Motivation and Backward Design

Part 1:

I hope to help develop an intrinsic motivation to learn in school. Intrinsic motivation is motivation that comes from an internal desire to do or learn what is expected of them. Motivation does not come from external factors (rewards, good grades, making parents happy), also known as extrinsic motivation. Instead, motivation comes from internal factors (satisfaction, personal fulfillment, enjoyment). Students who are intrinsically motivated will be more likely to pay attention, do their work and engage in the classroom. They will want to do classwork, they will want to participate, they will want to learn. I looked up some ways to promote intrinsic motivation and my favorite ideas from the article “25 Ways to Cultivate Intrinsic Motivation” are these:

  • Make Mastery Cool
  • Make students feel like education is a choice, not a requirement
  • Make every student feel capable
  • Give accurate and authentic performance feedback.
  • Stimulate cognitive curiosity by presenting a problem or question as a puzzle to be solved

(Briggs, 2013)

I realize that intrinsic motivation is not automatic. Extrinsic motivators can be very beneficial for behavior management. But I hope to be able to use techniques to develop intrinsic motivations.

Learner-centered methods of teaching are imperative to being an effective teacher. Learner-centered models have many benefits for the students.  According to the article “Learner-Centered Teaching” by Dr. Phyllis Blumberg of the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, Learner-centered teaching produces students that are better prepared for the real-world. The article stated that learner-centered teaching is not always possible, but the goal should be to incorporate it whenever it is.

To be an effective teacher, I think it is important to be flexible. Multiple teaching and assessment styles should be employed. If students do not get exposed to different teaching styles, they will not know how they learn best. Some students may have an advantage over others, simply because their teacher prefers teaching in their favorite learning style. As far as assessment goes, it is easier to gauge level of understanding if students are assessed in multiple ways. It is also easier for the teacher to get a more well-rounded picture of their students’ ability level and understanding of a content area if they use multiple forms of assessment.

As far as objectives/goals go, I believe that it is important to make sure that these goals are clear to students. In the classrooms that I volunteer or have had field experiences in, they have displayed the lesson objective and explicitly stated how the students will be expected to demonstrate their mastery of these goals. I think that this is important. It gives students purpose. I think that I would go further, whenever possible, and tell them how their mastery of the goal has real world application, this step will help to promote intrinsic motivation to learn.

Part 2


Unit Title: The Civil War                                                                

Established Goals:

Students will understand the causes and effects of the Civil War and research the topic using reliable sources.

Understandings: Students will understand that…

  • There were multiple causes for the Civil War
  • It is important to consider multiple viewpoints
  • The Civil War had great impact on America
Essential Questions:

  • What were the main causes of the Civil War?
  • What were the after effects of the Civil War?
  • How did the Civil War affect people’s every day lives?
Students will know:

  • The key events leading up to the Civil War
  • The effects of key battles on the war
  • The effects of the Union Victory on America
  • Key dates and locations of the Civil War


Students will be able to:

  • Students will be able to identify the causes of the American Civil War.
  • Students will be able to explain the Emancipation Proclamation and its effects
  • Students will be able to describe the life of a Civil War Soldier
  • Research a topic using credible sources


Performance Tasks:

  • Online research project and presentation about different aspects of the war and people of the time
  • Final Examination
  • Map Activity
  • Writing Activity using prompt: Use research to write 3 journal entries from the point of view of a soldier.
Other Evidence:

  • quizzes
  • reading activities
  • K-W-L charts
Key Criteria:

  • Students consider multiple viewpoints
  • Students use and cite reliable sources
  • Students use and present relevant information about the Civil War
  • Students demonstrate understanding of the geographical and chronological events of the Civil War
  • Students explore the day-to-day life of people living during the Civil War and role play using research.


Summary of Learning Activities:

  • Students will read and discuss journal entries/diaries from people from the time
  • Students will research and present on a topic/important event/person from the Civil War after proper research methods are taught and modeled
  • Students will complete map activities about key locations of the Civil War
  • Students will debate the reasoning from multiple viewpoints
  • Students will learn about the cause and effect of the Civil War by reading texts, watching documentaries, classroom lessons and conducting their own research
  • Participation/creation of skits about the day-to-day life of people during the time of the Civil War

I used the Backward Design Method to complete this unit plan. It helped me to focus on the goals. I was looking up activities to include, and I found some “flashy” ones, but they could not be justified in helping to complete my goals. I started with the goal and worked my way down. It was a new way to start a unit plan, but I found this method very helpful. Normally I would start lesson from the beginning. I would find a topic, create an activity, and fill in the goals that my activity covered. It worked, but I feel as though this way helps to make the goals more meaningful. It may take more work and thought, but this method is a good way to make sure that school time is used most efficiently.

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