You could be aMAZEd by working backwards

Photo © Tristan Savatier

It’s funny how little things get you thinking.

I was at my son’s Father’s Day breakfast and Mass this morning. We were looking through his workbooks, and we came across maze puzzle (you know the one…find your way from one point to another through the maze drawing)

I asked him “where would you start?”. He replied “at the end, because its easier”. We both laughed.

As I was driving back to work after that, I got to wondering. The maze on paper isn’t too dissimilar to the way many teachers work on stuff – start at the beginning (no cheating!), know that you have to get to the end (hopefully…sometime), bump into a few obstacles on the way, take a few wrong turns, eventually emerge at the other end, hopefully with new learning, skills and a sense of achievement.

(Hopefully you can see where this is going)

And then I thought, “what would it be like starting at the end?”  That would mean you’d know what your goal looked like before you started (The Big Picture), you’d still have twists and turns, but the path always seems more obvious (try it out on paper) and where do you end up? The present day, but with a better product than you have now. It’s called “backward design” and I reckon it works in just about everything we do as teachers.

So, where do you start?

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4 thoughts on “You could be aMAZEd by working backwards”

  1. I always start at the end – what do I want the kids to learn? Select outcomes based on syllabus (and common sense), create the assessment then plan lessons/activities/questions that help the kids achieve the desired outcomes/skills. Makes sense to me. Each lesson I try to ask myself, what do I want the kids to learn? What do I want them to be able to show me they can do or know now? Then think, how can I achieve this best?
    Love the maze analogy, clever!

    • Thanks for the comment Bianca. I, too, reckon it makes sense to see the “Big Picture” before you worry about the minutae.

    • Thanks Laureen for your interest and the comment. Yes! I think I learned that from all those years of having to watching “Rumpole of the Bailey” with my parents. Cheers!


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