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Differentiated Instruction Through the Lens of UbD

Differentiated Instruction Through the Lens of UbD

Author: Jody Waltman

In this lesson, you will learn how to differentiate instruction while using the Understanding by Design framework. You will also consider how the UbD framework relates to competency-based education.

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In this tutorial, we'll connect Differentiated Instruction and Understanding by Design. We'll begin by reviewing the process of designing instruction with Understanding by Design, with a focus on Differentiating Instruction along the way. And finally, we'll connect Understanding by Design with the elements of CBE, as well.

First, let's review how we plan instruction with Understanding by Design. Recall that the three stages of UbD are, Selecting Learning Goals, Determining Acceptable Evidence, and Creating a Learning Plan. Remember that UbD is considered a backwards design process, as you're starting your planning by identifying the end result.

Let's think about how the UbD process can support us as we implement differentiation. Remember that differentiated instruction is an approach to teaching in which we are keeping in mind that students differ in their levels of readiness, in their learning and instructional cell preferences, in their preferred methods for demonstrating mastery, and in their preferences for learning environments. Here are some ways that we can differentiate as we are doing our instructional planning using the UbD approach.

In stage one as we are determining those learning goals, really what we're doing is identifying what students should know or understand or be able to do. In an individualized approach to instruction, these elements may all be differentiated. Students who have already mastered the minimum required skills, for example, might have accelerated learning goals.

In stage two when we are determining acceptable evidence, you'll be either creating or selecting an overall summative assessment. And in stage two you can also be thinking about formative assessments, as well. All of these assessments may be differentiated. You can think about differentiating both the process-- so how students are going to engage with that particular assessment-- or the product itself-- what are students going to create for you in order to demonstrate their mastery.

Finally, in stage three when we are developing the learning plan, this is where you're going to find opportunities to implement the most differentiation, because in this stage you can really fully embrace all four of those different elements of differentiation; the content, the process, the product, and the learning environment. You can consider your students' readiness levels, their specific interests, their individual learning profiles. All of that information can be incorporated as you consider differentiating those four elements of the classroom. And remember, throughout this whole process you always want to be open to adjusting your plans based on a formative assessment data that you collect.

So how does using Understanding by Design to support differentiated instruction relate back to competency based education? Well, first the competencies that you identify should outline the key knowledge and skills and understanding that students will take away from the unit or lesson. This relates back to that idea in competency based education of explicit and measurable learning objectives that empower students. Also, as you're planning using UbD, and you're differentiating your assessments, you want to make sure that those assessments are both meaningful and authentic.

Not only should your summative assessment be an authentic performance assessment, but also just the process of differentiating assessments in general can be a really positive experience for students, which is another element of CBE, because students are having their specific learning needs and their specific preferences addressed. And finally, using the UbD planning process, and really focusing on differentiated instruction, helps to ensure that students receive that differentiated, timely support that is called for in CBE.

In this tutorial we reviewed the planning process using Understanding by Design with a focus on differentiated instruction. And then we connected this UbD planning process with the elements of competency based education. Now it's your turn to apply what you've learned in this video.

The additional resources section will be super helpful. This section is designed to help you discover useful ways to apply what you've learned here. Each link includes a brief description , so you can easily target the resources you want. Thanks for watching. Have a great day.

Notes on "Differentiated Instruction Through the Lens of UbD"

(00:00 - 00:19) Introduction

(00:20 - 00:42) 3 Stages of UbD

(00:43 - 02:39) Differentiation with UbD

(02:40 - 03:47) UbD and CBE

(03:48 - 04:03) Review

(04:04 - 04:24) Stop and Reflect

Additional Resources

An ASCD Study Guide for Integrating Differentiated Instruction and Understanding by Design: Connecting Content and Kids

This useful tool guides the learner through the text Integrating Differentiated Instruction and Understanding by Design by Carol Ann Tomlinson and Jay McTighe. McTighe has additional resources and articles on this Wordpress site to help guide teachers in integrating UbD and DI.

Understanding by Design with Grant Wiggins

This is a YouTube Video of Grant Wiggins providing a workshop for a group of educators on Understanding by Design. This video is a helpful tool when planning professional development around UbD.