Backward Design: Bad For Languages

TLDR; Don’t use UbD, especially this next year. COVID-19 messed with everything, so keeping the same expectations is unreasonable. Let’s face it…there’s not going to be any miraculous “catch up,” nor should we expect that. Instead of guessing where students will be in the fall, and how far their proficiency might develop with all the disruptions, try Forward Procedure.

I began writing this post after seeing calls from a lot of language teachers seeking tech tools as answers…to all the wrong questions. Rather than trying to maintain what we’ve done, we’re gonna need to make considerable adjustments to our expectations. Curricular design is one of those.

Backward Design
Sure, it makes perfect sense. You start with the result you want for your students, then go backwards from there, planning learning experiences along the way. It’s been recognized as good teaching across all content areas for at least a decade, and has been around since the late 90s. This is “textbook” best practice. In fact, it’s literally a textbook…

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Non-Targeted Input: Ditching a Lesson Plan


Since I began teaching a language, it’s been pretty hard letting go of the graduate school generic UbyD planning mindset, and spending less time working on administrator-desired posted Objectives (see Terry Waltz’s answer for this). These and various other educational processes sap our time that otherwise should be spent on honing our craft, and really, really getting to know our students and their needs. The hardest, but perhaps most fruitful thing to let go is the Lesson Plan, and just discuss something non-targeted in Latin. I know, it sounds crazy, right? Read on…

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