Branford’s curriculum is developed using backward design, which is based on the idea that planning is best done by starting with the desired results and the transfer tasks that embody the goals. It is a design approach that results in purposeful thinking about curriculum planning from a micro lens, as well as programmatic reform from a macro level.
Looking at the outcomes first results in coherently-designed curriculum units, performance assessments, and classroom instruction. Within this framework, understanding is built by identifying the content that students will acquire (important knowledge and skills), make meaning of (big ideas; key principles and concepts), and transfer (application of learning to new situations).
The primary goal of backward design is student understanding, which is revealed when students autonomously transfer their learning. There are six indicators of students’ understanding--the capacity to explain, interpret, apply, shift perspective, empathize, and self assess.