Planning lessons backwards… Have you ever tried planning your lessons backwards? If not, then it is worth trying it, at least for once.
The initial step to take is to ask ourselves; “What is that my students can’t do ( don’t know) but will be able to do (know) by the end of the lesson?” Let’s say our ultimate goal is to have students write a coherent paragraph using appropriate supporting ideas in three 60-minute lessons. My lesson objective could then sound something like; ‘By the end of the lesson, students will be able to write a 250-word coherent paragraph as well as to evaluate their paragraphs using a rubric‘.
Then, what would the steps be to reach the highest level (in this case writing a coherent paragraph)? I think, referring to Bloom’s Taxonomy while planning the stages of a lesson could be helpful here. (Please refer to the link below on Bloom’s Taxonomy). Some example follow-up questions for each hierarchical level of cognitive learning could be as follows;
Knowledge: How will I present the topic (language item)? What activities will I use to present the topic (language item) with? How will I present it; through solely by my input or by having students compare two samples ( one good & one bad) and then have them share their feelings/thoughts?
Comprehension: How will I check their learning? Will they have to identify a coherent paragraph among two others that lack unity/coherence or will they have to explain why a paragraph is coherent/not coherent?
Application & Analysis: How will my students apply what they have just been presented with/ exposed to? How will they practice it? What is the activity I could use here? Will they complete parts of an unfinished paragraph using prompts? Will they compare two paragraphs?
Synthesis: What will they do for production? Write a coherent paragraph about a topic of their own choice? Or will they generate the ideas on a pre-defined topic in groups, individually? Will the first stage of it be a whole class brainstorming, and the next step individual writing using the ideas?
Evaluation: How will they evaluate their learning? Peers will evaluate the paragraphs using a criteria, or will they reflect and evaluate on how well they did using the criteria themselves?
Once we define our overall lesson objective(s), it may be easier to plan backwards and think about the steps that our students will go through. In our lessons, we may have lot of activities with various aims, step by step taking our students to our lesson objective. Why we choose doing an activity over another activity is pretty much related to the aim of each activity as well as to the stage of the lesson; i.e. our aim in doing a running dictation activity could be to warm up students to the language/topic while a whole class brainstorming activity could be to encourage interaction. However, when it comes to lesson objectives, we carefully need to consider the timing, the interaction pattern, the aim of each activity, how much input is required, and more importantly how all these will fit within the big picture.
At this point, referring to Bloom’s taxonomy could not only help us critically think about our planning skills but also ease our planning process especially in choosing the activities to use and approaches to employ as well as helping us define realistic overall lesson objective(s).
What would you say?
The Link: http://www.edpsycinteractive.org/topics/cogsys/bloom.html