Edse 4244 social studies methods
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EdSe 4244 Social Studies Methods Understanding by Design: A Review The Twin Sins of Curriculum Design Activity-based teaching - a variety of hands-on activities organized around a theme, sometimes providing interdisciplinary connections; however, to what ends?

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EdSe 4244 Social Studies Methods

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EdSe 4244 Social Studies Methods

Understanding by Design: A Review


The Twin Sins of Curriculum Design

Activity-based teaching - a variety of hands-on activities organized around a theme, sometimes providing interdisciplinary connections; however, to what ends?

Coverage-focused teaching - curriculum focused on ensuring everything is “covered”


Teaching Focused Curriculum

  • Too many teachers focus on the teaching and not the learning. They spend too much time thinking what they will do, which materials they will use, and what they will ask students to do, rather than on what the learner will need to accomplish the learning goals.


Backward Design Focus

  • What should learners be able to understand, know and do?

  • What is evidence of such ability?

  • What texts, activities, and methods will best enable such a result?


Three Stages of Backward Design

  • Stage 1: Identify Desired Results (what should learners know, understand and do?)

  • Stage 2: Determine Acceptable Evidence - How will we know learners have achieved the desired results?

  • Stage 3: Plan learning experiences and instruction


“Big Ideas”

  • In each subject field there are some basic ideas which summarize much of what scholars have learned…these ideas give meaning to much that has been learned, and provide the basic ideas for dealing with many new problems…that can be used in a great variety of problem situations…to use them in a way of dealing with the world.


Big ideas and UbD

  • In UbD, “big ideas” are framed as goals and essential questions


“Big Ideas”

  • Concepts - adaptation, perspective

  • Theme - “go west”

  • On-going debate or points of view - liberal/conservative, nature vs. nurture

  • Paradox - freedom must have limits

  • Theory - manifest destiny

  • Underlying assumption - markets are rational

  • Recurring question - “is that fair?”, “How do we know?”, “Can we prove it?”

  • Understanding or principle - form follows function


Standards Often State or Imply Big Ideas

  • The study of History (Minnesota, U.S., and World) helps students to see how people in other times and places have grappled with the fundamental questions of truth, justice, and personal responsibility, to understand that ideas have real consequences, and to realize that events are shaped both by ideas and the actions of individuals.


Write a “big idea”

  • Work in pairs to come up with a ‘big idea’ in social studies.If you have online access, use the national or Minnesota standards, and frame your big idea based on standards language.


Essential Questions

  • Learning goals are framed as “essential questions”. The best questions can be global and go right to the essence of things - What is democracy? How does it work? What does the author mean? Can we prove it? What should we do?


Essential Questions

  • Essential questions need not be global. They can go to the heart of a particular topic, problem, or field of study. Social studies can be defined by its essential questions - In what ways should government regulate the market? What connection is there between a country’s form of government and the prosperity of its citizens? Is it important to listen to our ancestors?


Types of essential questions

  • 1. Important questions that recur throughout our lives - What is justice? What is freedom?

  • 2. Core ideas and inquiries within social studies - Can history escape the social and personal history of historians?


Types of essential questions

  • What is needed for core learning content - What models best describe the business cycle? What ideas influenced the development of our federal system of government?

  • Questions that engage a specific and diverse set of learners - What influences have helped form our notion of what constitutes an “adult”?


Developing essential questions

In pairs, develop a set of social studies essential questions. The questions can be global, help frame core ideas, frame core learning content, or be meant to engage a specific and diverse set of learners. If you have online access, use the NCSS or Minnesota Standards to help you frame your questions.


Understanding by Design

  • Understanding is the ability to make connections and bind together our knowledge into something that makes sense of things. A performance ability lies at the heart of understanding - to use, and transfer, to apply our knowledge and skills. To have understood is to be able to transfer what we know.


The Six Facets of Understanding

  • Explanation - can explain via generalizations or principles, make insightful connections and provide illuminating examples or illustrations.

  • Interpretation - can interpret, provide a revealing historical or personal dimension to ideas and events, tell meaningful stories.


Facets of understanding

  • Application - can apply, effectively use and adapt what we know in diverse and real contexts.

  • Perspective - have perspective, see and hear points of view through critical eyes and ears; see the big picture.


Facets of understanding

  • Empathy - can empathize, find value in what others might find odd, alien or implausible; perceive sensitively.

  • Metacognition - have self-knowledge; perceive the personal style, prejudices, projections and habits of mind that both shape and impede our understanding; are aware we do not understand; reflect on the meaning of our learning and experience.


Facets of understanding

  • The six facets of understanding are manifestations of transfer ability. They are non-hierarchical.


Essential questions and understanding

  • Essential questions can be derived from the facets of understanding.

    Again in pairs, develop essential questions based on each of the six facets of understanding. If you have online access to the Minnesota, Wisconsin or National standards, use them as a guide to develop your big ideas.


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