UNANTICIPATED OUTCOMES: FROM A FACULTY LEARNING COMMUNITY ON BACKWARD DESIGN TO A CO-TAUGHT INTERDISCIPLINARY COURSE ‘GEOLOGY AND POETRY’ (Invited Presentation)
In Backward Design one first identifies Enduring Understandings - concepts we want the students to take with them, remember, and apply in the months and years ahead. Essential Questions are then identified; these are open-ended questions which frame and reflect the Enduring Understandings, and are used to engage students. It is only then that one creates assessments that will provide convincing evidence that students can understand and apply the Enduring Understandings. The final stage is planning of appropriate class activities.
Our challenge in designing and implementing this course was not only a rigorous dedication to the methodology of Backward Design, but to effectively pair Enduring Understandings from both geology and literary analysis / poetry. Our method was somewhat messy; although we attempted to be objective through independent development of Enduring Understandings, we continually brainstormed possible pairings. For example, Pound developed a series of Enduring Understandings for ‘classic’ geological topics – plate tectonics, volcanoes, earthquakes, geologic time, and oceanography. Bratt did the same for aspects of both poetic form and literary analysis –sonnets, haikus, myths, the Burke Pentad. We then paired our Enduring Understandings in a manner that not only connected the ‘essence’ of each discipline, but simultaneously followed a logical progression within each discipline. Our final challenge was selecting materials, and structuring our class meetings effectively.