Understanding by Design’s Weaknesses
1. If you plan lessons that may broadly be described as open ended, based on standards, containing clear criteria for student success, include different ways to ensure student enthusiasm, flexible enough to accommodate the “teachable moment”, accessing the higher echelons of bloom’s taxonomy and integrating skills then the likelihood is you won’t learn anything new from understanding by design.
2. Creating a unit using the backward design planning process is not a neat, tidy or easy process. It is a recursive one; you will move back and forth across the curriculum map, making revisions and refinements each time you add something to a section of your planning.
3. Teachers think that “transfer” in UBD means applications to real life. They often “force” activities that are contrived. Sometimes applications are beyond students’ experiences.
4. “Other activities are impractical for huge classes.”
5. Understanding alone can be detrimental to other skills.
6. “In UBD, knowing aims to come after understanding but in reality, understanding comes after knowing.”
7. “Mandate that every teacher must use UBD for all of their planning immediately (without sufficient training, ongoing support or structured planning time). Provide one introductory presentation on UBD and assume that teachers now have the ability to implement UBD well.”
8. Other teachers were not directly trained but were told to just follow the guides. Some did not get any guides, so they had to do “UBD-sounding” lesson plans on their own.
9. Many schools say they do not know what textbooks to use since current books are not “UBDized.”
10. UBD’s process was not fine-tuned with consonant to an area or region’s context, needs and goals.