Backwards Design – an overview

Scribe post Feb 2, 2009

Today’s class was focused on getting grounded in what makes “Backwards Design” (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005) 1) unique and 2) valuable.

* Starting with goals and objectives is probably common, however the next step is key. BASED on what those goals and objectives are, we design ASSESSMENTS (collections of evidence) next. (Finally, after all of that, we design day-to-day experiences to prepare students to be successful on these carefully designed assessments.)

* Most people wait until after all the teaching is done to develop assessments. A couple big problems with that: 1) lack of alignment between goals, assessments and teaching day-to-day; 2) you can’t use the assessment from the beginning to guide your teaching OR to help students monitor their own progress.

* The difference between understandings and knowledge is KEY!! Understandings should be our instructional goal, and knowledge and skills are both the tools for getting to understanding and the evidence that it is starting to develop. Accidentally focusing on knowledge as the goal limits the usefulness of meeting those goals as students can’t TRANSFER what they know to other settings or situations.

* Wiggins and McTighe (2005) offer us “Design Standards” (kind of like a rubric) to direct and guide our design work along the way as well as to help us evaluate our success at the end. THANKS WIGGINS & MCTIGHE!!

In addition to some of these core concepts about Backwards Design, we talked about generating a strong multiple-choice quiz that is designed to nurture understanding (not just knowledge of facts). We came up with these things (please remind me of things I’ve forgotten):
— “not” makes the question hard to understand. Don’t use double negatives. 🙂
— make the first question non-threatening
— “Feel free to explain your answer” was a welcomed opportunity for many
— It is important to let students know that their written response could complement their choice of answers in final scoring. For example if a or c are both feasible, but technically c was the right answer, a strong explanation with choice a could make it be scored as “correct.”
— Many saw the last question as a strength – “What resonated with you and why?”
— Incorporating a number of possible right answers leads to deep thinking and careful articulation of a defense for a particular choice.

We started work on theoretical frameworks. I sent a description of my strategy for this type of work over email:

and the story goes...

Next week we will offer peer coaching to one another on our first drafts of theoretical frameworks.
A draft of the discipline group’s concept map is also due for peer coaching.

Resources that might be helpful to you: – Remember to read these resources CRITICALLY!!

How to write teacher philosophy statements
Here is a resource from Ohio State

Examples of teacher philosophy statements
Random person
Think Twice

Share STRONG examples you might find in the comments of this post!!! Have fun writing yours!!

See you Monday!
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