These last two weeks have been eye-opening to me. I have not been asked to write a comprehensive lesson plan since my education classes in college (and that is almost twenty years ago.) My first thought about Understanding by Design (UbD- Wiggins and McTighe) and 3-column table (based on Fink’s “A Self-Directed Guide to Designing Courses for Significant Learning”) is that it looks at the whole picture and then thinks about the details. A couple of years ago, I went to a class monthly in which the presenter had us look at the math concepts and then they showed us some of the lessons that we were going to teach. This really helped me think about the end in mind as I prepared my lessons.
This week I made the UbD model with the learners in mind. It was a good thing that I had already made the 3-column table and thought about different knowledge and the goals for this overall project. I was able to think about the reasons that I added the various activities for designing a disaster proof structure. Wiggins and McTighe’s (2005) has an acronym WHERETO that highlights the key elements and considerations in instructional planning (pp. 197-198).
W- Ensure that students understand WHERE the unit is headed, and WHY.
H- HOOK students in the beginning and HOLD their attention throughout.
E- EQUIP students with necessary experiences, tools, knowledge, and know-how to meet performance goals.
R- Provide students with numerous opportunities to RETHINK big ideas, REFLECT on progress, and REVISE their work.
E2- Build on opportunities for students to EVALUATE progress and self-assess.
T- Be TAILORED to reflect individual talents, interests, styles, and needs.
O- Be ORGANIZED to optimize deep understanding as opposed to superficial coverage.
And now my UbD Model…
As I reflect over these two backward design models, I see positive things for both of them. Both of these designs have a useful checklist in which I, as a teacher or a facilitator, can make sure I am getting “those big ideas from work and that transfer of learning based on those ideas is accomplished” (Wiggins & McTighe, p. 222.) I like the W and H of Wiggins and McTighte’s (2005) acronym WHERETO because that is where I can get the students hooked on a project and in the past, that has been my favorite part of teaching. But this is not where I want my students to be thinking about while they are creating the project, like in my Makerspace innovation plan or this design process of building a disaster-proof structure. Building 3-column table (based on Fink’s “A Self-Directed Guide to Designing Courses for Significant Learning”) has made me realize that even first graders should be able to see the whole picture. When I start my club in January, I am going to show them the 3-column table the first time we meet. I would like to think that I could use the 3-column table in teaching the scientific method (during the first six weeks of the school year) and other topics. I might even start putting the ideas of Fink’s books on my objective/ goal board in my room. The possibilities are endless for my classroom environment…
I have never had the pleasure to write math or science curriculum in my district. (Last year, they asked for volunteers, but I know I was not ready to help them write it at that time.) If they ask again, I will volunteer!
Fink, L. (2003). A self-directed guide to designing courses for significant learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.