Understanding by Design

Understanding by Design is another way to design a significant learning environment.  Much like Fink’s model presented in the last blog post, UbD makes the designed work with the end in mind.  Starting with a goal and the learning objectives in mind ensures that all targets are met.  UbD requires more questioning than Fink’s model.  Writing down the questions made me think about what my students will be thinking and could be asking.  Fink’s model contained a 3 column table.  Similarly, UbD has 3 stages.  Stage 1 and column 1 from Fink’s model ask for goals.  Stage 2 and column 3 require the designer to look at assessment in all of its’ forms.  Finally, stage 3 and column 2 allow you to plan for the learner in detail.

Another difference was in the actual planning for the students.  UbD wants the designer to answer questions of WHERETO.  Each letter stands for a question:

  • W: Where is the unit going and What is expected?
  • H: Hook the students and Hold their interests.
  • E1: Equip the students, Experience the key ideas, and Explore the issues.
  • R: Rethink and Revise their work.
  • E2: Evaluate their work.
  • T: Tailored to the different learners.
  • O: Organized for engagement.

Both plans were a refreshing way of looking at planning a lesson that I will be using in the future!

Stage 1

     Desired Results

Established Goals:

  • The main goal of the unit is for students to use innovation and creative thinking to develop digital products.

To achieve this goal, these state standards (TEKS) will be met:

(1)  Creativity and innovation. The student uses creative thinking and innovative processes to construct knowledge and develop digital products. The student is expected to:

(A)  create original products using a variety of resources;

(2)  Communication and collaboration. The student collaborates and communicates both locally and globally using digital tools and resources to reinforce and promote learning. The student is expected to:

(A)  draft, edit, and publish products in different media individually and collaboratively;

(B)  use font attributes, color, white space, and graphics to ensure that products are appropriate for multiple communication media, including monitor display, web, and print;

(E)  evaluate the product for relevance to the assignment or task; and

(F)  perform basic software application functions, including opening applications and creating, modifying, printing, and saving files.

(3)  Research and information fluency. The student acquires and evaluates digital content. The student is expected to:

(A)  use various search strategies such as keyword(s); the Boolean identifiers andor, and not; and other strategies appropriate to specific search engines;

(B)  collect and organize information from a variety of formats, including text, audio, video, and graphics;

(C)  validate and evaluate the relevance and appropriateness of information; and

(D)  acquire information appropriate to specific tasks.

(4)  Critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making. The student researches and evaluates projects using digital tools and resources. The student is expected to:

(B)  collect, analyze, and represent data to solve problems using tools such as word processing, databases, spreadsheets, graphic organizers, charts, multimedia, simulations, models, and programming languages;

(5)  Digital citizenship. The student practices safe, responsible, legal, and ethical behavior while using digital tools and resources. The student is expected to:

(C)  abide by copyright law and the Fair Use Guidelines for Educational Multimedia;

(6)  Technology operations and concepts. The student demonstrates knowledge and appropriate use of technology systems, concepts, and operations. The student is expected to:

(B)  manipulate files using appropriate naming conventions; file management, including folder structures and tagging; and file conversions;


Students will understand that…

  • PowerPoint is an effective program used for presentations for a number of different audiences.
  • The Internet is a powerful tool to find enormous amounts of a variety of information types.
  • Copyright law and the Fair Use guidelines must be used when acquiring information.
Essential Questions:

  • What tools can I use to effectively present a topic?
  • How do I show where I find my information on the Internet?
  • How do I save my finished product on different platforms?
Students will know…

  • Key terms – slide, transition, animation, slide show, presentation, audience, background, image, text, design element, template, layout, graphics, design, effect, audio, video, slide sorter, toolbar, transition effects, etc.
  • Types of Internet search strategies – Boolean identifiers like “and,” “or,” “not,” “+,” etc.
  • How to make a slide transition
  • How to animate text, images, graphs, etc.
Students will be able to…

  • Use Internet search strategies to collect and organize information.
  • Acquire information appropriate to their task.
  • Draft and publish media using font attributes, color, and graphics that are appropriate for display and print.
  • Create an original product using a variety of resources.
  • Use appropriate digital tools and resources for storage, access, and file management.
  • Represent data using a multimedia tool.
  • Evaluate the product for relevance.
Stage 2

     Assessment Evidence

Performance Tasks:

  • Student checklists for Internet resources and image sources
  • Finished presentation; teacher uses rubric to assess whether students completed all components of the final assignment
Other Evidence:

  • Teacher monitors and checks for understanding
  • Kahoot quiz results
  • Peer review
Stage 3

     Learning Plan

Learning Activities:

  • Students will use the Internet to find and summarize information about a topic of their choice.  Choice must be approved by the teacher.  (WHE1T)
  • Students will use a checklist to write down the information source.  (WE1RE2TO)
  • Students will use the Internet to find and save images for their presentation.  (WHE1T)
  • Students will use a checklist to write down the image source.  (WE1RE2TO)
  • Students will watch a short demonstration video on PowerPoint.  (HE1)
  • Students will open PowerPoint on their computers and show understanding by performing simple tasks as a group.  (WE1)
  • Students will create a 6 slide PowerPoint presentation by using the information and images they collected in weeks 1 & 2.  (HE1RETO)
  • Students will name and save their presentation to the computer desktop.  (W)
  • Students will add slide transitions and animations to pictures and text boxes.  (HE1RE2TO)
  • Students will save changes to file on their computer desktop.  (W)
  • Students will transfer their presentation to their OneDrive to be shared with the teacher.  (WO)
  • Students will be grouped by threes and present their PowerPoint to their 2 peers.  (E2)


Wiggins, Grant and McTighe Jay. (2005) Understanding by Design 2nd Edition.  Virginia: The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.


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