Backwards Planning Tips for Teachers

Backwards Planning Tips for Teachers
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  • 0:04 Backwards Planning
  • 0:36 The Process
  • 4:09 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Derek Hughes
Backwards planning is a useful way to develop lessons that specifically target educational standards. This lesson will define backwards planning and offer some tips for incorporating its principles into your classroom.

Backwards Planning

In light of the increased focus on teaching to state or Common Core standards, backwards planning is an incredibly useful method to use when designing classroom lessons and activities. Backwards planning starts with the state standards and designs assessments that measure how well students master the required content. Afterwards, you create lessons and activities to help students learn the necessary skills. This lesson will provide some tips for using this approach in your classroom by looking at a hypothetical unit based upon the principles of backwards planning.

The Process

Mr. Jones is about to begin teaching a unit on adding two-digit numbers. To do so, he's going to use the principles of backwards planning to ensure that his students learn the skills outlined by the Common Core standards. Let's take a look at the steps Mr. Jones follows.

1. Research the standards associated with the unit.

When engaging in backwards planning, the first thing you should do is find the standards associated with the unit topic. Sometimes, these standards will be listed in your program or school district manual. Other times, you may have to research the standards yourself.

For Mr. Jones' unit, there is just one standard that he's going to address. The standard reads as follows: 'Students will be able to add up to four two-digit numbers using strategies based on place value and properties of operations.' With this standard in mind, Mr. Jones is ready to move onto the next step of backwards planning.

2. List the skills students will need to meet the educational standard.

After researching the standards, list or outline the various skills your students should learn to meet those standards. Depending on the depth of the standard, this list might have quite a number of skills on it, or only a few. Regardless, knowing what skills your students need to learn can help make your assessment and lessons more effective.

When thinking about his unit, Mr. Jones identifies several skills his students should know to meet the standard. He decides his students will need to understand place value, adding two, three, and four two-digit numbers and understanding the concept of carrying from the first to the tenth place.

3. Create an assessment to measure student knowledge.

After you've found the educational standards associated with your unit or lesson topic and listed the skills students need to learn, the next thing you need to do is design or find an assessment to measure their learning. By planning your end goal in advance, you'll be able to design lessons and activities that ensure students are learning the necessary skills to succeed.

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