Introduction to BackwardDesign
Good design…is not so much aboutgaining a few new technical skills as it isabout learning to be more thoughtfuland specifi...
Stages of Backward Design   Stage 1: Identify desired results    ◦ Requires clarity about priorities    ◦ Must make choic...
Stages of Backward Design   Stage 3: Plan learning experiences and    instruction    ◦ What activities will equip student...
Key Points   In actuality, it does not follow that this is    a step-by-step process …Don’t confuse    the logic of the f...
Unpacking Stage 1: Elements   Established Goals: formal, long-term    goals, such as state content standards,    district...
   Essential Questions: highlight the big ideas    that are central to the design, ideas that the    work will require st...
   Understandings: a “moral of the story”    about the big ideas    ◦ What specific insights will students take away     ...
   Knowledge: the straightforward facts and    concepts that are to be gained from the    learning and teaching activitie...
•   The targeted knowledge and skills can be of    three different kinds (p. 57):    – The building blocks for the desired...
Key Point Although these categories are conceptually distinct, they often overlap in practice!
Essential Questions Not only promote understanding of the content of a unit on a particular topic, but also spark connect...
A question is “essential” if it is meant to:– Cause genuine and relevant inquiry into the big ideas  and core content– Pro...
Key Points•   No question is inherently essential. It all    comes down to purpose, audience, and    impact    – Why we po...
Key Points   Essential questions can be framed around four    categories of big ideas relevant to effective skill    lear...
Crafting Understandings   As with essential questions, no statement is    inherently a fact or understanding. It depends ...
Four Rules of Thumb:• A desired understanding is a priority. A  unit should focus on a small number of  transferable big i...
Four Rules of Thumb:• Although pertaining to general or abstract  ideas, the desired understandings must be  stated in cle...
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Introduction to backward design 070212

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Introduction to backward design 070212

  1. 1. Introduction to BackwardDesign
  2. 2. Good design…is not so much aboutgaining a few new technical skills as it isabout learning to be more thoughtfuland specific about our purposes andwhat they imply (p. 14) - distinguishing interesting learning fromeffective learning
  3. 3. Stages of Backward Design Stage 1: Identify desired results ◦ Requires clarity about priorities ◦ Must make choices Stage 2: Determine acceptable evidence ◦ Evidence gathered through a variety of formal and informal assessments during a unit of study, not just a culminating test or project ◦ Self-assessment (p. 25) – explain what you mean; describe the purpose of the self-assessment
  4. 4. Stages of Backward Design Stage 3: Plan learning experiences and instruction ◦ What activities will equip students with the needed knowledge and skills? ◦ What material and resources are best suited to accomplish these goals? ◦ “WHERETO” elements (p. 22)  T = tailored to the different needs, interests, and abilities of learners  modifications
  5. 5. Key Points In actuality, it does not follow that this is a step-by-step process …Don’t confuse the logic of the final product with the messy process of design work. It doesn’t matter exactly where you start or how you proceed, as long as you end up with a coherent design reflecting the logic of the three stages (p. 29)
  6. 6. Unpacking Stage 1: Elements Established Goals: formal, long-term goals, such as state content standards, district program goals, departmental objectives, and exit-level outcomes ◦ Typically refer to academic aims (e.g., factual, conceptual, procedural) ◦ Also includes habits of mind (e.g., tolerance of ambiguity) and values and attitudes (e.g., stepping in to mediate a playground dispute)
  7. 7.  Essential Questions: highlight the big ideas that are central to the design, ideas that the work will require students to address ◦ Are at the heart of the subject ◦ Raise more questions – provoking and sustaining engaged inquiry ◦ Because many of the truly essential questions recur and have no final resolution, it is appropriate to say that “seriously pursuing the question” as opposed to “answering” it is the desired result (p. 58)
  8. 8.  Understandings: a “moral of the story” about the big ideas ◦ What specific insights will students take away about the meaning of ‘content’ via big ideas? ◦ Understandings summarize the desired insights we want students to realize ◦ Specific generalizations about the “big ideas.” They summarize the key meanings, inferences, and importance of the ‘content’ ◦ Deliberately framed as a full sentence “moral of the story” – “Students will understand THAT…”
  9. 9.  Knowledge: the straightforward facts and concepts that are to be gained from the learning and teaching activities Skill: identifies what students will be able to do by the unit’s end (the discrete techniques, complex procedures, and methods) ◦ Skill-related aims focus on techniques and approaches (e.g., long division, jumping rope), and processes (e.g., reading, problem solving), as opposed to performance goals, such as “writing persuasive essays,” which is a long-term outcome, requiring many units and courses of study
  10. 10. • The targeted knowledge and skills can be of three different kinds (p. 57): – The building blocks for the desired understandings – The knowledge and skills stated or implied in the goals – The “enabling” knowledge and skills needed to perform the complex assessment tasks (identified in Stage 2)• We must always ask of knowledge and skill goals, “For what kinds of important capacities will this content actually equip us?” instead of merely asking, “What knowledge and skills are (potentially) important?” – Transferability
  11. 11. Key Point Although these categories are conceptually distinct, they often overlap in practice!
  12. 12. Essential Questions Not only promote understanding of the content of a unit on a particular topic, but also spark connections and promote transfer of ideas from one setting to others (p. 107). Keepstudents focused on inquiry as opposed to just answers (p. 114)
  13. 13. A question is “essential” if it is meant to:– Cause genuine and relevant inquiry into the big ideas and core content– Provoke deep thought, lively discussion, sustained inquiry, and new understanding as well as more questions– Require students to consider alternatives, weigh evidence, support their ideas, and justify their answers– Stimulate vital, ongoing rethinking of big ideas, assumptions, and prior lessons– Spark meaningful connections with prior learning and personal experiences– Naturally recur, creating opportunities for transfer to other situations and subjects
  14. 14. Key Points• No question is inherently essential. It all comes down to purpose, audience, and impact – Why we pose it – How we intend students to tackle it – What we expect for learning activities and assessments as a result• Many yes/no, either/or, and who/what/when questions offer the potential to spark impressive curiosity, thought, and reflection in students, depending upon how they are posed and the nature of the follow-ups
  15. 15. Key Points Essential questions can be framed around four categories of big ideas relevant to effective skill learning (p. 113): ◦ Key concepts ◦ Purpose and value ◦ Strategy and tactics ◦ Context of use Essential questions do not always need to be global; they can go to the heart of a particular topic, problem, or field of study ◦ Topical ◦ Overarching
  16. 16. Crafting Understandings As with essential questions, no statement is inherently a fact or understanding. It depends upon who the learners are and what their prior experience has been. (p. 136) The point of identifying understandings is to clearly frame our goals for ourselves, not to come up with an actual learning plan (Stage 3) – it’s a blueprint for the plan
  17. 17. Four Rules of Thumb:• A desired understanding is a priority. A unit should focus on a small number of transferable big ideas about which understandings are stated.• Desired understandings are best stated in propositional form: “Students will understand that…”
  18. 18. Four Rules of Thumb:• Although pertaining to general or abstract ideas, the desired understandings must be stated in clear, unambiguous terms – as specific and insightful generalizations.• Understandings are of two kinds, topical and overarching. Topical understandings are unit-specific, and overarching understandings are broader and offer a possible bridge to other units and courses.

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