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Evaluating Alignment with Understanding by Design

Evaluating Alignment with Understanding by Design

Author: Trisha Fyfe

In this unit, you will consider a sample UbD unit and learn how alignment among standards, objectives, assessment, and learning experiences provide for effective learning by students.

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Video Transcription

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Welcome. I'm Trisha Fyfe. In today's video lesson I'm going to be exploring the topic of evaluating alignment with understanding by design. As we learn about this topic, we will work towards several learning objectives, and together we'll answer the following questions.

What does an Understanding by Design lesson look like? And how can we check for alignment among all the key elements in an Understanding by Design lesson? In a previous lesson, we discussed Understanding by Design. And today, we will draw these concepts to look at connections and alignment opportunities throughout an Understanding by Design unit.

Let's start with a review of Understanding by Design. Remember, Understanding by Design's framework is an instructional planning framework that consists of three stages. Identifying goals and objectives, determining acceptable evidence-- or creating your assessment methods both formative and summative-- and creating the learning plan or activities.

Today we will evaluate alignment of all three of these stages. Because Understanding by Design promotes backward planning, this framework by nature promotes alignment. For example, because we first establishing goals and then develop assessments, a close match is insured between what is taught and what is tested.

We're thinking about these two things very closely and in a precise manner. Let's look in an instructional unit for middle school math. We will go through each stage and discuss the connections and alignment throughout this whole unit.

So let's first look at our established goals. And here we'll use Common Core State Standards. And the standard we'll is a fourth grade standard. Apply in the area and perimeter formulas for rectangles in real world and mathematical problems.

Let's also look at our understandings, essential questions, and key knowledge and skills. Our understandings are that students will understand that perimeter and area are both found using specific formulas. And that they will use this knowledge in different areas of their life, measuring building for projects, work, et cetera.

Our essential questions are, how do perimeters and areas of similar shapes compare? And when might you use these formulas for area and perimeter in your life? Our key knowledge and skills, students will know the terms perimeter and area, and what they mean. And they'll also know how to find perimeters and areas of various shapes.

Students will also be able to use these ideas and formulas in their daily lives or understand connections. You can see here that the key knowledge and skills-- which is really our unit objectives-- connects very closely to the common core standard for fourth grade that we just discussed. Which is using area and perimeter and relating those to real world ideas.

In stage two-- which is determine acceptable evidence-- we're going to have performance assessments as well as other evidence. Our performance assessment is that students will create a presentation showing three or more ways that area and, or perimeter are used in the real world. Our formative assessments will include using a program called GeoGebra to explore area, which is a virtual manipulative program. We'll also use daily quizzes, and observations, and group work.

For Stage three-- which is create our learning plan-- we will present formulas for perimeter and area of basic geometric shapes, squares and rectangles. And we'll have our students practice using these formulas in pairs. Then we'll use web tools such as GeoGebra-- remember, that's a virtual manipulative tool-- to help our students practice application with an interactive digital tool. Finally, we'll have our students work in pairs to create a presentation showing their findings and understanding of how these formulas might be used in real life.

We'll use Google Docs, PowerPoint, and Prezi, if it's appropriate for this group. Because we planned our standards, our objectives, and our competencies before we even began planning assessment, we can ensure that our assessment methods will be closely aligned to those standards and objectives. And because then, and only then, did we start planning our learning activities, we can ensure that these learning activities go back to our objectives as well as our assessment methods. Using Understanding by Design to plan your lessons ensures that you are going to have alignment throughout your entire lesson.

Let's talk about what we learned today. We answered the questions, what does an Understanding by Design lesson look like? As well as, how can we check for alignment among all the key elements in an Understanding by Design lesson?

I reviewed Understanding by Design and the idea that planning backwards in this framework allows for a natural alignment among all the parts of instructional design. Because we develop goals and objectives first-- including our standards-- and then identify our desired results and form our assessment strategies, we are able to closely align standards, goals, objectives, essential questions, and our assessments. We're then able to plan activities that we and our students know will be covered throughout our assessments, and our learning activities naturally align to our standards and goals.

We went through a sample unit where I walked you through the alignment of all of these components. Now that we've walked through an example of the alignment in all the parts of instructional planning, let's reflect on these ideas. Why is it important to ensure that your lessons are aligned? What do you personally need to work on in order to improve your ability to align lessons successfully?

Thanks for joining me today and discussing the lesson, Evaluating Alignment With Understanding by Design. I hope you found value in this video lesson and are able to apply these ideas and resources to your own teaching. 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.

Notes on “Evaluating Alignment with Understanding by Design”


(00:00- 00:36) Introduction/Objectives

(00:37- 01:25) What is UbD?

(01:26- 02:51) Alignment in Stage 1 of UbD

(02:52- 03:22) Alignment in Stage 2 of UbD

(03:23- 04:32) Alignment in Stage 3 of UbD

(04:33- 05:27) Recap

(05:28- 06:10) Reflection  

Additional Resources

Overview of UbD & The Design Template

This handout provides an explanation for each of the stages of UbD as well as each of the components. In addition to a blank template for lesson and unit design, the handout includes good and bad examples of UbD plans to be used as exemplars.

Making a Difference Curriculum: Alignment with Understanding by Design and Common Core State Standards 2014 

This is a useful site from Northeastern Illinois University's Center for College Access and Success with step by step instructions on how to align standards and objectives using the Understanding by Design model. In addition, the site includes resources aligned to Common Core State Standards. A sample unit plan is provided.