Starting small… backwards

One phrase you’ll hear in the training for the new GPS curriculum is backwards design, i.e., begin with what you want to end up with and then plan backwards from there to your activities.

This idea has been around for a long time, and we’ve even been using it in Coweta County to some extent in the form of “essential questions.” An essential question, if designed properly, provides a focus for a unit that prevents us from throwing any old kind of activity into the unit, even a good one if it doesn’t help answer the question; and it aims kids’ attention to the most important ideas of the unit.

Here’s a suggestion for an essential question for our study of Frederick Douglass: What was the biggest obstacle Frederick Douglass had to overcome, and what in his life most helped him overcome it?

This essential question doesn’t have to cover all the standards, but it should help us get to most of them.

Any ideas as to how this would play out in the classroom? in the media center?

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