Grant Wiggins – Understanding by Design (1 of 2)


GRANT WIGGINS: UBD is not
a philosophy of teaching, it’s not an approach
to teaching, it’s a planning framework. And it’s really important
to keep this in mind that what you’re trying to do
is make it more likely by design that when you teach, you
are more goal-focused, more effective. You could be a bad
teacher with a good plan. In other words, we’re not saying
that a good plan makes you a better teacher necessarily. You have to learn
pedagogical moves, you have to learn to be as
facile and skilled with how to pay attention
to group dynamics. UBD doesn’t help you
with that, but it does prepare you to think
short term, long term, what are we trying to accomplish. And it’s like the famous
line from Pasteur, “chance favors the
prepared mind.” You’re totally prepared
for teachable moments not in the sense of, oh, well
that’s a cool student comment. Let’s just run with
that for five days. That’s not serendipity. That’s letting the students
write the curriculum, and that’s not what
I’m talking about. I’m talking about being
so prepared about where you want to end up that you
hear a potential student comment as a
fantastic entry point to go where you want to end up. In other words, it’s your job
to know where we want to end up. I don’t think we make
any apologies about that. But part of where
we want to end up is building autonomous,
proactive, thoughtful people, not just march
through some stuff causing some typical learning. So we’re trying to keep
long-term goals in view. We’re trying to get the blend
of content and performance. Notice I didn’t say process,
content and performance, because that’s
the ultimate goal. The student performs as
in the soccer situation– on their own,
effectively, fluidly, drawing from their repertoire. And this also tends to
better engage people as I think you already know. What we see over
and over again is that there is a misalignment
between short-term plans and actions and long-term goals. Here’s a simple example. We value something called
critical and creative thinking. It’s in every program’s
goal statement. It’s in many school’s
mission statement. It’s clearly something
we care about. But it is possible
to get straight A’s at every school in America
without critical and creative thinking. As long as you’re smart,
compliant, do your work, are thorough, you’re
going to get straight In almost every
school in America. So a very basic
backward design premise then if critical and
creative thinking is the goal long term,
using content critically and creatively, to say it
a different way, then when we go to a plan, we have to
make sure week in and week out that we’re focusing on critical
and creative use of content. Otherwise, we’re
not going to get it. And this is, I think, the
fatal mistake of prep schools. They think because we’re
smart, because we’re motivated, because
we hire really intelligent,
well-educated people, that this is just
going to happen. Sobering story, but
this is a true story. Well-known prep school
in the top 10 or 20 of prep schools in
the country, they say, we’re really interested in
this pedagogical effectiveness stuff. And the guy in question is
a really fantastic educator who’s done a lot of
work in the wider world. And so he’s really
interested in the question of value added at this school. So they contract with
ETS, pre-assess 9th grade, assess 12th grade, critical
thinking test, no gain. No gain. We admit them smart,
we graduate them smart, we pat ourselves
on the back, and we start teaching all over again. The value added thing is huge. You can’t just pat
yourself on the back because you admit smart people
when they do good things. You guys have a higher
calling than that. So we want to focus on
these long-term goals and we want to embed them
in our short-term plans. And the more you start
to think this way, the more you’ll realize
you’re not doing it. Again, I saw this
on the soccer field. I saw that we were
not developing any strategic thinking. One day I was in a
scrimmage, and I’m looking at the scrimmage. I’m there in the middle
of the field reffing it. I’m watching people
and I’m saying, there’s a lot of aimless
running around here. So the ball’s over
here, what are you doing and why are you doing it? I don’t know, I don’t know. So I said, all right, new rule. We are going to do freeze tag. If I don’t like your answer, the
ball goes over the other side. I’m always going to have
somebody on offense. And for like two weeks
there was no good answer. And of course, I
realize that’s my fault. There’s no strategic thinking. My daughter is an
elite soccer player. She’s a senior at
the George School. She’s in North Carolina
tournament right now. She doesn’t have a good
strategic thinking, because she’s had all these
elite coaches that tell you what to do all the time. She had a coach though who
doesn’t coach at George School anymore. He’s a retired Princeton coach
who did it for $1 a year– one of those great gigs. He did the coolest
thing at halftime. So you know, they
get in the circle that you always do at halftime. So, he said, what’s working? What’s working for us? Again, same thing– for a couple
of weeks, they couldn’t answer. We’re winning. Yeah, I know that. What’s working on the field? What’s not working for us? What do we need to work
on in the second half? In other words,
Socratic questions was all he did at halftime. But the coolest question
is, what’s working for them? What do we have to stop? She was a different player.
So were her teammates. So there is this tendency
in even really good programs in schools to not help
kids gain proactive control of the situation and
have a long term view. Simple test– all of
you are teaching now. Ask kids to self-assess right
now– now’s a good time, January– against your goals for the year. What is her goal for the year? I mean, that’s what’s
going to happen. And they’re going to cherry
pick some random little things, and you’re going
to be depressed. But that’s a good experience. That’s a really good experience. It’s the kid who has
the meet the goals. It’s the kid that
has to understand via transparency
and reinforcement the long-term goals. So critical and
creative thinking, to go back to our
example, is a goal, then that should be so obvious
that the kids will self-assess against critical and
creative thinking. Let’s try it as a quick
and dirty exercise. Think. Pair. Share. If you had to write a
one-sentence mission statement for your course, what would it be? Jot some thoughts, try it out
on the person next to you. One-sentence mission statement. What is the point of my course? And I’m using the word
course to cover everything from pre-K to graduate school,
from soccer to physics. If you are an elementary
person, you could think of course
in either one of two ways. You could say what’s
the point of what I do with first
graders, or what’s the point of the language arts
strand? Or the social studies strand. So you can go either way
since you have so many duties. Let me ask you to
pause for a minute and let’s do a little bit
of backward design thinking, Then this is the basic
logic of backward design. We’ll say more about it later,
and many of you know this. If that’s the
goal, what follows? If that’s the long-term
goal, what follows? What follows for assessment? What follows for instruction? Go back to your conversations
and just together play out casually
and informally, at this point, the
answers to those questions as they occur to you. If that’s the goal, what
should we be assessing? And by assessing, I
do not mean grading, I mean assessing just like you
would do as a soccer coach. You don’t give a
grade as a varsity– well, maybe in some
schools you do. I never did. But you’re assessing,
you’re judging how we’re doing against
the goal, you’re coaching, you’re giving information about
how we’re doing against the goal. So what should we assess? And what should we be
doing instructionally? Or, what should occur
in the classroom? And let me tell you one
quick story before we do it. When I asked this question, and
a fourth-grade teacher pulled me over and she said, well,
there’s two parts to my answer. I want students to
be good readers, but more importantly, I
want them to love to read. I said, let’s just focus
on the love to read. We know something about
how to make good readers, but focus for me
on love to read. What would be evidence
that they love to read? And what do you have
to do instructionally to make it more likely
that they love to read? And I said, be careful. Requiring them to do everything
isn’t likely to cause it, in fact, it may undercut it. We know this about boys. So, that’s the caution. If that’s your goal,
what’s the assessment? What needs to happen
instructionally to support and head
toward your goal? Somebody go first,
do it together, and somebody go
second, do it together. 5, 10 minutes.

16 comments

  • Alfredo Prieto Martín

    Transcription:
    UbD is not  a philosophy of teaching, is not an approach to teaching, is a planning framework. And is very important to keep this in mind that we are trying to do  is making more likely” by design”, that when you teach, you are more goal  focused, more effective.
    you could be a bad teacher with a good plan, in other words, we are not saying that a good plan makes you a better teacher necessarily .  You have to learn pedagogical moves you have to learn to be facile and skilled with how to pay attention to group dynamics.  Ubd does not help you with that, but it does prepare you to think short term, long term what are we trying to accomplish? and is like the famous line from Pasteur “chance favors the prepared mind” you are totally prepared for teachable moments, not in the sense of “ Oh, that’s  a cool student comment” “let’s just run with that for five days” that’s not serendipity (the faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident)  that’s letting the students write the curriculum and that’s is not what I am talking about, I am talking about of being so prepared about where you want to end up, that  when you hear a potential  student comment as a fantastic entry point  to go where you want to end up. No doubt it is our job to know where we want to end up.  I don´t think we make apologize about that. But part of where we want to end up, is building autonomous proactive thoughtful people not just march through some stuff causing some typical learning
    So we are trying to keep the long term learning goals in view. We are trying to get the  blend  of content and performance  right. Notice I didn’t say process. Content and performance cause that’s the ultimate goal. Student performs as  in the soccer situation, on their own, effectively, fluently, drawing from their repertoire and this also tends to better engage people as I think  you already know.
    What we see over and over again is that there is a misalignment between short term plans and actions and long term goals. Here is a simple example, we value something called critical and creative thinking. It is in every programs goal statement, it is in many school mission  statement, it’s clearly  something we care about, but it is possible to get straight As at every school  in America without critical and creative thinking… As long as you are smart, compliant, , do you work, you are thorough, you  are going to get straight As,  in almost every school in America.
    So very basic backward design promise that. If critical and creative thinking  is the goal long term, using content critically and creatively, let’s say it slightly different, then when we go to plan we have to make sure, week in and week out, that we are  focusing on critical and creative use  of content  otherwise we are not gonna get it. And  this is I think  the fatal mistake of prep schools. They think because we are smart, because we are motivated, because we hire really intelligent well-educated people, that this is just gonna happen.
    Sobering history, but it is a true story. Well known prep schools in top ten or twenty prep schools in the country. They say, we are really interested in this pedagogical effectiveness stuff and the guy question is a really fantastic educator who is done a lot of work  in the wide world web and so he is very interested  in the question of value added at the school  so they contract with a ETS, pre-assess ninth grade, assess twelve grade, critical thinking test. No gain, no gain (zero).  
    We admit them smart, we graduate them smart, we pat ourselves on the back and we start teaching all over again. The value added thing is huge, you can’t just pat yourselves cause you admit smart people and they do good  things. You gays have a higher calling than that.
    So we want to focus on these long term goals and we want to embed then in our short term plans and when the more you start to think in this way, the more you realize you are not doing it.
    Again I saw this on the soccer field. I saw that were not developing any strategic thinking. One day I was in a scrimmage and I’m looking at the scrimmage.  You know  I am in the middle of the field roughing it,  watching people, and I think, there is a lot of aimless running around, so the ball is over here.
    PII, what are you doing and why are you doing it?
    Ahh…
    all right , new rule, we’re gonna do freeze tag if I don´t  like your answer the ball goes over the other side. I’m always going to ask somebody on offense. And for, like two weeks there was no good answer and of course I realize it was my fault. There’s no strategic thinking. My daugther is an elite soccer player, she is a senior at the George School. She is in North Carolina tournament right now. She does not have a good strategic thinking because she´s had all these elite coaches that tell you what to do all the time. She had a coach though, who doesn´t coach at George School anymore. He is a retired Princeton coach, who did it for a dollar a year one of those great gigs.
    He did the course thing at  half time. So, you know, get in a circle, as they always do at halftime.
    So he said   what’s working?, what´s working for us?
    Again, same thing for a couple of weeks they couldn’t answer
    Ahh… We are winning…
    Yeah I know that… what´s working on the field? what’s not working for us? What do we need to work on the second half?
    Socratic questions was all he did at halftime,  but the coolest question is what´s working for them? What we have to stop? She was a different player, so were her teammates, so there’s this tendency, in even really good programs in schools to not help kids gain proactive control of the situation, and have a long-term view. Simple past. All of you are teaching now. Ask the kids to self assess right now, now’s good time, January, against your goals for the year.
    Ahh… What’s is her goal for the year?… I mean that is what is gonna happen. And they’re going to cherry pick some random little things and you are  gonna be depressed  but that’s a good experience , that’s a really good experience. It is the kid who has  to meet  the goals, it is the kid who has understand via transparency and reinforcement the long term goals . So critical and creative thinking to go  backward example is a goal then that should  be so obvious that the kids will self  assess against critical an creative thinking.
    Let’s try as a quick  and dirty exercise.  
    Think pair share,
    You have to write a one sentence mission statement for your course.  what would it be? Jokes and thoughts, try it out on the person next to you.
    One sentence mission statement
    What’s the point of my course?
    and I using the word course, cause it  covers everything from  pre- K to graduate school, from soccer to physics. If you are an elementary person you could think your course  in either one or two ways: you could say what is the point  of what I am doing with the first graders or what’s the point of the line within our strand, or the Social Studies strand, so you can go either way, since you have so many duties.
    bell
    Let me ask you to a pause for a minute and let’s do a little bit of backward design thinking, then this is the basic logic of backward design. And I will say more about it later. Many of you know this: if that’s the goal what follows? if that’s the long term goal what follows?  what follows for assessment? what follows for instruction?
    Go back to your conversations and just  together play out casually and informally at this point,  the answers to these questions as they occur you.
    If that’s the goal what should we be assessing? and by  assessing I do not mean grading  I mean assessing. It’s like you would do as a soccer coach. You don’t give a grade at a varsity, maybe in some schools you do, I never did. But you are assessing, you are judging how we’re doing against the goal, you are coaching, you are giving information about how they are doing  at school.
    So what should we assessed ? What should we be doing instructionally? Or what should occur in the classroom? And let me tell you one quick history before you do 
    When I ask this question on a fourth-grade teachers pulled me over and she said “Well,  
    There’s two parts my answer I want students to be good readers but  more importantly I want them to love to read. I said let’s just focus on the love to read, we know something about make good readers but focus for me on love to read. What would be evidence that they love to read? And what do you have to do instructionally to make more likely that  they love to read? And I said. Be careful, requiring   them to do everything isn’t likely to cause it, in fact, it  may be undercut it, we know this about boys.  
    So that’s the caution , if that’s your goal, what’s the assessment, what’s needs to happen instructionally to support and head toward your goal?
    Somebody goes first, do it together and somebody goes second, do it together five, ten minutes.

    Reply
  • Tania Fadina

    Excellent class! It helped me a lot! Thanks!

    Reply
  • Birch

    Greatly agreed to: what’s working?, what´s working for us? where we want to end up? with short term plan and long term goal, what’s the assessment? what’s needs to happen instructionally to support and head toward the goal? awesome!

    Reply
  • Scott Charlson

    Rest in peace Grant Wiggins thanks for the gifts you have given us.

    Reply
  • Richard Jak

    This guy is a joke. Grant Wiggins never spent one day teaching in a public school and has absolutely no clue the problems faced by public school teachers. You can see the bottle of snake oil sticking out of his pocket.

    Reply
  • jmmysu

    Educator Grant I would like to know and teach more effective using UBD. How can I create critical and creative on my students?

    Reply
  • Christina Sweeney

    This is amazing! I wish that my educational institution taught like this! I also wish that, being an education major, this would have been introduced to me in my first year rather than my fourth year! Thank you for sharing your insights!

    Reply
  • Laura Valverde

    Being a teacher requires a lot from you because they are the ones with reigns at the end of the day. I agree with what he says. But when a student makes a comment that makes for good discussion, it should be used but with the knowledge that the teacher drives the class.

    Reply
  • Brianna Ortega

    I really enjoyed the soccer field analogy and how it related to student's needing to understand what they are being taught as it is being taught to them. Asking them Socratic questions can allow for them to express what works and doesn't work for them. This can allow for the teachers to have a better understanding of their students and how to morph the class based on the feedback given.

    Reply
  • Shawn Munguia Jr.

    This is very useful to come back to as someone attempting to become an educator. The comment about short-term plans vs. long-term goals was a particular important note to me, as I am frequently concerned when I hear about how some school systems and, as a result, some instructors do have the issue of teaching rote information, rather than critical thinking. I will have to keep this in mind for when I'm developing lesson plans from this point onward.

    Reply
  • Yaritza Pena

    This lecture was incredible! I particularly enjoyed how he highlighted areas in which school systems are now beginning to lack in. He wants educators to learn how to focus more on the end goal by beginning to establish an understanding by using the approach of Socratic questions. I learned so much with this video that I will definitely be referring back to it as I begin to plan my own course.

    Reply
  • Andrea Flores

    This is amazing! Having a main goal in mind constantly and making it as clear as possible so that the students grasp it is so crucial for classrooms. I really liked the backwards thinking strategy on figuring out the course goal and then finding out how to asses it, as well as what instructions need to be given to accomplish these goals and assessments. Great!

    Reply
  • jadeycakesdickensful

    The whole idea of the short-term goals and long-term solutions was a good way to approach who and what your goals are as an educator. Without much sense of a creative direction in your own classroom there would be no way for the student to meet those goals. -Amanda Dickenson

    Reply
  • Lizette Trujillo

    i really enjoy this lecture. I like how you discuss goals. it's simple to understand, and you bring great examples. Thank you!

    Reply
  • ORLANDO SOLIS HUARACHI

    MI TRADUCCIÓN LATINA ES LIMITADA, ME GUSTARIA SABER SI HAY MATERIAL DE ESTE GENIO EN ESPañol, muchas gracias.

    Reply
  • Allyson McCormick

    No captions? Can we make education accessible please?

    Reply

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