Backwards design begins with the desired end result and then works backwards to design the lesson. There are three main stages 1) identify outcomes, 2) identify how they will show competency, assessment, 3) what activities and strategies will develop these competencies.
Teachers can begin with the standards and work backwards to design lessons that will help students achieve proficiency. This is a great learning activity to do with grade level teams. Spending time collaboratively working on lessons in this format results in very good hands on lessons that can be shared and improved upon by the team. It also helps teaching begin to think this way so that it becomes part of their repertoire of teaching. It helps them to think critically about each step of the lesson and identify those elements that are most beneficial to student learning.