Student Achievement Opinion

Create a Syllabus for High School Students

By Starr Sackstein — September 01, 2015 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Do you remember your first college class?

The day you stepped foot in the door you were handed a syllabus that described the focus and objectives of that class, as well as a clear calendar of topics to be learned and project due dates.

You may have even been warned not to lose it, as another wouldn’t be provided (okay, I’m dating myself here. We didn’t have electronic copies of things yet when I went to college).

But it was well established that a syllabus was important and yet, I never received one prior to my freshman year of college.

This seems another one of those easy to remedy challenges that can definitely better prepare students who are college-bound and also those who will be going into the workforce, who have to follow a schedule.

High school students are notorious for mismanagement of time. One great way to better teach them to manage that time and become more accountable for their learning is to provide them with a syllabus.

In my AP Literature and Composition class, students receive a syllabus that maps out the entire year, with clear expectations and specific objectives to help students see the whole picture. It doesn’t only help students though, it helps me stay on track and see the scope of the year.

Here are some things to include in your syllabus for the maximum organization for all:

  • The title of the course and when and where it meets
  • Your contact information and the best way for students/parents to contact you
  • a brief description of the class
  • a list of objectives
  • assessing policies including how you will handle plagiarism or other academic dishonesty
  • required materials and other resources
  • texts that will be used throughout the year
  • a break down of each unit you will cover with any major assessments

    • consider adding the approximate length of the unit
    • the purpose and expectations of learning
  • the standards covered throughout the year
  • rubrics used if there are any
  • calendar of assignments, including reading responsibilities

Review my whole syllabus here: APLiteratureSyllabus15-16.pdf

Putting these essential pieces of information into a document will undoubtedly help any teacher organize the year and backward plan appropriately for optimal student success and it will help students clearly understand what is expected and the timeline for the full year. This global perspective will ensure focus for everyone.

Following a syllabus is a skill that can easily be taught in high school to better prepare students for their future and it doesn’t only have to apply to seniors (although for them is it more of an imperative). The sooner we help students learn to use a syllabus as an organizing tool, the better adept they’ll become at finding their own way through it.

Don’t be afraid to be flexible with your syllabus and leave a TBD (to be determined) to allow for student input where possible. As long as you’re clear with what your expectations are, students will only gain from this experience.

How do you communicate the goals of your courses with students? Please share

Related Tags:

The opinions expressed in Work in Progress are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Student Achievement Schools Straddle the Pandemic and Familiar Headwinds in Quest to Boost Quality
The latest Quality Counts summative grades show stubbornly average performance by the nation's schools overall, despite pockets of promise.
1 min read
Illustration of C letter grade
Student Achievement Spotlight Spotlight on Learning Gaps
In this Spotlight, analyze where learners – and educators – are in their learning process; see what other leaders are planning, and more.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Achievement Whitepaper
The Tutoring Solution: Exclusive Survey Findings
A white paper commissioned by Kelly Education and published by the EdWeek Research Center finds that parents and educators alike are on b...
Content provided by Kelly Education
Student Achievement Quiz Quiz Yourself: How Much Do You Know About Student Achievement?
Quiz Yourself: How is your district doing with student achievement?