Identify desired results.
Plan learning experiences
Can you start the design process
The authors state, ”you can start anywhere…(sometimes) it
makes sense to begin with a key resource (a science kit) or a
planned assessment (a technology project). In an important
sense it doesn’t matter where you enter the design process and
how you proceed; it only matters that you end with a coherent
6 Common Entry Points to the
1. Begin with Content Standards
2. Begin by considering desired real-world applications
3. Begin with a key resource or favorite activity
4. Begin with an important skill
5. Begin with a key assessment
6. Begin with an existing unit
Dilemmas in Design
Every design requires compromise; we always have to weight
pros and cons.
How do we design or redesign to focus on big ideas with out
losing sight of content?
How feasible are such units, given the time we have available
for the topic, given all our other obligations?
How do we determine whether the blueprint is a good one,
capable of being turned into effective learning, or whether it is
an unrealistic dream?
How easy is it to reconcile the architect’s vision with the reality
of available resources , the skill of the students who do the
“construction,” and the “building code” of state standards?
Dilemmas facing all designers of
learning for understanding:
ideas and transfer versus specific knowledge and skills;
realistic, and messy performance versus efficient and sound tests (Authentic
application is clearly a good thing, but it is difficult and time-consuming to implement easily and
to evaluate precisely);
control versus learner control of the work;
versus constructivist approaches;
versus breath of knowledge;
and a feeling of competence versus a real challenge;
versus personalized work and expectations;
versus merely engaging;
well-crafted plan versus appropriate flexibility and open-endedness;
great individual unit versus larger goals and other designs.
Seek feedback –
From self assessment;
From expert reviewers;
From our own observations about what is and is not working.
And of course, from the formative assessments from our
Chapter 12 - The Big Picture
UbD as Curriculum Framework
How should the BIG PICTURE
for CURRICULUM be
conceived and implemented to
fully reflect BACKWARD
DESIGN with an emphasis on
To design course syllabi and
program frameworks utilizing
BACKWARD DESIGN that
PERFORMANCE TASKS, and
Typical curriculum focuses
on specific content
knowledge and skills.
However, framing curriculum
connective, thoughtprovoking, and recurring
inquiries that are more
central to the learning
experience of students.
Rather than facts learned in
isolation, narrowing of
decontextualized “multiplechoice” teaching methods,
students are searching for
answers to provocative
questions that human beings
perennially ask about the world
understanding of the key ideas
are embedded in the context of
exploring and applying the BIG
Essential Questions Benefit
“A benefit of framing curricula around essential questions is that
the questions naturally suggest the right kinds of higher-order
assessment tasks to anchor local curriculum”. (p. 282)
From tasks to rubrics
Instructional rubrics are easy to use and to explain
Instructional rubrics make teachers' expectations very clear
Instructional rubrics provide students with more informative
feedback about their strengths and areas in need of
improvement than traditional forms of assessment do.
Instructional rubrics support learning.
Instructional rubrics support the development of skills.
Instructional rubrics support the development of understanding.
Scope & Sequence
“Known by educators as the label for the logic of the
curriculum”. (p.294) – developed by Hollis Caswell (a Dewey
student). His definition -
Scope – “the major functions of social life”
Sequence – “centers of interest” in students’ lives at a
This original idea “the proper sequencing of topics..was meant
to derive from the unfolding of work that would seem most
natural and interesting to the learner”. (p.295)
The Spiral Curriculum
First articulated by John Dewey (1938 – “describe how subject
matter should be organized to move from problem to
problem, causing knowledge to increase in depth and breadth”
– p. 297)
Later championed by Jerome Bruner (Constructivist Theorist learning is an active process in which learners construct new
ideas or concepts based upon their current/past knowledge)
We’ve yet to embody this approach, although with the study of
learning theory, multiple intelligence, and Bloom’s Taxonomy of
higher thinking of learning maybe we’re ready
What educators might find difficult?
Approaching curriculum with a
conventional, linear, textbookdriven scope and sequence filter
is the traditional mindset.
UbD frames curriculum from a
reflective, recursive “SPIRAL”
filter which focuses on recurring,
ever-deepening inquiries into
BIGPICTURE ideas and
This approach fosters enduring
understanding that is effective
and developmentally appropriate.
Why has this persisted?
“A root factor is an overreliance on the
textbook” (p. 298)
Among the adoption
states, Texas, California, and Florida
have unrivaled clout. Yes, size does
matter. Together, these three have
roughly 13 million students in K-12
public schools. The next 18 adoption
states put together have about 12.7
Though the Big Three have different
total numbers of students, they each
spend about the same amount of
money on textbooks. For the current
school year, they budgeted more than
$900 million for instructional
materials, more than a quarter of all
the money that will be spent on
textbooks in the nation.
U.S. History (Howard Zinn &
James Loewen “A People’s
History of the United States” &
Lowewen “Lies my teacher told
me”. Columbus, Europeans &
Native Americans, slavery,
Mexico, heroes of the past.
What teachers like/dislike about
approach as it removes
them from comfort zone of
lessons. UbD requires a
lot of work!
costs in short and long
term for all stakeholders
once curriculum has been
framed according to UbD