- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Pearson; 2nd edition (July 24, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0131950843
- ISBN-13: 978-0131950849
- Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.5 x 10.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 227 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,627 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Understanding by Design, Expanded 2nd Edition(Package May Vary) 2nd Edition
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From the Inside Flap
What is understanding and how does it differ from knowledge? How can we determine the big ideas worth understanding? Why is understanding an important teaching goal, and how do we know when students have attained it? How can we create a rigorous and engaging curriculum that focuses on understanding and leads to improved student performance in today's high-stakes, standards-based environment?
Authors Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe answer these and many other questions in this second edition of Understanding by Design. Drawing on feedback from thousands of educators around the world who have used the UbD framework since its introduction in 1998, the authors have greatly revised and expanded their original work to guide educators across the K-16 spectrum in the design of curriculum, assessment, and instruction. With an improved UbD Template at its core, the book explains the rationale of backward design and explores in greater depth the meaning of such key ideas as essential questions and transfer tasks. Readers will learn why the familiar coverage- and activity-based approaches to curriculum design fall short, and how a focus on the six facets of understanding can enrich student learning. With an expanded array of practical strategies, tools, and examples from all subject areas, the book demonstrates how the research-based principles of Understanding by Design apply to district frameworks as well as to individual units of curriculum.
Combining provocative ideas, thoughtful analysis, and tested approaches, this new edition of Understanding by Design offers teacher-designers a clear path to the creation of curriculum that ensures better learning and a more stimulating experience for students and teachers alike. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
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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. I have always done this instinctively, but I have not been so great about communicating those principles clearly and repeatedly to students (and parents and colleagues). The idea that students can be actively involved in the philosophy and understanding behind the curricular design (as well as, of course, make choices as part of the lessons), was a light bulb for me. Also, teaching often tends to become scattered with lots of facts and pressure to "cover" information, and clarifying these big ideas and working from there makes intuitive sense--if it doesn't connect to the big ideas you've established as critical, then the lesson doesn't belong. Perhaps these ideas seem like huge "duh" statements, but in the real world of teaching, I think very few people manage to adequately establish the critical issues, articulate and refer to them with students, and connect them to related ideas throughout the term. This book really is a valuable resource for doing the hard, thinking work that teachers really are capable of doing. It provides direction in an environment bound by paperwork and directives that have us running in circles. It is not the idea of backward design that's revolutionary, but the practicality of the technique that aligns so well with what good teachers instinctively know works best.
The reviewer who took issue with the philosophy as being problematic because it was inherently incapable of being truly student-driven raises an interesting point, but I'm not sure it's really a downfall of the book. There are very few schools (with a notable exception profiled on 60 Minutes some years ago) which allow students to determine what they will study based solely on their interests. I appreciate the question, and it's a worthy one to discuss--after all, is it only worthwhile to investigate and learn about things that really interest us? Or should every person be responsible for a core set of knowledge before branching into specialization in a field? Most schools operate with the latter premise and have requisite standards to be met, so a student-driven curriculum is not an option for most teachers. Further, a central tenet of the book relates to designing curricula so that students will "uncover" truths--rather than having a teacher or textbook "tell it" to them--students uncover meaning in an authentic way as it relates to a given topic in a discipline. To me, this is meaning-making--learning--at its best.
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.