44: Project design: multiple entry points





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3 Stages of Backwards Design:
  1. Identify Desired End Results:
    • study standards and learning goals
    • identify learning goals and desired enduring understandings
    • prioritize learning goals
  2. Determine Acceptable Evidence:
    • determine what evidence we will accept to show that students have achieved mastery of goal
  3. Plan Learning Experiences and Instruction:
    • what foundational skills will students need to reach goals?
    • purposefully design and analyze learning tasks: how will formative assessments be used to develop student learning? what tasks will help students develop a deep understanding of learning goals?
    • Avoid common errors (see pitfalls above)
NOTE:  These steps do not need to occur in the order above.  The models below will show other ways to design projects.


Begin with Content Standards:
  • Analyze nouns in standards and connect these big ideas

  • Identify key knowledge and skills in standard

  • What essential questions follow from standard?

  • Analyze verbs and connect these to performance assmts

  • List learning activities

  • Refine unit to insure alignment across all phases


Begin by considering real world applications:
  • Clarify larger purposes and connections between applications and content.

  • Identify specific real world tasks that embody goals

  • Determine enabling knowledge & skills needed for tasks

  • Sketch learning plan that enables practice to mastery

  • Infer questions learners need to frequently consider as they learn

  • Identify content standards that explicitly tie to tasks
  • Revise to align design elements as needed


Begin with an important skill:
  • What complex worthy task does this skill support? How does this skill connect to other relevant skills?

  • Identify related content standards

  • Determine what assessments are implied or explicit in standard

  • Identify strategies for using skills effectively

  • Identify big ideas and essential questions that undergird the skill

  • Devise learning activities.

  • Revise for alignment.


Begin with key resource or learning activity
  • Start with winning activity or sanctioned resource

  • Consider: Why does this activity matter?  What big ideas does this activity help us understand?

  • Clarify essential questions that will point to these big ideas

  • Identify the skills, facts, and understandings the activity is meant to yield

  • Tie activity to relevant standards and infer key concepts and skills in these
  • Revise assessments and learning activities as needed.


Begin with a key assessment
  • Clarify goals and levels of transferability built into assessment

  • Identify standards that address these goals

  • Infer relevant big ideas, understandings, essential questions required to pass assessment

  • Develop and refine performance assessment tasks that parallel the required assessment

  • Craft and modify learning activities to ensure effective and purposeful performance.

  • Revise to align design elements as needed


Begin with an existing unit
  • Place elements into template and look for alignment across 3 phases.  Do the goals match the assessments?

  • Do lessons relate to richest aspects of goals?

  • Clarify big ideas and long term performance goals related to standards

  • Ask often: What should students come away understanding?

  • Revise assessments and lessons to do justice to Stage 1 elements

  • Revise to align design elements as needed


Because the inspiration for projects can be varied, it is helpful to see different processes for designing projects that start from different entry points.  The key thing about the 3 phases is not that they occur in order, but that a fully designed project addresses all the key points in ALL 3 phases, i.e. clear aligned picture of learning goals, valid assessments, and good scaffolding.  The color coding above illustrates how the 3 different phases arise in different models for designing projects.


Preparation steps
  • Develop a Year at a Glance (Scope & Sequence)
  • Prioritize standards in scope and sequence
  • Use one of the strategies above to develop a project that goes with a unit cluster of standards
  • Use Understanding by Design template and related standards to guide and evaluate project development
Early implementation steps
  • Use design criteria to evaluate project elements as they are implemented in project
  • Document evaluations of projects and extract generalizable tips and ideas that can be applied to future project designs
Advanced implementation steps
  • Use the multiple entry point models to help students design their own investigations and projects

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