Usually the beginning is a good place to start, but not necessarily when lesson planning!
The idea of backwards design first came about in 1947, but was popularized by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe when they published their book Understanding by Design in the 1990s. Backwards design means that teachers develop instructional experiences and activities based on the educational goals for students at the end of a particular lesson or unit. This strategy is something that we use with schools involved in our Math Initiative Workshop project, and we are seeing great success in classrooms across the country.
An important thing to remember when applying the backwards design method to your lesson planning is that we are trying to break away from the “one size fits all” mentality that typically comes from a textbook. Backwards design allows you to differentiate for your individual students and meet them where they are, instead of where the textbook says they should be.
As you begin, start thinking about the goals and expectations, the “big ideas” for this lesson. What should students know, understand and be able to do? Remember to incorporate CPA methods (concrete, pictorial, and abstract) into this goal!
Then decide what you will accept as evidence that this goal has been accomplished by your students. What evidence supports the fact that the students actually learned what you wanted them to learn? Students don’t need to do a worksheet of 30 problems in order to prove that they understand a concept. If they can demonstrate their knowledge a few times in several ways (remember CPA!), they have really grasped that concept.
Finally, make a plan to make it happen! During this stage, you can determine what you actually want your students to do to build up to that goal. You can also note possible misconceptions here so you’ll be prepared when they come up!
Here is a sample lesson based on Lesson 4 in the 2nd Grade Module One of Eureka Math, that was designed backwards, starting with the exit ticket:
Lesson 4 – Eureka Math (for reference!)
Here’s a one-page handout to have handy to help you remember the principles of backwards design as you are planning: Backwards Design
You can get all of these resources, plus a blank lesson template in our store for free! Backwards Design Resource Bundle