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Developing instruction using Understanding by Design

Developing instruction using Understanding by Design

Author: Trisha Fyfe

In this lesson, you will review the instructional planning framework of Understanding by Design.

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Source: Image light, Public Domain, http://tinyurl.com/p4pfjr7; Image of knowledge, Public Domain, http://pixabay.com/en/black-hole-vortex-book-knowledge-151607/

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Welcome. I'm Trisha Fyfe, and in today's video lesson, we will be covering the topic of developing instruction using understanding by design. As we learn about this topic, we will use the following two questions to guide our learning and address several learning objectives together. What are the three stages of understanding by design, and what are best practices for each stage of understanding by design?

Let's start by talking about understanding by design. What are the stages of this model for instructional planning?

First, we need to identify the desired results. Next, we begin plan assessment of acceptable evidence. This is where we determine the acceptable evidence in stage two. Only then do we begin to develop the learning activities in stage three. Let's take a close look at each stage.

First, stage one, identify the desired results. In this stage of planning, we need to identify several things that make up the desired results. These include the established goal, otherwise known as the content standard or learning objective. The understandings to be developed or the big ideas you want your students to grasp. Essential questions, those open-ended questions that are used to promote inquiry and understanding. And we also need to address the key knowledge and skills determining what content students will know and what still skills they'll acquire throughout this lesson or unit.

Let's talk about some best practices for this stage. First, it's essential to make sure the curriculum standards you're required to teach, such as common core state standards or your state standards, are known and understood. We also need to evaluate the big ideas of the standard or standards that you're teaching. If your students could only take away two main understandings, for example, what would those be?

We need to develop open-ended essential questions that support the big ideas. Essential questions should promote discourse among students and promote inquiry in your students. And finally, we need to develop key knowledge and skills that are specific and observable. We can complete the sentence, "I want my students to understand that" to develop these concepts statement.

Let's move to stage two, determine acceptable evidence. In this stage, we developed two things, a main performance assessment or an authentic performance or product that's used to demonstrate achievement of those desired results and understandings and other evidence such as quizzes, tests, worksheets, observations, journals, or homework. It's important to note that we also need to develop criteria for these performance assessments here as well. We also want to consider how technology can enhance the development, design, and student experience and thinking about the performance assessment.

Let's talk about some best practices for stage two. It's important to develop your rubric first. In doing so, think about the knowledge and skills, essential questions, and understandings that are needed for those standards that you're using. We can also develop a rubric or a proficiency scale that identifies the criteria that if a student did it, would show mastery of that standard.

We need to develop a performance task that allow for success using a variety of learning styles and multiple intelligences, and various forms of assessment should be used. We can use things like quizzes, smaller projects, papers, or performances. Using a variety will ensure that you're getting all the information you need from each student to assess their understanding.

Let's look at stage three. This is where we create the learning plan. We plan the learning activities for students to engage them throughout the entire lesson or unit here. Let's talk about some best practices for this stage.

First, it's essential that we consider how we are sequencing activities. Activities should be sequenced so that new learning builds on prior learning and experiences. Group work, collaboration, and discussion are all extremely important when planning learning activities. We also need to choose learning activities that appeal to multiple intelligences and different learning styles.

Technology supporting learning experiences are also an essential element of classrooms today. There are many tools out there to help you personalize learning for your students. Finally, it's important to use Bloom's Digital Taxonomy, considering all of the different level those and activities you can use that each of these the various levels to meet the diverse needs of your students.

Let's talk about what we learned today. We looked at the following two questions together, what are the three stages of understanding by design, and what are the best practices for each stage of understanding by design? Today we looked at the different stages of this instructional planning model that's so great for us to use in the classroom. These stages include stage one, identifying those desired results; stage two, determining acceptable evidence; and finally, stage three, planning for those learning activities. Not only did we take a deeper look at planning in each of these stages, but we looked at the best practices to consider when working within each of these three stages.

Now that you're more familiar with these concepts, let's reflect. What can you do at each of the three stages to ensure that you are meeting the learning needs of your students? Who can you collaborate with to learn more about using understanding by design in your teaching?

For more information on how to apply what you've learned in this video, please see the additional resources section that accompanies this video presentation. The additional resources section includes hyperlinks useful for applications of the course material, including a brief description of each resource.

Notes on “Developing Instruction Using Understanding by Design”


(00:00- 00:26) Introduction

(00:27- 00:54) Stages of UbD

(00:55- 01:29) Elements of Stage 1  

(01:30- 02:18) Best Practices for Stage 1 

(02:19- 02:55) Elements of Stage 2 

(02:56- 03:45) Best Practices for Stage 2   

(03:46- 03:56) Elements of Stage 3

(03:57- 04:44) Best Practices for Stage 3

(04:45- 05:24) Recap

(05:25- 05:59) Reflection 

Additional Resources

Differentiated Instruction, Understanding by Design and Universal Design for Learning: A stable planning approach

This wiki page includes suggestions for technology integration in instructional design and differentiation. The author suggests a model called The Stable Model that combines Differentiation, Universal Design, and Understanding by Design in instructional planning.

Project-Based Learning: A Resource for Instructors and Program Coordinators

This is a guidebook for project based learning that incorporates the tenets of Understanding by Design. Additionally, this guidebook offers practical resources and strategies for implementation. See page 12 for project design strategies.