change about this format would be to add a list of topics to be covered. Also, some kind of a rough schedule so the students know what kind of workload to expect. Boo yah!