What if I told you…


No one except a fellow teacher would really understand what it takes to put together a solid syllabus.

And how frustrating it is when students don’t read it or refer to it.


One semester students even called the class publication “It’s In The Syllabus!”


I try to be patient. After all, the class policies part of the syllabus is four pages. And the syllabus itself is six pages. That’s a lot of information to digest.

When students want to join the class after missing the first day, I’ve been known to just hand them the syllabus and class policies and say, “Read this over the weekend. If you still want to be in the class, talk to me next week.”

We also do two scavenger hunts during the second and third weeks of class: one that takes place using the syllabus and class policies handouts, the other around campus. When I take the time to do these scavenger hunts, it reduces the number of questions that are answered in the syllabus.

Read about the “Shadow Syllabus” here.


Here’s the syllabus scavenger hunt:

Instructor contact:
Your Group:

English 1A Information Scavenger Hunt:
Using your Course Syllabus and textbooks, find answers to the following questions:

  1. What is the teacher’s name and what is her email address?


  1. Where is her office and what are her office hours?


  1. How many hours of homework should you expect to do each week?
    (here’s a blog post on the topic of how many hours of homework to expect to do in college)


  1. How many absences maximum is a student allowed before he/she is dropped course?


  1. What should you do if you are going to be absent?


  1. What is the policy for media devices?


  1. What is the policy for plagiarism?


  1. What is the policy for late work?


  1. How will you be evaluated/graded?


  1. How many textbooks are required? ___ What else is required?


  1. What is a reading response? A RW? What is a TP?


  1. What will we be reading and writing on Tuesdays? What will we be reading and writing on Thursdays?


  1. If you don’t have your textbooks yet, or lose them for a while, you must still do your homework. Where can you borrow these books for a few hours?


  1. What are the requirements for formal writing?


  1. Please turn to your text EveryDay Writer. What kind of information is in this book? Who reads this book? When do we read it?


  1. On what page in your text can you find an example of a paper written in MLA style?


  1. Where is the Index and what is an Index for?________________________________


  1. Where can you find a list of Correction Symbols? I will write some of these correction symbols on your writing and give you the opportunity to revise.


  1. Can you get extra credit or make-up absences? How?


  1. What are questions you still have?

Have fun!! Thank you for all your hard work!!

Here’s “Adventures on Campus” as adapted to our school, Ventura College.

Alley’s Adventures at Ventura College: A Scavenger Hunt

  1. Complete 25 or more of the tasks listed below with at least 15 photos to use in a visual presentation of your group at work on this project in different spots on campus to share with the class when you give your report. You will have class time; refer to the syllabus.
  2. After gathering information, AS A GROUP write and produce a video, prezi, powerpoint, blog or slide show with narration. Print out the script/presentation.
  3. Process Analysis: INDIVIDUALLY in two pages, write a personal narrative that analyzes the process your team used to accomplish these tasks. Describe two ways your team worked well together, two of the greatest challenges to the group, and how you overcame these challenges. Name two reasons why team building is a resource for students.
  4. Written Group Report/Script, Oral Report DUE:
  5. Individual Process Analysis DUE:





* You have two hours between classes and you want to do the reading for class but you don’t have your book with you and no one from your team has one either. What can you do?

* Your computer/printer crashed—but you emailed a draft of your paper to a teammate for feedback. Describe two low/no cost options to get your paper done, printed and turned in available to every student.

* Name three ways to manage your time better and two campus resources that can help you.

* Name four ways to get to campus and show students using these methods.

* You need money for books and tuition. Name three places on campus that you can get assistance in getting money to help. Collect materials from at least two sources.

* How can you figure out which career is for you? Where on campus can you get help and when? Describe 3 services here.

* Someone in your team is struggling in school and might fail a class. Name two ways you can help him or her pass the class.

* Take your team to the main place on campus where he or she can get academic assistance. Name the person in charge. Name 2 ways your teammate can get help with English. List the hours.

* Struggling in school is really getting a teammate down—plus your teammate spends so much time tutoring and studying, his/her relationship is falling apart. Since you recognize that there’s only so much that a friend can do, where do you advise that your teammate get help? How much does it cost?

* Ahhhhchoooo! One teammate keeps sneezing and another has a headache. Go to the place on campus that will help each person. Get at least one item to help each person. Name other service available here.

* A teammate has confided that he or she suspects that he or she might be dyslexic. Go to this place and pick up a handout on learning channels for each team member. Find out hours and service.

  • Take a group picture with VC’s mascot. (What is the mascot?)
  • Take a group picture at the gym. (Can you work out there? When?)
  • Take a picture of team members with three faculty members in their offices. Note the professors’ names and office hours.
  • Take a picture of your team in front of a student art display.
  • Take a picture with the name of the English department chair. Bonus if you get a picture!
  • Get information about 3 student organizations. When is Club Day? Where is the AS office?
  • Find and take a picture of your group at 3 places where you can get something to eat during a quick break between classes.
  • Pick up an informational brochure from the career center. Take a picture of someone in your group with someone who can help you there.
  • Pick up a copy of a free campus newspaper—or photograph where you’d find one.
  • Pick up a pamphlet from the health center. Find out the hours. Take a picture to show us what you found there.
  • Take pictures of your group using at least 3 different campus computer labs. Where are they?
  • Take a picture in/of a science lab.
  • Take a picture in or around the football stadium. Bonus for a picture of your team with a VC athlete.
  • Take a picture in the bookstore. Bonus if everyone in your group is wearing school colors.
  • Take a picture of your group in the quad.
  • Take a picture of your group with an artwork on campus.
  • Talk to five non-classmate VC students — and write down their names, majors, and hometowns.
  • Take a picture in the campus library and ask the librarian how many volumes they have. Get a library card for each team member. Find out about the lending library.
  • Visit the financial aid office. When’s your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) due?
  • Pick up information scholarships, take a photo at the office, and find out deadlines for VC scholarships.
  • Find out what EOPS and EAC stands for and get photos outside or inside the office.
  • Take a picture in the transfer center. Bonus if you get one with the doctor in charge!
  •  Who are top administrators on campus? Where are their offices? Get a photo with one!

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