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You may know that Backward Design is the instructional-planning approach that focuses on learning outcomes and the alignment of those outcomes to assessments and learning activities. But how do you apply this approach to your own instructional planning and to the learners in your program? This two-day workshop is an exceptional opportunity to learn how from Betsy Parrish and Jayme Adelson Goldstein, two of the most respected national voices in ESOL curriculum and material development.


    This professional development activity/course is designed for:

  • All ESOL instructors who want to improve their instructional planning process

The new MA English Language Proficiency Standards for Adult Education (MAELPS) specify in detail what your learners need to achieve at each proficiency level. But how do you plan your instruction to align with these standards and to produce optimal learning? Using Backward Design, you first:  

  1. determine what students should be able to do at the end of a unit or lesson, then
  2. design assessments that provide evidence that they can do it, and finally,
  3. create activities and tasks that lead to that learning

In this two-part, interactive workshop Betsy Parrish and Jayme Adelson Goldstein will guide you through the process of applying these concepts to your teaching. 

In Part I, you will explore how to establish essential questions for lessons and units, and how to translate those questions into clear, measurable learning objectives. You will then identify a variety of ways to assess learning on an ongoing basis and explore how to determine valid criteria for assessing learning outcomes. The presenters will use the MAELPS benchmarks to guide and support the process and to ensure that your lessons and units are standards-aligned. 

In Part II, you will dig into designing activities and tasks that match learning objectives, engage learners, and prompt deep and lasting understanding. You also will learn to plan your lessons and units with greater focus and efficiency.

The course components include:

  • Two face to face sessions (6 hours each for a total of 12 hours)
  • Application to your teaching practice (2 hours)

To receive credit, you must participate in both face-to-face sessions. Total PD hours: 12.

PDPs are available upon request if the following criteria are met:

  • Participation in the two-face-to-face sessions
  • A written lesson plan that adheres to the principles of Backward Design

For more information, contact Dori McCormack at

    Learning Objectives

    Upon completion of this professional development activity/course, you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of Backward Design
  • Develop essential questions to guide instructional/unit planning
  • Create (suitable) learning objectives that lead to answering those essential questions
  • Use the MAELPS to help develop meaningful learning objectives
  • Correlate assessment tools, products, and learning artifacts to learning objectives
  • Create authentic tasks and materials to support learners' achieving the objectives
Presenter(s) / Facilitator(s)

Cambridge Community Learning Center
5 Western Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States

PD Center
SABES English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Curriculum & Instruction PD Center
Topic Area
ESOL/English Learners