Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Backward Designing out of my rut!

Planning with the standards at the forefront and working backwards was really eye opening.  I loved the process.  I have taught these stories for nine years now and this last theme was so much more enjoyable.  Backward design was just what I needed to breath new life into the last month of school.  Though it took a large chuck of planning, I really had a global view of the concepts to be investigated and how they would impact the enduring understanding.  I had such a better idea of where I was headed during my group.  I was able to stay on track with my questioning and had higher level questions embedded into the learning rather than sticking to easy factual questions.  I actually had the standards written down and knew why and how our learning would impact enduring understanding.  Usually when I teach each theme, each story stands alone and I don't tie them together.  This time I could tie all the stories together clearly scaffolding the learning from week to week.  Next year I would like to take each theme and put together a backward design in the same way.  Every story, discussion, assessment, and creative activity would have a reason and clear direction.  The students seemed really engaged also.  Even though they come to my group already having their reading lessons in the classroom, we could investigate different ideas and go into more depth.  One example of this was when we were reading the first story. They knew coming into my group that the mole had to move to a new home and had new mouse friends.  We developed their previous discussion what it would be like to move and how the mouse was accepted even though he was different.  Our discussion set us up perfectly to grow into the idea of oppression.  They could identify with groups who broke free from the constraints of oppression.  Now, that's much more enduring that just identifying forms of and reasons for travel.  All in all, moving out of the the rut I obviously had gotten myself into after teaching for many years is a welcome move I look forward to continuing to make.


  1. Gosh, that is wonderful, Beth! To plan in a way that informs you and your students as a teacher makes such a difference! Sounds like you are looking forward to planning "with the end in mind" again soon! That's great, since we have a chunk to do this summer... :-) - Jen

    1. Hi Jen...I am looking forward to planning this summer. Nikki and I want to do 5 backward design plans for our basal readers. We have one down, we plan on doing at least two this summer and want to finish the other two next fall. We both agreed that our spring stories were so much more focused and well rounded. Each week flowed from one to the next. We both love working on practical approaches that better our classrooms.

  2. Beth-
    The connections your students were making as a result of your BD planning holds such a high value in not just their academics but their confidence as learners! I can only speak on behalf of my own observations, but when my Title kids are the ones bursting to participate in our whole group discussion, or are the leaders in small group activities, it is usually the result of connections made from their Title group experience. These students who might have lacked academic confidence because of the stigma associated with supplemental support are confident, active participants who are making cross curricular connections resulting in meaningful learning. So if you have not yet heard from the classroom teachers, know that your BD planning and implementation is making a difference in environments outside your room and THANK YOU!!

  3. Hi Emily,

    Thanks for your encouragement. Sometimes teaching reading in Title 1 can be very disconnect from the classroom. I often wonder if what I'm doing makes a difference. I'm glad to hear that the practices we use in our small groups really do help the students when they are in the classroom. If a student is confident and has something to offer during the discussion part of the reading , then I know what we are doing in my room is paying off. I want struggling learners to feel like they fit in even when they have to work extra hard to keep up.