Backward design is a planning process which starts with an essential question that is guided by common core standards. The process unfolds with engaging lessons and ends with enduring understanding. What I love the most about BD is the focus on an essential question that ends with an enduring understanding. Even though my teaching includes many small groups for 20 minutes at a time, I have begun to always ask the question, "What is essential and what is the enduring understanding?" If I can't answer these questions, I revamp what I am planning so my lessons are aligned with the BD process. I also feel more confident in knowing my lessons include the common core. If an administrator would come into my classroom and ask me to see my plans, I could show them my BD units and how the core is woven throughout the learning. It has not only changed my focus at school but I use it in my personal life with my family. My husband is a religion teacher and he likes to process his lessons with me. I have begun to ask him what his overall essential question is and what understanding he wants the kids to come away with from class. He is not a professional teacher but I encourage him to use Bloom's Taxonomy with his questioning and learning activities he plans. At first he just gave me the sideways glance but now he is having fun revamping his style of teaching with the kids. Slowly, as I incorporate my own learning into my teaching, my overall focus and direction will be clear and to the point, rather than full of fluffy activities that fill time but leave the students with no more understandings than when they started the unit.
One question I have for somebody who teaches small groups for short amounts of time like I do, how do you create backwards design units when you teach skills like letter names/sounds, phonics, or sight words?
Another question I have is how do you include all of the common core standards into BD units when they may not fit any of your created units? I included many in my reading BD units but some of the standards didn't fall into any design units.