Grant Wiggins – Understanding by Design (2 of 2)


[MUSIC PLAYING] GRANT WIGGINS: The
textbook is not the course. Repeat after me– the
textbook is not the course. The textbook is a resource
in support of your goals. The textbook doesn’t
know your transfer goals, and it frankly doesn’t
care about them. I worked for Pearson. I’ve worked on 11 textbooks
now, and it’s endlessly interesting and endlessly
frustrating because of what a textbook– well, what a textbook used to
be until the Apple announcement. That’s way cool. Way cool. Great possibilities. Go watch the webinar
if you haven’t seen it. It’s really cool. To say it a slightly
different way, This is a conversation that every
department should always have. Again, this follows from the
logic of backward design. If these are our
goals, what should we do with the resources? You want to know how bad it is? At a good school– math department–
I had a woman who freaked out over this exercise. She said, well, all the
chapters are important. I mean, she couldn’t
get beyond that. That we have to go through
all the chapters, and all the chapters
are important. I said, well, you
do know, of course– this was in Michigan. I said, you do know, of course,
that the textbook is written to be sold in three states. I mean, you know this– Florida, Texas, California. It’s so bad. As part of my
contract with Pearson, I was reviewing a
social studies book. I wish I remember the term. I should’ve written it down– some term I never heard. I don’t know what
the hell it was. I said, what is this? Texas. [LAUGHTER] So here’s a simple example
to underscore the TMA logic. And this is in the design guide
that you had excerpts from. But it’s useful to
realize that this is the kind of conversation
that has to take place. So Chuck, what’s your
goal as a history teacher — a US history teacher. Well, I want students
to understand the Constitution and three
branches of government. That’s not a goal. That’s the content with
a pronoun in front of it. What we’ve been
saying all morning is what do you want them
to be able to do with it? What meanings and
transfer do you want? This is not a goal statement. And by the way, this
is not a new idea. Ralph Tyler said this in 1938. He said it again in his book,
“The Principles of Curriculum Instruction,” 1949. This is an old idea that
you can’t design backward from content headings. You have to design backward
from the outcomes you want With the use of content. This has huge implications
for how you use Atlas Rubicon. Most maps stink, because they’re
written backwards from content. They’re not written back
from performance goals, from understanding goals. OK. I think I get it. So here’s my meaning goal. Well, that has an
interesting implication, because I probably won’t
start in the distant past. I might go from the
present to the past– a fair amount in my
teaching of US history. Just because the book
starts with Columbus and the Puritans, doesn’t mean
our course should start there. This would immediately be
clear if you were clear on these meaning goals. We’re beginning with where the
students are, with the debate that’s in the air. We’re beginning from a
position of strength, because the students
have some knowledge. You start with the
Puritans, who the hell knows anything about the
Puritans, and who cares? Transfer goals– Make sense? So let’s have a more
extended example– math. Hey, what’s fair– middle
school, seventh grade– hey, what’s fair? When you say to your
parents, that’s not fair, or when you say to me, that test
wasn’t fair, what do you mean? And is there any math
involved in that judgment? That’s the question we want
to consider in this unit. So T-chart– fair, not fair. Lots of discussion,
lots of argument. Maybe some kid is
thinking, what the hell does this have to
do with mathematics? But we’ve hinted at
it, and we’re going to slowly but surely get there. All right, guys. We’ve talked about what’s
fair and what’s not fair. Well, here is a case– generalization applied
to a particular case. And this is from Japan. There’s a big debate at
the school down the block about who won this race. And it’s a big deal, because
there are talking points and pride and ego involved. And because we’re such
good math students, they come to us for
some assistance. You’re looking at the place
of finish of the one mile race run. This student came in
first in the whole race. This student came in second. They’re in a different
class section. This student came in third,
fourth, fifth, all the way down to 74 runners. The asterisks mean that the
classes had different numbers of students in them. So what’s a fair winner? Some kids may know how
cross country works. Some kids may not. Some kids may have
other mental models from other activities or sports
or experience, or they may not. Small group project– crucial,
at least two different answers. That should hearken
back to some of what was said understanding is. And then let’s argue it out. And so we have a
whole debate, and each makes their presentation– and
we, oh, that’s interesting. What do you think? Next day, we do a little jigsaw. OK. Count off in your group by four. The one’s go discuss this. The two’s go discuss this. The three’s go discuss this. The four’s go discuss this. Do that for about 10 minutes. Now go back to your group as
an expert in that question, and now see if you want
to modify your answer to yesterday’s running problem. And for that matter,
whether you want to modify your original
answer to what is fair. Well, guys, it turns
out– day three– that mathematicians
have some tools that might be able to help us. On day three, we open the
textbook, not day one. And now we’re going to do some
fairly straight ahead work out of the book on measures
of central tendency. And we can go even beyond
this to other measures if it seems
appropriate, but we want to make sure that
there is some control acquisition of these terms. But is this where the unit ends? Well, no. It has to culminate in
meaning and transfer. What do you think
about this unit, and how would you compare
it to a typical math unit? Be as specific as you can–
small group conversation. First of all, how
does the unit embody what we’ve been talking about? Two, what are your thoughts
about it in a general sense? And three, do a little
T-chart comparison. How does a typical unit go
on this or any other topic compared to what’s going
on in this unit in terms of flow, prioritization,
learning, teaching? Informally– no big deal. 10 minutes. [BACKGROUND CONVERSATION] [BELL RINGING] Math teachers don’t participate. Raise your hand if you
hated high school math. Do you want to jump
out the building now? [LAUGHTER] Now consider that this is
a pretty not random sample. In the general population,
the percentage is worse. This is serious. The way we do
mathematics stinks. And yet, we keep doing
it even in good schools. SPEAKER 1: We were actually
just talking about that and saying, had we been
taught math the way people are starting to teach math, we would
have been so much better off. GRANT WIGGINS: Say why. SPEAKER 1: Because when
I was learning math, it was all about, so just
memorize the procedure. Here’s some facts
you need to know. And then nobody ever really
took the time to ask me, so what does it really
mean to add numbers? And in an equation
with multiple add-ins, why does it matter what
order you put them in? GRANT WIGGINS: This is actually
in the literature on transfer that the most common
student response indicating failure of teaching for transfer
is we didn’t cover that one. SPEAKER 2: We were saying
that what we liked about this is that it attracted also
kids who didn’t think they were math kids. GRANT WIGGINS: Of
course, you’ve expanded the pool of interested parties. SPEAKER 2: But also
at the same time, might have made kids
who thought they were math kids a little
bit uncomfortable. Because all of a sudden they
had to explain and bring in writing and explanation,
and that sometimes those non-math kids might
also be doing well in this. And then grouping them
could be really great, because they can see that the
non-math kids are succeeding here and the math kids are
challenging themselves. GRANT WIGGINS: So it’s
not only expanding the pool of interested
parties, but it’s differentiatable by
doing it this way. That’s right. SPEAKER 3: We thought this
was an obviously exciting way to teach typical
mathematical context, but I was wondering if it’s
actually a fair example to give in the larger context. Because kids love talking
about fairness and what’s right and how things should, be but
is this actually a fair way to model problems in mathematics
that might not have as easy and applicability? GRANT WIGGINS: It’s your
job to make it happen. That’s what it means to
have a design constraint. It’s your design constraint to
make it work for every example. It’s easy to cherry
pick, agreed. But if we do it with one,
we can do it with ten. And so let’s start
with the easier ones. It’s also interesting to note
when you look at the problem sets from Exeter,
many of the problems are not as immediately
accessible viscerally. But it’s pretty interesting to
watch kids struggle over pretty abstract problems,
because it involves real thinking and
group work and what-if and could it be otherwise. In other words, you
can see this happen with a good Socratic Seminar. I may not be interested
in the book we’re reading. It may not have any
immediacy to me. But even the challenge
of making sense of it and bumping heads
with other people who make a different sense
of it is motivating. But I think that that’s
the design challenge. And that’s why the last big
idea is intellectual engagement. You have an obligation to
intellectually engage people who aren’t already interested
in and good at math, which is the current failure. It’s like the Marines– we’re
looking for a few good men. And it shows up over
and over and over again in student evaluations,
in the failures on national and
international tests. Were not reaching anywhere
near a number of people. So I’m saying that’s what
makes it a design problem. It’s our design problem to
expand the interest level and differentiate it more. And so we may not be able
to do a problem exactly like this for every situation,
but it’s our obligation to try. Or to say it the
other way around, intellectual engagement
is a design consideration. It’s not the student’s problem. It’s our role as designers. Good anecdote in that respect– I was on an internet radio
show with the guy who designed Rock Band the game. And it was fun. We were talking about feedback,
and I asked him about this. I said, how do you guys work
on this subject of feedback? He said, we don’t use
the word feedback. We use the word incentivize. How can we keep the player
interested in every frame at every level throughout
the entire game, because if we don’t,
then they stop playing and they don’t buy the game. What if we had that
attitude as teachers? We have to incentivize every
lesson, every activity, every day, every
unit, every course. Most teachers just say– especially the older grades– tough one on you. You don’t like it? Too bad. My way or the highway. [MUSIC PLAYING]

15 comments

  • melarc55

    More like these would be awesome!

    Reply
  • carlos prieto martin

    Transcription:
    “The text book is not the course”. Repeat after me: “the  textbook is not the course”  The textbook is a resource in support of your goals, the text book  does not  know your  transfer goals  and it frankly doesn’t care about of them.
     I work for Pearson, I work on eleven textbooks now and is endlessly interesting and endlessly frustrating, because of what a textbook, well, what a textbook used to be until the Apple announcement… that’s very cool,  great possibilities… Go and watch the weather on the CNC and that’s very cool. 
    to say this in a slightly different way,  this is a conversation that  every department should always have. Again, this follows from the logic of backward design: If these are the goals, what should we do with the resources ?
    you know how  bad it is? At a “good school” Math department I had a woman who freaked down over this exercise, all the chapters are important, she couldn’t get beyond that, that we have to go through all the chapters and all the chapters are important. I said well you do know of course, this was in Michigan, You do know of course that the text book is written to be sold in three states, meaning Florida, Texas, California.
    It’s so bad I was reviewing as part of my contract with Pearson I was reviewing a social studies book  I wish I remembered the term, surely a some term I never heard of ….I didn’t know what hell it was.  So what is this? Texas… (laughs).
    So here is a simple example to underscore the TMA logic, and this is in the design guide that you have access from, and it’s useful to (sort of) realize that this is the kind of conversation that has to take place.
    so Jack what’s your goal as a history teacher? you are a history teacher…
    “Well… I want the students understand the constitution and the 3 branches of government”
    That’s not the goal, that’s the content with a pronoun in from of it.  What we’ve been saying all morning is:
    what do you want them to be able to do with it?  
    what meanings and transfer do you want?
    this is not a goal statement and, by the way, this is  not a new idea.
    Ralph Thyler said this in 1938. He said it again in his book “The Principles of Curriculum Instruction” 1941. This is an old idea that  You can’t design backward from content headings, you have to design backward from the outcomes you want.
    But the use of content, this has huge implications for how you use a list of recon.    
    Most  maps  stink,  because they are written backward from content, they are not written back from performance goals, from understanding goals. 
    OK, I think I get it, so here’s my meaning goal… (time for reading the slide: I want students to leave having inferred/realized that, now & in the future…”) 
    well, that has an interesting implication, because I probably won’t start in the distant past.
    I might go from the present to the past, a fair amount in my teaching of US history. Just because the book history starts with Columbus and the puritans doesn’t mean that our course should start there. This will immediately be clear if we were clear on these meaning goals. “we are beginning with where the students are, with the debate that’s in the air, we’re beginning from a position strength because students have some knowledge…
    We start with the puritans, who the hell knows anything about the puritans! …and who cares!  
    Transfer goals? (time for reading the slide Transfer. I want students to leave able to transfer their understanding…”)
    makes sense?
    So let’s have a more standard example… Math
    Hey, what’s fair? (middle school, seven grade) Hey, what’s fair when you say to your parents…
    That’s not fair!
    Or when you say to me
    that test wasn’t fair!
    What do you mean?
    And is there any math involved in that judgment?
    That’s the question we want to consider in this unit.
    So… teacher fair not fair, lots of discussion, lots of argument. May be some kids thinking “What the hell this has to do with mathematics? But we’ve hinted at it and we are going slowly but surely get there. All right guys you’ve talked about what’s fair and what’s not fair. Well… here it is a case, generalization applied to particular a case, and this is from Japan.
    There is a big debate at the school down the block about who won this race. And it is a big deal  because there are taking points and pride and ego involved and because we are such good math students they’ve come to us for some assistance.
    You are looking at the place of finish of the one mile race run. This student came in first in the whole race, this student came in second they are in a different class section. This student came in third ,fourth, fifth… all the way down to seventy four runners.
    The asterisk means that the classes have different numbers of students. 
    So what’s a fair winner?
    Some kids may know how cross country works, some kids may not. Some kids may have other mental models from other activities or sports or experiences or they may not.
    Small group project, crucial, at least two different answers.
    I am sure harking back to some of what we said were our understanding goals. 
    And then let’s argue about and so we have a whole debate… and each makes their presentation and… That’s interesting. What do you think?…
    Next day we do all a jigsaw 
    OK, cut off your group by four… the ones go discuss this, the twos go discuss this, the threes go to discuss this, the fours go to discuss this. Do that for about ten minutes and then go back to your group as an expert in that question and then see if you want to modify your answer to yesterday’s running problem, and for that matter, whether you want to modify your original answer to what is fair.
    Well guys it turns out, day three, that mathematicians have some tools that might be able to help us.
    On day three we open the textbook, not day one. And now we are going to do some fairly straight ahead work out of the book on measures of central tendency and we can go even beyond this to other measures if it seems appropriate. But we want to make sure that there’s some controlled acquisition of these terms. 
    But this is where the unit ends…  or not? it has to culminate in meaning and transfer.
    (time for reading the slide: Final assessment task).
    What do you think about this unit and how would you compare it to a typical math unit?
    Be as specific  as you can, small group conversation.
    First of all you how does this unit embody what we’ve been talking about?  
    Two: What are your thoughts about it in general sense? 
    And three do it a little T-chart comparison: How does at  typical unit go on this or any other topic compared to what was going on in this unit? In terms of flow, prioritization, learning, teaching, just informal not a big deal, ten minutes.
    (bell).
    Math teachers don’t participate.
    Raise your hand if you hated high school math. Do you want to join at the building now?
    Now, now consider, now consider that this is a pretty nonrandom sample. In the general population the percentage is worse.
    This is serious, the way we do mathematics stinks and yet we keep doing it, even in “good schools”

    Participant interventions
    1
    We’ve actually talking about the same thing, If we were taught math the way people are starting to teach math now, we would have been so much better off. 
    Grant: say why…
    Because when I was learning math was all about just memorize the procedure, here are some facts you need to know, and then nobody ever really took the time to ask me… Why do you  really need to add numbers? Or why in an equation of multiple items why does it matter what they are equal? 
     Grant:  
    This is actually in the literature of transference that the most common student response indicating failure, teaching for transfer, we didn’t cover that one.

    2
    We were saying that what we liked it is that attracted all sort of kids you wouldn’t think they were math kids.
    Grant:
    of course you expanded the pool of interested parties 

    2. But also at the same time kids that you would have thought they are math kids, would be a little bit uncomfortable because they have to explain others and that is something that mathematicians might not be doing well at this. But the others can see they can succeed. 
    Grant:
    so it’s not only expanding the pool of interested parties but it is differentiable by doing in this way. That’s right.
     
    3. We thought this is a very and obviously exciting way to teach typical mathematical concepts but I was wondering if it is actually a fair example to give in a larger context because kids love talking about fairness and what’s right and how things should be, but is this actually a fair way to model problems in mathematics that may not have as easy an applicability?
    Grant
    It’s your job to make it happen, that’s what it means to have a design constraint. It’s your design constraint to make it work for every example.
    It is easy to cherry pick. I agree, but if we do with one, we can do with ten and
    so let’s  start with the easier ones.
    it also interesting `when you look at the problems sets from Exeter
    many of the problems are not as  accessible viscerally but is pretty interesting to watch kids struggle over pretty abstract problems because it involves real thinking in group working… what if… and could it be… otherwise, in other words, you can see this happen in a Socratic seminar. I may not be interested in the book we are reading. It may not have any immediacy to me but even the challenge of making sense of it and pumping heads with other people who make a different sense of it, it’s motivating.
    But I think that’s the design challenge. And that’s why the last big idea is intellectual engagement. You have an obligation to intellectually engage people who aren’t already interested in and good at math, which is the current failure.
    It is like the marines were looking for a few good men and it shows up over and over and over again in student evaluations in the failures on national and international tests.
    We are not reaching anywhere near in the number of people so I am saying that’s what makes it a design problem. It is our design problem to expand the interest level and differentiate it more and so, we might not be able to do a problem exactly like this for every situation but it’s our obligation to try.
    Or say that the other way around, intellectual engagement is a design consideration, it’s not the students’ problem. It’s our role as designers. I’ve got a good anecdote in that respect. I was on an internet radio show with the guy who designed Rockband, the game. It was fun, we were talking about feedback and I asked him about this. I said:
    “How do you guys work on the subject of feedback?”
    He said, we don’t use the word feedback we used the word incentivize. How can we keep the player interested in every frame, at every level, through the entire game? Because if we don’t then they stop playing and they don’t buy the game.
    What if we had that attitude as teachers, we have to incentivize every lesson, every activity, every day, every unit, every course…
    Most teachers just say…  specially the older guys… tough on you, if you don’t like, too bad, my way or the hard way. 

    Reply
  • Casey Smith

    Teachers teach directly from the textbook because its just the easiest way. If teachers taught like this every day, they would spend months writing up lesson plans. The truth is that teaching the correct way requires insane amounts of thought and motivation from the teacher, not just the students. Most teachers just don't feel like working that hard. That's the cold hard truth of American public schools. I'm not saying that every teacher is like that but it is quite common to have teachers that really don't do anything.

    Reply
  • PIANIST PHILADELPHIA

    I am having the displeasure of learning about this trite for the next fourteen weeks to fulfill my M.Ed. After wasting tens of thousands of dollars on a useless master degree in education, I have come to the conclusion that public schools are hindering the development of young Americans. Parents, take your children out of these prerequisites to prison, and home school your children with qualified tutors. Public school teachers are only concerned with maintaining their employment, upward mobility, and higher wages; in other words, student learning is the least of their concern.

    Reply
  • Christina Sweeney

    Thank you for walking me through this process!

    Reply
  • niya diba

    I am about to designs an online course and desperately in need of such valuable information. thank you sir.

    Reply
  • Brianna Ortega

    I specifically like the section that focused on backward planning. It is vital for teachers to have the end goal in mind when planning lessons. If we have the end goal in mind, it makes it easier to set short term goals and achieve those goals efficiently. We also have to make sure those goals aren't general, but composed of both material that is mandated and material that will benefit students as they continue their education.

    Reply
  • Shawn Munguia Jr.

    The idea of using the student's own schema and their own interests to make concepts accessible to them is brilliant. If we give them a reason to be interested in the lessons, I believe that they will be more engaged.

    Reply
  • Yaritza Pena

    This method of finding a way to engage all students in the lesson was fantastic to watch! I found myself nodding to his explanations because the harsh reality is that (some) teachers don't try their best to make sure the understanding of the context is actually happening. This model of the "fair" question is a great tool to serve as an example for future and current educators. As he mentioned, the textbook is not the course and yet there are so many classrooms that do not stray away from them.This is great way to begin backing away and not being so dependent and actually making sure that the learning is happening and not just memorizing.

    Reply
  • Andrea Flores

    Great! The approach to engaging students is feedback or incentivizing all the plans and lessons given is truly remarkable. The reality is that most students get bored, and I think it really as a teachers job not only as the instructors but as "designers" that they are able to keep students on task while simultaneously being intrigued and is participating.

    Reply
  • jadeycakesdickensful

    By engaging students into higher level of critical thinking through design by question-based cirricula. It helps the student better grasp material being presented instead of straight from textbooks. Prompting actual, engaged learning and not just a superficial approach to education. -Amanda Dickenson

    Reply
  • Rim Mehta

    What was the apple announcement webinar Dr. Wiggins referred to anyone?? Thank you in advance!

    Reply
  • Fernando Sintora

    This is why I teach my 5th grade made with a blended learning approach, so that I don't get stuck in teaching for an entire period out of the textbook. That is boring. Kids love independence and PBL activities.

    Reply
  • greg jones

    I wish this had been a presentation given to a few of my high school teachers back in the day. There was so much "learn it because it's on the test". Well, surprise, surprise, that's not the best motivator.

    Reply
  • Boky

    Does anyone have The UbD Advanced Guide in pdf (the green book)?

    Reply

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