I got a few different things from today, but one really big one.
I’ll start, though, with one minor kvetch about the textbook: While most if not all of the ideas it contained were useful, why did it present the idea of “backward design” as if it was something new and groundbreaking? I mean, I remember being taught those principles better than a half decade before Understanding By Design was written, and they were pretty well-established pedagogical practices by then—and knowing this, and being bothered by it, distracted me from paying attention to what I apparently should have been paying attention to, given the content of today’s sessions.
So…Looking back over it, the whole description of the concept of the “big idea” is immensely useful. I’m one of those people who uses it intuitively, so actually coming up with one wasn’t a problem, but how to connect that explicitly to course design? Yeah, that has made the entire week worth it all of itself.
And that’s my big takeaway—there’s an explicit connection between the general overarching idea of a class and the issues the class deals with. Yeah, it’s obvious when you say it out loud, but it’s not the sort of thing that usually comes up in hallway discussions of pedagogy, you know?
p.s. It occurs to me that I actually do like grading, or at least grading tests—it’s the easiest way i’ve found for getting quick, solid feedback on what the patterns of a student’s understanding/lack of understanding of different course issues might be.