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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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slide1

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

slide2
"There is nothing so terrible

as activity without insight."

-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

German Playwright, Poet, Novelist and Dramatist. 1749-1832

McWilliams, 2008

my background
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

pedagogical study at mrh
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

benefits of using ubd
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

even more benefits
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

learning and cognition

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

ubd supports learning and cognition
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

some important questions
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

backward design
“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

how it all fits together
How It All Fits Together

McWilliams, 2008

understanding by design
Understanding by Design

isnot…

  • a prescriptive program
  • an instructional model
  • opposed to traditional testing and grading

McWilliams, 2008

key to backward design
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

a private universe

A Private Universe

McWilliams, 2008

key to backward design19
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

structure of knowledge

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

more specifically what is knowledge
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

matters of understanding
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

two types of understandings
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

concepts transferable big ideas
Adaptation

Change

Energy

Exploration

Freedom

Interaction

examples...

Concepts - Transferable “Big Ideas”
  • Justice
  • Migration
  • Patterns
  • Power
  • Symbol
  • Systems

McWilliams, 2008

junk bags

Junk Bags

McWilliams, 2008

establishing curricular priorities

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

establishing curricular priorities27

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

finding big ideas in the content standards
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

what is understanding

Superficial Coverage

versus

Uncovering the Big Ideas

What is Understanding?

Six Facets of Understanding:

Empathy

Perspective

Self-Knowledge

Application

Explanation

Interpretation

McWilliams, 2008

the six facets of understanding
The Six Facets of Understanding

Explanation

Interpretation

Application

_______

Perspective

Empathy

Self-Knowledge

Wiggins, Grant, & McTighe, Jay. (1998). Understanding by Design. ASCD.

McWilliams, 2008

using ubd in a sophomore biology class

Using UbD in a Sophomore Biology Class

Chuck McWilliams, Biology Teacher

Maplewood-Richmond Heights HS Maplewood, MO

McWilliams, 2008

planning for a new course
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

a new biology course
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

learning from different perspectives
Learning from Different Perspectives

Cell Biologist

Molecular Biologist

Biochemist

Geneticist

Ecologist

Naturalist

Student

Biologist

Taxonomist

Biology: Exploring Multiple Scientific Perspectives

McWilliams, 2008

sample unit unit 6 geneticist

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

essential questions
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

performance assessment
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

how it all fits together38
How It All Fits Together

McWilliams, 2008

how it all fits together39

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

how it all fits together40
How It All Fits Together

McWilliams, 2008

some lessons learned about stage 3
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

how it all fits together42
How It All Fits Together

McWilliams, 2008

table talk essential questions
Table Talk - Essential Questions
  • What makes essential questions essential about learning?
  • What are the characteristics of effective essential questions?

McWilliams, 2008

ideally essential questions should
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

tips on writing eqs

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

examples of good ones
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

not so good ones
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

is the unit focused on important and engaging questions
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

barriers to making ubd work
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

challenges using ubd
Challenges using UbD
  • UbD takes TIME to become part of the culture of the learning community.
  • It can create tension and anxiety!
  • Success requires ongoing professional dialogue, sharing, support, and encouragement
  • It’s for every teacher! Peer support!
  • It works WITH high stakes testing!

McWilliams, 2008

process vs product asking questions
Process vs. Product: Asking Questions
  • I finished writing this unit and/or lesson. Am I finished now?
  • Is curriculum “living and breathing?”
  • How do I find time? Time!?! Reflective practitioners take time to assess, rethink, and revise unit designs.
  • ALWAYS ASK: What keeps students most engaged in meaningful work?

McWilliams, 2008

lessons learned about ubd
Lessons Learned About UbD
  • Implementing UbD units helps me re-evaluate my priorities - throughout daily instruction!
  • Emphasis is on assessment! Helps students prepare for state tests.
  • Analyzing unit design and student work leads to improved curriculum.
  • My curriculum is living and breathing - Never something that’s finished.

McWilliams, 2008

the key to success
The Key to Success!

“We cannot teach people anything; we can only help them discover it within themselves.”

-Galileo Galilei

16th century Italian scientist

McWilliams, 2008

have a great journey this year
Have a Great Journey This Year!

Enjoy learning in your curriculum teams!

McWilliams, 2008