Chemistry Teacher with Students in Class

With the advent of the new Common Core State Standards, educator and teachers alike are now rethinking the way in which they support their students in the classroom. In comparison to the antiquated style of teaching where teachers could lecture in front of a class for an entire hour, the new supportive instructional delivery has taken a more interactive stance where students are now required to learn from both the teacher and their prospective peers.

While many educators may disagree with the style of teaching developed through the Common Core State Standard initiatives, we need to take into consideration that the world has change. Who we were and what we learned ten years ago is completely different to who we are today. With that development, educators need to succumb to the concept of change and improve their style for the betterment of student learning.

When developing your curriculum, you need to consider the ramifications of your strategies throughout the entirety of the course. This is what we call backwards planning. By definition, backwards planning or backwards mapping is a process that educators use to design learning experiences and instructional techniques to achieve specific learning goals. By conceptualizing and framing your lessons and your curriculum into this format, you will be able to plan various hands-on transformative lessons that can truly impact your students. In addition, the planning itself will allow you to view your entire curriculum holistically and strategically so that you can plan and accommodate for any setbacks or speed bumps that hit your way.


So how does it work? How do I plan?

Start your curriculum by understanding your material and developing a specific goal in mind. This goal varies across a variety of subjects. For your end-goal, you want to make sure that your students are able to take the knowledge and skills that they learned within the course and implement it for a final rigorous project. Take for example a 6th Grade Language Arts class. Knowing that an educator will have to teach a lesson on a novel, the end-goal could be a possible five-paragraph response paper or an end of the quarter exam developed with higher order thinking questions. Whatever end-goal you pick, make sure that you understand the skills and concepts the students should know before you begin developing your lesson.

After deciding on your end goal, it is now time to develop a bell-to-bell instructional plan. Begin by conceptualizing your day in four parts: (1) Bell Ringer, (2) I-DO, (3) We-Do, and (4) You-Do. Remember, this day will be based off of what you want your student mastering in order to develop their skills for next class.

Bell Ringer

Start the day by giving your students a quick assignment that can be easily discussed within a five to ten minute span. Depending on your schedule, the bell ringer can be utilized as a review session from previous class. In addition, it gives you a buffer time to settle the class and collect any past-due assignments. Remember to be cognizant of the time. Any additional minute spent during this time can often compromise the short-term goals of your lesson.

I-Do – Teacher Led Discussion

During this portion of the lesson, you will find that the style and teaching itself is very similar to the antiquated style of teaching. While you may be doing most of the talking in this section, your job here is to both provide information and teacher led examples for your students to learn and replicate in the later portion of the lesson. To enhance engagement, try and utilize visual engagement either through your presentations, modeling, or gestures. While it has been discouraged to ask higher order thinking questions during this portion, quick and simple questions that can benefit student engagement more than anything. Similar to the Bell-Ringer, be cognizant of your timing.

Teacher Helping Students

We-Do – Team Work

For this portion, group your student in either pairs-of-two or table groups so that they can cooperate and collaborate with one another. This portion is where students are able to learn from one another. Start off by having them replicate your lesson. Take for example; you want them to write a ‘hook’ for an introduction paragraph. Give your students a new topic and have them discuss with their partners various answers to the question. Afterwards, bring the class together and give them that opportunity to share with the entire class. To aid your students, keep your example up on the board. In addition, walk around the class and listen and engage with their ideas answers.

You-DO – Independent Time

Once you are finish with the ‘We-Do’ portion of the class, have the students attempt the assignment independently. Provide them with a new problem or topic. Have them replicate the same style similar to the teacher-led example. Similar to the ‘We-Do,’ walk around the classroom and read your student’s work. This will give you an opportunity to analyze holistically how well the lesson was taught and whether or not you will need to reteach the lesson.