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Planning a Class with Backward Design

Planning a Class with Backward Design
It’s easy to switch into automatic pilot mode when it comes to planning a course. It goes something like this: (1) we look at the topic of the course we’re assigned to teach, (2) we select enough essential/canonical/anti-canonical reading material to fill out fifteen or so weeks, and then (3) we plot that reading onto a calendar. Instant Syllabus! I found myself falling into this very mode of course design recently, as I began planning an upper-level science fiction class for Fall 2011. That was it. So what’s the problem with this method? In their excellent book Understanding by Design, Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe call the process of designing courses around learning goals “the backward design process.” For example, they offer a three-stage diagram of the backward design process that looks deceptively simple: Identify desired resultsDetermine Acceptable EvidencePlan Learning Experiences Imagine a set of three concentric rings. These questions are a far cry from what should we read? Related:  Creating a college syllabus

David Foster Wallace’s mind-blowing creative nonfiction syllabus: “This does not mean an essayist’s goal is to ‘share’ or ‘express herself’ or whatever feel-good term you got taught in high school” English 183D is a workshop course in creative nonfiction, which term denotes a broad category of prose works such as personal essays and memoirs, profiles, nature and travel writing, narrative essays, observational or descriptive essays, general-interest technical writing, argumentative or idea-based essays, general-interest criticism, literary journalism, and so on. The term’s constituent words suggest a conceptual axis on which these sorts of prose works lie. As nonfiction, the works are connected to actual states of affairs in the world, are “true” to some reliable extent. If, for example, a certain event is alleged to have occurred, it must really have occurred; if a proposition is asserted, the reader expects some proof of (or argument for) its accuracy. Expenses There are no required textbooks 1 and I will provide free Xeroxes of all outside readings. Total Writing Workload for Class (1) Let’s say 24-39 pages of finished, high-quality nonfiction. Class Rules & Procedures Essays = 60%

Teaching for Enduring Understanding Earlier this summer I discussed the idea of backward design, which comes from Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe’s excellent book Understanding by Design. Recall that backward design is a three-stage process, in which you as a teacher first identify your desired results for a class, then determine what would count as evidence that your students did or did not reach those results, and finally, design your learning experience around your desired results and evidence. The idea behind backward design is simple, yet it’s something I find myself relearning again and again. Even now, as I prep for the upcoming semester, I am tempted to focus on what I want my students to read, rather than what I want my students to understand. It’s a testament to my perennial rediscovery of backward design that I wrote virtually the same sentence as above in my earlier post on backward design—and had forgotten I had done so. The outer ring represents knowledge “worth being familiar with” for students. Return to Top

Creating ← The Graphic Syllabus Graphic Syllabi Structures Now that you have collected and categorized your course syllabus components, it’s time to get creative and start sketching your graphic syllabus! There are numerous possible logics for structuring your syllabus. Your course may easily (or with a little tweaking) fit into one of these structures: This is not an exhaustive list and you may see the flow of your course syllabus in a different way. Consider these six different ways to layout one single concept. The next step is choosing a diagramming tool to graphically display your syllabus. A list of tools is available in Implementing.

Relaxing in the Digital Garden: How to Thrive in the 21st Century "Garden." "Relax." Those are the answers to two questions I've been asked more often than any other on this Now You See it book tour that began back in August. I know those words don't seem as if they are the key to success in the digital future, so let me explain. “Garden” is the answer I give most frequently to parents and educators when they ask what I see as the most important characteristic of successful schools. The operative learning principle goes back at least as far principle that goes at least as far back as John Dewey’s idea that all learning should be related to the actual experiences of the child, to contemporary Project-Based Learning methods, and to the idea reiterated by many educators, including the National Academies that the most important 3 R’s” are relationships, rigor, and relevance. But what does all this have to do with the digital age? And why “relax”? Let’s put our experience in perspective. And so are our kids. They are not being damaged by the Internet.

Creating a Syllabus | Faculty Central Below you will find some helpful information and resources to use when creating your syllabus. Polk State College Procedure Polk State College Procedure 1001 contains guidelines for communicating course information to students. The procedure clearly outlines the elements instructors are required to include in their syllabus. Procedure 1001 Contains all guidelines related to communicating course information to students including the list of required syllabus elements. Syllabus Checklist Contains required syllabus elements as indicated in Procedure 1001 formatted as a handy checklist. Learning-Centered Syllabus Faculty are encouraged to develop and utilize a learning-centered syllabus. “A learning-centered syllabus includes more, rather than less, information. A learning-centered syllabus includes all of the information that a student needs in order to be successful in a particular course. References Grunert O’Brien, J. (2008). Like this: Like Loading...

Seven Principles of Effective Teaching: A Practical Lens for Evaluating Online Courses Note: This article was originally published in The Technology Source ( as: Charles Graham, Kursat Cagiltay, Byung-Ro Lim, Joni Craner, and Thomas M. Duffy "Seven Principles of Effective Teaching: A Practical Lens for Evaluating Online Courses" The Technology Source, March/April 2001. Available online at The article is reprinted here with permission of the publisher. The "Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education," originally published in the AAHE Bulletin (Chickering & Gamson, 1987), are a popular framework for evaluating teaching in traditional, face-to-face courses. We, a team of five evaluators from Indiana University's Center for Research on Learning and Technology (CRLT), recently used these principles to evaluate four online courses in a professional school at a large Midwestern university. Principle 1: Good Practice Encourages Student-Faculty Contact Conclusion References

Syllabus Design Center for Teaching Advancement and Assessment Research Phone: (848) 932-7466 Fax: (732) 932-1845Directions All Rutgers faculty and instructors are expected to develop a comprehensive and detailed course syllabus for each course. All syllabi should be posted on or linked to the department's own website by the first day of class. (Expanded Course Descriptions should be posted to the Online Schedule of Classes when registration begins for the upcoming term.) A good syllabus will provide students with a roadmap for the semester, help them plan their class work and study calendars, and provide them with the specificity they need to help them complete their work with a full understanding of what you expect of them. You should approach the syllabus as a teaching tool as important as the textbook; the syllabus is where you lay out your expectations of what students should gain from the course and how their level of achievement will be assessed. Basic Information:

Best Practices « SHSUOnline Blog Welcome to the Best Practices for Teaching online or as we like to call it: Strategies for Success in your Online Course page. No matter what tool you use or technological journey you embark upon, is the method and not the medium that will help you ensure success in the online, face-to-face and hybrid courses you are teaching. These best practices/strategies will help you with organization, communication, time saving, assessment as well as many other areas. Just looking at this list of best practices, it is easy to understand how you might feel overwhelmed. Record an Video Introduction for your Course Record an introduction video introducing yourself and the course organization. You can create your own video introduction and post it or here at SHSU Online, we can get you in our studio where the possibilities as you can see above are limited only by your imagination. Use a “Virtual Office” Discussion Forum for Course Questions Let’s face it, we all “misplace” e-mail. Employ a Syllabus Quiz

How to Improve Your Teaching With the Course Syllabus Did you ever have a student misunderstand an assignment, express surprise that you had considered attendance important, or want an explanation of how you grade after the final exam has been scored and the semester is over? If, like most teachers, you receive a few such remarks every semester, you already appreciate the need for clarity in your communication with students. One of the best ways to clarify such communication is through your course syllabus. One of the easiest ways to improve your teaching is to increase the communication effectiveness of your syllabi. The Purpose of a Course Syllabus The course syllabus serves at least seven basic purposes (Rubin, 1985). Helps Plan and Clarify Your Course The very process of writing a well-constructed syllabus forces you to crystallize, articulate, organize, and communicate your thoughts about a course. Try inviting a person who has no expertise in your academic area to critique your syllabus. Introduces You to Students 22 Lessons Learned

Pedagogy and Moodle Let's sit back and really reflect on the pedagogy that is at the core of what we, as online educators, are trying to do. Definition of Pedagogy One definition of pedagogy in Wiktionary says The profession of teaching The activities of educating, teaching or instructing Wikipedia has a much longer page on Pedagogy. Moodle in three short paragraphs The heart of Moodle is courses that contain activities and resources. There are a number of other tools that make it easier to build communities of learners, including blogs, messaging, participant lists etc, as well useful tools like grading, reports, integration with other systems and so on. For more about Moodle, see and particularly the main community “course” called Using Moodle. Social Constructionism as a Referent I have these five points on a slide which I use in every presentation I do. Jason Cole from Open University recently referred to these as “Martin's five laws” (ha!) Finding a balance Progression Community Hubs

UDL-Universe: A Comprehensive Universal Design for Learning Faculty Development Guide - In addition to advocating innovative instruction and multiple modes of representation, engagement, and expression, UDL encourages the use of “accessible” and “usable” course materials. These are documents saved in electronic formats (e.g., doc, rtf, pdf, html) and formatted to enhance their usability for the largest possible audience. A single presentation method can prove limiting, for example, when providing a course syllabus. Since a print copy can only be used in one mode (that is to say, it must be seen to be read), it is inaccessible to students who possess visual impairments. The same syllabus, however, saved in an electronic format, can be read aloud by screen reader software and translated into Braille, which can in turn be printed or read at the computer using a refreshable Braille keyboard (available at many campuses). Accessible Images Some people think that graphics are bad for accessibility. Accessible Text Audio Video

Beyond blended learning: Reaching every student At the 2010 NCTIES conference in Raleigh, LEARN NC’s Bobby Hobgood delivered a presentation about blended learning. The archived session is available at the following link: Access to the archived session requires Microsoft Silverlight software. About this presentation Presentation title Beyond blended learning: Reaching every student Presenter Bobby Hobgood, LEARN NC — UNC School of Education Target audience Elementary, middle, high, K-12, administration Presentation goals Viewers of this hour-long presentation will learn what blended learning is, why blended learning is important, current research findings about blended learning, a theoretical framework underpinning the value of blended learning, what blended learning “looks like” in a classroom, and ten ways to improve teaching using a blended approach. Presentation abstract Dr. Dr.