Monday, 24 February 2014

mRLC Backwards by Design PD

  Today was a division-wide PD day for TRSD and each school was responsible for holding their own unique PD opportunity for their staff based on their school goals. At "S-School" we attended a session on Understanding by Design, sometimes referred to as "backwards planning", "Universal Design for Learning" or "Planning with the end in mind".

mRLC backwards by design planning, barb galessiere, greg schettler, understanding by design, backwards planning, planning with the end in mind
Design. (2011). Uploaded to Tach @ Riverdale by Meg Krause.
Available online at: 
     The session was divided into two half-day sessions, with the morning organized in a lecture-style format regarding the ins and outs of the planning strategy, while the afternoon allowed for a work-period to apply our learning while the presenters were still present to answer questions.

     Our presenters were actually from the Manitoba Rural Learning Consortium (mRLC) and are leading the Understanding by Design front in Manitoba. In early June, I blogged about the awesome resources that their website has available (check it out here). Our primary presenter, BarbGalessiere, not only works through the mRLC but is also a classroom and curriculum support teacher in the Hanover School Division. Not only was she very well-informed, but she was also an engaging presenter that brought humour into her content. Our secondary presenter, Greg Schettler, is a senior-years social studies teacher from Lord Selkirk School. Greg's adventure with Understanding by Design actually began in Saskatoon when he had an opportunity to attend a PD by Wiggins, McTighe, and Tomlinson!

     As a first-year teacher, U.B.D is the only concept I was taught while I completed by Education Degree. As such, some of the information seemed quite repetitive but it was helpful to hear information explained in different contexts. There was also a lot of helpful handouts and resources that I was able to collect for future use! If the idea of U.B.D is brand-new to you, check out the video below:

     The following is a random assortment of my notes and reflections from this session. I've tried to organize it to the best of my ability but I apologize if it seems a bit abstract!

- Jennifer Katz from U of M
- Universal Design for Learning
- "Cadiallic model" of Backwards-By-Design but a hard place
   to start from (multiple intelligences, differentiated instruction, etc)

- McTighe, Wiggins, Tomlinson
- Understanding by Design
- Backwards planning
- Used by the mRLC


Staff Questions from "S-School"
1) How is backwards by design different or better than what I currently do?
Traditional Planning:
     - No Target or Unclear Final Target
     - Didn't know where they are heading
     - Assessment at the end
     - Clear goals
     - Continual assessment
     - Three Levels of Learning
          - Acquire: first stage CUT & PASTE
          - Meaning: how do I use this knowledge
          - Transfer: students take the knowledge and
            transfer it to authentic situations outside of the classroom
            (Big Idea, Compelling Why) CRITICAL THINKING
     - Where do you want them to be as a thinker and a learner when
        they are done; how will you know?
     - Is your evidence GOOD evidence?

2) How is enduring understandings different than G.L.Os?
- Enduring understanding is a phrase the encompasses the majority of the
   learning in a unit. All of the learning that occurs in the unit S.L.O's can
   branch off of that enduring understanding
- A G.L.O is often smaller
- 40/40/40/40
     - minutes, days, months, years
     - enduring understandings should move to the right ALL the time
     - don't focus on the "dessert", focus on the "meat" of the lesson

3) Variety of templates to coincide with teaching/learning styles?
- Use whatever format/template you want
- No right or wrong
- It is the stages that are important, not the look of it

*Can you answer, "Where will my son/daughter be at the end of this year?"

- Compelling "Whys", Essential Questions, and Enduring Understandings
  ALL provide a context for learning

*Start units with projects, even if it is just the planning stage, students are
  guaranteed to come back with lots of questions: they develop their own
  compelling whys

- Largest, bottom-tier focused on meta-cognition
- Medium, middle-tier focused on formative assessment
- Smallest, top-tier focused on summative assessment

Things Teachers Want/Need when Discussing U.B.D
- Time
- Collaborative Opportunities
- Support
- Recognizing That These Are Working Documents - There are no U.B.D police


STAGE ONE of Planning:
Identify Desired Learning
- What aspect of the curriculum are you focusing on in this plan?
- Where do you want students to be at the end of the unit?

 Enduring Understanding/Big Idea/Purpose
- Enduring Understandings
     - Usually one Enduring Understanding depending on subject/grade
     - What are the big ideas?
     - What specific understandings about them are desired?
     - What misunderstandings are predictable?
     - Goes beyond facts & focuses on big-picture concepts
     - Can be applied to new situations in the subject or outside
- Essential Questions
     - 2-5 Questions depending on the subject/grade
     - Provides focus for the lesson
     - Students will keep considering these questions...
     - Leads to more questions
     - Not yes or no answers
     - Give meaning
- Acquisition
     - Students will know...
     - Students will be able to...
     - What key knowledge (facts) will students acquire during this unit
        in order to develop skills that can be transferred to outside situations?

STAGE TWO of Planning:
Determine Acceptable Evidence
- Performance Tasks
     - What are the students going to do that allow you to assess a large
        number of outcomes
     - Summative Tasks
     - What tasks will students complete to demonstrate the desired
     - Students should have a role, a criteria, and an outcome
     - Not outcome-by-outcome assessment
     - High Level Blooms
     (ex) Grade 8 Social Studies: Why do we study civilizations?
     - The product is just the vehicle that helps drive assessment towards
        conversations and observations
- Other Evidence 
     - Often Formative Tasks
     - Can be outcome-by-outcome
     - Exit slips, quizzes, journals
     - Low Level Blooms

Incorporating Differentiated Instruction into Understanding by Design (U.B.D)
- Enduring Understandings and Essential Questions ARE NOT
  changed unless a student is actually modified through your resource
- When planning evidence in Stage Two, build in:
     - Different reading levels
     - Assessment varieties
     - Resource-program supports

Check out this cute video I found while doing a YouTube search on U.B.D!

Does your school/division utilize Understanding by Design (U.B.D)?

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