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Please write a 3-page, double-spaced, paper on what you have learned on backward design from your reading and from the PowerPoint. Please cite your information using APA format from the articles and websites so that it is obvious you have done the reading. Include in your paper:What is backward design?Why is it good for students?Why is it good for teachers?Describe WELL the 3 steps in backward design and how you do them and why.Describe WHERE. Write about each of the parts of WHERE.Anything else you know about backward design and how it relates to your teaching.…


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Backwards Design Planning Template
Essential Elements
I have cut and pasted some info from webs for your review of Backward Design
What is Backward Design?
From the ASCD book Understanding by Design
By Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe
Teachers are designers. An essential act of our profession is the design of
curriculum and learning experiences to meet specified purposes. We are also designers
of assessments to diagnose student needs to guide our teaching and to enable us, our
students, and others (parents and administrators) to determine whether our goals have
been achieved, that is, did the students learn and understand the desired knowledge?
Like other design professions, such as architecture, engineering, or graphic arts,
designers in education must be mindful of their audiences. Professionals in these fields
are strongly client centered. The effectiveness of their designs corresponds to whether
they have accomplished their goals for the end users. Clearly, students are our primary
clients, given that the effectiveness of curriculum, assessment and instructional designs is
ultimately determined by their achievement of desired learnings.
As with other design professions, standards inform and shape our work. The architect,
for example, is guided by building codes, customer budget, and aesthetics. The teacher
as designer is similarly constrained. We are not free to teach any topic we choose.
Rather we are guided by national, state or institutional standards that specify what
students should know and be able to do. These standards provide a framework to help us
identify teaching and learning priorities and guide our design of curriculum and
assessments. In addition to external standards, we also consider the needs of our
students when designing learning experiences. For example, students interests,
development levels, and previous achievements influence our designs.
How, then, do these design considerations apply to curriculum planning? We use
curriculum as a means to an end. We focus on a particular topic (e.g., racial prejudice),
use a particular resource (e.g., To Kill a Mockingbird), and choose specific instructional
methods (e.g., Socratic seminar to discuss the book and cooperative groups to analyze
stereotypical images in films and on television) to cause learning to meet a given standard
(e.g., the student will understand the nature of prejudice, and the difference between
generalizations and stereotypes).
Why do we describe the most effective curricular designs as “backward”? We do so
because many teachers begin with textbooks, favored lessons, and time-honored
activities rather than deriving those tools from targeted goals or standards. We are
advocating the reverse: One starts with the end – the desired results (goals or standards)
–and then derives the curriculum from the evidence of learning (performances) called for
by the standard and the teaching needed to equip students to perform.
Backwards Design from
Standards to Lesson Plans
The Siskiyou County Office of Education (SCOE) has developed a Standards
Implementation Project to “increase the academic achievement of all students”
through the use of standards-based curriculum design (Holmes and MurphyShaw, 2000). To achieve their goals, SCOE promotes the use of “backwards
design” when developing lesson plans (Holmes, 2001). Wiggins and McTighe
(1999) is a key source for this process.
The first and most important aspect of backwards design is to become familiar
with the Standards for the grade level and curriculum area being taught. The
California Department of Education (CDE) has these Standards available in *.pdf
format (see CDE Standards) for five core curriculum areas.
After the standard and benchmarks have been selected, the next step is to
design an assessment that will measure the students’ understanding of the
standard. You will need to decide how you are going to measure student
understanding (test or quiz, self-assessment, performance, product) of the
selected standard. Bloom’s Taxonomy (knowledge, comprehension, application,
analysis, synthesis, evaluation) is a nice tool to use to help design assessments
or you can utilize the many “performance verbs” offered by Wiggins and McTighe
(1999) under the following categories: explanation, interpretation, application,
perspective, empathy, and self-knowledge.
Once you have selected the standard and determined the acceptable evidence
that will demonstrate student achievement, then you can develop a lesson plan
that will provide students with the opportunity to reach the desired objectives.
Wiggins and McTighe (1999) utilize the “WHERE” approach in this stage of the
W stands for students knowing Where they are heading, Why they are heading
there, What they know, Where they might go wrong in the process, and What is
required of them.
H stands for Hooking the students on the topic of study.
E stands for students Exploring and Experiencing ideas and being Equipped with
the necessary understanding to master the standard being taught.
R stands for providing opportunities for students to Rehearse, Revise, and Refine
their work.
E stands for student Evaluation.
The rewarding part of the process comes next with the implemation of the lesson
plan in the classroom. Any necessary changes or additions can be incorporated
into your modified lesson plan.
After students have had the opportunity to learn the selected Standard, the
students will need to be assessed to determine if they have successfully reached
the desired goal. The student assessment can also be used to modify the original
lesson plan.
Holmes, Karen and Marian Murphy-Shaw. More Than Aligned – One County’s Journey.
Building Success Conference, August 10, 2000.
Wiggins, Grant and Jay McTighe. Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA:
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. 1999
Indicators of Teaching for Understanding
by Jay McTighe and Eliot Seif
What does “teaching for understanding” look like? What would we expect to see in an
Understanding by Design classroom? The following list of observable indicators
includes items developed by Grant Wiggins, Jay McTighe, and Elliott Seif, as well as
items suggested by participants in an October 23 workshop on Teaching for
Understanding offered by Jay McTighe and Elliott Seif at the 2000 ASCD Teaching
and Learning Conference in Tampa, Fla.
Feel free to use or adapt the list as needed to guide classroom observation, coaching
or mentoring, peer visitation, self-assessment, and professional development.
We welcome your feedback. Please e-mail ideas for using the indicators, additional
items that should be included, and any questions and suggestions to this site.
The unit or course design
• Reflects a coherent design — big ideas and essential questions clearly guide the
design of, and are aligned with, assessments and teaching and learning activities.
• Makes clear distinctions between big ideas and essential questions, and the
knowledge and skills necessary for learning the ideas and answering the questions.
• Uses multiple forms of assessment to let students demonstrate their
understanding in various ways.
• Incorporates instruction and assessment that reflects the six facets of
understanding — the design provides opportunities for students to explain, interpret,
apply, shift perspective, empathize, and self-assess.
• Anchors assessment of understanding with authentic performance tasks calling for
students to demonstrate their understanding and apply knowledge and skills.
• Uses clear criteria and performance standards for teacher, peer, and selfevaluations of student products and performances.
• Enables students to revisit and rethink important ideas to deepen their
• Incorporates a variety of resources. The textbook is only one resource among
many (rather than serving as the syllabus).
The teacher
• Informs students of the big ideas and essential questions, performance
requirements, and evaluative criteria at the beginning of the unit or course.
• Hooks and holds students’ interest while they examine and explore big ideas and
essential questions.
• Uses a variety of strategies to promote deeper understanding of subject matter.
• Facilitates students’ active construction of meaning (rather than simply telling).
• Promotes opportunities for students to “unpack their thinking” — to explain,
interpret, apply, shift perspective, empathize, or self-assess (incorporates the six
facets of understanding).
• Uses questioning, probing, and feedback to stimulate student reflection and
• Teaches basic knowledge and skills in the context of big ideas and explores
essential questions.
• Uses information from ongoing assessments as feedback to adjust instruction.
• Uses information from ongoing assessments to check for student understanding
and misconceptions along the way.
• Uses a variety of resources (beyond the textbook) to promote understanding.
The learners
• Can describe the goals (big ideas and essential questions) and performance
requirements of the unit or course.
• Can explain what they are doing and why (i.e., how today’s work relates to the
larger unit or course goals).
• Are hooked at the beginning and remain engaged throughout the unit or course.
• Can describe the criteria by which their work will be evaluated.
• Are engaged in activities that help them to learn the big ideas and answer the
essential questions.
• Are engaged in activities that promote explanation, interpretation, application,
perspective taking, empathy, and self-assessment (the six facets).
• Demonstrate that they are learning the background knowledge and skills that
support the big ideas and essential questions.
• Have opportunities to generate relevant questions.
• Are able to explain and justify their work and their answers.
• Are involved in self- or peer-assessment based on established criteria and
performance standards.
• Use the criteria or rubrics to guide and revise their work.
• Set relevant goals based on feedback.
In the classroom environment
• The big ideas and essential questions are central to the work of the students, the
classroom activity, and the norms and culture of the classroom.
• There are high expectations and incentives for all students to come to understand
the big ideas and answer the essential questions.
• All students and their ideas are treated with dignity and respect.
• Big ideas, essential questions, and criteria or scoring rubrics are posted.
• Samples or models of student work are made visible.
• Exploration of big ideas and essential questions is differentiated, so some students
are able to delve more deeply into the subject matter than others.

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