background preloader

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. I’ve never taught this particular course, although I’ve been an avid science fiction reader for years. I pulled together a few thematic strands I’m familiar with and wove them into the required course description, and then began thinking about what novels to teach. 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.” Return to Top

Related:  Creating a college syllabusCourse Design

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.

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.

The Flipped Classroom Model: A Full Picture Due to Khan Academy’s popularity, the idea of the flipped classroom has gained press and credibility within education circles. Briefly, the Flipped Classroom as described by Jonathan Martin is: Flip your instruction so that students watch and listen to your lectures… for homework, and then use your precious class-time for what previously, often, was done in homework: tackling difficult problems, working in groups, researching, collaborating, crafting and creating. 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.

Rhizomatic Learning – Why we teach? It’s my week at #change11. My topic? Rhizomatic Learning. How To Get Started With Blended Learning Blended learning in the classroom is evolving, this much we know. I can remember back when I was in grade school, the only technical advancement that we had at our disposal was Number Munchers, the computer game designed to teach students basic mathematics skills. Times have certainly changed. Today, blended learning in the classroom is becoming more of a norm than an exception.

Creating a Syllabus 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. Characteristics of Millennial Students: What Professors Need to Know The first indication that the Millennial Generation may be different from previous generations is to consider how many different names we have for the generation and the people who belong to it. They’re referred to as Generation Y, Nexters, Baby Boom Echo Generation, Echo Boomers, Digital Natives, Generation Next, Generation Me and, of course, Millennials. If nothing else, they’re one of the most studied generations. And while it’s important we don’t stereotype an entire generation of individuals, the large body of research on those born between 1981 and 1999 (or there about) has provided us with unique insights into their learning preferences, behaviors and attitudes. Christy Price, EdD, a psychology professor at Dalton State College, became interested in Millennial learners when she noticed a gap between students’ expectation for success and the effort they put forth in the classroom (Price, 2009). References: Price, C. (2009).

How (And Why) Teachers Should Get Started With Blended Learning Blended learning is quite simply one of the most overused terms to describe the current state of education’s relationship with technology. However, it fits. Blended learning is marrying the influx of technology with the learning principles that are proven to work. It’s a powerful combination if done properly. 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.)

What skills should we be teaching to future-proof an education? Some time last year I spent quite a bit of time reflecting on what skills we could be focusing on in higher education to “future-proof” a degree. What skills will stay relevant no matter what future careers look like? There are two frameworks used and endorsed in K-12 education: Partnership for 21st Century Skills and Equipped for the Future. Blended Learning 2.0: A Visual Guide For Teachers Blended learning has taken off as one of the big trends in education over the past several years. Like flipped classrooms and 1:1 environments, it’s one of the top ways for teachers to leverage the power of technology in the classroom. It’s not a new concept, to be sure. However, there’s a new guide to understanding and implementing what’s being billed as blended learning 2.0.