Standards and backward mapping

When thinking about standards, lesson plans, and backward mapping the example of marathon running comes to my mind. You don’t just wake up one morning and decide to run the marathon, it is a recipe for disaster and disappointment. Running and completing a marathon is your end goal and to be able to reach that goal you need to plan for it. Asking questions that define your goal clearly and make it attainable, and then making steps/markers to follow and reach that goal.

The same is true about planning in teaching. Our standards can be seen as the end goals that we need to break down and define into smaller blocks to help our students achieve them. Keeping the end goal or standard in mind will help us plan more purposefully from unit to unit.

  1. Subject: EFL (English)
  2. Grade: 1-6 elementary school level (My focus is Gr.1-2)
  3. WIDA: English language learners communicate ideas, concepts, and information necessary for success in the content area of math.

Why this standard?

The reason I choose this standard is that it is one of the most essential building blocks for EFL students success later on in their educational careers. During module one I looked at statistics that showed EFL students underperforming in math in the USA. Mathematics is already a hard skill to build now add a language barrier to it, and you’re bound to see a misrepresentation of the students’ abilities.

Unit outcomes:

  1. Students will be able to identify differently shapes correctly.
  2. Students will be able to ask and answer simple present tense questions e.g. “What is this?” “It’s a ____.”
  3. Students will be able to ask and answer yes, and no questions using simple present tense e.g. “Is this a circle?” “Yes, it is.” / “No, it isn’t. It’s a _____”

How will we assess this?

Assessments can be done individually or in group or class format. For vocabulary checks, I like to do a whole class and then group assessment of knowledge.

  • Asking students to identify the shape I’m holding up.
  • Asking students to listen and then draw the shape they hear me say.
  • Having a small quiz at the end of the introductory class or start of the new lesson.

When the grammar starts requiring students to make sentences I like the use of individual and whole-class assessments.

  • First asking them to provide the question e.g. “What is this?” or “Is this a ___.” as a group together and me answering it.
  • Then asking them questions and allowing them to answer me to see how accurate the team is.
  • Using worksheets where students circle correct answers after listening to voice prompts.

How will we transfer this into learning experiences or activities?

  • Quizzes can take any number of forms for Gr.1-2 students. In this case letting them play a short memory game or bingo game would be ideal. If I want to check speaking abilities, I will play a whole class game where students respond to me, and I can see the overall progress. They can however also work in groups or pairs using small playing cards for the memory game or pulling shapes out of a hat for the bingo game.
  • Class survey- Giving each individual student a shape and a worksheet and asking them to circle (collect) all the shapes while using the target language.
  • Students divide into groups. One group will build forms using their bodies the next team will then identify it by making the word using letters and then saying the target language.
  • Carnival type games: Placing shapes on buckets and then asking students to volunteer one-by-one asking them a question about any form. If they answer correctly, they can pull a point card from the bucket.
  • Sitting in a big circle where we ask and respond to questions in sequence against time.



Adrio, N. (2016, April 11). Unpacking a Standard. Retrieved April 08, 2017, from

DIGITAL CHALKBOARD. (n.d.). Retrieved April 08, 2017, from

O. (2014, January 27). ASCD Author Jay McTighe: Greatest Lesson Learned. Retrieved April 08, 2017, from

Search the ELP Standards. (n.d.). Retrieved April 08, 2017, from



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