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Understanding By Design: A “Backward Design” Approach to Teaching and Learning

Understanding By Design: A “Backward Design” Approach to Teaching and Learning. Unlocking the keys to success and understanding. Chuck McWilliams, MRH School District June 2 nd , 2008. "There is nothing so terrible as activity without insight." -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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Understanding By Design: A “Backward Design” Approach to Teaching and Learning

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  1. Understanding By Design:A “Backward Design” Approachto Teaching and Learning Unlocking the keys to success and understanding Chuck McWilliams, MRH School District June 2nd, 2008

  2. "There is nothing so terrible as activity without insight." -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe German Playwright, Poet, Novelist and Dramatist. 1749-1832 McWilliams, 2008

  3. My Background • I’m originally from Iowa • Teaching emphasis: Biology • Past 14 Years in St. Louis and at MRH: • First 6… • Past 8… • UbD was the event that sparked the new beginning of my role as a teacher and leader McWilliams, 2008

  4. A Brief History of UbD at MRH: Year 1 - 4 McWilliams, 2008

  5. Pedagogical Study at MRH Reading in the Content Area 1:1 Laptops in ‘07-’08 Developing Teacher Competencies 2004-2008+ UbD Study Critical Thinking Cooperative Learning McWilliams, 2008

  6. A Brief History of UbD at MRH: Year 5 - 8 McWilliams, 2008

  7. Taking MRH Curriculum to the web Year 9: The Future of UbD Study at MRH McWilliams, 2008

  8. Taking MRH Curriculum to the web Year 9: The Future of UbD Study at MRH McWilliams, 2008

  9. Benefits of Using UbD • It’s a framework for research-based practices- it’s the GLUE that binds all we do! • Promotes teamwork - DESIGN TEAMS! • Promotes professional conversation about WHAT should be taught - ID Essentials! • Increased insight about the purposefulness of curriculum and its impact on students. McWilliams, 2008

  10. Even MORE Benefits... • Implementing UbD units helps me re-evaluate my priorities - throughout daily instruction! • Emphasis is on assessment! Helps students prepare for MAP and other tests. • Analyzing unit design and student work leads to improved curriculum. • My curriculum is living and breathing - Never something that’s finished. McWilliams, 2008

  11. Research: Learning and Cognition “Learning with understanding is more likely to promote transfer than simply memorizing information from a text or lecture.” -Bransford, et. Al., How People Learn, p.224 McWilliams, 2008

  12. UbD Supports Learning and Cognition From How People Learn(National Research Council, 2000): • Teachers need to recognize and draw-out preconceptions from their students and base instructional decisions on the information they get from their students. • Teachers need to teach their subject matter in a depth so that facts are conveyed in a context with examples and a conceptual framework. • Teachers need to integrate metacognitive skills into the curriculum and teach those skills explicitly. McWilliams, 2008

  13. Some important questions... • What is worth understanding? • What is understanding? How will we know that students really understand? • Why are the best curriculum designs “backward”? • How might teachers “work smarter” (not harder!) in curriculum design? McWilliams, 2008

  14. “Backward Design” The “Understanding by Design” Approach by Wiggins and McTighe Stage 1 - Enduring Understandings, Essential Questions, Key Knowledge and Skills Stage 2 - Assess Enduring Understandings Stage 3 - Design Meaningful Learning Activities McWilliams, 2008

  15. How It All Fits Together McWilliams, 2008

  16. Understanding by Design isnot… • a prescriptive program • an instructional model • opposed to traditional testing and grading McWilliams, 2008

  17. Key to Backward Design Think like an assessor! View: “A Private Universe” Note: Provide an example in your own experience when you thought everyone understood the lesson, but students still couldn’t explain. McWilliams, 2008

  18. A Private Universe McWilliams, 2008

  19. Key to Backward Design Think like an assessor! • Be clear about what evidence of learning you seek. • Design assessments before you design lessons and activities. McWilliams, 2008

  20. BIG IDEAS Structure of Knowledge Principles and Generalizations Key Concepts and Core Processes Facts and Skills Wiggins, Grant, & McTighe, Jay. (1998). Understanding by Design. ASCD. McWilliams, 2008

  21. Declarative Knowledge Knowing WHAT Procedural Knowledge Knowing HOW Structural Knowledge Knowing WHY More specifically… What is knowledge? -Jonassen, Computers as Mindtools for Schools, 2000 McWilliams, 2008

  22. Matters of Understanding • Big ideas or core processes at the “heart” of the discipline • “Enduring” - lasting value beyond the classroom • Transferable to other topics and inquiries • Require “uncoverage” McWilliams, 2008

  23. Two Types of Understandings • Overarching - Example: Great artists often break with established traditions, conventions and techniques to better express what they see and feel. • Topical - Example: Impressionist artists used novel painting techniques to represent everyday life. They used color, light, and shadow to convey the impression of reflected light at a particular moment. McWilliams, 2008

  24. Adaptation Change Energy Exploration Freedom Interaction examples... Concepts - Transferable “Big Ideas” • Justice • Migration • Patterns • Power • Symbol • Systems McWilliams, 2008

  25. Junk Bags McWilliams, 2008

  26. worth being familiar with “nice to know” important to know and do foundational concepts & skills “big ideas” worth understanding enduring understandings Establishing Curricular Priorities Wiggins, Grant, & McTighe, Jay. (1998). Understanding by Design. ASCD. McWilliams, 2008

  27. Content Standards • Identify “Big Ideas” • Then,frame them as generalizations and essential questions worth being familiar with important to know and do “big ideas” worth understanding Establishing Curricular Priorities Wiggins, Grant, & McTighe, Jay. (1998). Understanding by Design. ASCD. McWilliams, 2008

  28. Finding “Big Ideas” in the Content Standards Ask: • 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 ____ ? McWilliams, 2008

  29. Superficial Coverage versus Uncovering the Big Ideas What is Understanding? Six Facets of Understanding: Empathy Perspective Self-Knowledge Application Explanation Interpretation McWilliams, 2008

  30. The Six Facets of Understanding Explanation Interpretation Application _______ Perspective Empathy Self-Knowledge Wiggins, Grant, & McTighe, Jay. (1998). Understanding by Design. ASCD. McWilliams, 2008

  31. Using UbD in a Sophomore Biology Class Chuck McWilliams, Biology Teacher Maplewood-Richmond Heights HS Maplewood, MO McWilliams, 2008

  32. Planning For a “New” Course • Develop Course Enduring Understandings Ex.) Life functions as a complex system that exists at many different levels • Develop Essential Questions Ex.) How can scientists lead us to understanding how life functions as a system? • Develop course assessments - semester exams • Develop individual units and assessments McWilliams, 2008

  33. A “New” Biology Course • How does a(n) ________ come to know the world and humans’ place in it? • Each of the eight instructional units focuses on the Perspective of a scientist • During the year, each student will become a: • Biologist • Ecologist • Biochemist • Cell Biologist • Molecular Biologist • Geneticist • Naturalist • Taxonomist McWilliams, 2008

  34. Learning from Different Perspectives Cell Biologist Molecular Biologist Biochemist Geneticist Ecologist Naturalist Student Biologist Taxonomist Biology: Exploring Multiple Scientific Perspectives McWilliams, 2008

  35. EU Sample Unit: Unit 6 - Geneticist Enduring Understandings: • Patterns of inheritance can be predicted in living things. • Genetic and environmental factors determine the physical characteristics of living things. • As genetic research continues, society will face ethical challenges. Participating in the ethical decision making process will require carefully analyzing scientific research and understanding different points of view. McWilliams, 2008

  36. Essential Questions What will Guide My Students? • If offspring inherit their parents genes, then why don’t they look exactly like their parents? • What effect does the environment have on gene expression? • How will scientists use the information from generated the Human Genome Project? McWilliams, 2008

  37. Performance Assessment How will I know my students understand? • PersonaGen® Array 119™ Genetic Test • Students receive a simulated genetic test (multiple tests all at once) • They must interpret their profile • Research and learn about their assigned “mutations” • Write a 6 paragraph essay detailing their profile and the effect it would have on their personal and career life • Also included in the essay is a discussion/analysis concerning genetic testing in general • In class discussion and rubrics included McWilliams, 2008

  38. How It All Fits Together McWilliams, 2008

  39. W Where are we going? Why? What is expected? W H E R E T O H How will we hook and hold student interest? E How will we equip students for expected performances? R How will we help students rethink and revise? E How will students self-evaluate and reflect on their learning? T How will we tailor the learning plan? O How will we organize and sequence the learning? How It All Fits Together McWilliams, 2008

  40. How It All Fits Together McWilliams, 2008

  41. Protecting your favorite activities? Including FUN activities? Be aware of TIME and pacing Scaffold toward the Performance Task and other assessments Unit Planning vs. Lesson Planning Some Lessons Learned About Stage 3 McWilliams, 2008

  42. How It All Fits Together McWilliams, 2008

  43. Table Talk - Essential Questions • What makes essential questions essential about learning? • What are the characteristics of effective essential questions? McWilliams, 2008

  44. Ideally, Essential Questions should… • Go to heart of discipline • Recur naturally throughout ones learning and in the history of the field • Raise further questions into the unit’s “Big Idea” • Have no one right answer (debatable) • Be deliberately framed to provoke and sustain student interest and engage the students in attempting to answer the questions • Be derived from the enduring understandings McWilliams, 2008

  45. Tips! Tips on writing EQs: • Organize units around questions • Design assessment tasks that are explicitly linked to the questions • Frame questions in “kid language” to make them more accessible • Sequence the questions so that they naturally lead to one another • Post the essential questions in the classroom and refer back to them throughout the unit • Allot sufficient time for discussion of questions with students • Through a survey or informal checks, ensure that every child understands McWilliams, 2008

  46. Examples of good ones... • How can a diet be healthy for one person and not another? • Why do people move? • How does where we live influence how we live? • What makes places unique and different? • What is the relationship between cooperation and competition? McWilliams, 2008

  47. Not so good ones… • Is the weatherman always right? • Is Huck Finn a hero? • How many legs does a spider have? • How does an elephant use its trunk? • How do you measure 3-D objects? • How are fractions and percentages related? McWilliams, 2008

  48. Assessing Essential Questions McWilliams, 2008

  49. Is the unit focused on important and engaging questions? Level 3: Important and thought provoking;more than single “correct” answer, promote inquiry rather than recall, great potential for student engagement, unifying focus to guide teaching/learning Level 2: Appropriate for topic; not clearly focused on most important ideas/concepts; do not have single “correct” answer, may not require much inquiry or engage students Level 1: Do not focus on big ideas/core processes; not thought provoking; unlikely to engage students; may have one “correct answer” and be too narrow to guide unit McWilliams, 2008

  50. Lessons from Chapter 13: Misconception #1 - “Yes, but… we have to teach to the test.” Misconception #2 - “Yes, but… we have to much content to cover.” Misconception #3 - “Yes, but… this work is too hard and I just don’t have the time.” Barriers to Making UbD Work? Wiggins, Grant, & McTighe, Jay. (1998). Understanding by Design. ASCD. McWilliams, 2008

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