Backwards Planning, Understanding & Learning in the Classroom: Understanding by Design®
If you were a fly on my classroom wall you would see that in a best effort to “teach for understanding”, I “teach backwards” … and I love it!
This backward approach to planning and assessment was not of my own doing, but rather created by the brilliant Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe.
Together these two developed the Understanding by Design® framework.
This approach to curriculum design focusses on “teaching for understanding”, the overall goal being to develop, deepen and strengthen student understanding.
This approach to curriculum design emphases “backward design”, being that in any give case the identified outcomes dictate unit planning, instruction and assessment.
& so …
If you were a fly on my classroom wall you would see that thanks to Wiggins & McTighe I embrace the following :
1. “Backwards Design”
2. “Teaching for Understanding”
3. “Six Facets of Understanding”
& in a nutshell – and as I understand them – they can be outlined and defined in the following way:
(A) Backward Design:
This approach to planning works in stages … three stages to be exact:
Identify what students will know and be able to show when all is said and done – “What are our desired the outcomes/end goals?” & go from there!
Stage 2: (based on the outcome of Stage 1)
Design assessment practices and activities that effectively and objectively demonstrates authentic learning in the classroom – “What can we do and how can we show/know whether we are meeting our target goals – that authentic learning – that a deepening of understanding – has taken place?… is taking place at each step/stage along the way!”
Stage 3: (based on the aforementioned)
Identifying/developing activities” – “What learning activities/experiences can we introduce/share in order to strengthen student understanding ?”
(B) Teaching for Understanding
Done right – and when all is said and done – students explore and understand essential questions, big ideas, and end goals. (In order to truly understand what this all means/entails check out the links below. So cool!)
(C) According to this approach to planning and design, there are “Six Facets of Understanding“
Students “demonstrate” these facets when they:
Overall, this approach is:
- A guide for planning classroom practices.
- Organic – never fixed – always flexible – Lessons, activities, etc. change or remain the same depending on students’ progress, and demonstration of understanding and learning.
- Collaborative – teachers share ideas, goals, resources, and engage in peer reflection and review (fantastic!).
& so there you have it!
My preferred approach to planning, teaching, guiding, learning, questioning, sharing, growing, etc. in the classroom!
Once again, please note that in no way is any of this of my own creation … and I am sure that there is a good deal more that I need to know and understand about the Understanding by Design® framework.
Needless to say, what I do understand to date influences me every day and in every way … This framework guides and inspires me, and is a methodology that I embrace wholeheartedly!
Important Note & useful sites:
UbD is a trademark owned by ASCD
“Authentic Education: Understanding by Design®”