I’ve Got it Backwards

Several different prompts this week have pointed me towards turning my teaching backwards.

I am currently reading Making Thinking Visible, and one of the exploration strategies is called See, Think, Wonder.  The teacher in the case study stated that she realized she needed to reverse the order of her unit. She should show the assessment piece first, not last. (It was a renaissance painting which contained features pertaining to her unit). The students are meant to state what they observe, then think what it means, then wonder, which ignites the inquiry part of the learning.

Today I was able to participate in the weekly Global Math webinar, where Chris Lusto, for part of the time, addressed how we teach math. Why do we expose students to a concept, practice how to do it, then throw in an (occasionally authentic) application at the end? Why not start the unit with the application? Then the unit is about how we solve this problem, rather than what we have to learn, followed by an attempt (the application) at justifying why we learn it.

It is easy to see the connection between this kind of teaching, and UBD (Understanding by Design) unit planning, which starts with the end in mind.

So I am going to try some “backwards teaching” in the near future combining these ideas. What am I hoping to achieve? Visible thinking, deep discussions (and thought), increased engagement and curiosity, student ownership of solution methods, and therefore greater retention.

About eadurkin

Originally a HS Mathematics teacher from New Zealand, currently working as Associate Principal in the Secondary School at Canadian Academy, an international school in Kobe, Japan. Married with two children.
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