Monday, March 31, 2014

UbD - What's the Big Idea?

Week one of my AASL online class "Design for Understanding Meets the 21st Century School Librarian" focused on understanding big ideas and involved a little reflection upon my own teaching styles.

The first discussion opened with a question asking students to share if we tended to fall into the coverage trap or the activity trap.  Do we plan lessons to hit a number of objectives or standards, or do we do things that are fun or entertaining or seem worthwhile regardless of objectives?  Several of us stated that we start with the end in the mind, planning activities based on objectives, but I'm beginning to see that this is just the beginning.  Teaching by design is not just about establishing objectives and knowing what you want students to learn.  No.  It's bigger than that.  We have to go deeper.   We have to ask............

What's the BIG IDEA?

What are students going to take from this lesson (or unit) that they can use in 20 years?

My take on big ideas is that I can address them year after year with new resources and deeper thinking and never exhaust them.  If you haven't read the article I cited in my last post by Jean Donham, I urge you to do so...

By framing teaching and learning around big ideas, such as "Information can be organized in many ways", I can address sections of the library, shelf order, parts of a book, OPAC, databases, note-taking and more, always referring to our big idea so that students begin to make connections themselves, begin to think about how they organize their own information, begin to look for order in an unfamiliar system.  I'm looking forward to posting my big ideas where students can see them as they enter this space.

Another powerful - and challenging - aspect of thinking ahead 20 years is technology.  What can I teach today that will outlast the changes in technology that are occurring faster and faster?  What will students learn that will outlast desktop computers or a particular app?  This is where ethical use, strategic evaluation, and responsible sharing all come in to play.

All of this learning is going into a unit planner.  But first, it's time to understand more about understanding....

No comments:

Post a Comment