Sunday, May 4, 2014

Finishing Wiggins' UbD book

For much of this school year, I have been working my way through Grant Wiggins’ book Understanding by Design (UbD), revised 2nd edition.

The book is a little more than 300 pages, and I am currently in the 280s. A few minutes ago I read a section that discussed the necessity of placing units into a larger framework. Though UbD tends to focus mostly on the design of individual units, near the end of the book, Wiggins acknowledges the importance of starting the process of unit design AFTER one has thought deeply about the goals of the course.

And, if there is truly going to be alignment at the department and district level, it is essential to think about the connections between and among courses. How does everything connect? To what ends?

In some of my blog posts this week, I’d like to spend some time thinking about the 4 or 5 course level Essential Questions that I can use to frame the classes that I am currently teaching, Western Civ and Economics.

This is something that I am sure I have blogged about before. But, when I think about what happens on a day to day basis in my classroom, there is little evidence of course long questions that inform all that we do.

Some possible course long questions for Western Civ
-What is Western Civilization?
-How civilized is the West?
-How have technological advancements impacted the story of Western Civilization?
-How does the history of Europe that we are studying in this course show itself in the American press on a daily basis?
-How are we to evaluate and, ultimately, what is our evaluation of the assertions made in our textbook?
-How can we use the skills and concepts of this course AFTER this class has ended?

Some possible course long questions for Economics
-How does this course, Economics, connect to the other social sciences?
-How does the invisible hand metaphor explain economic interactions? Where does this metaphor lose its explanatory power?
-What are some of the measurement issues economists confront? How do they deal with them?  
-What is economic progress?
-What is the point of economic progress?
-How can we use the skills and concepts of this course AFTER this class has ended?
I will continue to add to, refine, reflect on these questions. I also need to generate some for my American Government course.


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