Introducing the idea of a backward design early on in the reading, especially to a novice student teacher, proved to be a great starting point. This week’s readings literally answered the “where do I begin” question which was really starting to build a comfortable environment around my thoughts. Cooper’s simple and straightforward solution, which he referenced to Wiggins & Mctigheto, 1998, will also be a defining cornerstone to my teaching approach. That is, asking oneself: “by the end of this unit, term, or semester, what is essential for students to understand and be able to do?” (pg.26).
Stemming from this question is an idea that really stood out for me—asking why? Why as a teacher do I feel this concept is essential for my students to learn and why as a student do I need to learn this. On so many levels, whether drawing upon my previous in-class learning experiences or lessons learned in life, I found that knowledge never really resonated with me until I had a full understanding of the motivation behind it. From an educator’s perspective, I feel that the former why question will help me stay on track and allow me to filter out unnecessary information when developing my essential learning questions. Similarly, from a student’s perspective, I always appreciated the educator who invested time into discussing the learning objectives, explaining where they stemmed from, sharing the reasons that distinguish them as essential, and answering the big why question. In an indirect way, this conveyed the idea of shared respect in the classroom. As a student, I automatically viewed myself as an individual partaking in this learning experience rather than a student sitting on the receiving end of the classroom. I would definitely like to take this approach in my classroom and add to it student-formulated inquiries through facilitated learning as introduced by Cooper.
Overall, the practical ideas that cooper introduced in the third chapter allowed me to feel as though I’m finally getting a grasp on things and know what it is I should be looking for when going through the curriculum documents. Although this also allowed me to walk into my placement feeling pretty confident, I was left wondering: “How am I going to incorporate eleven individualized learning plans into one lesson design?” I was happy to find my answer in chapter four when Cooper highlighted the write, say, and do approach. I think my focus will be on creating a balanced learning environment that caters to my students learning abilities by incorporating a variety of tasks that can accurately display their understanding of the learning objectives.