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Friday, September 11, 2009

What is the Five Step Backward Design Approach to Lesson Planning Preparation of Wiggins and McTighe?

When mentoring our pre-service and in-service teachers we need to make clear the connection between enduring Jewish knowledge and the lesson plans we create. An excellent approach to making that connection appears in the work of *Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, the authors of the 'Backward Design' lesson planning process. Accordingly, below please find the five steps for 'Backward Design' lesson planning.

The Five Steps for Backward Design Lesson Planning Preparation of *Wiggins and McTighe (1998)

Step 1. Decide what (Judaic) content or knowledge is enduring. That is, you want to determine what your students must learn during a particular period of instructional time (i.e. a lesson, a unit [a set of lessons], a semester, or the entire year). This is essential Judaic knowledge that an educated person should understand, and be able to apply. In this blog we will refer to this essential information as enduring Jewish knowledge. Example:
· The Torah and the Talmud contain a body of wisdom that guides a person regarding how to lead a righteous and meaningful life.

Step 2. Decide what question or questions you want your students to answer. These are the essential questions that focus student thinking on enduring Jewish knowledge. Examples:
· What are the Torah and Talmud?
· Why are we commanded to study the Torah and Talmud?
· How does the study of the Torah and Talmud help us live a righteous and meaningful life?

Step 3. Decide what evidence your students need to demonstrate to prove that they truly understand this enduring Jewish knowledge. Examples:
· Students will be able to cite specific examples from the Torah and Talmud of g'milut chasadim, acts of loving kindness, i.e.
1. Visiting the sick, Bikkur Cholim, Genesis 19:1-3
2. Welcoming guests/strangers, Hachnasat Orchim, Genesis 18:3-5.

Step 4. Determine what student skills and classroom activities students can do which demonstrate that they understand, and can apply this enduring Jewish knowledge. Example:
· Students will generate a list of g'milut chasadim projects that they will implement individually, or as a class during the school year.

Step 5. Determine how to assess or measure whether individual students truly understand, and can apply this enduring Jewish knowledge. Examples:
· Students will define and give examples of g'milut chasadim from personal experiences, and from stories in the Torah and Talmud.
· Students will write an essay, create a song, or draw a picture showing how doing an act of g'milut chasadim made a difference in their lives and those of others.

*Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (1998). Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

On the next several posts we will discuss how to incorporate the Backward Design process into your lesson planning.

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