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Develop a CBE Unit of Study

Develop a CBE Unit of Study

Author: Jody Waltman

In this lesson, students will learn how to develop a CBE unit following the three stages of UbD.

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In this tutorial, I will walk you through the process of developing a CBE unit of study. We'll begin by taking a look at Wiggins and McTighe's UbD template. And then, I will share with you McTighe's questions for each of the three stages of UbD that can help guide you as you fill in the spaces in the template. We'll discuss how standards and competencies come into play here. And finally, I'll share a few helpful tips.

Let's begin by taking a look at the template that is provided by Wiggins and McTighe for designing using UbD. This template is available as a Word document that you can download and then fill in with your own information. It's organized by stage of UbD.

So here, we can see the stage one information, where we identify our desired results; then stage two, including a sample rubric that can be filled in to assess your performance task; and stage three, where you can type in the sequencing of the major activities that are going to be included in your instructional plan. They also include here a fourth stage, where you can do some self-assessment of your implementation of your unit. Also, there are spaces provided for you to address the facets of understanding and the WHERE TO elements. And there's also space here for you to address the GRASPS acronym, which helps you to design your project-based performance assessment.

Now that we've seen the UbD design template, let's use McTighe's questions for each stage of UbD to guide the process of filling in those blanks. For stage one, where we identify the desired outcomes, you want to be thinking about the long-term transfer goals or competencies that you want students to take from your course. This is where you will specify the standards that students are working towards. What meanings do you want students to make out of the new information? And what are the essential questions? Remember that essential questions are those open-ended questions, usually without a simple right or wrong answer, that are meant to help extend the learning beyond the classroom walls.

And in stage one, you also will list the specific knowledge and skills that students will acquire throughout the course or the unit. This needs to be a list of both what students will know and what students will be able to do as a result of your instruction. So after addressing these questions, you'll be ready to fill in the elements of stage one in your Understanding by Design unit plan template.

Next, let's look at McTighe's questions for stage two of Understanding by Design. In this stage, you are determining the acceptable evidence. So you need to think about the performance tasks that students will be completing in order to provide evidence to you of their meaning-making and their transfer of knowledge and skills. You also need to make plans for any additional evidence that you'll collect throughout the unit. Do you have other desired results that you want students to demonstrate? After answering these questions, you'll be able to fill in the elements of stage two in the UbD template, including completing the rubric that will be used to assess the students' performance on the performance assessment.

Finally, let's see McTighe's questions for stage three of Understanding by Design, where we are developing the learning plan. Here you want to be thinking about what lessons, activities, and experiences are best going to help your students to achieve the desired results. What can you do to help your students be successful at the various assessments that you're going to be using? How will your learning plan address students' acquisition of the knowledge and skills that you have planned for them? How are you going to help them in their meaning-making and their understanding of the new information?

How are you going to assist them as they learn to transfer the new skills and knowledge to other situations? And finally, how are you going to organize and differentiate your instruction to help all of your students excel? After considering these questions, you'll be ready to complete stage three in the UbD template. This is a more open-ended portion of the template, where you will just type in the sequence of the major activities that you're going to be employing throughout the unit.

So let's talk a little more about how standards and competencies come into play here. Not only do you need to decide which specific standards and competencies you're going to be addressing throughout your unit, but you also need to make sure that you are really considering how these standards and competencies are connecting to your authentic instruction and your authentic assessment opportunities for students. You need to be sure that the various components of your authentic assessments have true connections to the real world.

For example, students may be sharing their work or their results with an authentic audience, either in person or maybe online. Or students may be engaging in projects that are going to have a real-world impact outside of the school environment. And finally, you need to be focusing on the specific expected outcomes for students throughout each of the units. These need to be clearly identified to the students, so that they can track their own progress, as well.

So here are some helpful tips, as you design your unit of study. Make sure that you are emphasizing depth over breadth of coverage. You need to be sure to connect each individual unit of study back to the course's overarching curriculum map. And all of your curriculum, the written, instructed, and assessed elements of your curriculum, all need to be aligned to one another and aligned back to your curricular standards. And finally, just be sure that you have addressed all of the UbD questions for each of the three stages. If you've skipped over or missed a question, that means there may be an element that is missing from your unit.

In this tutorial, I shared with you Wiggins and McTighe's Understanding by Design template. And you learned about McTighe's questions that can guide your implementation of the three stages of UbD. We talked about how standards and competencies fit into the picture. And I shared a few helpful tips for you to keep in mind as you go through this process.

So here's a chance for you to stop and reflect. Take a look at your unit plan template, whether it's the one provided by Wiggins and McTighe or another that you find better fits your needs. Can you see how you can effectively use that template within the context of the three stages of Understanding by Design to create a comprehensive unit of study that is going to meet the needs of all of your learners?

To dive a little deeper and learn how to apply this information, be sure to check out the Additional Resources section associated with this video. This is where you'll find links targeted toward helping you discover more ways to apply this course material. Thanks for joining me today. Have a great day.

Notes on "Develop a CBE Unit of Study"

(00:00 - 00:26) Introduction

(00:27 - 01:31) Overview of Unit Template

(01:32 - 02:34) UbD Stage 1 Questions

(02:35 - 03:14) UbD Stage 2 Questions

(03:15 - 04:14) UbD Stage 3 Questions

(04:15 - 05:09) Standards and Competencies

(05:10 - 05:47) Tips

(05:48 - 06:08) Review

(06:09 - 06:48) Stop and Reflect

Additional Resources

UbD in a Nutshell 

This handout provides a great overview of the components of a UbD plan by Jay McTighe. This is a terrific tool to use when planning a UbD lesson or unit.

Overview of UbD & the Design Template

This is Grant Wiggins' UbD lesson plan template that you can use in the planning of your own lessons. Included in the template are good and bad examples as well as clear instructions on developing your plan.