When I first learned about Understanding by Design in 2010 I could have never guessed how deep it would infiltrate my working life.
At its core it is such a simple idea, really. Work backwards. Start with the end in mind. Align your work under enduring understandings and assess with authentic tasks. Strive for transfer.
But, for many educators this wasn’t the way we always taught. I get it. Teaching is hard and if a teacher’s guide gives you a road map why not follow it?
Well, it’s not every child’s road map. It’s standardized. It rarely leads to enduring understanding. Not when it is the only resource you rely on.
After countless unit writing sessions and peer edit sessions using Understanding by Design, it is now the way I think. Any time I am confronted with a problem of practice, any time I plan a professional development experience, any time I strategize I use Understanding by Design. I map out my transfer goals, come up with enduring understandings, decide what evidence of learning to include, and map out a plan.
I am known to say “let’s UbD it out.” That practice of “UbD-ing it out” is just as important as putting the plan into action for me.
It’s a lesson in prioritizing.