Last spring I worked long and hard on an integrated unit using backward design. My collaborator moved away (boo). He didn't tell me he was leaving. When this school year began I figured it out. So I had to scramble for a new collaborator and decided to ask a teacher at my school to help me with a Neruda unit. We talked a few times. Mostly I asked him for help because when he and his wife went to Chile last year they brought me back a bunch of cool Neruda stuff.
But the collaboration didn't really work out. We work in different buildings, life is crazy and hectic, and by the time I got my unit together on paper I had actually already taught most of it. So the collaboration part fell by the wayside. In a way that was a relief because the whole idea of going through the process again felt very overwhelming. To be honest, the concept of collaborating in an integrated unit while learning the ropes of backward design was just too much! It was too much to juggle and get right the first time AND the second time! So the third time I decided, no collaborators! Just me, myself, and I!
The good news: I started my THIRD backwards design unit on Picasso and the writing of it went soooo much faster and I started teaching it. Based on all the data that I gathered on the Neruda unit my whole game plan changed. Go slower. More structure. I even did a slide show that I thought would be the kiss of death but instead it made the kids sit up and think--the slide show featured the Maine Learning Results and what they should know and be able to do by the end of the unit. This clear direction up front has made the first two classes extremely engaging, structured, and even a little fun (one student pointed out Neruda was too fun--in a nice way telling me it was too loosely structured).
Once again, I am learning in ways unexpected. So that is good.
But still. This class is exhausting.