FES trains teachers in the methodology of ‘backwards planning’ as they experience a lesson from the student’s perspective

Germantown, Tennessee—August 2, 2018—The teachers are captivated in the library as they participate in a professional development session led by content leads Brianna Gould and Rebecca Carey.  Gould, who serves as the content lead for grades 3-5, is a veritable cheerleader and understood ‘guru’ of Expeditionary Learning, the new language arts textbook series that made its debut last year (2017) at Farmington.  Wit and Wisdom has been in place for grades K-2 since 2016, but is still an area that teachers requested additional training and development.  Carey has recently stepped into the role of content lead for the lower grades.

“Our ELA [English-Language Arts] teachers spent the afternoon walking in their students’ shoes,” said Gould. “By participating in backwards planning, teachers completed the assessments students will encounter in their first modules,” she said.  ‘Modules’ are the term that the curriculum uses for ‘units’ as would be named in previous textbook series. Her co-presenter, Carey went on to explain that by taking the test themselves, the teachers would understand better from the student perspective and may generate more ideas about getting students to the finish line of the lesson.  “They were able to see what they need to focus on during the lessons so that all of the learning goals can be achieved,” said Carey.

The professional development session gave teachers time to discuss strategies after taking the assessment.  “It’s an intelligent way to go about planning a lesson,” said Principal Zac Percoski, who chose the session as a standout of offerings for the week. “Seeing the teachers have those discussions and revelations was powerful to watch”.

Moving forward, the pair of content leads will lead future sessions on backwards planning and hope that teachers adopt the strategies in their separate planning groups.  According to Gould, “this understanding will also help teachers provide differentiation for students as needed”.  
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