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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book!
I purchased this book for a graduate class. This is by far the most well written and enlightening book I've ever read on the subject of teaching. The Six Facets of Understanding, in my opinion, are a better approach than Bloom's Taxonomy. The writers have a talent for deeply explaining information and making sure the reader understands what is being said. Buy this book...
Published on April 26, 2010 by Lana A. Lacanfora

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70 of 81 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Potentially useful to some; many "but"s for most.
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...
Published on June 11, 2007 by Rgh1066


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70 of 81 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Potentially useful to some; many "but"s for most., June 11, 2007
This review is from: Understanding by Design, Expanded 2nd Edition (Paperback)
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. I have strong reservations about the validity of making up classroom scenarios, but it is possible that this fictional anecdotal approach can occasionally be useful in clarifying areas of learning that are hazy. My problem with this book is that if McTighe and Wiggins are relying upon empirical data to persuade the reader to accept their facets of understanding rubric, then they themselves are recognizing only one of many possible definitions of what understanding is.

In my view, the six facets allow the teacher or assessor to assert that the participator in a lesson influenced by Understanding by Design has been advanced further along an arbitrary linear spectrum called "Understanding" than might otherwise have been the case. No more and no less.

The book is, therefore, mainly an explanatory footnote to the six facets rubric. It's a useful rubric for accomplishing some pragmatic classroom tasks, but it has nothing new to say about understanding.

If you plan lessons that may broadly be described as

* open ended

* based on standards

* containing clear criteria for student success

* include different ways to ensure student enthusiasm

* flexible enough to accommodate the "teachable moment"

* accessing the higher echelons of Bloom's taxonomy

* integrating skills

then the likelihood is you won't learn anything new from reading Understanding by Design. If you don't already do the above, Understanding by Design may be a useful tool towards self-improvement as a teacher.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Would Be Better as a Booklet, October 30, 2010
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This review is from: Understanding by Design, Expanded 2nd Edition (Paperback)
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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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Get on with it!, October 14, 2013
This review is from: Understanding by Design, Expanded 2nd Edition (Paperback)
As I write this review, I'm re-reading a section called "coverage versus uncoverage." It takes more than two full pages of boring anecdotes and inane truisms to tell the reader what they've already been told in previous chapters: relying on the textbook is bad and engaging lessons are good. The next section, occupying another two pages, repeats the same thing in a different way. The rest of the book is not much different. While there are occasional interesting and useful points, they are not easy to find.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book!, April 26, 2010
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This review is from: Understanding by Design, Expanded 2nd Edition (Paperback)
I purchased this book for a graduate class. This is by far the most well written and enlightening book I've ever read on the subject of teaching. The Six Facets of Understanding, in my opinion, are a better approach than Bloom's Taxonomy. The writers have a talent for deeply explaining information and making sure the reader understands what is being said. Buy this book and you will not be disappointed.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Directly applicable tools, May 22, 2010
By 
Helene Martin (Seattle, WA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Understanding by Design, Expanded 2nd Edition (Paperback)
As a Career and Technical Education instructor (Vocational Ed in some states), I haven't had to go through the traditional education school path. I feel very fortunate that this book was my formal introduction to deliberate curriculum design. The authors provide a lot of ready-to-use tools for instructional unit design and present a streamlined approach to getting the most out of contact hours with students. Backward design has informed my practice in my first year of teaching and I feel students have benefitted. Highly recommended for instructors who don't have existing curriculum support and who want to take the time to craft meaningful learning experiences for their students.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good info, a little redundant, June 1, 2008
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This review is from: Understanding by Design, Expanded 2nd Edition (Paperback)
I used this book as part of a graduate level class. The book is quite informative and gives great ideas on how to teach for results instead of just covering necessary material. Basically, it tells teachers to start with goals, then work backward to the introduction and teaching of the material. There are other similar strategies out there, but this is very specific as to curriculum design. It gets repetitive, but it is useful overall.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Can be a lot shorter and to the point, July 7, 2011
This review is from: Understanding by Design, Expanded 2nd Edition (Paperback)
I read the first chapters and feel I have wasted a lot of time. The basic ideas on UbD is quite straightforward that one can grasp them by spending 30 minutes looking into Wikipedia or other introductions on the web. But this book spends thousands of words to make it more confusing than necessary. I agree with some reviewers that it can be more concise and spend more efforts to give out practical procedures to design a good UbD lesson plan.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential for Curriculum Designers, November 15, 2010
By 
Stephen Pellerine (In a bookshelf somewhere) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Understanding by Design, Expanded 2nd Edition (Paperback)
I like this book and like it a lot, it is really a 4+ for me. The key for me is how it addresses understanding (it breaks it down into six facets). Let's look at seven aspects of/considerations within Facet 1 entitled Explanation:

1) use dialogue to assess
2) use performances to assess understanding
3) use tasks the evoke misunderstanding (so we can correct)
4) use a novice-master continuum as a goal
5) use tests that are based on essential questions
6) assess control of the big picture
7) assess student questions

The book breaks down curricular decisions into manageable and meaningful chunks so that they can be applied and not merely curricular theory stored in the deep crevices of the mind later to slip out of anything close to working memory.

I use ideas from this curricular design framework, but also recommend Teaching for Understanding as a read. I don't want to say one is better than the other - both are well informed and both are pedagogically sound designs/frameworks. I think that if you enjoy curricular matters you will be pleased to read and work with UbD and TfU. If you are new to curricular design then in addition to these pick up the Paideia Classroom as well, I have included links to these other products below.

The Teaching for Understanding Guide (Jossey Bass Education Series)

Paideia Class
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars useful advice, but long-winded, September 7, 2012
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This review is from: Understanding by Design, Expanded 2nd Edition (Paperback)
This book contains some useful advice for teachers. Even simple ideas, such as focusing on the goals of teaching first rather than the lesson plan, are worth the price of the book. However, the book is a bit long-winded. The authors make their point, again and again and again. I think the authors might have been better served by collecting their advice in a small booklet. Some of the book's advice, such as the lesson plan forms, involve way too many steps, to the point where it might discourage some professors from actively using the lesson plan forms. Still, worth reading for new teachers.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Practical and Useful, September 4, 2008
This review is from: Understanding by Design, Expanded 2nd Edition (Paperback)
This book is part of required reading for a class I am taking. So far, I've read about 3-4 chapters and the best part of this book is that the concepts it introduces can be applied right away. It's not a how-to type book - it really does force you to think about your own curriculum & content, but it does help with structure & organization of content. It's also useful if you have a difficult time "getting started" on framing out class material.
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Understanding by Design, Expanded 2nd Edition
Understanding by Design, Expanded 2nd Edition by Jay McTighe (Paperback - July 24, 2005)
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