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With respect to some of the previous reviewers, I really don't think they have done justice to this book. I'll completely expose my inner geek and admit that curriculum design is fascinating to me, and add that I own a considerable number of books on the topic. I am particularly interested in differentiating curricula, and I purchase books about educational theory and classroom ideas the way other women purchase shoes--insatiably. I have constantly challenged myself to create personalized lessons with meaningful learning goals throughout my teaching career, but I will say that this book has definitely changed the way I view teaching and curricular design--and for the better.
I liked this book because it embraces the numerous messy variables that exist in the real world of teaching, and provides a template for you to construct meaningful, integrated learning activities for students. These messy variables include differing student interests and abilities, the struggle to keep activities engaging as well as applicable to important premises of a given discipline, as well as logistical restraints, such as time and access to resources. Other models provide neat flow charts that look beautiful, but often prove unusable given a unique teaching situation (and who doesn't have a unique teaching situation?) This philosophy expects messy variability, and gives a vision and a plan to work with that, instead of hoping everything will turn out neatly.
Here are some of the huge ideas I got from this book. First, it is essential to clarify the "so what?" of whatever you are teaching--the big ideas, the principles of the field, the "It" things you want students to come away with.Read more ›
I learned about this product in a professional learning seminar at my school before I ever bought the book. The department head discussed the same concepts in a much more concise manner. The book uses unnecessarily elevated language instead of simply stating the process for implementing backwards design. The text often referred to terms that were only listed in the glossary, and the glossary definitions were presented in jumbled and vague language. The concept and process is only clear to the reader because of the sample handouts in the text. Had I not known about backwards design before reading this book, I would not have implemented the concepts unless required to do so because the process (as explained in the book) contains many more steps than necessary to achieve the desired result.
Whether the human mind is capable of understanding the process of understanding is a philosophical conundrum that has occupied the time of great thinkers from the pre-Socratics to the modern-day exponents of the theory of the mind. It is against this background that McTighe and Wiggins, respected American education researchers and theorists, attempt to say important things about understanding to teachers hoping to improve their lessons and their lesson planning.
Their book sets out to do this largely by attempting to clarify some pragmatic trivia in a well ploughed field. Unfortunately, the reader is soon furnished with ample evidence that McTighe and Wiggins are patently out of their depth in this field. Their definition of understanding is an extremely poor one - "that a student has something more than just textbook knowledge and skill - that a student really `gets it.' " - although, to be fair, their definitions of assessment and curriculum are much sharper and better considered, and remain useful even outside the context of this book.
What the two researchers can achieve is the definition of a series of facets that they themselves create - the Six Facets of Understanding. One is immediately reminded of Bloom's taxonomy here, but McTighe and Wiggins claim that their research supports the notion that this rubric is valuable for teachers seeking to deepen the understanding of students in their classes.
Typically, for this type of book it is the anecdotal evidence they cite which remains in the mind. There is a tradition of made up anecdotal evidence being perfectly acceptable in American education research - as long as it describes patterns of behaviour that are empirically evident in schools.Read more ›
I think the premise of the book was excellent, but the manner in which it was presented was, at times, redundant. I think the authors could have made the book more concise and to the point. From time to time, it seemed like the authors were simply caught up in the verbage and not an effective point.
Others have already stated my opinion. The useful points in this book would be better stated in a booklet. The authors ramble on needlessly when, in reality, they should have backward-mapped their own main points, stated them, and then stopped typing. The extra babbling detracts from the main points: backwards mapping and six facets. This stuff would stick in the reader's mind more if the authors got out of the way, but then I suppose they wouldn't make dough by selling textbooks would they?
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