Having the skills to understand and effectively apply standards helps to prevent what I would term haphazard teaching. As a new teacher, starting with the standard and working backwards is very beneficial to someone in the beginning stages of creating valuable classroom content. Lessons and activities are only as useful as the impact they play on the final product. Interesting and engaging activities are endless, but backwards mapping is helping me judge their worth in a given lesson.
Unpacking a standard and backward mapping gives lessons and activities a clear focus. Am I wasting valuable time in the classroom with activities that are not leading to my objective? It can be easy to incorporate wasteful activities into the classroom based upon your own personal interest versus the interest of the entire classroom. Just because an activity is entertaining to my students doesn’t necessarily mean it is instructive. Who am I benefiting with this lesson? As a student, I always hated activities or lessons that seemed to be going nowhere. I had no patience for class work that did not have a clear objective or did not align with the overall class objectives. One of my goals as a teacher is to try and prevent my students feeling like they are wasting their day sitting in my class.
Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, lessons and activities may crash and burn. A hugely beneficial factor to backwards mapping a standard is the foundation it provides. If my lesson plans are not leading to a desired outcome, I can go back to the original standard to analyze and compare and contrast my own lesson plan to the standard. Starting with the standard and building up keeps my focus on the goal and will, hopefully, prevent wasting class time with lessons and activities that are not focused on an end result.