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What is UbD™?

What is UbD™?
Understanding by Design® (UbD™) is a framework for improving student achievement. Emphasizing the teacher's critical role as a designer of student learning, UbD™ works within the standards-driven curriculum to help teachers clarify learning goals, devise revealing assessments of student understanding, and craft effective and engaging learning activities. Developed by nationally recognized educators Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, and published by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), Understanding by Design® is based on the following key ideas: A primary goal of education should be the development and deepening of student understanding. Students reveal their understanding most effectively when they are provided with complex, authentic opportunities to explain, interpret, apply, shift perspective, empathize, and self-assess. In practice, Understanding by Design® offers: The potential of UbD™ for curricular improvement has struck a chord in American education.

UbD exemplars You Can't Teach Understanding You Can’t Teach Understanding by Grant Wiggins, Ed.D, Authentic Education A cardinal principle in aiming at understanding is that understanding requires different pedagogy than acquisition of knowledge and skill. They have to think and rethink. They must be required to draw inferences and come to realizations, try performing with that understanding, and draw further inferences from what works, what doesn’t, when, and why. Thus, to achieve understanding as an educator, you have to help students “by design” come to realizations that they own and appreciate as insightful. The temptation to teach understandings is great. Alas, it almost never works in the end. No, there is no way around it. The Essential Question as Anchor Let me offer a concrete example from when I taught English of how to get students to draw inferences and come to realizations without “wasting” time even though it takes more time than just “teaching” the readings. Ancient texts and fairy tales! “Falling Behind”

AAAS News Release - "Systemic School Reform Necessary for Science Education Improvements" Improving education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), a bipartisan goal backed by politicians and business leaders alike, will require a new approach that views education as part of a larger, more complex enterprise that reaches far beyond the classroom, speakers said at a recent AAAS event. They spoke of using a systems approach to understand how STEM education works and doesn’t work—how components of the system, in school and beyond, interact and how they reinforce each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Researchers are using models to understand those interactions, with a goal of transforming the STEM education system for the 21st century. Rick Stephens “If we think about what’s going on in education, we tend to be focused on the policy about what’s going on inside the classroom,” said Rick Stephens, senior vice president of human resources and administration for the Boeing Corporation. The need to reach students is clear, Stephens said. Shirley Malcom

Clarifying Transfer & How It Impacts What We Think Students Understand Preface: In collaboration with Grant Wiggins of Understanding by Design and Authentic Education, TeachThought will be bringing you Grant’s industry-leading expertise on understanding, learning frameworks, and curriculum planning. This article originally appeared on Grant’s personal blog. There is some understandable confusion about the goal of transfer. When we say we want students to be able to “transfer” their learning, there are two possible meanings to our aim. We might mean that transfer involves a high-level ability that is thus somehow different content from low-level content. Or we could mean that for the same content that can be different learning goals – merely knowing it vs. being able to transfer it (where the “it” signifies that we are talking about the same content). The confusion occurs, in part, because of the contrasting examples we tend to use. Here is an example. What is the Pythagorean Theorem? None of these questions requires transfer of prior learning. In sum:

EARLI Journal of Educational Technology & Society Shifting Perspectives in Educational Technology Note: This article was originally published in The Technology Source ( as: Dirk Rodenburg "Shifting Perspectives in Educational Technology" The Technology Source, December 1998. Available online at The article is reprinted here with permission of the publisher. When we begin to seriously discuss what it means to learn, some interesting things happen. Although we begin by feeling that we share some understanding of what learning means, it rapidly becomes clear that there is a broad range of perspectives, each passionately articulated and defended. Pedagogical Frameworks and Educational Technology Educational technology has also shifted as these perspectives have emerged. Constructivism A very important theoretical perspective, developed and influenced largely by science teaching, is constructivism. Situated Cognition and Cognitive Apprenticeship Extending the Paradigm Implications for Educational Technology