The post below is a greatly revised version of a 2-year-old post. I thought it worth doing in light of a recent comment to the previous post on the teacher job description. Here is the comment:

For myself, I haven’t ever been a slave to a textbook, and go through the process you describe every time I get a new course, constantly revisiting as I move through the year. I always find that I still go too fast the first year, then slow it way back the second, and then pull in subjects slowly as I get better at designing the course. I encourage all other teachers to do the same. My coworkers are always taken aback when they ask me what chapter I’m on and I say, I don’t do chapters.

The commenter was responding to this section of my post:

Once the goals are clear, intelligent decisions about the textbook can be made:

• Which chapters in the textbook are central to my goals, course goals, Mission, and standards?

• Which chapters are not vital, relating only somewhat to my goals, course goals, Mission, and standards?

• Which chapters can be skipped since they are irrelevant to my goals, course goals, Mission, and standards?

• What must I do to supplement the text in order to achieve my goals, course goals, Mission, and standards?

Just how common is this? I’d like to know. More generally, I would like to know – and I think we all need to know more – about how people plan, whether or not they use a textbook.
Winging it is sometimes fun, but it’s a bad way to run a railroad or a class. Marzano reports that a “guaranteed and viable curriculum” is the key factor in academic achievement in schools, regardless of how flexible plans have to be. As General Eisenhower said, “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” And almost all teachers have “planning time” even if planning gets short shrift in the face of kid needs or team discussions.
Oddly enough, this important subject is remarkably little studied. After an exhaustive Google search and an email exchange with one of the few people to study it at length in the 70s and 80s, I learned that it is a rare topic of research, with most of the better research done 20+ years ago which is surely not germane in the era of standards and accountability. (All the interesting citations and sources I could find and obtain from him are listed at the end of the post.) How people plan is surely one of the more interesting ‘black boxes’ in education, then. It’s almost like inquiring about our (intellectual) private life.  There are few studies of what teachers actually do, moment by moment, as they plan. Yet it is clearly one of the most vital elements of the educational enterprise.
Yesterday as part of a workshop in a HS district in NJ I asked the question about textbook use, and asked the assembled people – a mix of teachers and supervisors – to put a % on how much of planning was taken from the textbooks. The answer was 80% – 90%. As for other current info. on planning, a reader tipped me off to this instructive post on the topic by a math teacher. The comments from math teachers are rich – a hint of what we might learn from a more formal study.
But I would like to get more accurate data. To that end, I am going to develop an online survey and ask readers to answer it and ask others to do so as well. (I’ll have the survey link for you in the next post).
So, how do you plan?  Here are some of the questions that I think we need better answers to:

  1. Do you plan each day? Weekly? By the unit?
  2. How often do you adjust your future plans based on formative results?
  3. How often is a textbook the source of the plan? What % of the plan is directly from a textbook?
  4. How free are you to plan your own course/units/lessons?
  5. How often is district curriculum and/or course map referenced in your own planning?
  6. How detailed are your plans?
  7. What’s the role of templates and checklists in your planning?
  8. How do you think, ideally, you should plan for optimal preparation and good results?
  9. How much of the planning process, ideally, should be mandated or at least recommended?

Typical plans focus too much on fragmented day-to-day lessons and activities on discrete topics instead of deriving coherent plans ‘backward’ from long-term performance. The result is the beast called “coverage”. More subtly, many plans focus far too much on what the teacher and students will be doing instead of mapping out a plan for causing specific results and changes in ability, attitude, and behavior.  A surprising number of plans do not make student engagement a central design consideration. And most plans do not explicitly design in a plan B many plans have no Plan B when Plan A doesn’t work. And even larger number do not plan mindful of predictable misconceptions and rough spots.
The value of a template – with cautions. It was for these reasons and more that Jay McTighe and I wrote Understanding by Design 14 years ago. We clearly struck a chord. The book is in its 2nd edition, over a million copies have been sold and used in countries all over the world, and over 150 schools of education use the book to train teachers in unit writing. Over the years, countless people have thanked us for helping them become more thoughtful and disciplined in their planning.
Never did Jay and I intend for our template to be a mandatory act of pointless drudgery, a required piece of busywork required by thoughtless supervisors. Never did Jay and I intend people to fixate on filling in boxes. Never did Jay and I advocate using the UbD Unit Template as a lesson planner. Indeed, in our latest books on unit planning we stress this point in an entire module. You can download an excerpt here:  Mod O – on lesson plans (excerpt).
We have hardly treated our own Template as a sacred untouchable icon. We have changed it 4 different times over the past 14 years, and we have provided examples in which various features of the Template were highlighted or left out. In short, we had zero intent of putting teachers in a planning straitjacket. Alas, some mandate-minded supervisors are currently fitting all their teachers for one.
Rather, as with any tool, the template is meant to be a helpful aid, a mental check. The idea of a good checklist is what’s key.  Atul Gawande has written extensively on how the “pre-flight” checklist in medicine, modeled on the one used in every airplane cockpit, has saved lives. Here is an article on its power to save lives.
An instructional planning template can save intellectual lives, we think. By having to think of the big ideas; by focusing on transfer as a goal; by worrying about whether goals and assessments align, by being asked to predict misconceptions and rough spots in the learning, the Template keeps key design questions front and center that tend to get lost in typical planning, where teachers too easily think about content to be covered.
Years ago, in working with college professors as part of Lee Shulman’s Scholarship of Teaching program, a History Professor from Notre Dame said: I can’t use a template. It’s so, so, so – schoolish! I replied: Do you like the planning questions in the boxes? Yes, he said. Then, ignore the template and consider the questions, I said. Oh, he said, I can do THAT.
Planning questions. Here are the current UbD template elements framed as questions, for idea-generation and double-checking one’s draft plan:

  • Bottom line, what should learners be able to do with the content?
  • What content standards and program- or mission-related goal(s) will this unit address?
  • What thought-provoking questions will foster inquiry, meaning-making, and transfer?
  • What specifically do you want students to understand? What inferences should they make? What misconceptions are predictable and will need overcoming?
  • What facts and basic concepts should students know and be able to recall and use long-term?
  • What discrete skills and processes should they be able to use, with good judgment and on their own?
  • What criteria will be used in each assessment to evaluate attainment of the desired results?
  • What assessments will provide valid evidence of the goals?
  • What other evidence will you collect to determine whether goals were achieved?
  • How will you pre-assess and formatively assess? How will you adjust, if needed (as suggested by feedback)?
  • Does the learning plan reflect principles of learning and best practices?
  • How will you fully engage everyone and hold their interest throughout the unit?
  • How must the plan be tweaked, in light of recent results (and based on ongoing student needs and interests)?
  • Is there tight alignment across goals, assessments, and learning?

Please let us know how you plan. So, please let us know how you plan, in as much detail as you can provide, in the Comments Section. And for those of you who are interested – either as admins., supervisors, or Dept. Heads and Coaches, I will have an online version of a survey ready to use by August 8th. (ideas for questions in the survey also welcome)
Happy Summer Planning!
links on research on planning:

  • Zahorik, John A. Educational Leadership, 33, 2, 134-9, Nov 75

Links to templates for lessons and units:
Draft Templates Nov 2012.v2
UbD Brief Prompted Template 2011-12


35 Responses

  1. re “coverage:” a very soft spoken and genial professor of physics at Bismarck State, Tony Musumba puts it this way: it’s not the covering, but the UNcovering that is important.

  2. I would add a crucial question to your survey- With whom do you plan? Too many times, teachers are isolated either by choice, by structure, or by some other means. Collaboration is a key aspect of learning, growth, and planning, so I would be curious as to the results you would receive.
    As a teacher, I never used the book to set the way. The book was a resource for the students and me, and the main time students used it was at home or outside of class /away from me. There are so many great resources out there that being bound to one is too stifling and too limiting. As an administrator, my mantra with teachers always was “The book is not your curriculum. We determine the curriculum together as a school and group of teachers.” Teachers use as many resources as they can use (including their own expertise) to determine what happens in the classroom. Granted, I was an administrator at an independent school where we did not have district mandates.

    • Great question – and a great point about collaboration being essential. Alas, I know many independent school teachers who are textbook bound, especially in math, history, chemistry…

  3. I first create a learning log that I will have students use throughout the unit by going through the text book, asking what the main goals of the unit should be, what sections in the chapter are essential, etc. That usually provides a good broad-stroke vision of how ideas will lead into and build on each other, as well as helping me zero in on some little-picture pieces that need planning. There’s plenty of sitting, closing my eyes to focus, and writing down ideas on scratch paper.
    Then, as each section of learning approaches, I try to plan out that section, usually planning material for more than one day to support the ideas and the students’ learning. This step is sometimes done on scratch paper, which I’ll keep in my text book throughout the unit; sometimes in my planning notebook.
    Then, I plan each day’s class day by day. Sometime this is a light labor after all that I’ve done before, but it can involve adjusting previous plans, getting into nit-picky details of what to say when, reminding myself whom I need to check in with, etc. Daily planning also includes things like deciding which starter activity I want to use; if I’m giving an Extra Credit Pop Quiz, what questions from previous and current material are worth including; what announcements and reminders need to be given, etc. These daily plans are always written in my planning notebook (which is just a steno pad).
    And then sometimes class doesn’t go according to plan (often in the form of not getting through as much as I had hoped) and I have to make adjustments on the fly. Toward the end of this past year I started reducing this by accounting during the daily planning stage for the possibility of not getting through everything. I would try to anticipate what we’d get through if we didn’t get through it all, and how I would adjust the assignment based on that.

      • I teach trigonometry. As for how often I use the textbook, I definitely use it as a reference when I’m first planning my vision of the unit. Sometimes I’ll find ideas in it for activities that I want to use with the unit, but this has happened less as I’ve gained experience and have other activities already in mind.
        I check the vocab the book uses and often (not always) give definitions from it.
        Most of all, I frequently use the textbook for homework assignments.

          • Probably an average of about 60% of each assessment grows from the textbook. I’ll look back at the problems I assigned to remind myself of what I had them do, write similar problems to include in the test, then write non-textbook material to include as well.

  4. Thanks for the tip about this post. Great idea for a survey. I want to bring up something that may sound like semantics or may, in fact, be my own confusion.
    Teachers often say (as sam shah did) they want more planning time, that they spend all their time planning. I’m always looking at them like what on *earth* are you talking about? What is this “planning”? I barely know what I’m going to do the next day. I know the *topic*, and in certain cases that I have a certain sequence of my own curriculum that I know will take x amount of days, but that’s it. I tell the kids a week or so before that a test is coming, finalize the actual day to give them three days notice, but I often haven’t even built the test at that point.
    In other words, I don’t do *anything* that lesanno does. I once thought, just as my class began, hey, I should really do one more wrap-up on coordinate geometry before I move on, and between the time of first bell and tardy bell, had this activity on the board
    So in reading lessano’s comment, I suddenly realized that many teachers use *planning* to refer to the specific activities they do in the classroom–what is the opening activity? What pages will you work on? What problems will you assign in class? Do I have power points? What problems will be assigned for homework?
    This would explain why so many teachers consider lesson plans a big deal, whereas I only mentally map out class time when I’m introducing a new piece of curriculum or being evaluated. It’s not that I don’t think of these things, I just don’t write them downa and I often change them based on how things are going in the classroom.
    As far as I’m concerned, that paragraph you quoted is not me “planning”. It’s me developing and sequencing curriculum, pulling it together from a variety of sources.
    Once I’ve sequenced the curriculum, then I need the actual problems I will be giving the kids–and these problems rarely exist the first time through. When I need a worksheet of practice problems, I check the textbook to see if it has a wide range. Geometry–occasionally. A2–never. Precalc–more than the other two. And of course, I teach a whole lot of A2. So I either build it myself or use kuta software–we have a license so I can build a sequence of problems from beginning to advanced or put in my own. Or I google and see if someone else has done it–or some combination of all those together.
    Then there’s the stuff I do in class, while explaining or working through a discussion, almost all of which I invent on the spur of the moment or in answer to a question. A few years ago I realized this was IP and began taking pictures of my classwork, often moving it into curriculum.
    And that doesn’t even begin to get into tests, which I design myself, although I have occasionally used Kuta to build simple quizzes and generate multiple copies.
    I don’t call any of this planning. I call it designing curriculum. And I count this work as part of my job. It’s what I do because I find it intellectually fascinating. I am well aware that other teachers don’t, and I wouldn’t even argue that I’m a better teacher. It’s just how I teach, my answer to that job description. Here are
    Yes, I accept this is semantics. But that goes both ways.
    When you say alas, many teachers just step through the book, you might want to consider that many of these teachers spend *hours* planning. They go through the book, they work out solutions to all the problems they’re going to use, they anticipate questions, they often put these explanations into power points, and so on. They plan out their class time to the minute.
    In your survey, you might get a more meaningful breakdown if you ask something like this:
    Which of the following best describes your lesson sequence?
    –I use the textbook sequence exactly
    –I use the textbook sequence but skip and combine chapters.
    –I use the textbook as a resource and outline, but organize the sequences myself.
    –I don’t really use the textbook.
    –I use those provided by the textbook.
    –I use a test generator
    –I design my own.
    Which of the following best describes the work you assign your students?
    –I use textbook problems
    –I generate problems using Kuta
    –I build my own.
    How much time do you spend planning each hour in the classroom?
    –I spend one hour out planning one hour in.
    –etc. (not sure how these would go, since I don’t do this).
    How much time do you spend designing your own curriculum?
    Sorry for the detail, but I think you can see the connection. Because without the context of this conversation, I’d have answered your survey saying I spend very little time planning.

    • Very, very helpful. Though, to me ‘planning’ only means ‘writing curriculum’ if you, in fact, write curriculum. Many teachers do not. They work from an existing curriculum and ‘plan’ the days in the needed detail in a mix of writing and thinking. But your word to the wise is very important: the term ‘planning’ itself should be surveyed as to what people think it means and thus how they approach it. And, of course, you are right: reliance on the textbook could mean highly-detailed ‘plans’ that differ from those who do not use textbooks and ‘plan’ very little. So, this is all very, very helpful.

      • My pleasure. I tweeted out a call to a couple people in the Math Twitter Blogger something or other (never know what they call it), so you can hear from other people who develop curriculum.
        Another question sequence I thought of that might be revealing of how teachers used their planning time.
        What percentage of your class time in a year is spent on each of these areas? (there may be others) (so put a number by each)
        –Class discussion
        –Working practice problems
        –Activities (single complex problem, intro activity to new type of problem, any problem using materials)
        What percentage of your planning time is spent in these areas?
        –Content research
        –Lecture preparation
        –Planning and preparing for classroom time
        –Activity preparation
        –Worksheet development
        You could use that in combination with the other questions to build profiles of different types of teachers.

  5. I teach high school US history, AP government and philosophy.
    Generally, I plan by identifying a though provoking question and then use that question as the basis of my unit of study. For AP government an example would be “Do interest groups frustrate or promote democracy?” For philosophy, “Is our life guided by free will or determinism?” The conclusion of the unit requires that students shape some sort of answer to the question– either write an essay response, complete a performance task, engage in a seminar and so on. Often, the kids aren’t just looking at ONE question, but a series of questions that have accumulated throughout the year.
    In terms of planning, this ‘Question’ approach has huge advantages in my judgment because it alllows me to filter out content that doesn’t address the question/s. Textbook readings are used, but I often do surgical strikes with that, assigning specific pages which, again, focus on the question/s under study.
    My philosophy on planning is to spend your planning time getting the big stuff right– get the right questions up front, then don’t fret about making sure every day or week of your year is planned out. There is much flexibility in what I’m able to bring into class and it changes daily, weekly and monthly based on what the kids need. There is a lot of change but what stays constant are those questions, which make every day/week/month have purpose and meaning.
    If if a day or week goes poorly, it’s okay because I can revisit the question in a different way some other time during the year. It’s like I have a few targets (questions) and lots of darts, many of which don’t hit the board, yet if you throw enough, you’ll be successful.
    Also, whenever I plan I have a clear idea on what dispositions I want the kids to have as result of the class experience, which for me are things like humility and a tolerance for ambiguity. When I plan I make sure that whatever it is I am asking kids to do is nurturing those dispositions and I find myself constantly designing ways to point out to students how they are expressing these dispositions during a lesson/unit.. it is sort of like an ongoing yearly, formative assessment.
    The whole stress over ‘coverage’ doesn’t exist in this kind of planning.. it gets tricky with AP government because of the end of the year exam, yet it is possible.

    • Well, you’ll of course get no argument from me about this approach! That is why we have been recommending such an approach for 15 years in UbD, and 15 years before that in the Coalition of Essential Schools!
      What the approach does so well – and you are explicit about this – is that it forces prioritization and filtering. Coherence for learning is greatly enhanced by building off questions. If you start with ‘content’ then there are no priorities and no criteria for making judgments about what to include vs. exclude.

      • Yes… Socrates had all of this stuff figured out long ago and now we are all trying to catch up. ! Until philosophical work (through questioning) is valued more amongst people who do education, this approach is a hard sell to say the least.

  6. This is such a timely post. Thank you so much for sharing it.
    I would love to hear your thoughts about “Strategic Design” which apparently was created with UBD in mind and gives you and Jay credit for inspiring and using similar terminology “but the key difference is adding Bloom’s and Standards”. Our district has adopted a very expensive planning device to type lessons online but teachers are struggling and short of directing them to UBD I don’t know how to help fill the gaps. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
    I know your reply is already in this article/post (that anything that restricts planning is contrary to what you ever intended) but I would still appreciate your thoughts given the district went with that template precisely because it was online and based on a UBD model.
    Thank you for your time!

      • My apologies. Here is a link.
        I didn’t attach it because when it was first introduced to the district the “claim to fame” was references to UBD and research “with” you etc. so I assumed you were familiar.
        Thank you again. I wish, more than anything else, to not be anonymous as I correspond publicly but 1st Amendment has a narrow interpretation where I am (hopefully not for long).

        • Thanks for this. I was unaware of their work.I guess imitation is flattery here, but I find no mention of UbD on the site which a little alarming, given the similarities. However, I did some poking around and read inside their book and they make clear that their work derives from UbD (though they somewhat laughably try to sound like their design is ‘fundamentally different’). SIGH.
          This is also very similar to the UbD Exchange, now defunct, that we helped ASCD develop.
          From watching the VIMEO movies it seems ok, just a lot of work. I suspect the straitjacket is not because of the software but because of how the administration is implementing it. We have seen this over and over with all forms of curriculum mapping software, alas. Your experience is common.
          Thanks for the info; keep the faith.

          • Thank you so much for your reply. Words can’t express my gratitude. Your “voice” via your blog keeps the faith alive even when feeling hopeless (and never helpless due to truly understanding UBD!). Grateful.

  7. Where to begin!
    Well, that is the question isn’t it?
    As for your most straightforward question — no, I have never used a textbook to control what happened in writing or literature classes. Let me use a 9-12 composition sequence to discuss planning.
    There was a framework in mind when our department began to develop the composition strand. The sequence of discourses set out in the work of James Moffett. There was no book for students, and his work, although clear enough to me and most of my colleagues, and certainly our chairman, has seemed opaque to many teachers when I required the text in graduate courses. The “theory” was to begin with writing closest to oneself (inner speech, exterior monologues, dialogs, etc.) Thus, freshman wrote monologues, dialogues, personal events, longer memoirs (likely to use dialog and observational details) and some essays. They also didd observations (could be field notes in the sciences) and composed using their notes. We found readings in those modes to include — a reading component — and students read each others’ work.
    Sometimes, it was a scramble. How did one help students learn to observe. And what processes might help in composing the notes? JM provided assignments/prompts and a little context, but most of it was our job. Sometimes we wished we had a textbook! Essentially, we and our students wrote the textbooks over the years. As we learned more about how people wrote — and that they had many different approaches, some different for different tasks — and wrote ourselves, and tried to design scoring guides (I HATE the word “rubric.”) that knowledge and our experiences became part of our planning.
    10-12 did primary research, interviews and observation each year. When we approached the interview, I asked students about uses of primary sources in the world — their parents’ jobs, etc. Also, questions such as, “What interviews to you remember? Why do you think that is?” and so on. Then we might read one or two – a student teacher used some on videos, a good idea — and identified characteristics they had in common. Then, I usually did a 10-15 lecture of guidelines, do’s and don’ts, advice from my own experience, “make sure points,” and the like. Students were aware of the assignment coming, but we gave it to them with context, in writing; they had choice of their subject/victim. Some teachers required notes to be turned in for a quick check; some listened to tapes; some of us required actual transcripts, a big pain, yes, but I found it helped me to coach as they wrote and to evaluate the experience as a whole. We deconstructed print interviews with an eye to how they were written – – introductions, transitions, quotation use, and the like. Grammar, punch and so on were treated in context. This writing task, and others, incorporated use of dialogue, of observational detail, of commentary; it also moved the writer from writing closest to herself to writing about others.
    This required that teachers “plan” to readi in the genre fairly widely, to identify key features to emphasize or discuss, to decide when small groups seemed appropriate, and after the early drafts came in for quick in-class reads, conferences or quick at-home reads, a teacher might reteach, start all over again, you all know that.
    In literature courses, I sometimes actually scripted a class — my remarks, possible questions, use of visuals/audio, and so on. I did not read this, but I found it very useful sometimes.
    Well, I’ve taken a lot of your time and space, and perhaps I didn’t do what you hoped. I enjoyed writing it, however. Remember, all, this is a fast write, not a polished draft!

    • This is great – thanks, Marilyn. In fact, impressive for a draft! The detail is helpful for what we are trying to understand here. The mystery of all this is contained in your next to last paragraph: what was the script actually like? How often? What reading did you do and how did youi do it in preparation for working with literature? etc. But what you have told us about the writing classes is very informative – thanks for taking the time.

  8. Thanks for the post! I think that it is necessary to establish a distinction between the process of designing and planing – particularly when considering the issue of text books use. Too often collaborative conversations are driven by discussion of content, text book driven or otherwise. These discussion of what content to teach beg the bigger questions surrounding instructional design. The process that Eisenhower went through when planning was based on a military that was already designed. Tools were in place, and the process of planning provided and way to use the tools to accomplish the task. In curriculum planing teachers often design tools and plan how to use them simultaneously. Sometimes this works and sometimes you are left with a tool that can only accomplish one task. My goals in planning for this year surround designing first so that I can plan efficiently later. Again – thanks for making your scholarship free and accessible!

  9. I plan what the final goal to be learned is and tweak my plans daily. I write a basic plan and fill in as the day approaches. The learning of today influences the learning of tomorrow so I do not make the specifics of each day ahead. My learners needs dictate where I go with he lesson the next day. By the end of the unit, the goal is achieved, but not always the way I thought it would be. plans have to be fluid due to the needs of learners.

  10. Timely post! My professional growth goal for the year is centered on improved lesson planning. The current plan is to survey teachers re: planning, use the data from the survey to drive improvements, incorporate unit plans and include scheduled peer collaborations (i.e. plan a lesson as a group, observe the lesson, debrief, execute lesson again in a different room, etc.). I’m certain I will glean some much needed resources from you!

  11. In the Secondary English department in Alief ISD in Houston, we rely heavily on the Stage 1 and Stage 2 questions of the UbD template to start our big picture planning. It doesn’t matter from where the big ideas originate or if teachers work electronically or by hand. We stress that it is about the THINKING and the PROCESS – not filling in boxes – that will lead to a higher quality PRODUCT (the unit). We hardly ever use textbooks – maybe to get an idea or for some text pieces to read, but that’s about it.
    This year we are striving to get better at determining the authentic performance task, which we do marry with our required portfolio writing genres. So we have to make sure that the lens through which study the big ideas as well as the essential questions lend themselves to that type of genre. We are also encouraging teams to flesh out what the state standards/learning targets are for that authentic performance (writing) task is BEFORE trying to plan backwards. In the past, the calendar was filled in backwards but with a focus on reading pieces and writing tasks, not learning opportunities that would lead to the final demonstration of understanding. We work in content teams per campus, but our district is so huge that we struggle with assuring quality of units. My role is as an instructional coach, and over this year, I hope to pull some grade-levels across campuses together so that we can share great ideas and maybe develop overtime a more cohesive English program with more units of study that are engaging and an increase in sophistication from grades 7 – 12. (I saw Jim Burkes’ document of genres 9 – 12, and I think we are going to do something like that.) This will be our first year that we determine and utilize a UbD Criteria checklist so that everyone knows what we expect and inspect.
    Teams then work from the unit of study and calendar to develop their daily lessons using a workshop format. Again we stress that a lesson plan template (and each campus does its own thing) is not what drives the plan but rather the learning target and the work of learning does… and we want to get better in making sure those lessons lead to success on the demonstration of understanding – not that it is just some separate assignment the last 2 weeks of the unit. Our calendars are too tightly plan though – and we need to loosen them up some so that we can add in new articles or current events when they occur, and more importantly, use student work to make some instructional decisions.
    Thank you to you and Jay for all of your work!! You are our “go-to” guys for big picture planning.

    • Well, thank YOU for your clear and detailed post, your kind words, and your district’s longtime support of UbD. And thanks for the “too tightly planned” comment which is a longstanding issue for everyone. See my past post on this.

  12. Thank you so much for your response and the link to you post! Our consultant, Sam Bennett, will be with us next week, and we are going to work on not being so tightly planned. 🙂

  13. Thanks for the post and the links. One of the links was to a 1980 study by Gail McCutcheon. She and a colleague did a follow up study in 2002.
    It was case study of a high school English teacher’s planning (McCutcheon and Milner, 2002) that followed a veteran male teacher as he planned a course of study for British literature in a high school in a small midwestern American town. Through multiple interviews of the teacher and students, and by examining artifacts of planning, the case also demonstrated two key differences in how planning for English differs from the past. First, the focus of planning differed. Traditionally, the emphasis might have been on developing objectives at the lesson level, but this teacher developed long-term goals at the course level (p.84 – 85). A second important difference was the teacher’s focus on the thematic links between literature selections, revealing the importance of subject knowledge. The study concluded that planning for modern secondary English courses has shifted to backwards design, in part because the field has shifted its thinking about how students learn and the nature of knowledge. In other words, the teacher’s design reflected a more constructivist framework than was true in the past.
    McCutcheon, G., & Milner, H. (2002). A contemporary study of teacher planning in a high school English class. Teachers and teaching: theory and practice, 8(1), 81-94. doi:10.1080/1354060012011058 3

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