Backward Design


This week I decided to learn more about the idea of Backward Design.  Backward Design, address the problem that teachers face when designing curriculum.  In an article I read it stated that, “new teachers feel ‘lost at sea’ when confronting the complexities of planning curriculum, (Graff, 2011, p. 151).  Backward Design can be seen as a support system for teachers when faced with the daunting task of designing curriculum.  When broken down Backward Design is made up of 3 steps:

1.Identify the outcome or desired goal (what do you want the student to know?)

2. Design the Assessment (what tool can I use for the students to show me what they know?)

3.Plan the learning experience (What activities can lead me to the desired outcome?)

(Wiggins and McTighe, 2005, p. 17-19)

I found a table, in an article I read, that helped me to better understand the application piece of  Backward Design:


Traditional Planning Backwards Design
Stage 1 What Literature do I want to teach (or am I required to) teach? What enduring understandings about literacy and life inform the standards at this grade level and will engage my particular students?
Stage 2 What literary terms does this work lend itself to teaching? What activities would be fun/interesting/useful/engaging with this literature? What Standards do I address when I teach students this work? What evidence would enable me to reliably infer that students have uncovered those understandings?
Stage 3 How should I test that students have read and understood the literature? What kinds of writing do we have to do? What skills and knowledge do students need to develop in order to successfully produce that evidence? What resources (e.g. literature) and activities will help students develop that knowledge and those skills?

(Graff, 2011, p. 156).

This quote I feel helps to get at the broader picture of why Backward Design is important,

“If we believe that information literacy is a lifelong, collaborative, problem-solving process, then it is essential that, at some point in our work with each student, we assess their ability to apply knowledge in the context of real tasks,” (Abilock, 2007, p.10).

Too often I think that it is forgotten that students attend school to learn how to be an active member in society and not just to pass state tests.  Instruction needs to be designed in a way that is preparing the students for the world that exists outside of their school walls.


Below is a link to a wiki that discusses Backward Design.  The second video on the page, I feel, does a good job of visually showing what Backward Design is. 


Works Cited:

Abilock.D. (2007). Choosing Assessments That Matter. Knowledge Quest, 35 (5), 8-12.

Graff.N. (2011). “An Effective and Agonizing Way to Learn”: Backwards Design and New Teachers Preparation for Planning Curriculum. Teacher Education Quarterly, 38 (3), 151-168.

INS DSG 619 /Paula Dinneen and Laura Gay Majerus. Retrieved on April 18, 2012 from INS DSG 619 Wiki:


Sound and Speech Reflection

There were many different ideas that stood out to me this week.  The first being the idea of how to “properly” design a PowerPoint presentation.  A quote  from Doumont that really stood out to me was “oral presentations have a different purpose than written papers”(p.64).  Too often I think that presenters read exactly what is off their slides, which tend to be paragraphs and paragraphs ofinformation.  In my opinion, each slide should highlight one or two key ideas that the presenter is talking about to help the audience remember the main points.  This not only helps the presenter to make sure they highlight those main points but also shows the audience the key points they should take away from the talk. Doumont talks about this in the reading by stating “when presented with a slide full of text, we are faced with a dilemma: either read the text or listen to the speaker” (p.65).  I personally have faced this many times and feel I have missed out on information because of this.  Something that has helped me with PowerPoint presentations, that Doumont also mentions (p. 65) is when there is a print out of the slides (maybe like 3-6) per page so I can take notes and write down connections that I am making with the content that is being presented to me. Power points can both be really useful and challenging for audience members, I think a way to make them beneficial is to constantly think, what are the MAIN POINTS I want the audience to walk away with.

The Kliewer and Biklen (2007) reading, made me think about how a lot of books that students use in school to help them improve their reading tend to be focused towards a younger age group.  I have found this a lot in a k-12 setting where a 6th grader who may struggle with their reading is reading a book that is geared toward someone who is in 3rd grade.  This is often seen with ESL students who are learning the English language.  They are often given worksheets and books targeted towards 1st grade, when they may be in 6th.  I personally think that books should be made at all age levels that challenge and support students while still keeping in mind their interests and age level. I think that if books were created in this way it would help students from feeling like they are different or aren’t as smart as their peers.  I think that some of the best supports in classrooms often go unnoticed by the students themselves.

Text/print literacy

In the Stahl reading something thatstood out to me, was the idea that the goals of instruction should be preserved regardless of the adaptations in place.  Often I think that some teachers change the goal of the lesson when adaptations are put in place because they feel that the students won’t be able  to understand the conbeing press presented.  When really the content is not delivered in a way that suits a student’s learning.  When thinking about this a tool that comes to mind is the UDL editions tool.  I find this tool very beneficial because it provides the students all with the same story, but the supports vary depending on the level chosen.  Since all students would open the same application and story it would be hard for students to determine which students were receiving more supports.  Too often, a student who may be struggling with reading is given a book thabelow typically used with a younger student.  For example a 5th grader who struggles with comprehension may be given a book that is intended for a 2nd grader.  Not only is this obvious to the individual student, but thclothier classmates as well.  For this reason, this is why I like the UDL editions application because the adaptations aren’t as apparent.  Not only are supports added through this application, but a tab labeled “added resources” that can push students to that next level of thinking that continuously need to be challenged with the content presented to them.  When planning a lesson for all students, it means thinking about those who may face struggles with the content as well as though who may see the content as “easy.” It is important to make sure that all student’s thinking is being pushed to that next level, no matter what that “next level” is.

Something else that stood out to meread the Stahl reading was when it talked about how textbooks could change, but there needs to be a “need” for alternate formats.  This reminds me of the saying; “what came first, the chicken or the egg?”.  It is almost like no one wants to make the first move towards alternate forms of text.  The books publishers don’t want to be the first because they are afraid there isn’t a “market” for them.  However, teachers could have a hard implementing alternate forms of texts across various classrooms because there aren’t a lot to choose between from publishers.  Personally, I see this as a great place for collaboration to take place between book publishing companies and teachers to make sure that all needs are being met.  It is clear that more conversations need to be had around this topic in order for effective alternate forms of text to present in multiple classrooms.

From the Micahel and Trezek reading a quote that resonated with me was, “students should also be encouraged to develop their own options for learning (p. 316).  After reading this, what came to minhaving the idea of having students create a “menu” of assesments options that they could choose from throughout the year.  I see this playing out where students choose two different assessments options (like a main dish and a dessert), from multiple choices provided.  The various choices would be created by the teacher and the students.  This would help to ensure that all students are provided with a way that they can show their teacher what they know.  By getting the students involved it not only helps the teacher to better understand the various learning styles, but to also make the students responsible for their own learning.  helps would help to show students that their voices, preferences, and opinions are valued.  In one of my undergrad classes a teacher did something similar to this, and it was something that not only stuck with me, but something I enjoyed as well.

Video Tech Lab

Existing Knowledge:


I don’t know a lot about creating videos.  I like using YouYube to find videos, but I have never used Vimeo or YouTube to actually create or upload a video. The only kind of video creating I have done in the past is through iMovie.  This semester Leah and I worked with a local school district to help them create a 1st grade unit on Communities.  Our job was to go out into the community and interview local businesses like, the post office, a doctor office, a local state park etc.  We then turned these interviews into a 2-3 minute video clip that will be played during an instructional period.  During the activity various computers will be set up around the room, and the students will do a “virtual tour/field trip,” of their local community through these videos.  This activity helps to prepare the students for what they are going to see when they do the actual field trip later.  It would also be a great use of resources if the school couldn’t afford to go on a field trip.    For this technology lab I am going to focus on Vimeo since I have never used that before and see how to create an account as well as create/upload a video.




This page is set up as a tutorial resource.  There are many different categories on this page that describes how to make better videos, from sound and light to shooting winter action sports.  I like that this website took time to help it’s users out and really push them towards creating the best video possible.  I was surprised to find a page dedicated strictly to video production and not just how to upload videos on their website.



Below is the description between the free and paid edition of Vimeo.  What stands out to me from an educational background is that the videos are password-protected and that there is different privacy levels as well.  I like that this company is taking the time to think about its’ users and making sure that they feel comfortable putting videos on the website.  As a future educator, it is important that if my class were to create videos that they are created in a way that they can be private or protected from just anyone being able to view them.



Something else that I found while exploring Vimeo was that they seem to be very user-friendly and steps on what to do are clearly displayed.  With the basic option there is a limit of data that you are allowed to upload per week and on the side of the screen they show you how much data you have used and the amount of space you have left.

How Could I Use This:


In an ideal world I think it would be great for every student to have an account and the entire school or district to have one “channel,” that they all use.  It has the potential to be a great addition to instruction or assessment activities.  Students could create a video on their computers about what they learned and then upload it, and other students could view it to see the thoughts of their classmates.  This could be a great option for a student who may not feel comfortable talking in front of their peers, but wants to express their opinion on the topics presented in class.  The only thing that concerns me is the privacy issue.  Since there are millions of users and videos on this website I could a school district and parents being leery about the students using this website because there could be videos posted that aren’t appropriate.


What I learned:

It is really easy to upload already created videos.  Vimeo has step by step procedures that basically tell you what you need to do next to upload a video as well as how to make your video viewable.  I was a little hesitant with this week’s tech lab because I don’t have a lot of experience with creating videos, and I kept thinking this is going to be over my head with “techy” terms used during descriptions and steps.  This wasn’t the case however, because I feel the creators of Vimeo designed a website that allows people to feel comfortable uploading videos.  I think what I am going to continue to research is the overall privacy and protection of videos.  It is important that the students’ identities are kept as safe as possible as well as being exposed to a safe online environment.


Below is a link to a video that I uploaded using Vimeo.  The video is one of the video’s that Leah and I created.  The sound to the video has not yet been added.

Imagery and Video Reflection

“What evokes one reaction in one person may evoke a very different reaction in someone else,” (Chapman)

This quote I feel sums up all of the articles about imagery.  I enjoy reading articles that focus on how people interpret images and the environment around them different.  I personally don’t take enough time to really stop and think about what I am seeing, and what different senses are being triggered from what I am experiencing.  In chapter 2, in Barry’s book I like how it was explicitly stated that what you see is based off of human experiences.  For whatever reason I never really thought about it this way before.  After thinking about this throughout the Barry readings what comes to mind is how I view things different pre and post my study abroad experience to Italy.  Something specifically that comes to mind is whenever I see pasta with a pesto sauce, my mind automatically goes back to my host family’s kitchen and seeing the dinner spread on the table.  As a teacher this just solidifies that I really need to not only pay attention to the various backgrounds that my students bring to the classroom, but also get them to see how their experiences are shaping what they are creating.  Also, just thinking about all of the different stories that students can share surrounding one image can expand the conversation that much more.  I think by me realizing this for my own personal experiences will help me to make these kinds of connections more throughout different experiences I have.

The CSS Zen Garden website was something that also stood out to me.  While looking through the website I was thinking this would be a great way for a teacher to see how content can be presented in different ways.  One way is very visual with the colors and different font, while another one is simpler, but still contains the same information.  But then it occurred to me this could also illustrate how students can hand in work that looks “different,” from their peers, but that it still shows the necessary information.  It made me think about how in this class we can create a reflection anyway we want as long as we express that we learned something.  If someone is able to put a collection of videos or pictures together that express the main points of the reading then they are doing the same thing as someone who writes out the main ideas in a narrative format.  Often I think teachers are hesitant to allow flexibility in their assignments because they aren’t sure how they are going to turn out.  I think this website could be a useful tool to show how the same information can be given or created in multiple formats.

Two quotes stood out to me from the reading, Teaching and reaching the millennial generation through media literacy.  The first quote is, “in times of rapid technological change, it has been typical for adults to criticize the academic achievement and work ethic of their own children” (Cosidine et al, p. 471).  Being in the schools and trying to integrate technology across multiple content areas I hear comments that are rooted in the theme expressed in this quote.  I think that this has to relate a lot back to the Garland-Thompson reading when it discusses the idea that if an image doesn’t fit in with the social norm it stands out and is seen as wrong.  I think when people are faced with this un-easy feeling about something they are experiencing whether it is technology integration or a child learning in a way that isn’t seen as “normal,” they should try and pinpoint what is at the root of this feeling.  Does it relate to something they experienced?  Or maybe didn’t experience and wanted to?  Or maybe they don’t know how to work through the experience ahead of them so backing away is easier than facing unfamiliar grounds?  One way I have helped teachers with their concerns about technology was participating in a technology fair.  The fair was designed in a way that teachers could sit in on various sessions throughout the day and learn about a piece of software and how it could be implemented in a classroom from their peers.  In technology integration I think the first step is showing people that technology isn’t “scary”, that it’s going to take some time to feel comfortable with it and you aren’t the only one that doesn’t know everything about a certain piece of technology.

A second quote that really stood out to me was, “but simply being surrounded by media does not necessarily mean we recognize or understand its content or intent” (Considine et al, p. 472).  I think technology integration can go two ways, either it is done in a way where students are using it to critically think and create something or it is being used as a filler activity because it will keep students engaged for a certain amount of time.  I think this quote helps to get at the idea that technology integration doesn’t mean just putting technology in the classroom, but using it in a way that will prepare students for the world that exist outside of their classroom walls now and when they go to get a job.  An article I found through a colleague explains this as students being “digital citizens” and not just “digital natives.”  I like the idea behind “digital citizens” because it helps to express the idea that school is preparing students for the world outside of school and if we aren’t teaching them with the technologies they are going to face in the workplace then are we really preparing them fully?

The link for this article is below:

Mind Mapping Tech Lab

I have worked with some Mind Mapping tools already, such as, Kidspiration.  I thought for this tech lab I would explore other pieces of software that allow you to create mind maps.  As a technology specialist, one role I could have would be to compare and contrast various pieces of software that I could purchase for a district so it is important that I research different pieces of software so I purchase the best one.


The first Mind Mapping software I found that was new to me was; Magical Pad.  This is an app for the iPad, which can be purchased through the app store for only .99!  On March 15th Magical Pad came out with a version “that creates a new kind of productivity app bridging the gap between mind-mapping and outlining iPad app. The new version of Magical Pad provides new tools for mind-mapping enabling users to create deep mind maps with connected outlines and nodes in a free-form mind mapping environment.”  Something interesting about the Magical Pad is that it is marketed for business-use.  Seeing this it makes me want to explore this app and see what would classify it for “business-use.”  The only thing I can think of would be that maybe there is business-y language used throughout the program.  After looking through the app description and reading the comments I think I may have to purchase this app!  Below is a link that brings you to the itunes store website page of this app.  If you do a lot of outlines, or brainstorming maps I would take a look at this because for .99 it seems like it can do a lot!


After finding this one app I decided to focus my attention on other apps that are out there and see how they compare with price, user comments and overall display images.  After looking through the various apps a couple different aspects of the apps came to mind.  For starters, some are available on other devices besides just the iPad.  This would be beneficial for schools to know because it may be more feasible for schools to purchase iPods rather than iPads.  Also, the apps vary in complexity.  Some look like more detail can be added to them than others.  Depending on what grade level or project a mind map is being used for it would be important for the teacher to see what the app is capable of doing so it fits into their activity.


Link to educational apps:


Finally, I found a page on brainstorming in general.  This website is more like a blog and even though it doesn’t have to do with any specific kind of mind mapping I think it describes how to go about brainstorming in a clear and concise way.  I thought it was a nice way to end this Tech Lab because all of these tools can be beneficial in a classroom setting, but if the students don’t know what is expected of them from these pieces of software they may not benefit from the technology as much as if they knew the objective of the activity (what the Rose and Meyer reading talking about this week).


Link to blog on “Brainstorming 101”


I am really glad that I decided to do the Tech Lab this way because I wasn’t aware that there are so many apps out there for mind mapping alone.  This just shows me that I really do need to fully research different types of software out there before choosing one for a school to adopt.

UD in the planning phase

Something that stands out to me right away would be the idea that universal design is being discussed in the actual planning part of a lesson and not thought of as an after thought.  By having universal design being talked about in the planning part I think allows for better implementation of a universally designed lesson.  Many different factors can affect how a lesson is actually implemented and by thinking about how all students can learn before the actual implementation can allow for better modifications to be made on the day of the actual lesson if need be.  I think that by thinking about universal design ahead allows for the teacher to really take time and make sure that the needs of all the students are being met throughout the entire lesson.

An aspect of Universal Design that I feel isn’t discussed much is the actual language that is used when talking about a universally designed space.  I think the Knoll article addressed this really well by saying “language can play a big role in social privileging,” (Knoll, 2008 p. 125).  A teacher’s action can be universally designed so they are thinking about all students, but how they talk about their own practices can negate everything they are trying to accomplish.  It’s not about making everyone the same because I think it is good acknowledge people differences in a way that everyone experiences the world differently and learning about other people’s perspective can help you to better understand your own.  I like the quote from the Knoll reading because it addresses the important component of language being that it can place hierarchy on a situation.  In my opinion how teacher’s talk about why they are planning lessons they way they are needs to be taken into consideration as much as the design itself.

Thinking about universal design during the planning stage, needs to happen during the planning of many different components of instruction.  In the case study reading this week, I think it was really important for the authors to highlight 5 different areas that need to be universally designed for; curriculum, instructional delivery, student participation, materials, and assessments.  To me this is really important because if you only universally design the delivery instruction and not the assessment piece, the student can still learn the content, but you the teacher won’t know that because you aren’t assessing them in a way that they can show you what they know.  Throughout my undergrad a saying that stood out to me was, don’t call assessments, assessments, but rather “show me what you knows.”  In my opinion, that’s the purpose of tests anyways, so why not make tests less daunting by word them in a different way.  I think this gets to the idea expressed in the Teach Every Student in the Digital Age book, when it talks about completely understanding the specific goal of every activity, and only when you do can you fully design a lesson that all students can fully participate in.  Every aspect of learning is connected together, so it only makes sense that universal design would have to be thought about in multiple areas in order for students to be successful.

Project #1

Project #1

For this project I decided to focus on elementary students who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  “Children with ADHD exhibit developmentally inappropriate levels of inattention, impulsivity and/or over activity” (DuPaul and Weyandt, 2006, p.161).  Basically, children with ADHD have a hard time focusing for long periods of time and often act before thinking their actions through fully.

Article #1: The School Support List: Identifying Support Needs and Barriers for Children with ADHD

Brief Description:

This article starts off by explaining what ADHD is and the different characteristics that students with ADHD may show.  The article also talks about how it is important for the teacher to be an active member in the classroom by individualizing his/her curriculum to fit all students.  Within this article there is a checklist provided that gives teachers ideas about different kinds of supports they can put in their classroom.  An example of one support provided is; Allow several shorter assignments in same time as other students are completing one longer task.

Article #2: The Child’s Experience of ADHD

Brief Description:

The focus of this article is getting the perspective of ADHD from the child rather than the parent or teacher.  There was a study conducted with 47 children between the ages of 8 -13, and there parents and both parties were asked questions about the quality of life either of themselves (if they were the child) or of their child (if they were the parent).  The responses from the questionnaires were then compared to see if the thoughts of the children and their parents were the same.  The results showed that parents rated their child’s quality of life lower than the child themselves in all domains except physical functioning.  The children described ADHD as not thinking before doing something and finding it hard to concentrate or sit still.  Overall, this study helped to highlight the idea that it is important to ask each student their individual learning preferences and not assume one way or another.

Article #3: Students with ADHD in the Inclusive Classroom: A hierarchical approach to strategy selection

Brief Description:

This article discusses different strategies that teachers can use in the classroom to help set up a learning environment that is not only conducive to children who have ADHD, but all students.  The beginning of the article starts off by saying that it is important, “to match instructional strategies to the needs of specific students.”  This article believes there are three levels in which interventions or strategies can take place.  The three levels were identified as; unstructured interventions, moderately structured interventions and structured interventions.  The idea being that the lowest level can be achieved by the classroom teacher alone and the higher levels are best achieved when more school personnel are involved.

 Article #4: School-based Intervention for Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Effects on academic, social, and behavioural functioning

Brief Description:

 The focus of this article was on the different areas in which supports can be present for children who have ADHD.  This article identified three different areas; behavioural, academic and social relationships.  The authors went on further to say that all areas should be looked at as equally important and one should not be favored over the other.  Also, the idea of having multiple parties involved in making decisions about a student’s education plan was something that stood out in the article as well.  Finally, this article stated that each student should be looked at individually to identify what are the strengths of the child as well as what are the challenges they may face.  A further point that was addressed in this article, that didn’t come out in other articles was the idea that environmental contexts also play a role in a student’s learning and should be looked at as factor that could have influence on their behavior, learning and social relationships.


Strengths and Challenges

Below is a table describing the strengths and challenges of a learner who has ADHD.  When doing research on this topic I found that there were not a lot of peer-reviewed articles that focused on the strengths of students, but rather the challenges they faced in the classroom. Or the focus of the article was on the teacher and not the student. After becoming frustrated with the lack of positive articles about children with ADHD, I expanded my search beyond peer-reviewed articles and began finding blogs and websites that were focused towards promoting ADHD research and expanding knowledge on this topic.  The website I used to find reliable strengths also shared the same view of the challenges that students face in the classroom, so I felt this was a credible website.  I think it is important however, to remember that even if a student has the same disability as another student they are still an individual, and should be looked at separately to see what works for them.  Just because a modification works for one student with ADHD doesn’t mean it will work the same for others.  I also turned some challenges around (worded them in more of a positive light), and made them strengths.



  • Read well


* Easily distracted

“1 out of every 5 minutes I’m probably distracted.”-12 yr old boy (YouTube video)

  • Artistic


* Takes more time to complete tasks because of distractions (YouTube video)
  • shorter assignments rather than longer (time-wise)


*Behavior Control, academic achievement, peer relationships (Dupaul & Weyandt, 2006 p.161)
  • Variety of interests (most important to remember!)


Below is a YouTube video where a 12yr old boy discusses his likes as well as what challenges he faces in school.


Works Cited

Bender, W.N., & Mathas, M.Y. (1995). Students with ADHD in the Inclusive Classroom: A hierarchial approach to strategy selection. Intervention in School & Clinic 30(4), 226-232.

Brad’s Story: A 12 year-old with ADHD. [Video File]. Retrieved from

DuPaul, G.J., &Weyandt, L.L. (2006). School-based Intervention for Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Effects on academic, social, and behavioural functioning.  International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, 53(2), 161-176.

Efron, D., Iser, A., & Sciberra, E. (2010). The Child’s Experience of ADHD. Journal of Attention Disorders, 15, 321-327.

McKinley, L.A., & Stormont, M.A. (2008). The School Support List: Identifying Support Needs and Barriers for Children with ADHD. Teaching Exceptional Children, 41 (2), 14-19.

Society For The Promotion of ADHD Research and Knowledge. [Website] Retrieved from

Technology and Universal Design

“Collaboration by difference respects and rewards different forms and levels of expertise, perspective, culture, age, ability and insight, treating difference not as a deficit but as a point of distinction” –Cathy Davidson


The readings this week really pushed my thinking about how technology can benefit a learner as well as inhibit a student from learning if not implemented properly.  In the Chisholm and May readings, something that stood out to me was the idea of thinking about Universal Design early and often throughout the process of designing a piece of technology.  Often I think that people design lessons, tools, and learning spaces first and then think about whether or not everyone can access it after.  I think when Universal Design is thought about as an afterthought it isn’t thought about fully and certain changes that need to be made are not made to their fullest potential.  Even when looking at the term Universal Design, the word design is right there.  When creating anything the design of the object is usually one of the first steps throughout a process, not at the end.  Taking time to take a step back and look at what you created I feel allows you to stop and analyze what you have done thus far as well as examine where you want to go next.

In Cathy Davidson’s book there were two ideas that really stood out to me, the first being, crowdsourcing.  Even though I have heard of FourSquare before and the idea of getting people’s opinion through various apps, the actual term was new to me.  It was interesting to read this after having Dr. Foley come in and talk about the project he is currently working on.  I think this is a source of information that isn’t tapped into as often as it could.  To me, it just seems to make sense to hear from the people who are currently experiencing something you are going to experience.  I know I always appreciate comments about something (like a computer) from someone who has actually used it instead of someone who has just read information about it.  Secondly, I thought that Davidson brought up an interesting point when she talked about term papers vs other styles of writing.  I never stopped to really think about it before but students are usually only writing a handful of papers every year, but are writing dozens of emails, and blogs weekly, so why not assess students in a format that is more familiar to them.  The contrast in the quantity of the number of term papers to emails or blogs is something I never really stopped to look at before.  Also, most students once they are out in the work force won’t be writing term papers to give to their bosses, but rather memos, and letters.  Teachers should continue to reflect on their practices and the activities that happen in their class to make sure they are preparing the students for the world they are about to enter.