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The big ideas of UbD. ‘Backward’ Design. Plans need to be well aligned to be effective. Aimless activity & coverage. Understanding: Transfer. It is the essence of understanding and the point of schooling. Students fail to apply, poor results on tests. Understanding:

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The big ideas of ubd
The big ideas of UbD



Plans need to be

well aligned to be effective

Aimless activity & coverage



It is the essence of understanding and the point of


Students fail to apply,

poor results on tests


via big ideas

that’s how transfer

happens, makes

learning more connected

Learning is fragmented,

more difficult, less engaging

Key 3 stages of backward design

1. Identify desired accomplishments

2. Determine acceptable evidence

3. Plan learning experiences

& instruction

KEY: 3 Stages of (“Backward”) Design

Then, and only then

What we typically incorrectly do

Without checking for


Identify content

Brainstorm activities & methods

Without checking for


Come up with an assessment

What we typically (incorrectly) do:

Stage 1 design questions
Stage 1 Design Questions

  • What are the long-term transfer goals? In the end, students should be able, on their own, to...(Big Ideas)

  • What are the desired (enduring) understandings? (What misunderstandings must be avoided, overcome?)

  • What are the essential questions to be continually explored?

  • What knowledge & skill should they leave with?

Stage 2 design questions
Stage 2 Design Questions

  • What evidence for assessment (of skills and

    knowledge) is required by our Stage 1 goals?

  • What performances are indicative of

    understanding - transfer of learning and understanding of content via big ideas?

  • What other evidence is required by the goals?

  • What scoring rubrics/criteria/indicators will be used to assess student work against the goals?

Stage 2 assessment
Stage 2: Assessment

  • The analytic challenge is to identify the ULTIMATE tasks embodying the Standard - reflecting the kind of accomplishment the Standard envisions - and other long-term goals

    • What real-world important tasks epitomize the Standard?

    • What projects should a student who has met the Standard be able to do well?

    • What challenges in the world should students be prepared to handle and accomplish?

Stage 3 design qs
Stage 3 - design Qs

If those are the desired STAGE 1 goals and STAGE 2 performance tasks . . .

  • What do students need to acquire?

  • What inquiries and meaning making must they actively be made to engage in?

  • What transfer must they practice and get feedback on?

  • What formative assessments are essential for feedback, adjustment, meeting goals?

  • What sequence is optimal for engagement and success?

  • How will the work be differentiated - without sacrificing goals - to optimize success of all?


  • Guidelines for Stage 3 learning design

    • Where is the work headed (learning goals, relevance)?

    • Hook and hold the learner (inquiry, research, problem solving,


    • Equip with key learning & experience (experiential and inductive learning,

      direct instruction, homework and other)

    • Rethink and revise thinking/work (rehearse, refine)

    • Evaluate your progress (self-reflection, feedback)

    • Tailored to personal need, interest, profile (differentiation)

    • Organized for optimal learning (sequencing)

Stage 3 design
Stage 3 Design

  • Determine what needs to be uncovered

    vs. covered

  • Test design against WHERETO

  • How will students demonstrate learning

    and understanding? (6 Facets or Bloom’s)

  • Diagnostic and formative assessments—

    preassessment (summative is Stage 2)

The big ideas of ubd

Unit Design Cycles

DESIGN, based on:


• Performance gaps




• Stage 1

• Stage 2

• Stage 3

Analysis of

formative student work

Pre-assess, tweak

Adjust, as needed

Teach it with revisions, as needed

Design it

Unit self-assessed against UbD design standards

Student feedback - what works, what doesn’t

Analysis of

summative student work

Peer and/or Expert review

Misconception alert


Misconception Alert

  • No one expects such “recipes” and “cooking” every day

    The aim is “gourmet” unit design -

    work smarter, not harder: keep adding each year to a database of units:

Next steps
Next Steps . . .

  • Refer to the handouts (UbD Stages in a Nutshell, stage checklists, Observable Indicators of Teaching for Understanding, UbD Roadmap)

  • Use the wikispace (school homepage then click on UbD)

  • Try using essential questions next week

  • Design (a) model unit(s) individually or as grade level teams within a subject area

Next cont d
Next cont’d . . .

  • Peer review those units informally or formally

  • Consult with the UbD trainers

  • Pilot those units

  • Use the unit to provide data for your data team

  • Request follow up work/consultation time individually, as

    grade level, cross school grade level/subject area