01 02 03 EduNinja: Destination Unknown? A look at backwards design. 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Destination Unknown? A look at backwards design.

Leading educators and authors Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe are credited with developing the Understanding by Design framework (1998) which relies on the principles of backwards design (backwards planning). Their work provides a way to move from "covering the curriculum" to "creating curriculum" and understanding.

A big idea from this work is a shift in thinking about assessment as something that is done when teaching is complete. 

"Rather than creating assessments near the conclusion of a unit, backward design calls for us to . consider assessment evidence as we begin to plan a unit or course. It reminds us to begin with a question - What would we accept as evidence that students have attained the desired understandings and proficiencies? - before planning teaching and learning experiences." (Backward into the Future)

Consider, how often you bring home that bag/box/bin of marking and spend hours providing great feedback that is then not used by the students.....So, we need to consider who are we marking for? If assessment is about improving and informing student learning, then it changes how learning & teaching happens in a classroom.

Backwards Design in a nutshell

1. Identify learners
2. Identify curricular outcomes
3. Design assessment framework
4. Create learning activities

Adapt/revise/repeat as necessary.

One thing I wonder about with backwards design is ensuring that we don't limit potential outcomes. A lot happens when you are travelling from A to B, and I think we need to be responsive and adaptable to where the learning journey might go!
Learning is messy.

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