Tuesday, July 9, 2013

US History Photostory by Paul Williams and Billy Thomas

What happens when UbD meets tracking (homogeneous grouping)?

This is a tough question that Billy has posted as Maury River MS prepares to move into homogeneous grouping of students, so I am going to put this out for all of you to think about.  We still have the common goal of deeper understanding for any student, no matter what the ability level of the student.  The amount of scaffolding needed to get the student to that "deep end of the pool." 

Billy correctly identifies that somewhere in the UbD framework there needs to be an assessment as to where the student currently resides academically so a starting place can be defined, because even within those "homogeneous" groups you are going to have learners with different holes in conceptual knowledge and/or thinking and processing skills. 

So I think as you are assessing "what students need to be able to do and understand" you have to look, not only at the ending outcomes of the unit of study, but look at how to do a pre-assessment activity that can assess whether or not they have the prerequisite skills they need to do the first couple of activities in the unit.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Understanding by Design

Please let me first say I am wondering if I am understanding as I only see my own posts posted.  Perhaps I am not doing something right.

On to UbD.  I am still try to wrap my head around it.  I thought all teachers started by designing backwards ~ having your end goal(s) what you think about first.  From your end goals, then you can start to work your way to the goals.

I think teachers play a twofold role.  I think they are both conveyors of content information, as well as, coaches of understanding.  I believe students need to have reached a certain level of information and then they can process the information.  How many of us have finished a class period with wow, what a tremendous class.  Of course we want students to be able to take what they learn and expand and run with it.  But they need  some basic information first.

I needed something more concrete than this article to look at so I googled Understanding by Design lesson plans.  Since I  am elementary, I concentrated on elementary lesson plans.  I wanted to compare what I might have in a lesson plan to a UbD lesson plan. I have included a few links below.

I was particularly interested in these lesson plans as they are on the same subjects as what I do with students - nonfiction vs fiction, different types of print, reading informational text, and research.


Writing a UbD lesson plan:


Many different links on this page to UbD lesson plans



It is sad but true that my boys know so much more about technology than I do!  I must say Will was very receptive tonight when I asked him a couple of questions.  We were discussing various things on our way back from my father-in-law's in Waynesboro.  Will said, "Mom, have you ever used Prezi?"  Well, I had not even heard of it.  "It is really cool.  My professors are pretty impressed with what we can accomplish with it."

So when we got home, we went into the bedroom got on the computer and he showed me Prezi.  I have attached a link to an education one that was done.


It allows for a question or topic to pop up, time to answer, and then the answer will eventually come.  Perhaps you can do some of this on powerpoint as well and I am just not accomplished enough.  However, thanks to this course I have a feeling I will play around quite a bit this summer with pp and hopefully eventually venture into Prezi.

As Will said, "Mom your kids would REALLY love this and they would think you were really cool to be able to do it."


TurnItIn.com is the website I spoke about in class today.  My boys had to use it at RCHS and in college.  They submitted both electronic and paper versions of a paper.  The teacher/professor would then submit it to the website.  I think it underlines anything in red that is plagiarized and sites the source.  I did check the website and there is a fee.  Perhaps the school pay the fee?

Teaching with Technology: Understanding by Design

Teaching with Technology: Understanding by Design: This course will make use of a curriculum writing framework created by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe (1999) called Understanding by Design...
I am a true believer of the backwards design model

Teaching with Technology: Test Post

Teaching with Technology: Test Post: Test post to blog--Teaching with Technology.
I hope this is the way to post here.

Test Post

Test post to blog--Teaching with Technology.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Understanding by Design

This course will make use of a curriculum writing framework created by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe (1999) called Understanding by Design (UbD).  The following notes are taken directly from an ASCD white paper available in its entirety at:


The framework is based on 7 key tenets:
  1. Learning is enhanced when teachers think purposefully about curricular planning.
  2. The UbD framework helps focus curriculum and teaching on the development and deepening of student understanding and transfer of learning (i.e. the ability to effectively use content knowledge and skills).
  3. Understanding is revealed when students autonomously make sends of and transfer their learning through authentic performance. Six facets of understanding - the capacity to explain, interpret, apply, shift perspective, empathize, and self-assess - can serve as indications of understanding.
  4. Effective curriculum is planned backward from long-term, desired results through a three-stage design process (Desired results, Evidence, and Learning Plan).  RATIONALE: This process helps avoid the common problems of treating the textbook as the curriculum rather than a resource, and activity-oriented teaching in which no clear priorities and purposes are apparent.
  5. Teachers are coaches of understanding, not mere purveyors of content knowledge, skill, or activity.  They focus on ensuring that learning happens, not just teaching (and assuming that what was taught was learned); they always check for successful meaning-making and transfer by the leaner.
  6. Regularly reviewing units and curriculum against design standards enhances curricular quality and effectiveness, and provides engaging and professional discussions.
  7. The UbD framework reflects a continual improvement approach to student achievement and teacher craft.  Adjustments are made so that student learning is maximized.

The Three Stages of Backward Design

Stage 1—Identify Desired Results

Key Questions:

What should students know, understand, and be able to do? (Before beginning the unit of study and through the process of participating in the unit.)
What long-term transfer goals are targeted?

What essential questions will be explored in-depth and provide focus to all learning? 

What meanings should students make in order to arrive at important understandings?

What knowledge and skills will students acquire?

What established goals/standards are targeted?

What enduring understandings are desired? 
Stage 2—Determine Assessment Evidence

Key Questions:

How will we know if students have achieved the desired results?

What will we accept as evidence of student understanding and their ability to use (transfer) their learning in new situations?

How will we evaluate student performance in fair and consistent ways?

Are the assessments aligned to all Stage 1 elements?

When someone truly understands, they:
  • Can explain concepts, principles, and processes by putting it their own words, teaching it to others, justifying their answers, and showing their reasoning.
  • Can interpret by making sense of data, text, and experience through images, analogies, stories, and models 
  • Can apply by effectively using and adapting what they know in new and complex contexts.
  • Demonstrate perspective by seeing the big picture and recognizing different points of view.
  • Display empathy by perceiving sensitively and walking in someone else’s shoes.
  • Have self-knowledge by showing meta-cognitive awareness, using productive habits of mind, and reflecting on the meaning of the learning and experience.

Stage 3—Plan Learning Experiences and Instruction

Key Questions:

How will we support learners as they come to understand important ideas and processes? 

How will we prepare them to autonomously transfer their learning? 

What enabling knowledge and skills will students need to perform effectively and achieve desired results? 

What activities, sequence, and resources are best suited to accomplish our goals? 

How will the unit be sequenced and differentiated to optimize achievement for all learners?

How will progress be monitored?

Are the learning events in Stage 3 aligned with Stage 1 goals and Stage 2 assessments?