Essential Elements of a Syllabus

These items should be included in every Overlake Syllabus - not necessarily in the order listed

Written By Kelly Vikstrom (Collaborator)

Updated at July 5th, 2024

Course Learning Objectives

  • Every syllabus should have a short section delineating the course’s overall learning objectives, enduring understandings, and essential questions.

A list of textbooks and other required materials

  • Recommended materials should also be listed.
  • Ideally, required texts/materials should be listed chronologically in the order they will be used.
  • Note if there is a specific edition of a textbook that needs to be used, or if any edition would be acceptable.
  • List the materials that will be used on a regular basis in class so students plan to bring them to school consistently.
  • The deadline for teachers to post a homework assignment is 4:15 pm the day before it’s due. For longer summative assignments/assessments, at least a week in advance.  
  • Most assignments should be due at the beginning of the class when they are due. This expectation aligns with the idea that homework should work primarily as preparation for the class – completing the homework before class puts students in the best position to learn.
  • It is reasonable to expect that sometimes students may run into difficulties completing the homework, have clarifying questions for the teacher, etc. It is acceptable, in these cases, to have the assignment come in until 4:00 pm on the same day (once students can attend study hall/office hours and get the help they need to complete it).  This also makes sense for longer/culminating assignments that don’t impact upcoming class preparation. 
  • Extensions (at teacher’s discretion) should be due only at the beginning of the next class meeting or subsequent class meeting (i.e., no assignments should be due outside of the blocks stipulated for that course).

The grade weight scale

  • Ideally, the grade weight scale will align philosophically with the main learning objectives of the course (for example, if developing aural and oral competence is the main goal in a certain language class, written assignments shouldn’t represent 70% of the final grade, and so on).

Academic Integrity Expectations

  • A link to Overlake’s academic integrity policy and to Overlake’s AI philosophy should be included. 
  • Beyond that, there should be a section detailing the teacher’s general expectations. It’s entirely possible, in some courses, that these expectations may change from one assignment/assessment to another; this would be important to note in the syllabus and to state that students need to pay careful attention to the language and specifications of each assignment.

How and when to connect with the teacher

  • Regular office hours (and if the teacher is available by appointment at other times)
  • Classroom or other location to meet with students
  • Asynchronous communication always via the Canvas messengingsystem 
  • Timeline when students can expect a response from the teacher (i.e. within 24 hours, etc.). Please encourage our students to practice wellness and self-care (and focus on yours!) by not responding immediately to messages that come in late at night. 

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