VaNTH-PER Workshop
January 10, 2004
The University of Texas at Austin
presented by
Barb Austin
A Brief Introduction To
Understanding By Design
by Wiggins & McTighe
Four Vignettes: Number 1
As part of a workshop on “understanding”, a
veteran high school teacher entered the following
reflection about being a high school student:
I felt then that my brain was a weigh station for
material going in one ear and (after the test) out the
other. I could memorize very easily and so became
valedictorian, but I was embarrassed even then that I
understood much less than some other students who
cared less about grades.
Four Vignettes: Number 2
For two weeks, every fall, all the 4rd grade
classes participate in a unit on apples.
In language arts, they read Johnny Appleseed. They each write
a creative story involving an apple and then illustrate their
story using tempura paints.
In art, students collect leaves from nearby crab apple trees
and make a giant leaf print collage.
The music teacher teaches the children songs about apples.
In science, they use their senses to carefully observe and
describe the characteristics of different types of apples.
During mathematics, the teacher demonstrates how to “scale
up” an applesauce recipe to make a sufficient quantity for all of
the 3rd graders.
Four Vignettes: Number 2
A highlight of the unit is the field trip to a local apple
orchard, where students watch cider being made and
go on a hayride.
The culminating unit activity is the 4th grade apple
parents dress up as apples and children rotate
through various activities at stations—
making applesauce,
competing in an apple “word search” contest,
bobbing for apples and so on.
The fest concludes with selected students reading
their apple stories while the entire group enjoys
candy apples prepared by the cafeteria staff.
Four Vignettes: Number 3
A test item on a national mathematics assessment
presented the following question to 8th grade students:
How many buses does the army need to
transport 1,128 soldiers if each bus
holds 36 soldiers?
Almost one-third of the 8th graders
answered the question, “31
remainder 12”.
Four Vignettes: Number 4
It is late April and the panic is beginning to set in. A quick
calculation reveals to the world history teacher that s/he will not
finish the text book unless s/he covers an average of 40 pages
per day.
S/He decides, with some regret, to eliminate a mini-unit on the
Caribbean and several time-consuming activities such as a mock
UN debate and discussions of current international events
in relation to the world history topics
students have studied.
To prepare students for the
departmental final exam, the
teacher will need to switch
into a fast-forward
lecture mode.
Four Vignettes
Number 1: Valedictorian
Number 2: 4th Grade Apple Unit
Number 3: Remainder Buses?
Number 4: World History Blitz
Curriculum Design
“UNIT” Planning
 Standards
 IPGs
Legacy Cycle
delivery method
UBD: Start with Desired
 What should students know,
understand, and be able to
 What is worthy of
 What enduring
understandings are desired?
Backwards Design
Identify desired results
Determine acceptable evidence
Plan learning experiences and instruction
Curriculum Frame
Worth being
familiar with
Important to
know and do
Four Filters
To what extent does the idea, topic, or process
represent a “big idea” having enduring value
beyond the classroom?
To what extent does the idea, topic, or process lie
at the heart of the discipline?
To what extent does the idea, topic, or process
require uncoverage?
To what extent does the idea, topic, or process
offer potential for engaging students?
Six Facets of Understanding
1. Can Explain
4. Has Perspective
2. Can Interpret
5. Can Empathize
3. Can Apply
6. Has Self-knowledge
Skills v. Understanding
Reading text
The author’s meaning in a story is rarely
explicit; one must read between the lines
Creating scoring
opportunities in
One needs to create space, spreading the
defense as broadly and deeply as possible
Asking directions
in Spanish
Knowing whether or not one has been
understood requires attention to nonverbal as
well as verbal feedback
persuasively in
Persuasion often involves an emotional appeal
to the particular wishes, needs, hopes, and
fears of an audience, irrespective of how
logical and rational the argument
Curriculum Design
“UNIT” Planning
 Standards
 IPGs
Legacy Cycle
delivery method

VaNTH-PER Workshop April 12, 2003 The University of …