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Backwards design, inquiry learning, and Pokemon: Introduction

Soon after I wrote Pokemon for the 21st Century Learner, JP at 8bitlibrary.com continued the Pokemon series he began in Pokemon 101 with the posts Pokemon 102 and Pokemon Project Based Lesson Plan Idea: Habitats. JP’s lesson plan planted the seed of an idea in my head. I would go one step beyond a project based lesson, and turn it into an inquiry-based lesson.

My work at LEARN NC consists primarily of reading lesson plans and aligning them with the North Carolina Standard Course of Study. This means I’ve read many lesson plans about animals and their habitats. It also means that first and foremost in my mind in any lesson planning project are the standards, both from North Carolina’s Department of Public Instruction and from the National Science Teachers Association (the relevant professional association in this case).

This focus pushed me to consider using backwards design to write my inquiry-based Pokemon lesson. Backwards design begins with the end in mind, asking three key questions:

  1. What do we want our students to know and be able to do?
  2. How will they demonstrate their knowledge and ability?
  3. What activities will support them as they move through this process?

It was my original intention to write a whole unit plan and then present it to you, The Internet, fully formed. But I’ve since changed my mind. I’m going to walk you through this process with me. So get ready, because we’re in for what might be a lengthy ride.

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