Friday, August 20, 2010

Days 10-12: Reflecting on backward design

I must've started posts three or four times last week in my head, but they never came to fruition. It was an exhausting week, but one that resulted in some interesting realizations on my part.

When I first moved to the current area where I teach, "backward design" was the catch phrase du jour. I remember it being tossed around in my new teacher training along with other eduspeak like"unpacking the standards" and "thinking maps" and of course the ever present "Bloom's taxonomy."
(BTW I swear if Bloom got a nickel for every time his name was mentioned - he'd be rivaling Bill Gates in terms of monetary independence.) As a newish teacher my head was swimming with all of the new systems I had to memorize and implement - not to mention the latest batch of alphabet soup acronyms - IEP, EIP, RTI, IMI...  Backward design drifted to the back of my mind as I dealt with the more immediate concerns of classroom management and interpreting what the standards actually meant. To me, backward design seemed like just another fancy way of higher ups trying to tell me that I needed to make sure I knew what objectives I was teaching. And truthfully, outside of a few professional development sessions where the phrase made cameos, it was all but forgotten - until a few days ago.

I was sitting with a fellow teacher brainstorming ways that students could demonstrate comprehension of the concept of rounding. We talked about how we could tier the assessment to differentiate and what foldable would be most helpful in letting them show that. And I had a sudden epiphany - my thinking had shifted. I had gone from, "How am I going to teach this?" to "How will the students show me they've understood this?" It seems like a small thing at first, but once that change happens, everything else begins to move around it. And I'm not sure how to say this without sounding really cheesy - but I have Foldables® to thank for that.

Foldables® have made me begin to rethink how I'm asking students to organize information. Now as I plan I find myself actually thinking about the end product first. And while I understand that this is early in the year it makes me hopeful about where things could go in terms of my students being better able to retain and apply their learning.


  1. OooOo... Did I make it into your blog? Great reflection on that, Mrs. L! :)