FIVE PD SESSIONS in a ROW, AM I CRAZY?
This session had the most enthusiastic returns over the two days. I know why. It is because with UbD (Understanding By Design) you can seriously start to become a genuine stake-holder in your teaching process, and that includes the syllabus. By using UbD you can become a complete teacher in terms of creativity, organization, structure and follow through of the product you are trying to deliver.In addition, you really get to the bottom of what it is you want your students to learn & understand.
This is the followed by Student Understandings and Essential Questions. These two sections are for me the nuts and bolts of successful knowledge transfer and understandings for your students. Before I made the switch to this model, I would often wonder how much students knew after or even during a unit. Now that the framework has become an integral part of my syllabus planning, that I cannot believe I didn't use it before. It is plain common sense. To cut the long explanation, which I leave to the original text, the Student Understandings is a brilliant transparent section where we record explicit expectations of what we believe students will get clear in their heads by the end of the unit.
The Essential Questions section is for you to add springboard questions to get students to critically think and self-reflect on the content therein. There is a serious need for personalization of the topic here after some general scaffolding has been done with surface to middle order type questions. The crux of the matter is to make sure students realize how important critical thinking and personalization are for their own learning phase.
The next stage is for What students will know, and What students will be skilled in. This has very important connotations with what we do as teachers, and what students have at their disposal thanks to UbD. Any unit we present to students has to have a purpose with genuine learning outcomes. Not only that, but students have to go through a process that involves knowledge acquisition and skills-based instruction that will allow them to leave any one unit, and feel that they have genuinely learned something they can feel confident about to discuss with their peers or other teachers.
Finally, the activities both in and out of classroom, are stated here for everyone to see. What is important to realize as you read this is how back to front it all seems. Many teachers are really confused by this part of the model of UbD at first. But if they step back, they can see that varied activities, although hugely important, should not be the primary concern when constructing a unit. In fact, if we as teachers consider the UNCOVERING of the Syllabus as opposed to just COVERING it, we could have so much more personal gratification first; but more importantly students will be coming back and asking for more. We need to really work on what the PURPOSE is of the unit, and then how we can achieve the aims, objectives and learning outcomes as a continuous process within the unit.
This paraphrase and summary of the brilliant UbD model, does not do it real service and I recommend you order the book immediately from Amazon. But, as a short blog post, I feel that you can get a flavor of UbD for your syllabus. If you want to learn more, first buy the book, check out the internet for other sites and gather as much information as you can. If the reaction of my Cypriot teaching colleagues during this session is anything to go by, it really is something to take more interest in outwith this blog post. You can also contact me direct by email and ask for more information on how it works in my context and as a student-centered model for better understanding syllabus.
SESSION THREE on TILDEE VIDEO TUTORIALS to follow very soon...