Understanding by Design

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Understanding by Design

By | April 2012
Page 1 of 3
The authors introduce concepts and ideas concerning the role teachers’ roles in the design and implementation of curriculum, instruction and assessments as well as their responsibilities ensuring students’ learning and understanding. This section describes the major problems with instruction in the schools as well as overcoming, “two sins of design” (Wiggins & McTighe, 2006, p. 3) – activity-focused teaching and coverage-focused teaching; both caused by the absence of explicit questions and big ideas related to the standards guiding teaching. The intended audience for the book is the academic community encompassing educators from kindergarten all the way to the college level, who are interested in ensuring the understanding of students. There are three major offerings of this book include, a detailed analysis of the “backwards design” (p. 13) instructional design model, the “six facets of understanding” (p. 82), and a powerful design template (p. 327) to assist educators with creating curriculums for students. The purpose of this book is to suggest a way of teachers to critically and carefully think about design, instruction and evaluation, not a rigid program.

Chapter 1. Backward Design
This chapter analyzes whether existing instructional models are successful for curriculum or is there a need for new or modified designs. Teachers are responsible for the design of a class program of study and are ultimately in charge of shaping learning experiences and building student understanding. According to Wiggins and McTighe, “too many teachers focus on the teaching and not learning” (2006, p. 15). They spend the majority of planning time on deciding on supporting material, what to teach and how to measure learning rather than what topics the students need to learn first. The authors suggest that teachers and instructors approach curriculum planning, design, and implementation by starting at the end-goals and standards and then creating...

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