This chapter focused on planning assessments and evaluations with an end goal in mind, rather than making assessments and evaluations and not knowing what you want your students to get out of a lesson. When planning, teachers also need to consider that students need a variety of forms of assessment to prove their learning and not just get tested one way. Davies also says that teachers need to verbalize with their students what the end result is going to be, but by doing this they need to take what the curriculum documents state and translate them into student friendly language.
It seems as though this idea of backwards design is becoming more common throughout the university classes that I have taken. In my EMATH 200 course I had to design a backwards design lesson plan, which at the time seemed to be far too much work for one simple lesson. However, as I learn more about backwards design and I see it being acknowledged more frequently I am seeing why it has become so important. Davies is excellent in pointing out that we need to be upfront with our students on what we want them to learn and not make it such a mystery because they will get more out of what we want them to learn in the end. I try to think back on my own experiences in high school and I can often remember questioning my teachers why I was doing a particular task — the response was simply because it is in the curriculum. To me this seemed like a silly reason to do something and it still does. Just because it is in the curriculum does not mean as a teacher I should not give meaning to everything I am teaching my students. Obviously the Ministry of Education has felt that everything they have put in the curriculum is of importance to students and so as a future teacher I need to take that on myself to give meaning for my students.
This chapter basically summarized everything my high school experience was not, but whether or not that is a bad thing I am not entirely sure. As I said above in my connection, my teachers rarely came up with a reason as to why I was learning something besides “because it is in the curriculum”, yet I still managed to get good grades and get into university with that reason. So I am wondering after reading that chapter and thinking back to my own experience if there is a place to meet in the middle? Would I be able to as a future teacher give my students reasons for why we are doing a particular assignment only sometimes? Or do I have to be explicit all the time so that my students never have to figure out the importance on their own? Maybe that is where I hit a crossroad because in high school I did sometimes value having to figure out why an assignment or project should matter to me and in the end, I did leave with an appreciation for it.
Chapter 4 discusses the importance of having many types of samples to show your students in order for them to see what success looks like. By showing students examples of previous work, you are able to develop lists of criteria with them so that they are better able to see what exactly you as a teacher are looking for. Sometimes the best way to get examples is to ask colleagues if they have any that you may use (keeping all examples anonymous). But teachers also need to keep in mind that when taking in examples that all students may not learn the same way, so they may not appreciate the examples as much as other students.
As a high school student I was never given many opportunities to look at examples and help guide me in a correct manner to what my teachers were looking for. However, I did not necessarily mind this because I am the type of person who needs to work on my own and not look at other peoples work, mostly because I do not want to get someone else’s ideas in my mind. In class we had the discussion about when should you show student examples and whether or not you should wait until they have already started a project before giving them samples of what you are sort of wanting out of the project. I fully agreed with my classmate on this topic. I believe that in order for students to reach their full potential, they first need to figure out the best way that works for them and then look at previous examples to see if they are on the right track.
I do not necessarily agree with this chapter and how it presents using examples to help improve students learning. As a new teacher I want to try something new in my classroom and that probably means that my colleagues will not have tried it before, so I will not have the option of asking them for all activities. I think it is also important to get to know your students through these types of activities, it is a good way to figure out their individual learning styles and I do not think that is necessarily possible by just showing them former students work. I know for some students they need that reassurance of seeing if they are doing what they are supposed, but I want my students to take risks and not rely on seeing what was done before.