Understanding by Design: Thinking about the Key Principles for Your School Allison Zmuda, Facilitator
Goals for Today’s work • Examine the four big ideas behind Understanding by Design • Identify key challenges in teaching and learning in your school • Student Achievement • Coherence • Preparation for post-graduation • Design a template that meets your needs
Goals for tomorrow’s work • Review template components • Take template for a “test drive” • Use a unit that you currently teach • “Play” with essential questions, enduring understandings,and performance task • Align with established goals • Plan for October rollout
Essential Questions • What is “understanding” as a goal and what does it demand of assessment and instruction? • How can we more likely achieve understanding by design rather than by good fortune?
Plan Adjust Assess Teach CYCLE of teaching and learning
Ubd focuses on the planning piece • A framework to – • Stay focused on the long-term goals • Get the blend of ‘content’ and ‘performance’ right • Engage learners by using questions and tasks
Why UbD? • If too many students… • do not apply their learning unless you ‘hold their hand’ • do not know why they are learning what they are asked to • see their job as passive learners
Learner Metaphors • I learn like a ______________________ because __________________________ Sample response: I learn like a car because when I hop into gear, I accelerate quickly when I get into the swing of things.
What Patterns do you see in student responses? • I learn like a turtle because it takes awhile for me to get something but in the end I understand. • I learn like a lamp; when I’m “on” I do my job well and when I’m “off” I don’t do much. • I learn like a dog because it takes me a while to completely understand things but once I get it, I won’t forget it. • I learn like a digestive system because I take in what I want and take out the rest.
What Patterns do you see in student responses? • I learn like a clock because every second changes. One second I’m listening, the next second I’m not. • I learn like a little kid because everything they see and hear they want to touch and talk about it. • I learn like a CD because in some subjects I just flow freely and in other I skip like a scratched one and in others I need things repeated like the way a favorite song is repeated over and over again.
What Patterns do you see in student responses? • I learn like a tabletop. Things just get piled on top of me and after a while everything gets cluttered. Eventually I discard everything and the process starts all over again. • I learn like meatloaf because my brain is fat in the beginning and then it shrinks up when it is overheated. • I learn like a camera because I am capable of doing great things, but I need motivation. I need to know why. Just like a camera, I need the perfect light and a perfect moment, then everything is in focus. Without these things, the camera has no use. Without inspiration I am like a camera without film.
What Patterns do you see in student responses? • I learn like a dead body because all I do is lay there. • I learn like a ball of clay because teachers can mold my mind into whatever they teach. • I learn like a parrot because after seeing something I can mimic it. • I learn like a sponge because I absorb all of the information that is thrown at me. • I learn like a tunnel because things go in one side and out the other.
What patterns do you see in student responses? • Your thoughts…
Our responsibility • How did learners come to see themselves that way? • Too much “stuff” • Too much “teacher talk” • Not enough student questioning • Not enough student application • Not enough connections
The big ideas about understanding by design The point of school iseffective understanding, not prompted recall of content & compliance Understanding = using content effectively for transfer & meaning ‘Backward’Design:from engaging work and competent understanding, not ‘coverage’
Idea #1 The point of school iseffective understanding, not prompted recall of content & compliance Understanding = using content effectively for transfer & meaning ‘Backward’Design:from engaging work and effective understanding, not ‘coverage’
i.e. How would you complete these sentences? • By the end of the year, learners should be (better) able, on their own, to effectively use all the ‘content’ learned this year, to...
How would you complete the sentence? (2) • By the end of their formal schooling, learners should be able, on their own, to use all the‘content’learned, to...
From dale carnegie • “Learning is an active process. We learn by doing. Only knowledge that is used sticks in your mind.”
The big ideas - #2 The point of school iseffective understanding, not prompted recall of content & compliance Understanding = using content effectively for transfer & meaning ‘Backward’Design:from engaging work and effective understanding, not ‘coverage’
What is real understanding? How does it differ from ‘knows a lot’ • If you know a lot, but don’t really understand, you can only... • If you really understand you can...
Not just Plug in Say why Connect Teach Interpret Support Create Use Figure Out Apply Group the answers • If you really understand you can...
Figure Out Apply One circle feeds the other • If you really understand you can...
Transfer your learning in context Make Meaning via active inferencing Formal langauge • If you really understand you can...
Not New idea — from Bloom • "Application is different from simple comprehension: the student is not prompted to give specific knowledge, nor is the problem old-hat. The tests must involve situations new to the student...” • “Ideally we are seeking a problem which will test the extent to which the individual has learned to apply an abstraction in a practical way."
In short, if you have effective understanding, you are able to – • Efficiently and effectively retrieve and adapt the most appropriate content, in context, to make sense of things and perform effectively
Crucial design implications • Work must require students to – • Learn how to use content in novel situations • Confront endless problems with no obvious answer and various plausible alternatives • Face challenges that require figuring out which prior learning applies here • Handling varied situations: different demands/audiences/purposes/options/constraints
An example of unit design: math • What is fair? How can math help (or not)? • When we say something is ‘fair’ or ‘unfair’ what do we mean? How ‘mathematical’ should our evidence be? • Students generate, categorize examples of “That’s fair!” and “That’s not fair!”
“What is Fair? Can math help?” Problem - Four 7th-grade classes had a race of all the students. IN GROUPS: Devise at least 2 different ways to determine a fair ranking of the classes, given the results. Agree on the most fair way, and be prepared to defend your answers… Individual ranking of runners in a race by all 7th-grade classes
Next: further discussions • Jigsaw on fairness • What do we mean when we say that the rules of a game of chance are “not fair”? What role does math play in our judgment? • Why is it fair to have one person cut the cake and the other person to choose the piece? • When is straight majority voting “fair” and when is it “not fair”? • When is it “fair” to consider an “average” in ranking performance (e.g. salaries, home prices, batting average) and when is it “unfair”?
The content is learned - “just in time” • “Guys, mathematicians have a few tools that might help us…” • Lessons on measures of central tendency: • Mean • Median • Mode • Quizzes to check for skill
Final assessment tasks • Propose and defend a “fair” grading system for use in this class. • How should everyone’s grade be calculated? Why is your system more fair than the current system (or: why is the current system most fair?) • A final reflection on the question: What is fair and what isn’t fair? • When should you and shouldn’t you use mean, median, mode?
Question: How does this unit differ from typical units? This unit.... Typical units... • The start: • The assessment: • The textbook: • The EQ: • Building efficacy:
Honors how we naturally learn • Question, story or problem to solve • Just in time teaching related to the concept at the heart of the question, story, or problem • Application to a novel question, story or problem • Connection amongst questions, stories or problems
Acquire Make Meaning Authentic Learning Transfer
Transfer Transfer Goals • Adapt your knowledge, skill, and understanding to specific and realistic situations and contexts • AIM: efficient, effective solutions for real-world challenges, audiences, purposes, settings
Make Meaning Meaning goals • Make connections & generalizations, using the facts and skills – • e.g. interpret, gist, main idea, thesis, empathize, critique, etc. • AIM: independent and defensible student inferences about situations, texts – ‘helpful and insightful understandings’
Acquire Acquisition goals • Learn, with accurate and timely recall, important facts and discrete skills • Aim: automaticity of recall when needed in performance
TMA in French • T: solve a communication problem, on the spot, in which an American cannot make himself understood to a Parisian because the American relies on too many ‘faux amis’ words (sound like ours, different meanings) and is getting tenses wrong • M: Correctly interpret the scene and translate the meanings accurately • A: Acquire skills of accurate conjugation and vocabulary (related to the misleading words)
TMA in Geography • T: Make a map of your school; see if people can read your map and use it to get somewhere • M: Make sense of the spatial relations, so as to interpret three dimensions into two; make sense of other people’s maps • A: Acquire skills of making and reading maps
TMA in Physics • T: Maximize the distance travelled by a CO2 car, roller coaster or catapalted object, using the laws of physics • M: Correctly interpret the acting forces in the situation • A: Acquire skills of analysis of motion and knowledge
TMA in Algebra • T:Solve a non-routine and unfamiliar problem in context in which there may or may not be a linear relationship. • M: Correctly interpret the meaning of data patterns or line of ‘best fit’ of data points • A: Acquire skills of plotting point pairs, accurately drawing the graph of a line from a linear equation, etc.
The big ideas - #3 The point of school iseffective understanding, not prompted recall of content & compliance Understanding = using content for transfer & meaning ‘Backward’Design:from engaging work and competent understanding, not ‘coverage’
Three stages of backward design Stage 1: Identify the long-term desired results Stage 2: Determine appropriate assessment evidence to achieve those results Stage 3: Design learning activities and instruction, given the goals of Stage 1 and evidence in Stage 2
Three stages of backward design Stage 1: GOALS Stage 2: ASSESSMENT Stage 3: LEARNING EVENTS
What we typically (incorrectly) do: Identify the topics and content to be covered Determine instruction for teaching the content When grades are due, assess the learning of the content
Goals for learning? • “I want students to learn to speak in the perfect tense” • “I want students to be able to solve linear equations” • “I want students to identify author purpose” These are two of many skills; what’s the goal? What’s the point of each skill?