Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Understanding by Design ~ Stage 2

Day 2
Understanding by Design

We walked into this Entrance Task and the conversation ensued

Do grades predict level of understanding?

My thoughts: First of all, assessment has to match what was taught and the students learning style should really be taken into consideration. There should be as many different types of assessments to be able to gather as much evidence as possible to show that student learning and understanding has taken place.

Stage 2 of UbD ~ Determine Acceptable Evidence

In order to make the determination that a deep understanding of the "content" has taken place we as educators need to have a "photo album" of assessments rather than a snap shot. A huge focus in today's workshop was the design of a Performance Task and a corresponding rubric. Before we even jump in this stage however let's take a moment to reflect on this idea of "understanding" and what this really means.

What is Understanding? ~ Understanding is revealed or uncovered when students are able to transfer their learning through authentic applications. Read here to see how wikipedia has framed the definition of understanding.

Revealed or uncovered are two words that are screaming at me because when I think of myself as a learner its during those "ah ha" moments through conversations or contemplations where my understanding is indeed revealed. I get it...but this is no easy task to accomplish in a classroom. What are the conditions necessary to provide students with these "ah ha" moments of understanding?

UbD has designed the Six Facets of Understanding which help shape the construction of an authentic Performance Task.

Facet 1 ~ Explanation
Facet 2 ~ Interpretation
Facet 3 ~ Application

Facet 4 ~ Perspective

Facet 5 ~ Empathy

Facet 6 ~ Self Knowledge


Unlike Blooms Taxonomy, the 6 Facets of Understanding do not follow an increased progression of difficulty. They can be used equally as a way to begin to recognize if the learner understands and has thoughtfully considered the questions. The 6 Facets provide a way of providing evidence of a deeper level of understanding as well as helping teachers craft meaningful assessments to determine if the desired level of understanding has taken place. This is really a challenging way to design a unit and has pushed my own level of thinking. I find myself asking the "big questions" constantly during today's work




UbD has hooked me because the entire focus has been to take kids to that deep level of understanding that can be transferred and utilized outside of the particular content it is being presented in. Designing Performance Tasks are not easy but such an important piece to this process.

For me it's when the head and the heart have been inspired despite an enthusiastic teacher or love for a particular topic but a genuine interest in the task at hand...Good stuff.

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