Understanding by Design Meets Integrated Scienceby: Denis Wang and Margaret Allen

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A high school science curriculum is developed using the principles of "backward design." By using this curriculum design model, an integrated high school science program is created and implemented.

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  • on Mon Feb 04, 2013 12:11 PM

The Backward Design model and the combined works of McTyghe and Wiggins have been around since the 1990s. This article succinctly provides instruction on how to model this method of unit planning and lesson delivery in a science class. Determining what we want our students to know and be able to do is of prime importance in curriculum mapping and in facilitating student learning. In today’s classroom we rely on our state’s standards to help identify the important concepts, and we call the end goals the learner targets. McTyghe and Wiggins used the term ‘enduring understandings’. After the enduring understandings have been identified, the instructors create authentic assessments that will provide evidence that students understand the new information. The final component of backward design involves designing a mix of classroom activities and learning tasks that will move students toward their enduring understandings. The article presents an integrated science curriculum on water. Students learn about the biological, chemical, and physical connections while they practice math skills, solve problems, write reports, give presentations and make discoveries. Teachers who are unfamiliar with the Backward Design model will find this article helpful.

Carolyn M  (Buffalo Grove, IL)
Carolyn M (Buffalo Grove, IL)

  • on Tue May 07, 2013 11:52 AM

The authors have presented the framework and general structure of the first year of a three year sequence of integrated science. The goal was to teach the same high school content but without the artificial boundaries of biology/physical sciences. The outline of the first year curricula sounds intriguing and the fact that it ends with a student-generated Project Based Learning inquiry gives students much more responsibility for learning than traditional programs. This article reports on the successes and some of the areas of change for the pilot group after their first year in the sequence.

Tina Harris  (Bloomington, IN)
Tina Harris (Bloomington, IN)

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