Introduction The majority of my teaching career has been spent a public school that firmly believes in Jay McTighe’s backwards design model. At the beginning of the school year, my colleagues and I would explore our content standards, determine power standards, and create essential questions that would drive our units. We would plan our lesson around the skill students should know at the end of the unit and plan assessments that would test students’ knowledge. There was never any discussion on how we would differentiate these lessons for students. One thing that I have learned from Carol Ann Tomlinson and Jay McTighe is that differentiation and backwards design should work in tandem to provide “powerful knowledge that works for each student” (Tomlinson & McTighe, 2006, p. 3). In a conversation with both experts I would discuss the learning I have gained as a result of studying their work.
Impact on Clearly Identifying Learning Goals Before beginning this course, the one thing I felt confident in was identifying the standards that students would be learning and creating learning goals to reflect that learning. I knew that students needed to know where they were going to accomplish the learning set for them. After learning more about how backwards design and differentiation work together, I understand now that having clear and aligned learning targets are what help the learning to stick throughout the unit (Brookhart & Moss, 2014). This is extremely important when