Backward design

Well, hello. My name’s Kimbra Burke and I’m
a teacher here at Dominic College, which is a Catholic school in Hobart. We’re kindergarten to Grade 10,
and I currently teach Grade 4. I’m a full-time classroom teacher. I’m particularly interested in improving my capabilities
as a science teacher. I can see that children
are very engaged in science but I’m not greatly skilled
nor qualified in that area. I attended a meeting with
other Grade 3-4 teachers in the Catholic sector
in Hobart-based schools and together we worked with…
in teams, to plan a unit of work around…
in my group, physics in science, which is an area I’m not
that experienced at teaching. Currently,
Catholic Education Tasmania is advocating
to classroom teachers that we should be using the backward
design approach in teaching based on Wiggins and McTighe’s work, and that idea would be that
we look at big pictures and big concepts that we cover, and then the assessment process
followed by the learning process so that we’re constantly
teaching towards the big ideas and the big outcomes. So in practice,
that idea of backward design looked like, for me… I looked at the Australian Curriculum and looked at key standards and thought about
big ideas in physics – for example, “Forces operate
in our world.” And then I tried to break that down
a little bit more into the actual outcomes. “Forces can be exerted by one object
on another “through direct contact from…
or a distance.” And then I looked at
some assessment tasks that we could possibly do with it. In this particular unit, I asked the children to design
a piece of playground equipment or actually a theme park ride that used forces in the ride. To help skill the children
in this area and actually teach the learning, I went and resourced some forces
and physics experiments so I thought that would be
perhaps appropriate for about a 10-year-old age level. I hunted down some
different experiments that I thought might be
suitable for the children and I tried to sort them
into different types, into different categories. So we spent a few lessons
on each force, and then building up towards the
final, culminating performance task of designing the piece of playground
or theme park equipment. Let’s have a little look. Do you want to just
quickly tell us, Bianca, about what your task was here
that you had to do? So for the science test,
we had to design a piece of playground
or theme park equipment and we had to show all the forces,
with arrows, that helped the ride. In mine, lots of gravity helped to keep all the little things
down on the ground. What about you, Tom? Well, I’m pretty much
the same as Bianca. I used a lot of gravity,
mostly centrifugal, as well as, like, moving as well, and I also made, like, centrifugal,
to make, like, a circle as well. With the backward design,
focusing on the assessment task kept me on track. So when the children
became highly engaged in some of the air resistance
experiments, and I know I could have done
many more in that area, I didn’t let myself
get bogged down in that, and I kept moving
the learning forward. So that meant that by the time
we got to the end of the unit, I felt fairly confident
I’d given them a good exposure to a wide range of physics forces. In reflection, looking back at an earlier unit of science
I’d taught this year, I found that I let the children…
well, drive their own interests. And because they had particular
fixation on one area of a unit, we tended to do a lot on that, and that didn’t give them
a good overall balance on the whole unit of geology. So I think in future,
if I was to teach that unit again, I’d be much happier, more comfortable
and confident as a teacher to use this approach in my planning
rather than my previous model.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *