Friday, May 30, 2008

Backwards Design the Summer

We are the point of the school year when projects become plentiful and overpowering while performances and playoffs become prevalent. Overall, I'm pooped. We're all pooped.

I sat down with my oldest son and helped him map out all of the things he has to do in the next few weeks. Then we sorted the sticky notes (yes, Dr. Educational Technology took the low-tech/no-tech approach) by due date.

Not surprisingly, it seemed more manageable to him when it was broken into small pieces. He was finally able to see through the overwhelming calendar of tasks. He could finally see the end.

I mentioned this process to a fellow educator and she immediately said, "Oh, backwards design." I knew the term but had forgotten it even though I use the strategy.

That got me thinking. Each summer I work with my boys to establish a list of educational projects and opportunities with varying levels of commitment and difficulty. From typing skills to iMovie projects each one has a monetary award that I set.

Last year, I saved a lot of money. They were excited at the beginning but didn't follow through; it got overwhelming. I'd rather pay out, so I need a new approach.

Enter backwards design. In two weeks I'll sit down with them and go through the same process as last year except that we will establish their goals and then apply a backwards design strategy.

I think this will work when they can see both the end goal and the steps to take each day to get there. Backwards designing their summer is a process and a path they can enjoy all the way to the bank.


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