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Backwards Mapping

Backwards Mapping:

The California History-Social Science Framework suggests a plan to help teachers
organize their courses around questions and topics of disciplinary significance (ch.21).
The Framework asks to teachers to consider, “What topics of relative significance,
enduring understandings-or “big ideas”-can be learned”. This session will demonstrate
how history-social science teachers can translate these big, significant ideas into yearlong
Essential Questions and unit-level Historical Questions using the backwards
mapping model developed by Wiggins and McTighe in their seminal work
Understanding by Design. In this presentation participants will learn how to effectively
and intentionally organize their content in order to create inquiry-driven courses.
Participants will also learn how to backwards map skills and practices to ensure that
their courses require students to build literacy by “doing history”.

This presentation will ask participants to develop year-long Essential Questions for their
courses and to develop a preliminary thesis in response to that Essential Question.
Additionally, participants will practice drafting unit-level Historical Questions that help
students explore a particular standard/historical era so that they can leverage this
content knowledge in order to develop a more refined and reformed response to the
Essential Question (Bruner, 1960). Finally, participants will evaluate their course and
determine what literacy and disciplinary skills students will need in order to engage with
its Essential and Historical Questions.

Presentation Team:

  • Daniel Diaz, UCLA History-Geography Project
  • Cindy Mata, UCLA History-Geography Project
  • Rachel Reinhard, UC Berkeley History Project