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Backwards Planning to Increase Student Achievement!

Hey Teacher Baes! School is back in session which means that you are most likely teaching students, or spending your days in PDs focused on content, logistics, and SOCIAL JUSTICE. #blacklivesmatter

I have really been looking forward to planning for this year! Something that I take pride in is my ability to plan backwards. Backwards planning is the process of planning instruction with the end in mind. This is achieved by analyzing learning standards, objectives, and assessments in order to plan meaningful instruction.

Over the summer, I used some of my time to deep dive into the learning standards and how they showed up in lessons I taught throughout the year. As the first day of school for students is rapidly approaching, I am now thinking through lessons I can plan to support them as they work to unpack and master tricky standards. Read below to learn about 4 steps I take when planning backwards.

Note: If you are a parent, you can do this too!! Explore the standards in your child’s grade and how they show up in academic content. The standards are in order so you can view what is expected from children in the beginning of the year versus the end. You can partner with your child’s teacher (or shoot me an email, I’d be more than happy to support) to explore how these standards may be seen and taught in your child's virtual or physical classroom. More information on the standards can be found here!

Check out my steps for backwards planning below!

Step 1: Assessments and Standards

Look at the culminating assessments in your grade, as well as the Common Core State Standards. You will want to look at these assessments and scan them for the standards that are being tested. This is usually found in the teacher version of assessments. I usually print out the teacher version, scan the document for the standards that are present, and highlight them. After you review the assessments and locate the standards, look at what students are being asked to do. How are they being asked to do so?

Step 2: Unpack the Standards

Unpack the standards and observe how they show up in the assessments. What are students being asked to do? How are they showing their thinking? Are there multiple choice or open ended questions? Maybe there is a combination of both. If you are planning extra lessons and activities to support with mastering these standards, you will want questions that mirror the format of the assessments.

Step 3: Planning Based on the Standards

Build in lessons and activities to support with the mastery of these standards prior to administering summative assessments, and to build off of lessons that are already in your curricula. Are there any standards that you know are more difficult to master than others? Are there any that you anticipate being tricky? Flag these and begin to think through lessons, activities, differentiations, and modifications that can be made to best support students.

Step 4: Look at the Data

Use data from exit tickets and checkpoints to inform your instruction and planning. Take a look at these assessments and any trends in data that may appear. From here, you can begin to put supports in place and identify specific areas of strength and for growth. Looking at data trends will also influence how you fill learning gaps for some students, or increase the rigor for others. You may find that it is best to do a re-teach, small group (if you are using Zoom, you can put students into break-out groups and pop in to support them), post a problem of the day, etc.

Thanks for reading! Check out The Glossary of Educational Reform for more information.

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