4 Syllabus Annotation Exercise

Naomi Salmon

Activity Description

This activity invites students to reflect on a course’s goals and expectations and provide a space for students to ask clarification questions.

Instructors may also use syllabus annotation activities to co-construct course guidelines with students. For example, an instructor might invite students to develop a policy about in-class technology or late work together and then formalize this policy during a course discussion.


This activity incorporates the Hypothes.is annotation tool. If you scroll down to the main content section of this page, you will see that some of the text is highlighted in yellow. Clicking on any of these highlights will allow you to see additional content related to this page. (These highlights may take a few seconds to appear on your screen.)

Try It Out!

Contribute a comment of your own! What are some of the ways that you’ve seen students and peers participate productively during discussion sections?


To comment on this text, highlight a section of this page. You will see two options pop up next to your selection:
image of the dropdown options that appear when you highlight text with hypothesis enabled. The buttons read "annotate" and "highlight"
Click “Annotate.”
If you don’t have a Hypothes.is account, you’ll be prompted to make one. (This is free.) Once you’ve entered your email and logged in, enter your comment, and then click “Post to Public.”



Syllabus Excerpt

Participation and Professionalism

To create an open, supportive discussion, we all need to participate—not only as speakers but also as active, attentive listeners. You should come to each class meeting prepared and ready to be an active participant when you’re here. Participation does not mean “talking a lot”—it means a range of things. “Active Participation” can include listening carefully, speaking thoughtfully in large- or small-group discussions, contributing to our online discussion board, or otherwise helping to foster a rewarding discussion that involves all of your classmates. I am happy to have a conversation about participation strategies at any time during the semester–please feel free to reach out to me after class or send me an email. 

While I do allow technology in my classroom, I ask that you use computers and phones only as they enrich your note-taking or participation abilities. Texting while your peers are speaking or surfing the internet during section are unprofessional behaviors that disrupt the flow of the classroom. If you engage in any of these behaviors in class, you and I will discuss these behaviors in private. If you continue to behave in this way after our initial conversation, you will not be able to claim “daily and active participation” as per the terms of our course grading contract.

Syllabus Activity Reflection QuestionWhat are two things you can do to contribute to an inclusive classroom environment? (Think about things that other students have done to make you feel welcome in a conversation, however contentious that conversation may have been!)



OER Sourcebook Hypothes.is Discussion

  • What language would you use to describe the goals and actions required in a syllabus annotation activity?
  • How might these instructions differ if you were framing this as a small-group exercise during class?
  • What kinds of questions would you ask students to consider in the margins?



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OER Activity Sourcebook Copyright © by Naomi Salmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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