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© 2002 Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe UBD 08/2002

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Understanding by Design


the „big ideas‟
of UbD
© 2002 Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe UBD 08/2002
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1. Identify desired results
2. Determine acceptable evidence
3. Plan learning experiences
& instruction
3 Stages of
(“Backward”) Design
© 2002 Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe UBD 08/2002
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Why “backward”?
The stages are logical but they go
against habits
 We‟re used to jumping to lesson and
activity ideas - before clarifying our
performance goals for students
 By thinking through the assessments
upfront, we ensure greater alignment of
our goals and means, and that teaching is
focused on desired results
© 2002 Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe UBD 08/2002
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Understanding by Design
Template: the basis of Exchange
The ubd template
embodies the 3
stages of
“Backward Design”
The template
provides an easy
mechanism for
exchange of ideas
© 2002 Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe UBD 08/2002
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The “big ideas” of each stage:
Assessment Evidence
Learning Activities
Understandings Essential Questions
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2
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Standard(s):
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Performance T ask(s): Other Evidence:
Unpack the content
standards and
„content‟, focus on
big ideas
Analyze multiple
sources of evidence,
aligned with Stage 1
Derive the implied
learning from
Stages 1 & 2
What are the big ideas?
What’s the evidence?
How will we get there?
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Each element is found behind a
menu tab when designing units
L
T
OE
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U
K
Q
CS
Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3
Understandings
Questions
Content
Standards
Knowledge
& Skill
Task(s)
Rubric(s)
Other
Evidence
Learning
Plan
© 2002 Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe UBD 08/2002
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Not necessary to fill in the
template “in order”
There are many „doorways‟ into successful
design – you can start with...
Content standards
Performance goals
A key resource or activity
A required assessment
A big idea, often misunderstood
An important skill or process
An existing unit or lesson to edit
!
© 2002 Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe UBD 08/2002
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Exchange featrues provide
other entry points
You can –
 Search for, find, and attach other designers‟
essential questions and understandings to
your own unit
 Use the web links provided to find ideas
on relevant sites for each design element
 Study exemplary units and adapt them to
your own needs and interests
© 2002 Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe UBD 08/2002
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Misconception Alert:
the work is non-linear
It doesn‟t matter where you start
as long as the final design is
coherent (all elements aligned)
Clarifying one element or Stage often
forces changes to another
element or Stage
The template “blueprint” is logical
but the process is non-linear (think:
home improvement!)

!
© 2002 Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe UBD 08/2002
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The big ideas provide a way to
connect and recall knowledge
The Parallel
postulate
S.A.S.
Congruence
A
2
+ B
2
= C
2

Like rules
of a game
Like Bill of
Rights
Big Idea:
A system
of many powerful
inferences from a
small set
of givens
© 2002 Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe UBD 08/2002
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“Big Ideas” are typically
revealed via –
Core concepts
Focusing themes
On-going debates/issues
Insightful perspectives
Illuminating paradox/problem
Organizing theory
Overarching principle
Underlying assumption
(Key questions)
(Insightful inferences from facts)
U
Q
© 2002 Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe UBD 08/2002
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Big Ideas in Literacy:
Examples
Rational persuasion (vs. manipulation)
audience and purpose in writing
A story, as opposed to merely a list of
events linked by “and then…”
reading between the lines
writing as revision
a non-rhyming poem vs. prose
fiction as a window into truth
A critical yet empathetic reader
A writer‟s voice
© 2002 Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe UBD 08/2002
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Some questions for identifying
truly “big ideas”
 Does it have many layers and nuances, not
obvious to the naïve or inexperienced person?
 Can it yield great depth and breadth of insight
into the subject? Can it be used throughout K-12?
 Do you have to dig deep to really understand its
subtle meanings and implications even if anyone
can have a surface grasp of it?
 Is it (therefore) prone to misunderstanding as well
as disagreement?
 Are you likely to change your mind about its
meaning and importance over a lifetime?
 Does it reflect the core ideas as judged by experts?
You‟ve got to go
below the surface...
© 2002 Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe UBD 08/2002
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to uncover the
really „big ideas.‟
© 2002 Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe UBD 08/2002
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1. Identify desired results
2. Determine acceptable evidence
3. Plan learning experiences
& instruction
3 Stages of Design,
elaborated
© 2002 Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe UBD 08/2002
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Stage 1 – Identify
desired results.
Key: Focus on Big ideas
 Enduring Understandings: What specific insights
about big ideas do we want students to leave with?
 What essential questions will frame the teaching
and learning, pointing toward key issues and
ideas, and suggest meaningful and provocative
inquiry into content?
 What should students know and be able to do?
 What content standards are addressed explicitly
by the unit?
U
K
Q
CS
© 2002 Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe UBD 08/2002
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The “big idea” of
Stage 1:
There is a clear focus in the unit
on the big ideas
Implications:
 Organize content around key concepts
 Show how the big ideas offer a purpose and
rationale for the student
 You will need to “unpack” Content standards in
many cases to make the implied big ideas clear
© 2002 Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe UBD 08/2002
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An understanding is a
“moral of the story” about the big ideas

What specific insights will students take
away about the the meaning of
„content‟ via big ideas?
Understandings summarize the desired
insights we want students to realize
From Big Ideas to
Understandings about them
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© 2002 Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe UBD 08/2002
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Understanding, defined:
They are...
 specific generalizations about the “big
ideas.” They summarize the key meanings,
inferences, and importance of the „content‟
 deliberately framed as a full sentence
“moral of the story” – “Students will
understand THAT…”
 Require “uncoverage” because they are not
“facts” to the novice, but unobvious
inferences drawn from facts - counter-
intuitive & easily misunderstood
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Understandings: examples...
 Great artists often break with conventions to
better express what they see and feel.
 Price is a function of supply and demand.
 Friendships can be deepened or undone by
hard times
 History is the story told by the “winners”
 F = ma (weight is not mass)
 Math models simplify physical relations – and
even sometimes distort relations – to deepen
our understanding of them
 The storyteller rarely tells the meaning
of the story
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© 2002 Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe UBD 08/2002
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Knowledge vs. Understanding
 An understanding is an unobvious and
important inference, needing “uncoverage” in
the unit; knowledge is a set of established
“facts”.
 Understandings make sense of facts, skills,
and ideas: they tell us what our knowledge
means; they „connect the dots‟
 Any understandings are inherently fallible
“theories”; knowledge consists of the accepted
“facts” upon which a “theory” is based and the
“facts” which a “theory” yields.
© 2002 Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe UBD 08/2002
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Essential Questions
What questions –
 are arguable - and important to argue about?
 are at the heart of the subject?
 recur - and should recur - in professional work,
adult life, as well as in classroom inquiry?
 raise more questions – provoking and
sustaining engaged inquiry?
 often raise important conceptual or
philosophical issues?
 can provide organizing purpose for
meaningful & connected learning?
Q
© 2002 Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe UBD 08/2002
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Essential vs. “leading” Q’s
used in teaching (Stage 3)
Essential - STAGE 1
 Asked to be argued
 Designed to
“uncover” new
ideas, views, lines
of argument
 Set up inquiry,
heading to new
understandings
Leading - STAGE 3
 Asked as a reminder,
to prompt recall
 Designed to “cover”
knowledge
 Point to a single,
straightforward fact -
a rhetorical question
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Sample Essential Questions:
Who are my true friends - and how do I
know for sure?
How “rational” is the market?
Does a good read differ from a „great book‟?
Why are some books fads, and others
classics?
To what extent is geography destiny?
Should an axiom be obvious?
How different is a scientific theory from a
plausible belief?
What is the government‟s proper role?
Q
© 2002 Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe UBD 08/2002
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1. Identify desired results
2. Determine acceptable evidence
3. Plan learning experiences
& instruction
3 Stages of Design:
Stage 2
© 2002 Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe UBD 08/2002
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Stage 2 – Assessment
Evidence
Template fields ask:

 What are key complex performance tasks
indicative of understanding?
 What other evidence will be collected to build
the case for understanding, knowledge, and
skill?
 What rubrics will be used to assess complex
performance?
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The big idea
for Stage 2
The evidence should be credible & helpful.
Implications: the assessments should –
Be grounded in real-world applications,
supplemented as needed by more
traditional school evidence
Provide useful feedback to the learner, be
transparent, and minimize secrecy
Be valid, reliable - aligned with the
desired results of Stage 1 (and fair)
© 2002 Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe UBD 08/2002
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Just because the student
“knows it” …
Evidence of understanding is a greater
challenge than evidence that the
student knows a correct or valid
answer
 Understanding is inferred, not seen
 It can only be inferred if we see evidence
that the student knows why (it works) so
what? (why it matters), how (to apply it) –
not just knowing that specific inference
© 2002 Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe UBD 08/2002
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Assessment of Understanding
via the 6 facets
i.e. You really understand when you can:
 explain, connect, systematize, predict it
 show its meaning, importance
 apply or adapt it to novel situations
 see it as one plausible perspective among
others, question its assumptions
 see it as its author/speaker saw it
 avoid and point out common misconceptions,
biases, or simplistic views
© 2002 Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe UBD 08/2002
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Scenarios for Authentic Tasks
Build assessments anchored in
authentic tasks using GRASPS:
 What is the Goal in the scenario?
 What is the Role?
 Who is the Audience?
 What is your Situation (context)?
 What is the Performance challenge?
 By what Standards will work be judged
in the scenario?
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© 2002 Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe UBD 08/2002
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Reliability: Snapshot vs.
Photo Album
We need patterns that overcome
inherent measurement error
 Sound assessment (particularly of State
Standards) requires multiple evidence over
time - a photo album vs. a single snapshot
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For Reliability & Sufficiency:
Use a Variety of Assessments
Varied types, over time:
authentic tasks and projects
academic exam questions, prompts,
and problems
quizzes and test items
informal checks for understanding
student self-assessments
© 2002 Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe UBD 08/2002
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Some key understandings
about assessment
 The local assessment is direct; the state
assessment is indirect (an audit of local work)
 It is therefore always unwise to merely mimic the state’s
assessment approaches
 The only way to assess for understanding is
via contextualized performance - “applying”
in the broadest sense our knowledge and skill,
wisely and effectively
 Performance is more than the sum of the drills:
using only conventional quizzes and tests is
insufficient and as misleading as relying only on
sideline drills to judge athletic performance ability
© 2002 Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe UBD 08/2002
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1. Identify desired results
2. Determine acceptable evidence
3. Plan learning experiences
& instruction
3 Stages of Design:
Stage 3
© 2002 Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe UBD 08/2002
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Stage 3 big idea:
E
F
F
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V
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and
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G
A
G
I
N
G
© 2002 Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe UBD 08/2002
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Stage 3 – Plan Learning
Experiences & Instruction
A focus on engaging and effective
learning, “designed in”
What learning experiences and
instruction will promote the desired
understanding, knowledge and skill of
Stage 1?
How will the design ensure that all
students are maximally engaged and
effective at meeting the goals?
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© 2002 Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe UBD 08/2002
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Think of your obligations via
W. H. E. R. E. T. O.
“Where are we headed?” (the student‟s Q!)
How will the student be „hooked‟?
What opportunities will there be to be equipped,
and to experience and explore key ideas?
What will provide opportunities to rethink,
rehearse, refine and revise?
How will students evaluate their work?
How will the work be tailored to individual
needs, interests, styles?
How will the work be organized for maximal
engagement and effectiveness?
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© 2002 Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe UBD 08/2002
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Note that some fields require
you to enter one idea at a time
One idea per box allows for more
powerful searching, selecting, and
attaching to units when you browse
Essential questions
Enduring understandings
Tasks of complex performance
Rubrics
Also: makes expert reviewer assignment
of “blue ribbons” more precise
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Q
© 2002 Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe UBD 08/2002
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Help in the Exchange about
all template design elements
Get to know the icons!
 A summary of each field
 Examples for each field
 A self-test of your understanding
for that field
 FAQ‟s and Glossary
 A special unit in which each field is
explained: click the icon for UBD
TEMPLATE
 Web links to resources for that field
Q
?

Ubd template
© 2002 Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe UBD 08/2002
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for further information...
Contact us:
Grant Wiggins, co-author:
grant@ubdexchange.org
Jay McTighe, co-author:
jmctigh@aol.com
Steve Petti, webmaster:
steve@newimagemedia.com