Did we forget the Why behind unit design?

All RIghts Reserved by Pixabay
All Rights Reserved by Pixabay

We fooled ourselves. Created a false narrative.  Told ourselves that if we wrote Essential Questions and Enduring Understandings, planned assessment using a GRASP framework and filtered instructional activities from there, we’d transform learning in our classrooms.  

We built robust digital infrastructures and have thousands of archived units.  Built coaching teams to support unit design.  Created five-year plans for implementation of a fully articulated curriculum.

Does school look vastly differently 10+ years on?  Are students self-directed?  Are they engaged in authentic work.  Perhaps so…but is this the norm?

To what end?  Why are we building these units.  Has it produced the desired effect?  If not, why not?

I would argue that focusing on unit design is the flaw.  The product is the student, not the unit.  The thinking behind the unit design process is flawless, but only when it focuses on the student.  

  • What understanding for the student?
  • What assessment experience for the student?

It is a thinking process intended to change classroom practice, not a template to complete a unit for digital submission.

Here is a very draft learning walk for a backwards design classroom.  I wrote it because I wanted to showcase to teachers the “why” behind unit planning.  It is intended to show what my classroom would look like if I were implementing my unit design and the changes I would see in my classroom.

Let’s remember that a well articulated curriculum that lives in a palatial digital infrastructure is not the goal.  The shift in the student experience is the goal.  Always.  How is school relevant and meaningful to the future of my students?  How do I want them engaged during my class time?  What thinking do I want them involved in?  What will they create?  What will they remember…

One Reply to “Did we forget the Why behind unit design?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *