Jay and I are beginning the challenge of developing the 3rd edition of Understanding by Design and we would love your input.
We know some things we want to accomplish:

  1. Reflect the national standards
  2. Offer more practical advice about good design, editing, and improving designs
  3. Shorten the book
  4. Offer template options based on sound principles so people don’t fixate on ‘the’ template or get overwhelmed by it
  5. Update the references

So, what is your wish list – as a professor, teacher, professional development provider, assistant superintendent, principal, Dept. Head, Coach?
What’s your feedback about what works and what doesn’t work in the 2nd edition of UbD?
We ESPECIALLY want to highlight in sidebars specific educator experiences with UbD that offer practical advice and commentary based on your use of UbD. Tell us your stories!!
Spread the word, please! We’re hoping to finish the revision by January.


35 Responses

  1. Hell Grant and Jay,
    Thank you for your work in scaffolding teacher work that supports genuine learning.
    My greatest wishes are in the area of inservice and professional development. What behaviors and attitudes best foster adoption and use of UbD? And what behaviors and attitudes diminish and fight against adoption and use of UbD?
    How can training of leaders be shaped to increase the likelihood of use of UbD?
    What elements of the current climate in public education are supporting and hindering widespread acceptance of UbD?
    Finally, how should teacher and leader training and recruitment into the profession be shaped to improve the acceptance of UbD?
    Thanks you again!

  2. How would you like feedback, here or via separate email? I offer PD opportunities, including workshops and courses to teachers in Vermont. I co-taught a graduate course called Designing for Digital Age Learning this past June where UbD is a key component. The one piece that we felt needed clarity is how digital age teaching is embedded into this process, how does technology become a specific component of design that supports teaching and learning?
    Your point in #4, “Offer template options based on sound principles so people don’t fixate on ‘the’ template or get overwhelmed by it” is something we found to be important. Many teachers felt they needed to use it as a prescription and filling out every step where it became a “paint by number” rather than their own work of art using the key tenants of UbD as a palette.

  3. I have been a middle school classroom teacher with a requirement to have an essential question posted in my classroom at all times and now I am a middle school building principal with the responsibility to ensure teachers maximize instructional opportunities. I feel like I understand your approach to the more universal approach to EQs but, as a teacher and an administrator, I struggle with how that approach qualifies as “essential”. I have my teachers post the intended outcome of their lesson for the day or current unit they are working on. Some contents lend themselves to being able to have a question that is less specific and I have seen some wonderful EQs in my time. The challenge for me is to require teachers to spend valuable time creating EQs like this when I cannot explain the usefulness of it. Here is an example: 7th grade Art (a 9 week class)-Students are designing and creating a color wheel using watercolors. Students are required to mix the secondary and tertiary colors using only primary colors. An EQ such as “What would the world be like without color.” doesn’t quite seem as essential as an EQ that focuses on understanding (on a basic level) how to mix colors and that colors have an effect on each other. I’m a huge fan and your writing has transformed my professional life.

    • Actually, I think this is a really great Essential Question. It really struck me and made me think! That’s what Essential Questions should do. One is not enough, though, and a series of questions that lead from one to the other could provide that bridge, possibly leading to “What effect do colors have on each other?”

  4. Dear Dr. Wiggins,
    Please also include UbD work reflective of international standards as all the schools I work with world wide utilize your brilliant work. I receive constant requests for UbD curriculum examples, especially fully developed (Stage, 1, 2, and 3) unit of study exemplars for every content area and grade level. For example, I am working with a small international school in Indonesia. We had to examine numerous Social Studies standards to gain a better alignment to the triple digit cultures of this school and the school’s mission of honoring native cultures and leveraging Mother Tongue language.
    Your words and your thinking continuously light and chisel my work. Thank you for continuing to support of us.
    Best wishes and enormous respect,
    Laura Benson Curriculum and Professional Development Director International Schools Services Shenzhen, China lbenson@iss.edu http://www.laurabensonbooks.com I’ve come to believe there are only two things you need in any new teaching situation to succeed—humility and inquiry. Lisa Delpit
    From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life. Arthur Ashe

  5. The thing that immediately comes to mind is some guidance on whether to design units based on what I call “thematic” essential questions or on what I call “standards- or skills-based” essential questions, or a combination of both. For example, in the ELA classroom, I could design a unit focusing on the question, “What is our relationship to Nature?” Such a question is open-ended and has no right answer, but has no basis in the standards. In contrast, a question like “How do authors convince people who don’t agree with them to accept their views?” might ground a unit on argument, something that has a basis in the standards. My feeling is that a course grounded in the latter types of questions and that spirals by reinforcing previously learned skills makes it easier to ensure that students don’t have skills gaps; the downside is that it becomes challenging to have texts with similar themes engage in conversation as the focus will be on the skills for the unit. A course grounded in the former types of questions will ensure that, but the downside is that if a teacher is (or teachers are) not paying attention, key skills/standards could be ignored. For example, I could be so focused on choosing texts that fit a theme that I may not realize that the texts I choose over the course of the year are suited for character and thematic analysis, but not diction analysis. (Or the texts may be suited for teaching such a variety of skills that the teacher jumps from skill to skill within a unit, even if they are unrelated.)
    I guess what I’m asking for is some guidance on which types of essential questions are useful for particular situations. Some guidance on creating unit progressions (some sequences are more effective than others) would also be helpful. Thanks.

  6. I offer these thoughts knowing that you may have already considered them. I own almost every book you’ve published and had the opportunity to attend a 3-day conference with Jay McTighe a few years ago. I look forward to your new book.
    Here are a few thoughts:
    1. Incorporate media at point of use — QR codes or short URL links to video, audio clips that support the text. Here I would suggest that the links be to web pages where media is embedded so that if the media is updated, the links will not change – allows your print book to be a bit more flexible. Frey and Fishers new book on Close Reading is an example of QR Code to videos – Rigorous Reading: 5 Access Points…
    2. Consider other interactive options — here is a very rough example that uses one of the templates from your books created as a possible interface for PD — scroll over with your mouse — this is not completed just an idea now. http://www.frictionlesslearning.org/UBDPD_Diagram.html
    3. Incorporate some socialization options – discussion forums or links to blog posts where comments can be made – -again the links have to work over time so care must be taken with this.

  7. I’m wondering if maybe it’s not time to reconsider some pretty fundamental things: Namely, isn’t it possible that the struggles we see in modern education stem from the un-critical acceptance of constructivism?–And that, as a result of this un-critical acceptance, we have followed a path that has led us to ruin, or at least has led us to irrelevance among the majority of students? It strikes me as contradictory to, on one hand, assume the role of teacher, and on the other hand, insist that society has nothing authentic for teachers to communicate. Or, if you prefer, to assume the role of facilitator, and then to insist that the facilitator is not facilitating in the direction of any particular outcome that can be identified as common to both learner and facilitator and society.
    I’m sure that students initially appreciate the freedom that is implied by the notion that their “constructions” are going to be automatically validated as authentic constructions, but the flip side of that initial appreciation is the eventual realization on the part of the student that ALL constructions are ultimately meaningless beyond the question of what is convenient or advantageous to the student. And even if we were to ignore the fact that this outlook encourages egomania, we eventually are forced to realize that we have lost even the right to instruct students on the question of what ought to be convenient or advantageous to them, since such instruction would be the teacher’s or facilitator’s construction and not the students’.
    To say that Socratic rhetoric is “the essence of constructivism because meaning is crafted not by teachers but by learners” (p62) is to badly misunderstand (1) the interaction between Socrates and his fellow conversationalists; and (2) the naturalistic outlook of both Socrates and Plato. In their view, meaning is only “crafted” in the sense of mimesis, or the re-presentation of truth, but never as an outright construction.
    I just wonder if we will ever reach a point where we start asking some hard questions about fundamental things. Is constructivism itself exempt from the skepticism that supposedly guides the social sciences?

    • Point well taken. More generally, we need to do a better job of explaining that varied forms of pedagogy are appropriate for what are, in fact, varied goals and goal types. PS: I disagree with you re: Socrates/Plato. The Meno captures perfectly the nature of the understanding challenge – look at his conclusion to the slave boy exchange. “If someone should ask him many questions…you can be sure he’ll know.”

      • Thanks for the thoughtful reply. But it is not simply “many questions”, but instead it is a particular series of questions that allows the slave to obtain a dim kind of knowledge. “If he were repeatedly asked these same questions in different ways”, says Socrates, then he would “know about these things as accurately as anyone” (852c). The exchange teaches the necessity of asking the right questions (i.e. “these same questions”) and also of repetition or continual practice. The notion that there are “right questions” implies that there is a universal resolution that can be pointed to, or shown, if not spoken (since irrational numbers such as the square root of 8 cannot be spoken).
        The exchange also is used by Plato to demonstrate that knowledge is not constructed, as an art, but instead it is recovered or recollected, as a memory. In other words, correct opinions are within the slave, but so are lots of incorrect opinions, such as his initial response that the sides would be 4, and then 3. The Meno teaches that it is not enough to merely provoke lots of opinions, but instead it is necessary that these opinions must be evaluated by means of a questioning that is orientated toward a common understanding of the natural world.
        I worry that the focus on questioning, as so far presented, too often leaves kids at a half-way point in the process, as slaves to error, stuck somewhere between 4 and 3, with no way to press on toward a common understanding. This common understanding, it seems to me, is regarded by constructivist philosophy as an impossibility or a myth, and perhaps even an enemy.

        • No question that the questions have to be artful. Indeed, Socrates is downright leading. But what has always struck me is that Socrates concludes the ‘demonstration’ of ‘inborn’ knowledge with tantalizing ambiguity. “stirred up as if in a dream” – i.e. conventional directed teaching is not enough to cause understanding. There have to be numerous questions, of just the right kind, to grasp the (unobvious) conclusion. That has always struck me as quite right: the student has to verify the truth, not just be taught it. No doubt that mere open-ended questions are insufficient; no doubt, too, that direct instruction does not guarantee understanding. That, to me, is the challenge: explain how genuine understanding becomes solidified in the learner’s mind – even though the teacher would have much sooner claimed that the ‘teaching’ led to ‘learning’. The irony in the dialogue supports it: Meno – and Anytos – still don’t get it though believing they do.

          • Thanks again for the reply. I appreciate you taking the time.
            It seems unlikely that the “stirred up as in a dream” phrase refers to the ambiguity of direct teaching, since no direct teaching has been offered by Socrates. Rather it refers to the ambiguous or imperfect understanding that follows a single iteration of the right questions. Which is why the “stirred up as in a dream” phrase is immediately followed by the call to “repeatedly ask these same questions in different ways” so that the learning will become more permanent and less dream-like. Socrates is not suggesting a contrast between one method and another, but instead he suggests the continuation or a repetition of the method that has been demonstrated.
            I don’t think the issue ought to be framed as an alternative between open-ended questions and direct instruction. Rather it is whether our questioning has some external object toward which it is directed, or whether it is simply meant to provoke the expression, by means of construction or creative act, of the internal subject. There is, in my view, a fundamental difference between these two things that seems to go unnoticed by those with pedagogical influence. In the case of the former, the subject seeks to impose upon itself the natural discipline of the object; in the case of the latter, the subject seeks to free itself from the natural discipline of the object.

          • You are right that the contrast is not about direct instruction vs. being questioned. I think the fact that the initial learning isn’t yet real understanding is the point I wish to make. All initial learning of counter-intuitive ideas is that way – it rarely ‘takes’ the first time. Hence, the misconception literature in science. But that means that in some sense the learners have to verify for themselves that the learning has meaning, no?

          • Sure, but verification is a different thing than construction. Verification implies an orientation toward veritas, or truth. This objective truth may be remembered, as Socrates suggests in the Meno, or pointed to, as Plato’s long example seems to suggest, or perhaps discovered, as others have suggested. But it cannot be constructed.
            If all this seems like mere semantics and too abstract to be meaningful, I would counter that a very important and even decisive message has been communicated to all our post-Vietnam generations by the institutional assumptions of the constructivist model. The message is not communicated in any specific content or lesson, but instead it is communicated by the consistent absence of any guiding telos that might point instruction toward a higher or more transcendent end than the self-interest of the learner.
            Ultimately, constructivism must reduce to a denial of any truth that does not appear to us as fact. This may not be the explicit teaching of all those who call themselves constructivists, but it is, in my view, the de facto message that is communicated to students over the long haul of their educational experience. In the near term, during the school age years, it produces apathy. In the long run, it leaves our citizens with the alternative of either self-absorption, or else disillusionment and despair.
            Again, thank you for the conversation. It has been very interesting.

  8. I would love a chapter about MATH and UbD. You have written some great blogs, but they really struggle with the model and need to see from others to make it work in the powerful way that it is designed to do.

    Thanks for asking, Gail

  9. The inherent nature of understanding being somewhat nebulous, therefore ambiguity as a necessary component when teaching for understanding, and our resistance to this idea as educators, administrators, students and parents.

    • Good point. We do this in Schooling by Design in Chapter 12 – we describe the resistance to the work and the misconceptions about the work, but it should be more clearly laid out in UbD. Thanks.

  10. I find the book very helpful; although, one of the most helpful insights I’ve received is from one of your recent blog posts where you noted that the whole process and the templates are a guide, not a process set in stone. I have always been a little flexible in my use and appreciated getting that confirmation from you.
    Along with new standards perhaps there is a way to connect or emphasize the connection of backwards design to the idea of learning progressions that are the basis of many new standards. They so support each other, and if you work backwards along a learning progression…wow! Powerful teaching and learning.
    The teachers I work with struggle the most with Essential Questions, as do maybe some of your readers here. I do like those overarching questions, as I was always the kid who asked, “Why do I need to know this?” and, “When am I ever going to use this?” and good overarching essential questions really pique my interest and help make those connections. The educators I work with struggle with the difference between Essential Questions, Knowledge, and Skills and often confuse them all. I don’t know how to clarify that in the next version, and I do have your recent book on EQs, but maybe underscore that one is not enough and the questions should provide a logical sequence as to why you need to tackle the knowledge and skills. I guess this is more affirmation and a request for elaboration rather than change.
    The GRASPS template is very helpful. Please don’t change that.
    I’m also interested in the role of misunderstandings and how they can derail student understanding as well as provide teachers clues about student progress, which I know is already in the model, but I think a lot of people skip over them. I like how you model misunderstandings when presenting the model. I can see misunderstandings tying into learning progressions, although most learning progression documents only focus on the ideal outcomes and not misunderstandings. I think I’ve come full circle.
    I appreciate the offer! Overall, I think a lot of the model hangs together well and I find it very helpful.

  11. Please emphasize to administrators and supervisors alike that a one-day or one-week training in curriculum design does not make them an expert. The real academic experts in both lesson design and curriculum are the teachers they supervise. Administrators, who often have very little classroom teaching experience (former gym teachers, coaches, teachers who entered administration after as little as three years of teaching, business managers, or have been out of the classroom for 25 or 30 years), have little credibility with teachers who have struggled daily for 10, 20, or 30 years planning as many as ten lessons per day with a grand total of 30 minutes planning time. The teachers know what is practical given time and resource constraints. Listen to them and encourage their administrators and supervisors to do the same.

    • Indeed, I make aspiring administrator write a UbD for a training/PD sequence (any level of employee) using the template. They struggle with the dame things but see the utility as the end

  12. Gentlemen, I have used your material for years to teach curriculum to aspiring Superintendents. Any detail on technology integration (Ipad apps, twitter) would be helpful. In addition, special attention to STEM would be helpful. . Keep it up!

  13. I have only started working with UbD–but I have found it to be both helpful and inspiring. Thank you!
    I teach at a large state university in a 3-semester program for first- and second-year students. Our mission is to help our students cultivate and develop fundamental academic (and more-than-academic) skills and habits of mind: critical thinking, written communication/argumentation, information fluency, research.
    Some of the things I have found most helpful in UbD are the moments when you address instruction that is NOT centered on traditional content (e.g., English, Chemistry, etc.). For example, you have a wonderful discussion of how one might teach “Persuasion” (not the novel).
    I have turned to that discussion again and again in designing my own units on argumentation, critical thinking, and research.
    I would welcome more examples aimed at teachers of “skills-centered” courses.
    Thank you!

  14. I am an elementary curriculum coordinator. Much of my work in the past few years has been facilitating teachers as they write quality units based on the principles of UbD. We have a solid base of curriculum units that are in a constant state of review and improvement, but our primary issue (and the bulk of my work now) involves helping teachers in our large school division transition from a division-created unit plan to individual classroom learning plans. In an ideal universe, we would facilitate groups of teachers in individual schools as they create and revise their own units, but with 2 coordinators for nearly 5,000 teachers this is simply impossible. Our compromise was to create division units and encourage teachers to make their own instructional decisions based on the model unit.
    Unfortunately, we are finding a misalignment in cognitive demand between unit goals, the division curriculum, and teachers’ individual learning plans. It seems there is a missing layer between thinking of an entire sequence of teaching and learning and determining what to do next Tuesday.
    One method we have used with some success (and may have originally found in one of your books) is what we call a “unit map”. Teachers plan a sequence, mapping from preassessment to the final transfer task and plotting individual checks for understanding along the way. Between each assessment we determine “learning events” which we define as chunks of content that may take one teacher several days, but another only several minutes based on the students in the classroom and their level of mastery. We found that many teachers jumped too quickly to calendar planning and became frustrated when lessons took longer or shorter than they expected and interfered with their long term plan. This method seems to satisfy administrators’ desire to have grade level or subject colleagues relatively close in pacing, but allowing for necessary flexibility for individual students and teachers.
    We battle the notion of a UbD “lesson plan” on a regular basis, but also want to help teachers plan a sequence of instruction with a fair degree of autonomy. I would love to see this addressed in a future edition, as it has been a major roadblock for our division. A well-designed unit does no good if teachers do not know how to plan for daily instruction, but that work cannot be done centrally. Any suggestions are welcome!

    • Meghan:
      Spot on. Thanks so much. We see the same issues: too quick to jump to the calendar and not map out the chunks of learning. We’ll give thought to a section on how to develop the final lesson plan in a robust unit-focused way. Thanks so much for your thoughts.

  15. My school has recently adopted the Ubd format and we are currently looking at each of our courses through this lens. I have found it difficult, however, as a language teacher who must teach sequentially (it’s all about scaffolding!) really narrowing down my EQs and skills questions. I have also found that the EQs I have designed could be used for all my courses and any language. (i.e. How do I communicate effectively within my language ability even when I don’t know the words I want to use?) There isn’t too much to separate them apart until we move from teaching the basic structure to literature and history courses.

  16. I teach in a k-8 school. Our middle school was first to work with the UBD template, and then we implemented it as well. As a teacher of 1st grade, I would love to see more examples in the book from very young grades, like Kindergarten and grade 1.

  17. The very BEST education I received was in my art, home ec/sewing classes, and in English & History to create written projects w/ art work & also visual 3-d crafts projects. I made historical things, maps, books come to life, we were required to do book reports that were alive, history became real as we actually were made to discuss, think and analyze events, people, the actions of what happened when one person or a few actually did things, made things happen and affected society in huge ways. This all began for me in 4th & 6th grades, and in 7th & 8th grades and then again in 10th & 11th & 12 th grades… but only in certain classes – the ones I have stated. It took the Teachers to be something outside-the-box. In our Jr & Sr yrs of HS they took us down a New Path, something never tried before: we were in a huge block of 3 classes as 90 students for lectures, movies and tests. Then they broke us up into small seminars, of only 15 students, so that we could discuss the issues of books we read, again, not text books but real books that you would read today, and had us consider things like “Did the wilderness make the pioneer?” or “Did the pioneer make the wilderness?” In one science class we went all over, going on the best field trips & that happened again in college… just going to places that were close to our HS and our college, but then staying and really exploring and having our tests done outside. That one thing made us all the more aware and perhaps that is why I excelled in those classes – while inside I failed dismally, but enjoyed the topics. I guess I am a hands-on, outdoors girl, and was even back then. Learning for me was way more than lecture, reading only, but it was BEST done as a hands-on experience, or creating something from words and pictures. Making visual arts projects always made my subjects come alive. Have you Teachers ever read Thomas Armstrong’s “7 Kinds of Smart?” from 1999. Haven’t read his latest one, yet. That one book changed me. I always knew I was smart, but not thru the usual methods. In my sewing classes I excelled. The teachers were So encouraging. In music or art, it was fun and I learned so much more than just the subject. Why? Our bodies were connected to what we were learning. I only wished we had had gardening back then… now, lots of schools offer that. We also got to have choices for our PE classes. I am not so athletic, as most of my girl friends were back then. But, I did enjoy thoroughly swimming, and also dance. We also got to create our own dances…. and then, twice a year, we had dances that we put on for mostly our mothers, or anyone we invited. It was scary, but so much fun!! Again, another facet of my self I discovered. I still love to dance. Now, I dance with my grandkids and have a blast!! We all do our thing, and smile, and laugh, and one of them could actually be a professional as she is THAT good! She already has moved way out of the things she has been taught and moves to her own rhythm!! Once during a class, my grandson was being taught about Martin Luther King and he asked, Was MLK married? Teacher said Yes. He asked her, What happened to his wife after he was killed? So… the teacher, neat woman that she is, stopped her own cirruiculum and then talked all about Corretta Scott King and what she DID do after Martin was assassinated. All because my grandson asked the kinds of Questions he always asks. During one Christmas, he asked me How could Jesus be born of Mary, without a father?!! Try answering That Question!! I forget now what I said, exactly, but being true to my self, I most likely told him The Truth (see the Bible!) and he and my granddaughter “got it”. It is, after all, a mystery. They got that part also. So, there you go. From my upbringing in the 1950’s in elementary school, to the 1960’s when our dear Pres. Kennedy was killed, and then all the rest of them… to the turbulent 1970’s & 80’s when I was in High School and College. ALL of these times were LIFE-changing…. and not only for me, but for our very world, our country, and the places we lived in. Make your class rooms something DIFFERENT. Don’t just do the cookie-cutter kinds of teaching. Get your students INVOLVED. Hands-on learning. Here I was bored to tears in 8th grade History, read & study & take the test (yawn) and learning NOTHING. Then, we made the Conastoga Wagons, we made maps showing the westward expansions, the trails of Lewis & Clark and we had books to read about those events, real books, and suddenly History became ALIVE!! My art was so good that my teacher kept my work (and I should have insisted on a B at least, but settled for a C or D… sad, bad teacher!) AND, get OUTSIDE – go places, do things, even if you can only explore local places, that is “good enough”. Look at what happened to Erin Grouwald when she took the students to the Holocaust Mueseum in LA. They were given a person in the Nazi’s prisons to “become” and at the end, they learned all about them. Some of the kids ended up dying… and that impressed them. Then they wrote to Meep, in Denmark right? and she came Over to see them and speak with them about hiding people so they would not go to prison, and probably to die. They began WRITING and making Journals, and began to change, and grow and develop into different people. They then went on to College, something that most would most likely NOT do unless they had a teacher like Erin. Sorry about my spelling… it IS horrid, but it is phonetic, because that is also how I was taught. Phonics, not sight reading. And – it must be said – regular math not the common core stuff. My husband in the mathematician in our family – and he was taught by memorization and through word pictures… and that is how our daughter was taught and they both are very good at this. He is a CPA and she is great at managing the money in her family. Her professional job involves fashion and she must always keep in mind the budget of her clients. Tough to do in this world. Fashion changes rapidly and creating a wardrobe is something of an art now. She can do this. Who knows just how far she will go? Anyways, you can get the idea. I had a very good education. I just wish the same for my kids now. Hopefully, they will continue to get really good teachers who will think outside-the-box and do creative things in their classrooms and develop the child rather than teach a method to get some sort of point across. Education is a lot more than that, Teachers. A good education develops YOU as a person, stretching you, your heart and your mind, and allows for the freedom of creativity. We have one friend who teaches music, drama, and puts on plays. These kids are more than professionals, already! Their events are alive. The kids are alive. The community love these events. And, they also excel in many of their other classes because of her classes. She gets to know each person, and allows them the freedom to BECOME all that THEY can be. She shows them the way, and then they take off & create. It is a synergistic kind of teaching. They both benefit. She is making life-long friends. Someday, some of these kids will be on Broadway. Be sure of it!

  18. I used a few chapters of UbD to teach faculty how to effectively teach online. I found the information very useful for online teaching. My biggest problem was helping faculty become more comfortable using technology to deliver content. The students are far ahead of teachers in this respect. I would like a chapter on this topic – getting over the fear of utilizing technology, which technologies are most useful (though I realize this is an ever changing game), why using technology is important for engagement, etc. Obviously it’s only one factor in UbD, but faculty need practical techniques for utilizing technology in the classroom as well as online.

  19. Hello Dr.Wiggins,
    I so appreciate your thoughtful and thought-provoking posts! Thank you!
    I am an instructional coach at Central High School in Cheyenne, Wyoming and wanted to share some exciting things that we have been doing in regards to Understanding by Design, Coaching Cycles and lesson planning.
    I intentionally use vocabulary from the UbD Framework when I am in coaching cycles with teachers. In the second stage of each of the maps, I use vocabulary such as; essential questions, learning targets, goals, keeping the end in mind, big picture, assess, etc., just to name a few.
    Below are some sample mediative questions I might use within the Cognitive Coachingsm planning and reflecting maps.
    Planning Conversation Map:
    What might some of your goals for this lesson?
    What are some questions you might ask students that get them thinking more deeply?
    What is most important for students to know and understand in your classroom?
    What are some things you will see students doing that assures you they understand this concept?
    What might be some questions you are thinking of asking students that will assure you they understand and are able to apply this concept?
    Reflecting Conversation Map:
    As you think about this lesson, what were some things that you were paying attention to?
    As you recall what students were doing, what were some decisions you made that made sure they met the learning target?
    What are some patterns or trends you are noticing about the data you collected from this lesson?
    Teacher Planning Templates:
    We also have teachers that blend the workshop model of instruction with the UbD framework in their daily lesson plans. I would be happy to share these templates/ examples with you.
    I welcome more conversations about the ways we might more intentionally use the UbD framework as instructional coaches.
    Thanks for all you do for students and educators!
    Jolene Lockwood
    Works Cited
    Bennett, Samantha. That Workshop Book: New Systems and Structures for Classrooms That Read, Write, and Think. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2007. Print.
    Costa, Arthur L. Cognitive Coaching: A Foundation for Renaissance Schools. Norwood, MA: Christopher-gordon, 2000. Print.
    Wiggins, Grant P., and Jay McTighe. Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2005. Print.

  20. Hi Dr.Wiggins,
    I am a district staff developer and sixth grade ELA/SS teacher. In 2008 our district launched an introduction to UBD which I co-presented with my principal on Superintendent’s Conference Day. From that point I facilitated courses and in-house PD to support the faculty in learning and implementing Backward Design. We also began curriculum mapping using the Rubicon-Atlas software which we aligned as closely as possible to your template. Over the past six years there have been many challenges and successes to making changes in the mindset of my colleagues. One in particular is the concept that hands-on does not always equal minds-on. They had a hard time with the idea that engagement is not a guarantee of learning. So what I decided to do was use myself as a model and tell my story as to how I came to this realization and a deeper understanding. You asked for stories so here we go. I told this story in my PD sessions and course.
    In 2000, as an 8th year teacher, with the Standards emerging I went to a three day workshop given by Grant Wiggins at our BOCES. My mantra at this time was based on the Chinese Proverb:
    I hear, I forget
    I see, I remember
    I do, I understand
    So, on the first day, Grant begins talking about Prairie Day. He describes what he observed, the activities the students were doing, and I am thinking to myself; this is great.
    I felt more and more excited. Why? At the time I was teaching fifth grade and Westward Expansion was a part of the social studies curriculum. My culminating project /activity for this unit was a Pioneer Day of which I was very proud. We dressed up, made murals, shook cream to make butter, and put on skits depicting the life at that time and had a pioneer lunch. It was a big deal. The kids loved it, parents loved it and I felt they were using their knowledge to simulate a true pioneer experience.
    As Grant continued I was sure he was going to end with this is a great example of a culminating activity for Prairie Day and creative and innovating teaching. Well, I will never forget my surprise when he introduced the plot twist; the reflection pieces they collected from the students asking them what they had learned. The students could retell all the fun things they liked but I believe only one student attached the day to something they had learned or to a big concept or understanding about life on the prairie. In that moment I saw myself and realized I was doing the same thing. I certainly wanted to slide under the table.
    As I tell this story I actually have pictures from my Pioneer Day which I show them and the kids were indeed having fun. Hands-on without being minds-on. I had no essential question, an implied enduring understanding which I realized did not transfer to the students. And so my journey to understand and embrace UBD began knowing I needed to deepen the meaning of my guiding proverb.
    By telling this story I hope to make my colleagues feel that we are all in this change process together. We all want to do the best for our students and are well intentioned. It is ok to say I need to try something different, and it is ok to say I am not doing this in my classroom.
    As a strategy for helping to introduce UBD, using a real life example and person helped them to begin to understand. The visuals I provided and the activity gave them a concrete example that we could dissect and hold up to your criteria. Also, they got to laugh at my expense and not feel threatened if they didn’t understand. This piece was so powerful that “prairie day” became the buzz word and label when looking at unit design and is still referred to years later. The first cohort of teachers I facilitated referred to themselves as the ‘pioneers” of UBD in our district.
    For facilitators, being able to present an activity that missed the transfer and then how to change it is invaluable. It is making the real world connection and answers the question; Why should we do this? Why should we change our practice?

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