Thursday, June 26, 2014

Days 2 and 3 with UbD

Days 2 and 3 are more hands-on for the teachers in the creation of a functioning unit, lessons, and learning activities. During day 2, one of the big takeaways was the a memorized process without internalization does not lead to deep understanding. When students memorize a procedure and that procedure breaks down, it leads to misconceptions and only shallow learning of poor thinking. This was demonstrated to the group with a classic video of Abbott and Costello:

As the teachers discussed this, they came to the realization that there is some time within the process for some more classical instruction of concepts and to fix misconceptions, but it should be used only with students in small groups who require the instruction.

As the teachers were trying to identify a topic, they went through a development process to create transfer goals for the students. To reach that enduring understanding and overarching goal, the template below was utilized:

I want you to learn:_________________________________, so that, in the long run, you will be able, on your own, to ______________________________________.

The key understandings that the teachers learned were that the "Want you to learn" needs to be broad and fit the understanding that this is something that students should know and use 40 years after the class is over. Some reflective questions to include were:

  • Why is this topic included in the standards? 
  • Why do students need to know this? 
  • What real life context exists for this concept? If there is none (e.g. imaginary numbers), should that be an enduring idea? 
As teachers continued through their learning process, the discusses the difference between an assessor of understanding and an activity designer. The analogy that resonated with the group was it is the difference between a detective (assessor) and a cruise director (activity designer). The assessor of understanding is looking for evidence of learning versus we are going to do this, then this, then this. It is a transition from providing activities with a definitive answer to a focus on process.

The teachers began experiencing what the learning environment could look like with a learning activity of a mini-lesson board for JITT (Just In Time Teaching). The learners sign up for short, targeted lessons for either expected gaps or for topics that the students request and the students sign up for what they need. These mini-lessons are meant to last 5-7 minutes that are targeted instruction for the students that need it.

Additionally, there is the option for students to present their proclivities to the class by having an "I want to teach" board. This can be fore students who might be ahead of the game and students who have experience with a particular skill that can be shared with the class. This is an additional way to develop the presentation skills of students.

We ended with a gallery walk of the teachers' project ideas. Overall, it was a great learning experience for everyone involved.

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