Sunday, June 5, 2016

Semester Syllabus, Pacing, and Topics

For our new Sociology teacher readers, or those looking to revamp their courses- this post will provide you with a few tips and ideas for designing your course.

*Disclaimer: I teach a semester long Sociology course.

1. First, chose the units you will teach. 

I use my textbook for this task. If you do not have class textbooks, I would order an exam copy from a publisher (or multiple). They are free, and will serve as a useful resource throughout this year. You can also use the ASA (American Sociological Association) Standards for this task.

My units include:
  1. Founders & Research Methods
  2. Culture & Media
  3. Deviance & Crime
  4. Socialization
  5. Stratification
  6. Race
  7. Family & Gender
2. Following, design your syllabus. 

Here is an AP Lang example.
I strongly advise to keep your syllabus to be 1 page, front and back. This way the most important information is in the document, and your students and parents are more likely to read it. (And you save some trees!) You could even let your creative juices flow and make your syllabus an infographic! (If this suits your fancy, here are two websites (1) (2) that I have used to make infographics.)

3. Include your VIP classroom procedures in your syllabus.

From my experience, it is crucial to include procedures and policies such as your late work policy, academic dishonesty policy, and absent work policy. (These 3 are very important) If you have your students and parents sign the syllabus, this helps to reinforce the policies throughout the duration of the course.

4. When tackling pacing, think about what you want your units to look like.

Ask yourself- How will I introduce your units? Will I need to provide your students work time for a project? How will I assess them, authentic assessment or traditional test? How excited am I about this topic, and will I want extra time to engage my students in my favorite activity we did in college? 

In my course, I try my best to introduce each unit with an experiment or simulation. I like to stick to approximately 10 class days per unit, including assessment day. I pace my course this way so that I have all of December (for semester one) for our final project, our Sociology Capstone (I will blog about this project in the future). 

5. Factor in any major projects into your pacing guide.

I used to integrate a semester long research project through out the course. This year, I am revamping the project into a capstone project at the end of the semester. You may like to implement 20% time.  Decide if this is something you want to include in your course. If so, schedule time for it, and include a little blurb about it in your syllabus!

6. Use resources besides your textbook! Or if you don't have a textbook, consider using these books as a resource for you!

Here are two supplemental texts that I love and use in my Sociology course:
               The Contexts Reader                 Down to Earth Sociology, by James Henslin

As always, thank you for reading!


  1. Kikinov, It is really great post. Thanks for this 6 great points. All points are very important. I am waiting for your next post about Sociology Capstone Project Ideas.

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  7. This is so helpful for those of us who will be teaching high school sociology for the first time. I really like the layout of your syllabus. I noticed that you included a materials list. I also noted that one of the items on that list is: "Your own device that can access the Internet." How do you account for digital equity and equity in general when it comes to these materials. Is your school a 1:1 school where every student takes a device home? Do you explain that although that is on your list, if any student has issues getting those materials or getting access to the internet, you can help them make arrangements to resolve those issues? The reason I ask is because I too would love to have students use devices at home to conduct sociological research for projects so they are ready to use what they found in class, but I am afraid this won't be possible because I might be hired at a school with low access to technology (I'm a teaching intern). I'm also interested in what some solutions to that might be.

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