We should ask ourselves "What should students know, understand, and be able to do? What is worthy of understanding? What enduring understandings are desired?" (Wiggins & McTinghe, 1998). The big ideas are those that "are applicable to new situations within or beyond the subject" (Wiggins & McTinghe, 1998). They are the ideas that stick with children into adulthood and help them contribute to society. They allow students to access the discipline in an authentic way, engaging them from within rather than treating them as outsiders. The breadth of a big idea will allow students to work through their misconceptions, indicating to them that they can learn from their failures but also that their perspectives and understandings will develop as they continue to question their assumptions.
The best way to monitor student progress is to have a "a collection of evidence over time instead of an event-a single moment-in-time test at the end of instruction" (Wiggins & McTinghe, 1998). Frequent use of assessment for learning and assessment as learning techniques and strategies makes this manageable. Also focusing on performance tasks that are open-ended, complex, and authentic in these frequent assessments will ensure that students have multiple opportunities to practice cognitive thinking and language skills, building confidence and success over time.
Backwards design asks teachers to identify desired results, determine acceptable evidence for assessing those results, and then plan learning experiences and instruction. The criteria for meeting these needs fall under the categories design considerations, filters (design criteria) andfinal design accomplishments. More specifically, teachers need to ensure their planning meets provincial and board standards, uses a continuum of assessment types with a variety of observable behaviours for different facets of understanding, and is grounded in research-based learning and teaching strategies. The design criteria should support authentic, discipline-based work grounded in enduring ideas and inquiry. The evidence for understanding these concepts and applications should be reliable, transparent, equitable, and accessible to the individual students in the class. As these opportunities to demonstrate their learning occur, teachers should record observations and reflect on the appropriateness and effectiveness of the assessments, making important revisions as the unit progresses. All these steps should provided a unit framed by big ideas and enduring questions, which are grounded in reliable and educational evidence of learning, forming coherent and engaging learning experiences for all students (Wiggins & McTinghe, 1998).
I am an enthusiastic and conscientious educator. I use my blog to connect my personal experiences and adventures to my pedagogy.