5 What are the Learning Goals Today? To define Big Ideas & Essential QuestionsTo see where the concepts came fromTo determine why they are importantTo pick up some hints on how to extract the Big Ideas and develop Essential Questions from curriculumTo prepare for a session later where you will work on developing Big Ideas and Essential Questions for a course you teachTo develop a set of Anchor posters for your classes on these topics
6 Where do these terms come from? Understanding by design by McTighe and Wiggins “UbD”Developers of the concept of Design Down or Backward design for curriculum development
7 Principles of Understanding by Design Planning is best done “backward” from the desired results“plan with the end in mind”Expectations are transformed into targets based upon “big ideas,” essential questions and transfer tasks
8 U by D demands a shift in focus From:Teach for content masteryDiscrete skills or facts out of context“Linear” superficial coverageText as CurriculumTo:Help students learn to use content and understandDraw on skills in realistic contexts & authentic tasksA curriculum based upon reoccurring “big ideas” and core tasksText as a resource in support of learning goals
9 How does it fit? Three stages of Backward Design Stage 1: Identify Desired ResultsExpectations to Big Ideas to Essential Questions to Skills and Knowledge needed to achieve thisStage 2: Determine Acceptable Evidence“Begin with the end in mind”Think about what Core Tasks; Performance Tasks or demonstrations of learning will provide valid evidence of a student’s ability to achieve the desired resultsStage 3: Plan Learning ExperiencesPlan lessons in a structured way under the umbrella of essential questions.
10 Why is this important?Curriculum design requires us to make choices about what is essential NOW to help our learners in the future.Learning not tied to real-world experiences is soon forgotten.You must try to “hit the proverbial nerve” of your students to promote real learningWithout transparent and important priorities - stated as performance, not content - neither teacher nor student can be effective
12 What is a Big Idea?A big idea offers a conceptual framework allowing the learner to explore answers to the essential questions involving a unit of study.-Grant WigginsAnswer questions like:Why exactly are we teaching…?What couldn’t people do if they didn’t understand…?What do we want students to understand and be able to do 5 years from now?
13 I feel bad because I was always telling him to think big.
15 But…“What is big to the teacher or the expert in the field is often abstract, lifeless, confusing, or irrelevant to the student. What may be a vital conception to the expert in the field of study may well seem nonsensical, unintelligible, or of little interest to the novice.” p. 75 UbD“The challenge of teaching for understanding is largely the challenge of making the big ideas in the field become big in the mind of the learner.” p. 75 UbD
16 What is an enduring understanding? One or more Big Ideas framed as an understanding!!!! (in a sentence)A Big Idea is developed by the lessons that organize the learning of the skills and knowledge that allow students to uncover its meaning by answering essential questions.It is an on-going process!
17 How does it fit? Curriculum Documents -unpacking the Overall and Specific ExpectationsBig Ideas & Enduring Understandings-Makes you think of Core Tasks (Performance Tasks) & AssessmentsEssential QuestionsLesson Learning Goals & Development
18 Clarifying Content Priorities Content that is worth being familiar withContent that is important to know and do“Big Ideas”
19 Unpacking the curriculum Standard (we call them expectations)Students will compare and contrast (purposes, sources of power) various forms of government in the world (e.g., monarchy, democracy, republic, dictatorship) and evaluate how effective they have been in establishing order, providing security and accomplishing common goals.Verbs (How students will show what is required)CompareContrastEvaluateNouns (What students are required to know)Forms of Government:MonarchyDemocracyRepublicDictatorshipOrderSecurityCommon goals
20 Examples of abstract curricula The earth does not appear to move to human observersThere are no obvious signs of our being descended from primatesIt seems bizarre that the founding fathers of the U.S. democratic system kept slavesThe text of Hamlet seems to have nothing to do with adolescent angst and depressionDerivatives and integrals make no conceptual sense to the novice calculus studentThe facts found on Wikipedia are less credible than facts found in academic journals
21 Revealing the Big Ideas Big ideas are revealed, not identified, through…Focusing themes or conceptsOn-going debateInsightful perspectivesFinding underlying assumptionsParadoxes, problems, challengesOrganizing theoriesOverarching principlesProvocative questionsProcesses in the field; problem-solving, decision-makingBy identifying the nouns and verbs in the standards or overall expectations.
22 What is the difference?Expectations: written from the point of view of “all students will…”Big Ideas: Stated concisely“all forms of measurement contain errors”Essential Questions:Stated as questions in a way that provides an umbrella for learning a host of skills and knowledgeEngaging and real for students (in words students can understand)“How does the use of measuring devices introduce error into measurement?”Learning Goals:Written as performance statements with reference to Big Ideas and Essential questions and refer to the actual goals of lessons designed to help students answer the essential questions (should be explicit in every lesson)E.g. “Today’s learning goal is to perform an activity using several measuring devices in order for students to learn the type and degree of errors involved in each device.”
23 Why are Big Ideas important? Student engagement increasesCurriculum ties to other courses and lifeAuthentic tasks make it realStudents know the reason why they are doing each lesson as it fits into the big picture of theEssential Questions are generated from Big Ideas and form the basis for our lessons and student learning by linking knowledge and skills to a greater purpose and creating deeper understanding.Essential questions are worded in language students can understandDeeper understanding allows students to transfer knowledge and skills to meet new challenges.
24 Criteria…Types of Big Ideas Concepts…economics…”supply & demand”Themes…good triumphs over evilDebates…a winning team is one where offence beats defence; conservative vs. liberalPerspective…the glass is half full or half emptyParadox…freedom involves responsibility; poverty amid plentyTheory…form follows functionPrinciple…less is moreAssumption…non-fiction text always depicts truth; markets are rationalAuthentic problems…voter apathy
25 Big Idea checklist…Does it have many layers not obvious to the inexperienced learner? Is it an “Umbrella term”Does one have to dig deep to truly understand its meaning or implications?Is it prone to disagreement?Might it change over time?Does it go to the core of the curriculum? Is it historically important yet, still alive in the field for debate?
26 Big Idea checklist continued… 6. Is it transferable to new situations and learnings a student will meet in the future?7. Is it abstract, not obvious?8. Is it counterintuitive?9. Is it prone to misconception?10. Does it allow students to ask and re-ask questions to clarify and uncover the idea as they go through the course?
27 What a Big Idea is not… A question A concept or piece of knowledge A narrow conceptWritten as an objective/expectation of studentsAn activity (e.g. can sort French words into lists of nouns and verbs)A skill – can light a Bunsen burner
28 What are essential questions? Questions based on Big Ideas that frame learning goals of a course. (May have several for a Big Idea).They are not answerable with finality in a brief sentenceThey stimulate on-going thought as new experiences help clarify them for learners.They provide focus for the Big Ideas throughout a course using language that is understandable by students
29 Essentials of essential questions Cause genuine and relevant inquiryBroad in scope, and provoke deep thought, lively discussion, inquiry, and more questions; never fully answeredPose authentic dilemmasForce incongruities into our attentionRequire students to consider alternative views, weigh evidence, support their ideas, and justify their answersStimulate vital, ongoing rethinking and meaningful connections of big ideas, assumptions, and prior lessons and learning; timeless in natureNaturally recur, creating opportunities for transfer to other situations and subjectsPerpetually arguable…the answers will change over time for students as they see them again in new subject settings and add new experience
30 So…“Instead of thinking of content as stuff to be covered, consider knowledge and skill as the means of addressing questions central to understanding key issues in your subject.” p. 107 UbD
31 From content to Big Ideas to EQ’s Enduring UnderstandingsEssential QuestionsNutritionYou are what you eatHow does what we eat affect us?FairnessStatistics can tell any storyHow do different statistical tools provide different information?Persuasive writingLanguage can be used to support an argumentHow can literary devices be used to persuade?
32 From content to Big Ideas to EQ’s Enduring UnderstandingEssential QuestionsWestward expansionHardship forged a nationHow did the settlement of the west contribute to our nation?ExperimentExperiments are only as good as their designHow do variables increase reliability of experimental results?Composition of imagesComposition is integral to effective imagesIs a well-composed image more effective?
33 Essential Questions from our Big Ideas Design of curriculum influences the success of our students.How does Backward design lead to better student understanding?Big Ideas are uncovered from curriculum and organize our teaching and assessment.How can Big Ideas be uncovered in our curriculum?What would students have to do to demonstrate they understand the Big Idea?
34 Essential Questions from our Big Ideas Essential Questions are generated from Big Ideas and form the basis for our lessons and student learning by linking knowledge and skills to a greater purpose and creating deeper understanding.How can Big Ideas be phrased so that students understand them?What makes Essential Questions effective?
35 Future Learning GoalsOn Feb 2nd …Time to work on extracting the Big Ideas from one of your courses and developing essential questions.Ultimate goal is to develop a set of “posters” that show these Big Ideas and essential questions for use in the classroom to anchor your teaching.