Understanding by Design Ensuring Learning through Lesson


Understanding by Design Ensuring Learning through Lesson
Understanding by Design
Ensuring Learning
through Lesson Design
i.e. Backward Design
Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe
Big Idea …… “Making Best
Practices, Common Practice”
• We teach so that others may understand.
• Our challenges:
• Finding time to ‘teach all standards’ and
maintain the rigor (teaching for
understanding - not just ‘to cover’)
• Making lessons meaningful
• Engaging students in the learning process
Old saying….
• “If you don’t know exactly where you
are headed, then any road will get you
The goal of teaching should be to provide
students (you) the ability to effectively use
the stuff of the subject, not just learning the
Three Stages of UbD
• Stage 1: Identify the Desired Results
• Unpack the learning, prioritize learning
goals, determine expectations ….
• Clarify Learning Outcomes
Stage 2: Determine Acceptable
Stage 3: Plan learning experiences
and instruction
“Let the main ideas which are introduced
into a child’s education be few and
important, and let them be thrown into
every combination possible.”
 -Whitehead, 1929
Average % of Topics with Concepts
That were Developed or Only Stated
% of topics
% of topics
% of topics
source: USDEED, TIMMSS Survey 1998
• Stage 1: Identify the Desired Results
• Stage 2: Determine Acceptable
• What evidence could be used to
document and validate the learning
that has been achieved
• Evidence is gathered throughout the
learning time - includes formative
and not only summative assessments
• Stage 3: Plan learning experiences and instruction
Stage 1: Identify the Desired Results
Stage 2: Determine Acceptable Evidence
• Stage 3: Plan learning experiences and
• What specific content and skills must
be ‘taught’ to achieve desired results?
• What is the best way to ‘teach’ the
content and skills?
• What resources will we need?
• How much time might be required for
"Reduce your plan to writing... The moment
you complete this, you will have definitely
given concrete form to the intangible
desire." - Napoleon Hill
Lasting thought ….
“For any subject taught in primary school, we
might ask [is it] worth an adult’s knowing,
and whether having known it as a child
makes a person a better adult. A negative
or ambiguous answer means the material is
cluttering up the curriculum.”
 Bruner, 1960
UbD - Stage 1
Identify the Desired Results or
If we are designing for
Understanding …
• What does Understanding mean?
• Is there a difference between knowing and
• Is there a difference between knowing and
being able to do?
• Is there a difference between being able to
do and understanding?
“Understanding is the result of facts
acquiring meaning for the learner.”
Dewey 1933
Understanding is the ability to
transfer learning to new, different
and unique experiences.”
To make understanding (transference) more likely by
design rather than by luck
**my challenge: to help you learn (understand)
lesson planning strategies which will ensure
student learning (not make you ‘hope’ that they
learn) …. That is why I want you to learn!
"A goal is not the same as a desire,
and this is an important distinction
to make. You can have a desire
you don't intend to act on. But you
can't have a goal you don't intend
to act on." - Tom Morris
Stage 1 - Planning for The End
• During Stage 1 - Design for the End:
• What is the Big Idea?
• What is the Essential question based on ‘big
• What are the Desired outcomes/learning goals
(unpacked standards)?
1st Component: Big Ideas
• Big ideas provide the basis for transfer (both
during and ‘of’ learning) or relevance for the
• “education with inert ideas is not only useless: it
is above all things, harmful…. Let the main ideas
which are introduced be few and important, and
let them be thrown into every combination
possible.” Whitehead 1929
“Transfer is the basis of all creativity,
problem solving and the making of satisfying
-Madeline Hunter
• “Never underestimate the power of transfer.
Past learning always influences the
acquisition of new learning.” -David A. Sousa
• Thematic units and an integrated curriculum
enhance the transfer process.
• “Information is most likely to get stored if it
makes sense and has meaning.” -David A. Sousa
A Big Idea … (bottom line)
• Provides a ‘lens for prioritizing’
• Serves as an organizer for facts, skills and actions
… focusing on big ideas, helps students see
purpose and relevance of pieces
• Support Transference … create coherence
• Manifest itself in many ways and in many content
• Requires Uncovering - its meaning is abstract, so
it must be discovered, constructed or inferred by
Our Big Idea
Make Best Practices, Common
Teach in a way so that others
may understand.
**Key: focus on ‘learning’, not the ‘teaching’
**key: big ideas are not ‘finished’ in a lesson … they
are enduring understandings, connect lessons
throughout the year or years of learning
2nd Component:
Essential Questions
“To question means to lay open, to
place in the open. Only a person who
has questions can have real
Gadamer, 1994
Essential Questions
• Key: the goal is to pursue the question, not
necessarily answer it
• Know that the answers students will find
should only lead to more questions …. That
is when learning takes place!
An Essential Question is…
• An open-ended provocative question
designed to guide student inquiry and focus
instruction for ‘uncovering’ the important
ideas of the content
Essential Questions …
• Have no simple ‘right answer; they are meant to
be argued and discussed (discovered, uncovered)
• Designed to provoke and sustain inquiry
• Often address the foundational or historical issues
of a subject
• Lead to more questions
• Naturally come back again when learning
• Encourage ongoing re-thinking of big ideas,
assumptions, prior learning (transference…)
• Could be overarching or topical
Our Essential Questions
What is the best way?
Can I help everyone Learn?
Underlying question to me: How can I make it
more likely - by design - that all students/teachers
really understand why they are asked to learn?
3rd Component - Desired
• Determine the Learning Goal (standard)
• Clarify specifically what the student will
know, understand, and be able to do
(unpack the standards)
Our Desired Outcomes
* There is a sense of urgency to help all students
succeed in all content areas
*There are research-based, effective strategies
which will increase student achievement
*Collaboration is a powerful means of moving
education forward
Our Desired Outcomes
*Teachers will be aware of new
tools/strategies/resources/ideas they can use
to increase effectiveness
*Teachers will be identify themselves within
the 4 components of the BSSD IM
Our Desired Outcomes
Be Able to Do:
*Teachers will be able to implement
tools/strategies to engage students in
meaningful and effective learning
At the end of this workshop,
teachers will …
• have tools/experience with research-based,
effective lesson planning strategies to enhance
student learning
• KNOW: nouns and adjectives
• tools to help students learn
• Research-based strategies
• Definition for learning
• Be Able to: (verbs)
• Use experience with effective lesson planning to
enhance student learning
• Use tools to enhance student learning
Stage 1 - summarized
• Identify the Desired Results …. Begin with the
• What big ideas, related to the goal/standard are worthy
of understanding
• How can the learning ‘connect’ with the student
(essential question)
• What, specifically, will students know, understand and
• **Remember: these can be developed in any
order - it is not a step-by-step process