Some recurring themes in the AP Government Standards are political parties, interest groups, federalism and public opinion. Therefore, I can infer these are key (core) concepts that my students need to know.
"Without a focus on the big ideas that have lasting value, students are too easily left with forgettable fragments of knowledge" (p. 66).
Established Goals are geared at highlighting the desired outcome or long-term results that we want for our students to achieve (Ex. Content Standards).
In order to ensure we teach the established goals, we need to outline essential questions. This keeps us, as teachers, constantly wondering whether or not we are answering these overarching question we want are students to be able to discuss and answer.
In my student teaching placement, an example of an established goal is having my students truly understand what a democracy is. Throughout the process they would then need to discuss how each institution or organization affects our democracy.
Unpacking the standards seems to be a difficult task. McTighe and Wiggins provide teachers with tips for how to digest the standards for our courses in order to determine which concepts are most important. One valuable way of doing this is by looking for adjectives and verbs that are commonly recurring and therefore, important to focus on!
Reflection: Chapter Three addressed some major difficulties I am struggling with in my current student teaching placement. As a social science teacher, I feel this is an extremely difficult thing because we are inundated with facts and information. I think I often lose track of what is really important about what students are learning and the core concepts behind government. Thankfully my mentor and this chapter have been helping me gain a greater perspective for big picture thinking. Having these essential goals and essential questions are crucial for student learning. This is true because if we don't, students, as well as teachers, just go through the textbook and the motions playing the "game of school". I am happy to see how this chapter enlightened my perspective and made me realize just how valuable backward design is going to be for me, especially since clarifying my goals is a large weakness of mine.