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Using UbD to Develop Competency Based Curriculum

Using UbD to Develop Competency Based Curriculum

Author: Jody Waltman

In this lesson, students will review the components of UbD and lesson design. In particular, students will explore the connection between UbD and the personalization design principle of CBE.

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Understanding Competency-Based Curriculum

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In this tutorial, I will walk you through the steps of developing competency-based curriculum using Understanding by Design. We'll review iNACOL's five principles of CBE, the steps of Understanding by Design, the six facets of understanding in UbD, and the WHERE TO elements. And finally, we'll put all of these pieces together.

As we work through these steps, if you would like to use a template that is based on Understanding by Design, you can visit this web link. When you click on the link for the UbD template, that will prompt you to download a Microsoft Word document that you can use then to fill in the various pieces that we'll be talking about throughout this tutorial.

Let's start by reviewing the five principles of CBE as identified at a 2011 summit by iNACOL. Students advance upon mastery. Explicit and measurable learning objectives empower students. Assessment is meaningful and a positive learning experience for students. Students receive rapid, differentiated support, and learning outcomes emphasized include application and creation of knowledge. We'll be using the principles of CBE in conjunction with the process outlined by Understanding by Design.

Recall that Understanding by Design or UbD is an instructional design process that actually begins from the end perspective, or the end objective. For this reason, it's sometimes referred to as a backwards design process, because we are beginning by making decisions about our end goals. And then we're moving to identifying the outcomes and thinking about how the instructional goals will be assessed. And then we're ending the process by planning the specific learning activities.

UbD really focuses on aligning standards to competencies and knowledge in order to help students meet the outcomes that are connected to those larger, overarching, essential questions. So really, UbD is the perfect instructional design template to use for developing a CBE unit or for developing all of your curriculum.

In stage one of Understanding by Design, we identify the desired results or the desired outcomes. In this stage, you list the desired transfer goals and competencies that are related to the content standards or the learning objectives. You also list the understandings that students will develop, or the big ideas that students will develop throughout the unit.

This is also where you outline those essential questions that will promote higher level thinking skills and understanding and inquiry. And you'll list the key knowledge and skills that students should acquire throughout the course of the unit. What will students know, and what will they be able to do at the end.

In stage two of UbD, you determine the acceptable evidence. You actually identify two specific pieces of evidence here. First, the main performance assessment that you're going to use to determine whether or not students have successfully demonstrated achievement of the desired understandings. This should be an authentic performance assessment or some sort of product that students create in order to demonstrate to you that they really have met the goals that you've set for them.

And the second element that you'll design here is the specific criteria by which this product or performance will be evaluated. And then, after you've identified those two key items, you'll also outline any other types of evidence that you'll collect throughout the unit. This might be quizzes or tests, observations, journals, homework, worksheets, any documents or other evidence that you might use to track students' progress through the unit. You also want to build in ways that students can reflect on their own learning as well.

And finally, in stage three you're going to develop the specific learning plan. This is where you would make a list of all of the learning activities that students will be engaging in throughout the unit. So as we're implementing both the elements of CBE and the stages of UbD, there are a couple of other tools that we can keep in mind to help guide our decision making.

One of these tools is the six facets of understanding in UbD. We want students to be able to explain or provide recall of facts and data. We want them to interpret or put meaning into the information that is presented to them. Students should be able to make information personally relevant, to tell meaningful stories related to new information, and to provide dimensions to events and ideas.

Next, we want students to be able to apply their new knowledge. They should be able to adapt and use what they've learned into other contexts. Next, we want students to have perspective. Students should be able to see the big picture and see points of view other than just their own.

Students need to be able to empathize as well. They need to be sensitive to the perspectives of people around them, and they need to understand that all of us have our own unique perspectives that are based on our personal experiences. So we want our students to find value in other people's perspectives as well.

And finally, we want students to have self-knowledge. We want to help our students to be aware of the habits of mind that are influencing their own understandings. Another way to think of this is that we want students to know what they don't know.

So in addition to using this hierarchy of the six facets of understanding, we can also use the WHERE TO elements. This acronym also applies to Wiggins and McTighe's Understanding by Design. Students need to know where are we headed in the unit, and why. We want to hook students' attention early on, and then hold their interest throughout the lesson or unit.

We need to equip our students with all of the necessary tools, knowledge, and know how and experiences that are going to help them meet their performance goals. Students need to be provided with opportunities to rethink and reflect and revise their work. And we also want to help students learn to self-evaluate and self-assess.

Our instruction needs to be tailored to meet the unique needs of our students along with their learning styles and their individual talents and interests. And finally, we need to organize our instruction in order to optimize really deep understanding of the learning, instead of just focusing on a more superficial coverage of the information.

To help us put all of these pieces together, let's actually look through the lens of personalisation. Competency-based education is a very strong approach to implementing personalized learning. And personalisation is really an important goal of 21st century instruction along with blended learning and competency-based techniques.

So here we have a list of personalisation techniques. And let's look at each of these five essential elements of personalization and see where the other pieces from CBE and UbD fit in. First, personalized learning includes flexible learning that can happen anytime and anywhere. This is related to CBE design principle five, UbD stage three, and "E" for "equipped" from the WHERE TO elements.

The next element of personalisation is redefining and expanding the teacher's role. This is related to design principles one and two, UbD stage two, and "W" for "where" and "H" for "hook" from the WHERE TO elements. The next personalisation principle is that learning needs to be authentic and project-based.

This relates to a wide variety of elements from CBE and UbD. It's related to CBE design principles one, three, and five, Understanding by Design stage two, facets two, three, four, and five from the six facets of understanding in UbD, and also "E" for "equip" from the WHERE TO elements.

The fourth element of personalisation is a student driven learning path. This is related to CBE design principles one and four, UbD stage three, the sixth facet of understanding, and "T" for "tailored" and "R" for "rethink, reflect, and revise" in the WHERE TO elements.

And finally, the fifth element of personalisation is that progression and pacing our competency-based. Once again, we see a lot of various elements represented here. CBE design principles one, three, and five, UbD stages one, two, and three, facets six from the six facets of understanding, and "E" for "evaluate" and "O" from "organized" from the WHERE TO elements.

So here's a chance for you to stop and reflect. Now that we've put all of those pieces together, this is a great time for you to refer to that UbD template that you downloaded at the beginning of the tutorial. Think about how you can incorporate the six facets of understanding in the WHERE TO elements as you implement the stages of UbD and you incorporate the design principles of CBE.

For more information on how to apply what you learned in this video, please view 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. Thanks for watching. Have a great day.

Notes on "Using UbD to Develop Competency Based Curriculum"

(00:00 - 00:40) Introduction

(00:41 - 01:08) 5 Principles of CBE

(01:09 - 03:48) Steps of UbD

(03:49 - 05:16) 6 Facets of Understanding

(05:17 - 06:13) WHERETO Elements

(06:14 - 08:31) Connections

(08:32 - 09:15) Stop and Reflect

Additional Resources

 Competency Based Education: Helping All Kentucky Students Succeed

This Kentucky Department of Education report outlines Kentucky's plan for CBE. The plan connects CBE to the CCSS. In addition, grading in a CBE system is reviewed. The FAQs in the report are particularly helpful in understanding CBE.

Scoop-It: 21st Century Teaching and Technology Resources

This Scoop-It by Rob Hatfield collects articles and resources on implementing competency based education. Check back frequently, as it is constantly updating.