Backward Design of Lessons and Units

31 May

Last summer, an award-winning world language teacher graciously agreed to have coffee with me. She patiently listened to all my rookie questions and offered her expert responses. She provided guidance on a handful of matters, but three recommendations stand out:

  • Join the statewide professional organization for language teachers (WAFLT)
  • Buy Teacher’s Handbook by Judith L. Shrum and Eileen W. Glisan
  • Get familiar with Backward Design and plan lessons and units accordingly

I joined WAFLT right away. I just renewed for another year and would love to attend the Summer Language Leadership Institute in August. I also purchased an older edition of Teacher’s Handbook and consult it often.

In my university coursework, we’ve been required to write lesson plans, deliver lessons during fieldwork, and do some microteaching with peers. In planning for these, I’ve attempted to follow the guidelines of Backward Design. My current understanding of Backward Design is based on a presentation at the 2011 ACTFL National Convention titled Lesson Planning with Backward Design: From Paper to Practice.

1. What will students know and be able to do at the end of the lesson/unit?
2. How will you know that the students know or can do?
3. What instructional activities will be used?

In addition, on Thursday evenings, world language professionals from around the world come together via Twitter for a wonderful and generous chat using the #LangChat hashtag. In early May, the chat topic was: How can backward design inform our curriculum and assessments? Perfect — more good input! Here are some of the posts regarding Backward Design:

  • I always like to remind myself what I want my students to be able to do with the language at the end
  • Backwards design = 1) What students will be able to do 2) Assessments 3) Activities
  • Identifying desired results makes the planning of learning experiences and instruction so much easier!
  • Backward D has great implications for the classrm–working towards it.
  • When the many steps of backward design are used to develop curric, assessment & all leading to it should lead to better stdnt successes
  • Backwards design works. Knowing where a student needs to end influences every decision and activity up to that point
  • Backwards design also allows students to see big picture and how it breaks down into many goals
  • Bckwrd design also helps students see that language is a practical tool to accomplish a task they just might face in the real world

The chat also included experiences with “I can” statements:

  • I began providing students with the Can-do statements this year. Students def appreciate knowing the unit goals
  • “I can” statements = confidence boosters for the kids, +makes them feel like they can use 2nd Lang in the real world
  • I usually have 1-2 big [Can-dos] per unit but then tons of little ones like I can say my clothing size
  • We use success criteria: “I can” statements at the beginning of the unit re: what the kids will be able to do by the end
  • One thing that has helped me is to craft can do statements for my objectives. I reference them at the end for an exit tix

I look forward to learning more and getting more practice with Backward Design. Advice welcome!

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Posted by on 31 May 2013 in Self-Directed PD


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