Initial Publication Date: May 20, 2013

Teaching Materials Format

Write for the Web: a quick scan should tell a compelling story

Teaching materials should be written to allow for easy scanning by your fellow educators who are trying to decide if they should spend more time in your module or flit back to Google and continue their search. Identify the elements of your module that will be most compelling for your fellow educators: a novel twist on presenting a complex topic, a particularly effective pedagogy, the rooting out of a common misconception. These elements should be explicitly called out in the module description, overview and goals/assessment sections. Writing effectively for the web requires different approaches than other formats you may be familiar with. Check out our guide to writing for the web for more guidance.

InTeGrate Module and Course Template

Front Page**

**Note: The contents of this page should be drafted by the authoring team as part of the materials development but will be revised and finalized by the team lead. The material below is for reference.

Summary:The section summarizes, in 2-5 sentences, the concrete information the reader needs to decide if the module/course will meet their teaching needs. This should include the topical/content focus, the purpose of instruction/learning goals, the length of instruction, pedagogic approaches and key student activities. It should be evocative and compelling rather than complete.

Strengths of the Module/Course: This section describes the particular strengths of the module/course to make a compelling case for why an instructor might want to use these materials. It may call out the use of innovative pedagogies, the strong alignment between goals, activities and assessment and highlight key activities.

It should include 2-3 brief paragraphs each of which highlights a particular strength (with the key idea in bold). Each paragraph should end with a link directly to material within the module that exemplifies the strength.

Good candidates to consider when frame the strengths of a module are the 5 central InTeGrate goals:

  • Use geoscience-related grand challenges facing society
  • Develop students' ability to address interdisciplinary problems
  • Improve student understanding of the nature and methods of geoscience and developing geoscientific habits of mind
  • Make use of authentic and credible geoscience data
  • Incorporate systems thinking

A Great Fit for Courses In: Lists 4-6 types of courses that are best aligned to use the materials. These should demonstrate the variety of courses that the materials are well-aligned with.

Context: This section describes the various ways this module/course might fit into a curriculum with an emphasis on the breadth of courses to which it could be adapted. It should include what level(s) of students the material is appropriate for and what background the students need. It should explicitly indicate the material is at the undergraduate level.

Key Literacies Addressed: This section should list the literacies addressed in the module/course.

Table of Contents: This section links to the overview page, unit pages, student materials top page, assessments page, and instructor stories page.

Module Overview

Module/Course Goal and Summative Assessment: This section succinctly states the overall module/course goal and briefly describes the summative assessment.

Outline: This section provides links to each unit along with a one to two sentence description of the unit. Each of the subsequent pages are 'Unit' pages and should be labeled as below (e.g. Unit 3: Mining and Mining Impacts).

If a unit contains multiple activities that could reasonably stand-alone/be adapted independently they should be broken off into separate 'Activity' pages and should be labeled like this: Activity 3.2: Dissecting a Moose
In this example the numbering indicates this is the second Activity associated with the 3rd Unit.

Making the Module Work: This section links to the instructor stories as examples of how the module could be adapted to different course structures and provides a link to general information on how to effectively use InTeGrate modules and courses.


Each Unit is described through the standard 'ActivitySheet' format described below. If a Unit has several elements that could each be a stand-alone activity, then each one should be described on a separate page with a separate ActivitySheet. The main Unit ActivitySheet should describe the flow between these separate activities as well as overarching goals and strategies. Activities with extensive teaching materials may benefit from some of the material being pulled off into a separate page. Consult with your team leader or webteam liason if you think this might be useful for a particular Activity.

Summary: This section provides a compelling description of the activity. It should make it clear what the activity is without assuming the reader is familiar with the surrounding module. It should provide an overview of the things that students will do and the intended outcomes. The description should be concise and compelling: typically no more than 2-3 sentences.

Learning Goals: This section describes what the learner should know and be able to do at the end of the instruction for this unit. It will include the essential concepts,content, skills, abilities, and attitudes that students should learn from the Unit. This includes higher-order thinking skills (e.g. critical thinking, data analysis, synthesis of ideas, model development) as well as other skills (writing, oral presentation, field techniques, equipment operation, etc.). The measurable learning objectives should describe the intended results of the teaching activities. Strong learning objectives describe the conditions under which the learning behavior is to be performed. It should use action verbs, state criteria, and include the product, process, or outcome that is desired. This section should explicitly indicate how the Unit goals relate to the course/module goals and to the 5 InTeGrate goals.

Context for Use: The connection of this unit to the rest of the module will be indicated via automatically generated links. Thus, this section should focus on the breadth of ways this unit/activity might fit into a variety of courses by helping faculty understand the types of teaching situations for which this activity is appropriate. Important types of context include educational level, class size, institution type, etc. Is it a lab, lecture, field exercise, or a longer project? How much time is needed for the activity? Is there special equipment that is necessary? Are there skills or concepts that students should have already mastered before encountering this activity? How easy (or hard) would it be to adapt the activity for use in other settings?

Description and Teaching Material: This section should include a narrative describing the mechanics and flow of the activity and all the materials needed to implement the activity (or links and references to those materials). The narrative should suggest a specific sequence and flow, highlighting what work takes place in class versus out of class with likely time requirements for each. It should also suggest how the timing and structure can be adapted for different situations.

For all linked/downloadable materials, include a brief description of each item covering what it is and what its role is in the activity. Materials may need to be provided in multiple formats to support use in different teaching scenarios.

Longer units/activities may either be split into several sub activities (if they could logically be reused/adapted independently) and/or have longer sections moved off into sub pages. Consult with your web liaison or team leader on how best to divide your long units.

Teaching Notes and Tips: This section gives additional insight into how to use the Unit effectively. It highlights areas where students may struggle and gives advice on how best to guide student's learning. Areas where student misconceptions may come into play should be highlighted. This section should specifically discuss how the materials can be used to best effect to reach InTeGrate's guiding principles.

It should not be a description of the activity itself. That information should be in the teaching materials section. Teaching Notes and Tips are optional, but encouraged.

Assessment: This section should describe how instructors can determine whether or not students (either individually or collectively) are achieving the learning goals for the unit and the learning objectives outlined for the activity. Assessments may be formative and help the instructor monitor student learning while the learning is occurring or summative and evaluate against a benchmark after learning has occurred. Assessments should be criterion referenced, sequenced, address goals at successively higher cognitive levels, and be consistent with the expectations for the course activities. Criterion referenced means the assessments have clear methods of evaluation. The instructor can tell to what extent a given student is succeeding on a learning objective independently, not just how well their performance compares to other students. Since this page will be public consider whether specific questions/example responses/rubrics need to be kept private to retain their value to instructors. Identify these clearly so that they can be made private before the module as a whole becomes public.

References and Resources: This section should include references and links to supplementary resources that relate to the specific activity or will support faculty and/or students using the activity. Web resources should include both the url and a brief description of the site (and why it is relevant). Print resource should include basic citation information as well as a brief description of the resource.

Materials that are integral to the activity (e.g. student readings, datasets) should be included in the teaching materials section.

Assessment of Goals and Objectives

This page addresses assessing overall student learning in the module and the summative assessments used to measure this learning.

Assessments allow you to monitor student learning and evaluate this learning against the goals for your module/course. This section should start with a paragraph or two about what summative learning assessments are used with this module/course. Connections should be drawn between these assessments and the module/course learning goals as well as the InTeGrate guiding principles. Just as the goals should be appropriate for the duration of the module/course, the summative assessments should be sufficient to demonstrate achievement of these learning goals for this same duration.

The assessment instruments and corresponding answers/rubrics should be provided, listed by unit. Since this page will be public, consider whether specific questions/example responses/rubrics need to be kept private to retain their value to instructors. Identify these clearly so that they can be made private before the module/course becomes public. Instructors will provide student data to the project for these summative assessments.

Within the module/course, assessments may be formative and help the instructor monitor student learning or summative and evaluate against a benchmark. All assessments should be criterion referenced, sequenced, address goals at successively higher cognitive levels, and be consistent with the expectations for the module activities. Criterion referenced means that the assessments have clear methods of evaluation. The instructor can tell to what extent a given student is succeeding on a learning objective independently, not just how well their performance compares to other students.

Individual Instructor Stories

Summary: The summary should start with one line that captures the context in which the module/course was used. This should be followed by 2-5 sentences that highlight what was particularly interesting about this particular implementation. This could include the setting, schedule, student group, an exceptional success or unusual adaptation of materials

Success Story Quote: Please provide a 1-sentence summary that captures a particularly successful and engaging aspect of your module/course implementation. e.g. "The activities in the Climate of Change module had students in my introductory-level General Meteorology class up and out of their seats, looking at and discussing the same data that scientists use to understand climate variability and climate change."

My Experience Teaching with InTeGrate Materials: This section should provide a 1-2 sentence account of how your use of the module/course influenced the way you saw and/or taught the course.

Relationship of the InTeGrate Materials to My Course: This section includes a 2-4 minute video interview with the course instructor. They speak to the ways in which the module/course materials contributed to their course, their students' successes and the power of the module/course to promote the sorts of learning that is embodied in the InTeGrate goals.

Course Information: This section captures the course size, format and institution type followed by a show/hide box with the course syllabus (pdf preferred), a brief summary of the course content, especially as it relates to the module, and a list of course level goals.

A Unit-By-Unit Breakdown of How I Taught This Module/Course: This section describes how the module/course materials was adapted to fit the needs of the particular course. Topics to cover include:

  • How the Units were fit into the class schedule
  • Modifications to the Units and activities, including helpful tips and supplemental documents.

Assessments: This section should provide a short paragraph (3-4 sentences) describing the assessments you used and how they were handled by students (and should identify suggested modifications going forward, if applicable).

Outcomes: This section describes the vision and goals you had hoped to achieve by using the module/course materials in the course and how you think students performed in relation to those visions and goals.