SERC > About Sheets

Sheets - Models for Community Sharing

In our work to promote community sharing of best practices around teaching we find a frequent barrier is the lack of common understanding around what exactly should be shared. The Sheets model is one answer to this dilema. Each sheet format: ActivitySheets, DataSheets, CourseSheets and FieldTripSheets represents a codification of the sorts of information the should included when sharing a particular type of resource.

This community sharing model was initially documented in the D-Lib article Digital Library as Network and Community Center

ActivitySheets record the particulars of a teaching activity. This includes the contextual information and teaching hints that are crucial in enabling successful adaptation of the activity by other educators, as well as teaching materials such as handouts and assessment rubrics. Collections of ActivitySheets can be found within many of projects that work with SERC's technical infrastructure.

The ActivitySheets model is the result of interative development by a number of SERC hosted projects including the On the Cutting Edge professional development program and the Starting Point: Teaching Introductory Geoscience project. The model has been adopted by a wide range of projects across a variety of disciplines.

ActivitySheets are designed to:

  1. Provide all of the information a faculty member needs to successfully implement an activity
  2. Enable faculty at a glance to determine if they want to learn more about this example
ActivitySheets are one page summaries of teaching activities in a standardized format. Teaching activities in this context includes everything from a 5 minute in-class exercise to an extended student project. The goal of the activity sheet is to concisely communicate to other faculty what the key elements of the activity are so that they can adapt the activity for their own environment; or perhaps use it as a source of inspiration and good ideas. The ActivitySheets are presented in a standard template that has 8 parts:
  • Heading which contains the activity title, author attribution, email, a brief summary of activity, and a related image that provides context with visual appeal
  • Measurable goals for student learning
  • Context for using in different teaching situations
  • Activity description, and teaching materials needed to implement the activity
  • Teaching notes and tips for instructor
  • Assessment which describes how instructor will measure students' achievement of learning goals
  • Resources, references or links to other online information in support of the specific activity
  • Short description which is displayed in search return results


DataSheets present a bridging structure to the educational use of datasets which, when encountered at their home website, often present a number of barriers. DataSheets make explicity how to use a dataset and its relation to curricular concerns. It also serves as a nexus for related activities and references. Our current collection of DataSheets can be found within the Using Data in the Classroom Portal.

CourseSheets capture the broad picture of a given course with an explicit focus on the course goals that lie at the heart of effective course design. The collection of CourseSheets can be found within the On the Cutting Edge course design area.

FieldTripSheets are being developed in collaboration with the National Association of Geoscience Teachers to disseminate their communities expertise in running successful field experiences. The initial work, including several representative sheets, can found on the page describing this program.

SERC supports these sheet formats both through tools that allow them to be created and searched within projects using the SERC CMS as well as working with the community to evaluate their effectiveness and promote their use as a common currency for sharing.