Hi everyone, I was wondering if anyone has used backward design when making up lesson plans. In college I have been learning that backward design is the most beneficial way to make and teach a lesson plan. What are some of your thoughts?

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Backward design is starting with the assessment or the end goal that you would like your students to reach and working your way down to the essential question and objectives. I am not necessarily saying that backward design is the most beneficial way to teach and come up with lesson plans. I am more looking to see if teachers actually use backward design and if they think it is a beneficial way of making lesson plans.
Lisa,
This is an interesting concept that I have not had any experience with but like very much. One of the challenges that I am facing with my faculty is deciding on what exactly it is we want the kids to be learning. Do we currently try and jam too much down their throats and not spend enough time exploring and thinking critically? I'd love to hear more about this concept.
I would think it is pretty common. I mean, we all teach to a curriculum with standards and benchmarks. This is what we want the children to learn in the course of a unit/term/year, and the job of a teacher is to plan the lessons to achieve that goal. That would be backward design, would it not? Surely everybody does it to some extent?
Backward planning is very beneficial because it gives us guidance into what we teach. If we're not going to assess a concept because it's not important, why waste time teaching it? Therefore we should know what is on the unit test and only teach the concepts that students will see on the test. Unfortunately backward design is just recently gaining popularity in college methods courses. We have a few teachers in our building who have been out of college 4 to 6 years who have never heard of it. They also do not plan the lesson with the end in mind and we're trying to teach them to set up the unit assessment first and then work backwards so they make sure they have activities and assessments that will prepare students for the unit test.
Are you suggesting that unit tests are the only means to assess learning? Are you suggesting that all learning can be assessed through tests?
As a student and future educator I am currently learning about backward design in many of the classes that I am currently taking. I belive what Julie means to say in her comment above is not that unit tests are the only means of assessment, nor does she mean that all learning can be assessed through test. Her comment stresses the importance that your goals and what you wish to assess must by supported through what you teach. Utlimately an assessment should represent your desired goals or outcomes that are ultimately what you want the students to understand. That is why what you are teaching should be based on your desired outcomes. Learning can be assessed in many ways, not just tests, however if a unity test is ultimately the chosen form of assessment, it must be directly connnected to the content that is being taught. By placing the goals of the assessment before the activities you have the important content established before you determine how to teach it.
Lisa,

Backward design is very important when you have limited time to get students ready for an assessment. I also coach and invariably we do not have enough practice days before the first game. At this point, I work backward to determine exactly what I must teach the kids. In many ways, backward design prioritizes the time spent on each concept. Ideally, I try to go both directions. That way, I can see what I would like to cover and then I can see what I can cover given the allotted time.
Hi Lisa, I and my teachers are planning using backward design as we are an IB candidate school and this programme, MYP in particular, requires this kind of planning,as Matt Greening has already mentioned before. Implementing this programme teachers also have to focus on the main concept of the unit and unit questions (guiding questions) and the bottom line is assessment: creating rubrics using descriptors and criteria. I can also recommend you to read the article by Wiggins and McTighe "Put Understanding First" and "Understanding by design", I'm sure you'll find a lot of answers to your questions", if you need some more information about it, feel free to e-mail me:ludaboysan@yahoo.com, I can also send you some articles concerning this issue, even a sample of the plan.
Hi,

I took a class in college on this ideology and would like to look over some of the articles that you mention. Could you please email me the links to these articles and sample lesson plan? It would be greatly appreciated. My email is ccote@westwood.k12.ma.us. I will look for the article "Put Understanding First". Thank you for sharing your information.

Christine
Thanks Lyudmyla. Yes I have a text book that is written by Wiggins and McTighe. "Understanding by design" has been one of the major topics we have been learning!! Thanks for your input!
Backward design, pre-assessments and assessments of prescribed student learning outcomes are the mantra of my system today. It makes a good deal of sense and I generally agree. I am troubled by the priori assumption that the assessment is both valid and comprehensive or that its ridged design reflects all student's styles. Knowledge and skills are holistic. Anything will lead to divergent and convergent thinking and usually does. "That was a good question Max, we don't have time to talk about that because it is not on the test." I have always believed best practice allows for flexibility in learning outcomes as the unit of study unfolds. We speak of "teachable moments" for example. Assessing these unintended outcomes seems reasonable. Despite this, I think teaching to the test (as we used to call it) is the thing to do. You need to understand the outcomes and how the students will need to demonstrate them before you can design lessons that will bring about learning.
I work in a large school district, and we use the "Understanding by Design" or backwards planning. I was on a committee for a 3rd grade unit, and I must say it was difficult to find the right final assessment/activity to fulfill this Economics unit were were putting together. We had to start over several times, our district coordinator just didn't think our group was suggesting the correct final assessment/activity that would show the students had gained the right knowledge from all the activities leading up to it.
I liked the process, but it's much harder to design then one might think!

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