Understanding by Design
Identify Desired Results
Summary of UbD Stage #1
Planning instruction using the UbD format begins by thinking of the end results. In this backward design approach, the first thing to be considered is what the desired learner outcomes will be. Stage #1 is about finding where the end of the trip will take you. After you know where you want to go, you will then plan how to get there by maneuvering through stages #2 and #3 (Wiggins and McTighe, 2011).
The heart of Stage #1 of the UbD template focuses on four learning goals, each described below.
- What skills will be needed during the unit? What processes will students need to do? Some examples include graphing, Internet searching, typing, knowledge of how to create a PowerPoint, use a TI-83 calculator, and other such skills that will be required to accomplish the learning tasks. The UbD template recommends writing these statements preceded with "Students will be skilled at."
- What knowledge should students be able to recall from the learning experience? This area should describe the basic facts and concepts students should know. In this section, the UbD template recommends prefacing statements with "Students will know . . ." Some examples include terminology, factual information, procedural steps, and other key information from a topic.
- Meaning is what the teacher wants students to infer about the learning process. As a guide, the UbD template recommends writing understandings prefaced with "Students will understand that . . .". When thinking about understandings, consider the key take-away points students should remember. Some examples might be that students can explain a concept in their own words, see patterns in relationships, and relate factual information to the bigger ideas at hand.
- All educators strive to have students independently transfer the new skills, knowledge, and understandings in their personal lives. The UbD template recommends stating transfer skills by starting statements with "Students will be able to independently us their learning to . . . " An example from my own UbD design is to have students use the Beyond Bullet Point design in their own presentations.
Another element of UbD that an instructor should consider very carefully is the essential question(s) for the lesson. What is the big idea of the lesson? Why must students learn this information? Essential questions should not have right/wrong answers or be a mere regurgitation of book information. Essential questions should prompt thoughtful debate and discussion. They could conjure up brainstorming opportunities and time for reflection. Determining the essential question that students should answer will help drive the four learning goals.
Wiggins, Grant and McTigh, Jay (2011). Understanding by Desing - Creating High-Quality Units. Alexandria, VA: ASCD