The big ideas of Understanding by Design (UbD)

To become acquainted with the big ideas of Understanding by Design.

Desired Results:
  • Understanding by Design (UbD) is a curriculum-planning framework, not a prescriptive program.
  • UbD focuses on helping students come to an understanding of important ideas and transfer their learning to new situations.
  • UbD reflects current research on learning.

 As its title suggests, Understanding by Design (UbD) reflects the convergence of two interdependent ideas:
  • research on learning and cognition that highlights the centrality of teaching and assessing for understanding, and
  • a helpful and timehonored process for curriculum writing (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005).

 UbD is based on eight key tenets:
  1. UbD is a way of thinking purposefully about curricular planning, not a rigid program or prescriptive recipe.
  2. A primary goal of UbD is developing and deepening student understanding— the ability to make meaning of learning via “big ideas” and to transfer learning.
  3. UbD unpacks and transforms content standards and mission-related goals.
  4. Understanding is revealed when students autonomously make sense of and transfer their learning through authentic performance. Six facets of understanding—the capacities to explain, interpret, apply, shift perspective, empathize, and self-assess—serve as indicators of understanding.
  5. Effective curriculum is planned “backward” from long-term desired results through a three-stage design process (Desired Results, Evidence, Learning Plan).
  6. Teachers are coaches of understanding, not mere purveyors of content or activity. They focus on ensuring learning, not just teaching (and assuming that what was taught was learned); they always aim—and check—for successful meaningmaking and transfer by the learner.
  7. Regular reviews of units and curriculum against design standards enhance curricular quality and effectiveness.
  8. UbD refl ects a continuous-improvement approach to achievement. The results of our designs—student performance—inform needed adjustments in curriculum as well as instruction; we must stop, analyze, and adjust as needed, on a regular basis.

Source: The Understanding by Design by
              Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe
                   (In-service Seminar)

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