Blog: As learners, we are often focused on completing assessment activities successfully as opposed to acquiring the outcomes indicated by the course- why is this? Describe a learning experience where either you have combated this learner tendency or you felt a teacher handled this well.
For me, this was the first few years of teaching. Never did my education classes focus on outcomes or essential learnings. It was all about creative and interesting assignments that didn’t parallel on another or lead to one common understanding. I think as educators it is much easier to plan activity based lessons versus UbD style lessons because it is all about the activity and not really focused on transferrable ideas or learnings. UbD holds the teacher accountable that everything relates back to one major focus and that that focus is extended throughout the learning avoiding the pitfalls of a one time only piece of knowledge- regurgitation. Instead with UbD, the learning becomes transferrable and is more meaningful.
Now, with the help of a very intelligent colleague, Lauren Gaffney, I spend more time focusing first on the big questions I want my kids to pursue, and then select texts that would fit within that idea, often giving up texts that I have taught for years. That is no fun. Next, I spend the time, figuring out ideas that would work to help my students grasp the ideas. Then comes the activity portion that will support all of their investigations of the big ideas. Some big idea questions we have pursued in my class are “What matters” “What’s the point” “What does literature say about human beings” “What is a hero”. I feel like following this format, having a colleague or two to discuss these concepts and planning with, makes for a interesting and engaging learning experience creating flow throughout the semester and texts. Ideally, I would love to see a whole school approach one question where all the learning links back to one question every teacher and student explores.