The end of the year is drawing closer, and today I was thinking about backward design. This year was the first year I implemented backward design planning. I have been really impressed with how much students have learned. My 9th grade students in particular really seemed to connect to this type of learning; furthermore, unless I’m a horrible judge, they have seemed more engaged than I can remember any other class being. Today they started working on the performance assessment for the unit I created for Toni Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye. Students were researching and writing about the impact of media and society on how people feel about their bodies. At the same time as they were analyzing a novel’s theme, they were also writing persuasive essays about body image, using research to support writing, and learning about ways in which literature truly can be a lens through which we examine our society. In times past, I don’t think I would have designed an assessment nearly as good as this one, and students were clearly interested in what they were learning through their research. They frequently called me over to read facts and statistics they found. They wanted me to read what they had written. One student began her essay with an anecdote that integrated information she learned from a YouTube video I showed the class. And it was a brilliant introduction.
I know I sound like an evangelist when I talk about UbD, but I can’t help it. Backward design revolutionized the way I teach. I feel rejuvenated and invigorated by working with my students. And I am learning so much, too! Every day, I just can’t wait to work with students on the units I’ve created. I truly enjoy planning and creating units now that I have a clear process that helps me focus and think about why I do what I do. I am really proud of all my students have learned and are learning, and much credit for those learning experiences belongs to UbD.