This is an exciting year for me because it's the start of my tenth year of teaching. A lot has changed during these past ten years, and my lesson planning style is one of those changes. During the last few years especially, I've really adjusted the way that I plan and I now use backward design planning.
Have you heard of backward planning before? Well if you haven't, it's when you plan a unit of study with the end in mind. What do you want your student to understand and be able to do/say at the end of the unit? It's really different in the beginning, but once you have some practice with backward planning it starts to become something that you will never want to stop doing.
Today I wanted to share some steps that will help you implement backward planning when you are planning out your units of study with your team.
When you start with backward planning, you really are starting with the end in mind. My team starts with our TEKS (Texas standards) and we discuss what our learning goals for the unit of study will be. We also come up with our objectives.
We ask ourselves the following questions...
1) What do we want our students to understand?
2) What do we want our students to be able to do/say?
We don't start with saying "I have this awesome resource that I want to use!" That comes next...trust me I'll get there. The learning goals of the unit of study are so much more important to start with when backward planning.
Now that you have your goals planned out, it's time to round up your resources. What do you have that will help your students achieve the learning goals of the unit of study? It's important to remember that a tried and true resource that you've used year after year might not work towards your learning goal. You need to use resources that will support student learning based on the goals and objectives that your team planned. The best part of backward planning is that it really helps you step out of your teaching comfort zone and makes you reflect on your teaching.
The next step is pretty simple and straightforward. Now that you have rounded up your resources that match your specific learning goal, it's time to write out your lessons. What will you teach first? How will you teach it?
Step 4 is super important! During your unit of study, you will need to monitor and adjust your instruction. I love using quick checks and exit tickets to check for understanding. Sometimes some of my students will quickly reach the learning goals and some will need some more support.
During this monitoring time, I ask myself these questions...
1) What do I do if my students master the learning goals?
2) What do I do if my students don't master the learning goals?
I can use workstations and small group instruction to meet the needs of all of my students. That is why I absolutely LOVE backward planning because it really helps me see the whole picture of my units of study. Some units of study take multiple weeks and my research unit of study takes a whole 9 weeks. It seems like a lot but trust me it saves time!
Let me know if you backward plan with your team. If you don't and you start, I would love to hear how it goes for you!