Backward Design Teacher Academy and WIOA Transition

On June 17-19th all of our Adult Basic Education for College & Career (ABECC) instructional staff attended our inaugural Backward Design Teacher Academy at the El Rio Learning Center.20150618_152104

The goals of the Academy were to serve as a jumping off point for the Professional Learning Plan for the coming year. Participants had the opportunity to learn about and explore these three questions:


  • What is Understanding by Design and how do I use it?
  • What do we mean by a CCR context and what does it look like in the classroom?
  • What is differentiation and how can it support instruction in a multilevel class?

For the first day and a half of the Academy, we were pleased to welcome trainers from the College and Career Pathways Institute at La Guardia Community College. With the La Guardia team, teachers:

  • Explored rationale and methods for developing career focused basic skills lessons
  • Built a definition of career focused contextualized instruction through analyzing lesson materials
  • Walked through a sample lesson and analyzed its components
  • Looked at the process of Backward Design
  • Examined how/why Backward Design principles work with contextualized basic skills planning
  • Analyzed and developed essential questions and desired outcomes/products for career focused basic skills lessons

The second half of the Academy helped teachers look at how we will integrate career focused contextualized instruction and the principles of Backward Design into our program.

We were pleased that the Chancellor visited on our last day. He is an important supporter of adult basic education becoming an on ramp or bridge for all students to achieve certificates or degrees – no matter where they start.

We have time to transition to WIOA.   We’ve been learning about it since it passed in 2014 and the ADE has given us a year (and some money) to transition our program into a fully integrated career pathway program.

IMG_1565When I was a teacher, my job was to get folks ready to pass the GED test so they would achieve their goal of a High School Equivalency Diploma. They passed, I hugged them, waved goodbye and perhaps even gave them a sheet of paper with college information on it… maybe.

Now, with our move towards becoming Adult Basic Education for College & Career (ABECC), our job is to set students up for the same sort of success as when I was a teacher BUT also help support them with their college and career goals. The finish line has moved a bit, and we need to take it to the next level.   No more waving good bye – As part of a great college system, we want our students to get a job in their career path OR complete the college program we helped transition them into.   Funding and outcomes will be tied to career pathways.

So we have this year – to figure out how we pull it all together. How do we learn from what we are already doing in most classes, including bridge classes, and IBEST programs? How do we take what we know from our VESL and Workplace Education experience AND implement what we’ve been learning about over the last few years? How do we contextualize lessons and utilize Backward Design in our planning?   And how do we include CCR, civics, and technology in all our work.

I know we can take on this task because we are learners ourselves. We will figure out how to implement these changes in all our levels, not just the higher ones.   We will build pathways from day one that end in outcomes that our students want and need; and in the end, I know our students will benefit from these changes.

I’m looking forward to the new fiscal year and classes beginning in mid-July.

Enjoy the summer!


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