Understanding by design
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Understanding by Design. Highlights of the Work of Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe by Sandy Stuart-Bayer Lee’s Summit High School Library. Understanding by Design. “Backward Design” focus: Clarify results and evidence of them before designing lessons.

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Understanding by Design

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Understanding by Design

Highlights of the Work of

Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe

by

Sandy Stuart-Bayer

Lee’s Summit High School Library


Understanding by Design

  • “Backward Design” focus:

    • Clarify results and evidence of them before designing lessons.

  • Teaching for understanding is the goal of teaching and compatible with standards-based curricula.

  • UbD is a way of thinking more carefully about design, not a program.


Understanding by Design

  • Thinking like an assessor, not only an activity designer, is key to effective design.

  • Overcoming the “twin sins” of “aimless activity” and “superficial coverage”.

  • The work is only “coverage” or “nice activity” unless focused on questions and big ideas, related to the Standards.


3 Stages of “Backward” Design

  • Identify desired results

  • Determine acceptable evidence

  • Plan learning experiences & instruction.

Then and only then


The Understanding

  • Insightful use of knowledge and skill, observable in performance

  • Revealed via the “six facets”

    (Think Blume-See handout)

  • Essential for maximal recall and apt transfer of “content” to new situations

  • Reflective, recursive “spiral”

    • Conventional linear [textbook-driven] scope and sequence is a major impediment to developing understanding.


3 Stages of “Backward” Design

  • Identify desired results

  • Determine acceptable evidence

  • Plan learning experiences & instruction.

Then and only then


Stage 1 Identify desired results

  • Consists of four components

    • Content standards

    • Understandings

    • Essential questions

    • Knowledge and skills

  • Key: Focus on Big Ideas!


Some questions for identifying truly “big ideas”

  • Does it have many layers and nuances, not obvious to the naïve or inexperienced person?

  • Does it yield optimal depth and breadth of insight into the subject?

  • Do you have to dig deep to really understand its meanings and implications even if you have a surface grasp of it?


Some questions for identifying truly “big ideas” cont.

  • Is it (therefore) prone to misunderstanding as well as disagreement?

  • Are you likely to change your mind about its meaning and importance over a lifetime?

  • Does it reflect the core ideas as judged by experts?


The Big Ideas

  • To determine the Big Ideas for your unit or course, ask yourself…

    • Why? So what?

    • What is the “moral of the story”?

    • How is _____ applied in the world beyond the classroom?

    • What couldn’t we do if we didn’t understand _____?

      Avoid truisms, facts, definitions!


Example: Bill of Rights Redux

  • Content Standards

  • Understandings (The Big Ideas)

    • Students will understand that:


Essential questions

  • Are arguable-and important to argue about.

  • Are at the heart of the subject.

  • Recur--and should recur--in professional work, adult life, as well as in the classroom inquiry.

  • Raise more questions-provoking and sustaining engaged inquiry.

  • Often raise important conceptual or philosophical issues.

  • Can provide purpose for learning.


Essential

Asked to be argued

Designed to “uncover” new ideas, views, lines of argument

Set up inquiry, heading to new understandings.

Leading

Asked as a reminder, to prompt recall

Designed to “cover” knowledge

Point to a single, straightforward fact-a rhetorical question

Essential vs. leading Q’s


Tips for Using Essential Qs

  • use E.Q.s to organize programs, courses, and units of study.

  • “less is more”

  • edit to make them “kid friendly”

  • post the questions


Knowledge and Skill

  • Students will know…

  • Students will be able to…

  • Example: Bill of Rights


3 Stages of “Backward” Design

  • Identify desired results

  • Determine acceptable evidence

  • Plan learning experiences & instruction.

Then and only then


Stage 2 - Assessment Evidence

  • What are key complex performance tasks indicative of understanding?

  • What other evidence will be collected to build the case for understanding, knowledge, and skill.

  • How will students self-assess?


Stage 2 is the essence of backward design & alignment

  • “Measure what we value; value and act on what we measure.”

  • Link assessment types to curricular priorities


Assessment types

  • Traditional

  • quizzes& tests

    • paper/pencil

    • selected-response

    • constructed response

  • Performance tasks

  • & projects

    • open-ended

    • complex

    • authentic

Worth being

Familiar with

Important to

know& do

Big Ideas

Worth

understanding


2 Questions for a practical test of performance tasks:

  • Could the performance be accomplished (or the test be passed) without in-depth understanding?

  • Could the specific performance be poor, but the student still understand the ideas in question?

    The goal is to answer NO to both!


Scenarios for Authentic Tasks

  • Build assessments anchored in authentic tasks using GRASPS:

    • G-What is the Goal in the scenario?

    • R-What is the Role?

    • A-Who is the Audience?

    • S-What is your Situation (context)?

    • P-What is the Performance challenge?

    • S-By what Standards will work be judged in the scenario?


Example: Bill of Rights Redux

  • Lee’s Summit High School Library: Bill of Rights Redux

  • Example performance task as a Webquest.

  • Key Criteria and Other Evidence, including self-assessment


3 Stages of “Backward” Design

  • Identify desired results

  • Determine acceptable evidence

  • Plan learning experiences & instruction.

Then and only then


Stage 3-Plan learning experience and instruction

  • A focus on engaging and effective learning, “designed in”

    • What learning experiences and instruction will promote the desired understanding, knowledge and skill?

    • How will you best promote the deepening of insight and interest?

    • How will you prepare students for the performance(s)?


Organize by W.H.E.R.E.

  • W = Where are we headed? and why? (from the student’s perspective)

  • H = How will the student be ‘hooked’?

  • E = What opportunities will there be to be equipped and explore key ideas.

  • R = How will we provide opportunities to rethink, rehearse, refine and revise?

  • E = How will students evaluate (so as to improve) their own performance?


For More Information

  • Wiggins, Grant & McTighe, Jay. Understanding by Design. New York: Prentice Hall. 2000.

  • McKenzie, Jamie. Learning to Question, to Wonder, to Learn. New York: Linworth Publishing.2004.


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