Two teachers’ comprehensions, perceptions, and use of Understanding by Design Jason Martel University of Minnesota ACTFL Annual Conven7on 11/18/11
Objective of study To understand how Wiggins and McTighe’s (2005) Understanding by Design framework (henceforth UbD) is considered and applied in a tradi7onal foreign language context
Rationale No empirical study of this framework Used all over the country in schools of educa7on and professional development programs Although this study’s par7cipants are university‐ level instructors, the results are extendable to K–12 contexts, in which UbD is more commonly used
Value premises I believe that: Foreign languages are best learned through content, which gives an authen7c purpose to foreign language use in the classroom (Cammarata, 2009; 2010; Lyster, 2011; Snow, Met, & Genesee, 1989) UbD is an exci7ng framework that can help foreign language teachers to integrate content into their curricula Tradi7onal foreign language teaching needs to move away from form‐focused pedagogies to ones that contextualize focus on form within a predominant focus on meaning (Tedick & Walker, 1994)
What is UbD? What have you heard about UbD? Have you used it before? If so, what was it like?
What is UbD? A curriculum development framework based on construc7vist principles that links planning, assessment, and teaching An inversion of the tradi7onal approach to curriculum‐ planning Stage 1: iden7fy desired results Stage 2: determine acceptable evidence Stage 3: plan learning experiences and instruc7on Key concepts: big ideas, enduring understandings, essen7al ques7ons, six facets of understanding, GRASPS, WHERETO
UbD and foreign language Foreign language is commonly referred to in UbD as a “skill‐ focused area” (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005, p. 112); this type of descrip7on can reinforce pedagogies that treat language as an object rather than a subject for meaningful communica7on (Tedick & Walker, 1994) Foreign language educa7on is moving away from object‐focused pedagogies (e.g., grammar transla7on) towards communica7ve ones that provide opportuni7es for exchanges of meaningful informa7on (Richards & Rodgers, 2001) The essen7al ques7ons examples provided in UbD seem to imply discussion in students’ na7ve language, for example: “What dis7nguishes a ﬂuent foreigner from a na7ve speaker?” “What can we learn about our own language and culture from studying another?” (McTighe & Wiggins, 2004, p. 89)
Research questions What are the par7cipants’ percep7ons of UbD, in par7cular concerning its viability for foreign language teaching? What impact has UbD had on their teaching?
Methodology/methods Case study methodology (Creswell, 2007; Merriam, 2009; Stake, 1995, 2000) Purposeful sampling (Paion, 2002); par7cipants involved in a course on foreign/second language curriculum design using UbD Qualita7ve data collec7on methods: observa7ons, interviews, and documents (Merriam, 2009) Mul7ple case study (Stake, 1995, 2000; Yin, 2008) Qualita7ve coding techniques, cross‐case analysis (Creswell, 2007; Merriam, 2009)
Case #1: Antonia Teaches Italian at a university in an adjunct posi7on Was teaching ﬁrst and third semester Italian at 7me of study and was using a new textbook for ﬁrst semester course called Avan1 (Aski & Musumeci, 2009) Is an Italian na7ve Experienced form‐focused instruc7on while ini7ally learning second languages (English, La7n, German) Is currently working towards a M.A. in Curriculum & Instruc7on with a focus on foreign language educa7on; has taken several classes in foreign/second language teaching and learning at the university
Case #2: Loretta Teaches Italian at university in an adjunct posi7on Was teaching ﬁrst and fourth semester Italian at 7me of study and was using a new textbook for ﬁrst semester course called Avan1 (Aski & Musumeci, 2009) Is an Italian na7ve Experienced form‐focused instruc7on while ini7ally learning second languages (French, English, German) Is currently working towards a M.A. in Curriculum & Instruc7on with a focus on foreign language educa7on; has taken several classes in foreign/second language teaching and learning at the university
More context Antonia and Loreia were both enrolled in a second/ foreign language curriculum design course at the 7me of the study They read por7ons of the UbD text, not all (this was their introduc7on to UbD) The course focused on content‐based instruc7on (CBI) The course also exposed them to other curricular frameworks such as Stoller and Grabe’s (1997) “Six Ts” framework Given this context, the par1cipants’ percep1ons/use of UbD in this study must be considered in rela1on to use with CBI
Theme #1: Varied take‐aways The par7cipants expressed diﬀerent take‐aways Antonia: big ideas More than just language forms A “frame” or a “path” Loreia: assessment Think about assessment in a new way Align classroom ac7vi7es with assessments; went back to tests she uses An interes7ng phenomenon given their close collabora7on/the similarity of input they experienced Lines up with the concept of mul7ple points of entry (both men7oned this concept in their interviews)
Theme #1: Varied take‐aways Antonia: “What do I want the student to learn at the end of this? What do I want them to know? That there is Prada and Gucci and Armani? Or do I want to make them think more why in Italy is it so important to be well dressed? Why do Italians like to be well dressed? What’s behind that? What does it show about their mentality, their way of their way of thinking about fashion?”
Theme #1: Varied take‐aways Jason: “When you think back to UbD, what are the ﬁrst things that come to mind for you?” Loreia: “Assessment, because that’s not the way I used to think; I didn’t used to think in those terms.”
Theme #2: Implementation concerns The par7cipants expressed that UbD: “…made me think diﬀerently…it’s more like my line of thinking is diﬀerent.” (Loreia) Has poten7al in foreign language teaching (Loreia) Requires a diﬀerent way of using the textbook (Antonia) They also expressed: A need for concrete examples That they were excited to use project they created, if possible
Theme #2: Implementation concerns Jason: “Is there anything about UbD that you could use while also using Avan1 the textbook?” Loreia: “We can always start thinking about the assessment ﬁrst and then going back to the ac7vity… Some of the things you can apply no maier what you do, no maier what textbook you have, as long as you can really cover the syllabus and that there are not too many incongrui7es.”
Theme #2: Implementation concerns Jason: “How do you perceive UbD as a ﬁt with a textbook like Avan1?” Antonia: “You could use [Avan1] as the reference for the students… Rather than just doing the chapter as it is in Avan1 actually plan a unit on that and then you take from Avan1 the parts and integrate your unit… We use Avan1 as a supplement, as a tool, but not as a main.”
Theme #3: Whole kit and kaboodle The par7cipants carried out a few minor implementa7ons in prac7ce, e.g., pilo7ng of unit for fourth‐semester class Their emails suggest that UbD has not signiﬁcantly aﬀected their prac7ce This suggests that for them “doing” UbD involves using a product (e.g., a unit) in its en7rety
Theme #3: Whole kit and kaboodle Antonia: “As I men7oned to you the other night, my only concern is that my lessons are following a syllabus developed by the coordinators. Therefore I dont have much opportunity to modify the lesson plans, in both the classes I teach. If you think this is not an issue for your study, then it will be fun to help you.”
Theme #3: Whole kit and kaboodle Loreia: “I will be happy to par7cipate in your study; however, my only concern is if I can really help, because things haven’t changed much in the curriculum of the second year, since only the ﬁrst semester of the ﬁrst year has been revised. I could implement part of a unit in my [fourth semester] class, when I worked on a project last semester (in the Curriculum Design class), but other than that our program doesn’t follow the backward design at this moment.”
Implications What do the ﬁndings of this study mean for using UbD in foreign language teaching?
Implications Provide models of foreign language UbD units We also need some way of sharing ones that are made, e.g., MCTLC Swap Shop Look to other disciplines’ models in the UbD text Develop strategies for implemen7ng UbD in prac7ce in a baby steps rather than a whole kit and kaboodle way Explode themes of textbooks with enduring understandings, essen7al ques7ons, supplementary texts, performance assessments
Implications Foster collabora7ons with teachers in other departments in school Co‐development of curricular units Content‐related teaching (Curtain & Dahlberg, 2010; Na7onal Standards in Foreign Language Educa7on Project, 1999) More diﬃcult at the university level, according to Loreia Provide sustained professional development opportuni7es
UbD and CBI CBI is recommended in ACTFL’s Program standards for the prepara1on of foreign language teachers (ACTFL, 2002); it is a “hot topic” in foreign language teaching, and teachers in tradi7onal contexts need to work out how to appropriate it The use of UbD/CBI is a dras7c departure from how foreign languages are taught in most schools (cf. Tedick & Cammarata, 2010); we need to develop strategies for appropria7ng both UbD can facilitate the crea7on of content‐based thema7c units; it can be used as a tool to help implement CBI Models from other disciplines are more helpful for CBI, such as the Nutri7on Unit
A particular concern Lack of content knowledge when UbD/CBI are used together (cf. Cammarata, 2009; Pessoa et al., 2007) Winging it/relying on intui7on Staying on the surface Looking to other disciplines’ standards (content‐ related instruc7on) Matching content to cogni7ve level of students Fostering collabora7ons with teachers elsewhere in school
A content knowledge example A true/false ac7vity from a French class I taught this past summer The tropical rainforest isn’t in danger Global warming is a result of the popula7on/human ac7vity Air pollu7on in ci7es began in the 20th century Agriculture contributes to water pollu7on We have reduced the greenhouse eﬀect Ocean level is currently rising
Future research How should we study UbD? Surveys and case studies of foreign language teachers and teacher educators A variety of levels, especially implementa7on in lower‐ level/ter7ary setngs Link with teacher cogni7ons (Borg, 2006) Knowledge base for teaching Teachers’ beliefs about foreign language teaching and learning We need to start a conversa7on about UbD and foreign language teaching/learning
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References American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). (2002). Program standards for the prepara1on of foreign language teachers. Washington, DC: ACTFL. Aski, J., & Musumeci, D. (2009). Avan1 (2nd ed.). McGraw Hill. Borg, S. (2006). Teacher cogni1on and language educa1on: Research and prac1ce. London: Con7nuum. Cammarata, L. (2009). Nego7a7ng curricular transi7ons: Foreign language teachers’ learning experience with content‐based instruc7on. The Canadian Modern Language Review, 65(4), 559–585. Creswell, J. W. (2007). Qualita1ve inquiry and research design: Choosing among ﬁve tradi1ons (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
References Curtain, H., & Dahlberg, C. A. (2010). Languages and children: Making the match (4th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon. Lyster, R. (2011). Content‐based second language teaching. In E. Hinkel (Ed.), Handbook of research in second language teaching and learning, Vol. 2 (pp. 611–630). New York: Routledge. McTighe, J., & Wiggins, G. (2004). Understanding by Design: Professional development workbook. Alexandria, VA: ACSD. Merriam, S. B. (2009). Qualita1ve research: A guide to design and implementa1on. San Francisco: Josey Bass. Na7onal Standards in Foreign Language Educa7on Project (1999). Standards for foreign language learning in the 21st century. Yonkers, NY: Author.
References Paion, M. Q. (2002). Qualita1ve research & evalua1on methods (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publica7ons. Pessoa, S., Hendry, H., Donato, R., Tucker, G. R., & Lee, H. (2007). Content‐ based instruc7on in the foreign language classroom: A discourse perspec7ve. Foreign Language Annals, 40(1), 102–121. Richards, J. C., & Rodgers, T. S. (2001). Approaches and methods in language teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Snow, M. A., Met, M., & Genesee, F. (1989). A conceptual framework for the integra7on of language and content instruc7on. TESOL Quarterly, 23, 201– 217.
References Stoller, F. L., & Grabe, W. (1997). A six‐T’s approach to content‐based instruc7on. In M. A. Snow & D. M. Brinton (Eds.), The content‐based classroom: Perspec1ves on integra1ng language and content (pp. 78–94). White Plains, NY: Addison Wesley Longman. Stake, R. E. (1995). The art of case study research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Stake, R. E. (2000). Case studies. In N. Denzin & Y. Lincoln (Eds.), The handbook of qualita1ve research (pp. 435–454). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publica7ons. Tedick, D. J., & Cammarata, L. (2010). Implemen1ng content‐based instruc1on: The CoBaLTT framework and resource center. In J. Davis (Ed.), World language teacher educa7on (pp. 243–273). Greenwich, CT: Informa7on Age Publishing.
References Tedick, D. J., & Walker, C. L. (1994). Second language teacher educa7on: The problems that plague us. Modern Language Journal, 78(3), 300–312. Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design. Columbus, OH: Pearson Educa7on, Ltd. Yin, R. K. (2009). Case study research: Design and methods (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.